He comes to her some nights. It’s been that way since she found him staring at her from the dark; when the sky was void of stars. It took her a while to let her mind wander as her body became fulfilled, allowing herself to be with another man. It was an arrangement— a secret—one from which she mutually benefitted.
It happened seamlessly, often starting with a look or stare. Her index finger trailing down the neckline of her dress while he watched, eyes wide like a hungry animal. His dark eyes would lock with hers and she would curl the corners of her mouth into a smile—and nod. A silent signal that later that night her bedroom door would be cracked open and she would be lying naked under the quilt—waiting. The wait excited her; it raced through her like electricity. Her skin dimpled from the softness of the quilt brushing against her bare breast and thighs.
Watching him and her husband fight today had stirred something in her. It was if they had been two peacocks fighting on the lawn. In her mind, they were two knights fighting for the hand of the princess. She had watched and, for a moment, believed Arthur had been fighting for her. She had found her husband later, hair and clothes still disheveled from the fight.
“Arthur? Are you ok?”
Arthur had rushed off right after the fight to lick his wounds in defeat. Victoria found him sitting on the porch staring off into the fields. He glanced up at her then returned his gaze to the world beyond. He looked like a child, soft and innocent, and when he saw her he stiffened and she knew then it wasn’t her he had been championing. It was Dawson. The thought that her husband was in love with a man curdled in her stomach like sour milk.
“Arthur? Should I have Isabella bring you a cool rag for your face?” she had offered, reaching out to touch the swelling but the moment her fingertip brushed his skin—he flinched. Victoria pulled back wrapping her arms tight around herself and straightening her spine. “I’ll have Isabella come and tend to you.”
“That would be best,” Arthur had said with a coldness that made her shutter.
“Very well.” Tears stung her eyes as she had left him there wrapped in his own silence.
Now, she lies waiting in the silent darkness running her fingers up and down her sides and basking in anticipation. She exhaled and put the covers around her neck. Her throat became tight and warm tears spilled onto her cheeks thinking of how the sunlight had sparkled in her husband’s hair. His soft smile and hesitant touch. Her heart felt full when she would hear his laughter.
“Oh, Arthur,” she said, her voice fading into the darkness of the room.
Even now, months later, her bedroom still seemed empty and cold with Arthur sleeping in a room down the hall. She reached out and let her hand feel the bare spot next to her. It was loneliness that allowed his brother into her room. The need to feel a man’s touch.
Victoria opened her eyes and let them adjust to the small amount of light that the moonless sky allowed into her room. There was spattering of stars that seemed like pinholes streaming thin strings of light trickling down to the earth. Victoria could barely see anything. It was best when it was dark so she could even try to hide the guilt from herself.
Unlike Arthur, Jeb had barely showed any signs of the assault. There was a slight bruise under his one eye and his nose had bled onto his shirt, but once he cleaned up he looked like the victor. Victoria liked winners and that enticed her when Jeb had been at the dinner table, sitting there proud and glancing over at her. She tried to avoid his stare but the thought of his fiery hands racing over her body caused her body to tingle. He pushed her arm while passing by and without thought she touched him, ran her finger quietly down his lower arm. His half smile and nod told her to leave the door open, without saying a word.
Words only complicated things, the mixture of guilt, self-satisfaction and revenge swirled inside and were more real than any words her lips could produce. Those feelings were intangible, tucked away down in her breast. They were like medicine that soothed her and made her feel alive.
Jeb slipped in like a shadow that moved across the walls of the room. Victoria’s eyes flashed open to see his silhouette standing by the bed. There were never any words spoken between them, only the light jingle of his belt buckle as his pants slid to the floor. Victoria closed her eyes and arched her back as the weight of his body pressed down. He didn’t kiss her on the mouth— she preferred it that way. Instead, his lips moved to her long neck and coated it with his heat. His hands were rough, hard and strong and they made Victoria’s body quiver as they raced over her, cupping her breasts and sending an electric current that lifted her like a wave.
Her body always betrayed her. The thoughts in her head condensed to voices screaming to push him away, but her body craved the attention and it pulsed and throbbed drowning out the opposition. A moan escaped her lips when his hands lifted her buttocks to meet with him. He was good at what he did, much better than Arthur who seemed to stumble during their lovemaking like his mind and body were somewhere else. No— that wasn’t a problem now, Jeb knew how to make her feel like a woman and blush red hot from head to toe.
Her mind wanted to push him away. His scent was hard to ignore, hard work and tobacco, and permeated her senses alerting her that his wasn’t Arthur —but her body wouldn’t stop. Wave after wave of pleasure taunted her like the ocean pulling and pushing, she let it overtake her, rushing over her body. Victoria was drunk from him, diluting her mind and thoughts to nothing but the cravings, the need, and the desire to feel a man inside of her. It was overwhelming and drowned out the past and the protesting voices in her mind.
Together they moved, her body climbing and rising as she drug her nails down his back and grabbed at him pulling him deeper and deeper. It wasn’t long before it was over and she cascaded into a vat of pleasure that rushed through her. She felt like she was floating, drifting on top of warm, blue water. He went limp on top of her, chest heaving.
It was the guilt afterwards that made her bitter. The sick feeling that slipped in after coming down from the spiral of desire and landing hard in reality. She turned her head sideways, feeling her throat tighten and body begin to recoil as he pulled himself off her. He paused for a moment, letting his head relax on the pillow next to her and she could feel his heartbeat. The back of his hand caressed the side of her face and she felt his eyes on her. Jeb leaned in and attempted to kiss her. Victoria shrugged him away, frowning in the darkness. She could hear him let out a sigh before softly pressing his lips to her forehead and then her cheek. His actions caused her to catch her breath. She pulled the covers around herself and rolled away from him.
“I love you, Victoria,” he whispered in her ear before gathering his clothes and slipping out the door.