I am congenitally incapable of working on one thing and one thing only – I am currently focussing on my fantasy project, but I have my Nevill wip, my notebooks and my snippets book to hand at all times, just in case I get an idea or feel a sudden need to look something up and jot it down. The other day, I wrote a post introducing an idea I had about the marriage between Alice Nevill & Henry Fitzhugh. Today, I grabbed my pen and the snippets book and wrote a brief page. I’d like to share it for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I’m feeling brave. (Yes, I know I’ve written and shared 23 chapters of The Daisy and the Bear with y’all, but that is vastly different – that’s a bit like me dressing up in a school uniform and singing I Touch Myself – it’s not really me. see?). And secondly, I want to test the waters, to see that I’ve got the balance between too much and not enough; between sickeningly graphic and sickeningly coy. I think I have. (In case anyone’s worried, the most intimate body part mentioned here is ‘thigh’. So those with a delicate disposition probably don’t need to worry.) This is very much a first draft, the outline of a sketch of a draft… So (taking a deep breath) here goes:
The First Time
The girl was terrified. The enormity of what she was about to do, the sin she was about to commit, sat uneasily on her soul. But she wanted this. It had been building since that first stolen kiss, the two of them hidden behind a tapestry in the deep window of the hall, his hand brushing against her breast. Her breathing was fast and shallow and her heart was pounding. Nothing will be the same after this, she thought. In his eyes she saw wonder and want, a tenderness so real and honest it almost took her breath away.
Down here, on the banks of the river, the whole world receded. His hand was on her skin, her skirts pushed up, her thighs waiting to part. He’d touched her there before and drawn away at the last minute. She wouldn’t let him go again.
“Henry,” she said softly, “I want this. I want you.”
He pulled away the last barrier and drew in a breath. Her eyes widened as he pressed into her and he looked away. She lifted her hands and turned his head towards her. There were tears in his eyes and she kissed them, salt sharp on her tongue. For a moment there was searing pain and she gasped. He fell onto her breast, stroking her hair, whispering words of comfort. When he moved again she went with him, the fingers of one hand caught in his hair, the other outsretched on the grass beside her.
“Oh,” she breathed. He raised himself on his arms and closed his eyes. She watched him as he came to climax, her own a small taste, a promise of what was to follow.
“I’m sorry, Ailie,” he said. “Oh, Lord help me!”
She held him. “Don’t be sorry. Please don’t be sorry!”
For a moment they lay together in the grass, still and quiet. Everything was different. God had seen them and He wasn’t angry. She would tell him that and he would smile. The world was silent, as if it too needed to catch its breath. Then the sound of voices encroached on their peace and he rose and dressed himself. She sat up, watching him.
“Next time,” she said, “we may have a little longer.”
He knelt and kissed her. “You are perfect and I have wronged you. There can’t be a next time.” And he disappeared into the trees.
When her sisters found her she was sitting by the river, tossing stones into the water. They sat down beside her, chattering and laughing. She smiled, hugging to herself her secret, the memory of his touch. The smell of him was on her hands. She raised them to her face and breathed him in.
“Next time,” she whispered.