Romance Fiction posted March 22, 2015


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A woman's love

The Suddenness Of Passion

by Margaret Snowdon

A Hopeless Romantic Contest Winner 







The Suddenness Of Passion









Although there was a south-westerly wind blowing and the packhorses jogged silently over the dense heather, the dog, Bracken, heard them while they were a quarter of a mile away from the farm and scratched at the door to be let out. Alice had kept him indoors in case he attacked them, and for self-protection. Now, she left the feather bed to look out on the night.

     They came without lanterns, across the dusky moors and passed under her window, lumpy with wide panniers and heavy, oval containers; two strings led by soundless human shadows. The end of the house hid them from sight as they bunched past the outbuildings and crossed the yard to the stables.

     Maybe Morgan had looked up and seen her, naked behind the glass in the metallic light of the new moon. Alice smiled to herself and put on a crisp, clean smock. It smelt of lavender, which she had also bruised and rubbed into her hair and skin that evening, hoping to entice Morgan.   

     The wraith of Morgan Talbot’s presence had continually insinuated itself into her thoughts and interrupted her labour, so that in the middle of a chore she would find herself staring into space, her fingers pressed against the place he had touched her arm. His mouth, his strong hands, the way his hair curled at the nape of his neck, the spread of his broad back, all obsessed her and she had constantly pictured him in the fields where he had laboured for her.  There was an aloofness about a man concentrating exclusively on his work, which was seductive and she had always felt aroused by the sight of him.  She had agreed he could use the stables to hide the contraband, for the farmstead was in a secluded place. In return he did the heavy jobs she couldn’t handle herself, as she had not money enough to take on a full-time labourer, so the arrangement worked well.

     Oh, she knew he wouldn’t stay with her indefinitely, since he moved about the country and could be gone for weeks, months even, but she meant to have him. She accepted her own emotions without question and, although initially startled by the suddenness of this passion, she did not try to analyse it.  Instead, she went over and over every look, gesture and circumstance of their meetings with a potent mixture of longing and apprehension, which had become combustible during the waiting days.

     Shutting Bracken in, she went quickly downstairs and through the passage. In the courtyard, she stood by the well where it was completely sheltered from the wind by the solid cob rectangle.  The stars, in torches and specks on beyond mortal sight sprayed from the plunging moon in myriads across the navy sky, making her feel both exhilarated and unimportant - less than an ant.

     Low voices and the stealthy sound of objects being bumped and dragged across the floor of the echoing stables tempted her inquisitiveness. Despite Morgan’s orders to the contrary, she had made up her mind right at the beginning to watch.

     The stables were sweetly moist with the mare’s breath and movements in the stall told that the animal was wide awake, too, ears pricked and nostrils flaring to catch the smell of the foreign horses outside.  Alice, tiptoeing past, shivered in spite of all daring and felt her skin roughen with goose-bumps. The smugglers could react dangerously if they saw her and it might have been more sensible to have brought Bracken, after all. She would stand well back in the dark building, but, whatever happened, she had to see Morgan again before he left.

     Slowly, carefully, she opened the far door and slid a wedge beneath to hold it ajar.  The wind gusted into the stables like royalty, making her take a bowing step back, just as a stranger stumbled past bent under a redolent, cloth-wrapped bundle.

     ‘Ain’t you finished with ‘em tubs yet?’ he grumbled. ‘They be blockin’ the way.’

     ‘Why don’t you put yer shoulder t’a few an’ see how you fare, Seth Holmes?’ was a boy’s irritated reply.

     ‘Less cheek an’ more elbow grease, young Ned. Sun rises in less than two ‘ours.’

     Wood rumbled over the cobblestones and Alice edged forward to see Morgan Talbot helping a gangling lad roll kegs into the building, while the man who had passed with the tobacco-scented bale stood impatiently by. The nags waited with lowered heads in two patient groups, those already unloaded sagging gratefully and nosing about for grass. With the casks of spirits out of the way, they were able to work faster, almost running with the boxes, cases and rolls, while Alice, picturing the extraordinary harvest being stashed on her property, hugged herself with excitement and longed to rush forward to help. Only the vow she had forced upon herself not to make the first move towards Morgan Talbot restrained her.

     The owl called like an old friend from the great beech and a deer barked far away. The men were breathing heavily under the strain of the weights and the need for speed; if they spoke at all, it was in monosyllable.

     ‘Shift ‘em lad. Four more’n we’re done.’

     The horses shuffled about, easing their stiff limbs and, although there was still no sign of dawn, the sky lightened to a royal blue and the moon, so overblown when they arrived, diminished into a compact lamp.

     ‘Last one.’ 

     The thin boy flopped against the wall, his long arms and legs dangling like a rag doll. There was a final thump within the stables and the last man appeared, burly and bearded, in the clearing.

     ‘Appledore t’morrow?’

     The third man nodded and made for his horse, pushing the pack train into line as he went.

     ‘Masons Arms?’  

     ‘Aye … same as usual.’

     A few minutes of confusion, muttered oaths and they were gone, leaving not even the vibration of a hoof beat on the air.
     Morgan Talbot walked through the open stable door to where Alice was standing in the darkness. He did not touch her and, when she looked into his serious face, all the flirting fantasies and little games she had been inventing for this moment became nothing.

     She turned and walked before him, through the house and up the stairs.  In the bedroom, she pushed the affronted Bracken out through the door before shutting it and turning to face Morgan. He undressed her slowly and then himself. Neither spoke.

     Her figure was slender, perfectly proportioned, a tiny waist with gently curving hips, her skin the colour of pale honey.  He stood before her, gazing into those deep emerald eyes, quite fascinated as the thick lashes spread a dark fan nearly to her cheekbone.

     For several minutes they simply adored one another, and when his hand reached out to fondle her, the sensation was so exquisite she moaned softly in the back of her throat as something from within unfurled itself like a bud in spring ready to burst into flower. She put her own hand up to smooth tentatively the silken width of his shoulders, trailing down the coarser feel of his chest with its scattering of dark hair. She was enraptured by the excitement her body visibly caused him.

     Morgan felt the urgent, explosive desire for her flood the pit of his belly. He was afraid to move too fast, lest it alarm her. He smoothed her hair back from her brow, marvelling on how beautiful she was. When, gently tentatively, as though she were some breakable thing, which should he damage it would be beyond repair, he cupped her cheeks with his big work-rough hands and covered her moist, rosy lips with his own, she responded willingly.  Lifting her bodily, he lay her down on the bed, settling beside her. He took the pert strawberry of her nipple between his lips and teased it with his tongue – first one, then the other. Alice moaned with pleasure and for the first time that evening, spoke his name.

     His fingers gently caressed, finding their way to the warm, secret place between her thighs. With one enquiring finger, he pushed his way through the soft pubic hair and moved very slowly into the warm, moist crevice, stroking gently, making her tremble. When at last he entered her, she held him fast, fusing them together and, so great was her need of him, her hips rose eagerly to his. Then with an explosion that they both felt, the bud opened. It flowed and rippled inside her, moving from the centre of her where she and Morgan were joined, to every tingling nerve and pulse of her body. She cried out and clung to him as though should she let go, she might be flung into infinity forever.

     Afterwards, they lay without moving, close locked, without alternative or plan, because there was no longer any choice. 
    
     ‘You knew all along ah wanted you?’ Alice whispered.
 
     ‘Aye.’
 
     Their fingers began to cross the grooves of each other’s bodies, peacefully.  
 
     ‘An’ you think of me?’

     ‘Mmmm. All the time, my heart. But you know I will not wed. I’m gone for months at a time, moving about the country. An’ if I’m caught, there must be no connection to you.’

     ‘No matter, my love. Just as long as ah can see you from time to time. It will be enough.’

     ‘Are you sure?’

     ‘Aye, I’m sure. Each time you return we can have candlelit suppers an’ make love under the stars.’

     ‘‘Tis a hopeless romantic, you are, Alice Mathews.’

     ‘Only for you, Morgan Talbot.’

     She spiralled round him, provoking him with her small pointed tongue and sorceress’s eyes, surprising him with mischievous inventiveness, enticing and tantalizing, agile as an ermine, joyful as a stream.

     ‘How beautiful you are.’

     Alice raised her head and whispered, self-consciously, ‘Ah’m but a plain maid, Morgan.’

     ‘‘Tis beautiful you are,’ he repeated, enveloping her in his arms and laying her back. Her cheeks, lips and breasts were rosy from love and pellucid resin of the sunrise dripped down to set her in its amber.

     She abandoned all self and surrendered to him.

     Far into the day, when they rested at last, her head fitted into the hollow of his shoulder and her arm relaxed over the curve of his chest as he eased her belly against his hip, and they slept. 

     It was not easy to leave him lying. Asleep, he looked younger and vulnerable, his dishevelled hair curling over his forehead and his finely shaped mouth softened to boyishness. The severe lines of vigilance and even the laughter creases were no longer there, the still lashes and strong black eyebrows emphasizing the opaqueness of his closed eyelids with their filigree of fine blue veins. He was such a handsome man. Alice wanted to laze over him with kisses, inspiring his sensuality even before he awoke. But work on a farm was always waiting.

                                                                                           *

And so, they became lovers, Alice Mathews and Morgan Talbot, driven together by the broken petals of the past. Her love was loosened from the suffocating deprivation, and his worldliness was cut down by the voluptuous purity of her submission. Although he wasn’t totally hers, she was totally his.
 
     It became a matter of deep pleasure for her to share the occasional candlelit evening with the man she considered to be not only her lover, but a true friend. He was a constant source of comfort, of quiet protection against the outside world. And one never knows … in time she might be able to change his mind about wedding her.
 



 


A Hopeless Romantic
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