It would be my second Valentine’s Day since Will’s death, and widowhood had grown dry. Early in February, Sadie and Frederick ushered me away from Paris, insisting I stay at their farm in Normandy for a spell.
It snowed and every day we drank too much champagne. Shall I blame the weather or our intemperance for what happened? Or is Sadie to blame for sending their daughter away to visit with grandparents? Perhaps it was Fred’s doing, taking time off from painting, declaring the week a holiday. Or maybe none of that holds true; maybe there is no blame to assign, rather only credit to be given. Delicious credit for the most exquisite hours of my life.
One candlelit evening while Fred settled in the drawing room reading the paper, Sadie put the roast in the oven, then clasped my hand and pulled me into their bedroom.
“I’ve been meaning to give these earrings to you,” she said, tapping the bench of her dressing table, inviting me to sit in front of the mirror. “They’re going to waste here at the farm.”
When she reached past me to open her jewelry box, her slight frame brushed my cheek, surrounding me with the sweet scents of bergamot and musk and flour from an afternoon kneading dough in the kitchen.
“How can you stand country life?” I asked.
“Oh it has its advantages.”
Her hand was cool on my neck when she pulled my heavy hair back.
“You have such pretty ears.” She held my lobe between her thumb and index finger. In the dim light, she maneuvered the earring hook at my piercing without success. “It’s hard to see.”
She sat next to me on the small bench, her attention focused on my right ear. After a few gentle tugs and pokes, she sighed, her breath landing warm and damp on my neck. I couldn’t recall the last time my body had been so close to another. It must have been an age ago with Will.
Unconsciously, my breathing matched hers, and I was overcome with an unexpected fluttering in my chest. Since Will’s death, my sexual arousal had been sporadic, usually arriving in vague sputters during half-waking fantasies–never in the presence of another person, and never this intense.
Sadie exhaled again, heating my skin, shooting the flutters below my navel. Within a moment, the earring sank in and I felt the weight of it when she let go, moving to my other side. Did she sense the rippling in me? Did I emit a fragrance, too?
The second one went in quickly. “There,” she said, rising and turning to stand behind me. We looked at each other in the mirror, her eyes smiling bright, her hands twisting my dark hair into a pile on my head, exposing the shiny gems hanging from my ears. “So lovely. I want to see them with a gown. Let’s dress for dinner!” With that, she began unbuttoning the back of my dress, sliding the fabric from my shoulders.
I reached up to her hand on my shoulder and held it there. That simple action–my fingers holding her hand still, pressing her grip into my shoulder blade–unlocked everything that came next.
My whisper spilled months of hunger into the room. “Sadie.”
Understanding, she reached into the front of my loosened dress, took a breast in each hand, and pulled me back towards her. Before I could react, she embraced me, folding down over me, pressing her cheek to the top of my head.
Being touched again after so long, the feeling of flesh on my nipples, the surge of Sadie’s affection–all of it coursed through me. I turned in her arms to find her mouth, her lips, her tongue and we melted together for a beat before rising to shed our clothes.
We stood naked, kissing, caressing each other’s backs and necks and hair, gulping air more than inhaling, when the memory of Will jolted me. I wanted to dismiss it, to hide the pang of grief, to just feel normal for once, but a sob choked out, and she knew.
My dearest Sadie would never turn from my pain, even on the days when I wanted to bury it. She brought her hands to my face, holding my gaze in hers and said, “My love, let me share Frederick.”
Embarrassment and exhilaration trembled through me. Suddenly aware of my wet thighs and cold toes, I began to say no when Fred appeared in the doorway. He had seen countless women nude–models for his paintings–but finding them crying in the arms of his naked wife was likely unusual. I stepped behind Sadie to cover myself, not knowing what to expect.
“Fred, I was just about to call for you,” she said.
“You were?” His voice soft, his face kind.
My heart pounded in my chest and head. I needed someone else to decide the next moment, and the one after that. The worry was undone with Sadie’s embrace.
She hugged me for what felt like a long time, and before I opened my eyes, Frederick’s warmth joined ours. He stood behind me, entwined with us. We breathed deeply, without talking. His skin burned against my calves and bum and back. One of her breasts filled the space between mine. One of her hands warmed my vulva, stroking my center before coaxing me open. I bit her shoulder gently, wanting to be entered. She pulled the length of his penis along my parted lips, gliding it back and forth, letting its shaft skim my opening, letting its head tease my clit. He kept pulsing that way, sliding along my wetness, even as she knelt down and pressed her tongue to my clit.
She licked a tight figure-eight from his head to my clit–from him to me–round and round, again and again, swelling our desire. In the mirror I saw her head between my legs. I saw his hands squeezing my pale breasts. I saw my long hair tangled around the earrings dangling in candlelight, swaying with each teasing glide.
Sadie kept licking. I knew it was up to her to push his cock into me; Frederick knew, too. We couldn’t ask or rush. It took all my effort not to cry, not to whimper, “Please.” And even though this was her gift to me, for a moment I hated her for making me wait.
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