Daniel waited until her scream finished.

“I am sorry that my nakedness offends you so,” said he, though looking deeply amused rather than at all insulted. “Yours had the complete opposite effect on me.”

Violeta looked down at herself and quickly covered herself with her hands.

“What did you to do to me?!” cried she, terrified and distraught as she returned to herself and found disturbing, foreign memories there: had she really just given herself to a man she hardly knew - a man, who more significantly, was not Robert, her fiancé? She hastily located her clothes and moved from her position to redress. But when her eyes found the fresh stain on the bed sheet that signified her lost virginity, she was almost paralysed by shock and the wave of emotions that swept over her.

“I enjoyed you,” answered Daniel calmly, not appearing to mind that Violeta intended to leave. “I believe you enjoyed me too.”

Strong revulsion filled Violeta. But at the same time her eyes filled with tears at her gross - albeit bewildering - unfaithfulness, the breaking of the sacred chastity vow which defined all good marriages and also her self-betrayal. How had Daniel made her utterly forget herself and contravene the voice of her soul? She felt very lost and very helpless. But the one thing that she knew was that she had to leave this accursed cottage and its heartless, sinful owner immediately.

“I hate you,” she spat, as she found her tights and shoes and leant against a wall to put them on.

Daniel shrugged, still smiling. He had the nerve to stand there with no clothes on and watch as she put hers back on, looking as if he were fondly remembering how each garment had come off.

At last, Violeta was fully attired and she ran from the house, weeping and wishing that she had stayed at the Palace. She found her way to the log in the clearing where she had met Daniel, longing to change history to a course of events where she left before anything else could happen.  She sat there and cried until there were no more tears left in her. Then she made herself stand. She trudged back to the village where her horse was stabled, telling herself that she had to go home, no matter the state of her hair and her dress, in spite of the terrible thing that had happened - of which she did not think she could bear to tell her parents tonight. She decided that she would say she had fallen over and claim this until her mind found a way to cope with the shock and distress: until she worked out what was the right thing to do next. With a pang of longing and fried she remembered that she was supposed to be going to see Prince Robert on the morrow. She would have to feign illness - she could not see him directly after this.

Oh, how her perfect life had been destroyed! It was almost too much for her to cope with. Frankly it was a miracle Violeta arrived at the Palace later that day. Her parents and the staff were deeply concerned about the state of her health and her mood, excusing her the dinner which Queen Alice was attending and bringing her meal to her quarters privately instead, but all she felt that night was misery. She fell asleep in the depths of utter wretchedness.

The End

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