The night flew by too quickly. Sex with all of the trimmings and techniques that I’d learned from Morgan, but the joy of emotional involvement elevated our lovemaking to a whole new level of enjoyment and fulfillment.
I managed to sleep a bit, only to be awakened by a lewd exhibition of ardor that I would have thought more fitting of Morgan than Elaine. Well, just goes to show how little I knew about women. Fortunately, I seemed to be learning quickly. Or perhaps it was merely that sexual enthusiasm ran high in the family.
Maybe I can get up to Orkney and make it a sisters trifecta.
Seems that no matter how busy my mind might be, there is still always a little capacity left over for irreverence.
The next time I awoke it was fully light. I was thoroughly exhausted but deliriously happy for all that. Beside me, raven hair splayed over the pillow . . .
Except that Elaine didn’t have black hair, but rather a light chestnut shade with sprinkles of silver.
My heart clenched in a silent sob, but my mind wasn’t all that surprised. Even through the fuzziness of my enchantment, I’d known that Morgan didn’t really have the ability to transport Elaine through a fucking bowl, no matter how powerful a witch she might be. Apparently my subconscious had decided that it would ultimately be better not to ask a bunch of stupid questions, just go along for the ride.
At least it was a nice ride.
Think if you ever end up in bed with the Princess Elaine, it’ll be that good?
I’d learned the answer to that question during the night. It is emotional involvement that makes up the greatest component of sexual enjoyment. Not the skill or the enthusiasm of your partner or the perfection of her breasts. No wonder I’d long since grown weary of the casual dalliance.
There in the hard cold light of morning, forty-five seemed like a very advanced age to learn such a simple lesson.
A real sob threatened to escape my throat this time. But I bit it down hard. Knights don’t cry, you pantywaist. What would Oswald think? Just in case, I got out of bed so I wouldn’t disturb Morgan.
Standing at the window, looking at the oak grove outside her window in the morning sunlight, I realized that I was in no way enchanted. Reviewing the drama and passion of the night before, I discovered that I had been in charge of myself then as well. Curious. So Morgan had used some serious spellcraft but only to deceive my senses, not to control my will. Trusting that when I awoke, I wouldn’t be so angry that I would slay her as she slept. No chance of that, of course—I guess Morgan knew that much about me.
Actually, Morgan knew quite a bit about me, truth be known. And I about her. And further: most of what I knew about her, I liked. Her fierce independence, for one thing. So rare in women, I found it most attractive whenever I encountered it. And her intelligence was unquestionable. Not only could she read, she could think for herself. Long division? Probably not, but I’d wager she could learn.
Maybe I was pining after the wrong sister. Morgan was here and available. Elaine was imprisoned for at least the next decade behind some shit-colored walls by my own stupid respect for the sanctity of oaths. Even my attempt to impoverish myself for her had failed.
Love is so fucking irrational. Who designed this system, anyway?
I went looking for breakfast for my bedmate and found Oswald lurking in the hallway instead.
“Sire, you look most, um, well I can’t think of a word that describes how you look, but you definitely look that way. Are you enchanted by any chance?”
I shook my head.
“I thought not. I wasn’t looking forward to forcing the Queen to release you again. Frankly, I was just plain lucky last time. She might not be amused by a repeat encounter, and I’m no match for her under any circumstance. You either, Sire, if you’re looking for advice.”
“No, you’re absolutely right on that: I’m no match for Queen Morgan.”
“So what exactly are we doing here, Sire?”
“Oswald, my lad, we came here in a desperate attempt to save Arthur’s kingdom from Father Ignatius’s plot. I didn’t have a lot of confidence in my chances, but I believe that I may have actually succeeded. Have you had breakfast yet? I’m going to take a plate to the Queen, and then perhaps we should take some time for your lessons.”
But we didn’t. Morgan was sitting up in bed when I returned with a breakfast tray. I’d cooked her a leek and goat cheese omelet, which would have been perfect had it come with a cup of kaffka. May every single god and goddess from Athena to Zoroaster suffer from eternal pubic lice for not planting at least one bush of kaffka beans here.
“Ah, Kay. I’ve come to realize that the best lover is not he most accomplished in bed, but rather he most skilled in the kitchen. Come and be my seneschal. It may not be much of a kingdom, but it could be one hell of a . . . what’s a suitable term . . . bed and breakfast?”
Did I fail to mention witty in my catalog of Morgan’s good features?
“Your majesty, that is a far better offer than the last one I received—Maleagans would to allow me to court your sister if I abandon Arthur and instead run his shit-colored household. Being your seneschal is much more tempting, I must say. And I suppose somewhere in your bag of tricks you have a spell that can cause a man to fall out of love. But I think I’ll just suffer for a little longer, see what develops.”
“Pity. Well, consider your debt paid in full. I shall begin work on your request forthwith. Or at least as soon as I’ve finished this magnificent concoction you’ve brought me.”
“How long do you think it will take?”
“Oh, not much time. On the other hand, that sweet lad is so handsome, so innocent. So perhaps two days?”
“Lest jealousy consume me during that time, I think Oswald and I will take a little side trip, and see you tomorrow night or the following morning.”
“You’re sweet. Here, give me a little kiss before you go.” Morgan let the covers slip to show off her perfect breasts, but I think it was more just habit than lustful intent.
“By the way, to the best of my knowledge there is no spell that can cause a man to fall out of love. Pretty much only the object of his affections can do that, and not always even then.”
“And thus the unhappy saga of Tristan and Iseult?”
“Case in point.”