A Devastating Circumstance.

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It really was time for this.

It was time!

She had been responsible for what followed that, encouraging him to come closer to her, lie over her, go into her body... all by touching him, wanting him to go into her, actually inviting him to go into her, helping him (she would plead for him to do that if she had to), guiding him into her without knowing why she did what she did, or even of doing it.

It seemed right, even overdue. She had watched it, and supervised it for long enough, and now it was her turn. She no longer cared what happened to her if he was the one doing it.

She was devoid of morals!

Was this what supervising and helping with the breeding of the livestock had done to her in the second and third years; that, and smiling as she’d seen others wander off together and then had watched them copulating with each other so often in the barn, or even in the middle of the field, and her not saying anything to hold them back, or trying to stop them, but just smiling and shaking her head as her glance had met that of others? They would not have been stopped, and they so obviously enjoyed it. There was nothing wrong with such an open expression of honest love.

Now, she knew all about that for herself, but it had not been unpleasant or as traumatic as she had been led to believe it would be. Her life had not ended with that happening to her as she’d heard happened to women who encouraged that in London society when a man had knowledge of her body. This, was not London society. Where she was, everything was a way of life all of its own.

She slept again, this time with him in her body, staying there as they rolled together to find the greatest comfort, never coming out of her.

Why was she no longer ashamed or shy? Had she changed so much?

His body never failed to respond to her attention. It was still a strange body that she had never seen the like of before, in its hypnotic grandeur—masculine, aroused-majesty, standing out, attentive, glimpsed in the firelight as he raked the older ashes, and threw more wood onto the fire, before coming back to her again, setting strange and obvious protrusions on his body dancing and bouncing, and other parts of him moving, swaying beneath him one minute, as he squatted with the firelight shining through that space, then tightening up against his body the next, as he moved again and came back to her, his eyes glistening as she welcomed him back to her; welcomed that same naked, awakened body back to her, to go into her again just as eager as the first time.

He would never able to ignore her. He moved the blanket from over her as she reached out to him unhesitatingly to bring him to her without understanding why she did that, and he lay with her again in warmth and comfort, pulling her closer into him.

Why did she not object and fight him away as she should?

This was not the demure, fatalistic woman, once resigned to spinsterhood that she knew or remembered.

Where was her shyness, her forlorn resignation to being unmarried; and not ever discovering this about a man? That time was behind her. She had discovered all about this one, just as he had discovered and was still discovering all about her when they came close together.

There was no putting that horse back into the stable. Nor was there embarrassment at her own nakedness or about his; or that he had no hesitation about touching her anywhere now, claiming her as his, kissing her everywhere, as she did, in turn, to him as he settled always closer to her and seemed to slide effortlessly into her body with just a little guidance from her.

She always reached out in welcome, snuggling again into his life-giving warmth as she had all night (and life-giving in more ways than one, she now knew), welcoming him to her… into her, turning her face up to be kissed, presenting her body to be embraced in a newly learned dance of life, feeling his body blend slowly into hers, belonging there as he touched her breasts, fascinated by them.

She had never kissed, or been kissed like that before. Never touched there before today either, or so gently, so persuasively, nor could she remember ever having responded so willingly to such a welcome trespass, touching invitingly in return.

Words of tenderness, of concern—laughter, born from an unfamiliar and strangely tickling touch. A new game now; the gentle encroaching, exploratory touch of love. No denial there, nor thought of it, just warm surrender, and the breathless expectation of an inevitably violent, but always welcome outcome as they writhed together, approaching that ‘little death’ of orgasmic fury, and then tenderness, as they both ‘died’ in exhaustion after that.

And she might have lived all of her life and never known this feeling. That, was not a comforting thought. No woman should ever die, not knowing a man in that way.

No matter how often; how strange the sensation, how insistent; there would be no denying, nor thought of denying him. Always welcoming. Mutual pleasure. Time, meant nothing.

Laughter. Dancing around the fire in each other’s arms as the sparks flew like liberated souls on their way to heaven. Naked bodies gyrating together and then retiring to the shadows to couple yet again, as the Druids of yester-year did in celebration of Spring’s fecundity, and of life; and as the witches were said to have done in other rites of fertility, calling up the devil; the incubus to mate with them, iron-tipped, insistent, hot, impregnating them with new life. And she…, what was she, other than a succubus, accommodating to him in the same dance of life.

God and the Devil dancing together. Two entities vying for position in the mortal world. But one and the same. No devil’s presence here, just gods.

She called out in the glorious rawness of it all; the breathtaking, unfamiliar sensations that burned her body, and then of her coming back for more. Always wanting more. Never could there be enough of this, of him in this life!

She awoke often after that, but she was still in a dream, and he was always there with her comforting her, holding her, loving her.

Later that morning, before first-light, before their housekeeper came from the village with food for the day, they stood naked together in a small candle-lit room, holding hands, pulling each other close, kissing, touching, embracing, and all proudly; defiantly, without guilt; saying words, writing others, as she strove to recall something as simple as her own name, but couldn’t, not even with gentle prompting and suggestion.

It had not mattered. They had been important, life-changing words even without a name to know her by.

“I shall call you Beatrice, Angelica.”

A ring upon her finger, kissing, caressing, touching. Always eagerly touching, caressing... then consummation again! And then retiring back to the warmth once more to love, with squeals of laughter, soon displaced by suddenly intense seriousness again, in the new-found joy of it all.

This was what life was about. She lived, was alive, was loved. Loved in turn.

She remembered everything! Her entire body was blushing with pleasure and excitement, knowing that she now remembered all of it. She was wet down there too. Some of it from her. Most, from him. Except this time, there was no contribution from him. Damn!

She snuggled deeper into the warm coverings of her lonely bed and let her mind wander again into those delicious pleasures they had shared and exchanged as she bunched her nightdress up into her between her legs to catch her excitement.

She thrilled in the pleasure of what she now knew and remembered.

Always the same thoughts. ‘She had loved. She had been loved. She had been made love to’, and she had returned it, all without hesitation or reservation, and she regretted none of it. She had tasted of life itself, and was not about to lose it.

Consciousness continued to intrude into that dreamy reality.

She rested her hand upon her belly. The fruit of their loving now lived within her; was growing. And she did not feel ashamed, but marveled at it.

Soon, others than just Hetty would need to know about it, but there was still time for that. Better if this secret stayed close to home.

She remembered that they had married according to ancient custom, even if not yet properly churched (that could come later), and had said their vows to each other... just as binding as in any church ceremony between honorable folk. It had been inevitable that they would find each other in this way; a union ordained before they’d ever met.

She remembered more, now; that each new day had been a repeat of the last as they’d grown closer together, walking, riding, and then when it had grown too dark or had rained, they had retired back to the hall to sit naked before the blazing fire and to read their favorite books and passages to each other by firelight, as he toasted bread on an extending wire fork, and they fed it to each other daintily, with morsels of cheese or with some preserve or other, as they kissed the crumbs away. Hundreds of crumbs. Little devils where they fell, and hid away; hiding in the most delicate of indelicate places on their bodies to be discovered, revealed, and dealt with, with lips and tongue. But slowly. Always slowly amidst the squeals of delight that left her exhausted.

She had played the pianoforte sitting to one side of the room, and sang for him as he’d sat beside her and listened, entranced by the magic of it all, and of her wondrously naked-body glimpsed in the fire’s flickering light behind them, reflected from the windows, and the weak candlelight in front of her.

Then they’d made love again.

They had drawn each other, progressively, explicitly, more candidly, on many occasions, secure in the knowledge that no one else would ever see their drawings.

Then, and often, whenever the mood took them (and it was obvious and with never a word actually spoken, but was signaled by the thundering silence of encroaching inevitability, or by the way they looked at each other, or touched), they settled in front of the fire, or moved deeper into the woods if the day was very warm and they had ventured outside, and made love again, secure in the knowledge that they would be alone for several hours. Alone, but for the all-forgiving and patient dog, who seemed to understand that this was a game he could not play with them.

They had all of the overnight hours too, before they needed to dress and before the stable lad returned from the village in the morning, and his mother, Mrs. McLean--who had taken on the task of preparing their meals--would come in again to cook them a late breakfast, or came, carrying a prepared meal for dinner, with it needing only to be reheated in the oven by the fire before being served.

They dined only after all clothing had come off again, with their dinner being served up with wines that never tasted so rare or so fine, to be followed with raspberry or blackcurrant pie, with cream or cheese. It was a repast fit for royalty. Always, there were crumbs to find upon each other, and to be hunted for.

Mrs. McLean could guess what was going on. How could she not? She had seen the careless signs; stains on the sheets—some blood staining too; had seen the way they touched, looked at each other, kissed—even touched more familiarly, when they thought she would not see them as she worked in the kitchen.

She had once been in love herself, and would not judge them, despite her strong protestant upbringing. Who would know what they did when they were alone, stuck out here so far from anywhere? They were in love. Lovers should be left alone.

Deep down, she envied them.

His mother and sister were still some days from coming, and that pair would be ready for them by then. They better had be.

Anna awoke reluctantly, leaving those memories, just as the first fingers of light were beginning to creep over the horizon. At first, she was not sure where she was and did not want to awake into what was familiar to her, but wanted to get back into what she’d just remembered in the depths of that slowly receding dream. She fought to get back into that dream-world, still lingering in her mind.

She now remembered everything; almost everything, that had happened to her, but it took her some time to reconcile her surroundings, where she found herself, with those she had dreamed—feeling the warmth of the large fire in the hall upon her back as they’d lain on the floor in a bed of blankets and cushions, hearing the wood crackling, after Henry had re-arranged the fire and made it up again, and then she’d reached out to welcome him back with her, kissing her, making love to her again and then to sleep further in each other’s tight embrace; sleeping the exhausted sleep of lovers.

It was all real. It had happened, as though the story of the unfelt changes in her own body did not already confirm it.

Instinctively, she reached out beside herself wondering where he was, and why she could not feel his warmth. Why was he not touching her, holding her?

She did not feel what she expected to find: another body beside her. Henry, her husband! but more importantly, her lover. It was just a dream now, but it had once been real, just weeks earlier.

She had been at last able to fully recall all that had happened to her, but this time, one memory did not eclipse another, though they came in waves in rapid succession, snippets and episodes of remembrance as one flowed into the other.

Anna knew that Henry was looking for her, though not knowing her name, not knowing who she was, or where she was. Without a name (that she could not remember for those two weeks with him) or some stated direction where she could be found, how would he ever find her?

She could be living anywhere in the shire, or in the next one over.

But she had been caught in the same predicament at first, of not knowing, not fully remembering.

Once she rode away from that lodge, and him, her memories, even the most treasured ones—and they were all that way—of that all-too-brief time, had all evaporated into nothingness.

Until now.

Nothingness! Apart from the horse, Tornado, she had ridden—and not her own horse. Samson; her staunchest protector. That beautiful dress; the rings; and the other Jewelry. All of which told their own intriguing tales. And, of course, the new life begun and growing within her.

She knew that Henry was searching for her, and would have been searching for her for the last month, just as surely as she knew of her own love for him, but she had not known enough of him until now. But what could she do about it?

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