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Excerpts From The Private Journal of Lady Amarantha Price, later the Baroness L’Encornet

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XX.

Well, Diary, amica mea, there is no help for it, save only the path I still would not take. Father insists I shall be betrothed by the Fall, and that is that. I tried once more to bring my best arguments to bear — my studies, my tender years, my thorough dislike of the male sex at even the choicest times — and he put up his hand and said, “your Mother —“

Oh unfair, unfair, when Father knows any word of our mother instantly quells my sisters and me, when we hunger ever for any scrap of knowledge of her whom we never knew. She died at my birth, upon the eve of my sisters’ second birthday, and for all our lives we have always wondered how much of Father’s tales are truth, have always peered into each other’s faces for glimpses of her. Now he told me, “She hoped her children would marry young as she did, so as to grow intertwined with your spouses, strengthening each other as you climb together towards the light.” His gaze unfocused as he spoke, but still as I listened I thought on how he hardly bore the least mark of her influence upon his growth now, after two decades of quick marriages and quicker annulments.

Saying as much would not have helped my case, so I pressed my lips tight shut and waited to be dismissed to my chamber’s refuge and your listening pages. I wonder now as then if I believe him. She looks young enough in her portrait above the drawing-room mantlepiece, face pale as a shell’s inside, pale as mine, but still I wonder. Surely she birthed me for more than to be a trellis for some man’s development?

Do not be born a woman if you want your own way said de Medici’s sister, and right she is. But I could not have heard her advice as a protoplasmic lump in my mother’s womb.

At least Father agreed to give me choices. So choose I shall.

 

XXII.

Dear Confidante,

As if through wavering water, light shines upon me. Father has introduced me to three young men and already I know my preference. The wiser side of my mind would have me consider more slowly, but my heart already has a name engraved upon her.

The Baron L’Encornet, tall and fair, brought to me between an amiable potato and a dour turnip, altogether a different dish. His father is a business connexion of mine, I am told, and I had wondered at that, as Myrrha’s Roland is a fit enough heir to Father’s affairs and Mentha’s Robert makes a suitable if rather dull understudy. But this young Baron looks made of entirely other stuff than everyday business. His eyes captured mine in their liquid depths, irises uncommonly broad and dark, almost glabrous. He stood pale and slender amidst the parlor’s dark wood, and when we took a turn outside he moved with a strange sinuous grace, almost as if his bones were not the common sticks of mineralized meat most are built upon but something altogether different. His hair, inky black, shimmered beneath the sunshine almost as if it shifted in its depths, and when he took my hand between his gloved ones his fingers curled over mine.

And he said to me, “My lady Amarantha, may you remain ever unfaded.” The other two could hardly unwind my name from around their leaden tongues, but he even knows what it means!

He seems not so mere as a man, but something…

a sea-change, into something rich and strange.

I don’t care what’s prudent or sensible or wise. This is the one I want.

 

XXVII.

My Baron has a name, though I wonder if it is a Christian one. He confided in me, as we sat together in the wisteria-swathed gazebo, hiding from the calls of his far-outpaced fellow suitors and my chaperoning maids. He took my little bare hand between his ever-immaculately gloved ones, and leaned in so close I almost thought our cheeks might brush, and whispered to me in his sonorous voice, “My mother called me Lula, and so may you.”

I admit I, so often scolded for being too free with my words, had none at that moment, and his pale narrow lips drew back into a wide, wide smile, his skin seemed almost to glow with a submerged green radiance under the trailing wisteria draped all around us. “It seemed unfair,” he told me, “that I should know your birth name, my Amarantha, and you should not know mine.”

MY AMARANTHA he called me, and my heart rose like a bird seeing the cage door opened!

But just then the calling voices came closer, Mentha’s flaying tones closest of all, and I should know better than to worry on pointless proprieties but I admit I panicked. “Here,” I whispered as I leapt up, lifting my skirt from the dust with one hand. (I told them the peach lawn gown was yet too long and needed another round of taking in, but no one heeds me.) I led him through the back of the gazebo into the gap inter threading the tall hedge, and the whole time he held my hand wound in his strong curled fingers, and I felt no bones in them at all, no hardness, only his firm warmth.

The inside of the hedge is closer than I recalled from my childhood, and we stood tucked almost chest to chest, his face floating above mine in the deep green gloom, his eyelashes inky above the sharp elegance of his cheekbones. I wished intensely to touch those cheekbones, his ever impeccably smooth cheeks. As if seeing my thought he smiled, raising his other glove to my cheek, as my heart bounced about the cage of my ribs, and at his touch my eyes fluttered as if they might roll back in my head.

And then with a last squeeze to my happy hand he slipped away, though there should have been no gap in that direction wide enough to admit a human form.

It took long minutes until I was calm enough to resume my place in the gazebo, to still myself to calm so that when Myrrha parted the wisteria curtain I might successfully pretend not to have heard their calls. And now my heart beats and beats ever so fiercely, to the rhythm of Lula, over and over.

 

XXXI.

Father has noted my preference for the young Baron L’Encornet. He frowned when he spoke to me, calling him, “queer,” and I bit my lip on asking, “then why did you introduce us?” Not in least because I should thank Father for that immense boost.

Still, Father knows my face, and I should be more just to him, because he did say himself, “I did bring him here to meet you. It’s just that… he is his father’s only son, and their family holdings lie scattered across Mediterranean islands and further lands. I suspect he will depart soon for one of those holdings.”

Father knows my face, but often not my heart. Little glowing islets lifted themselves to my thought, rearing up green and grey from the depths of the lapis sea, and all I could do was to clutch my entwined hands to my chest and gasp, “I should cherish every one, and every journey between!”

Father glanced heavenwards, at my Mother’s shade, at God Himself for strength. “Are you so certain, Amarantha?”

At least it was nothing but truth to tell him, “Yes, Father. Yes.”

 

XXXIV.

Oh Diary! Oh my sweet and voiceless friend! I am made anew!

I write in the darkness of night by the light of a green globe, given me by my Lula!
Oh, I must start over, at the start of the climax.

I had retired after another day of boredom, in which he did not appear while the other two strove to show off in a game of bowls on the side lawn, and I did my best to not doze off in the afternoon warmth. Mentha did doze but she is pregnant. Myrrha wanted to wake her but I waved her off. Why am I writing on that?

At any rate, as I lay in bed considering stripping my shift off, the window rattled. And rattled again. The night had been breezeless, so I went to see if a wind had raised.

Instead I found my beautiful Baron, one arm supporting him on the window ledge and the other hand rattling the window by its frame. I gasped and shoved the window open with all my strength, and he poured into my room like Danae’s rain but in silver and sable, his coat off and his vest barely confining his billowing shirt, still perfectly white despite his climbing two storeys to reach me.

I don’t know why that lingers in my mind, why anything does when he kissed me, he kissed me, he wound his arms around me and kissed my lips into parting, kissed me down to my depths, kissed all sense out of my foolish head. He kissed me and bore me back into my bed still kissing me, tasting like the sea, like life, like all I wanted. He stripped my shift and bonnet from me and laid me birth-bare on my bed and kissed up the blood all over my skin, my throat and breasts and belly, then rolling me to my front and kissing my back where surely no one has ever, and then, and then! Every inch of my bottom, as I squirmed between his hands, and finally upon my cunny, where no one ever has, licking me open, humming into me, caressing my inmost flesh with his soft lips and flexing tongue as his hands pressed open my thighs and I hid my burning face and helpless whimpers in my pillow.

Even my dearest Sophronia never kissed me there. She stroked me with her fingers, and I still remember those glorious caresses and the cresting pleasure she brought me to, but I had never imagined being so kissed, so licked and suckled as wave after wave of delight surged through me under my Lula’s mouth. And then, as I subsided shuddering into my pillow, Lula kissed me upon my spine’s base and murmured, deep and soft, “My apologies, my Amarantha.”

“Apologies?” I succeeded in gasping, lifting my heavy head, my hair spilling out across my vision as I sought to glimpse him. “For what?” Was all I could ask, an unmannerly demand, but precious little of my wits were left me at that moment!

“I meant to ask,” he murmured, whispering over my bedewed skin, “I ought to have asked.” I flipped my hand carelessly — I swear I had no objections — and when he wrapped his hand around mine I realized his gloves were still on, and now damp and redolent of my exalted exudations. “I had to see you. I had to taste you. I must leave in three days on urgent business to the Aeolian Islands.”

“Take me with you,” I demanded breathlessly, and heard him gasp, and then he surged up over me, his vest raking embroidery up my back as he kissed me, and his natural savor was overlain with what I knew must be my feminine musk, and my face burned with the knowledge. One arm around my ribs hauled me up onto my knees, and his other hand tangled in my disheveled hair as he hotly entered me, his trousers scraping my tenderized thighs like a thousand tiny fingernails, and my skin gloried in every sensation.

And oh, I hardly credit what came next, yet I know it to be true. Your previous volume might have told you I am not untried; I gave my maidenhead gladly to my dear stableboy before he left to seek his fortune in the East, and at Myrrha’s wedding I slipped away as soon as I might with Robert’s redheaded cousin, whose name I can never recall but whose skin bruised like a peach under my fingers and lips. And yet both lads left me cold at my core, under the pleasure of naughtiness and the enjoyment of bringing them to their crisis each; I never found pleasure by another’s doing until my darling Sophronia, whose sweet beauties convinced me once and ever I am a woman for women. But my Lula seems the fortunate exception, but then, he seems a man unlike all the rest, for his member within me — not only did he plunge it in the usual manner, but it wriggled and twisted within me, stroking me deeper than ever I have been with a seemingly nervous intelligence of what whetted my pleasure most keenly. As he skimmed his hand over my billowing ribs to cup my bosom caressingly, I could not but shove back into his thrusts and clutch the pillow, feeling the scream of unendurable ecstasy rising in me.

“Shh,” he soothed over my burning ear, and gripped the base of my throat as he petted down over my belly, stroking seemingly every last span of my aching skin, to touch the exquisite nub of all my delight. I can still feel his fingers’ presses, love branded into my skin as he gripped tighter and tighter, as I thrashed in glory beneath and around him, my head pounding ever more fiercely, rising ever higher as all the air drained away, as he kissed me cheek and chin and ever gently shushed me and rode me to the most glorious peak.

I swooned, then, the height and the depth uniting, and woke to my whole body shaking, gathered up in his entwining arms, as he whispered unknown words in an echoing tongue and groaned into my shoulder and shook all over, and yet… there was no gush of seed, the one time I would have been utterly glad of it. I know the feel of that, and the fortnight of worry before my monthly catamenia resolved the fear of conception. But I would bear Lula’s babies gladly. I wonder if I ought to have said.

Not that I could speak as he laid me down, kissing my slack mouth and my bared throat, and hissed over my bruises and kissed them so gently and at such wet length I nearly swooned again. At the last he brushed one more kiss across my lips, and yet said at the same time, “I will return for you,” and I did swoon, and am glad indeed to wake before the dawn.

And he left me this strange little bauble, a green glow captured inside an orb. Does this embody his heart? He has quite stolen mine.

 

LIV.

Diary, at last, I live again. Every day has dragged on without tone nor chord, without tint nor tune, with all around me seeking to wring reactions from me as if blood from a stone. Until today, when as I sat with my sisters on the enclosed porch, fingering a book and counting the minutes till I might slip away, who might come striding up the carriageway but my beloved Baron L’Encornet, a cloak in the colors of the nighttime sea billowing from his shoulders.

My heart flew up into my throat as I made my feet without conscious thought of standing, and as the doorman’s page ran to fetch my father, my Lula looked up at me and winked, one long swing of those inky lashes. Oh, I trembled, just from one wink.

Father came down and my Baron swept up before him and bowed deeply and announced without preamble, “I have come for the hand of your daughter Amarantha in marriage.”
I don’t even know what Father said, for the oceanic roaring of my blood in my ears as my Lula nodded and strode directly to me, knelt before me and looked up from those eyes deep enough to drown in. “My Amarantha,” he said, and I was already nodding, “will you be my wife?”

“Yes!” was all I could say, as I fell upon his neck, wreathing my arms around him, and his wrapped around me, and for a long perfect moment there was nothing in all the world but the two of us, embracing.

My sisters are eagerly twittering towards a Spring wedding. Father looks like the dog who unexpectedly caught his own tail. I care for none of this. I would be Lula’s as soon as ever we may.

 

LVI.

 

Oh my faithfully silent friend. I swear before I set another word to paper that all I am to write is true.

It is the depths of night once again, and I write by the eldritch light of my little globe once again, but now I have my Lula in my bed, tangled beauteously all about me. Now I have her truth in my heart.

She climbed up again to my window, but for the once she was unsmiling. I brought her into my chamber, alarmed at her stormy countenance as she paced back and forth across my room several times, then stopped, holding her hands out to me. I went to her, laying mine in hers, and she looked upon me, and asked, “My Amarantha, do you trust me?”

“Infinitely,” I answered, and her mouth, pressed so severely tight, began to ease.

Still, she closed her eyes for a long moment before she looked upon me again, and said, “My Father told me not to do this before we are wed, but I would… I would have you know.”

“Know what?” I asked in my ignorance, as an unborn babe might ask of the world beyond its mother’s womb. She squeezed my hands and let go, and unbuttoned her vest and dropped it, and pushed her suspenders down from her shoulders one and the other, and opened her pristine white shirt.

Beneath she bore the most sweetly curved, high breasts, her pert nipples as luscious as viridian grapes, and I gasped for joy and bounced on my toes as I clapped for delight, crying out, “You are a woman!”

Her smile shone in the moonlit dimness. “You approve?”

“I am overjoyed!” I made to rush forwards, but her upraised hand forestalled me. She reached for that hand’s glove and plucked it free, and stretched out her hand.

Which unwove, the fingers writhing away from each other, the palm a mere knot soon undone, to reveal a wriggling clutch of sleek tentacles. I gasped again, clamping my hands across my mouth, and now she surged up from her clothing, wasting no more time disrobing, and so I beheld her strange, astonishing true beauty.

Her trunk is human seeming, as is her head, but her hair lifts and ripples like the surface of the sea, and where her arms would be each shoulder sprouts a bouquet of tentacles. So too are her legs composed of a thicket of longer, thicker tentacles, and between them…

She flowed over to my bed, parting her clump of tentacles neatly in half, and beckoned to me. Between them her sex shone, unfurling for me. Every wisp that is a hair on mine was prehensile on hers, reaching up to my questing hand, rippling up around my fingers, as the sea-scent rose until I could have thought us underwater.

“Please let me touch you,” I whispered, and when she opened her eyes to mine now the whites were all gone, nothing but bottomless gleaming darkness in them, reflecting love back to me.

“Please do,” she whispered back, reaching for me with every tentacle upon her beautiful body. She stripped me, enwound me, stroked me everywhere from the crown of my scalp to the soles of my feet, and as I lay beneath her with my mouth full of the complex deliciousness of her cunny, all her little hairs stroking my cheeks as I stroked her every petal and her nub with my lips and tongue, she delved into me with tongue and tentacles, filling me fore and aft until it burned sweetly.

At last I understood. At last I knew my beloved entire.

I don’t know how long we tangled into each other, pleasure coursing through us in an unending circuit, until we collapsed sated and shaking into each others’ embrace, until she brought her head to mine and whispered her story into my ear.

“My father has many names,” she told me then, her bottomless eyes shining for me. “Oceanus. Dagon. Leviathan. Aegir. All of these many names, these many faces, unite at the bottom of the sea. There he brought my mortal mother, and there I was born.” As she spoke she gently caressed me with countless tentacles, so that I shivered in her hold, caught between exhaustion and concuspiscence. “I am one who thrives best in liminal spaces.” I filled my hand with her soft breast, my ear with the beating of her heart. “So I live between land and sea, on islands, at the shore. I have many homes and I would have you share all of them, my unfading flower.”

“Gladly,” I murmured, and laid a kiss over her heart, feeling the silky skin over her breasts brush my cheeks. “Gladly, my beautiful Baron.”

Now she sleeps, warm at my back, entwined around me, and I pour my delight into your pages, my faithful little book.

 

LXI.

My ridiculous family are planning the greatest frippery of a wedding. When next I see my Lula I plan to beg her to elope.

 

LXII.

I am the most fortunate woman under the Sun, or rather, beneath the Moon.

I lay asleep in my bed when a dream came to me, that I floated on a sea warmer than my own skin, that did not wet me. Instead it reached up to caress me, my calves and thighs, my bottom and back, my belly and breasts, my arms and nape and up into my hair. I opened my mouth but what sank in was a member, phallus-thick and tentacle-lithe, as others pushed up within my cunny and my arse, stroking me to pleasure, with increasing force, bit by bit blocking off my breath. I strained to reach up and found my wrists pinned down, my knees shoved up, my body wrapped around and restrained in a dozen places, and suddenly, being unable to move unlocked the fullness of my freedom, left me responsible for nothing but soaking up all the pleasure being poured into me and returning it in a great tidal wave of a crisis.

I sank from the height into a dreaming waking, a delirium of pleasure, my Lula resting her head on my chest as she enjoyed me thoroughly and held me fast. One glimpse of her shining face, one gasp of her briny perfume, and my eyes rolled back as I arched up into her forceful caresses and peaked for her again and again.

At last I was sweetly sore all over, and she pulled her tentacles back from my body, grouping them into rough amalgams of limbs. I wound my weary limbs around her and whispered, “Hello,” just to hear her resonant chuckle.

“I must go away again,” she murmured back. “I had to come see you.”

“Take me with you,” I asked again, and this time I felt her hear me, a tremble in every nervous length as she raised her eyes to mine.

“You mean it,” she said, and I nodded, and again her smile spread almost inhumanly wide across her face. “Then, yes. Let us sleep and wake and set out.”

So that was why I stole a page from you, dear Diary. And I sit here now in a lovely little ship with Lula by my side, and I find myself disinclined to describe the day’s journey. Suffice it to say that I am with my beloved, where I evermore shall be.

Every so often, though, I must chuckle, at my imaginings of the looks on my family’s faces when I was sought in the morning and all they found was a little sheet of paper, scrawled with my benediction, “Gone Fishing.”