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She closed the flap, took off her boots, pelisse, bonnet and gloves, placing them neatly in the corner. With only her chemise on, she drew up a pillow and hugged it. She hated being separated from her husband. Her nerves were giddy. Her feminine core felt heavy and hot with anticipation. She could hear the crackle of the fire and his feet shuffling on the ground. What was taking so long?

Then the blanket swung open, and the light from the fire illuminated the tent. Kesseley entered, not a stitch of clothes on his beautiful, sculpted body.

The firelight flickered on his hard face and the lines on his neck. The shadows and light pronounced the bulge of his muscles on his arms and chest. Her gaze lowered to his taut belly and then to the dark curls and impressive member beneath. Henrietta gulped.

Suddenly, he appeared shy, his Adam's apple bobbing.

He spoke sheepishly. "I'm sorry! I didn't mean to upset you. I just thought you might be more comfortable if I-" She didn't know what he was trying to say. Her brain had stopped working. She leapt at him, desperate for his lips, his skin, his touch. Her body writhed against his, knowing something her mind didn't.

He kissed her back thoroughly, his tongue thrusting so deep she could feel the edge of his teeth. He broke free, whispering into her ear, his voice thick and hoarse. "Do you like me?"

"Yes," she cried. "C-can I touch you?"

He laughed as his lips caressed her neck. He clasped her hand and guided her to him. His penis felt rigid and hot. It jolted at her touch. She heard her own uneven inhale.

"May I show you how to please me?" he asked.

She nodded against his cheek. With his hand over her smaller one, he tutored her. She gazed at his face in the firelight. His eyes were closed. A snarl curled his lips.

"Am I doing it right?"

"Oh God, love." He leaned his head on her shoulder, his hand moving hers faster up and down his sex. Then he released her and entangled his fingers in her hair. He murmured her name, almost like a groan. She explored his contours, learning she could make him shudder if she stroked him all the way down his length, or elicit a gasp if she moved her fingers over the tip. Her heart swelled knowing she was pleasing him.

Then suddenly his whole body stiffened, and he yanked her hand away.

She was mortified. "Did I do something wrong?"

He drew her against his chest. "No," he said harshly in her ear. Then he kissed her again as he eased her down to the pillows.

"Wait!" she cried.

He released her, almost too fast. His eyes searched hers. "Are you frightened?"

"I-I want you to see me."

She edged over to the open flap, where the firelight danced. Ignoring the cool air seeping in, she gathered the edge of her silk chemise in her hand and raised it over her thighs, revealing her dark curls. She lifted her eyes to his shadowed face. His intense gaze made her feel self-conscious, yet dangerously sensuous. She swallowed and continued, slipping the cool silk over her nipples, then up over her head. She shook her curls free and let them fall about her shoulders. He was silent as he studied her curves, her breasts, her thighs, taking in the smallest details.

"Me," she whispered, then repeated the question he had posed to her. "Do you like me?"

He didn't move. She shivered, waiting, feeling very vulnerable.

"Henrietta, I've imagined you like this since...well, since I knew desire." His voice cut through the silence. "But, my God, you're more beautiful than I even conceived."

She went to him, away from the cold, and took his hand, placing it upon her breast. He stroked the sensitive tip on his fingertips, sending a tingle to her feminine parts.

He pushed her gently onto the pillow, his mouth taking in her other breast, sucking, licking, its taut nipple. She dug her fingers into his hair, shamelessly pushing herself against him, unable to get enough of the sweet, acute sensation his tongue elicited.

He lifted his head and gazed at her from below her wet, reddened breast. "Can I please you?"

"Aren't you?" she cried, barely keeping her voice from flying away.

The way he chuckled made goose bumps break over her skin.

His fingertips glided like feathers down her body, over her belly, lower and lower. She stopped breathing when his hand lingered in her curls. He kissed the inside of her thigh as his finger slid down her wet, feminine folds. Her legs tensed and instinctively she tried to close them.

"I love you," he whispered, his breath like a caress over her skin. "We don't have to do any more tonight. I'm content to just hold you."

But as he spoke, he touched the small mound nestled between her feminine petals, and she shuddered. Again he brushed across her. She bit down on her lip, releasing a soft hum.

His finger began to circle faster, his gaze fixed on her face.

"What-" she cried, but couldn't finish. Her body arched, and her legs shamelessly widened for him.

He circled and flicked his finger over her mound. Teasing her, making her quiver. She couldn't form words, all she knew was to throw herself against her husband's hand, demanding more pleasure. His tongue found her breasts again. She let out a high whimper and curved her body to his touch.

In one long lick, his lips moved down her, coming to rest in her curls. "Don't fight, my love, let it come."

Then the most extraordinary thing happened. He ran his tongue down the wet, swollen slit between her limbs. She instinctively flinched, but he held her tight, the back of his hand reassuringly caressing her thigh. "Let me," he begged.

She bit the edge of her lip, unsure, but trusting her husband. He reached for her hand and laced their fingers together as his tongue lapped at her mound. The shudders returned, this time more powerful. She held her breath, her whole being attuned to the smallest motion of his tongue. The merest touch reverberated down her spine and exploded across her nerves.

He released her fingers, sliding his hand over her breasts, down her thighs, then slowly, slowly she felt his finger ease inside her, exploring her feminine secret. She groaned and instinctively thrust against him.

He moved his tongue, slightly. An intense pleasure shot through her. Her head fell back, her legs so taut they shook. She was on an edge of something. What? Everything was a brilliant white in her mind's eye.

His fingers gently squeezed her nipple and she cried out. Her body seemed to burst under her, rocking, bucking against her husband. And he wouldn't stop. With his fingers, his lips, he took her further into ecstasy.

His wife's cry of pleasure resonated to his core. She was amazing beyond any dream he'd ever had. Now she lay against the pillow. Her breath rose and fell like the gentle lap of a calm beach.

He pulled himself onto her. Her limp legs easily gave way, letting him slide between her knees. Her perspiring face glowed in the firelight, those chocolate eyes shiny and slightly dazed. She was beautiful in her wantonness.

"I never knew..." she whispered.

Kesseley chuckled, his heart swollen with masculine pride.

"I didn't mean to scream," she said, worry creasing her brow. "Do you think the villagers heard?"

He couldn't help himself. "Of course they did. And you know what they are saying, don't you?" He leaned down until he was by her ear. "Kesseley made that beautiful wife of his climax." Then he tossed his head back and howled like a wolf.

She gave his arm a small swat. "Well, it's your fault. You told me to let it come."

"And you surely came, my love," he heartily agreed, knowing she was ignorant of his meaning.

"What's so amusing?"

"Nothing's amusing, my beautiful, dearest wife whom I desire more than life."

He gave her a reassuring kiss. Her lips were gentle and languid, and he had a problem. He was between her legs and achingly aroused. Squeezing his eyes closed, he willed himself to be a patient husband. She was still a virgin, and they might not be able to consummate this marriage tonight, he reminded himself.

Then he felt her tentative fingers running along his cock as he had shown her.

"Yes, love," he whispered, encouraging her confidence.

He could feel her eyes burning through the shadows. "I love you, Thomas."

He clenched his teeth, fighting for the self-control to be gentle and not ram himself inside her. But she rested wantonly below him, open, the tips of her swollen breasts rubbing his chest, her heated cinnamon scent intoxicating him.

The light, fast movement of her hand crumpled his will. He thrust at her, desperate to discover the mystery waiting within her.

"Please let me inside of you." His voice was as hard as his cock.

She reached up and held his cheek. "Yes," she said quietly.

He turned his face and kissed her hand. Then he brought himself outside her swollen wet folds. Her eyes grew large. He could feel her nervousness.

Kesseley was breaking up inside with aching, consuming desire and the fear he would hurt his petite wife, that he couldn't stop himself and would damage her burgeoning sensuality.

"I love you," he said, almost as an apology, then covered her mouth with his.

He pushed slowly, steadily, feeling her body resist, then give. She whimpered in his mouth, her legs tense around him.

He stopped, biting down on his lip. "I'm sorry. I tried to make it better for you. We don't have to continue tonight."

"No," she said, pain tightening her voice. Then she rose under him and in a swift motion impaled herself on him.

"Oh God," he cried, unprepared.

He felt her body trembling. Willing restraint with every ounce of energy he had, he lowered himself carefully onto her, chest to chest, belly to belly.

"I love my fearless wife," he said, and with a tender hand, brushed her long curls from her face and kissed her temples, her cheek, her chin. Her body relaxed, and they lay together, silent, feeling their hearts beat together.

She entwined her fingers in his. "Thomas, we are one."

A silent awe came over him, years of yearning finally realized. Henrietta was his wife. Her love was his completely. There would be no more separation between them. He knew this moment would linger in his heart until his death.

His lips brushed hers and he began slowly rocking his body. "Does that hurt you?"

"No," she whispered. He licked the edge of her ear and whispered his love while he eased farther into her. She writhed under him, chafing against his leisurely rhythm. Her ragged breath and moans heightened his excitement.

Kesseley clung to the fragments of his vow to be gentle, but she lifted her knees to let him sink farther inside her, her hips urging him to go faster. When she sighed his name, he could no longer hold back.

Again and again, he thrust. Her face was tense with pleasure, her beautiful, heavy breasts shook, and her lovely, sweet whimpers rung in his ears. Her nails dug into his arms as she moved frantically under him. Kesseley peered down at his ravishing bride, her lips opened, body arched. For a moment she didn't make a sound-then a guttural cry escaped her throat. She sank him deep into her dark softness, breaking his last bit of restraint. He could no longer hold himself back. The sensation overpowered him. He tossed his head back and cried out through clenched teeth as he released his seed into his wife.

For a moment, they didn't say anything, their perspiring bodies united, their breath ragged in the stillness. Kesseley felt tears welling in his eyes, a fragile wonder trembling inside him. He fell beside her, and gathered her to him. "I meant to be gentle, but-oh, I love you. Please say I didn't hurt you."

"No, Thomas," she said, letting her fingers run down his biceps. The fire had burned down to ash, and only the glow of the moon and stars lit the tent. He felt her smile and knew without even seeing them that her eyes were large and serene.

"Do you know what I loved most?" She kissed his shoulder. "Watching you. I could see the light in your eyes even in the dark, and I knew I was safe. In London, you lost that light. I was so afraid for you. Now sometimes when you're holding me, I feel this sorrow, a grief for something that almost happened. I nearly lost you. It makes me scared and vulnerable knowing how tenuous the most important things and people in your life are, yet at the same time, the knowledge makes this moment so beautiful. That it almost didn't happen...and yet it did. And here I am stronger and weaker for everything that happened and desperately grateful that this moment wasn't taken away."

"Come here, my lover who can see the light in the darkness," Kesseley whispered, laying his wife's head on his heart. "Let me feel you."

Henrietta snuggled close to her husband, feeling so full of love she couldn't imagine her heart could hold any more. Outside the tent she could hear a nightingale singing in a nearby tree, the low hushing sound of the flowing river and the rustling of leaves in the night wind. Things she had known her whole life, but tonight, she felt as if she were hearing them for the first time.

About the Author.

Susanna Ives chases after two wild children, eats a lot of chocolate, dreams up stories, writes, codes web pages, folds laundry and meets up with friends at assorted restaurants and tea houses around Atlanta. As a child, she fell in love with the movie The Sound of Music The Sound of Music and started performing in musicals at her local theater in rural Georgia. She can sing (badly) almost every Rodgers and Hammerstein tune. After receiving a master's degree in digital media, she worked in corporate land for a number of years before deciding to stay at home with her children. Aside from being a mother, writer and web developer, she and the kids sometimes follow her Viking husband on long trips to Europe. You can read about her travel misadventures on her blog: and started performing in musicals at her local theater in rural Georgia. She can sing (badly) almost every Rodgers and Hammerstein tune. After receiving a master's degree in digital media, she worked in corporate land for a number of years before deciding to stay at home with her children. Aside from being a mother, writer and web developer, she and the kids sometimes follow her Viking husband on long trips to Europe. You can read about her travel misadventures on her blog:

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