Cali McKinnon's

Fae Chronicles

Destiny Foretold

1.  Realization 

Connell was not by nature the sort of man to brood.  Almost anyone who knew him would say he was an optimist with a very agreeable personality.  Of recent, that was beginning to change.

When he was growing up, his family would hold festivals to celebrate the seasons--Samhain in the fall, Imbolc in the winter, Beltane in the spring, and Lughnassadh in the summer.  In fact, they were intended to be mock versions of the ancient pagan fire festivals.  Like the pagan festivals of the past, they might hold family weddings, or just visit, eat, dance, and have competitive games.  Of course, while all of this appears on the surface to be like a normal family reunion, there were differences.  In Connell’s family the competitive games included broadswords and longbows.  And then there was the fact that not all of the family was human.  In fact, he wasn’t--not totally that is.  His mother was human, but his father was half faery, Sidhe fae, or sith as he preferred to be known.

In recent years Connell had begun to realize the unique things about him and his family made it difficult, if not impossible, for him to have normal relationships outside his family, particularly female relationships.  Upon several occasions he had considered taking a date to one of the mock fire festivals the family had held, only to realize that the possible candidates would have considered the festival ludicrous, bizarre, or boring at best.

The thing that bothered him most was that he had dated quite a variety of women, and couldn’t think of one among them who would not be shocked to learn about his family.  Then they would talk to others about it, and that was the most disconcerting thing to realize, for the safety and wellbeing of his family relied on absolute discretion about their unique attributes.

Now the family was planning a get together at his parents’ home at Ardmuir Stud, and, once again, he was faced with arriving alone.  There was still a week to decide whether to invite a date, but his prospects were grim.  While it wouldn’t be a mock festival with authentic music, food, games, and dress, there would surely be broadsword dueling and perhaps some longbow competition between his father, grandfather, and great grandfather.  It sounded so odd to think of those titles, when in actuality his father, Cainnech, was now the oldest, his grandfather, Nicholas, the youngest, and his great grandfather, Cad, somewhere between them in age, or the appearance of age.  His fully sith grandfather appeared to be about Connell’s age.  He smiled at the thought of explaining that to someone who would never believe in time travel, much less in the existence of faeries.

To those outside the family, many of his kin had adopted the habit of just referring to one another as cousin.  It was just too complex to explain to others the differences in ages, or to expect them to believe it.  Now he was contemplating whether to even attempt inviting a newcomer, a woman he had dated for several months, into this strange world of his.  He hated always being the only one at these gatherings who was solo because there were two other unusual aspects to his family: they were very devoted to their loved ones and affection was not something that was stinted on--even in public.

It had perplexed Connell for some time that the human women of his family seemed to so readily accept the oddities of the family.  He knew that his mother, Jennifer, had been transported in time to the twelfth century where she met and fell in love with his father.  At the time, she had no idea Cainnech was the son of a faery since he wasn’t even aware of his parentage.  But, when she discovered the truth, that he was half sith, she had accepted it.  In fact, they were totally devoted to one another and had been for over twenty years.

Rita had fallen in love with Cad, who was fully human despite the fact that Connell didn’t think he was aging normally.  Cad, his great grandfather, had been transported in time to the eleventh century where he remained for eight years.  When Cad’s wife, Rita, was informed of this, and of the family’s quirks, she seemed to take it all in stride, even accepting the knowledge that part of his family was sith.

And then there was Arianna, Cad’s daughter and Connell’s grandmother.  Arianna had started this bizarre chain of events when she summoned the faery, Ghildor, and took him as her lover.  Few things had ever seemed to shake or surprise her, and she had loved her faery soul mate until the day she died.

Even Aleksia, Cad and Rita’s daughter, had made a journey in time to the twelfth century and was now in this time loved and was married to the sith Nicholas.

Connell wondered what the common denominator was since not all of these women had traveled time, not all were highly educated, and not all had fallen in love with a sith, yet they all seemed to accept the time travel and their lover’s exceptional family without question.  He wanted desperately to find such a woman, one who would love him even when she discovered he was part sith.  No one he’d met seemed capable of such open-mindedness, but he decided not to give up, to try once again.

His friend Lydia was well educated and came from a good family.  She went to the same university as Connell, where they had graduated a year apart.  He had received his master’s degree, while she had completed her bachelor’s degree.  She was several years younger than him, but he found her interesting and fairly open-minded about things such as the occult and paranormal activities.  She was a decent equestrian and participated in more sports than most of the women he dated.  Surely she would be a safe date for the family gathering, and surely if any of the unique aspects of his family should arise she could understand.  So, he decided to invite her, and she accepted.

 

When they arrived at Ardmuir Stud, his parents’ home and horse breeding farm, Lydia was impressed with the carefully fenced and groomed pastures.  Dozens of broodmares and their young foals dotted the lush green pastures.  She knew of Cainnech MacDugall and his excellent dressage trained horses, and she was excited to be dating his son.  The place didn’t disappoint her as the stable yard was immaculate, and the huge barn and riding arena were well maintained.  The business was clearly successful and well organized.  The beautiful home even had an attached indoor swimming pool.

Rather than go through the formal front entrance to the house, Connell took her directly into the back yard where the barbecue was to be held.  Seeing no one there, he realized they had arrived early.  Since Cad’s Jaguar was in the driveway, Connell realized Cad and Rita must already be inside, perhaps swimming.  He took Lydia in through the door to the swimming area.  As he expected, Cad was swimming and Rita was sitting by the pool sipping lemonade.  She acknowledged Connell and Lydia, so he went over to make the proper introductions.

“Would you mind waiting here with Rita while I find my mother and father?” he asked after a few minutes of polite conversation with Rita.

Cad was still lapping effortlessly, apparently unaware of their arrival.

“Of course not,” Lydia agreed, sitting across the table from Rita.  Rita poured her a glass of lemonade and they exchanged a few phrases of small talk after Connell left.  Lydia was watching Cad swim, and commented, “He sure has a smooth breaststroke.”

Since Cad was swimming, Connell hadn’t mentioned him when he introduced Rita and Lydia.  Rita decided to wait and allow Connell to make the introductions later since Lydia was his friend.  She responded, “Yes, he swims like no one I’ve ever seen before.”

Lydia watched for a while longer.  “I agree.  I’ve never seen anyone move so quickly and effortlessly through the water.  Even the swim team at the university appears to be thrashing the water in comparison.”

Rita had to agree with her assessment, but didn’t respond, as there was little else to say.  Cad’s skill at swimming had always impressed her and most anyone else who saw him swim.

After a few laps Cad realized Rita had company that must be Connell’s date, and since he didn’t want to be rude, he stopped lapping and went to join them.

As he stepped from the pool, Lydia who was now watching him closely, gasped.  Rita looked around, wondering what caused the frightened response, and then realized she was staring at Cad who had gone to retrieve a towel from a nearby bench.  He toweled off then wrapped the towel across his neck and turned to walk toward them when Rita heard another gasp, this gasp almost a moan, from Lydia.  Rita turned to the young woman and realized that Lydia looked almost sick, her face scrunched painfully.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

It was almost inaudible, but she heard Lydia mumble, “How horrible.”

Rita realized she must mean the terrible scars that marked Cad’s back, arms, and thigh.  By that time, Cad was near enough to them that Rita began introducing him to Lydia who never stopped staring at him, her eyes moving from one scarred area to another as she mumbled an insincere greeting.

Cad was polite, but a bit surprised at the young woman’s undeniable rudeness.  Finally he turned to Rita and said, “I promised Cainnech that I’d look in on that mare and her new colt, and afterward I have some other things to do.”  With that, he returned to the bench near the pool, gathered his clothes and boots, and left.

Rita was stunned.  She’d never seen anyone react to Cad in such a rude manner.  It was all she could do not to slap the young woman.

Lydia said nothing for a long time.  She had no idea that Cad and Rita were married since Rita had introduced him as Connell’s cousin rather than her husband so that Lydia could make the familial relationship.  Finally Lydia said, “That’s horrible, the way he’s so scarred.  He should cover himself when he’s around others.”

Her rudeness was so shocking that at first Rita figured that she had misunderstood.  “Excuse me?” she asked quietly.  “Caedmon has a gorgeous physique, one any man would be proud to show off.”

“Someone with such grotesque scars should keep them covered,” Lydia explained more clearly.

“Why?” Rita asked in amazement.  It was apparent now that she had heard the first statement correctly.

“Don’t you find his disfigurement offensive?”

Rita just shook her head negatively.  “No, I don’t.  In fact, I find nothing about Caedmon offensive, least of all his body--scars and all.”  She was aware that Connell and his parents were at the doorway now and her obligation to entertain this spoiled child was over.  “As to the disfigurement, I find the small tattoo on your ankle more distasteful, as you chose to be disfigured whereas Caedmon’s scarring was not by choice, but earned out of selfless love and courage.  Have a good day,” she said, leaving abruptly.  As she passed the others on the way out she said, “I’ll be with Caedmon for a while.  He went to check on the mare and new colt.”

The three turned in unison to watch as Rita left.  Jennifer asked, “What’s up with her?  I don’t think I’ve ever seen her so upset.”

Cainnech knew since he’d caught the rage of thoughts going through Rita’s mind, and it didn’t bode well for Connell’s date in his opinion.  In fact, she’d already gained a black mark against ever returning to his home, and he was almost certain Connell would agree once he knew.

Luckily Connell hadn’t been listening to Rita’s thoughts.  If he had it would have made the afternoon intolerable for him.  Cainnech and Jennifer met Lydia, and Cainnech managed to treat her politely despite the disrespect he felt for her calloused, shallow attitude.

When Cad and Rita returned, he was wearing his long sleeved shirt and jeans.  Rita had said nothing to him of the conversation she and Lydia had, but he was almost certain why the young woman had behaved so rudely.  Like Cainnech, he continued to be polite, but Rita barely spoke to Lydia again.  As it was, Lydia avoided them both since Jennifer had informed her that Rita was Cad’s wife, and she realized the faux pas she had made in commenting so candidly to Rita.

Later when Nicholas and Aleksia arrived, it became apparent to everyone present that Connell’s date had a cruel and ridiculous hang-up despite all her education and sophistication.  Nicholas was the epitome of handsome, young and perfect in almost every way, except for the vicious scar across his cheek.  When he turned to greet Lydia, she gasped as she had when Cad stepped from the pool.  The difference was that Nicholas was sith, and he heard her rude thoughts as clearly as if she had said, “Oh, how hideous,” aloud.

When she saw the mischievous sith smile, Rita grinned in anticipation of him putting Lydia in her place.

“I’m glad to meet you,” he said sweetly instead.

For the remainder of the afternoon, Nicholas was the epitome of gentlemanliness to Lydia.  Every time she looked up, he was smiling at her--the scar continuously reminding her of his imperfection.

 

After the meal, when the family would normally play water polo, Cad and Rita excused themselves.  Rita insisted that she had a headache and needed to return home to relax.  Nicholas knew it wasn’t true, but he understood her protective nature and was glad she decided upon that course.  He walked with them to the car and when he hugged Rita goodbye he whispered, “You’re a special woman, Rita, and I realize that more each day that I know you.”

“Thanks,” she said quietly in response.

“My grandson has had the misfortune of not finding anyone so wonderful thus far,” he apologized.  He was acutely aware that Rita wouldn’t speak out against Lydia out of respect for Connell, but that she loathed petty, shallow people.

“I don’t fault him for that, but I do hope that he’s aware of Lydia’s insensitivity before choosing her.”

“He will na choose her.  I’m afraid she’s shown herself too well today,” he said quietly as he helped her into the twelve-cylinder Jaguar that Cad kept in perfect condition despite its antique status.

On the drive home Cad wanted to ask Rita about her quiet conversation with Nicholas, but decided not to bother.  He knew she was upset, but was almost certain that she didn’t have a headache as she had claimed.

When they arrived home, she entered the door and started undressing, kicking off her shoes first, then stripping out of her blouse as she walked to their indoor swimming pool.  Cad watched in amusement, thinking she must really be upset to display her anger so openly.  Out of curiosity, and since he was not a man to miss an opportunity to see his wife naked, he followed.

Rita was stripped by the time she reached the pool and dove in.  Cad just crouched at the edge of the pool and watched with a lustful, loving gaze as his normally mild mannered wife began vigorously swimming laps.  This was surely a temper tantrum the likes of which he’d rarely seen before.  Or possibly she is suffering a hot flash and needed to cool off, he thought speculatively.

After a while she swam over near the edge of the pool and challenged, “Well, aren’t you going to come comfort me?”

“Nay, lass.  I’m a brave soul, but I dinna think I’d be safe with you in the state you’re in now,” he admitted with a teasing wink.  “Even the rigorous training I received as a Navy SEAL prepared to me for only so much danger, and always with careful consideration of the consequences.”

“Get in here this minute and make me feel better,” she demanded with a playful pout.

He began undressing, but couldn’t resist more teasing.  “Oh what a man will do for a piece of... for peace and quiet,” he corrected mischievously.

“And you of all men should know it, Caedmon MacDugall.” she volleyed the taunt.

As he slid effortlessly into the water, he said, loud enough for her to hear, “Now to tame the savage beast.”  Rita growled playfully as he swept her into his arms.  “You should na be so upset about such trivialities, love,” he admonished her, fully aware of the source of her anger.

After several deep kisses, she was his, and totally distracted.  Gathering her close, he swam to his favorite place behind the waterfall that flowed at the deep end of the pool.  It was their magic place, and if anything could convince Rita that she didn’t have a care in the world, she would have said it was to be there with Cad.  Over the years he had taken her there often to make passionate love to her, whether for his pleasure, or to distract her from her concerns.  She had rarely instigated it as she had today, and he realized he found that quite erotic as he sat her on the ledge that extended from the side of the pool just beneath the water.

He continued the passionate kisses in response to her unusual aggression.  “Are you sure you’re up to this, lass?  I remember leaving a family gathering less than an hour ago due to your headache,” he asked between heated kisses.

“Please forget the headache and concentrate on comforting me,” she insisted in a sultry tone, caressing him, fanning the desire that always smoldered between them.

“As you wish, love,” he said, accommodating her wishes.  “Are these tender?” he asked, flicking a tongue gently across a nipple hardened with anticipation.  He was still concerned at her unusual behavior and wanted to be sure his every action pleased her.

“No,” she responded, moaning as he took the nipple gently between his lips and caressed it delicately with his tongue.  By the time the foreplay turned serious, Rita was almost panting in anticipation, and he was on fire with every touch and caress of her damp, silky skin.

“Caedmon, please, now,” she pleaded between urgent deep kisses.  He said nothing, but positioned her so that his strong hands cradled her away from the hard edge of the pool and pulled himself against her, entering carefully and slowly to savor the sensation.  She climaxed at once, and the wonderful feeling almost undid his resolve to see her satisfied more than once.  He moved in rhythm to the ardent thrusts of her hips, but waited this one out through sheer willpower and conditioning.

Once she calmed, he began the sensuous kisses again, moving slowly and invitingly in time with them.  As he knew she would, her need became aroused again, and she eagerly encouraged him.  This time he would allow himself to seek the pleasure he wanted, knowing it would satisfy her as well.  As she peaked this time, she cried out urgently, “Caedmon,” while she flexed hard against his deep thrusts.  The cry of pleasure and her intense contractions were all the encouragement he needed to join her, thrusting hard one last time and shuddering with the glorious release.

He wanted it never to end, so he thrust a few times slowly, savoring the aftershocks of passion.  When he stilled and began just flexing gently, her inner muscles contracted in response.  It was a sensation he loved, one of which he could never get enough.

Finally he eased away from her.  “That was intense, love,” he said, kissing her neck just below the ear.

“Yes.  In fact, it was perfect.  Thank you, Caedmon,” she whispered contentedly.

“Would you like to swim for a while?” he offered.

“I was counting on it,” she replied with a smile.  They always swam together afterwards, and she loved that special time with him.

Cad pulled her close and swam under the waterfall into the deep end of the pool with her.  There they swam in lazy circles, saying nothing, but enjoying an occasional kiss and the companionship of one another.  Rita found no place on earth more comforting than being in Cad’s arms, whether in water or out.  He was truly an exceptional man, and she was forever grateful that they met, and that he chose to love her.

 

When Nicholas rejoined the group at the gathering, he sat silently with Aleksia while the others talked and decided on activities for the afternoon.  They decided to play water polo, but as Cainnech and Jennifer agreed later, it was noticeably unexciting without Cad and Rita--two of the best players.  In their normal fashion, the group would divide into equal teams and play a game, then rotate members, and play again to add diversity.

When Nicholas was teamed with Connell and Aleksia, he quietly asked Connell, “Are you paying attention to the thoughts of others today, lad?”

“No.  I figure you and Dad have that base covered.  I’m just trying to have a good time.”

“That’s an excellent idea.  Sometimes one encounters thoughts that are best unheard.  Your date is quite lovely,” he continued, glancing in Lydia’s direction.

Connell looked at him suspiciously, sensing that his grandfather had some ulterior motive in his comments.  “She is, but when you say something like that it makes me wonder what she’s been thinking,” he responded, looking over to see Jennifer and Cainnech planning strategy with Lydia.  Connell sensed her thoughts briefly and found that she was totally engrossed in the game.

However, Nicholas was aware that earlier, when she was first teamed with them, she had thought how she found Cainnech handsome, and Jennifer lovely.  She was pleased that Connell’s parents were so wonderful, wealthy, and perfect.  If she could snag Connell, whom she judged gorgeous and sole heir to their wealth, it would be the catch of her lifetime.

Nicholas was aware of the difficulty Connell was having in finding a serious girlfriend, someone who could accept his strange family.  But, he was also aware that Lydia would disappoint Connell when he became aware of her true nature, her idiosyncrasy about people with disfigurements, and her lust for wealth.  It was unfortunate, but the day was almost over and he felt Connell should wake up and become aware before he became more seriously involved with this shallow woman.  The others in the family might do little to interfere, but he was, after all, sith--an interfering creature by nature.

Sensing nothing unusual, Connell joined the group continued the game.  Cainnech and Jennifer were good, but no match for Aleksia and Nicholas when teamed together.  Connell and Lydia barely got their hands on the ball as it was.  After the game was over, they all agreed it was the last game of the day and started congratulating one another.  When Nicholas congratulated Jennifer, he bowed politely and took her hand to kiss it.  “Excellent game, milady,” he said in his most courtly voice.  He did the same for Aleksia, and kissed her cheek as well.  When he bowed and reached to take Lydia’s hand, she drew back, as though offended.

“I apologize if I offend, milady,” he said sweetly.

Connell heard the comment and turned to face them.  Lydia noticed and immediately replied, “Oh, I’m sorry.  I’m just not accustomed to such behavior.”  She extended her hand hesitantly and Nicholas repeated the bow and said, “Excellent game, milady,” but he didn’t kiss her hand as he had Jennifer’s and Aleksia’s.

His actions were enough though, and Lydia made an irrevocable mistake.  She had seen Connell turn and immediately thought, Oh God; I guess I’ll have to let him kiss my hand. Oh well, I’d let the hunchback of Notre Dame kiss it to marry into this family.  Thank God the other one left, though.

Nicholas knew from the immediate anger that crossed Connell’s eyes that he had heard the petty thought.  He was pleased to see anger instead of hurt, and even more pleased that his ploy had exposed the true woman behind the carefully cultured facade.  He went to Aleksia and assisted her from the pool.  Everyone helped with getting the game equipment stored, and then Nicholas and Aleksia went to change clothes and gather their things to leave.

“You won’t join us for dinner?” Jennifer asked when they returned, bewildered that they were leaving so early.

“We’ve had a long day, and I’d like to stop on the way home and check on Mom,” Aleksia explained.  Although she wasn’t privy to the information Nicholas had from reading Lydia’s thoughts, she was aware of how upset her mother had been earlier, and how Lydia had stared so openly at the scar on Nicholas’s face.  Now with Lydia’s reaction to Nicholas and his suggestion that they leave, she guessed the reason why Rita had insisted that she and Cad leave earlier.

On the drive home, Nicholas asked, “Do you want to drop by to check on your mother?”

“No.  I imagine my Mom is fine.  It’s Dad I’m worried about.  Do you know if that rude woman said anything to hurt his feelings?”

Nicholas laughed at that.  “You and your mother are too protective.  Caedmon would just shrug off any offensive comment, lass.  He wouldn’t even say anything about it because he wouldn’t want to upset anyone else.  He’s been accustomed to rude responses for some time, the worst when he competed in and won the first triathlon after his initial injuries.”

“I’ve never known anyone like her.  She acted like you were leprous or something just because of a scar on your face.  I can’t imagine how horrified she must have been at seeing Dad’s arms.”

“And his back and thigh, I’m afraid to say.”

“Oh, good grief.  He must have been swimming when she saw him.”

“I believe so, at least he had been and was getting out of the pool to go and meet her.”

“No wonder Mom was upset and wanted to leave before we played water polo.  It’s a wonder they didn’t leave immediately.  I feel so bad for Connell.  He must be so embarrassed to realize his date is so shallow.”

“Too sheltered a life and too many ambitions would be her major faults,” he said patting Aleksia’s hand affectionately.  “And it is sad for Connell, but it’s far better that he finds out now than later.”

“I agree, especially if she’s after nothing more than his money.”

“And his perfect body,” Nicholas added.  “Speaking of which, I’ve been thinking of your perfect body all afternoon.  That beautiful tummy of yours, barely covered by that tiny swimsuit has my blood simmering,” he said as he parked the car in their driveway.

“Admit it, you don’t find me sexy, you’re just infatuated with the baby,” she teased, knowing he was fascinated with the fact that she was pregnant.

She was almost three months into her pregnancy now and was convinced she was already showing, though he wasn’t sure how she came by that notion since her tummy was almost as flat as it had been ever since he had known her.  “Nay, lass.  I’m not infatuated, I’m almost intoxicated with the lust I feel for you, and the joy I feel because you are with child,” he said, leaning across the console of the car to kiss her.  When he finished, he breathed deeply and asked, “Here?  Or will you come upstairs with me?”

Aleksia laughed.  “Have you been spying on my parents again for ideas on unusual places to make love?” she asked with a mischievous grin.

“Nay.  But believe me, if I needed hints, that would be the place to seek them,” he agreed before transporting with her to the bedroom.

“Will that hurt the baby?” she asked after he settled her on the bed.

“I certainly hope not.  In fact, I hope it helps him adapt to it.”

“Him?  Is our baby a boy?” she asked seriously.

“For ease of conversation.  As to the true gender, I’ll never tell,” he said, although he knew.

“I could convince you,” she threatened, beginning to unbutton his jeans.

“You play unfair, sweet lass,” he said as he closed his eyes and imagined where that action was leading.

“You bet I do.  If I learned one thing from my parents, it’s that all is fair in love and war, and this is love, darling.”

He groaned with pleasure as she released and stroked him.  “They raised you well, lass.  But isn’t this war since you’re interrogating me?”

“No,” she said, sliding the jeans down past his hips.  “If it were war, I’d be struggling.”

That sent a shudder through his body.  He loved the way it aroused him when she pretended to struggle with him.  “Aye, that would definitely be war,” he agreed.

It was all he could take of the teasing.  Standing, he removed the jeans and t-shirt he was wearing and lay down beside her on the bed.  “Now, little mother, let’s check that tummy,” he said, slowly undressing her and kissing her lavishly in the process.

His kisses could be as delicate as the touch of a butterfly’s wing, or passionate enough to send waves of wanton heat through her body.  She never knew what to expect, but was never disappointed.  It was as though he knew just what she wanted and needed, and, since he was sith, she was certain he must.  Today, she needed his comfort and security, and although they had teased one another earlier, he was aware of her true need and made love to her as though she were a naïve virgin bride whom he cherished more than life itself.

When they reached that pinnacle of no return together, he surprised her once again, giving her his physical love as well as showering her with some of the intense sensations of pleasure he was feeling.  It was almost overwhelming to her despite his attempt to temper it and only share small parts of the sensations he was feeling.

After she recovered enough to speak, she asked in a whisper, “What in heaven’s name was that?”

He smiled, obviously pleased with her reaction, and explained, “An orgasm, and tiny bits of what I feel when I make love to you.”

“You’re kidding, right?”

“Not the least.”

“Tiny bits?” she asked incredulously.  “It’s enough to drive me to nymphomania.  It’s like candy to my senses.  If that’s tiny bits, I can’t even imagine what you must feel.”

“I do rather enjoy it,” he admitted, waggling his eyebrows playfully.  He thought to himself that the trick was to be sure she felt the pleasure, but was not stirred beyond that to some insatiable desire for more, as it was quite an addictive pleasure.  That meant obtaining just the right balance, with a defined beginning and peak, in harmony with her body’s pace.

“First, you give me showers of kisses without ever touching me, and now this.  When you said you’d introduce me to your sith lovemaking slowly, I thought you meant it.  This was like going from riding a tricycle to driving a dragster.  Did I miss something in between?”

That caused him to smile and deliver a gentle whisper of the kiss sensations across her cheeks and throat.  “You missed nothing in between.  That was just about as gradual as I could manage, under the circumstances,” he admitted.

“Circumstances?”

“Aye.  As I told you earlier, I am intoxicated with your motherhood, and it heightens my senses.  Therefore, the sensations I feel are more acute than usual.”  It wasn’t an exaggeration; he was truly intoxicated with joy that she was pregnant.  Although he had fathered Cainnech, he hadn’t been around Arianna during her pregnancy.  Being sith, he could sense this child as it grew and he was fascinated with the entire process, and awed that women were capable of such an extraordinary thing.

“Will you do me a favor, please?” she requested.

“Only if it’s reasonable,” he agreed, stroking her tummy affectionately before leaning to kiss it delicately.

“It is.  Let’s refrain from any sith lovemaking above the whisper kisses level until after I’ve had this child.  As strongly as it affects your senses, I’m afraid to think what it would be like once you’ve felt the baby kick.”

He took her hand and kissed it gently.  “You’re right.  I hadn’t considered that it might get worse, but it most likely will.  I can wait,” he agreed.

“I just hope I can,” she murmured, remembering the wonderful sensations.

* * * * *