Josephine's head was pressed back hard against the pillow, her eyes tightly shut, but when she felt Elerde take that icy fire and return it, losing the driving rhythm of his body against and within her, she opened her eyes to watch.
She watched with wonder as the man came to climax. Unlike Lawrence's tightly clenched jaw and face when he grunted out his last shuddering waves of pleasure, this man, her Breton knight, who had kept his eyes firmly on her face during her building wail, closed his eyes as if preparing to pray. His face went flat, serene and like he was savoring a fine wine. It was not until he finished that a soft sigh escaped him and he fell beside her, his face loose and relaxed. He opened his eyes and gazed at her. They smiled.
Elerde, unlike the King, came to Josephine with knowledge of many women. He had known the rich headiness of a woman like Juliana the King was drunk with now. He had known loose women, timid virgins, women who could wield a sword or bow as well as he, farm girls, village girls, servant girls… other men's wives. The man practiced a skill learned in many embraces, but now offered in service to his lady and his love.
The Queen had known passion with the King.. and even with poor doomed Robert de Riffet, but now she came to know something so eclipsing she wondered how she could have lived without it up until now. While they loved she clung to him for comfort, for reassurance, for all her lonely nights, and for the shuddering excitement of his body and how it moved against and within her.
When Elerde had carried her on his horse through the gates of Malcolm's fortress, Josephine had been softly dozing against his back.. She stirred when the horse came to a stop and looked about to see the small manor house and courtyard. She said nothing but just let Elerde take her from the saddle and lead her inside. Servants rushed to welcome them. He asked her if she was hungry. She silently shook her head. Elerde ordered the servants to make a chamber ready for her. She wondered that he had said "he"and not "us".
When he had closed the door of the chamber behind them, he took her in his embrace and gently asked, "Ma chère, I may sleep in the Great Hall if thou wisheth."
She had looked at him in alarm. "Nay, I want thee here with me!"
He smiled and held her closer.
Elerde had then led her to the great curtained bed. He stood before her, gently removing each piece of clothing from her body. As he did his gaze lingered on each area of revealed skin. He would stop as he went and tenderly caress it. When he had uncovered her breast, he shuddered. He reached for one.. hesitated.. looked into her eyes.. and seeing longing, placed his hand so that it cupped the fullness. His face revealed something like wonder.
When he had uncovered her womanhood he quickly put her to lie back on the bed. She had watched as he himself then disrobed. Armor first. He loosened the thick leather belt that held the scabbard and sword. Then the heavy black leather body armor with its plated metal pieces. Then he removed his fine if rumpled and dirty jerkin and finally his boots and leggings. He stood before her in his shirt alone. Then he reached and lifted that up over his head with its wild dark curls, revealing a body that was muscular but not coarse. He was not hairy save for the thick patch of hair that his stiff manhood stood from. She saw scars… many, many scars.
When he had entered her, Josephine had watched with fascination the look on his face. She thought h might start to weep. He had an unbelieving look, as if.. as if.. someone had stayed the hand of an executioner and he could breathe and live again. He had looked into her eyes. She had begun to wonder if he would make worshipful love to her… but then his look intensified and he had begun to move.
For her the feel of him was like a gulp of icy water when one is parched and dry from hard work in the hot sun. She begged to swallow and take relief form the feeling, but the thrusting had just begun. He kept his eyes on her face, watching her rapture build. She gazed back, looking through a mist at the face that for many years haunted her dreams, even as she lay wrapped in the arms of the King.
They lay afterwards in a reverie that buzzed about them like bees in a clover field. He gazed at her, taking in every bit of her, reaching to touch and stroke, as if judging fine linen. She looked back, at his eyes, his mouth, his body, his now flaccid manhood. She looked at the scars. She touched one on his shoulder and looked to him, questioningly.
"Arrow," he replied simply.
She made a small anguished sound. He took the hand that had touch the scar and kissed the fingertip. She continued to survey his body. She touched a long gash along his side. "Spear," he explained. She gave him an incredulous look. He kissed her.
She moved her attention to a dark and evil looking welt on his thigh.
"Sword. That one I got in the service of thy.. in service," he amended. She was too focused on the hurts he had taken to notice the reference to his military service for Christenlande.
He took her hand and kissed the palm. The touch on his thigh had rekindled his arousal. This time they lingered over the lovemaking.
As they partook of a light supper, he looked at her, now draped in a fine velvet cloak, and said," I shouldst ne'er have thought to find thee on a farm, dressed as thou wert and working among the livestock. Thou has e'er been for me like a delicate muguet. A lily," he interpreted.
Josephine smiled. "When I was but a little girl, I helped on that same farm. My sister and brother and I spent summers away from the castle, away from the dirt and pestilence that oftimes came there. We ran about in peasant clothing and had the time of our lives caring for the animals. We cared less for the hard work in the fields. Every autumn we would come back to our parents dark as gypsy folk and about as wild." She smiled at him.
"Aye, I can just see thee." He laughed. "All pale braids and scabbed knees. A toad in one hand and a flower in another. I shouldst like to have seen thee then, fresh, with a dirty face and trusting eyes."
He looked at her then with the greatest seriousness. He began to speak.
"Nay," she stopped him. "I do not wish to speak of any of the sorrows of mine life and thine just now. May we not pretend the world is far away and this be our island in a mystic sea, no kings, no armies, no courtesans, no sad little children, nought but we two aboard a silent ship?"
He had come to her and knelt before her, reached up to caress her cheek and promised "Aye, my darling."
She bent and kissed him. She would think about going with him to Brittany later.
Next: A Fortnight on an Island in a Mystic Sea
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