The few remaining lights of the Big House flickered among the engulfing darkness in the Ridge. They gradually became small fireflies in the distance as Roger and Brianna left the house behind and walked silently towards their cabin. It was a cold night, with a full moon covered by dense clouds that threatened to dissolve into snow at any moment and cover the white blanket already laid on the ground beneath their feet. A sudden shiver ran through her despite the layers of wool that covered her body, and Brianna instinctively moved closer to Roger, with an arm tightening around his and her face burying into his shoulder, seeking warmth. It was not a long stretch to their cabin, but time had seized to be tangible a couple of hours ago, and her mind was lost in a haze while her legs absently carried her onwards.
As she went on, Brianna silently recalled the events of that day which had ended with her boy, and husband, parted with their hair. She shot a glance at Roger, that now had the least amount of hair she had ever seen in him, and a giggle formed in her throat. Brianna rushed to suppress it, but he had not noticed, for he too had a faraway look in his eyes. There was an easy smile upon his lips, one of a man that finally had his mind at peace, all illuminated by the soft glow of the lantern he carried to light their way.
She remembered how urgently she had sought that same certainty all those ears ago. As soon as the shock of birth had worn off and the surprise that she had a very fragile human being at her care began to pass, her first instinct was to search for something, anything at all, that might resemble Roger. But the tender pink flesh of the baby in her arms had betrayed nothing palpable that could ease the question that rang loudly in her mind.
Over the years, Brianna had often caught herself staring intently at her son, blue eyes searching wildly. Because if not in looks, perhaps in mannerisms he might bear a resemblance to the one she hoped was his father. Yet, she knew very well that wishing with all her might did not make it so. But what she always saw was the immense devotion and love Roger had for their child, and it was enough to suppress the small seed of doubt that stubbornly reminded her once in a while that it might not be true.
And then, out of a chaotic moment, came a little flicker of hope in the form of a mole behind Jemmy’s left ear. At Roger’s eager request she had taken the scissors, hands trembling visibly with a blend of excitement and disbelief, and diligently worked through the dark waves of his hair. Sure enough, as the hair fell to the floor, a matching mark was revealed, just behind his left ear. A heavy silence had fallen upon the kitchen then, with four people very aware of the implications, and a smaller one, blissfully unaware, that was simply in awe of his own lack of hair. Supper that night saw very few words exchanged. Each of them was lost in their own thoughts, either silently giving thanks, basking in the newfound knowledge or simply reliving old memories in a completely new light.
After supper Jemmy had fallen asleep, drained of all energy, but content with a belly filled with molasses cookies. They had left him safely wrapped in blankets at the Big House, opting to make the journey back to the cabin.
She only noticed that they had arrived when Roger parted from her, walked straight to the hearth, kneeled, and steadily fed logs to light the fire to warm the otherwise cold room. Brianna watched the muscles of his back contract with each movement beneath the linen of the shirt, which told the tale of wisely controlled strength. The large curve of his shoulders led to long arms, with the dark hairs standing on end from the remnants of cold air. Those arms, which safely held her through bliss and sorrow, culminated in large hands, with long, skilled fingers, able to play her body just as easily as he played the guitar. The view made her heartbeat quicken, and the rush of blood built a sudden pressure between her legs. Her hands, at their own volition, pulled at the strings of her bodice and soon she wore nothing but her shift.
Apparently summoned by the rustle of fabric, Roger turned around, and was only slightly surprised by the sight before him. Very slowly, as if afraid to scare her away, he walked the short distance that separated them and came to a halt when his chest collided gently with hers. Her breath was slightly erratic and was released between her parted lips in short wisps of air, a sure sign of her arousal. And with each breath her breasts came temptingly closer to him.
The light from the fire reflected on the waves of her long hair, seemingly setting it aflame, and even though she looked as if he could catch on fire by simple touch, he seemed to want nothing more than to be consumed by the fire that raged within her. In one swift move, shaped by years of experience, his arms came around her and took a strong hold of her legs and back, lifting Brianna effortlessly. She steadied herself with arms around his neck and lips fiercely attached to his, tasting the sweetness of molasses cookies mingled with deeply rooted desire.
He carried her gently to the bed, but landed ungracefully on top of her in his eagerness, which caused Brianna to whimper somewhere between pain and pleasure. She chuckled nonetheless, with her lips muffling his whispered apologies. Without wasting anymore time, Roger pulled at the offending piece of fabric that separated him from the expanse of her soft skin, yearning for her flesh with a primal need. Brianna noticed that his green eyes became deeply black, with pupils large in the dim light, and she shuddered in anticipation.
With sure but fast hands, Brianna took off his own clothes, uncovering portions of smooth skin adorned with an ever-growing collection of scars, old and new. Roger was then bare against her, and trailing a blazing flame across her skin with his own lips. Brianna opened herself to him willingly, and Roger had a mind to go as mindlessly as he hungered for her, but called upon what little self-restrain was left and went to her languidly. Then he paused for a moment, with his arms around her body, and deep breaths expanding his chest against hers. The strain to keep control rippled visibly throughout his muscles. In that moment she closed her eyes and enjoyed the wonderful feeling of being completely surrounded by him.
After a while he started moving, slowly at first, the movements rhythmic and precise, punctuated by her gasps. With each thrust, he held her closer, taking a firm hold of her body while his fingers tangled in the waves of red hair sprawled across the pillows.
By sliding her legs along his and locking them around his hips, she brought him impossibly closer, and the sudden shift made him grunt deeply out of pleasure. Then, his movements became so powerful that Brianna brought her arms around his shoulders to steady him. Roger was a skilled and patient lover. Yet, more often than not, she demanded more from him, begged without words for him to release the primal, wild nature within himself and abandon all self-imposed restrains and 20th century sensibilities. She found it pleasurable nonetheless, for without fail he was always able to build a furnace deep within her and make it burn bright. But a moment would inevitably come, at the edge of pleasure, when she would get a sudden hold of herself and desperately grip the very essence of self, unable to freely give it away to any man.
In contrast, he would completely and effortlessly lose himself in her until she felt her heart break slightly with the inability to follow him.
Brianna desperately wanted to dive into whatever ocean of pleasure he always seemed to plunge head first at the peak of his pleasure. She wanted to know his secret, to know all the truths of his own essence, and give herself wholeheartedly to him in return. After all, he was her friend, her husband, her lover and the father of her child. The father of her child.
The notion rang so deeply within her, like a sudden flash of knowledge that her little boy had been made solely out of love, that she found the knot of doubt dissolve, and a weight lifted off her shoulders. Her body started trembling and she could barely hold onto Roger as he moved deeper and deeper within her, always eager to melt their bodies into one. Brianna felt a familiar throbbing sensation, one she had only experienced alone or in dreams, right where their bodies met. Still, it caught her off guard how powerfully and quickly it traveled up her body and exploded in her face with a brilliant red blush and a deep, long moan. Her fingernails dug onto the large stretch of his back, tearing the skin into half-moon shapes as she urgently searched for a steady grip.
For a brief moment she saw his eyes open wide, and he gasped in surprise as well. It was all Brianna was able to see before she closed her eyes and fully surrendered to the wonderful sensation that flowed through her body while Roger moved erratically, with incoherent moans as he too dissolved into her.
In the midst of pleasure Brianna vaguely noticed her own voice echoing on the walls, mingled with his hoarse calls for her. Everything else disappeared, the sense of time and space was long gone, and only he remained real and strong above her. It was not a dream.
Her vision was blurred when she finally opened her eyes, but could tell that Roger, still resting in the cradle of her legs, looked intently at her. Brianna rapidly realized that tears were inadvertently forming in her eyes, only to be swept away by his thumb soothing the skin of her cheek.
A surge of irritation flared on her cheeks for she was not the kind of woman that would be caught in an emotional afterglow. But what she had felt only moments ago was utterly moving, something she had longed for so long and feared would never be able to experience with him.
“Oh Roger, I...” She started, but the words caught in her throat, unable to be articulated after the long years of uncertainty.
“I know, mo chridhe, I know.” He whispered soothingly by her ear.
And without knowing how, she realized he indeed knew, for his green eyes were clear and understanding, with no hint of judgment. No further explanation was needed. Brianna understood then that the greatest comfort of selflessly giving oneself to another was the reward of being understood in the subtlety of what was only spoken without words.
He moved to lay back on the bed with a sigh of contentment, and brought her body against his. Then, with both body and mind at peace, she allowed the beat of his heart, steady below her ear, to lull her into a dreamless sleep.