Chapter 15 - Womanhood

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Tamara looked with wide eyes between her bloodied bedsheets and her handmaiden, Leena. "You've nothin' to be ashamed of, my lady. 'Tis only a bit of blood." Terrified was a better word for it—she could care less about shame. What was she to make of this disgusting mess? And surely something was wrong with her insides if this was what had come from her.

It was still dawn, and Leena had roused her just moments before. She could tell something wasn't right, even then, but it wasn't until Leena helped her out of bed that the dull ache in her belly intensified. She hunched over and took several gasps of air. Seeing the mess only made the situation worse.

"Why did my mother not tell me it would be like this?" she groaned as a sudden painful spasm came upon her belly. She clung to the bed's bannister for support.

"Mothers often make light of the situation to not frighten you," said Leena.

"Well, I am frightened now!"

"Come now, my lady. This is a part of becoming a woman. You will get used to it. For most the pain only lasts a few days."

"A few..." Tamara groaned and hunched over further, clutching her belly.

"Your mother will be so pleased to hear the news. I shall go and fetch her."

She was about to argue. Being left alone was hardly appealing. But perhaps having her mother here was for the best.

Her chamber door opened. She and Leena both turned. Byron stood in the doorway. "What is happening here?" His eyes took in her doubled over figure and widened.

Tamara was overcome with embarrassment. Even in the early light of morning, the bloodied mess was unmistakable.

"What are you...You cannot be here!" she hissed through clenched teeth.

"I sensed your distress and came at once." His brow furrowed as he realized her pain.

"You should not see me...like this. Please go!" she cried.

"But you are in pain." When Byron looked at her chamber maid, he must have realized what was truly taking place. "She has reached her womanhood," he stated more matter-of-factly.

"Aye, sire."

Tamara's emotions overwhelmed her. While it was true she always felt safer with him, at this moment she cared more about her dignity. "Byron, go!" She pointed at the door. Byron did not move.

"I will fetch your mother, my lady," said Leena. With that, Leena rushed from the room, making matters far worse, for now Tamara was alone with Byron, who still stood in the doorway.

Her heart began to race, and her breathing increased. Why did Byron disregard her wishes? Perhaps he thought his presence would calm her. At any other time, it might have.

He took several steps towards her. She held out her hand to stop him from coming any closer. When she noticed that her hand was bloodied, she swallowed and hid it behind her back. "Please," she whispered, putting her forehead against the cool wood of the bed's bannister. She still clung to it with her other hand. She closed her eyes and clinched her jaw, biting hard on her teeth. "I will be fine. I—I am told that this is normal." She bit out her words.

"Normal? Seeing your terror is not normal." He sighed. "It is not as though blood is foreign to me, Tamara. You need not be abashed in my presence."

"My word!" She heard her mother's cry. Thank the gods! Her mother would make things right. "Lord Byron," said her mother, "this is not the time for a visit. You must leave at once! Leena, bring Josephine and fetch some fresh bedding. I daresay you know how to handle this. Go quickly."

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