This is just a short-story off the top of my head. It will probably have three chapters. I'm not sure yet. I hope you enjoy it!
For those who are not familiar with my Guy stories, here is the run-down: Guy of Gisborne escaped Nottingham and its troubles, and is now living a contended life in the south of France with his wife and children...
Her voice was soft. “You have such a soothing touch, my love.”
A smirk grew on Guy’s face. As the night candles burned, he and Cassia sat together in their bed. Under her sheer summer nightdress, his palms stroked the smoothness of her back. Leaning forward, he pressed a tender kiss to her shoulder. Her skin was so warm...so soft. The scent of lavender, emanating from her dark hair, elicited in him a familiar heat of longing. Closing his eyes, he felt a painfully sweet ache for her.
Discipline, he thought. I will maintain discipline. This attention he was giving was meant to be one of comfort. But even as he committed himself to a vow of decency, a low growl of hunger escaped him. His desire for her was ever deep, always simmering just below the surface. Time had not diminished it. It seemed, in truth, that their years together had only served to heighten his want...and the love in his heart. For her, he had learned to tame his own wild impulses when the occasion called for it. Such as now. Cassia gave a shuddering sigh.
“I feel I have grown weak,” she said. “I have carried three children...William and Thea together, of course. And then Owen. They were kind to me. But this child has tested me more than all of them.”
His sensation of desire ebbed. As his hands continued a gentle massaging of her back, his feelings of passion became feelings of tenderness and care. Their first two children were twins...a boy and a girl. Their third child was a boy. Both pregnancies had been endured with much greater ease than the current child she carried. At nine months, it was certain that the babe would be born at any time, and they were both glad of it. Her morning sickness had been severe. She suffered from constant muscle spasms in her legs and her back, and her emotions were in constant turmoil. It grieved him to see her in such discomfort. He was consoled only by the knowledge that she sought his touch for comfort. It was a comfort he could easily give, and he did so gladly, as she had so often done for him in times of need. In a deep and soothing voice, he offered her gentle consolation.
“Beloved, you are the strongest of women. Never doubt that.”
Seeing how she wiped a tear from her eye, he slid his arms around her and drew her back against his body. “Do not cry, my darling. In only a short time, this child will introduce itself to the world. And our joy at the meeting will eclipse all you have endured.”
She continued to weep, quietly, and it wounded him to see her so sad. Although he had never had a gift for words, he felt compelled to try. He rested his head on her shoulder, speaking softly in her ear.
“Will it please you to know that I find you radiant?”
Her response was a half-hearted laugh. “I have the appearance of an aged cow.”
He snorted. “That is not my wife speaking. I demand to hear familiar and fiery words of conviction.” She was not a vain woman by any means. But she had great self-respect, and it bothered him to think that she felt so low. He certainly did not think of her that way. “I tell you that you are beautiful, and I will have no argument.”
Now, at last, he heard a note of amusement in her tone. “You are a hopelessly blind man, Guy of Gisborne.”
Such a response pleased him. It gave him something to build upon, and he relished the opportunity to lift her spirits.
“There now,” he smiled. “That is something of an improvement. Perhaps you would like to strike me in some manner?”
“Strike you?” she asked, turning her head to look at him. “Why on earth would I do that?”
“It might perchance ease the frustration of your condition.”
Smiling now, she shook her head. She reached up to touch his face. “I have no wish to mar a physique that I find most appealing.”
Now it was he who laughed, and he kissed the tip of her nose. “And you would dare call me blind?”
Such teasing was a constant of their relationship, and he cherished it. During their first few years together, his self-doubts had run deep. She was persistent in her flattery regarding his looks, and he allowed her to have what he often called her “delusions of husbandly grandeur.” But until recently, he had found it difficult to truly believe that he possessed attractive qualities. And strangely, it was not his wife who had finally convinced him of his worth...
Two days earlier
A summer storm rumbled outside their bedchamber windows. The lightning was constant and bright, the thunder frequent. Guy knew of Cassia’s fear of such weather. He was aware that on such occasions, he could count on her to cling nervously to him. But on this night, there were several impediments to such closeness. Three, to be precise.
Owen, who was not yet two years of age, clung tightly to his mother. Beside them, three year old Thea buried her head against her father’s chest. Guy smiled down at her, even as he looked about for one missing member of the family. William was easily found. He stood in the window seat, his little face and hands pressed against the glass. Cassia called out to him.
“Darling, come away from the window.”
He remained still for a moment, fascinated by the tempest outside. “The lightning is pretty, Mama.”
“It is,” she replied. “But it is a danger, and I do not wish you to remain there. Come, William.”
As he climbed down from his perch, coming to the bed to crawl in with the rest of the family, Thea lifted her head to look at her brother. When he moved too close, she pushed him away. Gently, Guy scolded her.
“Do not be cruel, daughter. Why do you act so meanly?”
Her answer was swift. “I was here first, Papa.”
Guy asked, “Can you not share your father?”
“No,” she said.
He knew his reaction should have been stern, swift, and fatherly. He knew he should have punished her for her selfish behavior. But all he could do was smile.
There was no questioning the parentage of his daughter. She not only shared his dark hair and grey-blue eyes, but it seemed she had inherited his temper as well. When she wanted her way, she was aggressive in getting it. But he often found himself overlooking such a negative tendancy, simply because she was his only daughter...and she completely adored him. She had even announced a desire to marry him, which had at first taken him aback. Not understanding the strange proclamation, and yet, knowing that she was only a child, he had asked her why she would want to marry him. And her answer shocked him more than her original declaration.
Because you are so handsome, she had said.
Later, as everyone fell asleep, all huddled together in bed, Guy remained awake for a short time, pondering his daughter’s deep admiration. Looking over at Cassia, who was sound asleep...with William and Owen in her arms...he thought...
Perhaps there is some truth in what she has long tried to tell me...