Demons Children’s Tale

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Chapter Seven

As the morning light filtered through the shutters a tousled red head lifted wearily off her companions breast and yawned.

Bleary eyed she looked down at her naked friend beneath her and bent and kissed Astra tenderly on the lips.

For an hour last night they had made gentle silent love, Astra’s cool body tempering Marta’s heat stopping her from igniting the bedclothes at the peak of their passion.

“Time to get up sleepy head.” She gently shook her friend.

Astra opened one eye and glared at her.

“Go away demon and plagued someone else.” Astra hissed.

“Now where would the fun be in that.” She laughed and slapped her friends naked rump before crossing to the wash stand with its ornately patterned water pitcher and bowl. She poured the cold water into the bowl before warming it with her body heat.

She felt Astra silently coming behind her and nuzzling her neck before her hands came round her and cupped her breasts.

Marta could feel Astra’s unusual sex organ arrangement pressing into her.

“It’s a good job that part of your body doesn’t work. Can you imagine what our children would look like?” Marta laughed as she made way for her friend and lover.

“It doesn’t bear thinking about. Feathered bat wings and terracotta coloured skin.” Astra joked.

“Does it bother you?” She asked gently.

“Yes.” There was a pause for a few seconds before Astra continued. “What man would want a woman with male genitals or a woman would want a man with a womb.”

“Is that the reason you want to enter the Sisterhood?”

“Yes but not exclusively, I just have an affinity for that way of life.”

The girls got dressed in their novice robes before going down to join the others for breakfast.

Robert and Anne’s children were polite if somewhat curious about their guests. Anne had to stop them from asking any more questions after what felt like a hundred or more.

The breakfast was wholesome, filling, and flavoursome. It consisted of a porridge sweetened with honey and bread toasted on the fire. To drink was a glass of small beer.

“Astra Under Father Pierre will be waiting for you in his temple after you have cleaned up.” He saw the look on their faces and smiled. “Sorry rule of the house. The last one down does the washing up.”

“Don’t worry it’s not much.” Robert’s young son said.

“After dinner is a nightmare.” The daughter said.

“Did the pair of you sleep well?” Anne asked innocently, well it seemed innocent. “I know it’s difficult in a new place.”

Marta’s hot blood ran cold had they made to much noise in their love making?

“I slept well. To tell you the truth I was exhausted. But Astra kept stealing the covers but I eventually gave up and dropped of to sleep.”

“Yes I know.” Anne said with a bright smile. “One of you snores.”

“Oh dear.” Marta replied. “I’m afraid that was Astra. She nearly catapulted me out of bed it was so loud.”

“Oh hark who’s talking, your snore made my bones shiver.” Astra replied with a laugh.

Soon the two young women had the family giggling with their rivalry and witty reposts.

A short time later Anne and Marta rode out of town a few miles to a glade in the woods.

Waiting for them was a wizen old lady dressed in black.

“Good morning Widow Carlotta.” Anne greeted the woman.

“Good morning Good Woman Wheelwright. The glade is free of spirits and beasts of the forest that may be injured by your work today. The glade will be resealed once you have entered.” The old woman’s voice was strong belying her advancing years. “Approach me when you are ready to leave.”

She walked over and sat on a cushion tied to a tree stump.

“Thank you.” Anne said.

“Thank you.” Marta echoed.

“Don’t thank me yet child wait till your lessons are complete then decide if I have done you a service.”

Anne laughed as she dismounted and tied the horses reins to a branch.

Marta got down and followed her teacher to the centre of the glade where targets and weird shapes were hung.

“A Wiccan uses the latent energy that is infused in their bodies to create balls of raw elemental power.” Anne explained.

She held out a hand to produce a small ball of flames floating over the palm. It flickered yellowy as it now hovered in the air.

“Fire, ice, lightning, water and sound are the forces of our trade. And each of them are conjured by your emotions. As you have learned fire’s called into being by anger.”

With a yell she threw the ball at an owl shape target up in a bush. It hit with a crack that knocked it over.

“Now you try. Now focus your anger, channel it to a spot above your palm.”

A ball much larger than her teachers appeared above Marta’s palm as she brought Tomas a Quintus to mind. A ball of flame that roared like a beast trying to get free from a trap. The ball twisted and writhed as white hot heat and red flames flickered over its surface.

“Throw it.” Anne yelled pointing at the target she had re-erected.

With a flick of her wrist it shot across the intervening distance and impacted the target with the speed of an arrow. It didn’t just knock it over, it burst with such power that the target was incinerated on the spot.

“Ahem.” Anne cleared her throat. “We knew your Demonic inheritance would make you more powerful than any Wiccan but what we couldn’t have know is by how much.

Right lets try something else. Try and recall someone or something that means a lot to you. See them hurt in need of care, feel the Love and the Sadness.”

For some reason it wasn’t Astra that came to Marta’s mind it was the old Nun, Sister Bernadotte.

Marta stretched out her hand and a large ball of freezing ice appeared above her palm. It was spinning and radiating freezing bolts of light from its glinting surface. Everywhere the light struck a layer of frost was created and that included Anne who was too slow to get out of the way.

“Cancel it girl. Quickly now before it freezes me to the spot.”

With a click of her fingers the globe was gone. She crossed over to Anne and radiated warmth over chilled form.

“The cold you produced will slow a target down and make it difficult for them to take hostile action.” She took Marta’s warm hands in her own cold ones and spoke earnestly. “Don’t be afraid of who you are. If people can not accept you for who you are that’s their problem not yours understood.” Marta nodded. “Good. Now can you fly?”

“Err no.” Marta’s small wings flapped ineffectively.

The old lady crossed over to them carrying two yew branch brooms.

Anne took one with a nod of thanks before creating a ball of twisting curling air. It floated off her hand and merged with the broom. She let go of the broom and much to Marta’s astonishment it floated in the air. With a short hop Anne was sitting side saddle on it.

With a cheeky grin she zoomed off through the trees and hanging ornaments as if it was an aerial assault course.

Anne’s face was flushed with excitement when she finally came to a stop before her pupil.

“Your turn.” She said. “Close your eyes and use what ever emotion works for you, use your instinct. Just think of flying.”

Marta did as she was bid and eventually she created a globe that held in is core a hurricane, but instead of it merging with the broom it merged with her body. Two mighty bat wings as tall as herself bore her aloft to dart in between the trees and swinging ornaments.

She screamed in pure joy as she darted about before landing somewhat clumsily in front of Anne.

The wings folded on her back before shrinking back to their original size.

“Well done Marta, very impressive.” Anne was genuinely pleased. “Rest of the morning will be spent on control and speed. Let me know if you get tired and I’ll step it up.” She laughed. “No seriously if you are getting tired we will take a rest for awhile.”

Marta wondered how Astra was getting on.

Astra was in a large library that was somehow attached to the small temple and narrow house that was Under Father Pierre’s home and place of work.

But the problem was a simple one and no less frightening for all that. She couldn’t see the way out. Surrounding her were four six foot by ten foot bookcases.

She took a deep breath to calm herself.

“I came through to here through a doorway so ergo there must be a doorway back out its just that its concealed.” She said in an attempt to consol herself. “So on one of these shelves is the answer. Of course the book he wanted. What was it again? Oh yes Higgerties famed lotions and potions for minor ailments.”

She looked around at the packed shelves and wondered where to start.

This was obviously a test of some sort she deduced as she climbed up the short ladder on wheels and began the search in left top corner of the first bookcase.

Books with titles like ‘Slimy Doom’ symptoms and how to heal it.′ jostled with heavier works such as Ovid’s ‘Divine metamorphic properties of garden plants.’

As she finished looking at a set of book cases she would put a book on its end so she could avoid going over it again.

“Where are you?” The querulous voice of the old man called out.

“I know this sounds silly but I don’t really know. I’m in an area surrounded by bookcases such that there is no apparent way out. I’m assuming that this is a test.” She paused as she moved the steps to another section. “I’m still looking for the book by the way. I’m assuming that it is part of all this. I can tell you one thing Father your bookshelves are in a mess, I’m surprised you can find anything. The books on prayer are scattered all over the place. I’ve come across the same book three times, they should all be together. Oh!”

She stepped back from the bookshelves and gave them a look of disgust. Three of them had several books turned on their edge showing she had indeed gone over them three or four times.

She looked down at the reading lectern where her hand was resting and realised the book she was looking for had been lying their all along.

“I’ve found the book you wanted Father all I have to do is find my way out.” It suddenly dawned on her that the answer lay right in front of her. The untouched bookcase.

She heard the old man laughing.

“I hope you are not laughing at me Father.” She said irritated.

“Of course I am child, of course I am.” He said with laugh before adding crotchety. “Now stop using your eyes and use your other senses.”

Marta had already tried to get to the fourth bookcase only to find herself diverted to the first or the last bookcase.

She shut her eyes and concentrated on the faint breeze on her cheek that brought the chemical smell of the Fathers apothecary to her nose.

She took a deep breath and with her hands out in front of her walked forward toward the breeze and the smell.

She calculated she was five paces away from the image of the bookcase but took ten instead before opening her eyes.

With a sigh of relief she found herself out in the dim corridor leading back to the living and work quarters of temple complex assuming you could call something so small a complex.

With a spring in her step she hurried off to join her mentor.

Father Pierre was in his laboratory where he was brewing up some noisome mixture.

“Ah there you are child.” He smiled at her vaguely.

“Here is the book you wanted Father.”

“Why would I want that book for it is well beneath my abilities!” His voice was sharp.

“So it was a test after all. You just wanted to see if I could get out again.”

“Hmm, quite so, quite so. My last student, or was it the one before that, anyway she was stuck in there for hours the poor thing. I had to go in and bring her out. You passed with flying colours I may say.” He looked up from what he was doing and patted her hand gently. “I may have no need of the book but you will. It will teach you how to prepare simple potions. It was written my a Gnome Cleric under a pseudonym.

It will teach you how to use Celestial energies as well as prosaic means to produce the required effect. And before you ask it is not eye of newt, ear of bat concocted at midnight with a full moon sort of stuff. That went out decades ago it is a far more scientific approach today.”

For the next hour she followed the recipe for a simple healing balm that was laid out in the book. Herb, spices and minerals were all added to the concoction but she noticed that some ingredients were crossed out. She pointed them out to the Father.

“Ah you have noticed have you. Well that’s quite a tale I assure you.” The old man grinned as he remembered. “The Gnome cleric had found that by adding certain pungent ingredients, onions and garlic come to mind, he could increase the effectiveness of the potions, but those same ingredients gave them severe side effects.

One of his clients, a Halfling if my memory serves, used a healing potion but it gave her such bad wind that when she, err um, farted yes farted, when she farted the whole of the docks area of the town though a sewer had burst. A poor young couple, Romeo and Juliet, where having carnal knowledge in the grave yard when they were over come by the fumes. The two families were not amused an hour later when they found them, apparently the two families had a feud going on for many decades.”

He sighed and turned back to his work.

“What became of them?” Astra asked through he barely suppressed laughter.

“I really don’t know child, I really don’t know child. I must find out what happened to them.” He smiled at her. “That’s better, you were so stiff when you first came in I thought you would snap. Now lets have some fun.”

Astra warmed to the little man and his strange anecdotes. By the end of the morning she had successfully created three potions and a balm all used in speeding up the healing time of light wounds.

As the church struck noon the girls paraded into the garrisons refectory, chattering away at ten to the dozen. All of them save for Twilight were keen to share there experiences.

They collected their simple fare of fresh bread, cheeses, ham and pickle. It was what was called euphemistically a Guards Lunch.

Gloria plonked herself down with an audible sigh.

“I am shattered.” She told no one in particular . “I’ve been working at the forge learning how to make a sword. I spent most of the morning at the anvil.”

“Oh you poor soul.” Lillian said with false concern. “I think I’ll never feel my fingers ever again. I’ve been made to crawl through narrow tubes and open door’s and gratings with out making a sound. The lock picks they gave me were absolutely tiny.”

“You pair should have been with me.” Julienne told the pair of them. “I’ve spent all morning learning siege techniques and weaponry. I’ve read so much I think my head is going to explode.”

“Good afternoon Ladies. I’m going to be your trainer for the rest of the day.” He was very hansom but what made him eye candy for the girls was the fact he was totally unaware of the effect he was having on them. “When you have finished in, shall we say half and hour, will you join me outside in the parade ground.”

He gave them a short bow and left through the side door.

“I wouldn’t mind being under him.” Lillian said wistfully.

“Don’t be disgusting Lillian.” Julienne said before softening. “I know what you mean though. He certainly is a looker.”

“Hands off.” Gloria warned them. “I saw him first.”

The girls broke out in carefree laughter.

Marta brooked a subject that had been going round in her head for the last few days.

“Can any of you remember anything from before we entered the orphanage?” She asked carefully. “Can any of you remember your parents?”

“I can’t remember much of them .” Lillian offered. “as I was about three when the storm tossed tree dropped through the roof killing them. I do remember being loved by them though.

My parents were well though of in the area and well liked. Then came the great storm. It ripped the tree just outside of the farm house out of the ground and smashed it through the roof killing both parents out right. I was lucky to survive being only a few feet away in my cot.”

“My father lead a raid of Drugar axe men against our village whilst the men were working down in the mine.” Julienne told them. “They found no resistance. They took the women captive after killing what men folk had remained.

While as a slave my mother was impregnated before a dwarf raid recaptured us.

It is very rare for a Dwarf/ Drugar child to survive long enough to be born and those that do don’t last long. I was the exception.

The family took me high up in the mountain passes and left me to die but a group of pilgrims on their way to the Shrine of our Lady found me and took me with them down into valley below. I was left at the Poor Clare orphanage until the Holy Sisters found me.”

Astra smiled.

“My turn.” She said. “My mother was a God fearing woman that acted as the local birthing woman. She was in our barn cleaning up ready for the years harvest when she came across my father. He was in a poor way, a casualty, of a little conflict between Heaven and Hell. She nursed him back to health and they fell in love. I was the result of that union.

I have four happy years before my father was called back to the celestial sphere. She was pregnant with another baby by then and it broke her heart. Father promised he’d come back for her.

That year she caught the bloody flux, not long afterwards she died of consumption

taking the baby with her. But my father kept his word and came to her at the last and led her spirit away into the celestial garden.

The next day the Nuns came and took me away.”

“I am the result of a Moon Elf slave being impregnated by a Drow warrior.” Twilight said in a quiet voice. “The Drow attacked my village while the men were out hunting with our human friends. The Drow are a vicious dark form of the Elf race that revel in inflicting pain. Each group is under the control of a Matron Mother who can only be removed by a daughter killing her.

When the men folk came back it was to find the Matron having the women raped by her elite guard at knife point and having to watch their children being tortured in front of them.

The humans and the men folk swept down and slaughtered the Drow to a man though the Matron escaped. They were the last of the Drow, those that had survived the wars between the peoples of Terra and the Dark Elves, the Drow.

When I was born my mother and her husband gave me all the love they could but the memories I couldn’t help but invoke was to much for the villagers so when the nuns came it seemed the best thing to do to put me in their care.”

“You’re still in contact with them aren’t you?” Marta asked gently.

“Yes. We write letters to each other every month. Once I am in my majority I hoped to go home and see them for awhile. I’m a bit frightened of the other villagers reactions though, I wouldn’t want to put my parents in any harms way.”

Marta lent forward and took Twilights slim blue hand in her workman’s red one.

“When you go home we will all go with you and show them all that creed, colour and race all fall away to nothing under the shroud of love. For that is what friendship is, it’s a form of love. A true friend does not walk out when there is trouble that is when they walk in.” She said and was warmed to hear all of the girls refecting her sentiment.

“What about you Marta can you remember anything before the orphanage?” Twilight asked.

“No, nothing. I must have been taken their as a baby. Worse still I have never been told of my origins. I know nothing about how, where or who. I envy you your knowledge.” Marta did nothing to hide her pain, she didn’t need to in front of her friends.

“Have you asked the Mother Superior?” Lillian asked.

Marta shook her head.

“To frightened about what she would say I suppose.” She sighed.

“I can understand that but whatever you decide you’ve got us to back you up.” Lillian kissed Marta’s cheek. “Ouch you’re real hot stuff girl. Come on lets woo Sergeant Hansom and may the best girl win as long as that girl is me.”

The girls roared with laugher as they playfully jostled each other to be the first out of the door.

The soldier in question was laying out a range of weapons on to a stand while conversing with the girls mentors.

As they approached their mentors took their leave.

“Thank goodness for that.” Lillian remarked cheerfully. “It was going to be hard going at seducing him with them around.”

Gloria took a playful swipe at the girl which Lillian dodged with her usual skill.

“Good afternoon Ladies. I am Sergeant Joseph Giardiniere but you can call me sir or Sergeant. I have been selected to train you in weapon craft and to get you fit.”

The area were they were standing had several targets and stuffed suits of armour but the thing that dominated the area was a vicious looking assault course that ran the whole length of the parade ground.

“I see you’ve noticed the assault course. Tomorrow with the help of Lance Troopers Berlusconi and Caroni you will be attempting to finish the course. You will be expected to work as a team.

Now on the racks are training versions of the weapons that I have been told is your preference.”

Lillian slid forward and batted her eyes at him.

“May I go first Sergeant as I’ve so much to show you.” She said licking her lips loving the theatre but her ardour was soon crushed by a simple word.

“No.” The officer pointed at Marta. “You Devil Girl pick up your weapon. Well don’t stand their flapping your gums. Hurry up you useless lump.”

Each word was like a dagger to her heart as if each insult was intended to hurt like a weapon.

“I honestly don’t know why I am bothering with you I’ve scraped more interesting things of my shoe.”

Rage boiled up from the pit of her stomach and poured living flame over the weapon but not touching it.

“You want to hit me with that well come on then I dare you to try.”

With a scream of rage she swung the long sword at him. He dodged aside grabbing her right wrist and with a sweep of his leg sent her crashing to the ground. She scrambled to her feet.

“Don’t let the anger distract you.” He yelled. “Focus it and hit the third target. Destroy it!!”

Marta’s anger flowed down the blade making it drip living fire onto the ground. She turned and slashed at the dummy that had been selected.

The sword cut through it like a hot knife through butter, there was a pause before it exploded in flame and was totally consumed.

“Well done Marta well done.” The Sergeant called.

Marta turned to him with a frown etched on her face. Behind her were the other girls weapons drawn ready to protect her.

“I was told of your anger problems but needed to experience it at first hand. Very impressive and very frightening.” He looked up at the other girls and nodded to himself in satisfaction. “You’re very lucky to have friends like them who would give up everything for you. Please put your weapons away, thank you. You too please Martha.”

The girls did so.

“You are going to find as you go through life there are people who can push you into a rage, but at that moment you will have lost no matter what advantage you have. You will not be in control of oneself and will leave yourself open to attack. Marta you will work with Lance Trooper Caroni along with Julienne on methods such as breathing exercises to help you focus your anger such that it is an advantage and not a lack of control.”

Marta stood there shaking with reaction.

“You’ll notice that once the rage has left you you are fatigued and less able to defend yourself.”

He crossed over to Marta and put a supporting hand on her shoulder, ignoring the heat that radiated out of Marta as she calmed down.

“You were very good and I was lucky to trip you up.” He told her. “Now I’m going to take you through the different moves that can be used in close combat. I going to do it slowly so you can copy.”

After an hour of solid physical work Lillian had changed her point of view.

“He’s a ruddy sadist.” She hissed as she swept round her with her long knives.

“Oh yes.” Panted Julienne as she tried to copy. “But a hansom one.”

“True.” Gloria laughed looking like she had barely broken a sweat which to be honest she hadn’t.

Eventually he called a halt to the proceedings.

“Right ladies we are going to do a group of gentle exercises to help you cool down so there won’t be any muscle problems.”

“Sergeant after all this the girls and I are going to have a Java in the Java shop in the market place before going home. You and the Lance Troopers are welcome to join us.” Gloria called to him.

“I am afraid we can’t leave the barracks until our duty finishes by Eight day.” He said with a sad smile.

“Oh!”

“But we would be pleased to entertain you in the Garrison’s mess.”

All the girls perked up at the sound of that.

While it may be true that the girls had very little contact with members of the opposite sex it doesn’t mean they didn’t know what was what.

The Sergeant proved to be a witty host and charmed the girls even further. The two Lance Troopers proved to be from a couple of the founding fathers of Como. They were extremely useful to the girls with their stories of court etiquette.

Time eventually drew to a close and they said their goodnights.

It was early evening when their day was really done.

“Oh!” Gloria moaned arching her back to get the knots out of it. “I’ve got aches in muscles I didn’t know I had.”

“You should be so lucky.” Julienne said holding a cold damp cloth to her purpling eye. Gloria had flicked a hand at Juliennes head expecting her to duck.

“Well you should have ducked.” Gloria said with a genuine show of embarrassment.

“I didn’t get the chance did I.” Julienne replied bad temperedly.

“Stop moaning the pair of you. Let me have a look at it Julienne.” Astra lifted her friends head up.

She hummed and hared for a moment before placing her palm over the eye and looking nervously up to the heavens and prayed.

“Holy Lady, Mother and Martyr, let me be the conduit of your healing love.” Her hand began to glow and the scent of a rose filled the area around them.

The bruise dispersed to leave a faint yellowing around the eye. “Is that better?”

“Yes much. When did you learn how to do that?” Julienne asked.

“Ah yes well only this morning actually. Under Father Pierre showed me.”

The girls laughed at Julienne’s shocked expression.

As they passed the little chapel of Under Father Pierre they could hear the sound of Evensong.

Without one discerning voice they walked up and quietly opened the door.

They took their place at the back of the chapel and joined in with the songs of praise. Their beautiful voices filled the church and made the scattering of parishioners turn round to look at them. Most of them smiled warmly but the odd one looked puzzled.

Frowning and trying to mate up what they heard about the girls with what they could see and hear. Eventually even they smiled and nodded as if accepting the strange tableau they could see before them.

When the service was over the girls tried to slip away unnoticed but the parishioners crowded around them.

“I have never heard the devotions sung so beautifully. You wanted a choir Father Pierre it seems to me that you have one already.” A jovial plump little woman said as she shock the hands of the girls warmly.

A little boy looked up at Astra and Marta with awe. He pointed at their wings.

“Can you fly?” He asked breathlessly.

Marta knelt down beside him.

“Can you keep a secret?” She asked pretending to look around to make sure no one was listening.

The boy nodded.

“Sometimes I can fly. When the Holy Lady needs us she makes our wings grow and we can fly.” She waggled her wings. “But most of the time we can’t.”

Marta stuck her bottom lip out in a childish pout and put on a sad expression.

The boy put his tiny hand upon her arm and looked up at her, his face screwed up in concentration.

“Don’t be sad. The Holy Lady must love you lots to give you wings. I wont tell anyone.”

“Thank you.”

He skipped over to his mothers side. She looked at Marta and smiled.

It wasn’t intended as a charm offensive but it was certainly effective.

It was a good half an hour later that Father Pierre managed to finally shut and lock the door.

A little while later found Marta and Astra sipping chilled white wine with Robert and Anne their feet stretched out towards the fire. Anne once again had her feet in Roberts lap for a massage. It was such an intimate moment that Marta felt uncomfortable like she was some sort of peeping Tom.

“You did very well today Marta. Tomorrow we’ll work on shaping the energies.” Anne told her.

“Hmm yes.” Marta replied.

“Something wrong child?” Robert asked with concern.

“No, not really.” She sighed. “Well yes actually. All the other girls know their origins, who their parents were, where they come from, if not in person then in general. They know how they came to be.

I haven’t any idea as to mine. I have no memories other than the Orphanage. I don’t know who was my mother or father. Whether I was born out of love or rape.”

She said sadly.

“You’ve spoken about that a couple of times now, it must be worrying you.” Astra said softly.

“Yes I supposed it does. The trouble is I don’t know where to start.” She sighed. “I don’t feel as if I belong and its more than just my wings, horns or skin colour. It’s not having an origin.

Oh ignore me I’m just tired and maudlin.”

“Don’t worry my dear it is better to voice it rather than let it fester within.” Anne said gently. “I understand some of that feeling. I’m a Wiccan but I have to hide it from the world. I have to pretend I’m something I’m not.

But what sustains me is the knowledge that I have a wonderful husband and children. I have friends who accept me as I am.”

She got off her chair and knelt at the girls feet taking Marta’s hands in her own.

“You have that too Marta. You girls are there for each other as are we mentors and Nuns. You are not alone child whether you are here or in the convent. Remember that.”

A single tear sizzled on Marta’s cheek.

“I think the first step on your journey will be to visit the orphanage. I know the keeper of the records.

I can contact her for you child and let her know you are coming.” Robert told her.

“That may be a poor idea my husband. I’m sorry . If they wish to hide things from Marta you will be giving them time to do so.”

“I hadn’t thought of that my love. Sorry Marta.” Robert said finishing his glass of wine.

“That’s what women are for husband.” Anne laughed a tinkling loving laugh. “We will go there before we begin training.”

“Thank you.” Marta was choked with emotions.

That night the girls were too tired and preoccupied to make love.

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