Chapter 28, Part 2

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*Contains some slightly adult content*

Author's Note: This is short, but I'll have more posted later tonight. :)

 

“I wonder what it could be,” Evelyn worried out loud.

Marie reached out to touch her hand. “The Duke is most likely offering a scolding. I would not be fearful.”

After all had been settled, Evelyn and Marie had taken up their painting again. But Evelyn found it impossible to concentrate. A troublesome feeling was brewing in her heart. Of late, life had been so joyous. Her married life was turning out to be the greatest happiness she had ever known. She was learning to love Guillemot and its residents, especially Marie.

But she could not shake a sense of foreboding. Life was a series of hills and valleys, and after being up for so long, there was sure to be something coming that would bring everything falling down.

The door opened, and Evelyn feared to look. Somehow, she knew that Simon was there. She could feel his presence in the room. And then his voice fell on her ear, softly. It was a softness that pierced her heart.

“Marie, I would like to speak to my wife alone.”

Evelyn felt a stinging in her eyes as she watched Marie rise, curtsey, and depart. Slowly, Evelyn rose to her feet. She closed her eyes for a moment, praying that she was wrong. Turning to look at Simon, she gave a soft cry of distress when she saw the parchment in his hand.

“Oh Simon, it cannot be...” Her hand came up to cover her mouth.

Without answering, he slowly closed the door. Each movement that he made...turning his eyes to her, moving with slow steps as he came towards her...only confirmed her worst fears. She could find no resolve to hold to as he came to stand in front of her, and she broke into tears. If not for the support of his arms, she would have fallen to the floor. He whispered soothing words, but they only caused her to weep with deeper heartache.

She hardly noticed when he picked her up, carrying her to their bed, where he held her for the longest time. Even after her initial outburst had softened to gentle gasps and sniffles, heartbroken tears continued to spill down her cheeks. She wept against him. They had been married less than a month. How could fate be so terribly cruel?

“How can they take you from me?” she muttered. “We have had so little time.”

He stroked her back and shoulders, soothing her. His voice was gentle and soft.

“It is how it must be, my darling. God knows, if I could somehow alter this, I would in a moment. But you must have courage.”

She pressed her head closer to his heart. Her voice trembled. “I am aware of my duties as your wife. I am meant to accept your sacrifice to the crown.” Rising up, she touched her hands to the sides of his face. “But I cannot pretend to be strong. How can I be, when my soul is torn apart at the thought of losing you?”

Without hesitation she pressed a heated kiss to his mouth. She ran her fingers through his hair, desperate to commit the feeling of him to memory. What if they never had such moments again? What if they were parted forever, never to experience the joys of a long life together? The very thought of it terrified her, and between heated kisses on his lips and face, she whispered frenzied questions.

“How far away will you go?” she cried. “When will you leave me?”

He returned her passions, slowly at first, but then with a growing intensity that soon matched her own. “We must go to Paris,” he whispered, as his kisses traveled from the warmth of her lips to the softness of her cheek, down to her slender neck. “In two days, perhaps three.” As his hands circled her waist, he grasped her firmly and pulled her tight against his body. Holding her close, he fell down to the bed with her.

“Simon, Simon. I love you so.” Tears spilled down the corners of her eyes. She wanted to forget the crushing misery. It would consume her soon enough. All she wanted now was to lose herself in the love of her husband. And for once, he was as impatient as she. He cursed his own hands when they could not move fast enough for his liking, and she found her own fingers troubling, for they were trembling with anxiety. Between the struggle to free themselves from their clothing, they shared deep, hungry kisses, and when at last they were both nude, it was only moments before they were fully joined. With her arms clinging to him and her legs drawn tightly around his waist, she welcomed the surging strength of his body. His movements were swift and powerful, filling her completely. He slipped nearly out of her before thrusting in again, and each time she gripped him firmly with her inner muscles. When the end was upon them, they shared a fierce and possessive kiss, each of them desperate to imprint themselves on the other. As his body shuddered, and he poured himself into her, she wept silently, praying.

Merciful God, bless us with a child.

For several long moments, they held tight together, unmoving. When he slipped out of her body, she felt the loss deeply. She whimpered in protest, but he silenced her with a gentle kiss. Exhaustion overtook them both, and they soon fell asleep, holding each other closely.

*****

The sky outside the window was dark when Evelyn awoke. She quickly realized that the bed was empty, and for a moment she was fearful. But then she saw a shadowy movement in the room. Looking towards the foot of the bed, she saw that Simon was sitting on the floor in front of the hearth. Without hesitation, she slipped into her wrapper and went to him, sitting beside him on the soft animal-pelt rug. He put his arm around her, and she leaned her head firmly against his chest. She sighed, a deeply sad and painful sound.

“If only I could go with you.”

He brushed his nose through her hair, nuzzling her. His reply was fast and firm. “War is a hell you cannot imagine, Evelyn. Your eyes must never see bear witness to such horrors.”

She felt the weight of sorrow pressing on her heart. Now she understood the great pain her mother must have known each time she had to say farewell to her husband. No lessons could have prepared her for the intensity of the heartbreak she was now feeling.

“Simon, will you grant me a request?”

He gave a soft sigh. “Anything within my power, I will give to you.”

“Before you leave me, I want you to take me home to my family. Papa and Owen will depart for battle, and Lucien. I want to see them one more time.”

It was maddening to think that her beloved father and brothers might be lost as well, along with her husband. It was too much to imagine. If she remained here, even with the friendship of Marie, she was certain she would not be able to endure the emotional burden of being separated from Simon. And what if she turned out to be with child while he was away? She needed to be with her family. There was no other way.

“We will leave at first light,” Simon promised. He gathered her in his arms, gently laying her down on the rug. This time, they loved one another with great tenderness, creating memories of love that would endure far into the future. Memories that they could both cling to, should their time together be fated to soon come to its end.

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