The moonlight lit a thin trail into the trees just beyond the flower gardens but before the vegetable gardens. It was a cool night, but warm enough for only his jacket. Karl followed the path, enjoying his solitude. Night sounds filled his ears and the scent of lavender lingered.
He didn’t see her until she shifted on the garden bench nestled in a cove of trees. He walked to her hidden refuge and stood before her. Her hair was braided down her right side. An aquamarine stole draped her shoulders, although the color was hard to define in the moonlight. Her legs were covered with a woven skirt and her feet shod in those sheep skin boots she’d worn two days earlier.
“You are out after curfew.”
She released a deep sigh. “I often am.”
“It’s too beautiful a night to be trapped indoors.”
“Trapped – in a warm bed with your husband?” A branch shifted in the light breeze and moonlight caressed her cheeks. “You’d rather sit on a cold bench in the garden than be in bed with him?”
“I’d rather be up on my parapet, gazing out to sea.”
“De la mair.”
She looked at the ground rather than continue being locked in his gaze. “Yes. My husband named me the lady who came from the sea.”
He sat beside her. “So, Stabsrichter Sizemore – I hear you call him Captain Luther – tells me your brother-in-law’s daughter’s child is not the only German bastard born here.”
“What a harsh word – bastard.”
“They are not married. It is the correct term.”
“They are not legally married because you Germans have forbidden it. But they are married – one flesh – personified in their baby.”
“How romantic.” He leaned back and stretched his arm along the back of the bench. “It is quite peaceful here.”
“Jacob loved it. This was his favorite place.”
“Were you lovers?”
She turned to face him. “No. No, nothing like that. He missed his wife every moment.”
“He told me you weren’t his mistress, but sometimes a man will lie to protect a woman he loves.”
“Would I what?”
“Lie to protect someone you love.”
He stretched his legs out in front of him and studied her face. “A man of honor may refrain from telling the truth, but he would rarely lie.”
“And are you a man of honor?”
He started to trace his fingertips around her right shoulder, slowly pulling her closer to him. When she began to resist, he whispered, “I want you.”
She stiffened. “No.”
“Yes. I do. I think I always have, since time began.”
She blinked and breathed deeply. The smell of him, the warmth of him, his gentle words filled her with a dangerous yearning.
He cupped her face with his left hand while drawing her closer with his right arm firmly around her shoulders. “You want me, too. I see it in your eyes when you look at me. I feel it on your skin when you are near. You want me to know every inch of you.”
“Stop.” Panicked that she might not be able to resist him, she tried to stand but he wouldn’t let her. “Let me go. Karl, let me go!”
She covered her face with her hands; the rope burn scars were brilliant in the moonlight.
He released her. “I’m sorry. Delamair, forgive me. I didn’t mean to frighten you.”
She stood and straightened her skirt. In a cold voice which masked her heat, she assured him, “I told you, nothing frightens me. Good night.”
He was finalizing the morning’s work when he heard men whispering in obvious delight. He followed the sound and discovered three soldiers hanging out the window, staring at something behind the kitchen.
“Look, there’s another one.”
“I bet it’s silk. It sways like silk.”
“If I could, I’d buy her a red negligée, just to watch her hang it out.”
“That’s not all I’d want her to do with a red silk –“
The oberst cleared his throat.
Three startled soldiers spun around and saluted.
“The women of this academy are not to be molested in any way.”
They stared ahead, blinking in embarrassment.
“Report to Stabsfeldwebel Danon and tell him you are to have extra duties for a week. Dismissed.”
They clicked their heels and marched quickly out of the room.
The scent of lavender teased him. He stuck his head out the window. Delamair stood below him behind the kitchen, pinning beautiful things to the clothes line. He grinned and headed down to join her.
She heard him approach but continued with her laundry. “We were given this spot to hang our personal items, so your men wouldn’t ogle them.”
“I needed to make sure you weren’t hanging out nauchrichten - signal flags.” He reached out one finger and ran it lightly down the white negligée. “Silk signal flags.”
She glared at him, her cheeks tinged with embarrassment.
He reached for a camisole and fingered the lace. “I remember this one. You had it on underneath the olive blouse Sunday.” He pulled it to his face and sniffed. “You bent over. It was quite pretty; your breasts – plump against the silk.” He released the camisole. “Your husband never noticed. He never does.”
Her eyes widened and she swallowed.
“I like that you blush. So few women do.” He turned away, unpinned the camisole, and took it with him.
The Island Remains
© Evelyn Rainey
Whiskey Creek Publishing
ISBN tba June 2014