As the season wore on and finally cooled down, Veronica found that she needed to continue on with Marcelina towards very specific points of interest concerning her education. The girl would obsess over them, play with images ceaselessly in her mind. She remembered the General and every moment he had spent with her in the room on that dreadful night.
It was his physique that Veronica couldn’t forget. She didn’t know how to feel about it. The emotions brought about by its memory were somehow staggering for her. She had been amazed by it when she first saw him, as well as slightly disturbed. Then when he had come to her, she had marveled at his organ and made to treat it so lovingly. It was as if it were an entirely different being, something separate from him, and only when he had voiced his pleasure at her lovely stroking was the illusion shattered. She had convinced herself that she loved it, and indeed she had made him certain of her feelings.
But then he had focused upon his own fashion of loving her. And after he had consumed her and she had felt her mind leave the earth, Eduardo had stood up to use that tremendous organ, which had changed everything.
The pain of it. The fragments of her physical memory would sweep through her in explosive flashes of light for weeks afterwards.
And even now, as the two women were in the business of making arrangements for their journey to Madrid, the powerful hold on the girl that he still held was pushing her to be more and more frank with her aunt. She wanted to know everything about the man, though she realized that it was not really an issue which the Marquesa wanted to continue on about. Nevertheless, Veronica had come to feel that she could still just dive right into the subject at any time without the slightest hesitation.
“What was it like for you to be lovers with General de Flores?” Veronica asked.
The women were in a small sitting room on the second floor, far away from the rest of the household. It was a private place where the girl had drawn her aunt towards to ask this very question. She did not feel the need to tread around the subject now or approach it gracefully, she was past that sort of patience, and it certainly wasn’t necessary any longer.
Marcelina was not disturbed by the question, but her niece had never previously made a point to dive so very quickly and frankly into such a conversation. It was not Veronica’s style, and the Marquesa was surprised that all her efforts to make the girl precisely this bold were finally flowering.
“It was comforting,” she responded after much thought. “It was of great comfort to have him at such an advantage.”
Marcelina could plainly see the girl wanted another answer, something more descriptive, something more to the point.
“He was an attentive lover. He took the time few take to please a woman. And he invariably took this time to please me before he proceeded to please himself. He was unusual in that regard, perhaps. He honestly cared how his lover felt when he was with her. He derived his pleasure largely from others.”
“Is it so unusual?” the girl asked plainly.
Marcelina smiled lightly, appraising the girl once again. It seemed she was forever noticing the young lady her niece had become, each time as if it were for the first.
“It sometimes is for a lover. It certainly is for most husbands,” Marcelina replied easily. “Most men don’t remember to care until after they’re done with you, and even then, some don’t care at all. But Eduardo was unique in that he wanted me to experience the same level of joy he felt. It was important to him, and he seemed incapable of releasing or enjoying himself if his conscience was burdened with the thought of my eventual disapproval. And this was why I would never have guessed that he would treat you in such a manner. I won’t ever believe some part of him didn’t comprehend the impossibility, and what makes it all the more difficult is to know he was so very inclined to care deeply for a woman’s happiness in bed. It’s all very confusing and saddening to me.”
“Why was I not compatible with him? What’s wrong with me?” the girl asked quietly.
“Nothing dear, nothing at all! You mustn’t believe that this was your shortcoming, for really it wasn’t. Eduardo was a very unique man, and to think that a young girl like you should have been able to receive him... It’s ridiculous, really! You are just a girl.”
“So, then it will not always be this way? Do you think one day I would be able to receive a man like the General if I had to?”
“What a question! Why does this matter to you?”
“What if it is the same with Dídac? What if I cannot receive him?”
Marcelina laughed in spite of herself. “No, no dear, you will not have to worry.”
“But what if...?”
“Well, I do not purport to know the answer to your question, but I can tell you that my best guess would be that you will never come across a man like the General ever again. It would be highly unlikely.”
Veronica wasn’t sure if she believed Marcelina. Somehow, she felt as if her sexual compatibility were a delicate issue that had not been even slightly resolved. The horror of finding herself in the same situation with the young man whom she was engaged to was a nightmare, one that had been playing over and over in her mind, plaguing her with fear for too long now.
“Dídac...,” the girl muttered soundlessly.
Marcelina eyed Veronica with a shocked lift of her eyebrow.
“Dídac!” the woman retorted. She began to laugh despite herself. “The boy? This has truly concerned you?” The very thought of it sent her into another fit of laughter.
“Tia...?” the girl started apprehensively.
“No, dear. No, no, no. Do not even concern yourself with that thought. He is just not that species of man, for Heaven’s sake! My God, you do go out of your way to endow him beyond reason.”
Veronica was angered by the woman’s teasing. Her face showed a disappointment that she went out of her way to make strikingly apparent.
“What is that face?” Marcelina asked incredulously. “You don’t expect me to take that seriously, do you? But really, with his fair skin and those blond locks, you think he is going to be designed like a southern man? Veronica, no, this is not likely.”
Veronica didn’t want this. She felt her aunt had failed to make something clear to her and was teasing her about it. Blond! What difference did it make that he was blond?
“I don’t understand you, Tia. What has his hair to do with my concerns?”
Marcelina loved this moment, she was ashamed to realize. She loved that she had grown to know so very much about men, of their variety, of their breed. But there was no point in divulging this matter with a girl who was about to spend the rest of her life with one man.
“Please, take my word for it. You have found someone perfect for you. I knew from the moment I saw him that he would be perfect for you. And I don’t want you to worry about anything. I promise he will provide for you everything you could ever need. I know it to be true! You would know after five minutes of speaking with him, if you were me, that he is so perfectly suited to provide you with love and happiness, more perfectly suited than you could ever hope a husband to be.”
Veronica was grateful to hear those words, even if they were not the scientific explanation she might have hoped for. It was enough to know that her fears were unfounded, and she relaxed at the satisfaction that again overtook her anxiety.
“And you! You will be able to teach him a thing or two that his father has perhaps... forgotten to mention, hmm?”
Veronica laughed joyously at the thought of it, and once again her aunt had somehow managed in a few minutes, and with a minimum of words, to render her completely satisfied and at ease.
When she was in her bedroom that night, still feeling the stinging pain of not having Eduardo to hold her, to love her, Marcelina couldn’t help but feel that the young girl was marvelous to be so intuitive and thoughtful of her pending situation. Had Marcelina been even half as thoughtful at that age, she would have most certainly avoided a catalogue of grief from her clumsy trials and errors. She was certain that having avoided the embarrassing failures of youth would have proven to be a good thing. There were her contemporaries who believed that each woman must endure the same torturous trials in order to become a lady of substance. But Marcelina didn’t see it in this way. Marcelina felt that every woman enters this life on a journey, one which is unique and whole onto itself, unduplicated in any mother’s forethoughts.
Marcelina felt that she was coming upon an opportunity which would be vital to Veronica’s journey. She didn’t think it was a mother’s place to dictate how to live one’s life, but rather silently and secretly observe a daughter’s journey, seeing to it whenever possible that the path was made easier. All of this assistance would result in the young woman’s life possessing a wealth of possibilities and opportunities impossible by any other means. A journey filled with wondrous new adventures that might ultimately make way for a greater abundance of happiness. And in the end, it was Veronica’s happiness which motivated the Marquesa’s immediate actions.
And so, without words of assurance or leave, the thought of Marcelina’s next venture on her niece’s behalf formulated in her mind. Indeed, a task lie ahead of the woman that she would execute with the speed and grace that she prided herself on.
Her eyes closed, the low blue light from the moon through the draperies quieted, and Marcelina saw her next journey clearly in the darkness.
She would not rely upon the intuitions of his father, nor would she insult herself with hope in his mother. No, she would steer straight to the heart of the matter, as she did in all situations.
She would begin Dídac’s education immediately.