Ælfwine held himself still and endured. The pleasure was making it hard to think. But it did not, quite, drown out the shame of lying here while his wife pleasured herself with his body.
Then she did something else, he couldn’t see what, and he stopped being able to think at all.
There was a pause, a moment’s stillness as she lifted herself off of him and he moaned at the loss of pleasure.
Then she was lifting his shaft, placing the tip where she wanted it, and lowering herself, engulfing his length, thumb by thumb, until her body had swallowed all of him and he wanted to cry for the sheer pleasure of her tight wetness.
She began to move, and he lost himself in her and the pleasure she gave him.
When they finished, she lay down beside him, cushioning her head on his shoulder. He lay still, hardly daring to breath as she nuzzled his neck and sighed.
It had been… truly amazing, beyond any of his previous experiences. She had taken her time, drawing out the pleasure, bringing him to the brink again and again before letting him go over.
There was no virgin blood on his shaft. Obviously she had experience, and learned well how to play a man’s body. And play him she had. He had been a toy for her use…
“Is something wrong, husband?”
“No.” He cleared his throat, forcing his voice to normalcy. “No, my lady.” Everything was as it should be. His unmanning had begun.
“Will you hold me?”
“Of course, my lady.” Finally, he pulled his hands from behind his head and wrapped his arms around her. She was so small, so fragile. But she would destroy him.
Her hands fluttered over him and his shaft twitched at her touch.
She would destroy him. And if she kept giving such pleasure as this – he might just go willingly to the slaughter.
Some time later, she rose and quickly cleaned herself. He followed her, and saw enough of her and himself before the water washed them clean to know there was no virgin blood on either of them. Jealousy roared with in him. Even this was denied him. And there was nothing to stop her from continuing to lay with her lovers. The best he could hope was that she would not flaunt them. Surely that would raise too many questions for her to wish when they had this abominable secret to keep.
When they were dressed, he waited, awkwardly, to know what she would decree next.
“Send for Henre, Lord Ælfwine. We will speak in my solar.”
“Yes, my lady.” He bowed, and left the room.
Mildþryð was seated in her favorite chair when he returned. She glanced from him to the floor in front of her and back. He took a breath then came to her and knelt, with his accustomed grace, in front of her.
She put a finger under his chin and lifted his head so she could see his eyes. As always, his face was a mask that told her nothing.
“I prefer that you kneel when we are in private here or in your rooms, my lord.” That should do for reminding him of his place going forward. “In other areas or when we are not alone here, you may sit or stand as you prefer.”
“Henre studied warfare under my father until his death. Similar to what you Norne’s would call being his squire. I understand you did not bring a ‘squire’ with you. I wish you to take Henre.”
His eyes flashed but he only said, “As you wish, Lady Mildþryð.”
“Sit now, my lord. It won’t be long before he joins us.”
He stood quickly and moved to the chair opposite hers. “Thank you, Lady Mildþryð,” he said gruffly.”
They say in silence until there was a rap on the door and Henre slipped in.
“You sent for me, my lord, my lady?”
She said nothing, looking at Ælfwine. He met her eyes for a long moment, then turned to Henre.
“You are Henre, yes?”
“Yes, my lord.”
“Lady Mildþryð has recommended you to me. I am in need of a squire as well as someone I can trust to help me learn Anglish custom.”
He turned and met Mildþryð’s eyes. “Somethings here will need to change to the Nornish manner.”
He was right, she realized. It would look strange if a new Nornish lord did not institute his own ways and customs. And, quick witted, he had found a way to tell her his desire without asking. She nodded and he turned back to Henre.
“But I would prefer to avoid disrupting the routines here or distressing the cook.” He winked and Henre chuckled. Mildþryð smiled and shook her head. She had been right to take this man as her lord. If only she could trust him to be a true consort to her, a partner she could rely on and not a threat she must guard against.
And on that thought… “Henre, I agree with everything Lord Ælfwine has said, but Lord Ælfwine is right about not understanding our ways or people. If you have an concerns I expect you to bring them to me as well as Lord Ælfwine so I can guide him as he requires.”
Ælfwine’s good humor disappeared in an instant. But he nodded his agreement. “As my lady says, Henre.” He took a deep breath. “She is still lady here and I wish her to be obeyed as myself.” He turned to speak with Mildþryð, “I doubt those who have been loyal to you so long need it said, my lady, but I will make sure that… our Nornish warriors understand as well.”
“Thank you my lord. I am sure you are correct, but it is best to be sure.” And reassuring that he would make it clear.
“I believe,” he continued, still looking at her, “That my lady would prefer to have me to herself for today.” She nodded, surprised and again pleased that he didn’t take the excuse of Henre’s new duties to evade her. “Move your things to my quarters today and then speak with Sir Hereweald’s squire, Frances. I expect you to report on a squire’s duties and what additional equipment you might need at breakfast tomorrow.”
“Yes, my lord. My lady.” Henre bowed and left in a hurry.
When the door closed, Ælfwine stared at her, gripping the arms of his chair. She waited.
Slowly, he stood and came, once again, to kneel before her.
“You did well, Lord Ælfwine. I have set you a difficult task and am reassured that I was right to trust you with it.”
“Thank you , my lady.” He didn’t, quite, wince, at her emphasis on trust. Neither of them would soon forget his attempted betrayal, but he seemed to have truly resigned himself to her victory over him. There were many ways he could pervert or twist his oath to her and gain power. But He himself was giving the orders that would prevent many of them.
She stood. “Come, Lord Ælfwine. We have a short time before supper. I will give you a tour of the keep.”