“Father, this is the Marquesa’s niece from Madrid, here for the whole summer. She is preparing to be presented at the ball on Friday,” Blanca said approvingly, with beaming affection for the young girl.
“Ah! Congratulations, my child. What an exciting time this must be for you,” said the priest. He was a striking man with dark sandy hair and grey-blue eyes, all at once so friendly and piercing. “I remember those great galas as a young man, when it was my family’s mission to find me a wife just to be rid of my talk of joining the priesthood,” he laughed. He was not nearly so old, she thought, to be recollecting his youth as if it was ages ago. He seemed hardly over thirty, his light complexion still very fair.
She thought him to be a rather charming man and wondered what he would have made of himself had he not taken the path to the priesthood. He seemed to have escaped the usual nature that befell the priests of her parish; that old, tired, and charmless manner about them that did not lend itself to gaining invitations to dine out. Rather, this man was entirely agreeable and had set Veronica’s anxiety aside for a brief sweet moment.
“It is not something so moving, I should say,” Angelica remarked before his laughter subsided. “A party is just that: a party. I don’t see why older people think it such an event. Really, what should she expect to happen? That some fairly tale will be staged because she is no longer a child?”
Blanca shot her daughter a venomous look, angry beyond words for possibly having offended the Father.
“You’ll have to be patient and forgive Angelica’s rash words, Father. She sadly does not yet understand the blessings that marriage holds.” She turned to Angelica. “I wonder sometimes, my dear, what are your intentions for your future? Will you remain forever in such a foolish mind? Is it your intention never to have a family of your own? I should think your father would be most interested to know we will have the privilege of providing for you while you waste the rest of your life mastering this mindless cynicism.” The woman let a silent rage color her last word. “Really, do you intend to throw away all of your opportunities to sit in smug disapproval of others? At least Veronica has the intelligence to look forward to this time in her life and not take it for granted.”
“I fail to see how it would do her any good to think there will be an army of suitors awaiting her entrance, as if she were the prize doll of the season,” Angelica lashed back at her mother, incapable of giving ground now that she had been embarrassed so thoroughly.
It was remarkable, Veronica thought, that such a wealth of opportunity could coexist with such an absence of imagination. She seemed oblivious to the dynamics of what the Amontoní name and the Marquesa’s graciousness in inviting the Flores family to her house could mean. At this ball, Angelica too would also have the opportunity to be presented before the elite of the country on the tails of its social empress. Surely, even she could see this.
Blanca at once smothered the intended fire of her reprisal, exhaling the frustration that only a daughter could produce in a mother. “I’m sure you know better than that as to the influence that this family has in the city,” she answered, calmly. “I know Father Mateu has said many times how the good will of the Marquesa is spoken of throughout Europe. Isn’t that right, Father?”
“Yes, the Marquesa has been such a patron of the poor here in Barcelona, as well as a supporter of the Church’s charities the country over. The Archbishop himself has remarked to the Holy Pontiff of the generous angel the Church has within these walls. I’ve told the Marquesa of the blessings the Pontiff has sent upon her. Such a modest woman, she would not even bear to hear her charity praised, even by the Holy Father himself. Indeed, she is such a noble woman.”
It fascinated and confused Veronica that her aunt was thought as such a holy woman by this priest, and even by the Holy Father. If this man only knew half of what the girl had only just become aware of!
“Then you are a long acquaintance of my aunt’s, Father?” Veronica asked curiously.
“Yes, I have had the great fortune to know and work with the Marquesa even before the Marqués passed to God. She has been a great friend to me and the entire parish for years. Between us, if it wasn’t for the Marquesa’s kindness and generosity, the other great families of the city might not be so willing to assist with the plight of the underprivileged. Her works have provided such direly needed funds for the Church’s lesser flock. We respect her as if she were our parish’s own patron saint of sorts,” he effused, smiling warmly.
This knowledge made Veronica so very happy, leaving her much more at ease. There was so much she wished she could say to the man in private. Indeed, she felt she could trust him and find in him the guidance she so desperately needed right now.
The three continued to chat on for a long while after Angelica asked to be excused, which Blanca was only too agreeable to permit. They continued on with their conversation about Veronica’s coming ball and laughed at how much the Father confessed to loving the Marquesa’s parties. He admitted that he could think of few things that could keep him from attending every season.
“And I promise you this, you can be very certain that I suffer a great deal back at home for it,” he winked at Blanca. The woman laughed to simply hear his voice, she was so comfortable with him.
After the Father’s confession, the Marquesa appeared in the room accompanied by the General. Veronica thought she might die if Don de Flores were to look at her. The shame from only a little while before returned as a scarlet blush on her face.
The two walked in gaily and joined the trio, and Veronica found it as difficult as ever to speak now. She mostly observed the conversation, which eventually covered politics in France, as well as current situations in the Americas, each giving Marcelina another opportunity to shine with her usual charm. She displayed an obvious wealth of knowledge and opinion on the matters, all spoken with a great deal of affection for Father Mateu’s attention.
“It’s so good we have you here in the city. If you were to leave again for so long, I could not bear it,” she remarked tenderly to her beloved guest.
In time, Veronica became relieved when the tension of sitting so near the General lessened, and she even found herself taking courageous secret glances at him. Not having died from embarrassment, Veronica came to realize a strong fascination for this man who could sit in the same room with both his wife and his mistress, not to mention a priest, and still not show the slightest care for the scandalous situation he had placed himself in.
The day passed on in this fashion: people sitting around and doing ordinary things. There were walks, the women played cards, and the men discussed life at sea. After a late lunch, some slept, and others wrote letters to family and friends. Father Mateu even said a small mass and took the ladies’ confessions in the castle’s small chapel. By the time the servants had come to dress Veronica for dinner, she’d been allowed to process much of her fear. The anxiety she had begun her day with had significantly lessened, if not disappeared, due to the normality of everyone’s behavior around her.
The butler soon entered the grand salon at half past eight in the evening to announce that dinner was ready. The party moved pleasantly to the dining room where Angelica was already seated in her usual position at the end of the table. The Marquesa and the General took their seats on one side of the table center, the Father and Blanca opposite them, with Veronica moving to the opposite end from Angelica.
It was noticeable all through dinner that the General and the Marquesa would whisper to each other privately and then glance back at Veronica, both smiling. The girl conceded to this obvious design of her aunt’s that it would be the General himself who would come to tutor her lesson. Their smirking glances proved faithful all throughout the evening, and after a while, the thought of him did not seem so terrifying. Her aunt obviously loved this man and trusted him far more than should be expected. After an even longer time, Veronica’s anxiety began to change to resigned excitement for the idea. The startling image of his naked body in her aunt’s sitting room, smothering Marcelina in loving and affectionate kisses, had thrilled her, she now realized. There was something about the man, though so much older than she, that Veronica was drawn to.
The dinner went on for an eternity before the Marquesa finally brought the torment of time to an end for the girl. She excused Veronica from joining the group for after-dinner games and drinks in the salon, whispering in her ear before the girl left. The top drawer of her bedroom armoire held a note for the girl to read, said the Marquesa.
Veronica made every effort not to allow her steady ambling to turn into an all-out dash up the staircases. Her heart was in her shoes when she finally made it to the armoire, and she stopped herself for a moment when a spell of lightheadedness caught up with her.
Veronica reached up to feel inside of the highest drawer and came across the letter sealed in Marcelina’s personal stationary. In hindsight, she would remember that she had exerted all her faculties toward the extraordinary feat of not ripping the note as she pulled open the wax seal in haste. Veronica brought the paper into the light from the oil lamp by her bed:
As we agreed, you have a rather important and delicate task to complete before your instructor arrives to assist you in your education. You will take the instrument located behind the potted palm tree on your balcony, the only place I could think of where your maid might not find it and clean it with water from the basin behind your bathtub. Once it is clean, you will use the cream I have placed on your cosmetics table to lubricate the head and shaft of the instrument. Take care to apply a generous amount of cream to yourself before you begin.
You must start this ritual by rubbing the cream on your sex for at least ten minutes. It is essential that you relax as much as possible while you massage yourself. A reliable indicator that you are ready for the next step will be when the massage begins to feel unusually pleasurable. The next step requires you to insert the instrument inside the base of your sex. This will be difficult to do at first, but when you have pushed through the barrier of your hymen, and the small pain attached has withered, you will be able to insert the instrument fully.
Do not fear for your health should there be much blood, for it will not endanger you. I have placed fresh linens on hand for you to avoid leaving any traces that would arouse your maid’s suspicions. Lay down and rest afterward, and when you are feeling better, continue the other preparations we discussed. Above all, remember: proceed slowly.
You have all my love with you. - M.
The mere sight of the hand-written words, so precise, so planned out, so orchestrated, produced an apprehension in Veronica about the whole ordeal. She ran to lock her door and then hurried to find the infamous instrument on her balcony. She knelt down to feel for the device behind the pot, which was so large that she could barely reach behind it. At once, she pulled out the phallus and her fascination for it took her by surprise. It was in the general shape of a man’s organ but extended long and straightened out. It was made from polished ivory, carved with uncanny realism in detail. She examined it over and over, rolling it in her hands to see every minutia before washing it.
She proceeded to find the jar of white cream on her cosmetics table. It was a small black crystal container cut in an octagonal shape with a lid crowned by a crimson orb, weighing a great deal in her small hands. The fragrance of the cream was sweet, like that of wild flowers and jasmine. She rubbed a drop between her fingers to feel the consistency and found it to be smoother than any she had ever come across before. Gathering the washed phallus and cream, Veronica prepared the chaise lounge in her bathroom by covering it with the linens.
She undressed as quickly as possible without the assistance of her maid. It seemed to take forever, removing the strings to her corset that she’d only been wearing for less than a year now. When she was free of the whalebone and other undergarments, Veronica sat down, struggling with the thought of what she was about to attempt.
It terrified her that she had to do this on her own. She felt it could not possibly be such a horrible thing to allow this man to engage in this task, the very thing her aunt had warned her of. She considered allowing it to be done to her, regardless of all her aunt’s reprimands and admonitions.
This was horrible. Veronica felt a sense of nausea as she began to apply the cool satin cream to her labia, feeling the electric sensation when her finger slid across the little nub of flesh there. She rubbed the cream sparingly over herself until she was satisfied that it would be enough. As she rubbed, Veronica told herself to relax, but it felt like the last thing she could ever manage. Nevertheless, the girl massaged herself for minutes and minutes. In time, she began shifting not so much from discomfort but from… was it pleasure? The little nub was slowly becoming pinker and noticeably larger. If this was pleasure, it was different from any she had known. And before she explored it further, Veronica reached for the phallus to cover it with a large dollop of the cream that she soothed evenly around the head and shaft.
Checking that the extra linens were in their place beneath her once more, Veronica exhaled to calm herself as much as she could. She turned the phallus around in her hands and brought its head to the base of her labia.
The sensation of the hard instrument frightened her and she retracted the phallus, but only for a moment. Veronica moved the head around the tiny opening there and gave it a gentle push. She could feel it begin to enter her slowly, stifling a gasp at how much she had to relax merely to accommodate the very head of the instrument to spread her. Sinking more with each breath, Veronica felt the sharp pressure of her hymen stretching. This is it, she thought, and with a deep breath she pushed the phallus in, gasping as the thin wall of flesh tore. Her body jerked of its own accord from the pain and Veronica’s eyes opened, though she did not pull the phallus back.
She stopped a moment, letting the initial sting pass and then proceeded to slide the phallus in a bit deeper. Upon the count of ten, Veronica pulled it out of her to feel the biting sensation again. When it had largely subsided, she brought the phallus back inside of her, rubbing it in an out, initially irritating the sting but eventually soothing it out significantly. After a few minutes, Veronica began to feel comfortable with the phallus inside of her and bravely experimented with the instrument, ascertaining just how much of it she could fit. It was remarkable, she thought, that her body was so limber inside, that she could adjust to such a degree. She began to rub herself again, pushing and pulling the phallus in and out of her. The thing hurt her only a little, and the greater sensations of its invasion sent chills up her spine. In time, Veronica welcomed the sublime feeling that its hard smoothness had concocted.
Looking at the clock, Veronica saw that thirty minutes had passed. She removed the instrument and wiped the small traces of blood from the instrument. Wetting a smaller piece of cloth, she began to clean herself, removing all traces of the lightly pinkened cream that had mostly been absorbed into her skin. She bundled the stained linens and placed them in a waste container hidden from the unsuspecting eye. One last time, she washed herself, seeing to it that she was as clean as possible.
Returning the crystal jar of cream to her cosmetics table, she realized that its scent of wildflowers and jasmine overwhelmed her. She hoped he would like it.
The table clock told her that it was almost eleven and Veronica panicked that she was not quite ready. Her maid had not even bothered to knock tonight, and she expected that her aunt had something to do with this convenient oversight.
The vanity mirror on the cosmetics table flashed from the side of her vision and caught her attention. There, Veronica could see her reflection, her body posing naked. I’m ready, she thought, this would be what he wanted from her. She remained poised before the mirror, letting her hair down. The heavy tresses fell to her back and over her breasts, just barely covering her nipples, giving her a faint tickle that brought her entire body to attention.
Pulling back the covers of her bed, she laid down gracefully, propping a pillow up against the headboard. Drawing the sheer, white curtains along the perimeter of her bed, she sat back to watch and wait for him. In those final moments, the ache was not very noticeable anymore. It seemed almost as if she had not really felt the pain to begin with.
She was ready.