Chapter Sixty-Nine

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When David arrived at the residence, the butler informed him Maria was in her suite. He bounded up the stairs two at a time, hustled along the hall, knocked on her door and entered. She rose to meet him, and they merged in a hug. "I've been here only a few minutes. I need to relax, we both need to. How about a soak, a fuck and a nap?"

"You've read my mind again." He kissed her and began unlacing her bodice. As they lay in the tub, he told her the highlights of his adventures, and as they lay under the duvet gently churning, she shared a few of the stranger things from her mood swings and weird thoughts.

They woke to the sound of knocking on the door. "That'll be the maid. I asked her to knock at seven so we didn't miss dinner." She rolled out of bed and hurried to the door, speaking to it as she neared, "Thank you, Alice."

Maria heard the acknowledgement and returned to the bedroom to see David lying on his back, fully erect. "You up for more?"

"The sight of your beautiful bottom as you trotted across the room... My God, Maria, you stir me."

Maria trembled lightly. "It warms me so that I still excite you, that you still desire me. God, my crazy mind these days." She stepped up onto the bed and squatted astride him. "A quick ride on my stallion, then we must clean for dinner."

Sonnenhang, Switzerland — Friday 17 December 1915

When David stopped the Lancia at the front door of Sonnenhang a few minutes before noon on Friday, Maria breathed a deep sigh as she looked around the courtyard. "This feels like home. Odd, isn't it? I've spent only a few weeks here, but I have such a strong sense of this as my home. Come, let's find Mama and Tante. I can't believe it's been six months."

After hugs and greetings, David returned to the car to bring in their luggage. "I'll have one of the men help me with your trunk later. Let's take these up and clean for lunch."

Upstairs, he opened the door to their suite and gestured for her to enter. She stood just inside and burst into tears, then turned to hug him. "You didn't tell me about the new furniture." She lifted her head from his chest and turned to examine the new decor. "I love it. When did you do this?"

"It started with my needing a bed to better fit my size, then Tante, your mother and I worked together on redecorating the entire suite. I'm pleased you like it."

"I love it." She squeezed him and giggled. "Can we try the bed?"

"We can do that after lunch, Gorgeous." He kissed the side of her neck. "Let's clean and go be sociable for a while."

During lunch, Maria, Rachel and Bethia added details to what they'd written in letters the previous many months; school in Bern, the grape harvest, the new wine, the ham and sausage business, among other things. Then Maria asked Rachel about the marriage permit.

Rachel smiled as she said, "Both were issued on Monday."

"Both?" Maria tilted her head. "Do David and I each need one? Seems complex, I thought we'd be on the same permit."

"You are, Sweetheart, but George and I also need one."

Maria clasped her hands over her mouth and sat silently staring at her mother, tears rolling down her cheeks. When she had regained her composure, she stood and moved around the table to hug her as David rose and shook Georg's hand. Then all four of them hugged, and after a long, silent embrace, Maria said, "This is so wonderful, Mama. I'm so delighted for you. I'm sure you've also organised the ceremonies."

"We posted the legal notices in the Town Hall on Monday, and we've arranged with the Registrar to officiate at three o'clock next Friday afternoon. We also learned religious weddings are no longer recognised." She laughed. "Besides, belonging to none, we'd be hard pressed to convince a synagogue or a church to perform the ceremonies for us."

They all returned to their seats and resumed eating, the conversation now on the details of the wedding. "The Registrar told me the ceremony takes about three minutes, mainly affirming our intentions, signing the register and having it witnessed. We'll act as your witnesses, and you'll act as ours."

"Sounds so simple, not like my dreams from the fairytales."

"Very simple until we drive back here and have a big celebration with everybody. Tante and I have been busy planning."

Maria sighed and gazed into David's eyes. "What need is there for ladies-in-waiting, flowing white gowns and flower girls? I have my Prince Charming, and that's all that matters."

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