SERIES DISCLAIMER: This is an Uber-Xena work of romantic fiction. The characters of Xena:Warrior Princess belong to MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. Any use of these characters or original characters resembling them is without intent for commercial profit. All other characters are the sole property of the author.
SEQUEL: This is Part 2 in the Reflected Passion series. Reading Part 1 first is recommended for a better understanding of the story timeline.
SEX DISCLAIMER: This story depicts a loving/sexual relationship between two consenting adult women. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal in the state or country in which you live, please do not read them. If depictions of this nature disturb you, there are many fine tales available on the internet that are not based on this premise. SEX ALERT! This is a SWP (Sex With Plot) and carries an NC-17 rating, so please heed this warning before reading.
VIOLENCE DISCLAIMER: A little, but nothing graphic.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: As with the original, Reflected Passion, there are some large blocks of French towards the end of the story. Instead of translating, I have left it in English and in italics for the purpose of making it easier for the reader. Of course, the person telling the tale understands perfectly what is being spoken in French.
THANKS: To my own two action heroes, GreenMoon, Warrior Master-Beta, and her trusty side-kick, Brenda the Battling Beta, who let me go out and play in the sandpit while they do grownup Beta stuff. Great effort girls. You deserve a medal, but I only have one so you’re going to have to fight for it. Mmmm… mud wrestling Master Betas……. or is that jello?
FEEDBACK: I’m always open to comments, preferably nice ones, so let me know what you think at: email@example.com
© March 2006
"Here, seated on red velvet banquettes at marble-topped tables, one can't help wonder what sights these smoky, gilded mirrors have reflected for more than 250 years."
Terry Weeks, Author
The start of a new day and the start of a new life. Ma petite sauvage is tucked in by my side still in blissful slumber, while I can barely hear myself think with all the noise. What is that? Mon Dieu! It sounds like a full-fledged battle between the scullery maid and the cook in my kitchen.
I lay in her bed stunned. One day, twenty-four hours, and two centuries ago we were in my bed. My Dale was gloriously unraveling under my hands as we made love in my chateau. I have to admit I do like her bed though. It is a little firmer than I am used to, but it is just the right size for a delightful afternoon romp.
My mind contemplates this turn of events. This angel stepped through my mirror and stole my heart, saving not only my soul but my life from a peasant uprising. I know she had said that she was from the future, but I was skeptical about her claims. It seems I was wrong.
"How are you doing?" That soft burr ignites my flame, stirring the embers within me and making me ache for her all over again. How can one small woman enchant me so?
"I am fine, chérie. Why do you ask?" Her small hand comes up to my face, gently rubbing at the spot between my eyebrows, mimicking my action of a few days ago. Oh… I smile at her action, bringing back very fond memories of our early forays into love making. It is like seeing the images in her mind crossing her face, her eyes slowly darkening and softening with want, her tongue emerging to lick dry lips.
My breath hitches at the sight and I cannot stop my hands from wandering. She rolls over so that her back is against me, allowing me free reign to roam over her velvet skin. Such a wonderfully soft, compact body is at my command. She is truly one of God’s better creations. A sigh escapes her as I tenderly draw circles on her abdomen, my lips brushing her neck.
Her derrière nudges me as I touch her, and I cannot help but react. She shifts so that we are facing one another, her fingers running through my tousled hair, allowing the dark tendrils to slip through her hand. Those eyes, now a vortex of passion, draw me to her like a dying woman to an oasis. I am helpless under those deep pools. I would walk across broken glass for her and thank her for it.
She is unaware of the burning sexuality she has, untouched and so much joie de vivre. I know she thinks I am the sensual one, but does she not realize that she has her own fire, one that lights my soul afire with one look of those verdant eyes? She may be inexperienced, but my body is unaware of it. She is enthusiastic, passionate, and truly honest in her feelings that show me everything that she is. How can I not love her? I am truly blessed.
Those small fingers move to my neck, drawing me toward her, her moist, pink tongue poking out and crossing that last inch to make contact. Lovingly, that tongue traces my lips, my skin absorbing the texture as she caresses me, leaving a wet trail in passing. I am impatient for her touch, capturing her tongue with my own and invading her mouth. Her body caresses mine as I pull her into my embrace, allowing my senses to experience all of her. My skin is on fire wherever she touches me, every beat of my heart pounding in my ears as my excitement rises.
How does she do this? She has barely touched me and I am already at my wit’s end. All who had gone before her fade away under her touch, baptizing me by fire and leaving me cleansed and new. Somehow she has made me whole, wiping away all those years of abuse and abandonment that made up my life, and filling my days with joy. I now look forward to the birth of each new day, for it is one more day with her.
Those curvaceous lips slowly slip into a seductive smile, the seduction rising to her eyes and inviting me to come closer. Sainte Mère de Dieu! How can I resist? Why would I resist? As soon as her lips touch mine I am helpless, as a moan escapes me. The kiss quickly escalates, now that she has found her confidence in her ability to please me, and she demands a response from me, a task I gladly accept.
Before I can control the kiss, she has maneuvered me onto my back, the rumpled bed linen creasing my skin. She scampers up my body, her lips latching onto mine and forcing me to breathe through my nose. The passion between us is nearly incendiary as she tries to climb inside my skin, to feel my heart beating as her own and my breath bringing her salvation.
My impatient fingers track over the skin on her back as she attacks me, feeling it silky and soft and sliding over tense muscles as she aggressively seeks me out. She wants me with a vengeance and I must admit that I feel the same, to experience a connection so intense that I am breathless with want.
For a second, my little blonde pulls back, each of us gasping for air, and she looks deep into my eyes, and there it is… that spark that jumps from her to me and opens the locked door deep within me. She pauses at the threshold for a moment, before coming through, and closing the door. So intense is that look that I feel the physical ache of it in my heart, like she has reached through the skin and muscle and touched it, claiming it as her own. She has no need to do that, it is already hers.
A whisper of a smile touches the corners of her lips before she returns to her task, her lips slipping to my neck, laving the skin as she descends my throat to the pulse point at the base. Her hands have not been idle, circling sensitive breasts in her quest to drive me to distraction.
"Mon Dieu, Dale!" Words escape me as lips have become teeth that have latched onto my throat, furiously sucking in the pliant flesh there. The increasing pressure travels to my groin, like it is on an invisible string, leaving me squirming under her tiny body. That twinge of pain pushes the heat within me up a notch and my hands are more insistent, gentle caresses becoming firm kneading of flesh, grasping her in desperation as she continues to mark me.
My little… what was that in English again? Ah, yes, my little hellcat is all over me, busy fingers finding places that are secret no more. Those lips have moved to replace her fingers, passing over my flesh, stopping to kiss an errant piece of skin, until she circles her next objective. I can feel myself respond to the heated gaze watching me, her tongue dipping to taste the terrain she is mapping on her journey. My fingers find themselves in her hair, disappearing into the thickness of her blonde locks. She finally touches my breast and my hands contract, grabbing fists of hair in reaction.
"Mon Coeur… please." My whispered plea sits in the air like the hovering dust motes above the bed.
"What do you want, Françoise?" Her voice has deepened and roughened with need, her own arousal clearly written on her features.
"You, chérie… only you. Now please, no more teasing." She returns to her work, the smile on her face brushing my skin. Those talented lips find me, drawing in my nipple and teasing it mercilessly with her tongue. When I can stand it no longer, she switches sides, repeating the process, her heated hands sliding down my skin to between my legs, her agile digits tenderly stroking my inner fire.
I open my eyes to watch those dust motes floating in the warming sun, a riot of sensation coursing through me as my little blonde continues to play me. My resolve to let her have her way is slowly eroding away under the assault, and I am so tempted to flip her over and ravish her. It would be so easy, for she weighs next to nothing.
With that thought in mind, I do just that. The look of startlement brings a grin to my face. "What?"
"You had your chance, chérie. You took too long." With what I know is a predatory gleam in my eye and a seductive whisper in my voice, I continue, "Now it is my turn." Those emerald eyes widen in apprehension. And so you should worry, Dale.
I waste no time in teasing her because I know she is ready. I can feel the evidence of that. My thigh slips between her legs and she groans in appreciation, her hip bone touching me intimately. I am fast losing control of myself, and my good intentions evaporate in the heat of her body.
My mind shuts down all thought and I just feel. Our sweat-slicked bodies slide against one another, nerve endings jumping and twisting at the sensation and making us crave more. My lips find the hollow at the base of her neck, sipping the gathering sweat from our exertion. It is like sweet nectar that triggers my appetite for something more. My mouth salivates at the thought of where I am heading, to that sweet taste that is my Dale.
I look up to a youthful face that is unaware that I am watching her as I begin my slow descent of her lithe body. Those windows to her soul are closed as she allows her other senses to take over. My lips cannot help but taste her skin as I move, playfully drawing her out on my journey down.
As I reach my goal, I look up over her, taking in the dips and curves of her luscious body until I reach that angelic face. An errant tongue appears to lick her dry lips, a gentle pant escaping those perfect lips. Deep inside I ache with want for her, the erotic image before me pushing my libido up even further. Mon Dieu, how I want this woman!
Her brow creases in anticipation, and can no longer deny myself what I want. Closing my own eyes momentarily, I sip of that first touch, allowing myself to absorb what she so freely gives to me. I resist the urge to open them when a small cry escapes her lips, not wanting to distract myself from that connection of taste, smell, touch and sound. Bold mental strokes paint a canvas of erotic intensity, emboldened with splashes of vibrant color from her taste and smell. It is a masterpiece, I know, one that is viewed with senses other than sight.
I continue to draw her out, teasing that tiny pearl that is the heart of her, while my fingers feast on her skin. Hidden secrets are revealed in the light of day, pushing her further than I have ever taken her before. My fingers delve into her, searching for that elusive goal that has escaped me so far. She is giving way under my onslaught, her abdominal muscles standing out in relief from the contractions washing over her. I lay still, placing soft kisses on the soft skin there as her body quakes, her mind valiantly trying to regain control.
"Chérie." I whisper the endearment but I do not think she has heard me. A moment later she replies, "Yes, my sweetness." My heart melts.
"I love you, Dale."
Two eyes, darkened to emerald green and still in passion’s embrace, look into mine. "And I love you too. Come to me, my love."
I willingly crawl into her open arms, allowing her to roll me underneath her. Small hands effortlessly slide down my body, not detouring or wavering from their chosen course. With determination, her fingers move to where I want her the most, fanning the flames inside me, until there is molten lava flowing through my veins. Thought has deserted me as she teases that tiny kernel, my libido rapidly reaching its limit. Her fingers, slick with my desire, continue to flow over me intimately, igniting the nerve endings in an avalanche of sensation, the heat causing a flashover and consuming all but my longing for her touch.
"Talk to me, Françoise."
"Use that sexy voice of yours and talk to me… in French."
So, I have found a new weapon in my armory. I try to keep my voice low and sultry, describing what I would do to her given the chance. She does not understand me, I know, but the words have the desired effect on her, her movements over me becoming more frantic and needy.
"Mon ange... Quel sortilège m'as-tu lancé ? Si l'on m'accorde mille jours pour te découvrir, ce ne sera pas assez. J'aurai besoin d'encore mille jours. Et d'encore mille autres. Je ne me lasserai jamais de te toucher, de t'embrasser… de goûter à tous tes délices." ("My angel… What spell have you cast on me? If I am granted a thousand days to discover you, I will need another thousand. And another. I will never tire of touching you, kissing you… tasting the sweetness of you.")
My mind slips away as her fingers plunge into me, setting a pace that I am helpless but to match. I feel my completion rushing towards me like stepping through that mirror, my body falling off me, leaving only my desire and my need. Unashamedly, she takes me, giving me what I so desperately crave with such abandon that I am blissfully unaware that she joins me, both of us swept away on a tidal wave of ecstasy and joy.
My blood is pounding wildly through me and my skin is covered in a fine sheen of sweat, all because of this small blonde sprawled over me like I am a pillow. We lay quietly for a time, each lost in our own thoughts, our actions and the distinctive aroma that permeates the air. "Dale?" There is no response. My little hellcat has worn herself out and drifted off to sleep. It seems I am her pillow for a little while longer…
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I watch rays of sunlight streak across the end of the bed, specks of dust playfully chasing themselves in the sunbeams. This window in the roof is a delightful idea, giving Dale’s home a bright cheery interior. Perhaps… I do not complete that thought. I will never return home. That part of my life is now gone.
A small blonde head snuggles into my breast, soft skin gliding over my nipple. I bite my tongue from making a sound, holding my breath until she settles and returns to slumber. I look around her bed chamber, taking in its sparseness. Some items I am familiar with, others I am not.
On the far wall is the mirror, my savior and my judge. I should be happy about this, should I not? Then why at random moments do I feel it is my prison sentence? I know why… because my choice was taken away from me. If something goes wrong, I have nowhere else to go. When Dale was with me, she could always retreat to her time if it became too much. Good times or bad, this is all I have. I look down to the mass of blonde hair of my beloved and I know I can be happy. After all, she is my love and my life… but…
"Do you want to tell me what’s wrong?"
"Nothing, chérie, go back to sleep." Her body tenses a moment before she raises her head to look at me. "Really, it is nothing."
"Then why is your heart pounding in my ear?" Those luminous green eyes watch me patiently, waiting for me to reveal what is wrong. I cannot. She will feel guilty for saving me, and I cannot make her sad.
"It is my new way of waking you up? Do you like it?" An elegant eyebrow rises at the quip, and we both know it for the withdrawal it is.
"How about we have some breakfast?"
"Where is your cook, chérie?"
"I have no cook. Around here, we make our own meals." She pointedly looks at me, the meaning becoming increasingly clear.
"You expect me to cook? I do not think so."
"Now is good a time as any."
"No, chérie. I barely know what a kitchen looks like. Do not expect this of me." A small hand reaches out, pulling me to my feet. We wander from the bed chamber to the kitchen, naked, sunlight filling the room from the huge windows across the length of the room. I stand back watching her move around the room with confidence, pulling things out of a large cupboard.
"I don’t have any tea, but I do have some milk." She pours the white liquid into a glass, placing it on the solid wooden table.
I look around expectantly. "And where do you keep the cow?" A quiet snicker emerges from her lips. "What? Does the milkmaid deliver the milk to you?"
She holds up the glass bottle filled with the liquid, handing it over to me to feel the coolness of it. She can see the look of inquiry on my face, grabbing my hand and leading me to the cupboard she had removed it from. She opens the door and shows me inside. It feels like a cellar deep in the ground, the cool air slipping over me, leaving goosebumps in its wake. Inside this cupboard is a variety of vegetables and some cheese. "No meat?" She opens an even smaller door at the top of the cupboard, packed with ice and meat. I poke my finger at it, finding the food solid.
"It’s called a freezer, because that’s what it does. It freezes things like meat to keep them fresh for a long period of time. This…" she waves her hand at the cupboard, "… is a fridge, and it keeps things like milk, eggs, cheese, and vegetables cool and fresh."
"And what is that?" The cupboard has a lantern inside.
"It’s like a candle to give us light." To illustrate her point, she steps over to the wall and touches something on it, and another torch illuminates overhead as if by magic. I can feel no heat from it and yet it gives light… amazing. My head shakes in disbelief and I look to Dale who watches in understanding.
I have barely moved from one room to another and I am totally out of my depth of understanding. She grasps my hand and we sit at the table to eat breakfast. At least the furniture is still the same…
I am standing wrapped in one of Dale’s robes, the material barely long enough to cover my derrière. It is either this, or go naked all together. She has left me to my own inclinations while she goes in search of some clothes for me.
Earlier that morning, she had shown me her bathing chamber and, incroyable, it was nothing like I had ever imagined! And standing in that gentle rain to wash? Watching Dale wash herself under the ‘shower’ was the most sensual thing I have ever seen, and my mind exploded with possibilities. It took all my willpower to let the woman go out of the house.
The thing that puzzled me the most was the toilet. I do not understand. I can barely grasp the concept of something that removes bodily wastes, but where does it go? It irritated me the habits of my fellow countrymen and women. Perhaps I was ahead of my time, and Dale’s bathing chamber attests to that, but they were pigs. I laughed and laughed as I pushed the handle time and again, watching the water swirl around the bowl before disappearing down the hole. A child’s toy, that is for sure.
But now I am alone. In my hand sits a small box with what she calls ‘buttons’. In the far corner of the room is a bigger box, the cacophony of sound emanating from it assaulting my senses. It is a teevee. After my initial disgust at all those poor people locked away in such a small prison, she tells me that it is another marvel of this world, where these pictures are moving. I stand here pushing the buttons as she has shown me, switching from image to image, in shock at the things that I see.
I feel that urge again to return home, to crawl into my own bed and curl up in a ball to hide from this new world. Despite her assurances, I do not think I can cope with all… this. It is too much. I am fearful of stepping out that door into the real world.
I put the box down and walk into the larger room that has some old furniture up one end. The shiny wood floor caresses the soles of my feet and I am glad to feel something solid against my skin. I approach the armoire, taking in the fresh lines of the carved wood, running my hands over the familiar object. It is much older than anything I have seen, but I have momentarily forgotten the span of time.
I lay my cheek against it, seeking some solace from its smell and feel. This is a little bit of what I remember, the wood dredging up images of a crackling fire in the fireplace and the peace and quiet of an afternoon’s respite in my bedroom. Comfort… home.
I return to the bed chamber and face the mirror, placing my hands either side of it. This accursed thing has thrown me forward to a time and place where I do not belong. If it was not for my beloved Dale, it would be hell itself…
By the time my little American blonde has returned some hours later, my moment of depression has passed, resting quietly in the recesses of my mind. I know I cannot dwell on this, or it will slowly eat away at me and become a wedge between us. This was meant to be. The magic of the mirror is proof of that. I will not destroy what we have with self-defeating thoughts of what I cannot change.
I hear a noise at the door and decide that a little playfulness is what is needed to cheer me up. Discarding the robe, I drape myself over the bed, seductively posing myself in blatant invitation. The door opens and closes, moments passing with the quiet clack of shoes across the wooden floor. "Ah, chérie, where have you been? I have been waiting all afternoon for you."
The last thing I expected to see were two elderly people standing there openly staring at me. Well, more to the point, the woman was staring but the man was ogling. "Er, er… excusez-moi!" Frantically grabbing for the bed linen, I know it is rather pointless and way, way too late, but the motion covers my embarrassment at being caught in this position. Once I am covered, common sense prevails. "Madame… monsieur. Are you in the correct house?"
"Yes. We are. And who, may I ask, is inquiring?" That voice speaks of aristocratic breeding. I have been around enough of the upper class to know a snob when I see one.
"She is a friend of mine, mother." I look up to a face that is stricken, those emerald eyes skittering from one body to another as her mind frantically concocts a story to appease these two people. I know that they probably do not know. Dale has been with me for a considerable amount of the time we have known each other. "Mother, this is Françoise Marie Aurélie de Villerey. Françoise, these are my parents, Martha and Joseph Wincott."
I am met with a polite nod and I can only nod in return. My hands are busy gathering the rumpled linen around my naked body. Dale puts down a number of packages on the bed, motioning me to take them and get dressed. Grabbing her parents’ arms, Dale steers them into the kitchen while I dress. As they leave, I hear what would have been my first question. "Why are you here?"
"It’s Thursday, dear. Remember? Dinner?" I can hear her intake of breath even from here. Remember? I doubt it. I have kept her busy for the last few days, and I suspect she can barely remember her own name. I know I cannot. Ma petite sauvage has stripped all rational thought from me of late.
I sit on the edge of the bed, wrapped in the bed linen, trying to draw my dignity around me to cover my nakedness. Mon Dieu. What was I thinking? I am mortified at being caught by her parents. Reaching for the bags she has left, I look into their depths to find these clothes she has deemed for me to wear.
Standing, I slowly move to the bathing chamber to get dressed, as any more exposure to her mother or father would be my undoing. I can feel myself slipping into that quiet depression again, the beginnings of a headache touching the edges of my consciousness. It has not been a good day.
I take a seat on the toilet, reaching into the bags for the clothing, pulling out each item for my inspection. The pants and shirt I recognize, but the other things, well… I cannot even begin to guess.
Many colored pieces of material sit inside another parcel, held in by something that is clear and shiny. What is this? Like soft glass? My frustration increases as I cannot get inside. I… I… I hate this thing. The material refuses to break and I cannot gain access, my actions becoming increasingly frantic with each moment.
This is the final thing that breaks me. A howl of frustration escapes my lips as my head bows in defeat, the packet crushed between my shaking hands.
"Honey, are you all right?" That silken voice rolls over me, filling the aching cracks in my psyche, soft and soothing as an ointment to my battered skin. I look up to see those pale eyes looking at me, keeping eye contact as she lowers herself to her knees in front of me. "Why are you crying?"
"Chérie, I never cry." In answer to my statement, her finger rises to my cheek, wiping away an errant tear and holding it up for me to see. Her hand returns to my cheek, brushing gently in sympathy. She takes the parcel away, breaking it easily, and pulling out one piece.
"Here let me help you," she whispers.
"What about your parents?"
"I’ve sent them away. We will have dinner another night."
"But why, Dale?"
"Because you need me."
She grasps my hands in her own. "Yes, you do. I know this is hard for you to accept all this, but I will be there for you, my love. I will take care of you." I cannot help it. For the first time since my family left me, I cry… really cry. She pulls me to her firmly, offering her strength and compassion to me to take as my own. I know not how long I seek solace in her embrace, but I finally come to a point where there are no more tears. I have nothing left.
"Come. Let’s get you dressed." Suddenly, I feel like that seven year-old dressed by my mother to be a ‘big girl’. The linen is stripped away and I feel a chill, probably as much from my emotional turmoil as from the cool air of the room. Still kneeling, Dale holds up the piece of material that until now had evaded me. "These are underpants, Françoise. You wear them under the pants."
"But chérie, they do not look like those ones that you wore."
"When was that?"
I can feel my confidence returning with this conversation. My eyes sparkle with residual tears but also with the memory of that particular time. "When you stripped for me. Incroyable, chérie. That was the most amazing thing. Those little things that you wore…" My hands fly around in an animated fashion, trying to visually describe what she nearly wore.
"Ah, yes, the G-string."
"No, G-string. It is like this, just less of it."
"There certainly was less of it, Dale. Ohhh…" I cannot help but moan at the thought.
"In fact, you would look spectacular in one yourself, but there are very uncomfortable to wear."
"Then why wear them at all, chérie?"
"Because they are sexy and they usually don’t stay on very long, as you know…" The blush that crosses her skin melts my heart. That fine layer of vulnerability that shows in her from time to time brings out my protective instincts, and I am tempted to pull her into an embrace of my own. "Now, let’s get you dressed."
She holds up the lacy piece of material for me to inspect. She lowers it, tapping each foot for me to lift as she slips the material over my skin, her hands skimming lightly over me as she raises the pants to my hips. She leans in and places a soft kiss on my stomach. It is nothing more than a gentle affirmation, and it touches me so in its simplicity and purity.
Moving back, Dale retrieves another piece of material, undoing the hooks on it. Her arms lift towards my breasts and my mind quickly shifts to another level. I cannot help it. Whenever she is close to me my body reacts to her. I stand quietly while she slips the straps of this particular piece of cloth up my arms, allowing the two pieces to cup my breasts. "This is a bra and we use it to protect our breasts. While your corsets would push the breasts up, the bra is mainly used for giving them shape and support when we move." I can understand her reasoning and enjoy the relative freedom and non-existent pain from wearing them. Stepping behind me, she pulls on it and I can feel the pressure from the material as it draws my breasts in towards my chest.
I try to watch her over my shoulder, but have to use the mirror instead, studying nimble fingers drawing the closures together. How does she do that? My eyes watch her work, my heart fluttering under her close attention. She seems to know when I need her and I hope that I will do the same, to be there in her own moments of insecurity. Because without her I would be lost, vainly seeking refuge when there is none.
As if she senses my hesitation, her eyes lift to mine, her warmth spreading from her lips to her eyes, allowing herself to be seen within those deep emerald pools. There it is again, giving me her strength and quiet determination to continue for one more minute, one more hour, one more day. The beast within me is but a tame plaything under her gentle guidance, and I care none that she controls my raging spirit. I finally understand that there are times, like now, when she must lead and I must follow, just as there are other times when I will lead and I will expect her to trust my judgment.
I relax, allowing her to finish dressing me, letting go of my apprehension and anxiety, and just enjoy her company. It will be fine if I let it. Dale will protect me.
While I have contemplated all this, Dale has laid out the pants and is patiently waiting for me to lift my leg. I look down at her amused expression, finally doing what she is silently asking. The cool material drags along my legs, setting my senses on fire. To allow the one person who holds my heart unreservedly to dress me is humbling, comforting and extremely sensual, all rolled into one. The heavy cloth continues to rise up my body, finally sitting on my hips. I look down to the material.
"What is this?" I point to my crotch. "Where are the buttons?" She studies where my finger is pointing. She stands, stopping inches from my face, her hand dropping to the pants to gently touch the material between my legs. Suddenly, the temperature in the room has risen and I can feel my pulse pick up at the thought of her hand so close to me.
"It’s a zipper. It replaces the buttons. You pull it so…" There is a crunching sound as her hand moves. I look down to see the jagged opening close, watching the small tag in her fingers being pulled in an upward motion. She whispers to me, "To open it, you just pull it down." Those eyes look into mine, begging me to remember this vital piece of information.
My breathing has quickened with her standing so close and her hand between my legs. For a moment she hesitates, absorbing my reaction as she lingers there. "Chérie, please." Her heated breath torments me, fanning the fine hair on my face. I am so close to ending this tease, but I rein in my desire. This scene has been a gift to me and I will not spoil by giving into my baser instincts. She is looking after me and I will allow her to finish.
Finally, she picks up the blouse, sliding the soft material up my arms and over my body, quickly threading the buttons through the eyelets. Her hands wind around my waist, turning me around to face the mirror.
"And you want me to wear this out in public?"
""Most women wear jeans these days, Françoise. It’s quite acceptable."
"Jeans?" My small blonde tugs at the pants I am wearing. "Not in my time, Dale."
"But you have worn pants, my love. I've seen you in pants before."
"Chérie, if I had been caught out in public in those clothes I would have been ostracized for my obvious flaunting of what was socially acceptable."
"And that is precisely why you did it. You just love shocking people. I just wished it wasn’t my parents that were on the receiving end of your flair for the dramatic."
"I am so sorry, chérie. I thought it was you."
"I was going to tell my parents, but not this way. Never mind, my love. It’s out now. I’ll live."
"It is that bad?"
"They didn’t know…"
"About me… and women. I didn’t know either, until I saw you." Her arms tighten around my waist as her head rests between my shoulder blades. I can sense apprehension in her, and I shift to face her. Her eyes drop shyly to the floor, embarrassed at revealing this to me. My finger tips up her chin, and our eyes meet, a look of sheer terror crossing my sweet one’s face. I grab her hand, running my thumb over her wrist in comforting circles. "Everything will be fine, chérie. Do not worry."
"But you don’t know my mother."
"Dale, my mother abandoned me as soon as the deal had been struck with le Comte de Villerey. I have not seen her since. How bad can your mother be?" The look in her eye makes me wonder. What have I gotten myself into?
There is a long moment of contact between us, perhaps too long. She steps away from me, quietly sniffling. "What?"
"My mother is not going to like this, Françoise."
"Chérie, be strong. Worse than her have tried to deter me from what I want. I am still here." It now seems that I am the one who must comfort. This is the ebb and flow of our relationship; one needs and the other comforts. "I will never leave you… unless you ask me to."
I look for that answering glow, hoping that I am not going to be disappointed. Perhaps there is still that seed of doubt that she will tire of me, fearful that I am going to be cast adrift on that sea that is her soul. I am not disappointed. Verdant eyes full of passion, commitment and everlasting love shine for me, solemnly promising me that what we have will be for forever.
Before my eyes mist over again, she takes my hand and tugs me towards the door "Come on, let me show you my world..."
* * * * * * * * * * *
I do no want to go and pull back. "Not tonight, please chérie."
Those lips that I have come to crave tip up into a shy, sensual smile. She extends her hand to mine, "Come on, my love. One step at a time…"
Gentle laughter escapes her. "What?" She turns me towards the mirror and I look. I am pouting. I never pout. Dale stands behind me, looking over my shoulder at the image in the mirror. A hand comes up to slowly rub my stomach, making hypnotic circles in an effort to settle my inner turmoil.
"You are dressed up with nowhere to go. Come on."
"You could always help me take them off, little one." My eyes bore into the ones in the mirror, resting my hand over the top of hers and crushing it against the top of my pants.
"You have to go out sometime, Françoise. Now is as good a time as any…"
"I do not want to go!" I sound like a little child wailing at the thought of visiting a despised elderly aunt. Dale grasps my chin, pulling it around to face her.
"Now you listen to me young lady. You can’t keep putting this off." She thinks for a moment. "I’ll tell you what… you come outside with me for a walk and I’ll… I’ll let you have your wicked way with me afterwards."
"My wicked way with you?" Smart woman. She has found my weakness and is shamelessly using it to her advantage. As if she senses I am teetering on the edge, she slips her hand into my pants, sliding slowly towards the heat of me.
"Anything you want…" This is not fair. She is playing by rules that I cannot follow. I could so easily take her now but I fear that the possibilities for the rest of the evening would be just that… possibilities. They would not come to fruition. And the thought that she would submit to anything… my mind just spins.
"Come on, my love. Trust me," she whispers. How can I say no? I know I cannot, despite the agreement. Trust? Had I not contemplated that very thought only moments before? Dale will look after me…
"Fine. But after that, chérie, you are mine. Anything, you said…"
"Anything you heart desires, my sweetness."
I am shamed. So much trust in me. Sighing deeply, I relent. "Lead on."
One step at a time is what she said. One more step down a staircase to what awaits me outside. Dale holds on tightly to my hand, as if she is preparing for me to flee. Perhaps I am. Images of later in the night are all that hold me to my course.
Finally, we reach the door and I have run out of excuses. As if through water, I watch her hand reach for the door handle, twisting it and opening the door. Her eyes track to mine, and I know what she sees there… fear. Fear is foreign to me. I know that I am confident - overconfident perhaps to the point of arrogance. But fear? I live… and love… aggressively, I know that also, but I have always known my world and my place in it.
Gently, Dale tugs me outside the door, her hand holding tightly onto mine, acting as my anchor to our reality. We have emerged on to an alley way of cobblestones and familiar lampposts. I have stepped into my own time to Paris, the Paris I am familiar with. Perhaps not at home in, but still I am able to connect to.
"Come," her voice low and soothing. Again, she tugs me towards the street. I walk, my legs feeling like I have been in my sickbed for weeks. They are slow to respond and I stiffly move in the direction my Dale is leading.
As soon as we reach the end of the alley way, it is like I have stepped across a secret barrier, moving from the known world straight into the world of dreams. Lanterns are scattered everywhere, peeking out of empty windows, and lining the street, bringing light to the dark of night.
A noisy metal beast passes, causing me to jump back. "Wha... what is that?" Somehow my voice has risen to a tight squeak, my eyes watching intently its passing. A touch on my arm sends a jolt through me, causing me to flinch. My blood is pumping through me wildly, my breath coming in shallow gasps.
"Honey, relax. It’s a car. Ummm… a horseless carriage." I look into those eyes for the truth. She is so calm about this and I feel so out of control. "Come on." I blindly follow, a small child thrown into a grown up world.
I now know why I am fearful of all of this. I should be embracing this, not trying to escape it. Oh yes, I know now. It’s… him. I am thinking as a child back to a time when my life was out of control thirteen long years ago. The last time I had felt this so lost and abandoned was when I became married to a man who changed my life… and not for the better.
"Honey…" I cannot hear her over the thumping of my heart. "Françoise!" I jump at the harsh bark. My terrified eyes swivel to her. "Let’s go home." I can see the disappointment in her eyes.
"No, chérie, I can do this. Just give me un moment." Hope glows in her eyes, feeding me. "Lead on, woman." Walking down the street hand-in-hand, we seem to be moving towards a promenade, the trees silhouetted in the far-off darkness.
For a moment, she stops at a small shop, pulling me inside. "Let’s get some ice cream." Ice cream? I look through the glass to the tins of color. Ah, crème glacée. "What flavor do you want?"
"Chérie, you choose. We only ever had one choice."
"Two strawberry swirls please." I watch as the merchant scoops out the confection.
"And what is that below it?"
"It’s called a ‘cone’. You can eat it." Her voice is low, trying not to draw the merchant’s attention to my ignorance.
We walk out the shop into the night air, and I am glad to feel the cool ice slide down my heated throat. My world is slowly righting itself, ice cream in one hand, Dale in the other, and walking slowly down the footpath to dissolve into the creeping darkness of the nearby promenade.
I look up puzzled. "Dale, where are the stars?"
"There’s still there, my sweet, it’s just all the lights in the city block them out."
"Lights?" She points to the lanterns.
As we move a little further past the trees, the sight before me opens up and my jaw drops. It is… it is… It is like the stars in the heavens have come down to earth to hang suspended on tall invisible mountains. It is so beautiful.
"Wow!" I look to Dale.
"The look on your face is just so amazing."
"This is what I was looking for; that look of wonderment." My head drops to the ground. "Françoise, all I ever wanted was for you to be happy, to make you feel at ease here." Those eyes are a deep hazel in the low light, lit by the full smile crossing her face. She pulls me over to a bench and we sit down to finish eating the biscuit container.
"Now, will you tell me the truth?"
"What really has you so scared here? Don’t think I didn’t notice that panic attack a while ago."
"It is nothing, little one." Her hand withdraws from mine as she seeks solace within herself. I am being snubbed, and rightly so. I would expect an answer to such a question if I asked it. Sighing deeply, I reach once more for her hand. "I do not know where to start. I am lost here, chérie. I have no control over my life. It brings back many memories, mon coeur, and none of them good." She sits quietly while I talk. Perhaps I need this to cleanse my soul. It has been buried inside me for too long.
Her small body snuggles up to mine and I lift my arm over her shoulder, pulling her in closer to my side. "This feeling is so close to what I felt back then, thirteen years ago." I feel her body stiffen. She knows. "Yes, chérie, when I was forced to... marry him. Mon Dieu, what hell were those ten years. The day he died I laughed, and cried, from relief." Her small hand caresses my skin, slowly and gently in sympathy. "Towards the end there, luckily he was too sick to perform his manly privileges."
I look down to those eyes studying me. "In the beginning, I had no control over my life. I was forced to travel a road that had no escape. Either side was a sheer drop that would lead to my death. I had to stay on the path chosen for me or die."
"Why didn’t you run away, sweetheart? Seek a life elsewhere."
"He owned me, Dale. It might have been a marriage, but it was nothing more than a sale of a human life, mine. My family had run into serious financial loss and mother saw this as a means to an end. And father… well, he was a weak-minded fool who did anything she asked of him, even the selling of his daughter to the Devil."
"So, I am sorry chérie, if my reaction has not been favorable to your world. It’s an instinct long born in me. Please, just give me time to get used to all of... this." My hand sweeps the air, taking in the grand scheme of all things.
"Take all the time you want." She understands. I breathe deeply, feeling the cool air fill my lungs. I feel… better. Someone knows my story and she is still here.
"It is very pretty, you know. All those… lights. Beautiful"
"I’m glad you like it."
"How do they hang there?"
"They don’t. Those are buildings. Like the one I live in but stacked on top of one another, making it taller and taller until it reaches into the sky. All the lights are on so that people can clean them. During the day, other people work there - merchants, laborers, workers. This is enough for tonight. You ready to go home?"
"You filled your end of the agreement. Now it is time for me to do the same."
"Dale, you do not have to do that. I am content to just hold you."
"So, you don’t want me then?" I can hear a hint of playfulness in her voice.
I turn myself to her, letting her see the answer in my eyes. I grab her roughly, pulling her lips to mine, seeking her out and claiming her. "Take me home, woman." Her smile widens, tiny wrinkles spreading across the bridge of her nose. I feel that ache in my heart again, as she pulls me to my feet to return home to fulfill a promise made.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
As soon as we walk in the door, she turns to me. "So, what did you have in mind?" It appears that she is as eager as I am. Without a word, I lead her to the mirror, turning her to face our image.
"Watch," I whisper, "I know you can do that." The image smiles up at me impishly, her smile faltering as my hand slides up her body. Standing behind her, I am in the perfect position to watch her… watch us.
"What are you doing, Françoise?"
"Ma chére, if you do not know by now, then I am doing it wrong." Her chuckle vibrates through her slim body. "This," I nod my head towards the mirror, "is where it all started, Dale - you watching me through the mirror. Is it not fitting that you and I watch ourselves in the very thing that had brought us together?"
She leans back against me, her head resting in the hollow of my neck. My fingers find the buttons on her shirt, slowly feeding each one through the eyelets. My eyes never leave hers, watching the pale eyes glisten with unfulfilled passion. I whisper into her ear naughty, forbidden things, eagerly watching her fingers twitch in response to my vulgar entreaties.
Her hands go to her jeans, quickly unbuttoning them and frantically grabbing the metal tab. I am quickly losing my patience as I watch her escalating need drive her to find my hand and place it where she needs me the most.
I withdraw my hand and she whimpers. "No, chérie, I must see it all. Naked, Dale, I want you naked." A growl escapes her as her clothes fly around us. I watch as her hand disappears behind her back, the bra slipping off immediately. How did she do that? But she is not content to finish there. She turns her attention to me, nearly ripping the buttons off in her eagerness to find my skin. I desperately look for some self-control, wanting to finish this scene before we completely give ourselves over to our baser instincts.
"Steady, little one. We have all night." But her eyes tell me differently. Her patience is gone and her need is all-consuming. I turn her back to face the mirror, allowing her to feel me slide along her back.
Dark eyes stare into mine, begging me to continue. Her hand once again finds me, returning it to where it had been moments before, this time her own resting there and allowing me to lead her to her passion. I watch her small body writhe against mine, muscles rippling, bunching and flexing as she shifts, vainly trying to find that elusive pinnacle to ease her ache.
This is what Dale saw that first time… I watch, like a voyeur, seeing two people in the throes of passion, feeling their ecstasy as my own even though I am a participant in it. It is exciting and shocking and so… erotic, to see this, to be a part of it. To see my little Dale so deep in her own pleasure that she is oblivious to all but her own completion.
No sooner has her peak hit than she has twisted, pushing me hard to collapse on the bed and she is on top, delving into me without a moment’s thought. Sainte Mère de Dieu! Here is my little hellcat in full-fledged fury, tearing at my flesh in sweet, sweet agony, devouring the very heart of me in an orgy of passion.
I am barely aware of anything around me except the small, eager body over mine and the fingers gliding over me demanding my response. My young, sweet Dale is showing me another facet of her that I had not even considered, and it is an unexpected and welcome addition to our bed. With that last thought, she sends me into oblivion, my body sinking into the raging pool of utter pleasure, where my body pulses in ecstasy with every beat of my heart.
As I descend from the dizzying heights she has taken me, she pulls me into her welcoming embrace. Sliding slowly into contented slumber, she promises to take me shopping tomorrow. That will mean my first day out of the sanctuary of her house. My first day in the real world…
* * * * * * * * * * * *
I open my eyes, my body still tingling from a very pleasant dream about my Dale and those wonderful fingers of hers. It takes me a moment to realize that it was not a dream, her hand wandering between my legs seductively and setting my body on a steep climb.
"Chérie, please." The motion stops, her hand sliding away from its intended target. My hand covers hers, and I bring it to my lips to kiss those digits reverently. I can smell myself on her, the aroma nearly my undoing. Why do I stop her?
A finger touches my lips and I let it slip into my mouth, my tongue brushing across the rounded skin. I repeat the motion with each finger, slowly drawing it out in an exaggerated seductive fashion. "Not here." My whisper is barely heard above the noise outside, which is constantly tapping against my sanity. It never stops. Even at night there is some faint sound, whether it is people talking or those infernal horseless carriages moving.
I pull her to the edge of the bed, lifting her to me and feeling those strong thigh muscles wrap around my waist, the evidence of her excitement painting my stomach. I whisper into her ear, soft and low, as she squirms against me, her arousal swelling under my words. I have found her weakness and now I will win every battle by the mere utterance of a few well-chosen French words. But I have a weakness of my own, wrapped up in velvet soft flesh and blonde hair. C’est la vie.
I carry my precious package to her bathing chamber, wishing to partake of my weakness in the rain. Dale introduced me to the shower yesterday, and I cannot express the joy I felt at finally discovering something that will bathe a human properly. Now I wish to put this marvel to another purpose - to consume the small woman in my arms.
The warm water batters our skin, like a thousand fingers brushing nerve endings, in an avalanche of sensation. My soap-lathered hands claim her water-drenched skin, sliding slickly down her vibrating body to between her legs. I am in no mood for seduction, eagerly seeking her out and allowing my fingers to awaken her amorous spirit.
I nuzzle her neck, breathing in her arousal to feed my own. My lips nip and taste her, her heated body leaning back against me as my hands cover her, voraciously claiming any skin I can find. Her hands clutch at my hips, holding me in place as she grinds herself into me. She is quickly losing contact with reality, vainly trying to hold onto me as her mind is swept away by the sensual tide rolling over her.
I watch in rapt fascination as she slowly unravels under my willing hands. It never ceases to amaze me as she passionately accepts what I have to offer, inflaming me with her uninhibited responses to my advances. This woman is so glorious in her sensuality, and I can barely keep myself cognizant as I answer her call.
Her rapturous cries fill the small room, escalating in volume and intimacy as I narrow my focus down to the core of her. I am overwhelmed each time she trembles at my touch, for in my eyes she is such a passionate creature and I am but her humble servant.
I wrap an arm around her as her legs give way, her body shaking in the aftermath. The cooling water acts as a dampener to our ardor, and I turn off the tap before it becomes too cold. Grabbing a towel, I lovingly dry her, supporting her while she finds the strength to stand. I can only sympathize with her predicament, for she does this to me on a regular basis.
"Give me a moment."
"There is no need, mon amour."
"Shhh. I am fine, Dale. Your pleasure is my pleasure. I am sure that you will more than make up for it when I least expect it." This woman can set a subtle trap, having me on my back before I even realize I have been caught.
"That’s a promise."
"No promises. This is not a competition, chérie. No one is keeping a tally. Now, let us eat before we go on this trip."
It is mid-morning by the time we finally leave the sanctity of her house. That first step past the front door is the hardest step I have ever taken, into a world I am not sure I can survive in. Last night had helped to some degree, but in the light of day my confidence falters. Small fingers wrapped in my large hand squeeze me, and I look down to see sympathetic eyes, a small smile gracing her lips followed by a nod.
I sigh deeply, shifting my shoulders as if bracing myself for the trial ahead. She is with me, my shield against the world. Gently she tugs me in the direction of the big city and I reluctantly follow where she leads me. We enter a building, the stonework close to what I can remember of my own time, and its coolness a testament to the age of the craftwork invested in its construction. The brass plate tells me it is "Community" and nothing more, leaving me no clearer to its purpose. A large pile of paper exchanges hands between a man behind a desk and my Dale, filling her small hand. She puts the paper away in her purse and we leave.
"What did he just give you?"
"It’s money and this is a bank, Françoise." She hands over a sample, and I study it intently.
"What is this worth?"
"Well, that is twenty dollars, sweetheart. We also have coins, but the paper money - we call them ‘bills’ - is worth more than the coin. It makes it easier to carry, and certainly less heavy. Rather than having all this money lying around, we use a bank to look after it for us. Did you not have banks in your time?"
"I had heard of them in London and Italia, chérie, but we would never have used it. My husband preferred to hide his money. I did the same, as you saw with the mirror. But, Dale, you told me you have little money." Despite these banks Dale talks of, we have decided to return the jewels to the safekeeping of the mirror. It had kept them safe for two centuries, so it can keep them safe for a little while longer.
"That’s not quite true. I have money, but why waste it on frivolous things? But today, I feel in the mood to spend some money for once. C’mon, let’s go shopping."
We wander the streets, observing the different people moving about their business. My nose twitches at the air. "What is that smell, chérie? It is terrible."
"I’m sorry, Françoise, it’s from those..." She points to the horseless carriages I have come to detest.
"So these metal beasts pass wind, n’est-ce pas?" She chuckles at my expense. "Well?"
"Yes, Françoise, they pass wind and that is what you can smell."
"Stop feeding them hay then."
"Fine. I’ll let them know…" Her head tips back and she laughs. I allow her to enjoy my ignorance for the moment, but anyone else will have hell to pay for belittling me so.
Despite my apprehension, I am enjoying my time with Dale, strolling along the streets and entering various establishments at will, trying on clothes and shoes, laughing and playing as the mood takes us. I am quickly learning about women’s fashion, soon finding what suits me and what does not.
We pass the shop that my little blonde had bought that piece of material that had sent my temperature soaring not so long ago. My mind drifts back to that moment when she appeared in front of the mirror, dressed in barely more than her seductive smile and tousled blond hair. The sheer material had tormented me with possibilities as she slowly removed her clothing, and it had taken all my control to not just reach in and take her. I did not have to wait long for her to come to me though, and I took her, allowing my baser instincts to run riot and claim what I knew was mine. I had never lost control like that. It was then that I knew that even though she was a novice in this game of love, she was a mistress of the erotic arts. She had skillfully manipulated me until I could stand it no longer, drowning myself in the very spirit of her.
She is about to walk by when I grab her arm, steering us both into the shop. My eyes widen in surprise at what is on display. I look to my partner, a shy smile crossing her lips. "This is quite respectable, you know."
"Then, let us buy something. I will buy something for you to wear and you will buy something for me." She agrees, telling me the size I need to look for that will fit her. Going our separate ways for the moment, we go in search of that elusive piece of material that will tantalize us. The exercise is useless really, for whatever I buy here will last only a moment before I rip it away. Perhaps we should use the money more wisely on something that we need. I look up to say as much, but the words die in my throat as I catch her look of enthusiasm as she sifts through the material. What a sentimental fool I am.
I hand over what I have found, and we decide to keep the suspense by not looking at what the other bought. She hands over the bill notes and we leave the establishment, another bag in hand.
Dale finds an inn and we sit outside at a table to be served by some nice gentleman who takes our order. The sun is shining, an occasional bird is singing and Dale sitting opposite watching me - I am feeling a bit more confident about life outside her house. Silently, we eat our lunch of sandwiches.
During the afternoon, we slowly make our way back towards her house, content mostly to just enjoy the warming sun on our backs, the cool breeze in our faces and the intimacy of each other’s company. Something catches Dale’s eye and she steers me into yet another store. "Chérie, we cannot possibly carry any more clothes…" My voice dies in my throat as we step through the sliding door into a whisper-quiet environment, the cooling air gliding over our sweat-slicked skin.
Dale approaches the merchant, speaking low so I cannot hear what she is saying. With a nod, I am led into a tiny room and given a pair of pants that feel heavy and smell of leather. I hold them up to the lantern, seeing that they are, in fact, leather. I open the curtain, but Dale pushes me back in. "Try them on." I do as she asks, having to tug and pull to get the offending garment on. I am about to ask for help, when the leather gives way, finally sliding those last few inches up my legs. Remembering Dale’s instruction, I find the small tab and pull it up, hearing the satisfying crunch as the hole closes.
I can barely move in these pants, wondering if certain body parts will fall off if I try to crouch down in them. Frantically I grab the crotch, trying to find room in a space where there is none. And that is how my Dale finds me, my hand stuck between my legs pulling the leather away from my body. I look up at her, a deep blush traveling slowly up my torso. Lately, she seems to be able to discover me at my most vulnerable moments.
I stand up, resting a hand on one hip and trying to look dominant and imposing, intent on wiping away the image from the moment before. As I watch, those jade eyes darken, slowly traveling from my feet to my waist. She grabs me, turning me around, repeating the process. I can feel her heated gaze on my derrière, burning a hole right through the leather to the skin below. In the mirror, her eyes track up to mine, smoldering and hungry, and I find myself beginning to burn for her.
Wandering hands cup my cheeks, kneading me through the leather, pushing a libido that is rising at an accelerated rate. "You keep doing that and the lady is going to get a show."
"Maybe I don’t care."
"Ah, chérie, if I truly believed that, you would have no clothes on right now. Come on, let us go home and surrender to each other." A small hand goes down to the zipper, slowly lowering the metal tab. She is standing so close to me, I can smell her excitement. That hand shifts to the button, deftly feeding it through the eyelet, leaving those agile fingers to hover there testing my control. So close… I am so close to saying "damn to the world" and take her here, but the woman is standing close by in anticipation of a sale.
"I’ll be out in moments." My voice has deepened in its timbre, becoming dark and smoky with arousal. Damn that small blonde. She is going to be the death of me.
If it was hard to get the pants on, it was now even harder to get them off, especially after my lover’s little foray with the zipper. It is like the leather has molded itself to my body, refusing to set me free from its grasp. But I know it is because my Dale has my desire simmering, ready to explode into flames at any moment. Finally, the material gives way, much like peeling off my pants after a long, hot ride. That thought does not help my control, my mind going back to that fateful day at the barn when we rode back together naked. Stop it, Françoise, or you will not be able to walk home.
I deliver the pants to Dale. "Are you able to afford this, mon coeur?" She looks at the paper tag and her face blanches. "Non, we do not want this." I am about to return the pants to the shelf when her hand stops me.
She looks to the woman, "We’ll take them." Before I can ask, she replies, "They are more for me than for you, my love." As the woman leaves to wrap them, Dale continues, "I had promised myself to see you in leather pants. Now that I have, I can’t say no. You have to wear them… often." Those eyes stare into mine, telling me exactly what her silence does not. Oh yes, ma petite sauvage is showing her claws. Leather pants and French… she will be dough in my hands.
We leave the shop, another parcel in hand and her purse considerably lighter for the purchase. "So, where do we go now? Home?" My voice is dripping with want at this point, wishing to make use of her large bed in the beckoning sunlight from the window in the roof.
Tiring, we decide to make our way back home, passing shops whose displays shamelessly try to entice us into buying their wares, but one discreet doorway draws my attention. "What is that?"
She looks up at the sign and blushes. What have I asked that would cause that reaction? "It’s a, um… an adult shop."
"Well, we are adults, are we not?"
"You don’t want to go in there, Françoise."
"Well, chérie, it certainly has you flustered. What is in there? Is it a house of ill repute?"
"No, there are no prostitutes in there… I don’t think. It’s a little embarrassing."
"I want to see." She tugs on my hand, trying to pull me past the stairs. "No, Dale, you have to tell me why you do not want me to go in there."
"Because it’s a SEX SHOP!" She turns away at the outburst, her head bowed in shame.
"I thought you said it was not a house of ill repute."
"It’s not. They sell… sex aids." Sex aids? I do not quite understand, so perhaps I better go look for myself. I start up the staircase to the door at the top. "Where are you going?" Her question comes out as a harsh whisper.
"To see what these sex aids are, chérie. You will not tell me, so I will go look myself."
"Please, Françoise, don’t go. The men in there are…. urrgghh!" A visible tremor passes down her torso at the exclamation that escapes her lips.
"How do you know? Have you been in an establishment like this one?"
"No, of course not…"
"Then, how do you know? Come with me. Together, we will be fine." I can see that she does not want to come, but then she does not want to wait outside the shop either. Reluctantly, she takes my hand and we ascend the stairs. I open the door for her but she does not want to be the first one through. Sighing deeply, I enter, finding that it is nothing like what I imagined. Dale’s reaction made me think it was fire and brimstone, like Hell itself.
Up one end are three men looking through shiny papers, their eyes rising to watch our arrival in the establishment. I move further into the room, Dale’s body leaning against my back. We have made it this far, and I cannot back down after the fuss I made about coming inside.
"Haven’t you seen enough already?" Those jade eyes look at me pleadingly.
"Un moment, ma petit sauvage. We have made it this far. At least look before you run."
I had heard of the Marquis de Sade. Rumors about his outlook on life had spread wildly throughout the aristocracy, but looking at the things on display here must surely surpass even his wildest dreams. . "Sacrebleu!"
Some things I can guess by their obvious shape but others leave me perplexed. I pick up a packet, unable to see clearly what is inside. I hand it to Dale, who replaces the packet to the shelf, and I pick it up again. "Dale, what is this for?"
She replaces the packet to the shelf, and I pick it up again. "Dale, what is this for?"
"It does the same thing as that." She points to another object, one which I recognize immediately.
"But why does it not look the same?"
"Because it vibrates."
"Vibrates?" She moves her hand in a rapid motion and my mind finally grasps her meaning. "Oh."
"Now can we go?"
"One moment. What makes it vibrate? Why buy this if your hand can do the same thing?"
"Because it will do it by itself so you don’t have to use your hand."
"Is that so? And what is it like?"
"I don’t know! I haven’t used one."
"No, never. I told you I’ve never been in one of these stores before." I pick one up, carrying it with me as I move around the room. "What do you think you are doing?"
"Just adding a little excitement, little one."
"And what we have is not exciting enough?"
"Of course it is, but I have to keep surprising you, do I not?" So, my little hellcat is a bit of a prude. To annoy her, I continue to look at the various items on display, feeling her nudging me every so often to leave in the hope of escaping the glares of the men present. There are a couple of other things that have possibilities, but I think I have gone far enough with the ‘sex aid’ in my hand.
"Shall we go?" We sidle up to the man at the desk, and Dale reaches into a box there, extracting a handful of little boxes. I look to her in question.
"Batteries," she mutters. Batteries? She pays the man and he hands over a brown bag which she shoves into the bottom of the clothes bag.
"Dale!" I look down at my little blonde, seeing her ashen face. She looks around to a portly man who has walked in the door. "Shit…" she mutters under her breath.
Brightly, she turns to him, a huge grin bunching his chubby cheeks in an exaggerated fashion. He seems genuinely pleased to see her, but Dale is looking around nervously. "Hi, Mr. O’Brien."
"Chérie, are you not going to introduce us?"
"Um, Françoise, this is Mr. O’Brien. Mr. O’Brien, this is my friend, Françoise de Villerey". I do not question why she has shortened my name for now.
"Pleased to meet you, monsieur."
"The pleasure is all mine, Françoise." This time has the annoying habit of addressing me by my first name. Such an intimate address would have been met with condemnation in my time.
"Mr. O’Brien is the one who sold me the mirror." Dale’s voice had dropped low to give me this particular piece of information. So, perhaps I should thank the man.
"I haven’t seen you in the shop for a while, Dale. Everything alright?"
"Fine thanks. I’ve just been busy, that’s all. Um… I’ll see you soon. Bye." She is practically pushing me towards the door in an effort to leave.
As we leave, I can hear the comments. "See you later, sweetheart." "Oh yeah, what a hottie." "Did you see which magazine she was in?"
We reach the street, and my poor sweetheart is hyperventilating. "Are you alright?"
"Why couldn’t we just have left when I asked?"
"Because I was still looking, Dale. I had to drag you up those stairs, so why not at least see what had got you so upset. It is all over now, chérie. Let us go home."
We are nearly there when I realize that I had forgotten to ask something important. "What was that you picked up when we bought that whateveryoucallit?"
"It’s called a vibrator, Françoise. I picked up some batteries, they make it run. I’ll show you later." A laugh escapes me at the crimson touching her cheeks.
"Ah, Dale, you are priceless."
"Glad to see you are enjoying my embarrassment."
"Ah , I think you have come a long way when you ravish me, and then along comes this… vibrator… and you are a like a virgin on her wedding night. Priceless."
"Well, there’s a difference between the privacy of the bedroom and in a room of perverts."
"Perverts? Those men?"
"What do you think they were doing there?"
"Reading the newspapers I think, ma chère."
"Those newspapers were filled with pictures of naked women, Françoise, all doing what you were doing with that man I saw you with not so long ago." I am not surprised. A blind man could see what was in that shop. "Pornography, Françoise, that’s what they were looking at."
"So, perverts indeed then, Dale."
We arrive home, tired but pleased about the successful outing. I am eager to try out this vibrator that we purchased, but it is going to have to wait. Dale has informed me that we are dining with her parents. I have run out of time and my embarrassment is at fever pitch…
My time has come and I must now face her parents. After that ill-fated exposure yesterday, I am hesitant to renew the meeting. Dale has tried to get me to wear a "dress" but I steadfastly refuse to wear something that is nothing more than an undergarment to me. I will not expose myself so. However, neither of us wish to argue over the point and agree to wear pants.
We have ended up at a huge hall by horseless carriage. The ride here was even more terrifying than just watching these beasts pass in the street. Where are the horses? I know I cannot ask questions. Such inquiry would only lead to more questions that neither of us are prepared to answer at this point. Blindly, I seek out Dale’s eyes opposite me, begging for some silent comfort in this devil carriage. Those pleading eyes I cannot resist, burying myself in my reticence and hoping she will reveal all at the end of this long night.
I observe Dale’s mother, taking in the short dress whose hem ends just below the knee. Her hair is cut short at the neck. Everything is so revealing. Where has her long tresses gone? Considered a woman’s crowning glory, removing one’s hair was either a sign of severe illness or a sudden termination of one’s life. Perhaps madame is ill?
Three pairs of eyes are watching me - one with animosity, one with something akin to lust and the third, the one that knows my heart, full of love and apprehension. It is those eyes that I watch in that long carriage ride, not wanting to see what is residing in the remaining two sets boring a hole in me.
As we alight from the carriage, I catch a glimpse of myself in the glass facing me. I have been wearing this attire for a day now and it still bothers me. Yet, on my estate I longed for the days when I could do such a thing. So different… I am wearing riding pants, jeans as Dale calls them, and a tight black shirt. This would have shocked French society, revealing so much of a woman’s figure in public, and I have to admit that leaving the house without a corset took a lot of resolve on my part, overriding all those years of imposed social propriety. I wriggle around in my new clothes, enjoying the feel of material on skin and the freedom that goes with it, pushing my apprehension to the back of my mind.
We enter a building to be met by a large number of people. Are we going to a ball? Perhaps I should have agreed to dress more formally for such an occasion. Dale leans over to me, "This is a restaurant - an eating house."
"Well, a very fancy inn. There are no whores here." She pauses for a moment. "Well, none that I can identify straight away." Mischief resides in those pale green eyes, daring me to be shocked.
I am so overwhelmed that nothing will shock me; at least, not until my mind has caught up to me. I am meekly accepting everything going on around me at present, for I no longer have the fight to question anything any more. Perhaps tomorrow…
After we have been seated at our table and handed a menu, I look over the top at my lover across the table, knowing my eyebrow is raised in question.
"Françoise is acceptable, madame. Enchantée de faire votre connaissance, Madame Wincott, Monsieur Wincott."
"Please, Martha and Joseph." Dale’s father answers before her mother can reply.
"Françoise. That’s French, isn’t it?" Slate blue eyes stare at me in accusation. Now I know how those poor souls felt at the Spanish Inquisition.
"Oui, madame, it is."
"And where do you come from, Françoise?"
"She comes from a small town near the Loire, mother. You wouldn’t have heard of it."
"And just what interest do you have in my daughter?"
"Mother!" I can hear the shocked tone in my lover sitting opposite me.
"Quiet, Dale! I’m asking your "friend" here." I can feel my hackles rising at the contemptuous tone in Martha’s voice. I am trying to be polite, but she is pushing hard.
"Madame… Martha." I can see her bristle at my use of her first name. Good. "I could say that it is between Dale and myself but as you are her family, and I was raised in a society that considered politeness a virtue, I am in love with your daughter, and she is in love with me."
"No!" Martha all but jumps out of her seat at my words. The diners around us look up at the raised voice. "No." The word comes out as a harsh whisper, Martha’s face grimacing as she barks out the denial. "This cannot happen!"
My eyes travel over to my small blonde, witnessing the pooling of moisture in eyes tinged with a touch of sadness. What have I done? I have placed her in a position that she may not be ready for. But she surprises me. "She’s right, mother. I do love her."
"No. You will not embarrass this family, Dale." She dismisses her daughter, turning her attention to me. "How much will it cost for you to leave her alone?" I am shocked and angry. Is this woman so shallow to pay me money to forget her daughter? "Well?" Apparently so.
"Madame, all the jewels in the world are not enough for such a treasure as her. I will not be bought off."
"Mother, please, this is not the place to discuss such matters, but I will say this… Françoise is my love… my life… and she will be living with me for as long as she wishes." Scattered tears still sit on her cheeks, but she is rallying herself in our defense. Somewhere deep inside her is ma petit sauvage, and I silently cheer her stand.
"Dale, this is wrong. It’s abhorrent. Let me find you some nice boy… how about the Claridge boy? He comes from a respectable Boston family. Yes, a big society wedding to put all this insanity behind us…"
"Mother! Enough!" Her voice has risen above a whisper, again drawing unwanted attention. I look over to Joseph, seeing a man broken by his wife’s harpishness and strong will, watching on helplessly as the battle of wills continues. This family is run by a matriarch, much like my own.
She holds up one hand. "No, Françoise. This has to stop here." Her eyes are pleading me for support, which I willingly give. "Mother, no. This is who I choose. You have always made my decisions for me but you never really understood me. This is who I am, mother, who I really am." I cannot help but feel pride for her declaration, for knowing her I know how hard it is to make such a claim.
I study Martha and see in those blue-grey depths the steely resolve of a woman intent on protecting her family. I feel I have made a dangerous enemy tonight. The meal progresses mostly in silence, a piece of polite conversation breaking the silence from time to time.
"Dale, don’t forget the charity ball coming up in two weeks’ time. Young Robert will be escorting you. Can you give him a call some time this week please to organize this?"
"Mother, I won’t be going. Not now."
The silver-haired woman leans over, her words coming out in a harsh whisper. "This has been organized for months, you know that. You can’t back out now, Dale. I’m sure that your "friend" won’t mind you attending the ball with a date."
The challenge is there in those eyes, throwing down the gauntlet for me to pick up. What can I say? I have to graciously let this happen. "Of course not, Martha." I turn to my small blonde. "Dale, you should go. If this has already been arranged, I cannot stand in your way." I can nearly hear the gasp of triumph from the woman sitting next to me.
I turn my gaze to my enemy, infusing my look with all the determination and strength I can. She is mine, old woman. I will not willingly give her up to you. I hear another sigh on the other side of me and I look to see Dale watching me, those emerald pools slowly darkening as she reacts to my anger. I soften my gaze. Not now, chérie.
"Robert has been asking after you, Dale. It seems you have been ignoring him of late."
"Mother, I’m just not interested in him, alright? Stop trying to shamelessly manipulate me into giving you what you want. Can’t you, for once, just be happy for me?" Ma chérie is growing tired of fighting her mother and I can see her jaw tighten in determination. How can I stop myself from getting excited at this show of emotional strength?
"Well, I can now see why. This all seems rather sudden, don’t you think?"
"You may think so, but I haven’t been happy for quite a while. Now I am."
"And that is your final decision?"
"Yes it is, mother."
"Fine. Then it’s the last decision you make in this family. You father will cut off all funds to you and your "lady friend" here. She’ll leave you soon enough once she realizes there is no more money."
"Money?" She has wealth?
"Um, I didn’t tell you that part, sorry." Green eyes look at me beseechingly. "She didn’t know I came from a wealthy family, mother."
"Oh, come now. Are you telling me she loves you with no strings attached?"
I am so tempted to hit the woman next to me, but Dale stops me with a hand on my arm. I look up to those verdant eyes, seeing not sadness but anger. Sparks snap at me as she tries to stop herself from saying what is sitting on her lips.
Her head slowly turns to her mother and as I watch, the older woman’s eyes retreat. I know what she sees. Her little, obedient daughter is about to rebel. In a harsh whisper, Dale lets fly. "Don’t you ever, ever talk like that to Françoise ever again, you understand me? If you can’t show a modicum of politeness to her, then it is you that is shaming this family, mother."
"Now you listen young lady…"
"No, I’m not finished. You have ruled my life for long enough. I love this woman and I intend to spend the rest of my life with her. This is not negotiable."
Her mother’s disapproving stare tells me the woman is not going to accept her daughter’s decision lightly. Ma chére sees it also and continues, "Mother, you don’t want to fight me on this because you will lose. You leave us alone or the Wincott line dies with me." Scraping her chair along the floor as she violently stands up Dale offers her hand to me, inviting me to stand also.
"Monsieur… Joseph. It is a pleasure to meet you, sir. Au revoir." I wait patiently while she gives her father a hug, and I can barely hear the whispered conversation between the two of them.
In a final parting statement, Martha mutters venomously, "When you finally come to yours senses, you know where to find me." Dale ignores her barb and we leave the room hand in hand in a show of defiance.
Dale walks with me to the horseless carriage, but I am loathe to get in. "Can we walk?" Without a word, she leads me in the direction of her house, her emotional turmoil clearly visible even to my dulled senses. I so desperately want to hold her in my arms, to cheer her act of defiance. To do something I never had the chance to do. To make a stand for the one she loves against a woman who controlled her life. And my arousal is at fever pitch as her grim determination rolls across her skin like water.
"Speak to me, chérie."
"Remember when I said some things hadn’t improved in the last two hundred years? Well, this is one of them. Not everyone is accepting of homosexuality, my love. This city houses a lot of old families whose ancestors were part of the first settlers of this country. There are certain standards that they live by, and this isn’t one of them."
"So, what is this ball you have to attend?"
"Nothing important, just some charity thing mother has organized."
"Charity? I do not understand."
"She’s on a committee that raises money for a children’s orphanage. Once a year there’s a charity ball - it’s one of their major fund-raising events for the year."
"Then, by all means, you should attend."
"There’ll just be all her rich friends hanging around. Not much fun, I’m afraid."
"Why did you not tell me you were wealthy?"
"It wasn’t important."
"Not important? Chérie, I was worried about you using all your money to look after me."
"You didn’t need to, Françoise. My father is a very successful financier, and my mother… well, my mother uses her power and influence to indulge in the catty gossip and idle chatter that sometimes exists within these circles." She pauses for a moment, as if deciding how much to tell me. "My parents are wealthy. They have a house that is almost as big as your chateau, Françoise."
"But you led me to believe you were poor. Did you not trust me?"
"Of course I did."
"But you hid it from me. I never hid anything from you Dale. Perhaps you did not trust my intentions." I pull away, hurt that she did not feel she could trust me enough with this information. This is all foolish, I know, because we both feel this connection down to our very souls. But my ego has been bruised by this little detail, and it is eager to fight. My pride does not like the idea of being a "kept" woman. I have already been in that position once and it has pricked me for many a year.
I like my independence and the thought of Dale controlling this relationship is grating on me. I am the dominant one. Me. I like it that way and I suspect Dale does too. I breathe deeply, calming myself. This is all so silly. So, she has money. So have I. Stop worrying, woman! If her mother does something foolish, at least we will not be starving and out in the street without a roof over our heads.
"Please, my love. Please, don’t turn away!" Her plea breaks my heart. How can I fight her when those guileless green eyes look deep into mine? Françoise, you cannot win this - you do not want to win this – do not try.
All this is pointless. We are together no matter what, so I decide it is best to change the subject. "Why do they allow you to live alone in your house? Should you not have a chaperon?"
"Chaperon? Honey, those days are long gone. In this century, a woman can work, live alone and own a house, all without a man or a chaperon… or a mother. I have money, but I choose not to use it." I am pleased to hear her voice relax as we talk about common things.
"But why? If you have it, why not use it?"
"Because it is my parents’ money and I need to prove to myself that I could support myself without help from them." No wonder I love her. She has a stubborn independent streak nearly as wide as my own. "You can see how my mother is. Could you live with that all day every day?" My nose wrinkles at the thought of being in the presence of that viper of a woman for every moment of every day. "Just as I thought."
"May I ask what did your father say to you as we left?" When she hesitates, I withdraw. "No chérie, it is obviously a private conversation. You do not have to tell me."
"No, it’s not that. I feel sorry for him, living with her. He said that my money was safe. He would not let her touch it, and that he would be in contact with me soon."
"Well then, you at least have the support of both of us."
"So true… so true." The conversation drifts off as we wander down the pathway, the fading light of day giving way to the dark hue of impending darkness. Lampposts are scattered liberally along our pathway, lighting the expanse of ground. As we walk, we pass some shops, the glass windows revealing statues dressed in the clothes of the day. I have to admit that I am fascinated with how far women have come, now dressing like the boldest of whores in the seedier streets of Paris in my time. The expanse of flesh exposed would have earned them a pretty livre in tips alone.
She pushes me into the shadows between two shop fronts, her small hand reaching up and fondling my breast. "You’re not wearing a bra." Her heated breath skims across my neck, sending a shiver through my body.
"You are a troublemaker." As if to prove her point, she squeezes me and I can feel my nipple growing hard under her palm.
"Mon Dieu, Dale. What are you doing?" I cannot look into her eyes, but I feel the excitement in her touch. Ma petit sauvage is coming out to play.
"Feeling you up."
"It’s an expression. Feeling you up… fondling you."
"But, chérie, someone might see."
"Is this the same woman who constantly exposed herself to me all those nights ago, afraid of someone watching?"
"Well, I was trying to seduce you then. You want me to seduce someone else?" I look around in interest, playing the game. "Will there be three in our bed tonight, ma petit sauvage?" I can just imagine my little hellcat allowing someone else in our bed, man or woman. She would tear them apart. No, I will not tempt fate by such a move. Does she not know that I see no one else but her?
We wander home, taking our time to allow the cooling air and the slowly returning calm to ease the pent-up excitement from the meal. We walk in silence. I know that my mind has absorbed all it can for one day and can take no more. I am sure she feels the same.
I am wondering how long I will have to wait before I can ravish her. We have arrived home from the disastrous evening meal with her parents and are trying to find some calm before bed. The thought of new clothes to rip off her, and now the vibrator, has made me think of nothing else. The dreaded box is on, showing something she calls a ‘movie’. Apparently it is a play of some sort, but apart from a moment of making love, there is little to hold my attention. My mind is elsewhere, slowly simmering in a pot of heated passion, awaiting a signal from her to move forward. My curiosity was piqued when we bought this object, and now that she is shy about it, I want to try it now more than ever. But I cannot make it work without her. Somehow I have to convince her to try, even if I am the willing recipient of it.
Finally, the play finishes and her attention turns to me. "So…" Do I sound too eager?
"So…" Oh please, time for bed. "What do you want to do now?" Is she giving me the hint?
"Well, chérie, do you really want me to answer that, or can you guess?" My eyes have been darkening with need for the last hour, and I can feel my heartbeat pulsing through me. She only has to look to know what I want. As I watch her, her eyes turn to a dark hazel, my hands already in motion at the first sign of her readiness. I pull her into my lap, her legs straddling my body. I can feel myself shake under the weight of my own arousal, and I have not even touched her yet.
How can this be wrong? Martha is a narrow-minded fool living in the Middle Ages. Even in my time, while not openly accepted, our love would have been tolerated with a lot less hostility than this woman shows her own daughter.
I stake my claim on her mouth, plunging my tongue in to dominate the kiss, to burn away any opposition she may have. This is our time and no one, especially this heartless witch parading as her mother, is going to take it away from us. I feel her slowly respond to my plea, her fingers sliding along my scalp and flexing as our tongues touch. While I find that almost shy quality about her most endearing, I can see the uncertainty in her eyes just before we make love.
I stand, holding her tight little body close to me, and move to the bedroom. I deposit my precious parcel on the bed, moving away to find our new bedclothes. I approach, holding the material in my hand, with a devilish gleam in my eye. "You want to play?"
An elegant eyebrow rises at my question as if to say, "Of course I do". Leaving her to get changed in the bed chamber, I retire to the bathing chamber. In no time I have changed into what she chose for me, looking at the result in the mirror. Dieu tout puissant! Why is she worried about her inhibited nature? Why am I? The diaphanous material leaves nothing to the imagination, its neckline even bolder than the one Dale had worn a few nights ago. This gown is more for her own pleasure than my own, giving me a clear indication of where her passion lies.
I enter the room, not prepared for the goddess standing in front of me. I had picked this particular item of clothing for its silky feel, because I wanted to feel my hands slide over the body underneath it. Where mine shows everything, this garment shows almost nothing, the material molding to the sleekly muscled body wearing it. The neckline plunges to her waist, revealing enough of her to start my pulse racing. I have died and gone to heaven.
I had thought that she could not look more beautiful than in her natural state, but this garment has accentuated her natural beauty, infusing her with her innocence all over again. It is such a potent combination, and all wrapped up in one small blonde. As I approach she tenses in anticipation.
"Ah ma chérie. Il me tarde de savourer ton corps si délicieux. Je t'aime, mon trésor. N'aie nulle crainte, je ne te ferai aucun mal." My low voice whispering those words that she comes to crave seems to calm her, her body slowly slumping against me as her tension is eased. Nuzzling her neck, my nose is assaulted by a smell that is heavenly, so sweet and light that my nose twitches in reaction. "What is that scent?"
"It’s my perfume. You like it?" I indulge my senses again, breathing in deeply this aroma that seems to so perfectly complement her. I had intended to broaden her experiences tonight but it seems she is broadening mine, filling me with an explosion of sensory delights. I am surrounded by her - her smell, her taste, her skin, her very essence is seeping into every pore, leaving me without an identity of my own.
"You are so beautiful, chérie. You take my breath away." My words rumble low in her ear, sending a shiver down the length of her.
"Oh, God…" The whimper passes her lips, drawing out her tongue to moisten the dry skin. I am barely holding onto my self-control, but that swipe of her tongue is my undoing. I swoop down on her, my hands burying themselves in her hair and pulling firmly, tipping her lips up to mine. I will brook no argument from her in this, and I set about putting my domination in motion.
I know that our love is not wrong. So much has occurred for this miracle to happen and it cannot be because it is forbidden. I am sure that in moments of clarity she sees that, but family have a way of clouding one’s judgment in times of emotional turmoil.
I know I am rough with her, but I cannot seem to stop. She has released the tiger within me, and her encouragement does little to help me control the beast. I step back for a moment, looking at my handiwork and my heart stops. There she stands before me, her long blonde hair in wild disarray, lips swollen, cheeks flushed and a feral look in her darkened eyes. The straps of her gown have fallen, delicately balanced on her arms, revealing flawless skin over two bare shoulders. Her breasts, although still covered, are heaving with exertion. I feel a deep hunger within me for this woman, a need that reaches down to my very soul, leaving an unquenchable ache in its wake.
While she watches me I slip the straps from my shoulders, hearing the gentle whisper of material as it slides off my skin. The soft caress from the nightgown tantalizes me, tickling the fine hairs on my skin on its way down. My gasp does not go unnoticed, her eyes narrowing before I throw my head back. One touch, one word will push me off the cliff edge I am standing on.
My eyes return to hers, watching her take me in, her own breathing increasing with every moment she watches. I can stand it no longer. "Take it off." For a moment I think she is going to deny me, perhaps inviting me to rip it off her. Just as I am about to move, she lightly shrugs her shoulders and the material begins to move. As I watch, it slides ever so slowly over her skin, barely moving as it reveals her. For an eternity, it hangs on her nipples, refusing to show me what I most want to see. Then agonizingly, it releases her from its grasp, steadily drifting down her torso, following every curve and dip on its way to the floor.
This image plays in my mind, over and over again, sending me off that cliff that I am so desperate to hold onto. I fall to my knees as my body responds to her, twitching in a violent rhythm that I cannot hold back. This tidal wave of pure sensation swallows me whole, my body visibly shaking with the force of my completion.
When I am finally back in my skin, I look to her, my own eyes widening at those twin green points, nearly black in arousal. She is at the point that I was a moment ago, before the ground beneath me disappeared and I fell into the vortex of desire she had created. My mouth utters words that pass over my consciousness, "Come for me, chérie." Sweat-slicked skin vibrates as she is slowly consumed, and I watch as she answers my call, one tear silently rolling down my cheek in awe of such a beautiful sight.
We look at one another, absolutely stunned at the turn of events, bursting into wide smiles at the thought that just the sight of one another can reduce us to this. After what has just happened, how can she doubt this?
I stand, taking her hand and leading her to the bed. Shakily, we sit, still caught in the aftermath. I touch her cheek, my thumb lightly caressing the porcelain skin. Why is it I never tire of looking to her eyes? When I look into those depths, she cannot hide from me. I know all of her as she does me. It is perhaps the most intimate of acts, one soul touching another, and I will always believe it to be so with us.
Exhaustion laps around us like the gently rolling surf touching the shore. I can see the lines of stress around her eyes and I am similarly torn between continuing and allowing my mind to dictate to my body its demands. I pull her to me, feeling that creeping lassitude, and for once I give into it, allowing myself to slide into blissful slumber.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I am pulled from my sleep by a gentle tugging. As I lie entwined with Dale, a faint whispering can be heard. What is that? I investigate, wandering from room to room to no avail. I check the front door and it is locked, returning to the bedroom in defeat. It is there that the whispering is louder. "Dale?" There is no response from my slumbering lover. I stop and listen hard, realizing that the sound is coming from the mirror. Again?
I move over to the glass, bending my ear to the mirror.
"What on earth are you doing with this thing?"
"Because it was hers. I wanted it." I know that voice
"It is just a mirror, Madeleine. It is useless. Why bother getting it repaired at all?"
"This is a trophy, Marcel. She took my love and betrayed me with that blonde whore of hers, so I took her life."
"So, you think I am going live in this hovel all my life? Since they cleared out the aristocracy a few weeks ago, that place has been sitting idle. Just a little while longer and I am moving in, and that mirror is going to sit right over my bed, just as she had done, so each morning and night I can see it to remind me that what was once hers is now mine."
"Remind me never to upset you, woman."
So, she not only betrayed me but she stole from me as well. Dale had been right all along.
Did I hear those voices, or is it all in my head? Is it my desperate need to go home, or just wishful thinking? Am I being given a second chance?
I wait for the conversation to finish and when I think there is no motion in the mirror, I touch the surface. For a moment, nothing happens, the cool glass heating up under my wandering finger. Just as I am about to lift the digit, the mirror bends, allowing the tip of my finger to disappear through the surface like touching water. My heart is beating wildly at the prospect of what I thought had been lost is now possible, and without thought I am ready to step through the mirror there and then.
A deep sigh emanates from the bed and I turn to see that angelic face, innocent in sleep. My heart breaks at the dilemma I am in. The perfect solution would be that she would want to return with me, but she is home now. I could solve her problem with her mother by just stepping through and never returning, but I know that both our hearts would never allow such an action.
I lean against the frame, eagerly absorbing the gentle sounds of shifting wood and muted voices as a balm for my restless soul. A small hand rests on my shoulder, her tiny body joining me at the mirror to be wrapped in my loving arms. "What?" she whispers.
At that moment, a door opens followed by footsteps on a wooden floor. We are unable to see anything, so perhaps for now the mirror is covered.
"Madeleine?" I hear the gentle gasp of Dale.
"Est-ce que tu pourrais me rapporter des patates?" The mirror must be in a storage room. The door closes again and there is silence.
I draw Dale away from the mirror, moving into the kitchen for some tea and coffee.
"How is that possible?"
I look up sheepishly at her. "It may be my fault, chérie. I had a secret wish to go home." I turn away, not wanting to see the hurt residing there.
"You don’t want to stay here?" That voice has a lost quality to it, and I understand only too well that intonation. "Are you going to leave me?" My heart breaks at the little girl crying out in desperation.
I pull her into my embrace. "I will never leave you, chérie, and I will prove my love for you." I return to the bedroom, finding the stick of wood beside the bed.
My mind has made my decision; I cannot leave her. Just as I am about to break the mirror Dale steps in the way. "Have you lost your mind?"
"No, but if it is what you need to see, then I will do it." I look into those green depths, allowing her to see my conviction. "I am here for you, not this world, mon Coeur. If you wish to stay here, then so will I."
"Why do you want to go home?"
"When you were in my world Dale, you could return to your time any time you wished, I cannot. If something happens to you, I have nowhere to go. The wish was more being able to go rather than wanting to go." I think for a moment, "Of course, if I return I will be in Madeleine’s grasp."
"You won’t be returning without me to defend you then." That brings a smile to my face. My protector.
Feeling a small, warm body squirming against me, I look sleepily over to bright green eyes watching me. "You need something, chérie?"
"Hmmmm…" A soft sweet smile crosses that angelic face as she snuggles closer to me, as if trying to climb inside my skin. I pull her in closer, allowing her head to settle into the hollow of my neck, feeling that gentle waft of air as she exhales. Despite my apprehension, it is moments like these that I now live for.
"So, what are we doing today?"
"I was thinking of a drive to the country today."
I jokingly reply, "There are trees and grass still, chérie? Looking around here, I thought all that existed were these big buildings and horseless carriages."
"I’ll have to rent a car to get us there, but no, there is some lovely country about an hour’s drive away."
I am eager to see nature again, perhaps just as visible link to my past. With a renewed vigor I get out of bed and carry my small blonde to the bathing chamber to indulge in a long, leisurely bath.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
We have finally returned home at sunset, the circulation to my fingers finally returning after driving with Dale in her ‘car’. Mon Dieu! The horseless carriage was going so fast that the countryside was a blur. I am sure that I left an impression of my fingers in the leather.
Despite this rather frightening ride, she had been right, it was lovely. She had taken me to a country estate of a friend, allowing me the chance to bond once more with the earth. The feel of shifting muscle between my legs, the sun on my face and a warm breeze tousling my hair was most welcome as I was set free to roam the extensive grounds on horseback. Dale stayed to visit with her friend while I allowed my mount the chance to run at will. For a moment, I closed my eyes and it was like I had stepped back in time, just enjoying a leisurely ride on my estate on a whim. It is at times like this that I feel the longing the most, wishing for a simpler time when I knew my place in the world and welcomed it.
After a pleasant lunch outdoors, Dale and I went for a walk, finally settling under the shade of a large oak, enjoying a tender embrace and just… feeling. The clean air carried the smell of fresh flowers and raw earth, bringing home to me the all-encompassing power of nature and just how small and petty human life is in the scheme of things. But to overcome nature itself to be together as we are is a humbling thought indeed.
Despite the relaxing afternoon under the shade of that tree, Dale deemed it necessary to drive back at break-neck speed, my anxiety steadily growing with each mile. If she would not have been upset, I would have kissed the ground as soon as I climbed out of the metal beast.
I go to the cold box to see what there is to drink, secretly wishing for some red wine to settle my nerves. Instead, I pour myself some fruit juice, having to settle for less than what I really want.
"How about we go out for dinner?"
"Anything you desire, ma chérie." Perhaps I can get some red wine there. Besides, I really cannot accept the idea that I have to cook. That is so… bourgeois. And the washing afterwards… uurrgghh!
I refuse to ride in the horseless carriage with this woman again, so we settle to walk instead, finding a quaint little inn a short walk from her home. It is small, but warm and friendly, and I finally get to enjoy a nice claret, full of body and pleasingly relaxing to my unsteady nerves. Somehow I have to convince Dale to slow down, or we will be walking everywhere. Perhaps it is just as well that she does not own one of these carriages.
The food is excellent, but the company is better, my little blonde sitting opposite me in a short dress that has tiny straps holding it up, leaving her shoulders bare to the evening air. I look around, wondering if her lack of clothes is causing a shock. Her state of undress barely causes a ripple of concern, except for the occasional glance of admiration from the male diners. I turn my attention back to my companion, looking at the expanse of skin lightly covered by her long blonde hair. A hint of makeup covers her face, accentuating her emerald eyes, which seem to gather in the light from around her, sparkling in the low candlelight. I feel that pain in my heart again, one I associate with my feelings for her. She is just so beautiful. I am not aware that she is staring at me or seeing my emotion reflected back at me in those green depths.
"You look very beautiful tonight."
"I do? Pourquoi, ma chérie? I am not wearing anything special." If I am thinking and not reacting, I should realize that it is even more of a compliment from her, that in her eyes I am always beautiful. I duck my head, but not before she sees the blush stain my skin.
"I have to say Dale, that you look absolutely stunning, mon coeur. Incroyable." Before I say something stupid, I start to eat, occupying myself with what is on my plate. Shyly, I watch her from the corner of my eye, again feeling that tug in my heart.
After dinner we walk leisurely back home, stopping often to look in store windows and finding the occasional darkened door to stop and kiss. It has been a most pleasant day indeed and one that I will keep close to my heart.
I see her standing there in naught but bare skin and her hand behind her back. I can feel my eyebrow rise in question. "Something on your mind, chérie?" She is slowly but steadily moving towards me, a sexy little swagger in every step. "You want something?"
"You. Now." The steely intent in her voice alerts me to my fate. I am going to be ravished in the worst possible way.
"Really? And what has brought about this sudden attack of enthusiasm?" My eyebrow rises, adding a certain amount of cheekiness to the question. Her hand comes into view, holding the vibrator. "Yesterday you could not even look at it and today you are going to attack me with it?" I smile at her, hinting that I am joking. Heaven forbid if she gets embarrassed now. Oh yes, I am about to be well and truly ravished, and now I would experience all that she has to give me. Finally.
Dale jumps off the bed, finding two pieces of material and securing my hands to the headboard. "What do you think you are doing?" I know very well what she is doing but here is my chance to draw her out further, to chip away at that block of propriety that surrounds my love. Her innocence and shyness is a treasure to me, but I also know that there is a heart of fire inside her, a raw sensuality that sets my body aflame.
"I’m tying you up. What do you think I am doing?"
"Because if I don’t, you’ll take control and I’ll be on my back before I’ve even taken a breath." She knows me only too well.
"I will not."
"Yes, you will. You cannot help yourself. This time, I will be in control without any interference from you." She sits next to me, looking uncertainly into my eyes. I see that apprehension hovering in those depths, waiting for me to admonish her for such an action. She is right, I do take over. Perhaps I need to let go of some of that hard-won control and believe that I am safe in her strong, capable hands.
"Very well, chérie. Do your worst."
"Oh, I intend to." Grand Dieu…
I test my bonds to find that they are not very strong, and I can break them any time I wish. It is more a visual statement of her domination at this time, so she is expecting a certain amount of self-control from me to play within the rules of this particular game. My little virgin has come of age. Bien joué, très chère.
I close my eyes, allowing myself to experience her in the dark. The bed dips next to me, her weight distributing either side of me as she straddles my waist. I can feel the heat of her just before she sits on my hips, burning through my skin to diffuse into muscle and sinew. I draw on that sexual heat, using it to start a slow simmering in my pelvis, awaiting her touch.
Her hands brush either side of my head just before her weight transfers to her arms, lowering herself slowly on top of me as we touch from shoulder to hip. I can feel everything: the brush of the fine hair on my body at her passing, the frantic wisps of breath blowing across my neck and the rasp of her tongue cross my breast, all magnified by the lack of sight. My hands tighten around the rungs of the headboard as she attacks me, leaving no piece of skin untouched.
"Oh God, you really are ma petit sauvage, are you not?"
"Oh, you betcha." I jump at the faint whisper in my ear, low, sensual and vibrating through me to ignite my ardor.
"Then do not take too long, or I may just test these bonds of yours."
"You have no patience."
"With you and sex… no. I must have you now, chérie." I am getting frantic at having to lay still, my libido jumping around like it is sitting in a fireplace of hot coals.
"You don’t want my touch?" I can hear that scared little girl inside her, still afraid that she will not be enough. I pull the bonds away and pull her into my embrace. Time for some revelations, I think.
I sigh deeply, trying to gain some courage for what I want to say to her. I roll onto my side so that we are facing one another. "Dale," my voice rumbles over the name, lovingly caressing it as if it had skin, muscle and bone. She reacts to my entreaty, as she always does when I say her name. "Mon coeur, I love you. What beats in here…" I tap my chest, "… beats only for you, now and always." A lone tear trickles down her cheek as I lay bare my soul to her. "There is nothing… nothing… that I would not do for you. All you have to do is ask."
My hand touches her cheek, slowly brushing over the fine skin, trying to infuse her with my sincerity. My other hand takes her fingers, gently placing them over my heart. "All that I am is yours, Dale, but why you want this ugly old thing is beyond me…" I manage to extract a smile from her which, in turn, brings a grin from me.
"I suppose what I am trying to say, chérie, is that you do not have to be afraid of me… of us. There is nothing that you can ask of me when we make love that I will not give you." Her eyes skitter away from mine as I try to make her feel at ease with what we have. When she is caught up in her passion, she is like a tiger, actively seeking out what she needs to feel her pleasure, but… but until she is suitably aroused, she is a shy, young girl, inexperienced in the ways of love. Like two sides of the one coin, opposite but the same.
"Talk to me Dale, tell me what you need to make you feel better." I let my hand slide down her arm, brushing her skin in an attempt to sensitize it. Limpid pools of green gaze at me, as if she wants to say something but cannot, wanting to trust me not think her foolish for asking for her pleasure. "Tell me…" A small pink ear sits invitingly so close to my mouth, and I cannot help but taste it, letting my tongue trace its shape and texture. Playfully I bite down on her lobe, sucking enthusiastically on the piece of skin.
The body beneath begins to shift, restlessly moving as I stoke her fire. "Tell me…" I whisper once more in the hope that she can express her desire. Come on, little one, tell me what you want. My lips seek out hers, biting her lower lip in imitation of her ear. A soft moan escapes her throat as I continue to nip and taste her lips, seeking her participation in the escalating emotion.
When I am about to move down to her breast, a hot, heavy breath assaults my ear, her voice low and hoarse as she whispers her secret wish. Momentarily, my eyes widen, but I do not let her see my reaction, carefully schooling a face filled with desire and lust. So ma petit sauvage is ready to play. My lips slide down her slick body, outlining the ridges of muscle and sinew on her abdomen as I cover her skin.
Dale reaches for the vibrator and my heart skips a beat at the thought…
There is a frantic knock on the door. I look to Dale, who looks back with an identical look of bewilderment and fright. Sacrebleu!
"Hello?" That familiar voice sends us into a flurry of activity, frantically looking for clothes to cover our nakedness. Dale hides the vibrator in a nearby drawer.
"Dale, honey? It’s me. Let me in."
"Shit!" The harsh, guttural word escapes her lips. Dale reaches for the door, unclicking the metal lock. "Daddy? What’s wrong?"
Dale’s father steps into her house, closing the door behind him and re-locking the door. He is afraid, as if the Devil himself is on his tail.
"Honey, you have to get out of here."
"What… slow down… what are you talking about?"
"Your mother is on the warpath about you and Françoise." He looks over to me in sympathy. "I’m sorry, Dale, she’s not going to stand for this." He reaches into his pocket, removing some paper. "Here, take this. It’s part of your trust fund."
Dale looks into the packet, easily filling her hand to the limit. It is full of notes. "But why?"
"Until I can fix this mess she has caused, honey, you and your partner are going to have to disappear for a while." I cannot help but smile at the term.
"Tell me why."
"There’s no time. You have to go… NOW!"
There is a loud knock at the door. She grabs her father’s arm. "What?"
"Those men at the door are from the Immigration Department and the Police, I suspect. Your Mother hired an investigator to check Françoise’s background. It seems she does not exist…" He watches us for a reaction to this piece of news.
"I don’t suppose she would." Dale’s voice is low but clear.
"You going to tell me what’s going on?"
Dale looks to me for guidance. "Daddy, if I told you, you wouldn’t believe me." She could see the look of disappointment in his eyes. Dale looks to me again and I acquiesce.
Just as her mouth opens, there is another bang on the door. "Open up, Ms Wincott, Boston Police Department!"
"Get out of here… GO! I’m sorry honey. You know what she’s like."
"Yeah, I know." Sadness tinges those words. We look at each other, both turning our gaze to the mirror. We have only one place to go.
"Daddy, do one thing for me."
"Anything, Dale, you know that."
"Please, please look after this mirror. Keep it safe for me until I can return for it."
The pounding is getting louder, accompanied by a bang as someone charges the door.
"Now, get out of here and I’ll try to delay them."
"Good bye, daddy. I love you."
"Good bye, sweetheart. I love you too."
As Joseph opens the door, we cross a barrier that we thought had been lost to us. It is so strange to feel that sensation again, like a forgotten dream. I have to push through the material covering the frame, batting it away in a frantic effort to complete the crossover. We can hear the voices in Dale’s house, loud and abusive, as her father tries in vain to stop them entering. We hide in the shadows quietly while the two men search her rooms, our absence frustrating them.
"Dale?" A low burr comes from the glass, a male version of my sweet Dale’s dulcet tones. Lifting the cover, we see Joseph standing in front of the mirror, our clothes in his hands, looking straight at us but not seeing. Is this mirror so special that it is our domain only? In my eyes, that makes it even more exceptional, that this miracle was written for us and only us.
"Daddy?" I can hear the bewildered tone in her voice, a lost child crying out for her father. But he does not answer. A large hand comes up to the glass, touching it but not passing through. He again looks at the clothes and smiles gently into the mirror.
"I love you, pun’kin. Goodbye." His voice is shaking with emotion as he farewells his daughter, for possibly eternity. He throws our clothes on the bed and bends to pick up the discarded packet, placing it in his pocket before two burly men return to the bedroom. "I told you, she’s not here."
As we watch, his eyes cross over to the mirror in the hope of seeing us, before he quietly prepares to leave. He is a man saddened by the loss of his daughter, driven away by a woman he does not know anymore.
"You gonna tell us where they’ve gone?"
"I don’t know. I keep telling you that."
"Then why are you here?"
"My daughter asked me to pick up something for her."
"Like what?" I can hear the suspicion in that voice, thinking that whatever Joseph was collecting would lead them to us.
"Just this mirror. She wanted me to put it into storage for her. She gave me no other instructions."
"Arrggghh!" The official-looking man brushes by Joseph, knocking him off balance. As we stand there looking on in horror, Dale’s father loses his balance and falls against the wall, dislodging the mirror and shattering the glass as it hits the floor. Our only way to her home is now lost to us.
"Goodbye, daddy." It is a bare whisper that Dale utters, her heart breaking at the circumstances separating them. I am all she has now, until such time as if or when we can take that leap again. But, at least we have an ally in her time now, a guardian of the mirror and our secret. We will hope against hope that he repairs the glass and gives us a chance of coming home.
I find a quiet corner to draw her to me, lowering ourselves to the ground as she grieves for her loss. Has her mother lost her humanity so much as to ruin her daughter’s chance of happiness because it does not fit into her quaint view of the world? She is a sad, sad woman, but I will not voice my opinions to Dale. She is, after everything, still Dale’s mother.
Darkness surrounds us, much like Dale’s spirit at present. There is faint glow coming from a covered window, and it is to this bare light that I try to make my way, shifting slowly in a room filled with potential for danger. I pull aside the rough-hewn material, filling the room with the pre-dawn grayness. So, my maid has been busy indeed, stealing not only the mirror, but a whole room full of items from throughout the chateau.
My anger is rising at this betrayal. I had invited her into my bedroom, a position of trust, and this is how she repays me. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and it seems this is a rule that my maid lives by. Well, I am in the mood for a little revenge of my own, but first things first.
There is a pile of clothing that I recognize as my own, not worth much to sell but still it is personal. Some of the things she has collected have little monetary value but have great worth to me personally. It is like she is trying to possess me, which in her own twisted way, is exactly what she is trying to do. The mirror is the ultimate prize, my greatest possession of late. I wonder if she realizes how special that mirror is. Probably not.
Unwittingly, she has performed a great service for us, giving us an avenue of escape when there was none. I shiver at the thought of being stuck in Dale’s world separated from her by prison bars. It surely would have been hell indeed.
I carry over the clothes to the window to get a better look, finding my riding clothes and an old dress that should do nicely. Handing over the dress to Dale, I put the pants and shirt on, glad to feel a bit of warmth against my chilled skin. The sight of that small woman in my clothes brings a smile to my lips. The large size makes her petiteness even more dramatic as I try to tighten the laces enough to fit her.
Before we try to leave, I fill a small sack with some food. In the light of day we will not be able to move about much, for I am a hunted woman. I approach the mirror, stripping back the cloth and searching for the hidden mechanism to gain access to the jewels. I will be damned if I let her get her hands on those. Covering the mirror once more, I quickly check to see that nothing is out of place. For the present, the mirror is safe enough here.
Carefully, I open the door, holding my breath as it creaks in protest. We wait a heartbreaking moment or two for any disturbance, but all that can be heard is the settling of the house and the loud snore coming from the bed. Quickly and quietly we leave the shack, glad to be out of harm’s way for a while.
I do not recognize where we are immediately. At least we are not in the town where we would have to make our escape through the main street. At the back of the shack is a wooded area, and it is to this area that we move, fading into the distant gloom of the surrounding trees.
We follow the edge of the wooded area, heading in a direction that is a mystery to us, but hoping it will ultimately lead to a safe haven. The ground is cold under my feet and I silently wish for my old riding boots. Perhaps I should have looked harder to find shoes in that pile of booty, but my need not to get caught overrode my need for shoes.
"Where are we going?" That soft, melodious voice carries a nervous quality to it, expressing my own fear.
"I have absolutely no idea, chérie." I grab her chilled hand in mine out of a need to feel her skin against my own. "Let us keep moving."
I am about to give up when we stumble out onto the extensive grounds of a chateau that I know and love so well. It is my own… was my own. It seems that I am une comtesse without a home.
It takes us quite a number of minutes to cover the open ground between the woods and the chateau, moving quickly to avoid detection. I touch it, feeling its solid strength under my fingers. Home… I am home. I dare not look into Dale’s eyes because I know her pain. Is this not how I felt only yesterday in her time? Lost and out of place? It seems that neither of us is completely at ease in the other’s time, but one of us will be forced to compromise if we are to stay together. If? I know that I will never leave her, just as I am sure she will never leave me. Perhaps we are still yet to find a time that we can call our own.
We try the front door to find it locked. "What now?"
"We try the windows and the back door." Our search ends in the same outcome. The chateau is boarded up tight. I search my memory for any forgotten entrance that my husband had shown me all those years ago. There is… something. Where is it??
I walk around the house, physically imitating the journey in my mind, looking for a secret recess in the stonework. It sits in the back corner of the building, fitting into the shadows of the blocks. A few steps away there is a hidden trigger, much like the one on the mirror that requires a number of movements before revealing its secret. It is designed so as not to trigger accidentally, but be deliberately opened in a choreographed number of specialized touches. I cannot open it on the first attempt, and must try a number of times before my memory returns to fill in the missing pieces.
The passageway is not wide, but large enough to let us pass through one by one. I lead the way into the darkness, moving forward by feel until I reach a solid barrier. The rope in my hand is old and in danger of breaking, but it allows us to pass one more time. I pull steadily as the barrier slides to one side, letting us emerge through a wooden panel at the back of the kitchen pantry.
My apprehension is building as I watch the panel slide back in place. I left this place in a moment of chaos. What will be left? As we move through the rooms, my heart breaks at the devastation wreaked. Anything useful has been stripped, the huge crystal chandelier hanging in the foyer lies shattered on the floor, pieces of broken furniture strewn everywhere and many of the paintings hanging on the walls either missing or vandalized.
I feel a small hand touch my back, gently rubbing in small circles in comfort. She knows what I feel. This is madness borne out of anger by people who have no interest in preserving their cultural history. We move upstairs to my bedroom to be faced with the same destruction. My bed is gone, but I can guess where that went. A trophy indeed. May you rot in hell, Madeleine.
"We will stay here for now, chérie."
"Are you sure?"
"We have no where else to go. Perhaps a rest will clear my mind to find something better. Let me give it some thought."
"Françoise, I… I’m sorry."
"So am I, Dale. Now we both have something to be sorry for." This is the lowest point in my sad life, when it should be my happiest. I am finally home with the woman of my dreams in my arms. Instead, I am in my home stripped and left lifeless, being hunted by my own people with a woman whose own mother would do anything to ruin her happiness. Where did our fate go so drastically wrong?
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
My back is stiff from sleeping sitting up, leaning against the wall. The light of day makes the destruction even worse, and I am beginning to question our decision to crossover. But we cannot stay in her world either; we are fugitives in both worlds now. I stand, stretching the tight muscles cramping under the strain. I lend my hand to Dale, assisting her to stand and do the same, stretching abused muscles from taking a nap in such an awkward position.
I look around the room, my mind’s eye replacing all the broken and stolen furniture to restore it to its former glory. My Dale is in our bed, laying spread out in all her naked splendor awaiting my touch. I sigh, wishing for that delightful moment once more, wanting to erase the ugly reality from my mind.
"So what do we do now?"
"First, we have something to eat." I reach into the dirty sack, pulling out a piece of fruit and passing it to Dale.
"Things are not going well, are they?"
I am so tempted to snap at her for such an obvious statement, but this will solve nothing. "No, chérie, they are not."
I stand and move over the now cold fireplace, hunkering down in the ashes and reaching for the back wall. "Well, Dale, remember when I said we did not use a bank?" I shift a large brick at the bottom of the back wall, slowly easing it out and then reaching inside, extracting a number of coin sacks that clink lightly as I move them.
I stand and walk over to my small blonde, pouring out the contents of one bag into her hands. "I think this should get us out of France. All we have to do is avoid getting caught or killed on the way."
"And how do you plan on doing that?"
"Despite what you may think, I still possess the odd friend or two that I am sure will help us." Dale remains silent, giving me her trust that I will not fail her. I only hope that these friends still exist in the aftermath of a revolution…
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Well, they certainly ransacked my home. There is not one piece of food, one stick of furniture or one scrap of clothing to be had. Curtains have been ripped down and either taken or shredded. I salvage one piece of cloth… one piece barely the size of my bed is all that is left of my life. Still, this one piece of material will be worth its weight in gold. There is a tidy sum of coins extracted from the fireplace and I use this cloth as a makeshift sack to carry it all. Let us hope we get the chance to spend it.
We cannot afford to stay here. I need to find out what is happening, who our allies are and, more importantly who can no longer be trusted. On top of that list is Madeleine, a viper in my bosom, whose betrayal has shaken me to the core. I had thought that my household was a harmonious one, but the only one, it seems, who believed that was me.
"Come, chérie, we need to leave here."
"But why? It’s a roof over our heads."
"Anyone could return at a moment’s notice, Dale. I have another place in mind that will suffice, and should be a lot more comfortable than the wooden floor to sleep on."
We have to leave here. The food will not last forever. There is no water. The door to the secret passageway is about to give out and using any other exit will alert anyone passing by that someone is inside. We have no choice.
It takes the rest of the morning to travel the two miles to the abandoned barn that holds so many loving memories for me. The old building has been left untouched, looking exactly the same as that fateful day… what? A week ago? Perhaps less.
It was a warm summer’s day, the sun blazing in through the hole in the roof, gilding Dale’s skin in a bright blaze of golden fire. When she finally made love to me, chaining her heart to mine forever. When my little hellcat discovered that she liked it when I got angry. A gentle chuckle escapes my lips as I remember the embarrassed little girl who showed me a spark of her sexuality.
"What are you laughing at?" I nod my head in the direction of the far-off building. "Oh… yeah… that." A light blush travels up from her chest to her cheeks.
"Ah sweet, sweet Dale. You are so adorable. Still so shy to the world, are you not?" I grab her hand in mine, the bundle of money slung over my shoulder.
The building is situated in the far corner of the estate, out of the way and long forgotten, its position sitting half-way between the chateau and the local village. It is closer to our enemies than I would like, but it is also closer to the goods that we need. I find a suitable hiding place within the barn for the jewels and money, taking one sack of coins to try to buy some supplies.
"Come, I have to see a friend about a way out of here." I am tempted to leave Dale behind, but I know it will be a losing battle. She will not stay, no matter how hard I argue my case.
On our walk to the village through the forest, I teach my little blonde a few French words for her to repeat. My face is known and she is going to have to make contact for me. Her strange accent makes it difficult to understand the words perfectly, and she will be recognized as a foreigner immediately, but perhaps it will be enough to achieve our purpose.
From the edges of the undergrowth, I watch nervously as she makes her way across the main street, heading to the local blacksmith. She is adorable to watch, her hands waving around in an animated fashion as she tries to repeat what I have taught her. As I watch, her hand raises, a finger pointing in my direction. I wait with baited breath to see if my faith in this man is warranted, that I will not be betrayed yet again.
Slowly, both of them make their way across the street, entering a dwelling I know is Gerard’s house. I slip along to the back window as it slowly opens, revealing my mentor and my friend.
"Françoise, I thought you were dead. Mon Dieu, child, you survived!"
"Gerard, my friend, how are you keeping? I need help…"
"Say no more. Tell me what you need." I visibly breathe a sigh of relief. It seems my judgment is not wholly impaired.
"My friend and I have to get to Nantes and on a ship to England or anywhere other than here."
"It is very dangerous out there, so please be careful. There are roving bands of armed thugs, attacking anyone who opposes them, all in the name of freedom."
"I know. I think we’re going to need a disguise and some horses."
"I can get you some clothes, food and blankets tonight. The horses may take a few days though. Things have gotten even harsher since the overthrow."
"Child, there is no more king, no more parliament and no more aristocracy." I had read this in Dale’s book but here is the history in my hand.
"How much time has passed since the attack at the chateau?"
"It has been just over three weeks, you know that." Three weeks? Madeleine had said a few weeks. She could not have gotten the mirror fixed that quickly had it been any sooner.
"I have just lost track of time, on the run."
"Let me start getting things together for you. I will leave a package every day before sunset near the old well. About twenty paces away is a hidden cache in a hollowed out tree. It will be safer for you if we do not meet often. If you need me, send your friend to me." He is about to leave but I stop him for one more important thing.
"Gerard, please, I have one more favor to ask of you. I have a special package that needs to be transported to Nantes for shipping. It is vital that it gets there, my friend, and safeguarded at the other end until our arrival. Can you meet me with your wagon sunset tomorrow at the well to pick it up?" I hand over the sack of coins. "Take this. It will pay for everything."
"Françoise, this is way too much."
"Gerard, please, for my sake just take it. You are risking a lot by helping me. Not only do we need horses, but we will also need… protection." My eyes narrow to his, passing a message for only him to receive. Dale does not need to know about this before it is necessary. "Please, just accept it with my blessing."
I can see that he wants to dispute it, but I also know that he will be suffering in this time of political unrest. Any coin I know will be of great help to him. "For now, Gerard, please take care. I will see you tomorrow then." The window begins to close. "Oh, one more thing, can you add some parchment and writing implements in tonight’s package as well?" Confusion crosses those weather-beaten features, but he does not question it.
"Farewell, my friend."
"And you too, my little coquin." I had forgotten that name. So long ago…
Dale emerges from the dwelling, idly standing in the shadows until her presence is forgotten. Slowly, she makes her way behind the building before slipping back into the undergrowth where I am waiting for her.
"So now what?"
"Not much more we can do until sunset. Let us go." The sun is shining, the birds are singing and I have the love of my life holding my hand. It would nearly be perfect, except for the fact that every French man and woman in the land wants me dead. We make our way back to the barn to take refuge for the rest of day, my mind already thinking of ways to have my little blonde.
I examine that thought. I know I have been reckless in the past with the lovers I have had, but Dale is like a fever. She has totally overrun my defenses, leaving my body yearning for her and yet knowing that it will never be enough. I have never felt anything like it, to constantly crave someone’s touch and be left wanting even after assuaging my obsession. It is a dangerous precedent to have someone buried so deep inside you. If something happened to her… a shiver runs down my spine at the thought.
"Fine." I look over to see concern written on that youthful face. "Truly, chérie, everything is fine."
Despite the turbulence of this time, the forest is empty. I would imagine that any aristocrat wishing to live has long departed this area, heading to the coast to escape to England, Spain or perhaps even Rome. Anywhere but here. It is a blessing, therefore, that we have only just arrived. The madness of the last few weeks has subsided and our presence is not expected, so therefore we are not sought out. Thank goodness for small mercies.
We arrive back mid-afternoon at the barn and eat from our meager supply, the food not filling us but just taking the edge off the hunger. Hopefully, Gerard will add to our supply tonight and we can eat a decent meal.
I look up to see the sun streaming in through that familiar hole in the roof, beams of light lancing through the air like lightning bolts out of the sky. A familiar burning starts in the pit of my stomach as I gently lead Dale up the rickety ladder, as she had done with me not so long ago. I want to make my memories real, to once again see her body clothed in rays of light, casting a fiery glow over her.
My obsession rears its head again, pushing me to take what I want, but looking at those eyes filled with such complete trust I cannot acquiesce to its demands. Slowly, I undress her, lovingly brushing the skin with the pads of my fingers, allowing my love for this woman to flow from my limbs. For the next hour I indulge my senses, nothing more than holding her in my arms, feeling skin against skin and sinking into a sweet pool of sensual lassitude. I will never have enough of Dale, but the sun is slowly approaching the tree line, and we have to make a move before we lose all light.
"Come on, mon coeur, let us go get some food."
"Hmmm, food." At that particular moment her stomach rumbles, sending us both into peels of laughter.
I pat her stomach. "I agree with her."
We set off for the grove of trees in search of food. Following its line in the direction of the chateau, we find what I had been secretly looking for, the shack that Madeleine is using as her home. I had forgotten that this structure existed, but now its location will be burned forever into my memory as the home of my downfall.
"What are we doing here?" The question comes out as a harsh whisper, as we approach the building. I pull her back towards the forest so we can carry on a conversation without being heard.
"I am going to get that mirror."
"This is crazy. Do you want to get caught?"
"Of course not, but I will be damned if she is going to have it."
"It’s just a mirror, Françoise. It’s not worth your life."
"Just a mirror? How can you say that?" Her head drops as she acknowledges what I say is true. I know she is trying to make me see reason, but I cannot let this go. I tip her head up to mine. "This is our only link, chérie. If I have any chance at all of getting it back, I have to try."
"But what good will it do me if you die in the attempt?"
"It will get you home, Dale. You have a father waiting there for you that loves you deeply. I like him, chérie, he is a good man, and I am sure he will do everything in his power to protect you."
Sadly, those jade eyes look into mine as I read the truth. "If something happens to you, my love, the mirror will be of no use to me. Promise me, if something happens, you will wait for me."
"No, please chérie, do not make such a decision. You are young and have your whole life ahead of you. You will find someone else…" A small finger touches my lips to silence me.
"There will be no one else, my love. Only you." How can I argue with her, she is expressing what is in my heart.
"Very well. As long as you do the same for me." Our pact has been made. "Now stay here." I creep up to the window, listening for signs of movement inside.
"You are such a pig, Marcel."
"What are you complaining about now woman?"
"I suppose you are off to the tavern again tonight then?"
"Well, there is nothing to keep me here."
"If you think you are going alone, you have got another thing coming. I know all about you and that barmaid, Emilie."
"You know, jealousy does not become you, Madeleine."
So there is unrest in the household. I wonder how long it will be before she turns on him as well. I return to Dale, pushing her on towards the abandoned well and food. Half an hour later, I am feeling around in the hollow log for what has been left behind by Gerard, pleased to find some packets of food, blankets, a lantern and flint, a flask for water and the parchment, quill and ink that I had asked for. Filling the flask at the well, I consider my next move.
We return to the barn and enthusiastically feast on the food left us, gorging ourselves on the bread, cheese and cooked meat offered by Gerard. The dull pain begins to subside as the beast is finally fed, sending it crawling back into its cage until next time. I waste no time seeking the parchment and ink, writing a note for my eyes only.
"I suppose asking you to stay here is pointless, is it not?" Those rosy pursed lips give me an answer I already know. "Come on then." Grabbing her hand, we quickly move back to the shack, glad to find that the occupants have already left while it is still light. It will make my task a lot easier.
Steadily I approach, stopping every second step waiting for the door to be flung open and be caught in the act. My hand reaches for the latch, carefully lifting it to avoid making a sound. I am still fearful that I am mistaken and that the two of them are still inside, secretly about to entrap me. It is a silly notion, but my emotions of late have not been kind to me, allowing a certain amount of suspicion to surface as we try to escape the clutches of the people.
The door creaks open, my breath is in my throat as I ease myself inside. Sighing deeply, I see that they have indeed left for the tavern, leaving me to sort through my belongings in peace.
Most importantly, I remove the mirror, shuffling the heavy object through the mountain of stolen items to get it to the door. I step outside to face the trees. "Chérie, can you give me a hand please." Like a ghost, she materializes out of the mass of bushes, approaching me quickly and quietly. The task is a lot easier with the two of us, allowing us to carry the frame quite a distance from the hovel to deep into the bushes. I return to the structure, sorting through what is left, my anger growing with the amount of thievery that has taken place. I find my riding boots and a smaller pair that should fit Dale, while not well, enough for her to be able to cover her feet.
"We’re not going to carry this all the way back to the barn, are we?" Our temporary home is just over a mile away and it would be hard work indeed to get it that far. The well, on the other hand, is about half that distance and the pick up point for Gerard.
"No Dale. Gerard is collecting this from us tomorrow evening. We will move it to the well and save the extra distance." Despite being a few hundred yards away, the mirror is heavy, stretching unused muscles to the limit under the strain of carrying it so far.
The sun has about left us for the day, its fading glow barely touching the treetops, as we approach the well. I look for a suitable hiding place to store our precious package, finding a low dense bush that will give it protection from the overnight dew. I replace the jewels in their hiding place, entrusting its safe passage to a beloved friend. Wrapped in heavy canvas, we lay the mirror down, covering it with branches and leaves in an effort to hide its location, and hoping against hope that it will still be there when we return.
"There is nothing we can do now, let us go home." Twilight has touched the sky by the time we reach the barn, our eyesight barely able to make out the supplies left by Gerard in the gloom. I would so love to light the lantern, but it would be foolish to have a naked flame in a barn full of hay and straw. We are fumbling in the dark, so decide to sleep buried in the straw and under our new blankets.
I wake in the middle of the night, leaving my lover sleeping in the warm nest of blankets. I have someone to visit and nothing is going to stop me…
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
The next evening, Gerard helps me lift the mirror onto his wagon, covering the piece with a pile of hay.
"You know, a strange thing happened today."
"Your former maid…"
"Yes?" My face is carefully schooled for no reaction.
"Madeleine. She was arrested today for murdering her lover." He is watching me closely as he tells me the news.
"Well, I never thought she was capable of that." I am fooling no one.
"It seems it was over a dispute about the sale of a mirror." I look to the ground, not wanting to stare into those dark eyes.
"Yes, that is what I thought." Finally, I look up and he holds me in his gaze. "You want to tell me what happened?"
"Happened? Nothing happened." He lifts the hay and his eyes fix on the frame, shifting to mine a moment later in accusation. "He just sold me the mirror that is all. I paid him for it. In fact, I even left a receipt."
"In plain sight, I suppose. You know very well that she has a fiery temper."
"I cannot help it if he did not remember selling it."
"Well, he was asleep at the time of the transaction."
I pause for a moment. It would be safer to not answer, but I cannot help myself. "Why? She betrayed and stole from me! This is my mirror. It was hanging in my own bedroom. She sleeps in my bed. Her cottage is on my land and her house is full of property stolen from my home." My voice is getting steadily louder as I vent my anger. I am thankful that Dale is not around at the moment otherwise I would have to calm the excited woman down. "How am I supposed to feel?"
"Times have changed, little rascal. You have to let this go and get on with your life."
I sigh deeply. "I know… I know. But I did not put the weapon in her hand." Curiosity gets the better of me. "By the way, how did she kill him?"
"With a kitchen knife."
"Probably from my kitchen, I wager…" I mutter. "When is the trial?"
"The magistrate will see her in the morning. The hanging will probably take place the day after that. I will try to have the horses ready by then so you can slip away while the town attends the execution. In the meantime, I will send the supplies to you as we had arranged."
"Thank you for the blankets last night, Gerard. They were most welcome." His head nods on the tree trunk he calls a neck.
"So what are you going to do until the horses are ready?" My eyes look deep into his beguilingly. "Ah, you little rascal, with such a delectable bedmate, I would probably do the same."
My hand touches his shoulder in sympathy. "It can still happen. Do not give up."
"You have given me many long years of happiness, child. No, my time has passed." Sad hazel eyes look into mine, acknowledging what is probably true. But how can I accept such a thing after all that has happened to me? Had I not given up on finding love myself not so long ago? This has been the greatest gift God has granted us, and I am not about to question how it happened, but graciously accept it for the miracle it is.
"No, I do not accept that. Gerard, you are a wonderful man and would make some lucky woman very happy. Please, mon père, do not despair." There is silence. Did I just say father? I smile at him, patting his muscled shoulder, gently nodding in affirmation. I can see he is holding back the tears, the bull of a man not wanting to appear weak with such emotion.
"Go on with you now and enjoy your young blonde, and let me get on with my work." He shuffles away, but not before I pull him into a hug, feeling the steel-like muscles move as his large arms encompass me. "I love you, child."
"And I too, papa." Tears threaten to fall as I bid a final farewell to the only family who ever gave a damn about my well being. "I will try to get back some day."
"Until that time, Françoise, keep safe."
"You too, Gerard. You too."
We have another day to fill before we can leave, so I indulge in my passion, holding my little blonde hostage in our bed of hay. When we are not making love, I take on the task of teaching Dale to speak French. She is going to need some basic words if she is not going to be at a complete disadvantage on this journey we are embarking on. Even with my time occupied, I do not like being a prisoner on my own estate. The day slowly drags by, and I am impatient to be able to finally move around in the outside world.
As promised, there are two horses in the stables. Certainly not thoroughbreds, but anything more than the nags that we have would draw attention. They are sturdy and healthy, and that is about all I can expect. Sitting on the ground outside the stalls are a pile of clothes with a note sitting on top:
Welcome, Philippe Théroux and his daughter, Isabelle!
A man? It is probably for the best. Two women traveling alone would be asking for trouble. I pick up one small pile, handing it over to Dale. "There you go, Isabelle."
"For now, you are Isabelle Théroux, daughter of Philippe…" I point to my chest. I try not to laugh as one blonde eyebrow disappears under her fringe.
"Come on, chérie, get changed so we can leave here." I reach for my pants, swiftly undoing the buttons. As I pull the shirt over my head, I hear a gentle gasp. A smile touches my lips at her reaction and I look forward to reciprocating the emotion when she removes her dress. Naked, I turn her around, reaching for the buttons and laces that hold the large dress to her small body. Slowly her pale skin is revealed to me and my lips are drawn to the expanse of flesh, placing whispers of kisses across her shoulders.
I pull back suddenly, muttering "Tsk, Françoise, we do not have time for this…" I can hear the sigh of disappointment from her and a chuckle rumbles through my body. It is nice to know that she feels the same way.
We face away from one another to dress, otherwise our departure would be delayed by another hour or so. Gerard had included some… interesting… additions to our costumes, making me wonder about the man I thought of as my adopted father.
Bracing myself for the obvious comment that is to come, I turn around to face the picture of an angel. She is breathtaking in the peasant dress she is wearing, simple but elegant, outlining her body to perfection. It takes me a moment to realize that she is staring at me. More to the point, she is staring at the bulge in my pants… and staring…
I wait for her eyes to track to me, but she seems focused on it. Clearing my throat, her eyes rise to mine, blushing furiously at being caught looking so blatantly at my crotch.
"Er, an interesting addition you’ve got down there."
I look down, seeing the lump sitting there. It is… different. "I would say Gerard thought it was essential that I look in every way a man." I think for a moment. "These pants are fairly tight. It might be more obvious if there was not a bulge."
Dale tries to keep eye contact with me, but every now and then those orbs track down my body, catching a glimpse of what would be there if I were a man. I wonder…
I move closer. "Chérie …" I whisper. I take her hand in mine, leading it down my body to my apex, letting her feel the small insert that has been cleverly sewn into the pants. Her breathing picks up at she softly touches it, her eyes refusing to look at me. Firmly, I grasp her chin, forcing her eyes to look into mine. "There is nothing that I would not do for you, Dale. Even this…" I sigh deeply. "…But I cannot grant your wish now, chérie. Besides, such an accoutrement I would have to purchase in London or Paris. I am sorry, Dale, but I am not going to Paris for it."
She laughs nervously, taking a step back to safety, finally taking in the rest of my costume. "What happened to…" she waves wildly at my chest.
"To…" I jokingly wave my hands in a similar fashion over my breasts. "I chopped them off." Her jaw drops open for a second before she realizes I am not serious. I open the top two buttons to show the material binding my breasts. "I do not think a man would be so well endowed, my sweet."
"Perhaps, my man."
"Your man, Dale?"
"Yes, Philippe. I think we are being incestuous here."
"We could always pose as husband and wife." I look shyly in her direction to see her reaction to my suggestion.
Green eyes widen at my statement. "What are you talking about?"
Taking a deep breath, I fall to my knees before her. "Will you be my wife?" If the question was not so serious, I would laugh at her almost comical expression.
"Are you serious?"
"Of course I am serious."
"Because I love you, why else?"
"But it’s so soon."
"We have just made a pact in death, Dale. We cannot be any more committed than that. I will never leave you and I know you will never leave me." I look to her to see a small nod in confirmation. "I know it will never be legal, but in my heart and my mind we will be married… if you will have me."
Tears come unbidden to my eyes as I wait for her decision. Moments pass and it seems like an eternity from heartbeat to heartbeat, my heart breaking from her non-response.
I stand. "Never mind… it was just a foolish notion of mine," I mutter as I turn away.
A warm hand reaches for my own, halting my progress. My heart is breaking at the rejection and her hand lifts to hover over my cheek, just before she gently strokes it. "Of course I will, my heart. How could you ever doubt it?" I release a breath I did not even know I was holding.
"So, Madame Théroux. No more talk of incestuous liaisons."
"Good. I’m not into that kinky stuff anyway."
"Sexual acts out of the normally accepted practices." My eyes pointedly look to my crotch and then back at her, drawing a blush to her pale skin.
"Whatever you say, chérie. But let anyone stop me from having you and they will have a fight on their hands." Which brings me to the next problem. I move inside the stall, pulling out the weapons left tucked away. Another note sits beside the sword - a letter of introduction to our contact in Nantes who will be holding the mirror. Tucking the parchment away safely, I attach the belt holding the rapier around my waist, leaving the sword dangling precariously at my side.
"I don’t understand…"
"Dale, we are going on a dangerous journey here. Our very lives are at stake. We cannot go unarmed."
"But I would be useless with a weapon."
"Then, it is just as well that I know how to use one." I can see the question in her eye. "Gerard taught me how to ride and fight, chérie. It is not seemly for a woman to do so, but then when have I ever played by the rules?" Gerard had been my redeeming angel in those days married to le Comte de Villerey. He came out once a week to attend to the horses, taking time out afterwards to teach me all the manly arts. I so enjoyed the freedom of doing the forbidden, my one escape from the horrid life I was trapped in. The bear of a man had never married, and we had found each other at a time when we each needed family. After my husband died, Gerard visited me often, no longer bound to a weekly visit, and we enjoyed each other’s company and, of course, a good fight.
Of course, the lady that I am, I never used what I had learnt, not that I have not been tempted over the years. He kept my secret safe, but still giving me an experience no other woman ever had. Now, all the hard work will be coming back to me ten-fold in the coming weeks, protecting us on the dark and dangerous road ahead.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"Let us go." I steer my docile mount out of the stable onto the path leading to the nearby village. Dale follows a few steps behind, her cloak pulled low over her face. I look to the chateau, saddened by the circumstance that has forced me to leave it. This chapter of my life is over, and I will probably never see it again. Slowly, we make our way to the deserted barn to pick up the rest of the supplies and, of course, the money. It would be foolish to leave it behind, for we need money to live on and to buy passage out of France. I pack the coin tightly in the bottom of the saddle bags, trying to dampen the sound of its movement and revealing the hidden secret we carry.
We are back on the road half an hour later, but I steer the horses towards the village. I can sense Dale as she moves her mount up next to me. "What are you doing?"
"Just making a slight detour."
"We’re heading right for the town, Françoise."
"I know." She says nothing, but I know her head is silently shaking. "I have to see this, chérie."
"And you’re going to risk everything to see her?"
"I will be careful. Everyone will be too focused on the execution to notice me."
"I hope you’re right."
"And if not, then you will have to come in a get me."
She sputters at the thought. "Yeah… right. This is really foolish."
"Do you think I do not know that? It is just something that I have to do." This is one time where my heart is overruling my head. Why do I have this almost obsessive need to see justice done? I know why. Just as she took from me, I am taking from her.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
I leave Dale in the company of Gerard, sparing her the horror of seeing someone die. I know that I cannot protect her from the harshness of life forever, but if I can save her from facing such barbarities, then I will do so for as long as I am able.
I stand in the crowd, hood in place, giving off an air of negligent menace to those around me. The condemned is dragged through the center of the yelling hoard, her once long dark locks now cut short and her clothes barely more than a rough-hewn shift. Those dark eyes look around wildly at the pressing crowd, real fear written across her face as the reality of her fate sinks in.
I step forward to the front of the crowd, letting her see me as she passes. Eyes widen in recognition, her mouth opening and closing in silent terror. "Œil pour œil, Madeleine. J’accuse!" ("An eye for an eye, Madeleine.) My voice is dark and low, grinding out the words that seem to spew forth from me. I want this woman to know her accuser, to take that knowledge with her to the grave.
I had not thought myself a vengeful woman, but here I am making a liar of myself. I turn away, her cries about my presence going unheeded, thought of as the pleas of a desperate woman about to die.
As I make my way back through the crowd, their cries reach a crescendo as the young woman is led the last few steps she will ever take. I reach my horse, turning one final time to watch a woman I had thought I had known, pitifully crying as the thick rope tightens around her neck. Her head tips back as if begging God for salvation. Perhaps she is, but it is too late. There is a moment of silence before a thud as the block is kicked away, leaving the woman suspended in mid-air by the rope around her neck. A cheer rises up to the sky, signaling that justice has been served.
I jump into the saddle, glad to be leaving this pitiful, vengeful little town. So much has changed in my world that it is no longer my home. The small blonde who will ride by my side is my life now, and we will travel this road together to find our own kingdom where we can live in peace and happiness. I know in my heart now that I have changed. I will do anything to protect Dale… anything.
An eye for an eye.
Stay tuned for the third installment of the continuing adventures of our 18th Century Countess and her 21st Century Heiress as they search for their own place in the world...and time. Will they survive or is time against them from the start?
I hope you are enjoying the ride through time as much I am. Please let me know.
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