(** I offer this one-chapter tidbit as a way of hopefully pacifying those who've been awaiting the continuation of this story. I apologize for the interruption in service and ask your patience as I continue to try to juggle everything in my life. Also, a special thanks to Ms. Katia for her beta-ing this section - Thanks to all, A. K. **)


' Second Son '


by: A. K. Naten

For disclaimers, etc., see Part One.




The days at Weldon Manor passed a little more easily than they had been, now that the Lord and Lady had apparently arrived at some sort of reconciliation. They had not leapt swiftly back into each other's beds, but it was obvious that the tensions between them had eased significantly. Everyone felt the sigh of relief that seemed to permeate the air, and the Manor's atmosphere was once again reasonably relaxed and content.

Now in the midst of the summer months, people all over the land were busy tending to their fields and crops and partaking in outdoor activities. Pleasant weather seemed to bring everyone outside, including the Marquess and Marchioness. Servants and commoners were surprised but pleased to see the two strolling outside the Manor from time to time, pausing to speak to anyone who crossed their path, or stopping to sit in the gardens and chat for a spell.

Gwynneth was more than grateful that she and Anton were getting their relationship back on solid ground, albeit slowly. Anton seemed content to keep things at the pace of a courting couple rather than a married couple, silently taking things one careful step at a time. Perhaps he still felt reluctant, or perhaps he still harbored uncertain feelings. Gwynneth couldn't be sure. She only knew that their present situation, however chaste, was far better than the dreadfully unhappy days and nights she had been spending alone.

The two of them had not advanced their rekindled relationship past sharing a few short-lived kisses here and there. Anton was courteous and gracious in every way possible, but Gwynneth got the impression that he was making it a point not to do or be anything more. When he touched her, it seemed merely as an offer of assistance or an act of chivalry; not because he wanted or needed to touch her. Gwynneth worried that Anton did not, and perhaps never would, want to be with her the way he used to. She supposed she couldn't blame him. Knowing what he now knew and seeing the way her body was changing and turning from a slender, attractive girl into a fattened, bloated matron... surely he wanted no part of that. She told herself she should be happy that he paid any attention to her at all.

Still, Gwynneth longed for her husband's touch, and she longed to touch him as well. She found herself constantly standing as close to him as she could and, even more, she stole little touches and grazes too. She would reach out and touch his hand whenever they engaged in conversation, or she would place both her hands on his arm or shoulder under the pretense of needing stability whenever she sat or arose. And, she would walk and linger closely beside him, subtly brushing against whatever part of his body she could make contact with. She thought herself incredibly pathetic, but still she was desperate enough to continue with the ridiculousness.

As time proceeded, it became more and more difficult for Gwynneth to subjugate her feelings for her husband. They once had been so very close and so wonderfully open with one another. Even though that closeness had been stripped away for awhile, Gwynneth's emotional and physical feelings had not diminished greatly. They were still very much alive. She could only hope and pray that her husband might someday feel similarly.

In fact, Anton still did have those feelings. And, she was also finding it difficult to hold herself back when it came to expressing them. Anton already knew that through all the trial and tribulations of the past few weeks, she never once stopped caring for Gwynneth. Even after their relationship had been so badly damaged... even after the trust between them had been violated and torn asunder... even after everything... Anton remained completely besotted with her wife.

Anton couldn't help but watch Gwynneth whenever they were together. Every chance she got, she stole glances here and there, intensely evaluating her movements and observing her thorough, exquisite femininity. She realized how truly glorious her young wife was, and was continually amazed as she watched Gwynneth's body grow and change.

Once in awhile they were able to share a quiet moment or two together where they took little walks or enjoyed a nice picnic someplace outdoors. Usually they spent time talking about various things, but sometimes they just sat, neither one saying a word as they quietly listened to sounds and noises while absorbing the fresh summer air. Sometimes one or both of them would even doze off for a bit. Still, every time they were together, Anton couldn't help but stare at Gwynneth and marvel over her.

Being pregnant, Gwynneth somehow personified the quintessential 'woman' to Anton. However, rather than be put off by her wife's burgeoning body and impending motherhood, Anton thought Gwynneth appeared even more lovely and delicate than before. But she also seemed fragile and vulnerable too, and Anton suddenly felt an extreme, overwhelming urge to take care of her and protect her more than ever.

The Marquess often wanted so badly to take Gwynneth in her arms and love her, but she resisted. She still thought that they shouldn't move things too quickly, and besides - if Anton was really honest with herself - she had to admit that she was a little scared to move things any further. She knew nothing about pregnant women, and she wasn't sure if it was safe to touch Gwynneth the way she wanted to touch her. She was aware that conventional church rules frowned upon a husband being intimate with his wife while she was pregnant or 'unclean'. However, Anton's marriage - and indeed her entire life - had been so utterly unconventional from the very start, she wasn't overly concerned about what the church dictated. It was a bit late for that. The risk to Gwynneth and the child concerned her much more. She thought that perhaps she could speak with Victor about it, but a little bit of pride and a lot of embarrassment kept her from seeking his wisdom on the matter. At least for the time being.

Lately, whenever she thought Gwynneth was safely napping, Anton would reach out and very gently touch her swollen abdomen, caressing it lightly, lovingly - but always while it was safely covered up. She didn't have the nerve to ask to touch it in the flesh, even though the thought had begun crossing her mind more and more. Anton wished that she could feel and act like the classic proud father, but she knew it was the farthest thing from the truth. Still, she could dream.

Unbeknownst to Anton, Gwynneth had become aware of the fact that Anton was touching her while she rested. Although she longed to open her eyes and smile up at her husband and kiss him soundly, Gwynneth decided not to acknowledge nor say anything about it. Instead she just kept silent and enjoyed the connection, allowing it to give her hope that perhaps her husband was coming to accept the child at last. In the back of her mind and the corners of her heart, she still secretly prayed - against opposing evidence and insistence - that the child really was Anton's and not Aldred's.

Only time would tell if any of their dreams and hopes would be answered.


A tall warrior stood in an open field, his teeth gritted in determination as he wielded his great sword wildly. Over and over he swung, slashed, thrust and hacked at his foes until his face and arms were spattered with their blood and gore. Halting his movements, the warrior scanned the fields, his dark hair hanging wet and limp as sweat ran down his dirtied face in rivulets and mixed with the blood of his enemies. Suddenly a whooshing noise sounded and the warrior was struck hard in the chest with a large, heavy arrow. It thudded as it impaled him and he cried out in shock as he staggered and sank to his knees. Immediately, another arrow slammed into his shoulder and yet another plunged into his unprotected belly. His hands trembled and touched the arrow shafts as he looked down in disbelief before groaning and falling backwards onto the ground. Pale blue eyes stared up at the sky, noticing that dark, ominous storm clouds had begun moving in. A rumbling sound echoed in the distance and the warrior blinked once before his eyes glazed over, no longer able to see anything except blackness. As his last breath left him, a great white mist began to emanate from his body, hovering overhead for just an instant before turning opaque and materializing into some sort of figure. Slowly the figure took shape and came to stand beside the body of the fallen warrior. The strange figure was tall and covered in a long, hooded white cloak, and as the features came into focus, it was clear that it was a woman. She was a striking beauty with long dark hair, a strong jaw, pronounced cheekbones, and the most exquisite light blue eyes. Her flawless face was pale and she looked mournful as she turned away from the fallen warrior. She held her arms out and began to move her mouth. No sound could be heard, but her lips were easily read. "I'm sorry," they mutely said... "I'm sorry."

Gwynneth's eyes sprang open and she bolted upright off the blanket, startling her ladies maid.

"Milady, what it is?" Alice inquired from her seated position.

Gwynneth pressed a hand to her chest and looked around to get her bearings. Her heart raced wildly and her head still churned with the strange and terrible visions from the dream she'd just had. She looked around at the blanket and picnic lunch before her, remembering that she and Alice had shared the nice meal out in the flower garden, and after some pleasant conversation, she had dozed off.

"Milady?" Alice queried gently as she reached out to touch Gwynneth's arm, noticing that the young woman was shaking.

Closing her eyes, Gwynneth shook her head, "'Twas nothing... just a silly dream."

"But you're trembling, Milady."

"'Twas a disturbing dream, Alice." Gwynneth's voice was sharp and Alice quickly withdrew her hand. The Marchioness instantly regretted her words and reached out to grasp her maid's arm. "I'm sorry, it just... it's just left me feeling unsettled, that's all."

Alice smiled, despite her misgivings. "We can go back inside if you wish, Milady. Lord Anton may have returned from his hunting excursion... perhaps we shall have a nice venison dinner this eve?"

"Mm yes, perhaps." Gwynneth nodded absently. At the mention of her husband, the face of Gwynneth's dream warrior flashed in her head again. She frowned as she realized the warrior resembled Anton a great deal. But if the warrior was Anton, who was the spectral woman?

Alice stood and looked down at Gwynneth, noticing the confused look on the youthful face. "Would you like for me to go and fetch Lord Anton, Milady?"

Gwynneth shook her head, "No, thank you. I'll see him later. Help me up, will you? I'm quite ready to go now." She grasped Alice's offered hand and stood, brushing the creases out of her dress.

Just as the two women began to gather up their things, a rumble sounded overhead. Gwynneth looked skyward at the dark, ominous clouds that had suddenly appeared on the horizon, and she felt a shiver of dread race up and down her spine.

"Oh mercy... it looks like a terrible storm is approaching. We should hurry and get inside before it reaches us." Alice fretted as she quickly stuffed things into a woven basket.

"Yes..." Gwynneth murmured, still frowning and staring at the blackened sky. "...A terrible storm."


A handful of soldiers and knights had gathered near the guard barracks late in the afternoon, eager as always to jaw with one another and catch up on the happenings of the world around them. Often times the visits would end up with a sparring match or some kind of friendly challenge issued and carried out between two or more of them. Today would prove to be no different.

"Come on then, who shall help me break in this splendid new sword of mine?" Anton grinned at the men, spinning the hilt of the shiny new weapon in her hand. "Charles?" she queried, turning to the young man in question.

"Oh no, Milord. I don't b'lieve I'd be up to task today." Charles mumbled around a mouthful of bread.

One of the older warriors laughed aloud. "Yer not up to it 'cause yer still eating yer bloody midday vittles!"

Another man broke in, "Aye, he's tryin' to catch up on his sleep 'cause he spent all night and the wee hours of the morn sowing some oats with that wench from the ale house! Isn't that right ole boy?"

Charles threw the remnants of his bread at the man's face, and all the men laughed raucously.

"Well, who then?" Anton asked again, finding no takers until her eyes landed on her loyal friend, Richard. The two smirked at each other. "What say you, friend?" Anton asked, an eyebrow arching sharply as her lips curled into a devilish grin.

"Oh bloody hell, why not." Richard said with a roll of his dark eyes. He slung his sword over his shoulder and walked toward open ground, preparing to face Anton in a friendly bout. "It's been awhile since I've done battle with you, Milord... you'll go easy on me now, won't you?" Richard's eyes gleamed as he smirked.

Anton laughed as she got into position, "Not on your life, man." They both laughed and with a clang of metal, the sparring began in earnest.

Lady Gwynneth observed from afar as her husband battled with his friend. Anton had been partaking in the sparring matches quite a lot lately, and Gwynneth had gotten into the habit of following after him to watch as he honed and sharpened his fighting skills.

She watched the action raptly, impressed with her husband's skill and surprised at his ferocity. Anton and Richard seemed to be a fairly even match, and they went round and round for quite awhile before Anton appeared to take what looked to be a very close call to his face. Gwynneth cringed when she saw him jerk backwards and nearly fall. However, the apparent near miss seemed to goad Anton into action, and after a series of furious blows, Richard's sword was knocked from his grasp.

With the match finally over, the two warriors stood and shook hands amicably. Gwynneth watched as everyone congratulated them, laughing and administering hearty slaps on the back. What really caught her eye, though, was the way in which Richard stopped Anton and pointed at his face, and the way Anton kept repeatedly wiping a hand across his forehead. It made her wonder if the near miss had not been a miss at all. She couldn't imagine why the men would risk hurting themselves like that. Suddenly, rather than be impressed by the exercise, Gwynneth was fearful of it.


Less than an hour had passed after the sparring tournament, and Gwynneth decided that she would go to her husband's room under the pretense of congratulating him hoping, in reality, to see if he was injured.

She reached Anton's door and found it partially open, but still she knocked.

"Come in," a far away voice called out.

Anton did not look up as Gwynneth stepped inside, but the Marchioness could see that he was standing in front of a table that held a large basin of water and a pile of cloth bandages. His back remained to the door as he dipped the cloth in the basin and dabbed at his forehead.

"You and your men fight like demons," Gwynneth said.

Surprised to hear her wife's voice, Anton half-turned and gave her a slight grin. "It's good practice, for all of us." He held the wet cloth against his head as he spoke, confirming Gwynneth's suspicions.

She pursed her lips and walked closer. "It's dangerous practice... you've injured yourself." Gwynneth's voice gently accused.

Anton shook her head slightly and turned away, "Barely." She continued to dab at her brow. "Just a small scratch."

Gwynneth frowned and hesitated before speaking again. "You've been having at these practices quite a lot lately. Is there any particular reason why?"

Anton stared down at the table and dipped the cloth into the basin while she hedged with an answer. "No particular reason." She finally replied, not looking at her wife. "'Tis always a good idea to keep oneself in the best condition possible, is it not?"

"I suppose." Gwynneth replied quietly, dissatisfied with her husband's answer. She knew that she wouldn't get anything more out of him, so she thought it best to let the issue rest. However, seeing Anton still pressing the cloth against his head, Gwynneth approached him and reached out to touch his shoulder. "Let me see this so-called scratch." Anton turned and looked at her but didn't remove the cloth. "Please?" Gwynneth implored tenderly.

The Marquess took one look into her wife's kind eyes and lost her stubborn resolve. She removed the cloth to reveal a long, deep slash just above her left eyebrow.

Gwynneth gasped, "Merciful heaven! That's not a scratch, that's a serious laceration!" The Lady fretted as the wound immediately began to ooze blood. "You need to have that stitched up straight away!"

"No, no, it'll be fine." Anton made a shooing motion with her hand and tried to turn away.

But Gwynneth grasped his shoulder tight, "Husband!" She scolded, her voice a little more firm this time.

Anton sighed and rolled her eyes. "I'll find Victor tomorrow and have him look at it, alright?"

Gwynneth gave a disapproving look. "You'll bleed half to death before then." She motioned dramatically with her hands. "Let me go and find something to suture it up for you right now."

Surprised at both the offer and the unbeknownst skill, Anton hesitated for a moment before nodding dumbly, "Uh, well... alright... if you're... able?"

Gwynneth gave him a perturbed look, "Of course I'm able." She stated matter-of-factly before turning on her heel and exiting the room.

Several moments later, Anton was seated on a stool and Gwynneth was looking at the wound and cleaning it. She stood right up against her husband's seated body, and the Marquess could feel the warmth of her rounded belly where it touched her arm.

Anton closed her eyes, inhaling the smell of jasmine as she thought about what it would be like to just reach up and caress the strange protrusion with both hands. She wondered if Gwynneth would think her insane if she asked permission.

"You call this a 'slight scratch'." Gwynneth's voice interrupted Anton's thoughts. "You'll be fortunate if you don't have a dreadful scar from this, no matter how well I sew it up."

"I had no idea you possessed such skills." Anton winced as the tiny needle began to pierce her skin.

"Hold still, and stop moving." Gwynneth gently reproved as she squinted her eyes and leaned even closer. "Of course you wouldn't know. Up until this point, I haven't had the occasion to use the skills, now have I?"

"No, but, when and how did you learn?" Anton persisted, wishing to get her mind off her wife's warmth and the heady scent of her perfume. "Ow!" She yelped and flinched as she felt a sharp pinch.

"If you would stop moving around, it wouldn't pain you so." Gwynneth chided, grabbing hold of her husband's chin firmly to get her point across while glaring down at him.

Anton clenched her teeth gave Gwynneth a mock growl, but she capitulated, feeling her wife press into her again as she continued.

Gwynneth sighed aloud as she stitched. "As you know, Clarendon was a small place, but it was full of knights and warriors." Her fingers worked nimbly as she talked. "Often times, after battles, we had more injuries than we had hands to heal them. So, I took it upon myself to learn how to help out." Gwynneth explained with a shrug of her shoulders.

"Hmm." Anton merely hummed, obediently keeping her lips closed.

A quiet lull ensued as Gwynneth stitched and Anton sat contentedly with her eyes closed. Then, without warning, Anton sensed pressure and movement along her upper arm where Gwynneth's belly pressed against it. It was a gentle, very slight bump-bump-bumping type of pressure that, had either of them been talking, might not have been noticed. A light suddenly flickered in Anton's head, and she quickly realized what the sensation was. Recoiling in sudden shock, Anton jumped off the stool, pulling the needle and thread right out of Gwynneth's hands.

"What?" Gwynneth asked, startled at the abrupt action, "What's the matter?"

Anton stared at her, wide-eyed, "It-It...," she stuttered, pointing to Gwynneth's belly, "I felt it! It moved!"

Gwynneth sighed aloud and half-smiled, "Well yes, of course; it's supposed to do that."

"I-I know, but..." Anton stammered and shook her head, "I didn't think that... that I'd be able to... feel it... in such a way."

Gwynneth nodded, "Oh yes, you can feel it. Especially if you lay your hands right... right on it... you know?" She motioned toward her belly with her hands. She was really rather hoping that Anton would want to touch her, and the baby, at least a lot more than he had been. It seemed that he just stared at it more than anything. She supposed it was wishful thinking, especially since her husband was apparently horrified by the thought of feeling the child move.

"It's a..." Anton struggled to express her thoughts. "It's a strange feeling... amazing, but... strange nonetheless."

"Mmm, I suppose. I've gotten rather used to it, though." Gwynneth said, folding her hands over her abdomen and smiling weakly, trying to keep the disappointment from showing on her face. "Speaking of 'strange', you look awfully silly with that needle and suture thread hanging from your face."

Having forgotten, Anton reached up and touched her fingers to her head, feeling the dangling implement. "Oh, yes... sorry." She mumbled, coming back to the stool and sitting down obediently.

They were quiet for a few moments as Gwynneth finished up and began snipping away the excess thread. She dabbed some ointment on it and stepped back to admire her work. "There... all done. You must be sure to keep it clean, alright?"

Anton nodded and stood up, "Yes, thank you."

They looked at each other for a moment, so many unspoken thoughts and feelings between them, as always. Finally Gwynneth gave a faint smile, her eyes seeming immeasurably sad as she turned and began to clean up the doctoring supplies she'd brought to the room.

Anton bit her lip and blinked long, cursing herself for reacting badly and being such a coward. She watched as her wife began to walk toward the door, and suddenly she couldn't be quiet any longer. "Gwynneth, wait." Anton called out.

Gwynneth turned around and looked at her husband's tall form, nearly overcome with an intense urge to run into his arms, hold him tight, and beg for him to love her like he used to.

"Uhm, would you perhaps like to..." Anton hesitated, wracking her brain for the right words. "I mean, if you don't mind, could I..." Still she fumbled, "Would it be alright if I..." She finally just pointed at Gwynneth's bulging abdomen.

Gwynneth felt a flood of immense relief. "Would you like to feel him move?" She touched her belly and smiled.

"'Him'?" Anton's eyebrows shot upward. "You know it's a boy?" She asked, almost excitedly.

"Well, no." Gwynneth admitted, hating to burst her husband's bubble, "I've just taken to thinking and referring to it that way... wishful thinking, I suppose." She shrugged sheepishly.

"Oh, yes, well... no harm in that, I'm sure." Anton smiled, feeling a need to ease her wife's feelings, though she wasn't certain they'd been hurt.

They stood there and looked at each other awkwardly for a moment until Anton waved toward her bed. "Uhm, why don't we lie down?" She offered, but quickly amended, "I mean, just to rest, of course." She didn't want Gwynneth to get the wrong idea. "I could use the rest, and I'm quite sure you could as well."

Gwynneth merely nodded and walked over to her husband's bed, her mind suddenly whirling with memories of what they'd done in that bed at other times. She climbed up and laid down on her back, keeping still while Anton settled himself alongside her.

They looked at each other for a moment, both feeling a little awkward and nervous, until Anton finally garnered some courage and brought her hand up to rest upon her wife's covered stomach. She held very still, watching and waiting for something, anything.

"I don't feel anything. I don't think he likes me." The Marquess quipped and Gwynneth released a sharp little burst of laughter. Anton smiled broadly, thrilled to have made her wife laugh in such a way. She couldn't remember the last time she'd seen the pretty blonde do such a thing.

"Sometimes you can feel it better when you... uhm..." Gwynneth hedged uncertainly, "When you're just touching... well, skin." Her face blushed a soft pink as she spoke the words, and she suddenly couldn't meet her husband's eyes.

"Would you mind?" Anton whispered.

Gwynneth looked up at him and shook her head slightly, her lips twitching in an adorably shy smile. "No."

Quietly taking a deep breath, Anton reached down and lifted her wife's dress, pushing it up until the fleshy bulge of her belly was exposed. This was the first time Anton had seen the protrusion uncovered, and it absolutely stunned her. She'd never seen anything like it before. She was speechless and stared dumbly until Gwynneth looked down in fear.

"What's the matter?"

"N-Nothing, I just..." Anton fumbled for thoughts. "It's... it's amazing." The Marquess gushed in a quiet voice. Gwynneth relaxed and smiled.

Feeling an overpowering need to make physical contact with the miracle that was growing inside the younger woman, Anton carefully cupped her hands around the soft bulge and let them lay very still. Her eyes were wide as she stared, waiting anxiously to feel any type of movement. It was incredulous to her to realize that there was a tiny human being living and breathing inside. Even more incredible was the feel of little twitches and bumps beneath her fingertips as the child finally stirred.

A huge grin spread across Anton's face and she looked up at Gwynneth with shining eyes. "Incredible... absolutely incredible." She repeated in an awe-struck whisper.

Gwynneth smiled down at her husband as his fingers began gently stroking the skin of her abdomen. The delightful feel of his caresses mixed with the feeling of immense relief as the weight of a dozen worries lifted from her shoulders at last.

A few moments passed and when it appeared that the child had stilled, Anton relinquished her touch and moved to lie down beside Gwynneth. Not wanting to abandon the pleasant, carefree moment, Anton propped her head on her hand and gazed down at the lovely face before her.

Gwynneth was relaxed and, it seemed, happy with the way things were progressing. Anton wondered if her wife had enjoyed the little bonding experience as much as she had. She made a mental note to do it again, and soon. The Marchioness sighed and gazed up at Anton adoringly, her clear oceanic eyes sparkling with warmth and joy. She was so lovely... so precious and delicate... so beautiful. It nearly stole Anton's breath away.

The Marquess could feel liquid gathering in her own eyes, but she blinked it away, managing to cover her sudden intense feelings with a faint smile. Still, she felt a need for connection. The moment was simply too beautiful to pass up, and she needed to somehow tell Gwynneth that she, too, was happy with everything.

Reaching out slowly, Anton touched her fingers to Gwynneth's cheek, letting them gently stroke the silky skin and lightly dragging them over the soft contours of her rosebud lips.

Gwynneth's lips parted slightly as her husband caressed her face, his eyes becoming dark and intense while his touch remained tender and gossamer. Her heart began to thud harshly as Anton scooted closer to her, pushing his hands into her hair as he leaned over her. All she could hear was a thundering in her ears as Anton's lips descended upon hers.

The kisses began soft and tender but soon began to edge toward something more thorough, more intense. Gwynneth nearly gasped as Anton moved his mouth to her neck, kissing and devouring the soft flesh there while gently insinuating his thigh between her legs. She wrapped her arms around Anton's shoulders, urging him closer to her. Feeling her husband's body pressing against her, Gwynneth's head began to buzz with arousal as his hips began to undulate mildly against hers. When Anton's lips moved back up to take possession of her mouth, Gwynneth couldn't help herself, and she moaned her pleasure aloud.

Something about the sound snapped the Marquess out of her lustful haze, and Anton abruptly broke the kiss. She looked down at Gwynneth's face and, seeing the flushed skin and swollen lips, realized that they were going farther than was probably wise.

Anton closed her eyes and sighed, dipping down to kiss Gwynneth's cheek before letting her head rest in the soft blonde pillow of hair. "I'm sorry," she said in a hoarse, muffled whisper. "I seem to have lost control of my senses."

Gwynneth closed her eyes, drawing a deep breath and trying to calm her racing heart. "It's alright," she said, her voice tremulous. "I don't mind, really." She cringed as soon as the words left her, thinking that she sounded like a harlot. But her husband's soft chuckle instantly eased her worry.

Anton smiled at her wife as she raised her head again. I must speak to Victor, she thought as she watched a subtle blush wash over Gwynneth's adorable face. We end far too many meetings like this. The war inside her raged, and she really didn't know how much longer she would be able to hold her desire in check. Deciding that she must go no further this night, Anton squeezed her eyes shut and murmured, "The day has grown late. I must let you go so that we may both prepare for the evening meal." She pushed herself up and moved away from Gwynneth and off the bed.

Gwynneth's heart sank a little as her husband eased away from her. She knew she should be deliriously happy with what they'd shared this day, but still she couldn't help but want more. She feared, in some ways, that she would always want more than Anton would be willing to give.

Standing up, Anton looked at Gwynneth, her feelings vacillating between arousal and frustration. Forcing them all aside, she offered her hand to the smaller woman and helped her off the bed. The two of them looked at one another for a moment, both contemplating so many thoughts and feelings.

Leaning down, Anton bestowed a kiss on her wife's lips, "Until we meet again, my wife." She whispered. Blue-green eyes looked up at her and she smiled weakly.

I want to stay with you, Gwynneth thought, but did not utter. Instead she reached up and placed another kiss on Anton's lips, "Until we meet again, husband."

Anton saw her to the door and as she stepped into the hallway, Gwynneth turned and gave her husband one last long look. Smiling and nodding, Anton bid his wife farewell and closed the door. Leaning against the wood, the young Lord ran her hands through her hair and sighed loudly. I absolutely must speak to Victor...as soon as possible.


...To Be Continued in Part 8...

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