He could not face anyone. Dídac remained in his room the entire day without the courage to let anyone see his shame, the mark of the criminal on his face.
He had excused himself upon arriving home, citing fatigue, asking that his supper be brought to his room. It was a nightmare, this tension in his frame. He lay in his bed for hours, his body writhing uncomfortably. The pressure in his neck was terrible.
When he could stand it no longer, he threw back the sheets and pulled the dressing gown up to find his organ, which had managed to soften and re-erect itself endlessly during the long eternity he had lain there. He had been warned enough against such actions, but juvenile explorations had rendered such cautions pointless long before they had been delivered. It was only after he had relieved himself of the stress in his neck that he could sleep.
But when he awoke in the morning, he felt ill from what he had done at Castell de Amontoní. It was a bitter taste, which wouldn’t leave his mouth. And regardless of how many times he was forced to relieve the miserable stress, there was a wicked sensation in it that brought release without satisfaction.
He hated himself. It was inescapable, this feeling. He believed he had betrayed not only Veronica, but the Marquesa as well. He felt it was undeniably his own fault, all of it, and his recriminations came back to him in a chorus as he spent the entire day cloistered up in his apartment. It was no small blessing that no one bothered to disturb his privacy.
It was a simple resolution he had come to by the end of the day, when the fear and shame had poisoned his body with adrenaline. He would do as she had bid him, he would return to the castle tomorrow and beg the woman’s forgiveness for his actions. She must allow him to do that much. He did not know what he would do if she ruined his life now.
As he slept, the pain returned to him again and again. This pain was consuming, and the physical torture was outdone only by the guilt. Resolution spread over his eyes as they closed for the final time that night; he would beg the woman not to cast him out of her niece’s life.
She must not destroy him now, not when he had everything to lose.
Veronica was not in, that much seemed clear. Marcelina did not rise to greet him as Dídac was led to her sitting parlor on the third floor. She merely looked up to see that, indeed, he had come. She waited only for her footman to shut the door quietly behind the boy.
Dídac was the first to speak, though to observe his speech as anything but a mumbled stumbling would give him too much credit. He began his sentence three times before anything intelligible could escape his lips, and even then, it was an incoherent mess.
She held up her hand to silence him.
“Come, sit by me, dear. It’s all right.”
It was some sort of salvation, this invitation. It meant for him to be allowed to die while sitting down, his balance being one less burden in the final moments.
He sat beside her awkwardly, unsure if he might even sit back in the chair opposite her. His body remained as rigid as possible.
“Can you tell me why you’re here?” she asked easily. There was no hint of malice in her tone, merely that of an honest curiosity.
“My lady, forgive me. I came today that I might have the chance to atone for my behavior with you. I was... It was inappropriate for me to have taken advantage as I did... I behaved unforgivably...”
He was at a loss, there was nothing he could do to focus his words. The pain of this moment was worse than he had foreseen it.
“That’s enough,” she stopped him. “It isn’t necessary, my dear.”
She allowed a great deal of time to pass after she said this, leaving Dídac to suffer immensely from embarrassment. It was only of little comfort that she understood him, that she was not yet ready to banish him from the house and call off his engagement with her niece.
Through all these moments, Marcelina sat quietly and observed him, his inability to look at her or to sit still, his inescapable need to hold his hands.
“I am not a woman who possesses the sort of patience that’s somewhat of a requirement in this situation, so I will make myself bluntly clear. I have requested you here because I have come to find that I require your obedience in my current venture to provide Veronica with love and happiness. And having once been a young bride, I can tell you that I know, for all the charm in the world, an eighteen-year-old boy does not yet have the resources to provide for such things.”
Dídac was sure he understood the Marquesa’s words, but it seemed unbelievable that she would think to go as far as this to insult his family’s position. They might not live in a castle of these ridiculous proportions, but they were by no means without standing amongst society. He could not understand for the life of him why she would ever think to disparage him in this manner.
Dídac felt he must leave the room immediately. If this was over between them, if he had gone too far, he would not stay a moment longer just to appease her vengefulness.
“Has your father yet taken you to the house of his mistress?” she asked plainly.
This was outrageous, he thought. Who was she to say this to him? He was suddenly filled with rage at her effrontery and gripped the armrests of his chair too strongly.
“Marquesa?” he uttered, the moment blinding.
“A bordello, señor, the house of his prostitute… Have you yet been with a woman?”
He could stand for no more and rose to his feet without thinking.
“You will excuse me, Marquesa, I must leave here,” his racing heart was absolute fury.
“Sit down,” she said, looking up to display for him her eyes. They were without malice but deadly serious. “I am not finished yet.”
He was without bearing as she spoke, he slowly fell to his seat against his better judgment. Dídac could not stand to look at her. He was so angry, so embarrassed and ashamed by her words. He felt he might begin to cry at any moment. Yes, there, he could feel the tears begin to fight their way out. He fought them with all his strength; he would not give her the satisfaction of his defeat.
“Well? Have you or not?” she prompted again.
“No,” he whispered in pain. It was the same miserable pain of the past day, but it was of a far richer substance now, and he could feel himself being dragged through the mud by her.
“So there, you see? How is it that you think an eighteen-year-old boy has any right to propose marriage when he has not even received the slightest instruction on the conjugal needs of a woman?”
The words meant nothing to him, he did not even hear her voice anymore. Dídac simply let her continue as he sat utterly defeated. The tears now were past the breaking point and he felt the slightest relief as the warm water fell to his mouth where he shamefully tasted the fresh salt.
She had not meant this to happen, she did not even know why her words held such pain for him. And look at him, tears in his eyes! Perhaps, she went about this too indelicately. He was, after all, only a boy, manly charms or not.
Marcelina rose from her sofa before Dídac and pulled him gently to his feet.
He would not look at her, not through his tears; his body trembled.
“It’s all right, dear. I’m sorry. Don’t be ashamed.” She embraced him, holding him gently.
He hated her, but the overwhelming part of him was relieved that she was ending this. He did not know what he would’ve done had she let it continue on much further. It was devastating that he could feel such anger and then such love for her so soon together.
“It’s going to be fine. Shh! Dear, don’t cry,” she repeated.
He thought it funny that she was trying to quiet him when he wasn’t making the slightest sound; it was comforting, nevertheless.
The Marquesa pushed aside the tears lovingly with the back of her bent fingers. She wanted him to look at her, but he wouldn’t.
“Listen to me, I will teach you all of this, it will be all right. But from now on you will only listen. You will listen to everything I say and do exactly as you are told. Do you hear me, sweet? You will not speak one word when I am teaching you, and you will follow my instructions exactly. Do you understand? Don’t be frightened.”
Pushing back the tears, which still came, she reached her lips to his and kissed him sweetly. “There, dear. That’s enough, child. Stop your tears now.”
She took his hand and led him through a door hidden in the sitting room wall that brought them within the inner chamber of her bedroom. Dídac could not hide the look of shock disfiguring his face upon realizing where she had brought them.
Marcelina closed the door behind her and turned to kiss him again. This time, she did it without modesty, consuming his delicious face as he gave himself to her without a sound, his hands still lifeless by his side.
He was brilliant, she thought, he was both ashamed to the point of tears, as well as completely giving and malleable. It was exquisite to touch someone so helpless.
But Marcelina was already certain he knew nothing important.
She undressed him slowly, starting with his coat, which she veritably pushed off his shoulders, allowing the soft garment to land on the floor at his heels. She then unbuttoned his tight burgundy silk vest, tailored so flawlessly for his chest, and pushed it off him in the same manner. Then, she loosened his scarlet silk tie to open his shirt, button by button, until her fingers found their way to his bare skin.
His chest burned like a furnace. His whole body underneath these clothes was on fire, scorching the blond white skin that was flawlessly young and bare, with only the slightest hints of golden down. His chest was smooth but without a boy’s want of definition, the exertion of his fencing studies having had already invented the beautiful outline of a man’s form. His burned, pink nipples were large and soft with the heat.
She found no trouble coveting the boy, he was truly everything she had hoped he would be.
His hands finally came to life as he tried to stop her from unfastening his breeches.
“No,” he whispered. “Don’t, please...”
Marcelina’s eyes rose to meet his face again and placed her finger gently to his mouth.
“You remember what I said? You will be silent and do as you are told.”
He was powerless against her, feeling certain that the tears would rise again if she exposed him.
Her stealth was swift and merciless as she reached to remove the breeches, allowing them to fall to the floor over his boots and reveal that he was not erect. His penis was very short but unusually thick, barely hanging down over his tightened scrotum, though hiding it under its heavy shadow.
She thought it beautiful, perfectly suited for a boy of his frame, and she loved him all the more for his tears that came again. For her, the shamefulness of them became the most beautiful thing of all.
The Marquesa kissed him gently and swept the tears away once more, tasting them as they mingled and evaporated on his lips. She was falling more and more in love with Dídac, this child who wept in her arms so full of fear.
Within moments, she had guided him in helping her remove her dress, until she was as naked as he was. Free of the heavy garments, she brought him to the side of her bed and sat him in front of her, bending down on her knees to bury her face in his lap. Her soft hair and hot breath summoned his organ to life quickly, so that within moments she could handle it to her satisfaction.
His sex was shorter, even when she had brought him to complete erection; only a small length longer than that of her clenched fist wrapped firmly around the girth of his shaft. What surprised her was how thick his cock was, so deliciously fat that she gave a small laugh at the unusualness of it. The more she explored his body, the more he satisfied her.
She drew his cock into her mouth, bathing it lovingly, absorbing the mass of it completely. It did not reach far beyond the threshold of her throat and she could receive it without any discomfort, but its immense girth was such that she struggled to open her jaw wide enough so as not to hurt him. Though she tried to prevent it, her teeth brushed against his shaft repeatedly. The sensation, however, seemed to delight him, a response she had only ever encountered with one other.
The Marquesa suckled him only for a few moments to help him achieve his maximum firmness, and then overtook his body with kisses to his abdomen and chest, delighting in her teasing of his nipples, torturing them until they were sharp and hard.
He did not have the capacity for thought any longer. He had abandoned his reason in her sweet kisses, resigning himself to let this all happen as it would. It was the most sensuous experience he could have ever imagined, and he feared nothing when she kissed him, nothing but that it might end all too soon.
But she would not stop her worship of the boy. She squeezed his shoulders, delighting in their hardness, the shape of the muscles, which had already drawn the figure of man. Marcelina loved that his skin was so unweathered and smooth, so much like a woman’s.
She guided Dídac so that he laid lengthwise on the bed, and then positioning herself on top of him, straddling his abdomen and gathering his hands to hold her breasts.
Dídac loved the feel of her. These were the objects of which he had dreamt of in bewilderment all his life, and at last with the moment to possess them, he felt as if sheer silk could somehow take on a lovely thickness and hot warmth. He moved them to his own rhythm at first, reveling in the novelty and sheer beauty of them, paying close attention to her various responses, subconsciously calculating the strength with which she wanted them handled.
Marcelina loved the manipulation of the boy’s tempered but delicate hands. Bursts and waves of pleasure rushed through her when he squeezed her just a little too hard. Closing her eyes, she guided him with her hands throughout, demonstrating her preferred method of attention, the way in which she liked her nipples pinched and breasts held and then caressed all at once. And when he did this to her satisfaction, it was worth everything she had struggled over, just to arrive at such a moment.
Instinctively, Dídac reached his mouth up from the pillow to suckle them between his wet lips, concentrating on her nipples until they were a deep shade of scarlet.
Marcelina released a moan that she did not even notice, but which excited him beyond reason.
She abruptly stopped him from turning his suckling into something over-wrought and frenzied by reaching behind him to cast away the pillow from under his head. She pushed his shoulders down onto the soft bed so that his head lay firmly against the cool linens. Grabbing hold of the bed post, she supported herself, moving her body as if intent on straddling his face. It was incredible, he thought, that she might go to this measure to control him. With her free hand, she rubbed the small mound of flesh between her legs, hovering over him and commanding the boy, as if to use his tongue to bathe herself.
Without reason, he obeyed her and took to lavishing her there with his tongue. He did not understand what he held so gently between his lips, or how his tongue was able to venture inside of her so easily. It was only the uncontrollable movement of her hips and her labored breaths that often became voice, suggesting some secret pleasure, something equal to or surpassing the debilitating joy he had felt with his cock in her mouth.
She twisted her back slightly to find his wrist, pulling his hand up to her mouth to suck on his index finger, wetting it until it was dripping. She then brought his hand down and helped him slide that finger inside her. His digit moved into the tight space effortlessly, and the Marquesa let out a sound that was like a squeal, a high-pitched scream of sorts, which, for Dídac, was the most erotic thing he had ever experienced. He could not conceive of such a pleasure.
He continued feeling the inside of her lips with his tongue, reveling that the inner sheath of her sex was the essence of strength, yet utterly compliant. It was the softest skin in the world, he thought, like the walls of his mouth, but with the strength of stone behind the wet flesh. Like a living being in its own right, exuding some sort of intelligence that excited him and taunted him to explore as much of it as he could. Its strength would come in powerful waves, loosening slightly to allow him deeper passage, and then tightening with an unbelievable force, only to loosen slowly once more. It was like the strength of a savage beast’s jaw, and the thought of it tempted him to kiss her there as if he were consuming the Devil himself in a rage of passion.
Dídac handled her with utter concentration. Time left his mind utterly through this act. But when she came, he felt as if she might destroy him, her hands coming down on his head to hold him with an incalculable strength, somewhat begging to disfigure his face. She held him so tightly against her as she came that he feared he would run out of breath and die, then and there. It would be a pleasant death, to be certain, but he could only imagine what an unexplainable death it might be to anyone outside this private world.
And when she finally came, soaring with the maximum intensity of her orgasm, he felt her hot wetness drip onto his tongue. He lapped this at his sweet reward until she was deliciously dry.
It was incredible to him, that two people could do this, that people’s bodies had it in them to manufacture such joy. It seemed impossible that this was the property of married adults! He could hardly imagine his own parents engaging in this act; the thought was ridiculous. This act was something so magnificent that he believed only the two of them had the power to create it. What other human expression could be more beautiful or god-like? His prior understandings were forgotten as the notion ravished his mind, contemplating a mystery he knew would take him the rest of his life.
But she was hardly through with him.
Marcelina loved this moment best of all, it was her favorite part of love-making. That exquisite period between her first orgasm and his first penetration. This was when her body was truly alive, when she would feel the peak of ecstasy from his cock driving into her, as her sex was still on fire with the tingling rhapsody. It was this moment she wished for whenever contemplating sex, the ancient fortune the gods buried beneath the sea, daring mortals to chance their lungs against the ferocious currents.
She moved back along Dídac’s torso to straddle his cock, still violently erect and possessing a darkly tinted scarlet, which she knew meant he would not be able to carry on much longer. The thought of letting so much time pass between his first orgasm and his second was not appealing at this moment, and the Marquesa settled that she would coach him on resistance and maintenance from the very beginning.
Marcelina thought that she would lose control of herself when she let Dídac penetrate her. His fat cock drove into her with a speed she had not counted on. His hips shot upward to fill her after she had guided him to the illusive spot. The girth of his cock spread the Marquesa unexpectedly, forging the most wonderful impression. She rotated her hips over him, commanding just how much of him she preferred and in what manner she would pleasure herself with what she took.
Marcelina studied his voice, coming now in heavy labored breaths, and she ordered him not to climax until she said.
Dídac pleaded that he must release the tension, but Marcelina only whispered gravely that he must not speak a single word.
She all but stopped her pace, allowing him a few precious moments to regain his control. And when he began to lift her with his hips, trying to create the magnificent friction, she made to end his opportunity all together by dismounting him.
In a fit, he pulled her back on top of him with a strength she could not account for. He held on to her body for dear life, taking command of this act and pumping her body mercilessly, drawing up the fire in his loins to a white rage, holding onto her hips and moving as if his own reason were no longer a factor.
When he came, his voice faltered, and he throated a dry wounded cry, sitting up to pull her body tightly against him as his seed flowed into her with wrenching spasms that removed the very life from his body.
After an hour, he awoke with her warm body nestled beside him. The lovely fragrance of her hair was still intoxicating, and it seemed forever that he simply lay there, breathing the sweet air of her before moving to sit up.
It did not matter to him anymore, this thing he had done. All his fears were forgotten or lost, he cared only now that he loved her, that he loved everything about her, everything she had created and shared.
The room was stifling. With the windows and doors closed, the chamber absorbed all the heat from the afternoon sun pouring in through the sheer curtains.
Dídac rose from the bed and quickly dressed, taking care not to make any noise. It was fruitless, really, for she was not asleep, but simply resting, waiting for him to awaken so she might send him off.
“I trust you are still a gentleman, señor?”
He stumbled to answer her as he stumbled to dress; it was quite impossible to do both, he found.
“I don’t know what I am anymore,” he whispered humbly.
Marcelina stirred now, coming to life before moving to the edge of her bed and letting her feet fall to the floor so that she could sit. She pulled on his thighs so that he stood before her, bringing his stomach to her lips. She kissed his navel and then put her ear to his flat stomach, as if to listen inside of him.
“What day do you move to your apartment to begin your classes at the university?”
He thought for a moment, he did not really know the day.
“Two days after my parents and I return from Madrid. Three weeks from tomorrow. Whatever day that is. Wednesday, yes, it must be.”
“I meant what I said about instructing you on how to behave with a lady in private. I won’t have you take my niece from me without being sure that you’re prepared.”
“You don’t think I’m prepared now?”
Marcelina rose her head up to look at the boy’s face. Yes, indeed, he was beautiful.
“Hardly. Though for a beginning, it was certainly pleasant.” She moved to rise and find her dressing gown.
He stopped her, held her firmly by the shoulders and kissed her strongly, hoping to make a dashing impression upon her, which she received simply enough.
“I love you,” he said.
She looked at him tenderly in the eye and smiled, placing her finger to his lips to silence him, “No, dear. If you wanted to do it again, you shouldn’t have gone to sleep and left me lying here for an hour. That will have to be the most vital part of Lesson One.”
Marcelina was silent, as deathly quiet as Veronica had ever seen her. She read the letter over and over, folding it closed before opening it again and again. She had just received it from her butler, who had promptly left them both where they were in the garden, nestled among the shade trees on two comfortable old wrought iron lounge chairs, the delicious sea breeze swaying lazily in the many branches sheltering them.
Veronica did not want to ask what was so interesting in the letter, though if Marcelina did not tell her soon, she might have to ask. She was sure she possessed such boldness by now, and she was sure that her aunt had given her such strength.
But this was a slightly disturbing look the woman held, Veronica thought. The lines of her face had begun to etch deeper into the blonde, white skin. She looked as if she were somehow aging rapidly and might appear a tired old woman by the hour’s end.
“Is anything wrong?” Veronica asked, all at once very concerned.
Marcelina did not answer, but simply looked away toward the sea, avoiding the girl’s question altogether. Veronica could see, even from her limited angle, that her aunt had let a slow and delicate tear fall from her eye. She breathed slightly deeper and the parchment of the letter fluttered noticeably in her frail and trembling hand.
“Tia, what is it?” Veronica whispered. She was frightened by her aunt’s fragile breaths.
Without turning back to face the girl, Marcelina lifted the letter out to the girl for her to read. The smell of the parchment gave the girl the slightest apprehension. It was a scent that she loved, but Veronica thought there must be some horror contained on the beautifully crisp cream-colored paper to affect her aunt so. The girl felt a shiver fight against the warmth around her as she unfolded it silently.
4 August, 1849
To the Marquesa de Amontoní,
Beloved Marcelina, it is with the greatest sorrow that I must inform you that my brother’s widow, your sister, Doña Lucía Isabel Motas de Fernández, passed from this earth in her sleep yesterday in the early morning.
As you are so very far away, and as it is still very much the summer season here in Madrid, it has been agreed upon by the family that her funeral must be executed immediately. I have sent word to Father Mateu of the Catedral de Barcelona that a private service for you and Doña de Fernández’ daughter might be held. You may summon him at your wish and in your own time.
With regard to our niece, Veronica, it has been made clear by your sister’s will that her daughter is to remain in your care until she has married. As of this afternoon, I have written to your lawyer to assist in completing the transference of the girl’s dowry and the portions of Doña Lucía’s estate that were willed to her and that will be placed into your care. All of Veronica’s possessions here will soon also be sent on, as well as those private things that Doña Lucía has left to you both.
Please receive this letter with an abundance of love from all of your family here in Madrid. It relieves us that you both have been spared from having to be here during this most terrible and unprepared moment. All of us wish for you both our very deepest love and sympathy.
If there is anything at all that we might do to ease the burden of this sorrowful event, I pray you will honor me with your word.
My devoted love,
Don Carlos de Fernández y Aguilar
Veronica did not feel sadness; the thought did not occur to her. She received the information with an emotionless response, like she might while reading a list of chores; she simply interpreted the words and sent it to the galleries of her knowledge, one more bit of memory to enhance her intellect.
Not only did she not feel any sadness, she did not really care. She did not perceive her mother’s passing as she had her father’s death. At his passing, she had been nine and the walls of her mind had come crashing in for one dreadful moment when all she understood was a miserable sense of fear and dread. She had cried for hours and hours when her nurse had told her, holding on to the woman as if she might die were she to let go. But not now. She felt only the most uninvolved acknowledgement that her mother was dead and most likely already buried. She simply would never see the woman again. And that was all there was to it. She would not feel any joy for it, but she did not feel pain over the loss either. Veronica simply felt nothing.
Marcelina cried openly and without the composure she always blanketed her emotions in. Her breath was uneven, and she held herself as if to try and keep her corset from hurting her.
Veronica rose to land at the foot of her aunt’s chair, opening her arms to the woman so that she might hold her and allow her to cry with her support. The woman drew to this comfort immediately and began to undergo a long period of full-bodied sobs that shook them both.
“She knew,” Marcelina sobbed from beneath her closed eyes. “That’s why she sent you here. She knew she was dying. And everything we did to plan your coming here… She did it all because she knew.” The pain enveloped her, and Marcelina’s frame fell beneath the weight of it to be supported by the girl.
“Shall I send word to Father Mateu?” the girl whispered in the woman’s ear gently.
“Yes,” Marcelina muttered, as if she couldn’t think of anything else to say. “I’m so sorry, my love.”
“It’s all right, Tia, I’ll be fine.”
“Yes, dear. You will be. I promise.”