Welcome back to Sweet Saturday Samples. Due to the nice comments I had last week on the scene I posted from Trail of Storms with secondary characters featured, I thought I'd post the scene that followed. Enjoy!
After the ceremony, the townsfolk gave the newlyweds energetic congratulations and several bits of advice. Heppie smiled, nodded, and wished they were on the road again, away from well-meaning strangers. She wanted to wash, to get at least her hands and face clean before nighttime came and George— What was George going to do? After they’d set up camp, Ma had taken Heppie aside for a moment and said that after the wedding Heppie would give herself to her husband. Tales she’d heard and things she’d seen crowded into her mind, but surely that wasn’t what people did?
They finally arrived at their camping place with the other members of their party. George patted her hand and said, “I’m going to wash up a bit, but I’ll be back soon.” Heppie smiled in relief and took herself into the woods with a pan of water to do the same.
Later, the last supper dish had been dried and put away and everyone had gone off into the darkness, leaving the newlyweds alone at the campfire. Heppie sat beside the fire, stirring it back to life whenever the flames weakened.
After a time, she got up and leaned over the fire with her stick, and George asked, “Heppie, what are you doing?”
She jumped backward, righted herself, and looked at her husband. “Keeping the fire going.”
“Why, my girl?”
“I like the light.” She sat back down, fidgeting with the stick and wishing Hannah or Jessie would step into the firelight.
“Let it go out. It’s time for bed.”
“Allow me a few more minutes.”
George got to his feet, moved behind her, and squatted down. He put his lips to her ear. “I’d rather you came to bed, my love,” he whispered.
“It’s dark away from the fire,” she whispered back.
“That’s fine with me. The darker the better.” He slipped his arms around her waist.
“George!” she whispered. “What a thing to say!”
“Come on, honey. We have to get up early.”
“I don’t like the dark.” She thought of animals in the darkness of the forest beyond their camp. Animals that lumbered through the trees, making noise.
“You’ll be safe with me.” He nuzzled her neck. “So safe and warm.” He drew out the words, tantalizingly slow.
“Will I?” she asked, moving her neck slightly. “I’m fearful.”
She remembered seeing a tom cat mount a female at a friend’s farm. The tom had been rough. “No, of things I don’t know much about.”
George kissed her throat. She thought her skin would melt.
Heppie swallowed hard. “The things I feel.”
“Don’t be afraid. I’ll take care of you.”
“Yes.” His drawl made the single syllable go on forever. His breath stirred the hairs below the coils of her tresses.
Heppie closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Yes, her skin was melting, and if he kept kissing her, she would want to flee into the darkness with him. I’ll be safe from these feelings beside the fire.
George stood up and stepped to one side. Heppie also stood, bending toward the embers to stir them again. I’m a married lady. I can have these feelings. She put down her stick. She paused, thinking, What if this is lust? Lust is sinful! She picked up the stick again and stirred the fire. Sparks flew up, and she stepped back to avoid them. George moved in, took the stick from her hand, and led her away from the fire.
Those cats made a fearful racket. Heppie felt a bit of panic rise in her stomach. Do married folk make noise? Will all the camp hear us?
George drew her closer into the circle of his arm as they walked toward the bed she knew he had prepared for them. He is strong, she thought. He is brave and warm and safe. I love him. I want to be with him. An idea dawned on her. This is what Ma meant. Her panic diminished.
He chuckled. “You’re so deep in thought, my dear. Where are you wandering?”
“Hold me close,” she begged, suddenly clutching him around the neck.
“That’s what I had in mind,” he said, enclosing her in his embrace.
“No. Hold me for a minute or two right now.” She let out a gust of air as he complied.
He bent his head and kissed her under the ear. “There’s nothing to fear.”
He shook his head against her.
Again she felt the negative movement.
He was still for a moment, then whispered, “I can’t guarantee that.”
“I can guarantee I’ll take good care of you.” His hug tightened.
The last of the panic left Heppie, and she let him lead her through the darkness toward their marriage bed.
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