Age of Edward Contest
Title: Taking Liberties
Your pen name: Babette
Type of Edward: American Revolutionaryward
Standard Disclaimer Applies
The mists hung on the grass this morning as I trudged out to care for the farm. There were all the signs of a cold winter ahead; snow was expected any time now. The leaves had peaked and were blowing off the trees as fitful spurts of wind announced the coming of a storm, in spite of the blue sky dawning overhead. The red clouds to the west forebode what the wind whispered, so I knew to expect the storm by afternoon. I had scant time to batten down all the stores, and tend all the animals.
Almost no one ever came this way. Pa had wanted to live in rural New Hampshire and start a farm after Ma had died in childbirth with me. He had scraped the land and planted the fields and built the cabin and barn. The other outbuildings had come with the years. I had slept in the loft long after Pa left to fight with Washington outside of Boston. I moved down to his room when the courier came, bringing news of his death. That was over seven long years ago, and I had been predominately alone since then. I had reckoned that if Pa could run this farm alone, with a baby girl underfoot, surely I could manage. And I had.
It wasn't easy, but I had learned from Pa what needed to be done about the farm and had worked by his side all my growing years. I knew what crops to plant, how to tend and breed animals, and even had two milk cows. I was able to sell the extra in town once a week, during the warm months, to purchase material for gowns and petticoats. In winter, I made butter and kept it in the cold house to sell in spring. The women there had taken pity on me as a child and had taught me to sew and mend, as well as how to put up food and cook. Since Pa had died, they had been sending their sons to me for courting; sons who had returned from the war, some having served valiantly, some not. None had caught my eye.
I had been chopping wood in my most undress of gowns when I had heard the horse's hooves. It was plodding, and when I looked up the horse's reins were dragging in the dirt of the road. It was a magnificent beast. At least fifteen hands, and pure silver. He was a soldier's mount, bred to be fast and strong. I could see blood dripping from its side, and its rider was bent over in the saddle as if he were drunk, or wounded. At first I had rushed up but the animal spooked, luckily not bucking. So I slowed, spread my arms and made soothing noises as I approached to investigate. I could tell the rider was an officer, his dress uniform made of the finest wool; his cape thick and warm. All I could see was the bronze color of his hair, and that his build was tall and his shoulders were broad.
I managed to gather the reins and led the now complacent animal to my cabin door. There I had pulled the man down and dragged him inside. I couldn't believe how heavy he was! Now I knew I was strong. After all, growing up on a farm in the backwoods of the White Mountains you can't be weak. However, he was solid muscle. Once he was safely inside, I went back out and tied the animal's reins to the hitching post. I didn't want him to wander off, but knew his rider needed to be tended to first. I simply made sure water was in the trough, which he drunk noisily, and inspected him for wounds. I quickly ascertained that the animal wasn't wounded and went back inside to the man.
I had laid him on the floor, unable to lift him to the table, and he had sprawled out with his left arm over his head and his cape splayed out around him. I could now see the blood darkening his side, but there appeared to be no damage to the material. I put some water on the fire to heat, then went to work removing his coat, waistcoat and shirt. It was tiresome trying to lift him to pull his arms from the sleeves, but with effort it was managed.
Once his clothing was removed I could see the blood seeping from an old bandage on his side. It was soaked through, and not affording him any help at all. I found my sewing supplies and quickly cut away the bandage, revealing his wound. It looked as if a musket had gone through him, but none had stitched his wound. I got the now boiling water and washed him as well as I could. Using my needle and leftover thread, I stitched together the holes from the ball, both front and back. I was glad it was a clean shot so I didn't have to dig in his wounds.
I also took the opportunity to look at him. He was a fine specimen. Tall, well-muscled, and perfectly formed. I had seen many men with their shirts off—it was common when working the fields during the heat of summer—but none had struck me as more beautiful than this man. His face was that of an angel, high cheekbones with strong eyebrows. I thought I was looking at true beauty, such as Michelangelo would paint. I examined his hands, which were surprisingly free of calluses, except where he would hold reins. This marked him as being of the gentry more than his clothes ever could. What could have possibly brought him to this remote place? I wondered.
I returned the water to the fire to reheat, adding some herbs that I had traded for with the local Pennacook Indians. Their women had also taken pity on a lone girl, and Pa had always been kind and had befriended their chief, so they had taught me all their lore alongside their own daughters. I had used it often in patching Pa, and now it would come in handy with this stranger.
Once the poultice was ready I applied it and re-bandaged him. I found one of Pa's old hunting shirts and pulled it over his head. I then worked to remove his breeches, thankful he was wealthy enough to own underdrawers. Once he was redressed I had lifted him, wrapping my arms from behind around his chest, and pulled him into my bed. It was the only one in the house now, as the loft was packed with food for winter. We would have to share.
For two weeks the routine had been the same. I would awaken, clean and re-bandage his wound, try to feed him broth and water, and tend the farm. At night, once the chores were done, I would read by candlelight until time for bed, help him to the chamber pot, check his bandage again, crawl in beside him and sleep. Occasionally he would waken for a few moments. It was just enough for me to know that his eyes were green, even if he was never lucid.
His horse had gotten used to me after a few days, and I found that the animal loved to be curried. It was amusing to see him in the barn, next to the milk cows, in a stall with my roan nag. He was so obviously out of place, much like the beautiful man in my bed. I had scrubbed the blood from the saddle and oiled the leather so it would keep. The bridle and saddle hung from a hook next to the stall. I had also managed to get the blood from his clothes, and they were starched, ironed and folded next to the bed, waiting for him. I had found the clothes he must have been wearing when he was shot stuffed into a saddlebag. After washing, I also mended them and laid them aside. They were too fine for farm life, and now that the storms had come, and travel was impossible, I knew he would be staying the winter.
One morning, however, this routine changed. When I woke, I turned as usual to inspect him, only to find him leaned up on one elbow, looking down on me. "Good morning," he said, reaching up to touch my face, igniting a fire under my skin. I could only stare in shock, unable to utter a sound. "Hmm, you're a quiet one, aren't you?" he said as his fingers trailed down my throat to my collarbone. "But lovely all the same. I'm afraid I don't remember your name." His hand continued downward, past my collarbone, to the top of my shift, pulling on the drawstring lightly. I couldn't speak, I couldn't move. His voice was soft and smooth, like velvet over glass, and had me hypnotized as a mouse in front of a snake. "I don't know whose bed this is, do you?" he continued, finally undoing the string, and opening the neck of my shift.
When his hand cupped my breast, it broke me from my trance. I squeaked loudly and jumped from the bed, gathering my shift back about me, my face alighting redder than the begonias I had planted this summer. "Ah, a blush. So I take it we don't know each other?" I knew what he meant, for the bible had been the book of choice every Sabbath. I hadn't known it was possible to blush harder, but I did and shook my head. "So, why am I here?" he asked. I simply pointed to his side, and moved beside him to draw up his shirt. I had prepared plenty of poultice the night before, so I picked up the bowl on my way, along with a fresh bandage. He seemed to understand my intentions and laid back so I could administer to him.
When I was finished and pulling down his shirt he reached up again and touched my face. Startled, I jumped back. His chuckle was low and alluring. "Skittish little thing, aren't you? My name is Edward, would you tell me yours?" As he finished, I could hear his stomach rumble. I nodded to him and went to the kitchen area and stoked the fire to prepare breakfast. He watched me solemnly, but asked me no more questions.
After feeding him I pulled out the tub and began heating the water for a bath. Between batches of water I had gone to the loft to Pa's trunk and pulled out some more clothes. I brought them down, and set them by the tub. Once it was full I set the soap beside it and turned to him. "Bella, my name is Bella. I must see to the chores now, but feel free to bathe if you're of a mind. Here are some of Pa's clothes. He's not needing them any more, so you're welcome to them. Your uniform and other clothes are cleaned, and beside you on the desk, if you prefer." With my speech done, I exited the cabin.
I busied myself with the chores. It was nigh unto November now, and there was little to be done out back as the fields lay fallow. That's not to mean there was no work. I went to the barrel where I stored the ashes from the fire, gathering as many as my bucket could hold. I set them by the front door, not wanting to enter lest he was unclothed. I went down to the stream and into the cold house and grabbed sausages of rendered fat. The soap I had given Edward was the last and more needed to be made. It smelled awful, so it was best done in the cold. This way the stench of the lye I would make from the ashes wouldn't hang on the air nearly as bad.
As I rounded the house, I saw him standing in the doorway in Pa's clothes. They were a might bit short on him, as he was taller than Pa had been, but the girth fit well enough. It was an amusing sight to see this obvious gentleman in a farmer's roughest undress. Glancing at him, I couldn't help but let out a laugh.
"Do I look that ridiculous?" he inquired, a smirk evident on his face. "I'll dress as this always if it will bring such a lovely smile to your face."
My blush ignited once again, and I hung my head, cursing that I had my hair tied back so it couldn't hide my face. I sighed with the necessity of it. Soap making is nasty business. "I'm setting up to make soap. You're welcome to help if you're of a mind to." I saw him nod, close the door and follow me to the smokehouse. It was the best place, as it afforded a deep pit for the fire, and with the doors and roof open, adequate ventilation. I then proceeded to teach him to make soap.
It was a laughable affair. I could tell he was disgusted by the process. I only requested the simplest of tasks, ones sure not to dirty him since he had already bathed. He was willing, all the same. He asked what the soap was for, and I pointed out that I had given him the last of it. It was also used to clean the dishes and wash the clothes, so it needed to be generic enough to work for all. Occasionally, if I could afford it, I would save back some of the oil gotten when carding the wool, and add it to one batch for bathing. I hadn't done that in a couple years.
"How long have you been alone here, Bella?"
"Since Pa left for the war, 1775."
"That's over seven years!" he exclaimed. "How old are you?"
"Twenty-three. Why, how old are you?"
"You were fifteen when he left you? You were just a child!"
"I was full grown, and far more capable than you are now of running a farm," I commented; I could feel my dander rising. Who was this gentrified man to question my abilities? It didn't help that I had had to fight many others over my right to keep and run this place. I had to remind myself that he didn't know.
"I'm sorry if I offended, Bella. I was merely shocked. Your capabilities have proven themselves today, coupled with the fact that I'm quite well on my way to healing. Also, I am twenty-four."
Mollified, I went back to the cabin, pulled out the changing screen I had used before Pa left, and bathed in the cold water. I then put on a clean shift. I waited for him to change as well, having heard him enter the cabin as I bathed, before emerging to tamp the fire so it would last the night. I looked up to see him looking at me, and glancing at the bed. He saw my glance, and quirked his eyebrow questioningly. "We'll have to share, as there is no more bed in the loft. I'll be expecting you to not be taking liberties with me again, however, as you did this morning. This is simply a matter of convenience until such a time as you leave."
He nodded curtly to me and crawled into the same side he had awoken on. "I apologize for being so forward this morning," he said. "It's just when I wake up in a bed with a woman, she usually doesn't rebut my advances."
"I understand," I replied. "Just be sure to not repeat your actions." Entering in myself, I became more aware of him than I had been in the weeks he had been unconscious there. It was as if the heat of his body burned through my skin far more than his fevers ever had. There was no avoiding touching him—the bed wasn't large enough to allow it—so I rolled to my stomach and feigned sleep until I heard his soft snores beside me. Once I knew he was truly asleep, I could feel myself relax and drift off.
The days continued to pass in the same manner. I would awake to see him watching me, a look I couldn't understand in his eyes. We would rise and I would heat water for bathing. Not enough for a full bath, mind you, as that would be hard work and wasteful, but enough to wash faces and arms. I would cook breakfast, and then he would accompany me on chores. He truly knew nothing, but was a hard worker and willing to learn. I watched as blisters, and then calluses, formed on his hands, to which he never complained. Excepting when I cleaned the broken blisters, but then he would simply hiss at the pain, which was expected. I teased him, when he would groan of being tired, about how winter was the easy time on the farm. He was lucky he wasn't trapped here in spring. Something would cross his face for a moment, before he laughed, and a part of me would wonder if he would remain.
Knowing Christmas was coming, I began sewing him some work clothes that would actually fit. They wouldn't be as fine as what he arrived in, as I could never afford the brocade or fine linen, but they would be serviceable and more comfortable. I used the clothes he now never wore as a measurement, taking material from bolts I had purchased many years before to make Pa clothes when he left for war. I had to keep myself from admiring the handiwork on his waistcoat, and stay to the task at hand. Some young woman had put a great deal of effort into the embroidery there, and I wondered who she was, and if he loved her.
He had been true to his word of keeping his hands to himself, mostly. He was forever grabbing my hand to pull me into a hug when he was proud of himself, or reaching a hand to touch my face whenever he thanked me for some trifling thing. He quickly read through the few books I had, and would lay his hand on my arm when we would argue over the points of plot or character. I found myself longing for those touches, and embarrassingly, dreaming of them. Sometimes I would wake from a particularly vivid dream to find him propped on the same elbow, looking down on me with that hated eyebrow raised, and a smirk on his lips. Pa had told me I talked in my sleep as a child, and I feared that I still might. But he never said, and I never asked.
During our talks I had found out how he had come to my place, and to his wound. He was on his way home from Derby, Connecticut, to his family's land in Vermont, across from Dartmouth. He had been enrolled to attend there, but had left for the war before attending. He was returning with the intention to resume his studies. He had come upon a redcoat who was lost and hadn't heard the war was over, and been shot. Edward had managed to dispatch him, and had wrapped the bandage I had found on him around himself. After a few days traveling he had become delirious and just allowed the horse to roam, hoping it would find its own way home. Instead, he found me.
One night early on I had enquired as to the name of his horse. "Grey," he answered.
"Grey?" I laughed. "Surely such a magnificent animal deserves a more fitting name. How about Moondancer, or something similar?"
He chuckled at me, a mixture of homesickness and mirth on his face. "You sound like my sister," he said, and then became solemn as he thought on his family. "I hope she isn't overly worried about me. She tends to fret." He then crooked a smile at me, "And what have you named your nag?"
"Lady? And you say mine is unoriginal?" he responded with a loud laugh.
"I was seven when I named her, of course it's unoriginal," I laughed in return. After our laughter died we went on to discuss other things.
Christmas Eve he kept me up late, telling me stories of his family and their traditions. I hadn't laughed so hard in many years. As he told me of his siblings and their spouses, I could feel the love he had for them. I gave him his gift of new clothes. It was then that I found that his sister, Alice, was the one responsible for the needlework on his waistcoat. "She would care for you greatly, Bella," he said. "She is a fierce and loyal friend, and I think you would care for her as well. Even with lives so different, you are much the same in your approach. I do hope you meet her one day." I, however, had doubts we would ever meet.
I awoke late the next morning to find his gift to me. He hadn't gone to bed, but instead had waited till I was full asleep, and had cleaned the cabin. Then he had gone out, mucked the stalls, fed the animals, and then come back and fixed breakfast. He explained what he had done, and said, "I have nothing to give you Bella, but myself. I hope this is gift enough." I had never been given such a rich gift, and began to cry. He ran to the bed, gathered me in his arms onto his lap, and said, "Please don't cry. I'm sorry if I did something wrong."
Shaking my head, I forced myself to quiet. "No, nothing wrong. All right," I hiccupped into his chest. He began stroking my hair and humming a melody I had never heard. It was soothing and calmed me instantly. He lay down beside me, cradling me into his arms. "Bella, my Bella. You're still tired. Rest for a bit more." I fell back to sleep, content in his arms, knowing my morning work was done.
The next couple months passed in the same way the first had, with one difference. No longer did I shy from his touch, but cuddled up in his arms as I fell asleep, hearing him hum that same tune every night. He was always still proper, never putting his hands where they didn't belong. He would frequently rub my back, and occasionally kiss my forehead. I had worked myself up to wrapping my arms around his waist also, which I saw made him smile. During the day his touches became more frequent as well, sometimes eliciting blushes from me. I became used to his coming behind me, as I was bent over the fire cooking, and pulling me into a hug, asking what was for supper. He would kiss the top of my head, and then go to the table to work on some project.
I found myself starting to crave his touch, and had even begun to reach out to him when I would find little surprises he had left for me; things as the bedchamber being washed out, or the kettles scrubbed, or even rising before me to feed the animals. Whenever I looked up at him as I hugged him, it was as if a light had shown on his face as he smiled down on me.
There was a problem with our newfound intimacy, however. My dreams. They became more real, more daring. I found myself having thoughts I had never had towards a man before. Thoughts that made me fire with a blush when I remembered them in the daytime; even more so if he asked what had brought the blush to my face. I frequently dreamed of his touch from that first morning he awakened, and longed for him to touch me again. I would imagine his hands on me, and my heat would arise, causing me to moan. Sometimes during the night I could feel him shaking me awake from these dreams, his own face flushed, and if he was close enough I could feel evidence of his own arousal against my leg. But even then, he was still appropriate.
But as had become the custom for our relationship, something happened that pushed us further. It had been a warm, almost spring-like day. The land was beginning to defrost, and the mud was deep, the road impassable in front of my cabin. I told him I wanted to inspect the fences along the fields and we rode together, me seated in front. "Grey can carry both of us faster than we can ride separate with you on Lady," was his reasoning. I could hear the suction as Grey pulled his hooves from the mud with every step, and hoped it wouldn't pull off his shoes. We came upon a breathtaking sight as the sun burned off the frost in one section, and stopped to watch. He had bent down to kiss my head as was his tendency, right at the moment I had turned my face to his to ask him something. I don't know what it was, for I forgot my own name. His lips missed my head, and came into contact with mine. At first we both froze, eyes open, staring at one another. Then his had closed, and he began to kiss me, deeply. I heard myself moan as I twisted to wrap my arms about his waist. He pulled me in close, kissing me harder. Kissing me as if he was a man dying of thirst, and I was the only water around.
I was absorbed by him, squeezing out any and all air that could be between us as I tried to turn further into him. I found myself gasping for breath and he pulled from me with a groan. "Oh, Bella. My Bella," he moaned against my hair. "Do you know how I've longed to kiss you like this, hold you like this?" He raised his head and took my chin in his hand so he could look into my eyes. "Should I draw you the picture of my heart, it would be what I hope you would love; tho it contained nothing new; the early possession you obtained there; and the absolute power you have ever maintained over it; leaves not the smallest space unoccupied.1 Say you feel this for me, too. Please. I know you long for me, I hear you in the night. But that's not enough. I've been with women without love; that's not what I want ever again. Say you love me."
Was it love? I had no experience with such things. I knew I wanted him. I knew the pain and fear that clutched my heart when I thought of him leaving in the spring. I knew I wanted him to stay and never leave. But we were from such different worlds. Would he have given me, a poor subsistence farmer, even a second glance if his horse hadn't led him to me? Did it matter? Or was it in the hands of God, to arrange circumstances such that we would be forced together? I could see desperation forming in his eyes as I pondered my answer, so I took a breath, and took a chance. "I don't know, Edward. I've never felt this way before. I know I never want to be parted from you. I know I crave your touch. Is this love?"
"Yes, my love. It is." The hand holding my chin let loose and his fingers began to trail down my throat, tracing the dip where my collarbones meet. "How long till the roads are passable?" he quietly asked.
"Another few days, at most. I wouldn't be surprised if most were passable now, just not right outside my cabin, as it is a low point along the way," I whispered.
"May I take liberties with you now, my Bella? Or do I need to wed you first? Be aware, I will wed you either way." His voice was husky and his eyes were bright. He wanted to marry me? Joy caught at my heart, followed quickly by fear. I knew how different our worlds were. I had witnessed as he had changed to fit into mine. Would he stay here or would he want to return to his world? Would I be able to fit among his people? His kith and kin? Would they find me rude and common? "What Bella, what has you so scared?" he asked me, worry creasing his brow.
So I told him. I knew of his family's standing, and the lack of my own. I told him my fears for where we would live, whether or not I would fit into his world. I told him I didn't want to lose my land; land I had slaved for, for years. I spoke of our differences in education, in upbringing, and in elocution. As I spoke he turned the horse, returning us to the cabin. He was quiet as I told him of my fears, his face solemn. Sometimes something I said would make him frown, others he would shake his head and smile. But always he encouraged me to tell him all.
When we reached the cabin he let me down. "Do you have a dress gown, or are they all undress?" he asked.
"I do have a dress gown, but haven't worn it since Pa's funeral. I don't know that'll still fit. What do I need it for?"
"We're going to town tomorrow," he replied.
I was shocked. "But that'll take all day just to get there, and that's if the roads hold. We'll have to stay in the inn, and that'll cost. What do you need there?"
"A preacher, Bella. We need a preacher. I heard all you said, and I give you this promise." He dismounted, tied Grey to the post, and wrapped his arms about me. "If my kith and kin do not accept you, we will return to live our lives here. However, I think they will. You won't lose this land. It is yours, and will go to one of our sons upon your death. It will remain yours, I will have it drawn up so. I have people who will manage it for you, or we can come back and do it together.
"Bella, please tell me if I'm allowed those liberties you denied me months ago. If not, I don't think I can sleep beside you tonight." He pulled me in tighter, his lips brushing my own, "knowing I can't yet touch you, knowing you want me too." He stopped speaking for a moment as his lips became otherwise engaged with my own.
When I needed to breathe again he ghosted kisses across my face, continuing his argument. "Our different stations matter not, for we are of one heart. We will be one flesh, and," he paused to take my chin in his hand and look me in the eye, "I will make you mine for always." He loosened his hold on me, "Now go find your gown, and see if it still fits. If not, we will purchase one in town. Grey can pull the wagon faster than Lady. I'll sleep in the barn tonight if you say, and we can leave first thing in the morning. I'll do chores while you search."
I ran up to the loft and threw open the chest. I knew exactly where the gown was. When you only own one, you don't misplace it. I quickly unwrapped the cloth tied about it to keep it clean, held it up, and broke into giggles. There was no way it would be fitting me. No longer was I a fifteen year old girl. I dug to the bottom, knowing that's where Pa had kept my mother's wedding dress, hoping it would do. But when I found it, I also found that the moths had done their damage. Sighing, I found my Brunswick, my traveling gown which I typically used for going into town. It would have to do. I wasn't a fancy girl. I didn't need lace and frills. Marriage would be more than I had ever hoped for up in these mountains; how I was clothed was unimportant. I hung up the frock and made my way down the ladder.
"Is that your gown?" he enquired.
"No, the gown doesn't fit." Gesturing to the Brunswick I had set out to iron, "this is my best. It will do."
"Is there a dressmaker in town?"
"No, there is no call for it here."
He sighed in defeat. "Alice is going to kill me," he whispered. I couldn't help but laugh. He had told me how she thought certain things should be done certain ways, and that included wearing the right clothes.
After I finished ironing the Brunswick, I shook out and ironed Edward's uniform. It was barely past noon, and there was more work to be done. Edward had prepared lunch as I ironed, his eyes frequently on me. After we ate I went to put back on my shoes to leave the cabin. "Bella," he called me, his voice deep and husky again, much the same as when he had been kissing me. He rose up and walked to me. Taking me in his arms, he lowered his lips to where they almost touched mine. "You never answered me. Must I wed you first? Am I sleeping in the barn this night?" Then he cut off all ability for me to answer.
His lips moved sensually over mine, pressing down until he opened his mouth slightly, and sucked in on my lower lip. My heart began to race and my hands wrapped about his waist again. As his tongue swept over my lip I reached up across his broad shoulders, trying to lift myself to him. Just as my air was running out he slipped from my mouth and began trailing kisses across my jaw and over to my ear. "Bella, please," he begged as he sucked my earlobe into his mouth, running his teeth over the flesh. "Tell me I can be in your bed tonight. Tell me I am at liberty to treat you as my wife."
"Yes," I barely breathed, "I am yours."
I heard his breath catch as he registered my words. "Truly?" he hissed. As I gazed into his eyes, all I could do was nod. "Are there any chores that must be done now, or can we go to bed early?" he smirked.
"We will need to feed the animals and milk the cows again tonight, but all else can wait."
His fingers rose to my face and untied the strings holding on my cap. He gently removed the pins holding back my hair and ran his fingers through it, bringing a strand to his lips. "Has anyone ever told you how lovely you are?" I shook my head with a blush. "Then let me worship you now, as I intend to worship you for all time."
With one hand left around my waist, his other hand lowered and reached the hooks at the front of my caraco, where it attached to the stomacher. He quickly undid the hooks and pushed it from me. He then reached behind me to pull the drawstring of my petticoat, allowing it to pool on the floor as his lips trailed along my collarbone. His hands still behind me, he undid the tie of my stays and gently worked his way up, loosening the ties, and then slipped it down over my hips, leaving me in my shift. This was as unclothed as I had ever been around him, and when I looked into his eyes, I blushed anew. "What do you want?" he asked me.
"I don't know. I've never been with a man before."
"What have you dreamed? Your dreams sounded rather vivid, tell me of them."
"I want you to touch me as you did the first morning you awoke."
"Is that all?" he questioned with a smirk.
"No," I whispered.
He lowered his head to my ear, "Tell me." His hands never ceased their movement along my back, rubbing me lower and lower with each pass, until his hands reached down and cupped me from behind, pulling me against him. I could feel him through the clothes we still wore, hard, erect, and large. Reactions I had never anticipated welled within me. My breathing picked up faster and I could feel an ache between my legs, a desire that both warmed and frightened me.
"I want to touch you." I brought my hands around the front of his body and pulled the strings at the neck of his shirt. Trailing down his arms, I pulled the strings at his wrists. He twisted his arms to take my hands in his, and brought them to his front.
"Disrobe me," he ordered softly. Nodding, I grasped the material and slowly raised the shirt up. With an oath, he grasped it himself and flung it from his body. "Disrobe me Bella, don't torture me." Blushing I lowered my hands from his shoulders, allowing them to trail down his chest and over his stomach. I felt the indentation of his muscles and heard him hiss as my hands descended lower.
He kissed me hard as my hands worked the buttons on his breeches. I pushed down as far as I could reach, dragging his lips down with mine as I bent. He lifted one leg at a time to push off his stockings with his breeches and now stood before me, completely disrobed. I blushed as I took in all of him, aware of his arousal standing at proud attention before me. I heard him chuckle as I stared at him with wonder and a little fear. "You truly have never seen a man before, have you?" I shook my head, looking up to see the desire in his eyes. "Do you know what to expect?"
"I have bred animals, Edward. I'm not without knowledge on the process."
"So, no. You don't." He reached his hands to mine and pulled them to his member, whispering, "touch me." As I wrapped my hands around him he took a deep breath, and gliding both hands up my arms, unbuttoned the armbands of my shift. He continued up to my shoulders and down my chest, pulling the drawstring there, slowly, as he had that morning so long ago. The tie came undone, and as he pushed the shift from my body he followed it downward with his hands and lips, my hands falling away from him as he began his journey; over my shoulder, across my chest, pausing at my breasts as he placed a kiss between them, down my stomach, leaving a kiss on my sex, and down my legs, his mouth trailing down my right. Once the shift was down, and he was on his knees, he reached up to undo my garter, removing it and rolling down the stocking on my right leg. He lifted my foot to remove it, placing a kiss on its crown, and then repeated his actions on my other leg.
Rising up, he returned to his feet in the same manner he had descended, kissing my body. Once erect, he took my mouth to his once again and pulled me against his body. I could feel every inch of him pressed against me and moisture pooled between my legs. He bent slightly and gathered me up in his arms, carrying me to the bed. He left me there and gathered rags from under the wash basin. "For the blood," he informed me, lifting my hips and arranging them underneath me. As he gently lay down, his lips began their journey once again. Pausing on my right breast, his hand tormented the nipple of my left, causing my stomach to clench. I could hear myself moan at the touch, and feel myself squirm to hold myself against him tighter. The hand that had been tormenting me ghosted down my side and clutched onto my hip, stilling me. "Patience," he whispered, "this must be slow, or the pain will be great." I both stilled and rejuvenated under his touch, the desire to touch and be touched burning within me.
His hand trailed fire from my hip to my sex, his mouth continuing its assault on my breast. As he parted me and dipped his fingers inside, I reached down to take his member in my grip. We both groaned loudly with the touch of the other, and I could feel his rubbing of me below. A fire ignited in my abdomen and built to an inferno as he continued his ministrations on my body. I had never known such feelings. I could barely concentrate on where we where or what we were about. When I felt I could take the fire no more, it fully engulfed me, causing me to shudder in an ecstasy I didn't think possible. I could hear him shushing me as I groaned through the fire, and move to hover between my legs. He replaced his hand with his member, continuing to stroke me with it as I felt the fire begin again.
"Bella, I'm going to go slow, tell me when it hurts." His whispers distracted me from my high, and I nodded as I felt him rub against my entrance. He dropped his hand down to guide himself in, and brought himself in and out of me as I tolerated. With each thrust he sank deeper and I found myself wrapping a leg around him to beg him in further. The pressure was not painful, even if it was unknown. Finally he thrust in deeply with a groan, and stilled when he heard my cry of pain. The lancing had surprised me, and I felt I had been torn in two. I could hear his pants as I stilled my tears. His whispered questions of concern went unheeded and I redirected my concentration from the pain below to his lips on my neck.
"I am ready to continue," I whispered to him, encouraging him. I could feel him begin to move again, and even though the movement caused some pain, it wasn't near the pain of the first, and I could even feel some pleasure behind it. I could feel the fire rekindle within and in a few moments the heat of it began again to overtake me. He did not continue for much longer, and I felt his release inside as he shuddered above me.
"Oh Bella, my Bella. What joy you have brought me," he whispered as he gathered his arms about me. He reached underneath me, gathering the rags, and wiped me gently, cleaning me. I could feel exhaustion overtake me as he hummed me to sleep.
When I awoke, it was nigh unto twilight. It was Edward crawling back into bed that roused me. "Are you hungry?" he whispered to me, but was answered by my stomach. Laughing he arose and went to the bread box. He cut me a hunk of bread, slathered it with butter, and brought it to me.
"You'll get crumbs in the bed." I admonished.
"They'll need to be changed tomorrow anyway," was his reply as he gave me my supper.
"Are you not hungry?" I asked, noting he didn't get any for himself.
"Ah, but certainly, but my food lies before me." I quickly downed my repast and reached for him. Twice more that night he taught me of love, each time less painful than the last. He assured me that the pain would go away altogether eventually, and I assured him the pleasure I felt in our union was worth any pain I might feel.
When I woke the next morning we milked the cows dry and put them, along with my horse, out to pasture. Edward had harnessed Grey to the wagon and was pulling it empty over the muck. There had been some hardening, so the wheels didn't catch as badly as they would have even yesterday. I looked skyward and decided the weather would hold, and donned my bonnet. Looking at Edward, I was amazed at how handsome he was in his uniform. It fit close to his body, much more so than Pa's clothes, or the rough work clothes I had made him. It seemed they moved with him and I could easily imagine the muscles playing underneath.
He put me up in the wagon and led the horse on, not wanting to add his weight to the wheels. Once the ground firmed he jumped in, winked to me, and called, "Hold on!" He cracked the reins and the horse took off like a shot. Whenever he could, he cantered the horse. My nag could never go this fast! I laughed and teased him for his impatience. "Bella, I have wanted you from the first time I woke beside you," he replied in all seriousness, "I have loved you since Christmas. The time for patience is past." And with that, the horse was flying again. We flew towards town, stopping only to ask a neighbor to run to my farm to milk the cows.
We arrived in town as twilight settled in. Edward drove the wagon right up to the church, hopped out, and then helped me down. We walked in together to find Reverend Weber cleaning. He was shocked to see me. I never came to town except to trade, after all. "Bella? Bella Swan?" he called. "As I live and breathe, it is you. What brings you here?" He was glancing at Edward holding my hand as he spoke to me, and his mouth turned up in a smile. "And who is this young man with you?"
"Edward Cullen, sir. I have come to ask if you would wed us," Edward answered him, reaching out his hand in greeting.
Reverend Weber smiled and shook his hand. "It would be an honor, sir. Are you ready now?"
We were married immediately, and as I repeated my vows tears cascaded from my eyes. Edward's face was aglow and our first kiss as man and wife was sweet and loving. As we walked from the chapel I noticed a fine carriage pulled by four matched blacks. A beautiful petite young woman with dark hair was descended the steps. "Alice," Edward breathed, turning to me. "Come Bella, meet your new sister."
Taken from a love letter written by Abigail Addams to her husband, future President John Addams. How beautiful was that? I couldn't not use it.
It is late October, 1782 when this story starts, and April 1783 when they wed. Edward was 17 at the start of the conflict in 1775. I chose this age because it is the age of my own ancestor, Andrew Graham, Jr., when he went to war. He served under Captain John Hinman, in the 13th Regiment of the Connecticut militia in Derby, CT.
A HUGE thank you to Whenpoetryrises and Stavanger1 for betaing this for me! Be sure to check out their stories, they simply rock.