Eyes closed, she lay, just woken, in the huge bed, memories of the day before flooding to her. Her wedding had been a quiet affair as his family were abroad and could not get home. But she hadn’t minded. All she wanted was him and still could not believe that a gentleman like him could really have wished to marry a simple village girl like her!
But he had. He’d not even tried to be fresh with her like the lads she’d grown up with had. He had not touched her, treating her instead like one of those ladies he often had up at the big house.
The big house! Now she was lady of the hall! She would need to learn how to give orders rather than take them, he’d said. She’d smiled, embarassed at the thought of being above her friends. But he’d told her that she could take it slowly and use Mrs Turpin, the housekeeper, for any firing or hiring. His fingers had lightly touched her hand as he’d said this and any fears had melted away with his touch.
Obviously she had not been allowed to tell anyone about the marriage. He’d wanted it done before people found out, so nobody could break them up. His family would, he admitted, be horrified in his choice and hers may try to send her away. She’d agreed willingly. She knew her Mother would understand when she saw how happy they were.
They’d married in secret, in a town a few hours away, travelling back in the cart under cover of darkness. Tomorrow would be the time to tell all but he had wanted her all to himself tonight.
Clean linen surrounded her naked body, which tingled in memory of the night past. Her wedding night. Tender touches, sharp pain but then an ecstasy she’d not known before. All her dreams of this moment fulfilled in a thousand soft kisses and exclamations of love from this, her new husband.
Except these were not clean sheets she thought, feeling cold and uncomfortable. She opened her eyes slowly and saw it was still night. Not yet morning as she had thought. She turned over, realising no soft sheets enveloped her, and her arm was grazed by something under her. She laid her hand down on the bed but found it was not a bed at all, but stone. Cold and hard. She got up carefully, fingers moving over the floor before standing, hands stretched out in the dark and only meeting a wall. More stone. Exploring she found she was in a small room, about 6 foot by 6 foot only, pitch black. No, there was a small patch of very low light up in a far corner.
She heard her husband’s voice, almost in her ear. ‘Are you awake, beloved?’
Turning she reached out for him but nobody was there.
‘Ah, good’ he continued and she realised the sound was from the same area as the light she barely saw. ‘thank you for last night my love. I have to leave you now. Farewell’
She heard footsteps from behind the wall, saw the light flicker out, and then heard a door click in the room beyond.
He heard her scream and cry for a day, then soft sobs when he passed the door the next.
After a week there was silence and he carried on as though she’d never been there.
I’m looking on this as perhaps the prologue to my book, The Village Cuckoo