I was always careful not to make a spectacle of her, though no one would’ve bat a lash at my interest in her because of our stations in life.

Still, I didn’t want wagging tongues to even form her name. We spent days together. Long warm days down by the water that ran behind my home. That was her other favorite place.


Sometimes on a lazy Saturday afternoon I’d take her out on the little rowboat to our little private inlet away from prying eyes. It was there I first kissed her.

After weeks in her presence I couldn’t restrain myself any longer. My heart melted when she returned my embrace and after that day, not one went by that I didn’t taste from her lips.

We were like two carefree spirits flitting around from place to place, lost in each other. We carved our names in the old tree by her house. A sort of christening since we’d shared our first kiss in her other favorite place.

It was there under that tree, under cover of night, that I first took her. I’d spent that Sunday with family and friends, missing her every minute because she wasn’t allowed to be there.

After our guests had left I’d saddled up my horse and made my way to the old cottage, and using our private call, the call of the mockingbird, had drawn her out of her home.

My need that night had been too strong to resist and our usual passionate kisses had led to me taking her down to the blanket I’d spread there while I waited for her.

My intentions had been pure. We’d spent many hours there together after all, without sharing anything more than a few kisses.

But that night, maybe because I’d missed her all afternoon, maybe because it was time. The rain had started and I drew her close for warmth.

The feel of her soft breasts pressed into me as I held her in my arms, our lips locked together, had been enough to have me turning her to her back and giving my hand free rein beneath the skirt of her old dress.

She didn’t stop me, though it was obvious she was afraid. “I won’t hurt you. It’s the most natural act between a man and woman, there’s nothing to fear.”

Even though her hands clutched at me, I knew that my words hadn’t quite quelled her fear. And my own fear was that I would indeed hurt her with my need.

I’d fought my natural instinct to take and take and instead had used my mouth and fingers to bring her to life. The softness of her flesh, the sweet scent between her thighs, it was all too much.

And when I slipped into her, going as slow as her virgin body required, I’d covered her lips with mine to hide her screams of pain.

“It’s okay now, you’re fine.” I brushed the hair back from her face and placed gentle kisses along her cheeks until she settled beneath me.

She’d scored my back with her nails as her pleasure awakened for the first time as I whispered words of praise and admiration in her ear.

I’d given her my seed that first night and all the times after without a thought. After that night we spent part of each day together, and always we ended up locked together.

We spent hours down by the water in our little cove, loving away the warm summer days until it was time to take her home. We became inseparable. So it was no surprise when she ripened with child.

Callan

It was no secret to those closest to me that our relationship had changed, even though no one else was any the wiser. The old house slave who’d raised me at her breasts was the most watchful of all.

It was she who told me of my father’s plans for my marriage, something no one else had bothered to share with me. Not even my mother who knew but had not approved of the match.

I’d been sitting in the kitchen when my world was once again rocked on its axis. Ella had always been my confidante, the one person I could turn to with my troubles.

I’d told her about Noelle’s pregnancy and my plans to marry her. I knew it would cause a stir and had been seeking advice. It was then she told me of my father’s plans.

He’d gone into partnership with an old friend, and to solidify their business dealings, they’d betrothed their son and daughter to each other. I guess my father had been waiting to share the news on my return.

When I searched out my mother in anger to ask why she never told me this, she informed me that she was against the match and had been trying to think of ways to break it. As a woman that wasn’t easy to do.

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