The First Valentine's DaybyLawrenceD©
For a history as murky as a pool full of bleeding hearts, we have in this ledger a tale of the first Valentine's Day as supposed by one more hopeless romantic. It was said that True Love's birthplace blossomed from the chest of a young man and woman in Italy. It was there, some time during the 15th century Italian Renaissance, and shortly after Rome dethroned Florence as the Crown of Romance, that the fair Bianca became the first Valentine of True Love for the youthful and cunning Beni.
And so that tale is told…
The fair young lady woke with no grasp. Amid the feather-puffed red linen, she found her breath and had it stolen just as quickly. A fiery power tingled through her body, making her nipples hard and her muscles tight. She gazed down her chest and noticed a young man of swirling black hair and broad shoulders resting betwixt her thighs. Only, resting was not entirely accurate.
Feasting, was that one.
"Oh, my heavens!" she gasped. He looked up into her eyes, but for a brief instant, and encouraged her with a beautiful smile. Numb in mind and sensitive of loin, she watched his eyes flash, the deep brown dimples in his cheeks pronounced. He moved his hands over her pale skin and caressed her breasts as his tongue traced a circle around her cleft before disappearing between the folds.
She gasped and gawked about her surroundings, praying the handsome fellow should not lose his way, but making another unspoken plea for illumination. Angels, if you know me, show me light! Where was she? It seemed to be a chamber, a tower of sorts, for the angle of the morning sun that shone through a nearby window. A gentle breeze flirted over her short hairs, and the sounds of the city were all but drowned away by seclusion.
Paintings of this and that adorned the stone walls, a tall parchment contained in hard wax near a door, a privy, a fireplace…how had she come to be in that place? She swallowed carefully, but it was no good. The fair young lady was soon lost to his linguistic talents.
When he moved over her and entered her slowly, she was suddenly wrapped in a blissful panic. He sucked gently at her dry lips then kissed her deeply. His delicious breath filled her mouth, the scent and taste of her own self on him was strangely exciting, and beneath his thrust she began to shake. A graciously surprised moan escaped her nostrils for the depth to which she took him.
Release, said his eyes, as though words were a waste of breath better used for expressing soft sighs, gentle moans, sharp gasps and fevered cries. His sex swelled within her. Instinct washed away her alarm, and she clung to him and climaxed with awkward stillness, the very tremor seeming confined to her core where a flood of liquid heat soaked her. He kissed her neck tenderly, relaxing and becoming very, very still.
Confusion returned and any numbness she had experienced during their coupling was replaced with heightened sensitivity and unease. The young lady noticed first his smell, of crushed grapes, mother's Italian soil and the subtle but unmistakable, irrepressible fragrance of Man. Felt him slipping from her, his body shifting to lie beside her, leg draped over her torso. And soon, he was asleep. A sense of contentedness attempted to pass through the warmth of his body and into hers. She fought it, longing to lift his face in her hands and search his eyes for a revealing sign, something that said he understood—a glimmer that showed he knew she could not recall.
Time is a vessel by which learning comes to the lost. If a woman were to sit still in a confined space and merely allow time to pass, she might accumulate information, knowledge about miniscule things, the ways of this, that and five minutes ago. For a fair young lady who cannot remember a thing, however, that precious information sent by time and drawn in through the eyes, the nose and the mouth is…is…is everything! It is insight into…well, what exactly?
She lay mute, listening to the shallow breathing of the slumbering man. It must be his home, she reasoned, his invitation that had brought her there. Had she seduced him? Had he her? What would her elders think? She was close to panic when she forced herself to remain calm. Breathing easily, she considered her memory. Her body seemed not to ail, nor did she experience any undue pain in any of her limbs as she sat up, careful not to disturb the sleeping man's dreams. Indeed, her own mind felt dreamlike and foreign—a milky fog—but with no discernible anguish to explain the dementia.
She thought him exceedingly attractive and made a point of recalling every inch of his body—the scar she had noticed on his left shoulder, the chiseled line of his jaw. His body was well-toned from some sort of manual labor, his skin deeply tanned. His nipples were the easy brown of Italian coffee with cream.
She gazed down at the sleeping man's figure and judged it feasible to move from the luxurious feather bed without waking him. Placing her feet upon the cool stone floor and pushing herself to foot, she discovered a curious tightness within her womanly hips. Had she run to him? From him? But then she gazed down upon the fading red marks along his back. A smile crept to her lips. Perhaps a more intimate exercise had done her sorely.
She walked gingerly to the nearest wall where there hung a half dozen renderings in oil. They were portraits, of a child, an old man and a bulbous blue-violet grape attached to a vine. The grape was most curious. Its fascination came not from the berry itself, but rather the large, sharp thorns that sprung from the stem. It was in study of the painting that she noticed an inscription below. The Tines of Eternal Love, it read. Impulse bade her touch the painting. A red dot clung to her finger as though one of the thorns had come to life to prick her. Even more curious, the painting expressed nary a hint of red color, but for that droplet clinging to her digit.
"Are you still nervous?" came the man's voice. She took start, and turned to find him sitting up in bed, watching her amid the red linen. She stared at him as though he were a sculpture come to life, feeling an awkward twinge of regret and pain in her chest. He knows me! He must have seen the conflicted look she wore, for he chuckled and extended his hand to her.
She felt shy, but drew near until he took her in hand and into his embrace, which was warm and felt curiously secure. As he leaned over to kiss her face, she touched his cheek and he held, his lips mere inches from hers. She searched his eyes for something, any one thing that might offer a spark. He did not look way. Instead, he held her gaze for as long as she seemed to desire it.
The intense depth to which she sought to see had rendered her blind, and in that moment she had a breakthrough. He had been quiet—so quiet—and it had given her reason to fear. But no, she could see it plainly. In his eyes, she beheld desire and patience. There within his solemn gaze—love.
The sharp green twinkle locked her into a trance, and she fell into his kiss. His touch was skilled and his hands roamed the curves of her body, as if he had been there to witness her molding at the hands of the gods. In an instant, he grabbed her and pushed her down within the soft folds of feather and crimson linen.
He dragged his lips over her porcelain chin and down her throat, his tongue coming forward to moisten the suckling kisses he draped along her collarbone. She felt wanton but was unable to resist, and allowed herself to give in to the mystery once more; closing her eyes and relying solely on her senses of smell and touch, she savored the caress which had reached the inner curve of her thigh, the scent of renewed passion. She permitted her legs to be parted, and in a single breath enough air passed between her lips for an audible sigh—the thin, wet nucleus of a moan.
His mouth had captured her clitoris, and he rolled the rigid stamen between his lips and gently between she sharp ridges of his teeth. The intense heat caused her spine to tighten and awakened the quivering nerves embedded there.
"You are doing so well," he whispered when she cried out.
When he moved to be within her once more, the fair young lady did not fail to note how simply and precisely he fit to her. Filling her such that he did, her very body seemed an extension of his. With heat and passion did he give thrust, pushing into her sacred crevice with a lazy smile, and gazing down to where they joined with every savored and sticky retraction. He nuzzled her breasts, plying the sharp olive nipples with teasing strokes of his tongue. And when the organ buried snugly within began to lurch, she could do little but cling to him so that no drop of his offering might escape.
But after the earth finished shaking, the numbing bliss fell away almost immediately, and she was troubled anew. Feeling his gaze, she turned her head and looked into his measured stare. She had learned all she could by passing the time in that one-room palace atop the world. She had to leave him, she must! but was loath to offend such a cunning lover. Nor could she bring herself to simply ask, What am I doing here? How have things come to be this way? As perverse as it was, she feared his reprisal. Feared that should she confess to him the ignorant darkness shrouding her memory, he might come to find himself a part of it—for indeed, he was. Could he ever be so kind if he knew the truth, the truth that pulsed at her temples, screaming, Who Are You?
With all her being focused on uncovering that mystery, she knew she must go. She got to her feet once more, staring toward the large oaken door, willing herself to meet what lay beyond. He rose and stood beside her, offering a kind smile and helping to dress her in a modest gown. He placed his hand in hers then; she reached for the door and pulled it open with a long, low exhale.
With careful steps, she led the way down a hall of oak and stone. The rich aroma of Italian cooking—sweet tomato, herbs and spices—rushed up to meet them from the bottom of a dark stairwell. Down they went, and when the young lady took the first step that put her toes in the cool Roman soil, she found herself standing before three elders. Before a long table weighted with food, the three stood in repose—a tiny man with great bushy brows and a wrinkle for every year he had perhaps lived, an old woman with thick gray hair and a middle-aged man.
The fair young lady passed her eyes from one to the other, searching for recognition, but she found it not. She looked to the sweet young man beside her, in whom may of the elders' features seemed reflected. His eyes were downcast. The eldest man then rubbed his hands together and seated himself before the bounty. The others followed suit, and so too, did she.
A steamy cloud rose before her face, and its scent was a blessing. When had she last eaten? She had only taken two bites of the delicious food upon her plate when she noticed the others had ceased their feasting. A brief glance to her right—the young man had left his own meal untouched. The eldest then began to speak.
"What a special occasion, and one that may live among us for now and the ever more!"
The others nodded their assent before the old man continued.
"True Love! It does a twisting of young hearts, yes. It frays and fears both young and old…not for the feeble, oh no! Young Love is a journey fraught with perils before becoming truly True, yes."
The other two elders seemed to weigh the ancient's words carefully. The dignified woman with gray hair looked up suddenly, and addressed the young man.
"Have you done what is required?" To which he nodded and brought his eyes level with theirs, respectfully regarding each of his elders. He nodded again.
"The mind?" asked the old woman.
"Curious," replied the young man. "Strong and sensitive in the same instant. Very giving, desiring to glean understanding. Actively seeking knowledge, while being modest and…" he dropped his voice, seeming uncertain as to how to continue.
"Sometimes fearful," he said with a shrug.
The fair young lady looked to her accomplice, then to the elders. The verbal exchange had offered no insight into what was taking place, serving only to bewilder and compound her confusion and anxiety. They know me! They speak of me as though I am a ghost and not seated right here before them!
The ancient reached for his clay wine cup. The middle-aged man reached for a great flagon of red wine and served him. When he was finished, he stood and made a casual circuit of the table to serve the others in turn. When he came to the young woman, he poured her a much larger cup. It did not go unnoticed. When her eyes met his, the smile he gave her was as gentle as any she had ever been bestowed.
The eldest waited until the middle-aged man had re-seated himself before hoisting his own cup high. The others did likewise. Unsure, but unwilling to be ignored, the fair young lady followed their lead.
"If she sought to remain in your arms, these tines are without value. Say so."
The young man said nothing.
"If she sought only to leave you behind, these tines are without value. Say so."
He did not reply.
"If she sought only to be defiled beneath your caress, these Tines of Love are without Value. Say so."
The young man remained mute.
Her shoulders sank, that fair young lady, and she lowered her eyes, so close to falling into a pool of tears and drowning. Her temples burned, they did! Such was her bewilderment.
"Then she is proven!" bellowed the old man, cheerfully. "We shall drink!" The eldest took a modest sip, the others doing likewise, before each turned and cast a heavy stare upon their young interloper.
Her lost gaze fell upon the cup of wine as she brought it to her lips. A powerful herbal aroma assaulted her nostrils and brought stinging water to her eyes. She burst out laughing—a fearful, repressed chortle—and looked to the young man beside her.
"Beni!" She reached for her lover and clutched him tightly. Tears fell over her cheeks in a steady stream. "I did not know! I did not know! Never have I been so lost in all my life!"
"Everything is okay now," said the middle-aged man. "You are among family, and soon all your memories will reappear. Dear child, do you remember the trial?"
She did! Or thought she did. "Not quite. Something. A little." Her mind was still as cloudy as rice wine.
"Last night, when Beni brought you home to renew the vows of love you both do share, it was you, Bianca, who volunteered for the Val and Tines trial of True Love, despite my warnings."
Beni held her tightly. "I could not talk you out of it. It should have been me. I was so afraid for you."
"I do not understand," said Bianca. She only vaguely remembered the conversation that had occurred the previous night as she and her lover sat down with Beni's family to the dinner feast.
"You drank from a powerful draught. The wine of the Valentine grape, a tart and mysterious berry that grows on a vine covered in sharp, poisonous thorns and terribly difficult to harvest." As if in response the little old man held up his arms which were streaked with ancient scratch scars.
"The seeker of the Val and Tines," quipped the ancient, "so named for the vine whose berry yields such power and peril, is required to rely on instinct alone. She must listen to her deepest will and let nothing else guide her to the truth."
Remnants of last night's pact swept through her mind like a fresh breeze, taking away the inebriation she only suddenly realized she had experienced.
The middle-aged man carried the tale to its conclusion. "Some cannot cope when they have gone to sleep with nature's boundaries and awoke without these walls that once kept them safe. The trial does not seek to place obstacles before you. Instead, you are challenged to survive with nothing at all—a mind swept of security. You have risen above, conquered through care and patience. Most importantly, you faced this most important trial with Beni at your side—equals—as man and woman must always remain."
"Beni," said the middle-aged man, who would be his father. "She showed fear, but it is not the fear of the Tines of Love. Hers is a value derived from a true soul's burden of responsibility to the one to whom she be devoted. This is a spirit who would die before betraying her lover."
At last, the gray woman spoke proudly. "I am convinced there has never been so profound a young love as betwixt the hearts of these two called Beni and Bianca. Let this day be an endearing hallmark of Bianca's heart of Val and Tine."
With a sweet smile, Bianca kissed her dark-haired lover on the cheek. "So, I give this heart to Beni. Today and everyday hence."