There were two servant girls waiting in the hallway in front of our bed chamber. They helped me off with my tunic and boots, and then I asked them to leave me. They both smiled and winked at me before departing.

I stood in my underclothes, shivering not from cold (I no longer suffered from the elements) but from a sensation I hadn’t felt in centuries – fear.

I knocked at the door. A musical voice answered, “Who is it?”

“It is I, Lucas. Your husband.”

Then I heard the sound of rushing footsteps and the door was suddenly flung open. Marisa stood there in an ivory night-shirt, her long red curls hanging down to her waist. Her cheeks were flushed as though with fever and her eyes glittered with an inner light. I noticed that she was barefoot and that her feet were utterly perfect, the little half-moons of toe nails gleaming in the near darkness.

“Are you frightened, Lucas? Here’s a secret – I am, too.” Marisa tipped up my chin so that I looked at her. Then I stepped inside and she closed the door behind us.

Marisa kept up a steady stream of chatter, whether to soothe her own nerves or what she imagined were mine, I was not sure.

“My sisters have all told me what to expect for tonight, so you mustn’t worry on my account. I am perfectly prepared.”

I sat down on the bed and watched her. She blushed very prettily and then continued, “It’s to be my first time, of course, so I haven’t got any experience. I did kiss one of the servants’ sons when I was younger, but that doesn’t count, does it?”

“No, I suppose that doesn’t count.” I reached out a hand, beckoning her to me. She was still standing by the door, nervously twining a strand of her hair on her finger.

The End

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