County Tipperary—in the realm of the Tiobraid Árann Sidhe
“Harder, my fine young bull, and make me come.”
Donal Bawn strove with all his skill to satisfy the lust of Maire Finn, the eager young widow. Her curves called to him. He’d been tempted by her sweet, round arse shining white in the moonlight streaming in the window as she lay asleep. He woke her up, his massive erection prodding her into awareness. He had wrung her dry with the power of his lovemaking earlier, but here he was, still full of energy.
And ready to fuck her again.
Maire thrust against him, gasping with each movement. She gripped the carved headboard, the glow of the hearth fire gilding the wood. Tears of joy fell from her bright gray eyes as wave after wave of pleasure washed over her. She hadn’t dreamed she’d any strength left after a day filled with so many climaxes she’d lost count, but somehow she’d found the energy.
Her aged husband had been laid in his grave just six days past, and her ten years of disappointment in the marriage bed had weighed heavily upon her. She was desperate. She burned.
Her husband had had a sharp eye, but a limp dick. Never did he leave her out of his sight, making sure the servants spied on her when he was gone on business. Soon enough she had resorted to inanimate objects to give her some surcease.
She’d spent the past decade of her life screwing herself with her fingers, and when that wasn’t enough, a knife handle, a candle—anything long and thick.
No more. The moment he died, she’d fired the servants and looked for a real, live man to fuck her.
Whispers of the carpenter Donal Bawn’s prowess passed from female to female at the market, at the miller’s, at the linen making—anyplace women gathered.
Hearing the tales, she’d sent round for him under the pretext of hiring him to repair chairs broken during the wake.
He’d arrived bright and early.
“Long life and good health to the woman of the house.”
Doffing his cap and bobbing his head, a lock of his curly, gold hair fell upon his fine broad brow.
Maire herself had opened the door, her hair unbound and falling to her waist like that of an unwed maiden. Seeing Donal’s sun-bright curls, her fingers itched to touch them.
“And the same to you, Donal Bawn. Come in, then. I’ve a need for your … skill.” Her eyes gleamed, and her hand trembled as she ushered him in.
Donal saw and recognized the true need she had of him, and he locked the door behind him. He laid his tool bag and cap upon the table.
The candlelight flickered. The pure wax tapers in the silver candlesticks shone like white lilies.
Maire sighed as the light revealed the bulge in Donal’s breeches. The women had not lied. He was hung like a bull.
She waited while he gazed around the room.
“And where might I find the chairs needing to be fixed?”
She smiled, displaying a set of pearly white teeth. Her minty breath, as she drew near Donal, stirred his cock.
She laid her slim hand upon his arm and drew him close, so that their breaths mingled.
“Come with me, my fine man, and I’ll show you what needs mending.”
She led him through the door into a bedchamber. Thick wax rods lit up the room. A simple wooden armchair sat next to the bed.
“’Tis this chair—there’s one leg wobbling. ’Twill barely support my weight. Here, I’ll show you.”
She glided across the floor, the fine linen gown clinging to her womanly curves.
Donal sucked in his breath.
She turned and sat. Her eyes never leaving his, she spread wide her legs, flipping her dress up to her thighs, displaying her fine, downy mound.
Ah, she was quite the bold lass.
“See, should I move, the chair shifts back and forth. Come, take a closer look.” Her coaxing tones brought him back to the task at hand.
Donal took two broad strides, bringing him to stand between her outspread legs.
“Kneel down, Donal, and see can you find what the trouble is.”
He knelt, his face level with her curls, and inhaled her musky scent.
She pressed her slim, pale fingers between her nether lips, opening them like a flower. “Well, and do you think you can help me?”
He raised his head, his soft words wafting between her thighs. “I can but try.”
And he did. Throughout the day, he worked his magic on her needy body. Plying his tongue and teeth and lips, he brought her to one climax after another.
He impaled her with his prick, and she died the little death she eagerly sought.
He took her on the chair—which supported even the weight of two vigorous lovers. She sat naked on his lap, her plump white breasts bobbing before him like juicy apples as she slid up and down his cock. She squeezed him with her inner muscles, and he groaned.
“Ah, you’re killing me, my lovely girl. But don’t stop. ’Tis a grand way to die.”
She leaned forward, her tits within reach of his lips. He latched onto one cherry-ripe nipple and suckled greedily.
Her breath caught in her throat, and a pain, sharp and sweet, darted deep within her. A wave of passion greater than any she’d known swept over her, and she came.
She flung her head back and gripped his shoulders, clinging to him. As the last ripple faded away, she fell forward, tears springing from her eyes.
Donal gathered her close, his hands brushing her slim back with the tender touch of a parent comforting a child. “Hush, now, mo mhuirnin, my dearest. ’Tis no reason to cry.”
She gulped and swiped her eyes. Her fingers caressed his chest, lightly furred with swirls of golden-colored hair. She ran her hands over the well-defined muscles of his shoulders and arms and wondered at his ability to control his grip. She compared them to the stringy, flabby arms of her late husband, and her tears fled. She pressed her bosom to his chest, her nipples hardening into firm nubbins.
“Aye, there’s no reason for tears now.” Her smile was deep and full of joy. “Take me to bed, my lover.”
And so, throughout the day they fucked.
Donal’s stamina astounded her. His skill delighted her. He’d wrung her out, and she’d slept for several hours.
And now, while the goddess Aine shone her countenance in the nighttime sky, he mounted her again, his vigor overwhelming her. The bed shook with the force of his thrusts. His rough hands cupped her breasts, kneading them and lightly pinching her nipples.
She whimpered, and as her climax struck her, she called aloud his name and collapsed upon the mattress.
Donal rolled off her and lay on his back. He drew the widow’s limp, satiated body to his and stroked her. A thin sheen of sweat glistened on their skin. The smell of sex filled the room.
They lay there, their limbs entwined, and drowsed the few hours left until dawn.
* * * *
The radiant sun goddess Étaín shone down upon the naked, sleeping lovers, jealous of their joy. She coveted Donal, wishing him for her own self. Seeing as that could never be, she resented the many women he took. Now, she increased the heat of her gaze, and they awoke.
As Maire moved from Donal’s side, he stretched out his hand and caught her around the waist. “Come back to bed, my pearl. I’ve yet to greet you this morning.”
He tugged, and she fell back, fitting her body next to his.
“Sing to me, then. I’ve heard that you gift each woman you make love to with a song.” She leaned over him, her breasts brushing his chest. “I want my song.”
Donal thought for a moment. Truth be told, he gave each woman the same song with little variation, secure in the knowledge that none would share their melody with any other female.
He smiled. “Here is my song for you, woman of the house.”
He cleared his throat and sang, and his voice lured the birds in the trees to hush and listen.
“I would take you without cows or money or a counted dowry. Come, my darling, and make love with me in the valley. The streams will flow past us. The blackbird and thrush will sing in the trees. Gentle, fair girl to whom I gave passionate love, come with me. We shall live on our love and be well satisfied.”
As the last notes died away, Maire wept. Her tears were like pearls upon her cheeks.
“That song was more beautiful than any love song I’ve ever heard, Donal a ghrá. And do I have your passionate love?”
“Of course.” And he kissed away her tears.
* * * *
The lovers reveled in the warmth of the sun shining in through the drawn-back curtains. Sunbeams gilded Donal’s golden curls, and crystal beads of sweat glistened on his body, turning him into a god. He groaned with exertion as he plundered the widow of every last drop of passion.
Maire gripped Donal’s lean flanks, her nails digging into his flesh. Her breath hitched in her throat as she strove to keep up with her mighty lover. Only once before had she ever neared this much pleasure, and that had been in her dreams.
As her husband’s end drew closer, they had slept in separate rooms, she taking the smaller room next to the master bedroom. That it should have been a nursery grieved her heart, for she’d no child from the Ould One.
One night, desperate for some relief of her pent-up lust, she cried for a lover.
And she was heard.
Ogma heard her plea and invaded her dream. Softly through the mists of sleep, he appeared by her bedside. He shrugged off his shirt spun of cobwebs, unpinned the gold brooch that held his kilt of soft, bleached linen and let it fall to the floor. Aine’s silver light played over his beautiful, naked form.
Leaning over, he brushed a finger across the white shoulder of the mortal woman. She awoke with a start, but he passed the veil of misty thought before her eyes so that she believed she dreamed.
“Calm your fear, a stóirín bán, my fair little darling. I’ve no wish to hurt you.”
“Are you a god?”
He shook his head. “Nay. I am the Ard Rí of the Tiobraid Árann Sidhe. I heard your cries and could not bear to see a beautiful woman such as yourself go without.”
Tears welled in her eyes. “I cannot break my marriage vows. As much as I burn, I cannot make love with you.”
Ogma smiled. “Ah, but ’tis a dream and nothing more. You remain true to your pledge, for I am not real.” He bent closer and pulled down the sheet covering her slim body. Kneeling beside the bed, he took her palm and pressed it to his lips, his tongue darting out to moisten the sensitive skin. “Now, let me satisfy your need.”
And Maire believed Ogma’s lie.
He made love to her, and when he brought her to climax, she called out so loudly she woke the servants.
He vanished from sight, and she was left to explain her outcry.
“’Twas naught, you silly fools! A nightmare, that’s all.”
A quavering voice came from her husband’s room. “What’s all this brouhaha I’m hearing?”
The scraggly frame of an ancient stick of a man shuffled through the doorway. “I was awakened from a sound sleep.” He tottered over toward Maire. “I’ll be needing some help to relax, wife.” Turning to the housekeeper and maid, he waved them away. “Back to your beds. There’s nothing for you here.”
As the servants trundled out of the room, he turned to Maire. When he spoke, his rasping voice chilled her.
“I heard your cry of ecstasy, wife. I’ve no notion where your lover went, but if it’s fucking you want, you’ll have to wait until I’m dead.” He leered. “I, on the other hand, want you to use that soft mouth on my shaft. See if you can get a rise from me.”
And Maire tried, but ’twas for naught. The old man had no juice in him.
Ogma never returned to her dreams.
* * * *
A sparrow sat on a branch of the rowan tree that grew outside Maire’s bedroom window, but ’twas, in fact, Ogma. He, too, envied the lovers, but ’twas Maire he craved. That one night spent with her had not been enough, but his mate had placed a taboo upon him. Never could he visit Maire again while her spouse lived.
Étaín spoke with him.
“I see you hunger for the comely young widow. Can you not come up with a spell to break Donal’s hold on her passion?”
He shook his feathered head. “Not for no reason. ’Twould be an empty incantation. I need a just cause to curse or enchant.”
The fierceness of Étaín’s lust burned bright. “Let me think on our problem this day. Before I give up the night sky to my sister Aine, I vow to find a way!”
Étaín drenched Donal and Maire in waves of sunlight. And cudgeled her brain for a reason for Ogma to curse Donal.
“Look at her, the greedy bitch. Not grateful that Ogma desires her, she takes Donal Bawn, too. She thinks him a better lover than Ogma, I’d warrant.”
At that thought, Étaín’s light burned fiercely. If Donal thought himself a better lover than Ogma, and boasted of it, he would put himself in jeopardy.
She gathered her strength—’twas hard for her to communicate with mortals. They took her for granted until the winter’s darkness. If she wished to touch their minds, she’d better do it now, while her power burned bright.
* * * *
Maire turned and looked at Donal through the sunlit dust motes that floated in the air. With his hair a golden crown and his body sleek and muscled, he looked like a god.
And Maire remembered that one night when she had not a god, but a king visit her bed.
“You’re a better lover than the High King of the Sidhe.”
Donal started. He’d no doubt of his skill, but this… He reached over and touched the curve of her shoulder. “And how would you be knowing that?”
She shifted, raising her body, and idly ran her hand down his chest toward his navel. “Why, one night, he came to me in my dream. Oh, he was a fine lover, indeed, and handsome, too, but not to compare with you.” Her fingers found his quiescent prick and caressed it. She licked her lips. She bent down and kissed the tip, then darted out her tongue to swipe the plummed head. She raised her eyes, full of adoration, to him. “You are incomparable.”
And Donal’s pride exceeded his good sense, and he spoke in all seriousness. “Then worship me, a stóirín.”
He lay on his back, his cock rising, and the widow seated herself upon him. Grasping his rod, she slowly sank upon his full length, her soft sigh a hymn of pleasure.
Étaín sped to Ogma’s side and urged him to return to the widow’s home.
He transformed into the sparrow and flew to the rowan tree. And listened to the lovers and smiled to hear their pillow talk. For now he had just cause to drive Donal from the side of the widow.
* * * *
Maire Finn bit her lip and pouted as she watched Donal dress. She didn’t want him to leave yet.
He sat on the armchair putting on his boots. His shirt still lay on the bed. She admired the way his muscles flexed as he tied the bootlaces. He rose and stretched his arms as he gazed around for his shirt. She snatched it up and hid it behind her back.
“Here now, a stóirín, give it to me.”
She shook her head and shoved the shirt beneath her bottom. “Come and get it.”
He stalked to the bed and reached toward her. She scampered off to the other side. Stark naked, her long, black hair streaming over her breasts, the dark curls between her thighs a striking contrast with her pearly white skin, she was an enticement hard to resist.
“A cuisle, I must go. I’ve work to do. I must earn my bread.”
She shook her head. “Stay with me. I’ve money enough for the both of us. The Ould One had a fortune.” Her voice took on a coaxing tone. “Think on it, Donal. You could have me any time you’d like.” She held up his shirt in front of her breasts and let it slip to the floor. “Come to me now.”
Donal shook his head. “I’ll not be kept by any woman, nor would I wish to be that selfish to keep myself from the rest of the women in the county.” He grinned impudently. “Am I not the best lover you’ve known? Am I not the King of the Sidhe’s better?”
Maire bent and scooped up his shirt, throwing it at him with all the force she could muster. He caught it with one hand and put it on, tucking it into his trousers.
She stamped her foot, placing her hands on her hips. “Then take yourself off and don’t be expecting a welcome from me again! Should I never see your face or hear that coaxing voice of yours, I would be well satisfied!”
Opening the bedroom door, Donal turned and shrugged. “’Tis sorry I am, then, for you’ll never be satisfied. Good health and long life to you, woman of the house.”
And he closed the door behind him.
Maire threw herself upon her bed and gave herself up to weeping.
Ogma eyed her with anticipation. Later that day, he’d dry those tears and bring her tears of joy. For now, he had a mallacht to pronounce on one cocky young mortal.
Étaín smiled. Whatever the curse placed on Donal, she would stay with him and give him her warmth. She’d follow Ogma and hear what he had planned for Donal. If she could not have Donal’s love, she would have his gratitude.
* * * *
Donal left the widow’s house and headed toward his own cabin near the forest’s edge. He appreciated the beauty of the woods that surrounded his home, always giving thanks when he used the wood in his work and replanting to replenish the trees.
As he walked, he relished the last few rays of the sun upon his body. The noisy chirping of a sparrow that seemed determined to fly along with him as he walked through the quiet village caused him to smile.
He entered his tidy little home and hung up his tool bag. Stretching his arms over his head to get the kinks out, he was startled to hear a voice more melodious than a nightingale’s break the silence of the room.
“Enjoy your body’s freedom, Donal Bawn, for it will not last.”
Whirling around, Donal scanned the single room of his cabin.
But there, near the door, a shimmering in the air… The shape of a man taking form.
Slim and tall, on his head a golden crown, his long hair braided with gay ribbons, stood what could only be a god.
Donal fell to his knees.
Ogma sneered. “Aye, grovel, Donal Bawn. But ’tis too late. You’ve insulted my prowess as a lover, used your manly form and skillful voice to coax women to believe you their own true love, yet kept yourself heart-free. No longer.” He raised his right hand and sparks flew from his fingertips. “Hear, then, my mallacht.
“A hunchback you shall be, with no virility. Your voice, thin as a reed, that naught shall heed. Only in the forests wild or the mountains high, where man or woman seldom draw nigh, shall you regain your nature true, though little good ’twill do you. Fleeting shall those moments be, until one loves you, no matter what she’ll see.”
He brought his hand down, and the sparks covered Donal.
He tried to rise, but couldn’t straighten up. With shaking fingers, Donal brought his hand to his right shoulder. A hump, the size of a pumpkin, bent him over. He cried out, but naught emerged save a voice as wispy as a puff of smoke.
And Donal wept.
The door to the cabin flung open, and Ogma pointed towards it.
And Donal scuttled past the triumphant fairy king.
* * * *
Ogma gazed after Donal’s fleeing form. He smiled in triumph, well pleased with the mallacht he’d pronounced on the foolish mortal. It was a strong one, indeed, for it drew upon Donal’s vanity and involved a female’s participation. Little chance there would be of a female seeing with her heart. He knew well how empty was a woman’s heart; he’d but to consider his wife’s and how selfish she was in sharing him with other women.
But no more.
Her poorly phrased mallacht was now null and void. He could have his way with the widow Maire. And little good would it do his spiteful wife, Deora, to complain. She had forbidden him from fucking the lovely woman while Maire’s husband lived; now with him dead and Donal out of the way, he could take Maire to his bed.
His cock stirred at the thought.
He would visit the woman this very night and fuck her until morning. He laughed and flickered from sight.
* * * *
Maire raised her head from the damp pillow. She had refused all food and drink and thrown herself into alternately mourning and cursing Donal Bawn. To think she had given her body to him over and over, only to have him turn his back on her! His beautiful, strong, lean back that tapered to a trim waist and a taut-muscled backside that flexed beneath her fingers as she gripped him.
The amadán! What a fool he was to leave her arms!
She rose from her bed, the wooden floor cool beneath her bare feet. She flung open her window to the fresh evening air and inhaled the scent of new-mown grass. The goddess Aine shone silver in the darkening sky, and Maire raised her hands in greeting.
No more would she weep for Donal. She would find herself another lover, one who would never leave her bed. She shut her eyes and cupped her naked breasts, offering them to an unknown man. She swayed in the candle-lit room and prayed for his powerful hands to twine with hers.
Desperate for the passion so long denied her in her fruitless marriage and so soon taken from her by Donal’s faithlessness, she uttered a plea to Aine.
“Oh, Aine, I beg of you to shine your light upon my lover and lead him to me. Bring him to me this night, and I shall be in your debt forever.”
A soft rush of air brushed her body, and a voice behind her uttered her name.
She whirled, her eyes widening at the sight of Ogma, her dream lover. He wore a kilt made of cobwebs; dewy diamond drops sparkled throughout the garment, and his feet were unshod. Though he had only visited her one time, she had dreamed of him often. Until Donal.
Why was he here now?
She waited silently for him to speak again. She held no false modesty about her beauty, and so she stood with her hands at her sides, her head high and her bosom as proud as any queen of the sidhe.
Ogma ogled the mortal woman. How could he help it? Her form and figure outshone that of his wife. Deora was known for her wit and wealth, not for her grace and looks. He cleared his throat and took a step toward his soon-to-be lover.
“A grá geal, I heard your piteous plea and came as swiftly as I could.”
Maire took a step back and moved lightly towards the bed. She lounged against the downy pillows, her legs bent beneath her while she bided her time, waiting to hear more. Even for a dream lover, she would no longer be so easily wooed.
Ogma frowned. He had expected the widow to throw herself at his feet and beg him to make love to her. Instead, she held her peace, while he stood like an amadán, a stuttering fool.
He strode to the bed and halted by its side. He fisted his hips and unveiled his full sidhe glory.
Maire cowered under Ogma’s power. The moon silvered one side of his body, and the hearth gilded the other. His snow-white curls rippled down his back to the floor, and his fire-opal eyes gleamed with all the colors of the rainbow.
She shielded her eyes and gasped, her breath stolen away by his unearthly beauty.
“Still silent, Maire? Do you not recognize me? Have you forgotten me? ’Tis strange, for we made love in this very bed not that long ago.” He lowered his voice, a mocking note sharpening his next words. “I remember you. Your screams of ecstasy roused the household and that stick of a husband of yours. How soon you forgot me!”
Maire took a deep breath, and she shifted to her knees on the mattress, her hands clasped in supplication.
“I never forgot my dream lover. Often I would lull myself to sleep with the hope that he would return to my dreams and take me again.” She bowed her head. “But he never did, and the dream faded until a flesh-and-blood lover took his place.” She lifted her eyes to Ogma’s face, conquering her awe of his presence. “Now even he has left me.” She heaved a sigh. “If you would forgive my foolishness and return to my dreams, I swear I would never look at another lover—dream, mortal or sidhe.”
She lowered her eyes once more, waiting to hear Ogma’s answer.
Two big hands cupped her chin and raised her face. His unearthly beauty veiled, he spoke in hushed tones. “My beautiful love, I was never in your dreams. I came to you as a man, my body speaking to yours. I yearned to return to you, but a curse was placed upon me, and I was forced to wait until you became a widow.” He scowled. “Imagine my displeasure when I beheld you giving your body to another!” He squeezed her chin, and she gasped. “And to compare his feeble prowess to mine? Why should I not think you had forgotten me?”
He pushed her back upon the bed, glowering at her sprawled body.
She leaned upon her elbows, quickly regaining control of herself. A real lover she could manipulate. After all, all males had two heads, and the smaller one led the other around.
She willed tears to fill her eyes, letting them slip unheeded down her face.
And Ogma fell victim to her power.
He untied his kilt and knelt with one knee upon the mattress, his cock erect and pulsating for her. He reached out his hand and placed it on her softly rounded belly, caressing the sweet indentation of her navel.
“My needy little darling, I shall never let you be without me again. I shall never leave your bed.”
She smiled through her tears. “And what of your wife? Does she not hold a stronger claim upon you?”
He grinned wolfishly.
“She cannot touch you, for by her own words she gave me leave to become your lover.” He sank next to her, his cock brushing her thigh. “Now, no more words.” His voice took on a singsong sound as he intoned a love pledge. “Only sighs of pleasure, only cries of desire. Our love will flame higher and higher. For all my days and nights of life, I shall love you more than e’er my wife. Never shall we part while you still claim my heart.”
She lay back upon the bed and held out her arms to him.
He lowered his mouth to her ripe breasts and suckled her taut nipples. Her moans of pleasure filled his ears, and he slid his cock into her warm, wet center.
She arched beneath him, her hips rising to drive him deeper. Her hands gripped his thick curls, catching his hair. She was swollen and tight for his thick width, and he gloated inside. She pressed her heels behind his buttocks to drive him deeper. He slid his hands beneath her sweet, round bottom and increased the speed of his thrusts. He raised his lips from her breasts to see her flushed face twisting back and forth and her fingers clutching the sheet.
She bucked harder, her hips rolling in his hands.
Somehow, she found her breath, and now her hoarse voice told him exactly what she wanted from him.
“Deeper! By the goddess, Aine, take me deeper! I need your lips on my breasts. Don’t stop until I scream your name!”
Her words acting as a goad, he thrust harder and harder, his tempo increasing until sweat slicked their bodies.
And Maire called out his name.
Again and again.
* * * *
A tiny voice hissed in his ear, the one word filled with venom. It was a voice he knew all too well.
He opened his eyes to behold her standing in all her righteous anger by the open window. Her arms crossed upon her scrawny chest, her blade-sharp jaw jutting forward, her beady eyes glaring as if with a glance she would strike him dead.
And she could.
Maire still slept, her breasts pressed against his back, her hand draped over his waist. Not wishing to rouse her, he whispered to his queen, when all he really wanted to do was scream his frustration. The damn woman always managed to spoil his pleasure. If she weren’t a wealthy, high-ranking female from the Ciarraí Sidhe, he would have sent her packing centuries ago. If he hadn’t pledged his people’s rivers in exchange for the gold and pearls her people held, he never would have been bound to the hag.
He chose his words carefully, not willing to anger the bitch any further.
“So, Deora, I hope you’re not here to falsely accuse me of breaking the curse you laid upon me. The woman is a widow, and if you remember, you said nothing about my not taking her to bed after her husband’s death.” Unable to resist, he taunted her. “You should be careful of how you phrase your mallachts. You as much as gave me leave to fuck her.”
Deora drew closer to the bed. She uncrossed her arms and let them fall helplessly to her side. She bowed her head and nodded.
Her raspy voice grated upon his ears as she spoke slowly at first and then faster and louder.
“You are so right, my husband. One should always be careful while framing a curse…or a vow. You wooed me long ago with your beauty and your strength. You took me to your bed and convinced me of your love, when all the while ’twas my wealth and power you coveted. You seek to be with this female forever, never to leave her side? Well, that was your vow and so it shall be, for hear me now.” She strode to the middle of the room, the moon shining full upon her face. She raised her hands, sparks sizzling from her outspread fingertips.
“My power has always been greater than yours! Your wish shall be granted. Listen to my vow.” She took a deep breath, and her voice deepened. “Neither you nor she shall leave that bed, though hunger and thirst leave you weak. Like a sow in filth she’ll wallow instead and for death’s release she’ll seek. And when she dies, as soon she will, chained to her side you will be still. Hear my mallacht. This I—”
“Wait!” Ogma attempted to rise, but already the curse seemed to be taking hold. He sank back onto the mattress, gasping.
“What is it, beloved? I thought only to grant your wish.”
“I beg of you, Deora. Don’t do this. The woman is only a mortal; her beauty is transient.” His voice took on a honeyed sweetness. “But your power is never ending. How can her allure match yours? Come, we’ll return to that waterfall in Tork. Remember? The water beating down upon our bodies? The sun heating our skin?”
His words fell like pearls from his lips as he wove his own magic around his wife. She swayed, and her fingers curled like petals. She sighed.
“You play me for a willing fool, and I fear you are right.” She took a deep breath. “Hear me, Ogma, this is the last time you’ll stray to another woman’s bed. If you wish to leave, you must leave now, while she still sleeps. I want no weeping farewells, no gnashing of teeth or wringing of hands. No tearing of her hair or kneeling at your feet. Leave with me now, and I’ll forget this night.”
Ogma stared at the woman who held his fate and that of Maire in her hands. His heart was sore, for he had found making love with the fair mortal pleasurable beyond any fairy sidhe in recent memory. But to condemn her and him to such a fate—no bed play was worth such a horrible end. And then he smiled within his heart, for Deora had been careless again. She had forbidden him the beds of women, but not of men. Beauty was beauty. Pleasure was pleasure. For the sidhe, it mattered not with whom one dallied. He would save this mortal woman and find a new lover from the ranks of the fir-sidhe.
He nodded to Deora.
“May I kiss her one last time?”
Deora’s face grew livid, and she snarled like a rabid fox. “You wish to kiss the bitch?”
“Please, grant me one last boon, a mere thanks for this past night. You know ’tis unwise to leave a dwelling with negative energy.”
“One kiss—and make it quick!”
Ogma bent to Maire’s ear and murmured low, even as his lips brushed her silky skin. “’Twas but a vision this night, a grá geal. You’ll forget your false lovers—real and dream. You’ll find a true one soon, near the stream that runs through the woods by the edge of the field. To him your heart and body you’ll yield. Forget and hope.”
And with one last lingering glance, he flickered away, Deora with him.
* * * *
Maire stretched and rolled over in her bed. Her hands sought among the sheets for her lover of the past night.
Not even the indentation of his head to attest to his presence. Not a single strand of his pure white curls. Not even the scent of their lovemaking.
Was it a dream? It had to be a dream.
No lover was hers to console her or fill her heart and her body.
She took a deep breath, strangely calm.
Perhaps it was meant to be. Donal was false and Ogma but a dream.
She deserved much more than what they offered.
She wrinkled her nose as she surveyed the state of her bed linen and her gown tossed carelessly on the floor. A bright, shining day greeted her. She would start afresh with her life. After all, she was her own woman now and wealthy to boot.
Too early even for her servant, she’d take her linens and clothes to the stream herself and wash them. And cleanse herself of the last of her self-pity.
And start anew.
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