After my emotionally-exhausting cogitation and my physically-exhausting foray out of bed, I was ready for a nap. Elaine was there holding my hand when I awoke, although I didn’t know if she stayed the whole time to gaze upon the manliness of my face or had been off doing something useful and returned with fortuitous timing.
We sent Oswald to request the presence of the count, and informed him of both our intended nuptials and our joint commitment to the education of his daughters. “Kay, I’ve never met a man more full of surprises. I’ve been sitting around drinking and regretting that I spared your life, and now this. Calls for a celebration. Page!” The baby-faced lad who’d followed Maleagans to my room hopped to attention. “Go tell the cook to start roasting that side of boar that’s been hanging for a week. Should be ripe by now.”
I somehow managed to contain my enthusiasm without reinjuring my ribs.
“Are you sending your squire to ask the king’s approval, or will you be waiting until you’ve healed enough to ride?”
Ask Arthur’s approval. I guess in the back of my mind I’d known we had to do that, but I’d avoided thinking about it directly. Before I could formulate an answer, however, Elaine furnished one for the both of us.
“We shall be informing my brother in person, Count Maleagans. All in all, I think that would be best.”
“Maybe I’ll go with you and announce my own engagement. It seems the Lady Lorena, despite a long, heartrending history of barrenness, has managed to get herself knocked up. Something Hobart never managed to do. Seems that although the man managed his farms better than most, he was less than adequate at plowing his own fields. Ha!” Maleagans puffed his chest out, clearly proud of his wit as well as his accomplishments in the impregnation department. He glowed at our congratulations, but eventually left to make his way back to his doings.
Elaine turned to Oswald and gave him a big smile.
“Um. Your Majesty. If you have no further need of me here, I think I’ll go hang out with the armsmen. See what I can learn.”
“Thank you, dear Oswald. We will send for you if we need you.”
“Wonder what that was all about?” I asked after he was out the door.
“Hard to say.” Elaine’s lips pursed and her eyes twinkled as if trying to hold amusement in. “Here, let’s scoot you over in your bed a little.”
We managed that feat without too much pain, with the Princess pushing on my hips and legs and me holding my breath and my chest muscles tight and trying not to moan out loud. Then Elaine swung herself up into the little space we’d just freed and nestled into my side and shoulder with a huge sigh. I put my arm around her, trying not to damage her too badly with my splints.
We lay there without speaking for a long while, Elaine molded perfectly into me as if we were two halves of a broken pot. I could feel her breath warm against the hollow of my neck. Her hair smelled of lavender.
When she spoke, her voice was muffled into my neck. “I should have thought to bring my Ovid. I could have read you love poems, since you are too battered for love itself. Now we’ll just have to figure out something else to amuse us.” She giggled—a sound I could not have imagined her making—and began to nibble on my neck, alternating the softness of her lips with the occasional harder nip.
“Ah, you poor thing. Here you can scarcely move, much less defend yourself from my advances. What a wicked woman I am, to take such unfair advantage of you. Were you healthy and whole, I would be earning myself a spanking that would leave my tender bum rosy and bruised and me unable to sit for days.”
She lifted herself up on her elbow and transferred her nibbling to my cheek and ear and the corner of my lips.
“I could never hurt you like that, Elaine.”
“Not even if I asked nicely?”
I turned my head to meet her lips, but she was more intent on her nibbles and nips, extending her feast to my eyelids and the edge of my jaw. Finally I managed to corral her head and kiss her thoroughly. Her naughty teasing provoked me to a little more roughness than necessary. When we finally came up for air, her lips were rosy and perhaps a little bruised, like her description of her buttocks. I suppose I could have bruised her arse too if I’d wanted by poking her a few times with my splints. But it didn’t seem like the right response, so I managed to restrain myself except for a gentle pat in the right vicinity with my heavily bandaged hand. A touch that I scarcely felt.
“Oh Kay, what a tragedy. Here the fair princess’s tender arse presents itself to your right hand, for caressing or swatting as you see fit, and you are too wounded to take advantage. Your ribs make movement of any sort a painful effort, and your head pounds whenever you shake it around or even indulge in lusty thoughts. It will be weeks before you can examine the merchandise thoroughly and properly. Oh, whatever is a lusty wench to do?”
Elaine slipped her hand beneath the covers and began to tug gently on the hairs on my belly. “Well, to be fair to myself, I guess I should conduct my own examination. After all these years of a monastic existence, to marry a man only to find out that he has been rendered hors de combat while dueling for me would be worse than a tragedy. Might even be considered a travesty.”
She thumped my belly a couple of times with a solid flick of her middle finger, then prodded me in a line along my navel, then an inch lower, then three. “Hmm. Abdomen seems unharmed. That’s good.” She then began drawing her nails up and down my thighs, two or three strokes on each, getting ever closer but never quite managing to touch my groin. Slipped her hand under the cheek of my arse and gave it a pinch as if she were buying a haunch of beef. “Looks as if the legs are intact. Musculature is strong and resilient. That’s good.”
As she reached back across my body, the back of Elaine’s hand barely brushed my rod, which by now was more like a staff of oak than a mere piece of mortal flesh. “Oh.” She took me in her hand and gave me a firm but gentle squeeze. “Man parts appear to be working quite nicely. That’s good. Very good, even.” She removed her hand from under the covers and nestled back into my neck.
“Glad I passed inspection,” I managed to choke out without whining.
Elaine began nibbling on my face again, then pushed herself back up on an elbow so we were looking at each other. “But now that I consider the situation a bit more, I don’t think it’s conducive to good healing to leave you in this condition. The blood flow will be disrupted and irregular, and you could relapse. No, I definitely should do something about that.” She reached under the cover as she spoke and gave me another squeeze to emphasize the word, ‘that.’
She pulled the covers down so that my crotch was uncovered, then swung a leg across my body. “You lie very still and concentrate on not hurting yourself.” Elaine tugged at her skirt until it flowed around us, covering us completely. I could feel her hot nakedness where she was sitting on me.
“Your majesty, are you making ready to do something unseemly? You’re royalty. Don’t you think we should wait until we’re properly wed?”
“What a fickle woman I am. And so unfair! After chiding you that true love is patient, I seem to have run completely out of patience.”