Heather awoke on the first morning of her life as a wedded wife to the sound of wood being chopped. At first she just stretched and yawned, assuming Shannon was back for another day's work on her cottage. Then she remembered the day and night before, how drunk he had been, how he had gotten the priest drunk as well, what a fool he had made of himself and her at the wedding feast and how she had handed him a blanket and told him to sleep somewhere other than her bed, which by rights was his also now. She frowned. She thought, "What have I gotten myself into?"
She rose, washed and dressed, then decided to bring bread, cheese and milk out to him. It was her duty, after all. Coming out the door with the plate and cup, she saw him at the woodpile putting larger pieces of wood on a stump and then splitting them into smaller pieces with an ax. She stood a moment to watch the muscles in his back ripple as he worked. She saw the curls that were dark with damp plastered to the back of his neck.
When Shannon turned to toss some pieces of kindling onto a pile, he caught site of her. His look was subdued. He bowed his head and let the ax hang loosely in his hand. "Heather, me darlin'. I cannae tell ye how sorry I am about yesterday. I told ye I am a wastrel. This is one leopard who may not be able to change his spots."
Heather softened at his contrition, but said chastising. "Shannon, ye shamed me in front of my friends."
Shannon looked dejected. "Aye, and I wouldnae blame ye if ye asked for annulment. Our marriage is not consummated. The Church will surely grant ye a second chance."
Heather looked at her new husband. He had removed his jerkin and shirt and was naked to the waist. His skin was shiny and slick with sweat in spite of the chill morning. She felt that now familiar warmth growing in her belly, and something told her she did not want to throw that feeling and any other more intense ones away. She shuddered a bit realizing that this must have been what her own mother had felt with the peddler she had lain with, then been deserted by, and she was glad she had had more sense than her mother. She had made Shannon wait until they were wed.
Heather approached him and lay his food on top of the stump. She reached up and stroked his cheek gently. "Och, nay, my husband. I dinnae wish to cast ye away. "
He looked at her uncertainly, and took her hand and kissed the palm. She hid a thrill that went through her body. Shannon just breathed, "Heather, me own darlin'." He waited to see what she would do next.
"Break your fast, my dearest," she urged. "I must take some things to Emily. We will talk when I return." She turned on her heels and did not see the look he followed her with, confused, reassured, disappointed all at once.
Heather bore the winks and lewd looks of those she passed on the common on her way to Sean's and Emily's cottage. No one wondered at her reaction as Heather was a known prude. Some shook their heads after she passed, one fellow commenting, "The Irishman has slim pickin's, methinks. Poor lad."
Emily looked up in surprise as Heather came through the gate to her dooryard. "Heather! I should not have thought to see ye up and out so early on your first day as a wife!" Heather just gave her a long suffering look as she came over and placed a basket with some dried laundry on a table where the little ones were eating porridge outside.
"Sean is not at home, I hope?" Heather stated.
Emily put down the grain she was grinding in a mortar and settled back on her heels, crossing her arms in front of her and giving Heather a considering and not too approving look. "Oh Heather, ye didn't."
Heather looked up, her eyes filled with offended propriety. "Didn't what?"
"Didn't make him sleep outside." Heather's quickly averted face told Emily everything. "Oh Heather, why ever did ye do that? Were ye afraid of makin' love with him? I would wager he is a very gentle lover."
Heather blushed. "Ye would, would ye? When he is sober or when he is drunk?"
Emily smiled sardonically. "Sean was just as drunk on our wedding night. Men do that. Why, I was more than a little tipsy myself that night."
"Emily," Heather protested, "He made a fool of himself and me last night and during the wedding. I can hardly show my face in the village today."
Emily startled Heather by slamming her fist on the table.
"Heather, I swear I shall ne'er understand ye. He did not make a fool of himself and ye. Ye did."
Heather was aghast. "I did? How did I make a fool of myself? I didnae have a single drink."
Emily picked up the basket of clean clothes and took it through the doorway, where Heather could hear she threw it on the floor with some force. The children eyed Heather warily over their spoons of mush.
Emily came back out and shook a finger at her friend. "Mayhap ye should have. Shannon was just celebratin' the wedding and his happiness. Everyone knew that and loved how happy he was. It was ye they stole uncomfortable looks at as ye sat all prim and disapproving throughout. Ye embarrassed me and ye embarrassed Sean. Ye should count yourself lucky that Shannon was as drunk as he was, else he would have been embarrassed too. Or worse."
Heather stood and just gaped at her friend. She started to voice a protest but Emily cut her off with a fierce look. "Emily," she pursued.
"Emily nothing. Ye go right back to your husband and make yourself his wife. And learn to forgive. Your marriage will depend on it."
Heather nodded weakly and turned. She walked slowly back to her cottage, thinking about what Emily had told her. She felt like weeping. Was she so cold? Shannon may have misbehaved but did he deserve such treatment as she was giving him?
She found him sitting on the stump he had been using for cutting the wood, the plate and cup empty on the ground at his side. He was mopping the back of his neck and looked miserable. She came to him and put her hands on his shoulders. He looked up at her and she leaned and kissed him. His entire being seemed to relax. He whispered, "Time to talk?"
She stared into his eyes. "Time for bed, " she replied.
His reaction surprised her. He looked blank for a moment, then disbelieving. Then he gave her a questioning look. "Are ye sure, ma croidhe?"
She nodded. His face broke into a smile of such tenderness that a lump rose in her throat. He took her hands in his and rose. "Let me wash meself, darlin'," he began.
Heather's voice was sharp. "Nay, I want ye as ye are."
His stunned look shifted to something hungry. He lifted her off her feet and into his arms. She gasped at his strength and the feel of his body against hers. He carried her across the threshold, properly this time, and slammed the door shut with a kick. He carried her to the small bed and laid her on it, then started to strip what was left of his clothing.
"Shannon" Heather said softly and hesitantly.
He had lain alongside her fully naked, with his taut body and rising manhood. He put his arms around her. "Aye, me darlin'?" he said into her ear.
Heather could barely breathe, no less speak, but she managed, "Shannon, I am a virgin. Please be gentle."
He smiled into her eyes, and she gazed back into their blue depths, so close to her now. "Aye, that I will, dearest one." He leaned to her and kissed her on her lips. She felt his body pressed against hers. She wrapped her own arms around his neck and breathed in the scent of stale sweat and wood smoke. It was like a drug. Her body tingled and buzzed, her head was a confusion of wordless thoughts and feelings. She felt an odd and delicious warmth in her groin, as if it was melting and starting to run down into the mattress.
Shannon pulled away just enough to start unlacing her bodice and then her skirts, lifting her gently to pull her clothes away from her body. She lay only in her shift and he gave her a look asking for consent. She gulped and nodded, and he carefully lifted it off over her head. They now lay skin to skin, and Heather thought she might pass out.
Shannon kissed her and his hands began to explore. He took long hungry looks at her body, gently stroked a breast, then put his hand firmly on her belly. He stroked her inner thighs and then reached up to do the same to the well of her neck. He smiled sweetly whenever a new touch brought forth a sigh or a gasp from her.
She reached tentatively herself and stroked his hairless chest, running her fingertips over the muscles and down to his own belly. She investigated his abdomen, put a finger in his navel, and then sunk her fingers into the bush of red hair at his groin. She hesitated, looked up at him, and seeing his smile and nod, reached down and took his now almost painfully engorged penis into her hand. He shuddered and she rejoiced at it. She reached around him as he moved himself over her and clasped his buttocks. They were hard and straining too.
Shannon pushed her legs apart with one hand, letting the fingers slide into her womanhood. He chuckled a little as his fingers came away slick and shining with her wetness. "Are ye ready, me darlin'? I will be careful."
She tried to reply but could only gasp and choke with desire. He kissed her tenderly, then guided his penis to her dampest place. He carefully pushed himself into her, feeling resistance. He watched her face closely as he pressed.
"I suppose ye have had many virgins before me," she said, fearfully.
A look of impatience crossed his face. "Heather, do not speak of this now. Not now." His next move into her tore her maidenhead. It hurt but the hurt was quickly replaced with a sensation she could never have imagined and could never describe. The closest thing she could come up with was the feeling of very cold water coursing down her throat when she was parched and dry from hard work. His manhood slid in and filled her. A jolt of pure pleasure filled her womb. Just as she thought nothing could feel so completing, he started to move carefully and gently. Sparks went off in her head. If someone had told her he used a hot poker instead of his manhood, she could not have denied it.
She stole a glance into his eyes. Whereas he had earlier watched her own face for sign of discomfort or pain, as she responded to his movements, he had closed his eyes and seemed a million leagues away. Then she saw him dreamily look back into her own eyes and all she could see was love and desire. That look dissolved her completely, melting away any reserve, any resistance. She gave over herself entirely to her senses. The two of them became one united electric body.
Heather's focus was almost shaken loose by a sudden building fire in her loins. As Shannon moved himself in her, she could feel a spot inside that thrilled with such pleasure that it made her body start to tremble. It was as if the ice cold water of her metaphor began to pour into her more and more, until it was straining to burst forth. She felt it begin to swirl inside her and as it sped up its spiraling, suddenly her whole body was that water, bursting in torrents out of her, her head, her toes, her fingertips, and mostly from her womanhood. She gasped, cried, wailed and grasped at him, forcing him into her and almost trying to force him to enter her from head to toe, like a diver into a pool. She felt him strain and thrust, and he cried out as well, her name, over and over.
They lay gasping on the narrow bed, he lying where he had fallen beside her. He opened his eyes and looked at her with something like disbelieving gratitude. She smiled sleepily and glanced down the length of his body. His penis lay flaccid and tinged with her blood against his thigh.
She thought to herself, "So that is what this is all about." And she dozed. Shannon watched her sleep and hummed a quiet melody of love.
Before there was the novel, there were the stories...
by Nan Hawthorne, who also writes under Christopher Hawthorne Moss, Books and Stories b ChristopherHawthorne Moss at http://authorchristophermoss.vlogspot.com