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Authors: Ruth Ann Nordin

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her clothes. As she walked to the window, she studied the sky. If she judged it right, they

were due for a storm. Since losing her memory, they’d only had one storm, and that was in the

middle of the day. With a sigh, she enjoyed the refreshing wind as it cooled her off. Too bad

she’d have to shut the window.

The door opened and Dave smiled at her as he brought in the kerosene lamp which wasn’t lit.

“If you get scared during the storm, I’l put the light on.”

“I wasn’t scared of the storm we had a couple days ago.”

“You don’t get scared of them during the day. You only get scared at night. You say the

thunder reminds you of someone shooting a gun.”

“Does it?”

He set the lamp on the dresser. “Don’t worry about the window. I’l close it when the rain

starts. It’s too hot to close it now. I’l be back.”

She watched him as he left and recal ed the storm she’d been through earlier that week. There

were strong winds, rain, and thunder, but she didn’t think it’d been that bad. The children hadn’t

seemed alarmed by it. Her eyebrows furrowed. Would they be frightened tonight?

She’d ask him when he returned. She settled into bed, no longer feeling the need to hide her

body from her husband, though she hadn’t been intimate with him yet. One thing she enjoyed

most was being held at night. It was a nice way to end the day. She rol ed to her side and

closed her eyes, letting the wind caress her skin. Before she knew it, she fel asleep.

She was dreaming, and in the dream came images of people. They were blurry and the

sounds accompanying them were distorted. She couldn’t make sense of them. The only

person she could properly identify was herself, and for some reason, when her image came into

focus, she was looking at herself in mirrors. Different mirrors in different houses. She knew

they were different houses because the frame around the mirrors and the wal s surrounding

them weren’t the same. The people in the mirrors were blurred, so she couldn’t tel who they

were. The voices weren’t familiar either except for one, but only because his was the loudest

one. Dave. If she was right, he kept tel ing her she was beautiful.

Then a loud boom jerked Mary awake. She gasped and sat up in the bed, her pulse racing.

Her eyes searched the dark, wondering if someone was in the room with them, ready to shoot

a gun again.

Beside her, Dave stirred. “Mary?”

It took her a moment to realize the loud boom she heard was the thunder rumbling outside.

She looked out the closed window and heard rain hitting the window pane, fol owed by a flash

of light and another loud boom. Gasping again, she inched closer to Dave. “Why does it have

to be so loud?”

He sat up next to her and pul ed her into his arms. “Do you want me to light the lamp?”

She instinctively wrapped her arms around him and buried her face in his neck. “Aren’t the

children afraid?”

Chuckling, he ran his hand up and down her back. “No. They sleep right through it.”

“You can’t be serious.” Who could sleep through this racket?

“They’re used to it. They were born here. You weren’t. I think that makes a difference.”

“Were you born here?” she asked, noting how calm he was as another boom of thunder shook

the house.

“No, but they never bothered me.”

“I suppose that’s because you’re a man.”

“Probably.” He brushed her hair from her face and asked, “Would you like me to check on the

children, to make sure they’re alright?”

“Would you?”

“Of course.”

Relieved since she couldn’t bring herself to leave the bed, she pul ed the sheets up to her chin

as he slid out of bed to walk across the room. Her eyes were slow to pick up his silhouette,

and the flash of lightning revealed that he wore his underwear. He reached the dresser and

struck a match by the lamp before he lit it. She couldn’t help but be curious about his body,

particularly what made them different from her. The most obvious difference was his lack of

breasts. He had a wel -toned, broad chest. But what was his underwear hiding? As he

retrieved his pants, she noted the bulge in his underwear and thought she didn’t have a similar

bulge. So that was another difference.

Another rumble of thunder vibrated through the house, and she forgot al about her silent

inquiry. Now she understood why she was afraid of thunderstorms at night. They seemed

much more menacing when it was dark out, with the wind thrashing about, rain pelting the

house, lightning flashing, and thunder going off like a shot from a gun. She could think of no

other way to describe the thunder when it was that intense.

Dave finished buttoning his pants and picked up the lamp. “Are you going to be alright by

yourself?”

“You’re coming right back, aren’t you?” she asked, gripping the sheets.

“Yes.”

“Then I’l be fine.”

He nodded and left the room, taking the light with him. The darkness covered her once more,

and she anxiously scanned the room. She couldn’t help but make out shapes in the shadows,

and even if the lightning assured her nothing was there, the thunder that fol owed offered no

comfort. She nearly cried with relief when he returned.

“They’re asleep,” Dave said and closed the door. “You want me to keep the light on?”

She nodded. “Do you mind?”

With a smile, he set the kerosene lamp on the dresser. “No. It’s here in case we need it.”

“Thank you, Dave.” Now that he returned and the light created a soft glow in the room, she

didn’t mind the thunder so much.

He took off his pants and placed them over the back of the smal chair in the corner of the room

before he went back to the bed. She welcomed his presence which had become familiar over

the past couple of weeks.

“Do you think you can go back to sleep?” he asked as he encouraged her to lie back down.

She fol owed his lead and returned to the safety of his arms, resting her head on his chest. He

kissed the top of her head and set one hand on her hip while his other hand rested against his

side. Again, her gaze went to his underwear. He didn’t wear much of anything in bed, and

since the room was lit enough and he couldn’t see her studying him, she did so without the

embarrassment she would have had otherwise. She noted the outline of the bulge and, if she

was seeing right, it lengthened.

She debated whether or not to satisfy her curiosity by lifting the underwear so she could see

what was underneath. On its own accord, her hand inched a bit down his chest. She stopped

and waited to see if he’d noticed. His breathing remained steady. Perhaps she shouldn’t be so

curious or even so bold as to lower her hand again, but it felt natural to be with him like this.

She couldn’t explain it, and maybe she didn’t have to. After al , they were married and had

been together in bed many times before. And it seemed to her that something instinctive

wanted to be with him in a more intimate way.

Her fingers traced his skin, lightly brushing the fine hairs on his chest and briefly circling his

navel. They stopped again at the waistband of his underwear. Her heart raced, but this time it

wasn’t because of the thunder stil rumbling in the sky. Did she dare slide her hand beneath the

underwear?

He squeezed her hip and murmured, “Keep going,” into her hair.

Her cheeks warmed. It was sil y that she assumed he didn’t know what she was doing. She

wondered if she made it a habit of doing this. It seemed like she did since she wasn’t as

nervous as she thought she might be if they’d never been together as man and wife. She

hesitated to proceed but decided her curiosity was greater than her shyness.

Her fingers slipped under the waistband, and she felt the silky tip of his erection. She traced it,

noting the bead of moisture which came from the slit. She found that to be a curious thing but

decided to press on in her exploration. Her fingers continued further down his hard thickness.

Yes, just as she thought, she’d touched him like this before. She didn’t recal anything specific,

but this was both exciting and comfortable at the same time.

He let out a low moan and shifted so that he could pul his underwear off. In the light, she was

able to get a good look at him and tried to recal seeing his arousal before. But no such

memory came to mind. She wrapped her hand around it, and sensing that he’d enjoy it, she

stroked him from the base to the tip with enough pressure to make him squirm in pleasure.

Finding his reaction intriguing, she stroked him again and then again until she established a

rhythm she somehow knew he liked.

His hand went over hers, an action that surprised her since he was enjoying what she was

doing, if she could judge his pleasure based on soft moans and his hips shifting in time with her

actions. Her eyes met his, and through his heavy breathing, he whispered, “There’s no sense in

finishing until you receive your due pleasure.”

Before she could ask him what he meant, he rol ed onto his side so he was facing her. He

brought his hand up to her cheek and cupped the side of her face. Leaning forward, he kissed

her, his lips a mere whisper on hers. And in that instant a memory did come to her, something

concrete, something she could hold onto. She recal ed sewing a pil ow out of a flour sack, the

smel of earth, the feeling of apprehension and joy… She suspected it had something to do

with Dave, and now she knew it did. It was their wedding night, the first time he made love to

her, and the specific memory was of her waiting for him to come to bed.

She thought to tel him she remembered that moment of waiting for him in their sod house and

how much she was in awe of him and marveled at his kindness toward her. But he pul ed away

from her so he could remove her nightshirt. Then he returned his mouth to hers and deepened

the kiss, his tongue tracing her lower lip until she parted her mouth for him.

The dominating emotion swirling around her was love. He loved her. To him, she was the most

beautiful woman he’d ever seen. She recal ed bits and pieces of the times they’d made love.

Wishing to be with him, to share in the marital bed and feel loved and beautiful again, she

wrapped her arms around him and rol ed onto her back so he was on top of her.

His mouth left hers, and he left a trail of kisses along her jawbone and then to her ear where he

whispered how much he loved her. She smiled and ran her hands down his back, taking note

of how his skin felt beneath her fingers. She was al -too-aware of his arousal which pressed

into the curls between her legs and how good her sensitive nub felt as his arousal shifted

against it. She bit her lower lip and moaned. She wanted more of this, so she spread her legs

and moved her hips so that his erection was stroking her.

“Not too fast,” he whispered, shifting away from her so that her intimate contact with him was

lost.

“I need you,” she murmured and tried to pul him back to her.

“Don’t worry. It’l happen.”

She groaned, partly in irritation and partly in pleasure when she realized he was going to

prolong this so when her release came, it would be that much better. He lowered his head to

her breasts as he brought his hand to the area between her legs. While he teased the flesh at

her entrance, his tongue caressed one of her erect nipples. Two of his fingers entered her.

She shivered in delight and squeezed his biceps, deciding he was right and they shouldn’t rush

it. Closing her eyes, she gave into the urge to feel everything he was doing to her—every kiss,

every brush of the tongue, every stroke of his fingers.

On their own accord, her hips moved to aid the mounting pleasure in her core, encouraging him

to continue. His mouth left one breast and went to the other, once again teasing her nipple and

sending tingles of delight traveling up and down her spine. Her flesh tightened around his

fingers as he continued to caress her core. When his mouth left her other breast, she assumed

he was going to bring his mouth to hers, but he didn’t.

He went lower on her body until his tongue found her sensitive nub. She moaned, her back

arching in response to his tongue which worked in circular motions on her. His fingers continued

their work inside her, and this time he didn’t stop when she came near the peak. Instead, he

kept going, and she was hardly aware of her whimpers. When she thought she couldn’t take it

anymore, her climax came. Her body shuddered in response as waves of pleasure came

crashing down on her. It seemed she spent almost a ful minute savoring each wave as it

lessened in intensity as he gently stroked her with his fingers and tongue. When she was ful y

satisfied, his fingers slid out of her and he brought his mouth back to hers to kiss her.

She reached between them and brought his erection into her, her flesh closing in around him,

welcoming him into her. He rocked his hips, his movements starting out slow. She worked with

him, matching his pace and wrapping her legs around his waist to pul him in deeper.

He kissed her cheek and then her neck. She sighed in pleasure and ran her hands to his waist,

noting his muscles as they strained with each thrust he made. His actions grew faster, more

demanding, and she strived with him, glad he was receiving pleasure from her as she had from

him. When he climaxed, he grew taut and groaned. He throbbed inside her, and when he

BOOK: To Have and To Hold
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