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Spawn of the Night
Author's note: My own relationship that ended tragically when he passed away in a car crash inspired me as he always told me such tales. In remembrance of him, I wrote this out (as he always encouraged me to explore my inner "author"). Everybody deserves to have a look at his creativity. :')
Summer of 1762, Lucinda Ashe
The sunset was more than gorgeous as it painted the skies with a splash of colors; red, orange, yellow, blue, a touch of gold and silver and a highlight of pink. I stared and sighed. The clouds rolled away from the scene and the waves crashed against the side of the massive ship. Another sigh. I could see gulls, as small as bugs in the distance. A simple, elegant ship bowed on the horizon. I was mesmerized by the maiden on its bow. She was gorgeous, her body carved perfectly, the toga spilling from her shoulder almost torn of her as she writhed in horror. Her eyes were blank yet big and fearful; her lips were parted in a gasp of fear, her wrists shackled to the rest of the ship. She looked horribly majestic. I gasped as I saw a figure standing just above her head. A cloak billowed in the wind; a miniature of the black flag that writhed restlessly against the wind. I gasped as the image made itself clear. A simple white rose was painted on it; bleeding red. He had come just as he had promised. Fear made the scream in my throat die down. Captain Nightshade tipped his hat to me in a mock salute. The sunset behind him faded into blackness as I crumpled to the ground.
I awoke to the splitting pain at the corners of my mouth and the biting of the rope around my wrists and ankles. I shuddered against the cold. Whoever this villain was, he had stripped me down to my chemise and left me there tied to the huge chair. At least he had the decency to tie my legs to the same leg of the chair and to place a clean rag in my mouth. I felt a sudden desperation to pull free. And I tried; shaking and writhing to no avail. A throaty chuckle sounded behind me. I froze, inhaling the strong scent of cheroot and musk. I wanted to scream but I couldn’t. “Relax, darling,” the deep timbre of his voice sounded beside my ear as his fingers sifted through my hair. I blinked back tears of fear. “If I untie this stupid handkerchief my men thought necessary, would you promise me to be an obedient girl?” he asked gently. I nodded and I felt the rag drop onto my lap. I inhaled deeply. He started, “Sorry about this. We didn’t expect a lady to be on board. I trust you understand that I must blindfold you now.” He sounded almost wistful. “What if I promised to be good? Not to look, not to try to escape? Will you untie me? You can lock me in here but don’t leave me to die like this,” I bargained and begged. “I’ll consider your request,” he whispered as he tied the blindfold over my eyes. His fingers were gentle as they lifted my hair so it wouldn’t get knotted. He was gentle for such a rogue. I shivered as the wind blew. “Are you cold?” he asked kindly. “I might freeze to death should you leave me tied to a chair without so much as a shawl,” I said, gathering my pride. He swore savagely then his voice turned kind again, “My men had a silly thought you were hiding a weapon beneath your gown. I’m awfully sorry. I’ll let you go but promise me one thing?” “Yes, Captain?” I asked, not daring a breath, should he change his mind. “Don’t take off that blindfold until you hear me lock the door. If you do, the plank would seem a blessing compared to what I’ll do to you,” the threat in his velvety voice was real. I shivered, “Yes, sir. I’m a woman of my word, I swear.” “You make me almost wish I was a man of my word,” his lips brushed my cheek before I felt cold metal press against the skin of my wrist. I gasped in relief when the knife slit the rope and not my wrist. He continued to free me. ‘Thank you, Captain,” I said but all I heard in response was the click as the lock slid into place.
I could face the cold, I could face the boredom, I could face the loneliness, I could definitely face the delicious meals I was provided. What I couldn’t face was the constant knowledge that the captain of this vessel slipped in and out of the cabin whenever he pleased and sometimes, when he thought I was asleep, he would touch his lips to my brow or cheek and apologize in his soft, velvety voice. It drove me crazy to know that the man was painted with such dark character when indeed he was a gentleman. Well, he was a gentleman to me, at least.
That night I decided to see if I could get him to stay and talk. When I heard the door click at midnight, I sat upright. The door opened and a lone figure slipped in. He knew I was awake and stayed completely still even as he closed the door and locked it. “Good evening, Captain. To what do I owe this pleasure?” I asked, trying not to shudder against the cold. “I was just making sure you were alright. Now that you’re awake, I’m able to ask; Are you well, my lady?” he asked, softness in his voice. “I am well. For a kidnapper, you know how to treat your hostage with luxury. An oak bed fit for a king, a cabin filled with books and charts for one to study and relax, and food that anyone would pay a king’s ransom for. Do you treat all your victims as such?” I asked. He stepped forward, still in the shadows but a hint of a smirk was visible now. “My dear, I may have a heart as black as the pits of hell but I do appreciate the spoils of what I fought for,” his words sliced through the night. “I’ve heard stories about you,” my voice shook as I blurted it out. “All good, I hope,” he drawled. “They say that you murder good men in their sleep, that you steal the souls of women and children and take their hearts still beating from their chest. They say that you spare no woman for your own dark, horrible pleasures. They say that you ravish them against their will then kill them when you’re done. They say that you’re actually the incarnation of the devil and a pixie queen and that your bloodline is what causes you the ability to slip from one’s fingers and disappear into the night,” I was breathing heavily even as I said it, “They say you are over three hundred years old and that you are immortal.” “A reputation I can only hope to live up to,” his voice had lost its cheerfulness and he sounded dry. I reacted quickly when he turned for the door. “Wait! Please stay! I’m... Lonely,” I sounded miserably but it was true. Without turning to me, his hand on the unlocked door, “As am I, my lady. As am I.” On that note, he swung the door open and stormed out. I flinched as the door slammed and someone rammed the wooden block into place, sealing me in.
I didn’t realize how much I missed being able to breathe in fresh air till I looked out the porthole and saw nothing but clear skies and clam ocean unlike the stormy skies and rough seas I’d ben seeing. I felt a tear slip down my cheek as I realized I really was trapped. No matter how luxurious the cabin was, it was still a cage, a cell for me. More tears followed till I was crumpled on the floor, sobbing.
It was less than an hour later when the door opened. “I heard you crying,” his gentle voice was behind me. “And what do you care? You’re the one who locked me in here!” I accused, refusing to face him. I heard his footsteps and felt the cool caress of his fingers as they stroked my hair away from the nape of my neck. “I’m sorry. I know it’s not fair to you but my men aren’t the best on Earth. I’m afraid that I had to this for your own safety, ma’am,” he said. I turned slightly to look him but he stopped me in time. “Don’t. It’s better for you this way,” he said, his voice soft under my ear. “Why not?” I asked, “is it some kind of horrible scar or damage you don’t want me to see? I promise you I won’t judge.” “If only, Lucy, if only. I only hope you understand,” he whispered. I froze. I had never told him my name. “How?” I asked, trailing off but he caught on, “I know more about you than you think I could.” I started to cry, thinking this man had not only trapped me away and stolen my freedom but he also violated my privacy and pried into my life. “Lucy, don’t cry. I’ll do anything for you to stop crying,” he sounded concerned. “Are you always so worried about your hostages?” I spat. “We could do this the easy way, or the hard way,” his voice was threatening now. “I won’t cooperate if you’re looking for information. I will not give you anything, Captain!” I sneered. “This is my ship and I will not tolerate this,” he said coolly, anger rippling in his voice. I spun in his arms; but before I could see his face, his mouth was crushed on mine. I whimpered under his lips. I didn’t realize he was tying a blindfold over my eyes as he kissed me. His mouth was savage on mine, sweet yet spicy. I was falling into a pit I had dug myself. His mouth disappeared too soon. I opened my eyes only to be blinded by the black scrap of cloth over them. “Where are you?” I asked. “Here,” he sounded too far away. “Why did you do that?” I demanded. “I don’t know,” I could hear the whisper of his shirt as he shrugged. “You insufferable bastard!” I snarled when he cut me off, “Do you want to see the ocean? The sky? It’s beautiful today.” I was taken back. “What are you saying?” I asked, needing to understand. “I’m saying I’ll take you on deck as long as you cooperate,” he said. “Then I have to decline,” I said, holding my pride. “I was hoping you weren’t going to say that,” he sighed. “I refuse to do anything with you, you demon,” I sneered. I heard his sharp intake of breath before his promise, “You will never be free till I’m satisfied, Miss Ashe. I told you you made me wish I was a man of my word. Too bad I am when it comes to my ship and my captives.” I heard the slam of the door and the savage swearing outside it. I untied the cloth and watched the sky turn dark with rain clouds. I had lost my only bit of freedom onboard this ship.
He didn’t come back to see me; not even during the night. I was more lonely than ever. I still found my meals delivered on time by a young boy that seemed to be deaf and dumb. I missed him. I had to admit it, he was the only one who spent time with me but he didn’t anymore. It was my fault. That was until he decided it was time I start cooperating with him.
He strode into my room at night and he yanked the thin duvet of me while his other hand covered my eyes. I gasped against the cold and fought to bring my knees up and huddle close. His voice was dangerous as it sliced through the stale night, “You tell me now why I shouldn’t kill you. We both know I could do it and still sleep through the night and dream of happy things after I kill you and toss your body into the ocean.” “If that’s how you wake women up, I’m not surprised you have to rape them to get satisfaction,” I said haughtily, angrily. The flash of a knife scared me and his snarl was worse than the pain I felt when the blade nicked my throat. “Don’t play this game with me, Lucinda. Tell me why I should let you live when you’re nothing but a nuisance to me and my crew.” “Then kill me. I have nothing to give you and even if I did, you wouldn’t get it,” I was blinking furiously under his palm to keep the tears at bay. “You b****. I hope you die in your sleep,” he was furious. “I hope you die when you choke on that vulgar tongue of yours and when they hang you,” I retorted. The blade dug a little deeper and I choked, raising my chin. I could feel blood trickling warm down my throat. “You will give me what I want,” he insisted. “And what do you want?” I demanded. “This, damn it, this,” he growled as his mouth smashed down on mine. He removed his hand from my eyes to circle my waist and lower my body down against the bed and smooth my legs out under him as he crouched above me. “Stop, please,” I squeezed my eyes shut. “Fine. wouldn't’t bed a whore anyways,” he separated himself from me and left me in the silent room again. All I felt instead of relief was grief and ice. He was warm and tantalizing. I wanted him. He was a phantom.
The next morning, someone knocked on my door. When I opened, a man studied my appearance before handing me my gown with a gruff and slamming the door shut and ramming the bolt home. I looked down at the delicate silk I normally wore and the red blindfold in my hands. He was giving me back a piece of myself even if he didn’t know. But I had already guessed why he was giving it back. I pulled on the gown and sat at the edge of the bed, tying the blindfold on myself. I sat there as still as possible till I was too tired and fell asleep.
Cool fingers brushed my hair back from my face. The tenderness that made the man brush his warm lips against my frozen ones made me shiver. I was awake and alert now. I knew who it was and I could sense him kneeling in front of me. “Captain,” I said cooly, sitting up. “Miss Ashe,” he replied smoothly. “What are you here for this time?” I asked. “Simple. I came to inform you that you’re my official prisoner,” he drawled. “Why keep me?” I asked. “We have unfinished business,” he said simply. “Captain, all I request is that you kill me. Now. Do it. Save me the trouble and trauma of going though all this,” I requested. “I’d hate to have to add you to the list of people I’ve murdered,” he muttered. “Do it, or I’ll do it for you,” I said, slipping out the letter opener that was always kept under the may layers of my gown. “Your men were right, I do have weapons under my dress,” I said as I held the blade to my wrist. I expected him to urge me to do it, not for his gentle hands to pry the blade from me and replace it, “You were holding it the wrong way that would have caused a more painful death.” My mouth went slack. “Stop gaping or something might steal into your mouth,” he chided. “Like what?” I asked, worried. “Like this,” he said, slipping his own tongue in and meshing his lips with mine. I gasped and my arms coiled around his neck. “Don’t let me go,” he said as the blade clattered noisily on the ground when it slipped from my hands. I shook my head helplessly. “Captain, seventy-four gunner, lead ship Avenger approaching,” a low voice said. Whoever this captain was, he tore away from me and stood, “The bloody Navy know exactly when to disturb me.” I heard the two men disappear through the now locked doors. I tore the blindfold from my eyes and ran to the porthole, only to see the ship that came to save me was gunned down by Nightshade. My heart sank as I heard triumphant cheers from the deck.
The door swung open. He didn’t bother with hiding his face. He strode straight to me and picked me off the floor. “Captain?” I asked softly, seeing his face for the first time. His eyes were a sparking blue with a dash of green, his hair was the color of white sand on a tropical island, his lips were full and almost a red that would make any woman’s mouth water with envy or lust. He was fair yet tanned; his body was lean and toned but not muscled till his shirt burst from its seams. He seemed young, barely in his twenties and he was handsome and smart. “Lucy?” he raised an eyebrow. “Why are you here?” I asked, “why am I pressed against you like this?” “We were in the middle of something?” he hinted. “No, we weren’t. Let me go, leave me alone,” I commanded. He stiffened and anger coursed through him, “I told you wouldn't’t tolerate this. This is my ship and naturally the task of disciplining falls to me.” “If you’re here for my kiss, tell me your name,” I bargained. “A fair deal. Daryn Nightshade,” he smiled. I was mesmerized by that smile. He lowered his lips down to mine, “You owe me a kiss.” I nodded dumbly and welcomed the probing of his tongue and the nibbling of his teeth. All I could do to not scream his name was to bite down on his lip. I knew I drew blood but I couldn’t help it. I pulled away, “Does you crew know? Do they know I’m here? Do they know you’re involved with me?” “They know that if they mess with my woman, I’ll kill them. They know that if they so much as glance at you, I’ll whip them dry,” he grinned cheerfully. “Your woman?” I asked. “This may not mean anything to you, but I’m in love with you,” he rubbed his lips on mine. I pulled away, “What?”
“I love you.”
Summer of 1762, Daryn Nightshade
“I can see the prospect bloody thrills you,” I muttered dryly. She scrambled out of my arms and shrank away. “Don’t say that. You’re a bloody idiot!” she said, her voice trembling with fear and anger. “I know that,” I snapped. “Why tell me now? Why me?” she seemed to be asking herself more than me. “Lucinda, why are you so afraid of me? Because of stories you heard? Because your darling society painted me to look like I’m the very devil himself?” I asked, fighting back the ball in my throat. “You are the devil himself come to haunt me,” she said, her eyes wide with fear. “But why you?” I demanded. She flinched, “I don’t know.” “Lucy, what evil have you done to bring the devil’s wrath on your pretty little head?” I reasoned. “I... I... Don’t look at me like that,” her eyes were glistening with tears. “Lucy, look at me. You’ve kissed me, you’ve touched me, you’ve felt the thundering of my heart under your hands. How am I a ghost?”I sighed. This woman was difficult. She took a shaky breath, “Those are all things I should never have felt.” “It’s my sin, not yours,” I threw caution to the wind and drew her close to me. “Why did you take me?” she asked, looking me defiantly in the eyes. “I would be lying if I said it was for my own pleasure. I didn’t even know there would be a woman on board. But when I saw you, it was already too late. We were already on course. I told my crew not to harm you. Their idea was to lock you up in my cabin and leave you at my mercy. Turns out I’m left at your mercy,” I sifted my fingers through her golden locks and buried my face in the comfort they permitted. “What’s your name again? What’s my name again?” she hiccuped. “Lucy,” I laughed, “my name’s Daryn.” “You’re Captain Nightshade. You’re a pirate and you’re wanted by the Crown. I’m the daughter of a prominent noble. I’m betrothed to Richard Montgomery. I’m getting married in two months. I have obligations, you don’t. Don’t drag me into our life. You’re condemned and I’m not. I hate you and you love me,” she said dryly and pulled herself away from me like I was the very dirt under her shoes. I wouldn’t admit it but it hurt. “And what do you want me to do?” I asked. Her body stiffened with pride, “I want you to send me home. I promise not to give you away and not to aid the Navy in your capture. Just send me home.” She sounded home-sick. I cursed myself, “Fine. I’ll send you home. I’ll send you back to your bloody pampered life. And you can forget anything and everything that happened here.” To fight the urge to hold her, I jammed my hands into the pockets of my breeches and stormed out.
My crew were lined up outside the stairwell. “Sir,” my second-in-command, Colt, saluted, “what are your orders?” “Turn the bloody ship around. We’ve got a pampered princess to send home,” I grimaced. “Send home, sir?” he dropped his hand. “I don’t want the b**** on my ship and I don’t bloody well want her in my bed and cabin,” my anger got the better of me. Colt hesitated. “Colt, what are you waiting for?” I asked acidly. “Nothing, sir,” he stood to attention then barked out orders to the rest. I stormed to the study and fell into the lounging chair. I closed my eyes.
“Someone’s here to see you,” Colt’s head poked in. “Who and what?” I demanded. “A lady,” he mused, a smirk playing on his lips. I had the urge to smash a fist into his face. “Send her in,” I said through my teeth. “Captain,” she said as soon as she stepped in and Colt left us alone. “Miss Ashe, I see you’ve decided to use my men against me,” I said as coolly as I could. “I needed to see you. And it took a lot of banging to bring even one to my rescue,” she said. “Sit,” I commanded and she slid into the seat, smoothing out her beloved skirt. “Captain,” I grimaced when her delicate voice drawled out the title and not my name, “I want to apologize. I was rude and it’s unacceptable. I only want you to understand that I’m to be married and my family will be worried sick about me. I need to go home. It has nothing to do with you.” “Lucinda Ashe, who would have thought you had a heart?” I mused. “I would say the same about you after your confession earlier today,” she was calm.
I was impressed, she was holding her ground. But I was, as she pointed out, a pirate. And we don’t play fair. I stood, crossed the table, wrapped her hair around my hand and yanked her head back to accommodate my kiss. She was stiff as she sat calmly but her mouth was responding eagerly; a pleasant combination. When I let her go, she was slightly tipped but she recovered quickly. “That was a dirty move,” she mumbled. “I’m a snake when it comes to your posh society, remember? Only fair to live up to that,” I couldn’t help grinning. She smiled, “You’re a disaster, Daryn.” My breath caught when her voice caressed my name. Blood rushed from my head. I was already imagining the things the delightful things that same mouth could do for me; the way that same voice would be screaming my name. “Taking a side trip, Nightshade?” she asked sweetly. “A hell of a good one too,” I let my breath blow out slowly. “Mind sharing?” she asked. There was mischief playing in her eyes, in the way they danced. “Oh yes,” I grinned and kissed her again. I made sure she would feel the desire rippling through my body.
She gasped and her hands snaked around my neck. I yanked her off the seat and into my arms. She sighed as my hands ran their course up and down her back. “Daryn,” she whispered. “Yes?” I pulled away slightly and looked into her hazed gray eyes. “I don’t want to marry Richard,” she sounded small and fragile and my heart went out to her. “I don’t want you to marry him either,” I said and nibbled on her bottom lip to keep myself from blurting out what I wished I could tell her. “I don’t want to think,” she stammered. “Then don’t. Don’t think about the consequences, don’t think about tomorrow. Think only about me, here and now. I’m yours and you’re mine; even if only for an hour. I’ll take it for now. Think about me, don’t stray from that,” I urged her and she took a sharp intake of breath. “I don’t know if I can,” her words tumbled from her mouth. “Why not?” I asked, bracing myself for the blow. “Because I’m ashamed of the things I think about you,” she buried her face in my chest. I laughed, “Ashamed? I see I’m not the only one taking side trips.” “Shut your yap,” her voice was muffled. “Shut it for me,” I challenged and she did just that. She pushed me harshly and my hip was against the table. She caught my face in her hands and devoured my mouth with hers. I kept my eyes open to watch the way hers fluttered. I smiled and she pulled away to lean her head on my shoulder. “I think I love you,” she whispered. I felt the wall she erected shatter. “That makes two of us,” I brushed her hair away from her face and kissed the top of her head.
“How is it the devil can love? That the devil can be so gentle?” she mumbled. “How does the sun and moon share the same sky?” I answered. “Because they fit; day and night,” she smiled and kissed the hollow of my throat. I swallowed, “Yeah, I’ve got a little bit of each in me.” “You have more night in you,” she sighed. “So we’re back to my black heart,” I said dryly. “Even the darkest of hearts have a little bit of light. Just like even in the darkest time of night, the stars and the moon still shine,” she smiled. I touched my lips to her, “I found the moon and the stars in you.” And I found the night I have to brighten in you,” she smiled back. We were perfectly content the way we were; I was resting against the table with her in my arms and her face pressed into my shirt and my cheek resting on her hair. The truth was our only barrier.
Autumn of 1762, Lucinda Ashe
He was as good as his word. I was home; safe and sound. And I was to be married faster now. I hated it. I hated Richard. He was a horrible person in my mind even though I had never met him. The bottom line was that I missed Daryn..
I could still see him in my head. His dashing smile; his searching eyes; his easy laugh; his rich, velvety voice; his kisses... I was in love with him. And I knew he loved me too. He told me more than once. And there were times when he had shown me in the way he would hold me tight, the way he’d look at me, and in the way he’d treat me. I missed him more than anything. Daryn, oh, Daryn..
“What’s wrong with you? You’ve been acting funny!” my mother hissed. “It’s nothing, Mother,” I replied. “It had better not be. You’re meeting Richard today and I want you to make a good first impression or you might lose him,” she pulled the comb roughly through my hair. I flinched but didn’t say anything. “Richard is a wonderful man. You’ll definitely love him. Or you’ll learn to. We heard he’s a gentleman, and not a ladies man. Though, I figure, lots of ladies want him.You should be proud to have him want to marry you. He’s been keen for some time now. He’s even pushed the wedding forward because he couldn’t wait. Don’t you think he’s perfect already?” she asked, obviously in dreamland. “Yes, Mama. Absolutely gorgeous,” I answered dutifully.
He was here. I watched from the window upstairs as my husband-to-be gracefully slipped out of the carriage and strode into the house to greet my father. A part of me told me something was wrong but I didn’t acknowledge it. My mother ushered me down in my best gown; my hair coiled up with tendrils falling as though ruffled by after passionate loving. I pasted a smile on my lips and prayed it would be over soon. When I opened the door, I froze. Heaven and hell collided and the sun seemed to swell and explode in the sky above me.
“Lucy,” he smiled, “so nice to meet you.” I stared in shock. “You look in shock, milady, would you like to sit?” he gestured to the chair. “Can I have a few minutes alone with Richard?” I asked and everyone filtered out of the room; the door was locked. I looked up at my bridegroom. Neither of us said anything. Silence was broken when he crossed the distance between us and pulled me into his arms. His mouth was warm and rough yet gentle and loving on mine. “Why didn’t you tell me?” I asked, my fingers digging into his hair to hold him there. “How could I?” Daryn answered. “Don’t let me go,” I begged and he pressed me against him, refusing to break his passionate kiss. I gasped when someone knocked on the door. He pulled his head up and asked softly, “Should I?” “Yes,” I pulled away, smoothing out my skirts and smiling at him. He swooped in for a quick kiss before unlocking the door. “Is everything okay in here?” my mother asked. “Yes. I think I’d like to spend more time with Lucinda; get to know her a little better,” Daryn stepped in. “Why, Richard, of course!” my mother seemed delighted. He took my hand in his and gently asked, “Would you care to spend the afternoon with me? A little picnic by the river perhaps?” I nodded, mesmerized by this new side of him.
“So, Richard of Montevoy...” I trailed off and he grinned. “Why didn’t you tell me?” I asked. “How was I supposed to tell the woman I love I double as a pirate and as her betrothed. You’d hate me,” he grin turned into a frown. “I would’ve understood,” I said. “Can we just go back to being the passionate lovers?” he sighed. “Not yet. Explain,” I demanded. “Look, sweetheart, I have my reasons for what I do. I’m selfish, stupid, rude, complacent and many other things but never lovable or kind or gentle or loving till I met you. You changed me. And I love you. Don’t push me away because of my duel profession. I can’t explain it now. All I know is that I never expected for any of this to happen. I always thought I’d just marry you and leave you alone while I did what I do. But now, I can’t stand being away from you,” he had taken my hands in his, pulled me close and was explaining as he pressed his body against mine, his cheek resting on my hair. “I’ll accept that for now,” I hugged him closer. Our bodies were perfectly molded together. All it took was his one breathless whisper to send me over the top. “I want you.”
It was like fireworks had exploded; the sun had crashed down to Earth. That was the power of his kiss. His fingers found my face and cupped my cheek gently to raise my face. I loved him more than anything. But I could feel him pushing against me and something snapped in my head. He could take me if he wanted to; I wouldn’t fight back, I couldn’t fight back. He was already pushing the kiss deeper and I could now feel him pressing into my belly. I gasped and pulled away. “Something wrong?” his eyes were a shade darker. “I’m not comfortable with you this close,” I whispered. He caught me by the the waist and pinned me against him, pressing so close that I could feel every inch of him; from brow to toes. “Too close?” he asked. My head was spinning and I couldn’t breathe.
“Lucinda, I intend to spend the rest of my life making this distance normal between us. I intend to love you forever and start a family with you one day,” he said and showered my face with gentle kisses. “A family?” I shuddered, remembering the times I watched women giving birth and their screams of pain. “I was thinking three,” he smiled. “Three?” I looked up into his eyes. “Children, Lucy,” he grinned. My knees buckled and he had to support me to stop me from falling to the ground. “Lucy? Are you alright? You’re faint and pale, Lucinda. Sit down,” he lowered me to the ground. HIs hands gently brought my knees up and wrapped my arms around my knees. “Head down,” he ordered as his hand gently pushed my neck forward. I buried my face in the cradle my legs created. “Relax. Breathe. What’s wrong? Talk to me,” his fingers stroked my hair. “I’m terrified. Everything’s happening so fast. I’m scared, Daryn,” I cried. “I can delay the wedding. I can go away for a while. Give you some time to think it through. And you’re still young, sweetheart. I’m still young. If having children scares you then we’ll wait. Just don’t make me wait too long,” he comforted me by puling me into his embrace and kissing my hair. “Daryn, it’s not that you need to go away, it’s that I’m scared,” I sobbed. “Sweetheart, no matter what happens, I’m willing to wait. As long as you need. Take your time,” he soothed. “Thank you, Daryn. I only have one more problem,” I wiped my tears. “What?” he asked. “I don’t think I’ll ever get around to calling you Richard,” I smiled miserably. He laughed, deep and throaty, “I don’t think so either!”
3 weeks later...
I hated the fact that Daryn had left for awhile. I was terrified for his safety and I missed him selfishly. He had left with not so much as a goodbye. A man had appeared one afternoon while we were lazing about by the meadows and whisked him away with the simple words of “Sir, we found something.” I had waited that evening for him to return but there was no sign of him. The only I found out he was gone was when a messenger delivered a scrap of paper containing his simple message:
I will return home as soon as possible. I am terribly sorry. I miss you already.
I was so angry with him. How dare he leave just like that? Who did he think he was? But then, it hit me. This was him. He would always leave like that when his crew needed him. He would always leave messages signed Richard. He would never tell me where he was going or what he was doing. I would always worry for him and it wouldn’t bother him since he was so used to being away for so long.
I cried and cried that night. My mother knew I was pining for ‘Richard’. She was glad I loved him. But she wasn’t happy that I missed him so much. “Learn to pick up after him. If Richard leaves, you have to run the household. What good is a lovesick girl to the lords?” she would grumble and I would cry more.
Winter of 1762
He was home! My heart and body sang with joy! Daryn walked up to me and pulled me into a solid hug. I inhaled deeply; the scents of salty air, wood and musk filled my nose. “I missed you,” I rained kisses on his face and hands. “I love you. I missed you too,” he muttered into my hair. He didn’t seem to care what he was saying. His mind was somewhere else. My heart broke. He wasn’t even bothered that I was welcoming home after so long. “Daryn, is something wrong?” I asked. “Sorry. I have matters to attend to,” he pushed me away from him and strode into the house to see my father. I watched, my mouth slightly open from shock. Did he not miss me too?
That night at dinner, he sat opposite me as the bridegroom-to-be. I watched him but he was far away. When he looked up, he didn’t seem to see me. Finally, I gave in and stopped trying. After dinner, I just stalked up to my room without bothering about him. He caught my arm as I made my way up the stairs. “Lucy, I want you,” he said. I was disgusted by his behavior and slapped his hand away. “Lucy?” he asked, confused. I was angry and hissed, “Do you think it’s alright for you to come in here, treat me like I’m invisible then suddenly, when your lust flares up, look for me? No. I’m not an object, Richard.” “Luce? You never call me Richard,” he was taken aback. “You will never understand!” I tore from him and ran to my room, hitching up my skirts. He was still standing there when I finally slammed my door shut.
The next morning, I heard a knock on my door. I pulled my nightdress close and opened the door. Daryn slipped in without permission and locked the door. “What do you want?” I asked. “To wish you a good morrow. ‘Tis a lovely morning. Would you care for a walk with me later on after you’re done dressing?” he smiled, his eyes taking in everything. “No, I would not care for a walk with you,” I said haughtily. “What have I done to upset you?” he sighed. “You came home yesterday, Daryn. I missed you so much. I wanted you to look at me; to tell me you love me or that you missed me. But you didn’t. And that hurt. It was as though you had forgotten our love. You didn’t even care when I tried to entertain you during dinner,” I explained. “I am sorry. I was busy in my head. I was calculating a new strategy for Colt. Sweeting, I could never forget how much I love you. It’s etched into my heart,” he took my hands in his and bestowed soft kisses on each fingertip. “It had better be. We’re to be married in less than two weeks, Daryn. Please take this seriously,” I sighed. “Of course. Anything for my bride,” mischief danced in his eyes. “Now, out! I’m still in my nightdress!” I clutched the fabric close to my skin. “My Lady,” he bowed but when he straightened, he grinned, “wear red. I like it when you wear red. And tug your corset down a little. Not too much, but just a little.” “Oh, shush!” I pushed him out and closed the door .
I did exactly what he wanted and twined my hair up in a loose bun. His eyes darkened with desire when I stood before him. “Daryn, is this alright with you?” I asked. “God, yes. Come here,” he opened his arms to me and I slipped in comfortably. I was perfectly content in his embrace till my mother walked in and announced that the wedding plans were done. I knew I was pale now. Daryn stroked his fingers over my cheek, “Breathe, Lucinda. I’m here for you.” “I know. But I’m scared,” I shuddered. “Don’t be. Just you and me forever. Think only of me. Here and now,” he ordered and I obliged. I was falling into a comfort zone I knew was dangerous. It was even more dangerous when I felt him mold my hips to his and his lips brushed my shoulder. But my body didn’t respond to my control and my head fell back with a sigh. His arm slowly coiled itself around me and his fingers brushed the strings of the corset. I gasped as he ran his finger higher to the top of the corset till he was caressing the skin on top of it. “Daryn,” my voice showed my fear and excitement. “Shhh, it’s alright,” his lips caressed my neck; his teeth grazing. I whimpered and wondered if this was the sort of pleasing torture that some girls sold their souls for. Something snapped in my head and I found the strength to pull away. He looked up at me, “Lucy? Did I do something wrong?” “That was wrong, Daryn! We can’t!” I protested. “I know it’s wrong now. But I just couldn’t help myself,” he smiled sheepishly. “Please, Daryn, I’m not comfortable this way,” I clutched my hand around my throat to force the words out. He lost his smile and nodded his head, “If you say so.” I felt horrible seeing him look so flustered. “Daryn, it has nothing to do with you,” I said. “Richard. you chould call me Richard while we’re still here. I need to return to my estate. I’ll see you when I get back,” he said flatly. “You’er leaving again, aren’t you? When will you come back?” I asked, my heart aching. “In time for our bloody wedding,” he said it through his teeth. I closed my eyes as he stormed out from the room. “If you don’t want to marry me, you don’t have to,” I muttered to the empty room.
Autumn of 1762, Daryn Nightshade/Richard of Montevoy
I knew it wasn’t her fault for being afraid. Marriage was a huge step. And she wasn’t asked for her preferences. It was all politics when they arranged her marriage. It just happened to be a coincidence she fell in love with me. But I wanted things to be different. I wished we could have gotten engaged because I asked her and she said yes for love of me. I wanted her to give herself wholly to me without being forced to. But it was too late to plan anything for her. She would be my wife whether she wanted it or not; she would have to love me even if she didn’t want to. She was only nineteen. I was twenty-two. The difference was slight. Yet she knew I was more experienced in all aspects and she was afraid of disappointing me. The other day when she had pulled away, I had gotten angry at her for rejecting me. I had ignored the fear written all over her face. But I realized now that she was terrified of everything that was happening. She had to give up her only bit of freedom to become a wife and soon she knew she would be forced and pressured to have a child. She was terrified and she had every reason to be.
I awoke to the sound of gulls in the distance and the fresh smell of salt. Colt was banging down my door; at least, that was what it sounded like. “What is it?” I called out, annoyed. The door swung open, “It’s your wedding day.” My heart pounded frantically. I looked down at myself; I was still in bed, I still had a little gunpowder on my forearms and I was sweating. “I should get ready,” I said to myself. “Yeah, you should. We’ve docked under Richard’s name. You have an hour before you should be there,” Colt agreed and left me alone in the huge cabin. I remembered when Lucy had been held captive in here. Now, I was marrying my hostage. I jumped out of bed and washed up in the bathroom I had built in.
I pulled on the white shirt, white waistcoat and trousers and white cravat. I tugged on white dyed shoes. I ran my fingers through my hair several times; fixing in and trying to calm myself. When I opened the door, my whole crew was waiting for me. “G’ Luck, sir!” “Congratulations!” “Sir, nail her good!” were all the claps on the shoulders and whistles I received. “Shut up, all of you,” I snapped and they were all silent. Only Colt broke the silence, “You’re the youngest man on this ship. You’re the smartest and bravest and most experienced. Don’t tell me you’re nervous on your wedding day?” “I’m not nervous,” I snapped but then relented, “I’m terrified.” They laughed all at once and enveloped me in a burly group hug. “Don’t get his clothes dirty!” I heard Colt yell. Still laughing, they fell back and gestured for me to go.
I was ushered straight into the cathedral. Her mother instructed me to stand exactly two feet away from the altar and to make sure I was facing the door. I hated the nerves spiraling through me. It wasn’t as though I was getting shot down. I was marrying her, that’s all. My nerves frazzled when I saw Colt slip in as my best man. He nudged me, “I saw the bride. She looks gorgeous. You’re a lucky man.” I gulped in fear; rocking back and forth on my heels. “Relax, it’s going to be fine,” Colt hissed. “Easy for you to say,” I muttered back. He smiled, “Here comes your bride now...”
Autumn of 1762, Lucinda Ashe
I hadn’t slept till midnight. I was awoken before dawn. A servant girl drew me a bath from the nearby stream and I had to bathe under my mother’s watchful eye. Later, maid servants poured creamy milk down my body and washed my hair in no less than lavender and rose oils and herbs. I was whisked away into a room where they had lain out my gown and veil. My heart pounded now.
My mother made me wear a robe of white Oriental silk; the rarest and most luxurious. The gentle maid servant that had been there with my mother on her wedding day drew a brush through my hair before twisting locks around her fingers and pinning bits of my hair to my scalp. They gently removed the robe once they had finished with my hair, painted my lips a rosy pink and powdered my face. I shivered in the cold. Then, my mother passed me an inner corset and lace drawers that I pulled on quickly and gently. They tied the corset as tight as they could to make my body seem thinner and more robust. I drew in a deep breathe before they slipped the white bridal gown over my head and allowed it to settle on my body.
The gown was made of the same silk as the robe. It had French lace over the neck and shoulders to create a sleeveless top before silk hugged my breasts and waist. It flared out into a long train that dragged the floor and made it hard and heavy to walk. Pearl buttons ran down the length of my back from my neck to secure the gown into place and to make its removal all the more easier. White satin high-heeled slippers were placed on my feet. A single white rose was placed in my hair. The veil was secured to the back of my head by a diamond comb hat belonged to Daryn’s great-grandmother; or so he claimed. They then pulled a layer of the net-like lace over my face and its hem fell to my waist in the front; it trained along with the gown at the back. I felt like a princess had my nerves not given in and terrified me.
I was ushered into the carriage drawn by four white horses alongside my mother. She held in her hands my bouquet of white St. Joseph’s lilies. Before we arrived, she handed me white lace gloves that trailed up to my forearms. I pulled them on and she handed me my bouquet. Standing in front of the heavy doors of the cathedral with my father at my side made my nerves scramble. I was getting married in a few minutes. Just as I thought I could make a run for it, music flared up inside. The bridal march blared through my head and the heavy doors swung inwards to reveal the interior. Standing amongst the beauty of the cathedral, stood a miracle. My eye focused on this miracle and I smiled. He smiled back. All I could see now was the path that led to the man I loved, Daryn Nightshade.
The look on their faces were the looks of pure joy. Admiral Ashe led his daughter down the aisle before presenting her to the bridegroom. Daryn smiled adoringly as she took his hand with the daintiness princesses strove to muster. Even under her veil, Daryn could see Lucinda blush scarlet. He whispered to her, “May I kiss my bride?” She smiled back, a show of pearly teeth under a stream of white lace, “In a minute, you can kiss your wife.” Daryn had never felt the joy that warmed his bones till that moment. The chaplain struggled to hold back his own grin. He began to read the vows that would bind the two together forever.
“Dear brethren, we are gathered here today to witness the joining of these two young people in holy matrimony. Please join me in prayer;
Father, when you created mankind
you willed that man and wife should be one. Bind Richard and Lucinda in the loving union of marriage; and make their love fruitful so that they may be living witnesses to your divine love in the world.
I believe the couple have written their vows to each other?” the chaplain ended his small speech. Daryn smiled and went first;
“Lucinda Ashe , I promise to be your husband, your lover, and your friend,
I will be your partner in parenthood,
Your supporter through the hard times,
Your playmate through the good times,
Your comfort in times of grief,
Your collaborator in adventure,
Your accomplice in mischief,
Your confidant in relaxation,
Your student and your teacher,
Your biggest fan and your best friend,
Your strength in your times of need and vulnerable to you in my own,
And most of all, your soul mate on our exciting ride of life.”
Lucy blinked back tears and cleared her throat;
“Richard of Montevoy, I choose to love you, to cherish you, and to respect you in all ways, always.
I promise to participate fully in our marriage partnership. I will give fully of my mind, body, heart, and soul.
I promise to make your plans and dreams as important to me as my own. I promise to do my part in the hope that our lives together will be healthy, happy, and abundantly satisfying.
I swear to rededicate myself to these vows each and every day for the rest of my life.”
It was Daryn’s turn to blink back the tears that sprang behind his eyes. He fumbled for the ring on the pillow brought in by the ring-bearer. Ridiculously, he put it back and decided to fist pull off Lucy’s left glove. She was giggling and the crowd of spectators were chuckling. He was grinning from ear to ear as he finally got it off and slipped the ring on her fourth finger, “With this ring, I thee wed.” Lucinda picked up the other ring and gently took his left hand in hers. “With this ring, I thee wed,” she slipped it on his fourth finger and they smiled into each other’s eyes. “I now proclaim you; man and wife. You may, Richard, finally, kiss your bride,” the chaplain smiled. “No. I can finally kiss my wife,” Daryn lifted the veil from her face and caught her by the waist. She was already laughing before he bent her backwards and delivered a long, sweet kiss on her waiting mouth. The crowd cheered and clapped for the newly weds. Lucinda’s parents were shocked to see the love radiating from the young couple.
Daryn steadied Lucinda and whispered in her ear, “Get ready to run.” She gripped his hand tighter in encouragement. He counted to three and the couple took off down the aisle before they were rained upon by grains of rice and confetti. Once inside the carriage that would take them back to ‘Richard’s’ estate, Daryn swooped down to kiss his bride once more. “I love you, I love you, I love you!” he grinned. Lucinda nuzzled against his warmth, “I love you, I love you, I love you.”
Once again, the bride was whisked off to a separate chamber to get ready for her wedding night. Daryn paced in his own room that he was to give up tonight to move into the bridal chambers he would share with Lucy for as long as they both should live.
Lucinda was stripped off her veil and gown and her hair was undone; allowed to fall in all its shimmering golden glory. A silk chemise was replaced in favor of a gown. The same silk robe she wore in the morning was dropped on her shoulders and tied loosely around her waist. Its hem flowed past her ankles and pooled around her feet. Her satin slippers were replaced with flat-footed ones. Perfume was drizzled over her pulse. Lavender and rose oils were rubbed onto her skin. She was ready to face her groom.
He was already waiting for her at the dining table. He jumped up to attention when she slipped through the door. His eyes would not stray from her as she crossed the room. Lucinda hesitated before the table. Daryn held her hand gently and sat her down on his right. He slipped into his own seat before breaking the silence, “Are you alright?” “Quite, thank you,” she replied. They were served exactly five dishes; roast beef and potatoes, vegetables, poultry, fruits and sweetmeats. As his wife, Lucy served Daryn the pick of the plate. He watched with boiling hunger as her robe slid down her shoulder when she tried to place a carving of beef on his plate. Her eyes caught his staring and she hid a smile, “Amused, are you?” “Oh, very,” he let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding. They ate their main courses with relish and famish. Later, Daryn refused to allow his lady to dine on fruits and sweetmeats and insisted they took the trays of food with them to the balcony outside. Confused but respective, Lucinda obliged. He bid her lie on the recliner and rested her head on his lap. Plucking a grape from the fruit bowl, he held it to her lips. Before she could bite it, he withdrew his hands by an inch. Lucy whimpered and raised her head to catch his fingers, her teeth pulling the grape while her tongue lathed his fingertips. A breath caught in his throat but he didn’t stop there. Later, when several drops of grapes were devoured hungrily by his bride, Daryn held a small strip of sweetmeat to his darling’s lips. She smiled, “Do I get that or are you going to tease me?” “If you want it, come get it,” he smiled and slipped one end of it through his pursed lips. She smiled and sat up to kiss him, stealing the delicacy from his lips. His arms snaked around her waist and the kiss grew heated. Her own hands betrayed her coolness as they slipped around his neck and hugged him close to her. The food was forgotten as he slipped his hand under her knees and lifted her up into his arms. She broke the kiss to rest her brow against his and smile as he carried her to the bridal chamber.
Candles burned their flames out. The moonshine stole into the dark room and highlighted the figures of the sleeping couple. Their bodies were entwined, joined still, and exposed to the night. Blood marred the thighs of the woman and stained the sheets beneath her. Torn silk that once belonged to a chemise was scattered around the bed and a heap of white waistcoats, trousers and shoes rose in the corner alongside a soft silk robe. Golden hair was painted silver in the moonlight. Tanned and fair skin alike was the color of downy white. Wind blew in through the windows and a soft whimper rose from the bed. The man pulled away from the woman and extinguished a flame groggily before pulling at the duvet at the bottom of the bed. Before he allowed it to rest around the shoulders of his wife and himself, he slipped into her once more and hugged her close. She whimpered again and moved slightly against him. He sighed in content and pleasure and the two drifted back into soundless sleep.
Autumn of 1672, Lucinda Montevoy/Nightshade
I rose to the early morning sun and looked around me. Something stirred within me that caused me to sigh with pleasure. I looked down to see that I was still joined with my husband. I giggled and slipped away. He groaned softly in his sleep and his eyes fluttered open. “‘Morning, my love,” I whispered and kissed his lips. “Good morrow, sweetheart,” he in turn kissed the tip of my nose. “Did I please you last night?” I asked. “Very much,” his voice was muffled as he pressed his face into my hair, inhaling deeply. “Really?” I was excited. “Yes, love. Did I hurt you?” he asked, pulling away to look into my eyes with concern. Tears burned the back of my eyes. “No, Daryn. No, you were amazing to me. I barely felt the pain. It was more like pricking your finger on a rose thorn,” I smiled through the tears, completely honest with him. “I’m so sorry, Lucy. I know you bled last night. I really am sorry,” he said. I leaned over and kissed him hard, “I was carrying around too much blood anyways.” “You devious little witch,” he grinned and his fingers found my waist. I screamed and laughed as he tickled me. Doubling over, I fought his hands until they gripped my waist and pulled me over him. Our bodies were pressed together from chest to toes. I could feel him again as he slipped inside me. I smiled easily now. He smiled back. “Are you hungry, wife?” he asked, his eyes dancing with mischief. “Famished!” I exclaimed cheerfully. Why don’t we wash up then I’ll fetch us both some breakfast. Or more likely, lunch,” he grinned. I laughed, “Whichever!” He sat up and pulled away from me. I watched dreamily as he wrapped a sheet around his waist and opened the door a crack. He called out for hot water then closed it. Daryn slipped back into bed with me and covered our bodies with the duvet. Hot water was delivered and the doors were locked behind the servants. Before I could comment, Daryn scooped me up into his arms and dunked me into the bath of water and slipped in after me. My muscles ached in the uncomfortable positioned so I shifted till I was seated with my back against his chest and our legs in front of us. He swept all my hair over my right shoulder and nibbled on the other. I chuckled, “You’re mad.” “Only for you,” he replied smoothly. He brought water up to my shoulders in his cupped hands and drizzled it over my hair. I was still a little uncomfortable so he lifted my hips and guided himself into me. Now, I actually did feel more comfortable in his arms. I never knew taking a bath could be so... Interesting.
I didn’t want to leave his side ever again. I sat on his lap at the the dining table and he didn’t care. Instead of reprimanding me, he fed me the best cuts of meat and pie from his own plate. I smiled dreamily at him and he brushed his lips against my cheek. Only when he let go of me and gave me a gentle shove in the small of my back, did I sit on my own chair on his right. “How are you feeling?” he asked. “Better than I’ve ever felt in my life,” I smiled back. “Sir, I need to have a word with you alone,” Colt interrupted our dinner as he bolted in. “Have some manners, man,” Daryn muttered. “Hi, Colt,” I said shyly. “Hey. Captain, we need to talk now.” “What is it?” my husband stood, concern in his eyes. “Our ship has been compromised. We’re sailing tonight; with or without you. I need to ask you now if you wish to come with us or to stay in the comfort of your own home. Mind it you have a wife to worry about now,” Colt said in hushed tones. Daryn’s eyes cut to mine. He mouthed an apology and I felt my heart crumble. He was leaving. “Give me till 1700 hours. I’ll be there. Stock up as much as you can. Have the sails unfurled by the time I get there. I want us to sail as soon as the sun sets. We’ll be safer at night,” Daryn was giving orders as though he was born to do so. “And your wife?” Colt asked, clearly shocked. “She’s a woman. She’ll do as I bid her,” Daryn said breezily. Anger coursed through my veins. “Lucinda, go to your chambers. Don’t leave till I call you. Lucy, listen to me! I will make sure you’re taken care of but I expect you to listen to me,” Daryn was saying but I ignored him, stood up and stormed up to my room; slamming the door.
“Lucy? I’m leaving now,” Daryn knocked softly on my door. Once again, I ignored him. He slammed his fist into the door, “Damn it, Lucy. Will you at least say goodbye to me? I know I shouldn’t be leaving but my crew comes first and always will. I’m sorry.” “I hope you rot in hell,” I muttered before opening the door for him. “Lucy, look, I have to leave,” he started but I cut him off, “Goodbye.” Then, I slammed the door in his face. I was so angry with him, I hoped he died. How dare he leave me like this?
2 month later...
The signs were there. The morning sickness; the cravings; the absence of my monthly periods. I was pregnant. And I had to tell Daryn.
I am not certain if you would call this good news or not. But I am pleased to inform you that I’ve taken with child. For your knowledge, it is yours.
Richard, I need you home with me. Come home.
4 months later...
I was in my 6th month of pregnancy now. And I was really ill. Daryn hadn’t acknowledged the pregnancy yet. I cried every night waiting for some word from him. Nothing came. I read in the papers one day that there had been a huge battle between Nightshade and the Royal Navy. My illness got worse that day with worry. Then, the pains came.
Spring of 1763, Daryn Nightshade/Richard of Montevoy
I re-read the letter from the mid-wife.
Your wife, Lucinda, has been taken to bed from childbirth after 7 months of pregnancy. I am sorry to inform you that she went through a miscarriage of a son in early spring. Lady Lucinda had been ill from the beginning but we believed she would recover. Alas, she did not and the baby is lost. We would appreciate it if you returned home as soon as possible.
Your humble servant in the eyes of God,
My wife was pregnant? I didn’t even know that. Now I was being told she had lost a baby after 7 months. My heart broke. My son... And Lucy was ill. I wanted to go home to the warmth of Lucy’s arms; the joy in her smile and her laugh; the laughter that rang through the hallways.
Home was deathly quiet. Sullen faces passed me with formal greetings. I was worried now; terrified. I wanted to see Lucy. Running up the staircase to her room, I thought about how she would welcome me home. When I threw open the doors, satisfied with my thoughts, I was taken aback. She wasn’t there with her arms wide open. She was curled up in the top right-hand corner, folded herself into a ball. Her skin was white and almost transparent. Her fair hair was now limp and looked pale. Her lips were blue and her face was sunken. This wasn’t my wife. This was a corpse that just looked like her. I took in the atmosphere of the room; it seemed that the air was stale, a perfume of rose oil hung in the gloomy room. I strode over and yanked the windows open, coughing slightly as the dust tickled my nose. At once, the corpse’s eyes fluttered open. “Daryn?” Lucy’s voice rang out. I cringed to hear how frail she sounded; how it was proof that the body was indeed my wife. “What happened, Lucy?” I asked, fighting the anger I felt. “You’re not even gonna say Hello?” she asked softly. “I asked you what happened?” my temper flared and she flinched. “I was ill. I lost our son. I’m sorry,” she whispered then collapsed into tears. I couldn’t find it in me to comfort her. “How did you lose my child? How did you get so ill?” I asked. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I don’t know what happened! I tried to give you a son, I swear I did!” she cried out. “I forgive you, Lucy. But please, I’m begging you, don’t let this happen again. I don’t care that you lost the baby now, I only care that you get better. Can you do that for me?” I sighed. “I’ll do my best,” she sniffled. Now, my heart gave way to her and I pulled her into my arms. “I love you. Don’t ever forget that,” I kissed her brow. “I love you too,” she burrowed into my shirt and all I could do was to hold her tight against me to warm her; she was so cold.
I spent every waking moment I had with her, supporting her as she tried to walk around the room. She was so sick, it broke my heart to see her that way. Finally she was looking better. But she longed to go outside. I caught her many times looking out the window with tears in her eyes. Now that she could walk and stay awake for a whole day, I decided to spend the day with Lucy outside.
I packed three cotton blankets in a pack along with fruits and drink. Only then, did I wake my wife and inform her of my plan. She was overjoyed. I was pleased to see her smile so wide it seemed to split her face in two.
“Daryn, can we take a rest?” she asked after a day filled with riding, strolls, eating and her watching me swim. “Sure,” I tucked her hand in mine and led her to where I had stashed my pack. Letting go of her, I spread out the large blanket on the ground and the food. “You planned all this?” she was shocked. “Yes, Luce, I did. Come sit here and we’ll watch the sun set, hmm?” I smiled and she slid into my arms on the ground and lay her head on my chest. “I like to hear your heartbeat. It tells me you’re here with me. I miss that feeling,” she muttered against my chest. “I miss all of you,” I sighed. “Daryn, you haven’t kissed me since you came back,” she looked up at my face. “I’ll kiss you now then,” I pulled her up and smashed my mouth on hers.
She was fast asleep with her head on my chest. I looked down and saw that her shawl had slipped from her shoulder and that she was shivering. I pulled one of the extra blankets around her and she snuggled into it. I couldn’t help but smile at her.
“Daryn, can we go home?” she muttered. “You’re awake,” I smiled. “And I’m cold. Can we please go home?” she murmured. “Sure, let’s go. Can you stand?” I asked as she stumbled back down when I picked her up. She gripped my fingers tight as she tried again but her knees buckled and she fell to the ground. “I got you,” I scooped her up and brought her home.
Lucy slept fitfully through the night. Sweat rolled down her face and naked back. She woke up, panting, throughout the night. I finally gave up on trying to go to sleep myself and kept vigil with her till dawn. She was shivering again and her skin was burning. “Lucinda, please relax,” I begged as she sat still, her back straight. I pulled her back against me and she turned her face into my shirt. “What if I die, Daryn? What if my illness gets worse? Will you promise me one thing?” she asked, her voice muffled. “Don’t talk like that. You’re going to get better and you’re going to be stuck with me forever,” I chided but inside, my own mind was asking the same questions. “But will you promise me one thing?” she repeated, pulling away to look me in the eyes. “Depends,” I said, narrowing my eyes. “If I die, promise me you won’t mourn. Promise me you’ll fall in love and marry again and have fair haired babies. Promise to visit me every second sunday of the year,” she listed out. “That’s more than one thing,” my mouth and lips were dry. “But promise me!” her face was set stubbornly. “I promise to do only one thing; to love you forever,” I answered. “Daryn,” she started but I just dipped my head lower to kiss her and shut her up. My heart was pounding with pain. She was already planning to die; how could I have let it go that far?