Maria sat on the terrace steps, moving every few minutes to find another patch of shade in the midst of the overwhelming heat. She was trying to keep an eye on the children swimming in the lake, but the heat and the stillness of the air was making her quite drowsy. Of course, some of the fatigue she was feeling was due to the stress of the wedding preparations. There was an appointment or three every day; many phone calls and letters to attend to; and still she needed to spend most of her time caring for the children. She quietly looked heavenward, and thanked God that the wedding would be here in three more days.

"You look like you could use something cool to drink, my love," Georg said as he sat beside his fiancee and handed her a tall glass, filled with ice and lemonade. She looked up at him, her face flushed with the heat. He was grateful that it was too hot for any of their chaperones to be out in the afternoon heat, so that he could spend a few moments alone with the gorgeous woman who had completely stolen his heart.

"Mmm, this looks wonderful," she replied, and she took a healthy swallow of the cold beverage. "Thank you, darling," she said, as she placed a kiss on his cheek. He turned to face her, and caught her lips with his own. They shared a long, slow kiss, which served to relieve some of the tension Maria had been feeling.

"Oh, that's much better," she sighed. "That makes me remember that all of this preparation for one day is worth all the trouble." Maria smiled at Georg, and lay her head down on his shoulder, his hand on the small of her back, tracing lazy circles. They sat like that for a while, watching the children play. Friedrich and Louisa were racing to the rock outcropping a few meters away; Kurt and Brigitta seemed to be making leaf boats; and Liesl kept the littlest girls occupied near the shore, where they were sure not to lose their footing and slip.

Maria lifted her head from Georg's shoulder, and drained the rest of the lemonade from her glass. Still thirsty, she took a rather large piece of ice and placed it in her mouth. She toyed with the block of frozen water, moving it around in her mouth, occasionally popping it out from between her lips into her fingers, then pushing it back in between her pursed lips again.

Georg watched her mouth silently, fascinated both by what she was doing, and by the effect the movements her lips and tongue were having on him. He was certain Maria had no idea that what she was doing was so sensual, so provocative, so completely seductive that he could barely sit still.

He continued watching as she took a second bit of ice, this time touching it to her temple, sliding it down her cheek, coming to a momentary rest at the hollow of her throat. She closed her eyes and let out a light sigh, which sent an electric pulse down his spine and directly to-no, no, no, he thought. And then as he continued watching, he could think of nothing other than how much he wanted to be that piece of ice, which she was now sliding up and down under her dress, between her breasts.

When he could stand it no longer, yet couldn't bear to leave her completely, as he knew he should, he whispered, "Maria-", his voice so heavy with lust she couldn't hear him. He cleared his throat, and this time she turned toward him, still holding the ice.

"Come with me, now, please?" He stood, and grabbed her free hand, pulling her up toward him.

She looked toward the water, and began to ask about leaving the children, when she looked at Georg's face. Maria had seen that look before, and usually just before he made her return to her room; when they'd shared a few stolen moments together and he was afraid he would compromise her virtue. Her fiance found his voice, and called out to Liesl to keep an eye on everyone for a few minutes, as he pulled Maria toward the garden maze.

They entered the maze of boxwood hedges, most of which were at least 8 feet tall. Within the tall, leafy shrubbery it was extremely quiet, and Georg was hoping that the sound deadening properties of the leaves would keep them hidden long enough. Long enough for what, he wasn't sure, he just knew he needed to be close to Maria, to touch her and have her touch him, before he exploded.

He turned several corners, leading Maria by the hand. She followed him silently, which in any other circumstance would have made him question his hearing. In the last few weeks since their betrothal, though, he'd learned that an aroused Maria was a quiet Maria. Once he found a dead end near the middle of the maze, he stopped, and pulled Maria to him and at the same time pulling her down into the soft grass, kissing her with such passion and intensity that he literally took her breath away.

As she reluctantly broke from his kiss to catch her breath, he moved his lips from hers to her jaw, then found the sweet spot behind her earlobe, and traced it with his tongue.

"Georg, darling, what has gotten into you?" she smiled as she said it, because she certainly was enjoying they things he was doing with his mouth and now his hands, which found their way to her breasts and were teasing through the thin sun dress she was wearing. His touch was feather-light, which made her body respond immediately, straining against the fabric.

He reached behind her to undo the zipper, and was astonished to find Maria had no bra or chemise beneath the dress. She sensed his surprise. "I'm sorry, it was just so hot, and I..." Georg pulled her now-open dress down in the front, exposing her to the sunlight.

"Oh, darling, you do not need to apologize for this," he spoke, his voice deep and ragged. "Do you have any idea what you've done to me, toying with that ice the way you did?" Maria gasped now, at the feel of his mouth and his tongue on her skin.

"What do you mean? What did I do with the ice?" Even while panting with desire, Maria sounded truly puzzled, and her innocence made Georg groan.

"The way you played with it, in and out of your mouth, running it down to your chest-Maria, it was all I could do to wait until we were hidden in here to ravish you," he explained between kisses. "It sounds ridiculous, but I just wanted to go everywhere that ice went."

Maria's confusion was clarified once she placed her hand on the part of his body in question. Feeling the evidence of his arousal straining against his pants made her blush deeply, even while she was wanting to release it from its fabric prison, or perhaps because.

"I'm sorry if it was teasing you, my love, I didn't mean to..." She began raining kisses upon his face, his neck, and the triangle of chest exposed by his open shirt. Georg sighed with pleasure.

"I know you had no idea, and that just made you all the more desirable," moving his mouth to her breast once again. She felt a tingling sensation run directly from his mouth to the place between her legs where she was aching. Once again it was as if her fiance could read her mind, as he slid his hand beneath her dress and headed for her moist warmth.

"Well, what can I do for you now?" her voice, now playful, was lust-filled, and she reached for Georg's belt buckle. He raised his head, and grabbed for her hands.

"Maria, my love, please don't feel you have to do anything for me," he whispered. "I don't want you to feel pressured into this."

"I'm not; I want touch you, too." Maria deftly undid his belt and buttons of his pants, and she tentatively felt him. The velvety smoothness which greeted her hand was pleasantly surprising, and the stiffness beneath it begged for her to tighten her grasp. As she did, she heard Georg moan, and felt his fingers slide into her, and a similar sound emerged from her own throat. He knew that just a few more moments of such intimacy would bring Maria to a pleasure she'd never known, and the way she was meeting each movement of his hand with a squeeze of her own on him, he wouldn't be far behind.

Georg realized how very close she was when she began to move her hips against his hand, and let a high-pitched yet soft cry escape from her throat. As he pressed his mouth against hers to cover the sound, he felt his own body turning inside out, reaching his own point of no return.

They lay there in the grass, hidden from the world, arms and legs entwined as their collective breathing slowed to a normal rate. Maria nuzzled her face into Georg's neck, he placed kiss after kiss upon her face, as they once more declared their love to one another.