I spent my mornings with Rachel, planning her lavish party. I didn’t have a lot to contribute by way of food selection and music, so I mainly took notes. Though, when it came to the guest list, I was able to let Rachel know who was who, in the area, and fill her in on the gossip attached to each name. She was amused and seemed to favour the guests with the most interesting stories, that was the first thing I really liked about her.
Rachel was a generous host. Every morning the room was filled with an assortment of breakfast foods, both sweet and savory. Their origins were worldly and each came from a place that had a wonderful story for Rachel to share. While we ate, talked and took notes there were seamstresses who took our measurements and showed us pictures of the latest French or Italian fashions. There was not an idle moment as Rachel strove to plan a night people would remember for a long time to come.
During this time I learned that Caleb and Rachel traveled quite a bit. Though Caleb told stories of similar destinations he spoke with a tone that was a matter of fact. Rachel, on the other hand, enjoyed adding relish to all of her adventures. Her focus was on the clothes, the parties and, of course, the men. Rachel had an appetite for men with no intention of singling one out. This was the second thing I liked about her.
I spent my afternoons with Caleb. When it was nice, we’d carry on as we had in our first weeks together, outside, though those days were few and far between this time of year. On the rainy and cold days we stayed inside, painting, reading or conspiring under a blanket in front of a cozy fire.
It wasn’t easy to be so close to him and keep my morals in check. Though he let me have control over the boundaries he was getting impatient and would often push them if he thought he could get away with it.
I didn’t think of Faolan often while I was with Caleb, but it was in these moments I was reminded of his warnings and how they came to be.
It wasn’t long after we had been married that I knew something was wrong. We each had our own rooms, which wasn’t uncommon, we shared most meals and exchanged pleasentries when we happened upon each other in the house and that was it. If we were going to start a family, I was pretty sure that this wasn’t enough.
After a year of waiting I began to ask questions of my friends. They were shy with the details though a few lent me books with strict orders to never tell where it had come from or let Faolan catch me reading them.
The books were more of the romance variety. Stories of seduction and passion, but gave a very clear picture of what men and woman did when they ‘lay’ together. At this time I was actually attracted to Faolon and longed for him to kiss me, the rest, I wasn’t sure about, though I told myself if my friends were able to do it and if it resulted in a baby, then I was game.
Based on several different seduction plot lines I picked a day, a dress and mustered up some courage with the intention of getting my husband into bed.
With hopeless abandon I did my best to flirt my way through dinner. Faolon didn’t seem to notice, though I think the servants did. Discouraged I took a step back from my plan for the evening and tried again the next night and for the following four nights. By this time I was frustrated and determined to get it over with.
I lay in my bed, by myself, stewing at my husband’s ignorance, wondering if he even found me attractive. I was on the verge of tears, sure that I had signed on for a life of confusion and loneliness. I began to entertain the thought that I would never know the pleasure of holding a child of my own in my arms. But instead of crying I convinced myself to try a little harder. I was a married woman and I had some say in what happened between my husband and I, or so I thought. Perhaps my husband just needed to know I was ready.
I stepped out of bed and bypassed the robe on the chair beside me. Without hesitation I walked into the hallway and headed towards Faolan’s room. I should have been self-conscious striding through the hallway in nothing but my lacy white nightgown, but that was the last thing on my mind. I new what I wanted to accomplish, but wasn’t sure if I had the strength to make it happen.
When I finally reached Faolan’s room I had formulated a plan of sorts. I didn’t knock, instead I gingerly opened the door and whispered, “Faolan, have you gone to sleep?” I heard him stir in the second part of his chamber, the bedroom. I made my way deeper into the room and opened the second door. “Faolan, may I come in?” This time I heard him stir and sit up in his bed.
“Niamh?” The way he questioned my presence gave me the confidence I was doing the right thing. He sounded so sweetly surprised. I didn’t answer. Instead I made my way toward his bed and without hesitation pulled back the covers and climbed in beside him. He didn’t protest, so I continued with my plan. Feeling for his thighs I ran my hand down them and was pleased that they met the description of the muscular hero I had been reading about. I was excited with my progress and exhilarated with the potential for this evening. My head found his chest and rested there, this was my second mistake, I really should have been watching for his reaction to my advancements.
As I probed further down, pushing his night dress out of the way as I needed to, his body began to tense. I thought this was a result of my good work as I gripped his ready and willing member and began to work it as the heroine in my book had done.
I wasn’t long at it and pleased with my decision when Faolan’s tense body become even more so. In that same second he managed to forcefully roll me out of his bed, haul me off the floor and pin me against the nearest wall.
His stare was animalistic, the panting, not from arousal, but from some place darker helped me to the conclusion that this was the last night of my life.
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