Selene watched him from on high, and slid from heaven to earth; for passionate love drew down the immortal stainless Queen of Night.
~The Fall of Troy, Quintus Smyrnaeus
When it came to weathering the discomforts of carrying a child, Marian Paroo Hill was most grateful that the height of her second pregnancy would not occur during the stifling heat of late summer. If she had calculated the conception correctly, she was not due until February. As it was mid-October, she was roughly halfway through her term, and her stomach had only recently grown round enough that her pregnancy was now common knowledge in River City. Overall, Marian preferred these middle months, as she was past the nausea and malaise of the early days, but not yet so rotund that she could find no tolerable position to recline in.
The librarian was currently resting quite comfortably on the bay window seat in the parlor, waiting for Harold to finish putting the girls to bed. Although the sun had set, the window was wide open so she could enjoy the crisp autumn breezes, as she often found herself overwarm when she was expecting. It was a beautiful Sunday evening: the moon was full, the sky was cloudless, and the stars flashed and twinkled like diamonds on black velvet.
Every now and then, the baby within Marian would wriggle, and she would smile and turn her gaze from the heavens to her stomach. This little one (although it was still too early for even Dr. Pyne to predict, her woman’s intuition told her that it was indeed only one) was not as active as the twins had been, so she cherished any and every movement he made.
As she laid a gentle hand on her stomach, Harold entered the parlor. No lamp was lit, as the moon provided more than enough light for the music professor to navigate the room as gracefully as he ever did in the daytime. As he made his way over to join her, she openly admired not only his aplomb but also his choice of outfit: an argyle sweater-vest with a red and yellow diamond pattern, worn over a crisp white dress shirt and accented with a black bowtie. A smart pair of flannel Oxford bags and two-toned black and white shoes completed the ensemble to perfection.
“Well, if this isn’t an evening made to order,” Harold purred into Marian’s ear as he slid onto the bench next to her. In response, she grinned archly at her husband, fisted her hands in his attractive sweater, and pulled him as close as possible for a heated kiss.
There was another thing she very much enjoyed about this part of pregnancy: the heightened pleasure that their lovemaking brought to her. Ecstasy made her feel weightless and free, and she unabashedly relished whenever Harold took her out of her increasingly ungainly body. Of course, he was always more than enthusiastic to oblige her amorous moods: wrapping his arms around her, he deepened their kiss even further.
“Oh, Marian,” he groaned when they finally parted to catch their breaths, “you do know how to torture a fellow.”
“And just what was so torturous about my kissing you on our bay window seat?” she asked, raising an eyebrow coquettishly at him.
He gave her a cheeky grin. “That I can’t make love to you right here and now.”
She burst into laughter. “I don’t think we could accomplish that feat in such a cramped space even if we didn’t have my stomach to contend with!”
He took her hands in his and pulled her to her feet. “Is that a challenge, Madam Librarian?”
“Perhaps,” she said, giving him the sly, sideways glance she knew always drove him wild.
Harold leaned in and gave her a love-bite that was hard enough to make her cry out. “We’re racking up quite the list of things we need to try once you recover from childbirth, you know.”
“Are we?” she asked dreamily as his mouth continued to meander avidly over her neck and down to her décolletage.
His patience for scintillating banter had clearly reached its end. Lifting his head from her breasts to look her in the eye, he said, “Bed. Now.”
Harold was not a man who outright commanded, but a man who wheedled and seduced. So she loved it when her dashing husband got so hot and bothered that he was reduced to uttering such bald-faced directives. It happened quite often, of late, and the fierce need in his tone never failed to make her want him even more – if that was even possible.
Yet for all his bluster, the music professor was not the one who led them – he knew the game as well as she did. Marian took his hand and pulled him up the stairs as quickly as she could manage without putting herself in danger of injury. And when they finally reached their bedroom and closed the door firmly behind them, she divested him of that smart outfit, laid him flat on his back, and promptly brought him to climax with her hands and mouth.
They had started playing this little game shortly after their post-Paris reconciliation. It was something they had tentatively begun exploring right before she discovered her first pregnancy and, upon this life-changing discovery, had lost the nerve to continue any further in this vein. Now, after nearly thirteen years of marriage and a second honeymoon that had given them the chance to rekindle those explorations, husband and wife had no compunction about pursuing this delightful path as far as it would lead them.
“Marian, you are a true goddess,” Harold gasped as she raised her head to triumphantly survey how boneless her decisive attentions had left him.
“Botticelli’s Venus?” she guessed impishly, remembering how he once told her what had come to mind when he first saw her nakedness on their wedding night.
Sitting up and catching her in his arms, he rolled her beneath him both tenderly and carefully, before planting a soft but searing kiss on her smiling lips. “Venus would be jealous of you,” he declared. “Especially in this moonlight.”
They had left some of the curtains wide open, the ones that were hanging over a window that didn’t face any nearby houses. It was absolutely delicious, to couple beneath the soft glow of the moon. “Someday, can we find a way make love outside beneath the stars?” she whispered.
“I’ll add that to the list,” he promised, before his mouth descended over hers.
Now it was Marian’s turn to writhe and moan in abject surrender beneath her husband’s expert caresses. He was a lot gentler with her than she was with him, but what he gave her was more than enough to make her come several times, and she cried out as loudly as she dared. When he finally finished pleasuring her to her satisfaction with his hands and mouth, he helped her to her elbows and knees, positioned himself behind her, and then slid right into her, thrusting as passionately as he dared.
It was not a position they often attempted, not because she felt any shame over such an animalistic configuration (since Paris, she could now admit that a great deal of its appeal was because it was so deliciously wicked), but because she couldn’t see Harold at all. She could only feel and hear him, and while his hands grasping almost desperately at her hips and his sharp, throaty groans were exhilarating, she lamented not being able to see the lovely play of emotions across his handsome face. Especially in such stunning moonlight.
It never took Harold long to finish when they were entwined this way. So she soon got to see the ardor and affection in his eyes when he laid her back down, turned her toward him, and smoothed back all the stray curls that had fallen into her face from their spirited exertions.
A few tears escaped, but she often cried when they made love these days, just from the sheer intensity of it, so neither of them was alarmed. “I love you so much, Harold.”
As he continued to gaze earnestly into her eyes, one of his hands caressed her damp cheek, while the other found its way down to her stomach. “You are everything to me, Marian. You and the wonderful children we’ve made together. I can’t wait to meet our new littlest one.”
This was the side of Harold that she loved best, the part of him that only she got to see: the solemnly sincere, fiercely loyal man who would stop at nothing to build a life with her and protect their family.
As he scooted down to coo at her rounded stomach, Marian reflected on how this pregnancy was both similar and different from her first one. While the condition wasn’t precisely enjoyable, with its varied, odd, and sometimes alarming maladies, it was somehow much easier this time around. Perhaps this was due to her previous experience and knowing what to expect, as well as the likelihood that she wasn’t carrying twins. It also helped a great deal that she was taking care not to overtax herself with work and social obligations, as she had made the mistake of doing during her first pregnancy.
It remained sweetly unspoken between the two of them, but Marian knew they were both hoping for a boy this time. While they had refrained from calling their little one he or she when she was pregnant with Penny and Elly, they sometimes referred to this baby as he without thinking. Their daughters, of course, had been much more vocal about their wishes: Penny wanted a little sister and Elly wanted a little brother.
What Marian hadn’t anticipated, but certainly should have, is that her unexpected pregnancy had led to some nerve-wracking conversations with their daughters, as her steadily expanding waistline had piqued their curiosity about the facts of life. The girls were getting older and, as Mrs. Paroo had opined to the librarian on more than one occasion, it was about time they had such discussions with their daughters, anyway. While Harold easily fielded the girls’ questions with aplomb, providing honest but age-appropriate answers, it was left largely to Marian to handle the frank but delicate discussion that was required for them to learn about the mysteries of womanhood, and she struggled with what she should say and how much she should reveal at this point. She didn’t want to be quite as explicit as her mother was, but she didn’t want to say too little, either, as she well recognized the dangers of her daughters being too uninformed – after all, her dear friend Jane almost learned the facts of life through practical experience alone, as her complete ignorance of the subject had nearly led her down the perilous path to ruin with Professor Randall. The librarian did not want her well-meaning and innocent daughters to fall into the same sort of trap!
So after much thought and careful phrasing, Marian sat the girls down and had this conversation with them. As uncomfortable as it was, she forced herself to speak honestly and straightforwardly, reminding herself that lack of information about physical relations did not preserve a girl’s modesty, especially from older and worldlier men seeking to take advantage of her naïveté. The librarian thought she had done an adequate job of explaining both the mechanics and the values she wished to impart to her daughters about lovemaking, as the endlessly inquisitive Penny looked neither horrified nor inappropriately curious, and asked no additional questions. However, Elly, whose expression was furtive and inscrutable, hung back after her older sister skipped off.
“Mother, is it really so awful as all that?” she asked in a hushed, crestfallen voice.
Marian winced, suddenly realizing her error. Whereas Penny was still uninterested in boys romantically and would likely remain indifferent for a few years yet, Elly was steadily developing feelings for Teddy Washburn. Reflecting that she should have spoken to the girls separately, as they had much different outlooks on the matter, Marian immediately assured her distressed daughter that with the right man, it was a wonderful and sacred expression of love, not an ordeal to be suffered, but a gift to be shared. The man who truly loved her would never be brutish or cruel, nor would he ask her to surrender her virtue before marrying her.
Because Elly was beginning to understand what it was like to experience such attraction, Marian divulged that she wasn’t worried so much about the cads her daughters might encounter, but the boys they developed real feelings for. During courtship, it was all too easy to give into temptation to go further than was wise for an unmarried couple. The librarian even admitted that she and Harold had to institute certain rules for their courting so they wouldn’t get carried away, which made her daughter relax enough to giggle. Heartened that Elly looked a bit more cheered, Marian hugged her and told her that she understood it was a lot to learn – and her grandmother was not half as gentle about explaining such matters when she was a girl! At that, Elly let out a true laugh, as everyone knew Mrs. Paroo’s propensity not to mince words. Before sending her daughter off to join her sister, Marian further reassured her that this was not something she would have to think about for a long while yet, and when the day eventually came, she would be ready for it.
Harold came up to lie next to her again, breaking into her reminiscences with his own. “Darling – do you remember that first moonlit night we spent together in your girlhood bedroom, all those years ago?”
Marian smiled and nodded. They had made love in her old bedroom several times since then – every time they spent the night, in fact – but she would never forget that first long and lovely night. When morning eventually came, they were still so moonstruck that they had decided to try for another child…