Authors: A. G. Howard
After our vows, so heartfelt and sincere our audience wept, Chaine and I rode into the forest on Draba to immerse ourselves in a hot spring and consummate our love beneath a star-filled sky.
For so long I had dreaded my first time with a man—concerned my deafness would impede our enjoyment, that I’d feel alone and awkward in the silence. Yet, I discovered when one has the right partner sensation becomes its own symphony, performed by two hearts. My husband played me like a beloved instrument, teaching me to play him, too. With each tender sweep of his knowing fingers as he bared my flesh to the night, part of my innocence fell away like broken notes. And I relished the raw harmony he exposed.
He led me to the water’s edge, his eyes never leaving my body. There, I bared him of his clothes and couldn’t resist learning every facet of his moonlit nakedness, each part of him lit-up in rhythmic flashes reflected off the water.
His sheer perfection beguiled me.
He lifted me to sit upon a smooth rock and stepped into the spring, his face level with my waist as he submerged up to his chest. He coaxed me to take a bow, my body arching like a harp, curled over him so he could strum my strings with kisses. My skin flashed from chill to flame upon the flavor and scent of him combined with the night air. His lips and tongue dragged lower and lower still, tasting every facet of my woman’s body, even the hidden places no other man … or ghost … had ever laid claim to. He tortured, teased, and titillated, until I gasped with every touch.
When he brought me down into the water, the warm slickness of the spring offered a calming welcome—a contrast to his intensity. The song had reached its cadenza, and it was time for our duet to become a solo. Chaine’s gentleness gave way to our fervent, fiery need to unite our souls. Until that moment, I never knew pain and pleasure could be as one. His mouth pressed unheard words of encouragement and love to my ear—his panting breath hot, his teeth nibbling. I didn’t need to hear him, for his every touch sang to my flesh in a vernacular more potent than words or sounds.
At the peak of rapture, another song lit within me—the resurgence of Hawk’s baritone—as powerful and enduring as when he shared my mind. It was the manifestation of his vow … that I would never be without music again.
And beneath my husband’s tears, for I could taste them on my face mingled with my own, I danced in the rain like I once did as a child. Only this time, I was powerful and uninhibited, dancing as a woman and a bride.
It was mid-July when Chaine, Father Merril, and I at last made a journey to Claringwell to attend Enya and Uncle’s wedding. They planned to return to the Manor after a weeklong honeymoon. They enjoyed working in the boutique, and had come to love the estate with its vine-covered arbors, flowing streams, and grassy slopes, every bit as much as I.
By this time, Chaine and I had been married—publicly—for over four months. Although in truth it had been six.
After attending Uncle and Enya’s nuptials, we visited with family and friends at the old house. My nightingale adored my husband like all animals did, and sang to him with fluffed feathers until he opened her cage and preened her with a fingertip. Uncle’s spaniel followed Chaine from one room to the next as if his pockets were filled with mutton. And Enya’s brothers and sisters idolized his gypsy heritage—the girls for his charming fairytales, and the boys for the card tricks he shared. I had never seen him so happy, to at last be surrounded and accepted by a loving family of his own.
In the late afternoon, Chaine and I slipped out to visit the cemetery wherein I had first seen him and contacted his brother’s spirit … the place where love had waited so patiently for me to find it.
We carried Hawk’s flower stem in its terrarium. Ever since his departure, I had planned to one day plant it again where it belonged, in hopes it would bloom anew.
The sun cast a golden glow all around us and a warm breeze blew over the grasses. My husband and I walked hand in hand. He limped with grace, leaning on his cane as we wove through statues and headstones, the scent of honeysuckle and lilacs thick with the season. We paid tribute to Mama and Papa, leaving China roses upon the ground. Then, after Chaine took me in his arms and kissed my tears away, we passed the two angels that stood guard over the dead.
As we arrived at the enclosed grave, Chaine fished out the key his aunt had given him and opened the gate so we could enter together.
He wouldn’t let me help dig the hole, for I carried his seed within my womb, a condition which brought about a most endearing protective streak in my Romani prince.
Lifting the flower from the terrarium and the pot, he settled it within its new home and raked soil around the roots. Once he’d patted the loose sod into place, he dusted off his gloves and studied the stem.
He looked up at me, curious. “There are buds forming.”
I feigned surprise. In truth, I had seen them already—a month earlier. On the day I realized I was pregnant, two bumps appeared upon the barren stem, too tiny to be seen by anyone other than the plant’s caregiver. It was a sign: God’s way of righting a wrong brought about by the greed of arrogant, foolish men.
There was no question in my mind. I was carrying twins—Chaine’s sons. Two brothers who would never be parted and would know more love, joy, and gentleness than any children who had ever walked the earth.
And they would be born with music in their hearts. For in them would live the songs of their uncle Nicolas, the brilliant architect who built a cathedral of melodies that now sprang eternal within the forgotten silences of my soul.