This is a fictional story written by Amber that she will continue writing in future posts. Subscribe to the Empress Tea newsletter and be the first to read the next part of her creation.
We explored the boundaries of our attraction, very politely, at first. Without question he let me draw the lines as they appeared before me. As the days were warm, we spent our time outdoors. We read books, took walks and painted. A craft we were both passionate about.
Though I knew what I was doing was wrong, I remained a good wife. Our touches were innocent. A brush of the fingers as we both reached for the same paint brush, hands whispering by each other as we walked companionably along the water’s edge, or strong, masterful hands gripped around my waist as he hoisted me onto my horse.
As we began to know each other better, I learned that in all other matters, Caleb was not a patient man. He was very used to getting his way. He occasionally spoke sharply to his servants and often told stories of how he overpowered business partners or siblings to get his way. I suppose, had I given in to my basic desires early on, I may have registered these red flags sooner, but as it was, there was very little blood nourishing my brain.
I was lost to him and only him for months. I didn’t notice that my friends still hadn’t reached out to me and barely noticed my husband’s absence. So it was a great surprise when one of my own servants appeared during my archery lesson (with Caleb), with a note in hand.
It was recognizable immediately. Faolon had his own way of marking his letters. There was nothing special about the seal or the way he folded it, but there was always a smudge of blood somewhere on the letter. (I was never sure if it was his own….)
The heaven I had been breathing in became dense with the arrival of this letter. I felt Caleb’s mood change just as quickly as mine did. I knew opening the letter would reveal my husband’s return and rather than prolong the perfection of my affair, I decided to get it over with and find out how much time I had left.
I popped the seal and tore into the letter, scanning for the most important information. Faolon liked to write of his adventures as if I cared what he was up to, though he often shared more than a wife should know. As I read through nights of drinking brandy and smoking cigars, meeting like minded men and whore houses, I came to the part that I had been dreading.
“What’s today?” I asked Caleb. He knew better than to give me the day of the week. “The 27th” I was touched to see the expectation in his eyes. He was just as anxious for the news as I was.
“He’ll be here at the end of the month.” Any day now resonated, no need to be said.
There was silence as we both processed what this meant and how we could deal with it. I admit I was willing to jump in his carriage at that point and not look back. I was even more willing when his hands reached for my shoulders and pulled me into his chest. He wrapped his arms around me and held me tightly to him, his chin resting on my head. We stood this way for what felt like an eternity, though it was over too soon.
I was flustered when he released me and didn’t see what was coming next. His lips on mine were delicious. They sealed my breath from escaping and allowed my heart to happily stop beating. I have no memory of how my fingers ended up laced into his soft hair or when they started exploring what was underneath his jacket, but I didn’t dwell on that.
I was not finished when he turned his head and I hungrily continued to explore his neck with the lips he had just abandoned.
“Niamh.” He whispered in my ear. “Please.” He begged. “You will regret this.” I couldn’t regret this. This was the most alive I had felt in all of my twenty-three years.
He turned back to our discarded archery equipment and lifted and loaded the bow expertly. With a grace for the sport I envied his arrow met the target with a less than satisfying twang. This did not cure Caleb of his stopped too soon passion, but breaking the bow over his knee seemed to help a bit.
Staring into the sun, he was silent. Afraid of the sensations passing through my body, I stayed where I was.
“You should go home and prepare for your husband’s return.” He walked towards his own carriage without even glancing at me. I was hurt.
“Caleb,” I called after him, barely able to raise my voice. “This doesn’t have to end.” I wasn’t sure how to continue, under Faolon’s watchful eye, but was sure that I could not let Caleb leave my life.
“It sure as hell won’t.” He was hatching a plan. Though he didn’t look at me, I managed to recognize the focus of his energy. I smiled and allowed the feelings he had ignited to linger just a little longer.