Jack Valentine's Love HeartsbyCleophila©
'And shuddering with eyes full of fear and fire
And heart-stung with a serpentine desire
He turned and saw the terror in her eyes
That yearned upon him shining in such wise
As a star midway in the midnight fixed.
Their Galahault was the cup, and she that mixed;
Nor other hand there needed, nor sweet speech
To lure their lips together; each on each
Hung with strange eyes and hovered as a bird
Wounded, and each mouth trembled for a world;
Their heads neared, and their hands were drawn in one,
And they saw dark, though still the unsunken sun
Far through fine rain shot fire into the south;
And their four lips became one burning mouth.'
I blink and then wake up. It's dark outside. The dregs of my cocoa are cold in the mug in my hand. The fire is dying into glowing embers and the book has slid from my hands. I'm not sure what time it is, how long ago the sun set nor how long I have been asleep. I had gone so far into the world of the book that I have passed some time, between sleeping and waking, in the surroundings of mediaeval romance and it takes me a few moments to set straight what is the dream world, what the book world and what are my real surroundings.
I stand up, stretch and yawn. I go over to the fire and poke at the embers until I get a bit of a flame back and then add some more lumps of coal. In a couple of minutes I've got a real fire going again. The rest of the room is in semi-darkness and the flickering flames of the fire produce a dance of light and shadow shapes on the cottage's opposite wall.
With the room this dark, I begin to be able to see outside through the window. There is a bright moon, almost full. It glints off the marshy waters of the fens opposite, giving the illusion of light that I always found so fascinatingly disconcerting. I feel myself drawn to it, I am excited by the mystery the marshes offer. As I stare out of the window, however, my eye is caught by some light and colour that I had not previously noticed. I think to myself that I must be seeing a trick of the light, a combination of the bright moon and growing cold breeze, but it looks like where there just weeds and messy hedgerows earlier this afternoon, flowers in scarlet and violet have blossomed in the night.
I know that it's foolish to go out into the cold in the middle of the night chasing an optical illusion, but I am curious. Part of me wonders whether my garden might genuinely have been filled with roses while I slept. At worst, I'll just be a little cold and embarrassed when I see nothing but overgrown hedges and wet marshland. There isn't anybody here to laugh at me.
I pull on my boots and open the door to a blast of February cold, which causes the fire to flicker more violently than before. I let the fire settle and then step out into the garden, dressed in just my shapeless knitwear, no need for more when I'll be back in a few seconds. I walk over towards the low stone wall that borders the garden and the fens opposite. Sure enough, to my slight surprise, there really are dark crimson roses and indigo coloured violets springing up from a bush that I could have sworn was not a rose bush earlier this afternoon.
This is pretty weird, I think to myself, shivering with the cold. In fact, it's weird enough that it makes a strange kind of sense when I spot a purple disc of sugary candy nestling amongst the petals of a particularly luscious red rose. I reach out and take it and remain somewhat unsurprised to see fading red letters roughly embossed into the heart design. Once again, the motto appears more than a little cryptic.
'Bathe with roses red and violets blue,
All the sweetest flowers that in the forest grew.'
I don't pretend to have any idea what that means. My head feels light and confused from the unexpected sleep and dreams that I have just woken from. For some reason, I find the idea of bathing in rose petals a supremely tempting one at that moment. It seems to offer a sensual relaxation that I have not enjoyed for a long time. I also begin to feel an overwhelming urge to eat the sweet as if that will somehow conspire to make the words printed on it come true for me. I must still be half dreaming, because there's still a part of my mind telling me not to be so stupid.
I shake the dream logic from my head and turn to go back inside, but, as I do so, I notice another flat round love heart on the floor beside my feet. And another a foot or so further away. And another. There's a little trail of them leading from the seemingly magical rose bush back towards the doorway of the cottage. How they can have got there without me noticing as I walked out here is a mystery to me.
I am enchanted by the sweet trail. Somewhere in my mind, it conjures up images of the story of the children leaving a trail of breadcrumbs to lead them home. And all the time these images are running through my head, I am, almost unconsciously, following the trail back to my own cottage, my eyes glued to the ground in front of me as if fearful of missing a step even though I know exactly where they are leading me.
The firelight from within the cottage falls on me as I return to my doorway, but it is blocked momentarily by a dark shadow. Finally, I look up from the love heart trail to see him standing there. It's the man from earlier in the afternoon, the one who was staring at me from across the street. He is blocking my path back inside with a wide lopsided grin that speaks of mischief and desire. Over his shoulder, the flickering fire makes it look as though he is wreathed in flame. His crystal eyes dance, the blue points against dark like stars.reflected in a midnight lake. My heart skips a beat and then pounds faster to catch up. Is this fear? Or excitement? I can't tell.
There is no longer a single note of surprise in my mind, however, when I see the red disc in his hand is another love heart. The message, printed in white text not red, is so long and in such tiny writing that it should be impossible to read in the dim glow of firelight and yet I can see every word as if it is burned into my brain.
'Marked where the bolt of Cupid fell:
It fell upon a little western flower,
Before milk-white, now purple with love's wound.
The juice of it on sleeping eyelids laid
Will make or man or woman madly dote
Upon the next live creature that it sees.'
I open my mouth to speak, to ask any of the million questions flying confusedly around my head. Before I can say a word, he takes a step towards me and puts out his hand. I don't lift a finger of my own as he reaches out with his and touches me on the lips, signalling me to remain silent. Remarkably, as he does this, my need to question abates. I feel happy just to have my curiosity sated by how this situation progresses. It is as if I am willing to go along with whatever is about to happen just to find out exactly what it is.
In his other hand, he holds the love heart, that fascinating piece of strange candy. He moves his finger from my lips and my mouth opens as he puts the love sweet into my mouth. I can feel the sugary taste on my tongue and I expect the slightly chalky disappointment that the thought of these sweets conjures up in my memory. The taste on my tongue right now, however, is nothing at all like that. It fizzes like champagne, it's sweet as sugar, but with the taste of luscious fruits and berries all thrown in together.
I offer no resistance, indeed I feel almost helpless as he takes me in his arms and pulls me into him. I open my mouth slightly and he stops it with his lips. He pushes his body against me but he feels lights as a feather, his lips are soft but mine are burning with desire as they come together as one. The curves of my body form themselves against his. I feel myself swoon a little as he holds me across my shoulders and holds my bottom lip in his mouth. I gasp for air momentarily and hold on to him as if I am slipping away. My eyelids flutter delicately as his tongue slips between our lips and into my mouth. My hands are in his hair. I feels thick, soft and luxuriant like the coat of a beautiful animal.
He pulls me into the warmth of the cottage and I kick the door shut and kick off my boots in what seems like a single fluid movement. As the door slams the wind builds up, beginning to howl and rattle the windows. I'm distracted instantly from the world outdoors, though, as he covers my lips with kisses once more and I'm staring into those deep dark eyes. My mouth can taste his, but it is a taste that is intermingled with the sparkling and fizzing of the strange sweet I have eaten. My body feels more alive than it has done in a long while. Every part of me is aching to feel his touch. His tongue rubbing against mine tastes so sweet.
His hand slides down my back as he pulls me in to kiss me again and again, moving from my mouth down my neck. Meanwhile, he pulls at my shapeless knitted sweater, tugging the whole lot of it up and over my head, leaving me in just my sensible black cotton bra. I offer no resistance as he, almost instantly, unclasps this, frees my naked white breasts and casts the bra aside.
I hear myself sigh as I feel his long fingers on my bare chest, cupping and caressing the pale mounds of warm flesh as his kisses continue to move down my neck. His tongue starts to run down my collar bone and in between my breasts, while his hands run down my side to my waist. As he kisses my breasts, his hands, so gently that I barely notice it happening, have unbuttoned my jeans. In a moment he slips his hands into the waistband and drops my jeans around my ankles. Dressed just in my plain blue panties I felt exposed but excited.
As he stands up in front of me, my body almost all on show, I can feel his eyes burning into me. They are so deep and dark that the colour in them is hard to see at first, but as he eyes me up I can see sparkles of blue shining in them once again as when I first saw him. His thick dark eyebrows are arched tempting me, taunting me, inviting me to enjoy him. His mouth curls into a hungry looking smile, a lopsided look wider on one half than the other to show his surprisingly sharp incisor. He has the appearance of something primal, bestial, a strong and irresistible desire.
I can't help myself as I place my hand on his chest, sliding his shining grey overcoat off his arms and onto the floor with my clothes. Beneath this he is wearing a shirt of an unusual shimmering material and tight trousers. I tear this shirt open with a passion that I didn't know I could possess and reveal his naked chest. He is skinny but his muscles are firm and taught and his chest is covered with curls of hair matching his beard. I've never found chest hairs especially desirable on a man, but right now nothing feels so right as running my hand across his chest, feeling that soft hair running through my fingers.
His hands grasp my buttocks, fondling me, getting me hot and bothered. Pulling me back into another kiss I feel a lightheaded thrill as he slides my sensible panties, the last item covering my modesty, right over my naked thighs. I am completely naked in the middle of my grandmother's cottage, the fire flickering higher and higher, lighting up my body's shapes and curves. Outside the wind is becoming stronger and stronger, huffing and puffing, blowing at the windows, but the cottage remains strong and sturdy and all my attention is on the strange man in front of me.
He takes me by the shoulders and pushes me down to my knees on the soft woollen rug that lies before the fire, kissing over my neck and breasts as he does so. As I kneel in front of the fire, he kneels before me and pushes me back further until I'm lying on my back on the rug. He positions himself between my legs and pushes my knees open. I am about to give my body up to this man I've never even spoken too and I could hardly be more needy for it, my body burns to feel him inside me.
His face is now between my legs and my heart is pounding in my chest. He kisses my naked white thighs and I find myself holding my breath in anticipation of what is to come. And then his tongue slips right between my thighs and starts gently to play around my labia, causing an abrupt gasp of arousal to escape my mouth. Gradually his tongue swirls around my wetness, moving inside until it is penetrating me, before flicking back and forth over my aroused and desperate clitoris.
I've never felt so good, never had such expert oral attention to my moist sex. It makes my whole body tingle with pleasure, making me writhe and squirm, desperate for him to hit just the right spot to drive me wild, abandoning myself completely to the skills of his lips and tongue. I know, though, that I want more, so wet and hungry with desire I want him completely inside me, I want him to take my body for his.
No words are exchanged between us but he seems to sense just what I'm thinking. Either that or he wants just the same thing. Those dark, thick eyebrows are take on a purely suggestive appearance as he pulls his tight trousers off to reveal he is already hard and as fuelled by pure lust-filled desire as I am. I hope that the light in my eyes as the fire flickers and reflects off them, the look on my face, the smile on my lips, all serve to tell him how much I want this, to invite him in just as obviously as his own expression tells me he wants me, a compliment more thrilling than any spoken out loud.
Lying over me, his face close above mine, he enters me. I feel all his hardness push up inside me, rubbing against me, exciting me in a way that I haven't felt in what feels like forever. Arching my back, I push my hips up to meet him, wrapping my bare legs around his thighs, wanting to draw him deeper and deeper inside me. I feel him thrust inside me, gentle strokes at first, becoming harder and deeper, pushing right into me, my body filled with electric flushes.
Like that burning feeling inside me, the fire sparks and flares up, casting great wild shadows of our passionate lovemaking across the room. Outside the wind howls as my mouth cries out in echo at how my body is being taken over by pleasure. Deeper and deeper he thrusts, not just opening my legs but my heart and soul. Every part of me feels for once united in a single purpose, a desire to reach an ultimate expression of pleasure.
He covers my 'o' shaped mouth with a kiss and the blue crystals in his eyes stare into mine and I'm lost in the galaxy that fizzes and sparkles there like the taste of the love heart still on my tongue. I know it's coming now. I know I'm close and in his eyes I see that he knows it too. My body becomes tense in anticipation as my hips still rise to meet his thrusts.
And then it hits me. Almost literally hits me with a tsunami of pleasure. My orgasm crashes over me and it is like all the cares have been washed right from me in a moment of incredible release. My mind is lifted to an unimaginable high. I have had men make me come before but never quite like this. This fills every fibre of my being with a sense of absolute joy. Aftershocks rise and crash over me leaving me gasping and light headed.
I don't know if he had a moment of climax to match mine. I open my mouth to speak but once more he puts his finger to my lips and suddenly I feel quite exhausted. I have a feeling that the night has satisfied all other needs within me and I now want nothing but sleep.
Feeling bathed in a warm glow of contentment I lie there naked on the rug by the flickering fire. He wraps the woollen rug around me, tucking me in as my eyelids begin to drop. I never see him leave, never know if he departs across the misty fens or simply vanishes into the air. I never know if he instead just crosses the street and returns to his own cottage. I am fast asleep in seconds and slumber deep, happy and uninterrupted for hours.
I wake up lying on the cosy rug in front of what remains of the fire, a tiny orange glow amongst grey ash the only testament to its former burning glory. Outside there is a near total quiet that is almost harder to sleep through for someone like me, used to the aggressive traffic sounds of the city. This silence is only occasionally broken by the twittering of birds outside the window, joining the lone, solitary creature of the day before. The sun streams through the uncurtained window, warming my naked skin, yesterday's harsh frost replaced by a gentle heat.
I stretch and yawn and begin to sit up. My mind remains hazy, trying to recall things, trying to piece together the events of the night before. I rub my eyes and attempt to clear my head, get my thoughts in order. Beside the rug I see my near empty mug of cocoa and 'Tristram of Lyonesse' lying open, pages down, as if casually discarded. I remember falling asleep with the book in my hands and the cocoa unfinished. I remember this and then... Why was I naked on the rug?
And then the rest of the night before comes back to me as my hands run over the rest of my bare, exposed flesh. Now I recall the dark eyed stranger with his curls of hair and suggestive lopsided smile. I remember the sweet candy, the electric taste on my tongue and him pushing me to the ground right here on the rug. My mind dwells on the completeness and contentment as he entered me, took over my body. But it seems so unreal, so dreamlike. I don't know whether to believe any of it ever happened, yet the thought feels good none the less.
More by instinct than thought that hand which had been touching my body as if to make sure I am all still there now strays between my naked legs as my memory dwelt on the night before. However, instead of the wet openness my fingers expected to find, there is something else, a soft, thin curve of something delicate and organic. I sit up further and take out whatever lay between my legs. It is a set of crimson rose petals like those that had appeared amongst the weed filled hedgerow at the end of the garden last night. Looking out of the window now I see nothing of the sort, just the garden, its weed covered wall and, beyond that, the endless empty marshlands of the fens.
I turn my attention back to the fresh petals in my hand with no idea of where they have come from. I feel something wrapped inside them, something harder. Filled with curiosity I peel back the petals and fill the empty room with my laugh at what I find. It's a little white disc of chalky candy, a red heart shape and words printed on top. Once more the message is more of a verse than a simple phrase.
'If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumbered here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme
No more yielding but a dream.'
Later on, at the end of the weekend as I pack my bag to leave my grandmother's cottage, my cottage, and return to the city, I am unable to find this piece of verbose candy. It's possible that I ate it, although I don't remember doing so. It's equally possible that I imagined it, that it was the last lingering vestige of a fevered fantasy. Either way, it has already done its job, along with all the other sweet hearts. Whatever the truth of that night it has opened my own heart to new and happier possibilities. I no longer feel such.determination to be, myself, a lonely heart.
The morning of my departure is warm and mild. The crunch of the gravel beneath my feet is no longer the crunch of frost and ice and there is a new spring in my step. A spring matched by the spring that now fills the pleasant rural air. My mind feels as clear as the sky, not filled with a thousand competing thoughts, doubts and questions. I am even looking forward to returning to my city life with a renewed optimism and desire to be more outgoing.
As I return the keys to the kindly older chap he compliments me on how well I look. I'm positively glowing in his estimation and the compliment gives me a giddy, childish pleasure. I almost wonder whether there is a knowing look in the twinkle in his eyes but it's probably just my mind playing tricks again so I thank him and turn to leave.