Celestine did not stop until she was riding into the long drive up the River Road. Mother Superior sent Ste. Mary Clarisse to tell Pierre to go home right away, he was needed, and Ste. Mary Clarisse stayed and closed up the house on rue du Maine. Pierre was only ten minutes behind Celestine, and wondered what the hell had transpired for him to go home so fast. Was he going to have to hide Celestine also? He saw her horse turning into his drive and Josef running to meet her. She was not alone, but had a nun with her. He caught up to them as she dismounted and reached up for Marguerite. The young girl was crying as Josef grabbed his sister and crushed her to him. Pierre marveled at this woman who had been his Captain’s shy, sweet wife only a few hours before. She was getting out of a nun’s habit and taking her horse around to the stables. What the hell had turned the world around? When had women started playing Robin Hood, and nuns wielded knives? Pierre caught up with her at the stables.
“Do I dare ask?” He was looking for the horns that surely protruded from her soft curls.
“Easy as stealing eggs from a hen’s nest, rush in, grab Marguerite, and rush out. What? Being a hero is fun, nez pa? Men.” She had begun to laugh, but stopped and fell into Pierre’s arms shaking all over, and let the tears release the fear she had been hiding. She was holding on for dear life to this friend with the strong arms, and gentle nature. Why couldn’t all men be like her Maurice and Pierre?
“You’re safe now, my darling. Shhh. You were very brave, and now you’re safe. Pierre is never going to let you do that again. Understand? Do you understand, Celestine?” He was looking into her face with his stern eyes telling her how dangerous her mission was and how foolish she was to have done it alone.
“Do you have any idea what Maurice would do to me if anything happened to you?” She had to admit, she had not thought of that.
“I couldn’t help it, Pierre. I couldn’t take a chance on his going to jail or losing his little girl.” She knew she would have to do it again if it kept her husband out of trouble. And she might if they could not safely hide Marguerite and Josef.
“Oh, Celestine, my darling, are you all right?” It was Colette running into the stable and upsetting the horses.
“Marguerite told me what you and Mother Superior did for her.” She grabbed her friend from Pierre, and walked with her back to the house.
Pierre watched the two women walk back to the house ignoring his very exsistance; he felt like a stud horse with no mare. Women, love us up, take what we have to offer, then leave us out to pasture.
Celestine knew what she had to do. She would dress and drive back into town as if nothing had taken place. She had to make this right. With the whole Parish looking for them, they would surely be found. The whole country was brilliant at catching runaway slaves, it had become an art form, and there were people who made their living doing it, charging large sums of money for the pleasure of the deed, and sadly, usually got the terrified people they sought. She had no good place to hide these two. This was one mistake Maurice was going to have to rectify before she took anymore of the blame. Once more she forgot she had Pierre on her side. The same day, he sent his wife and child and two young “slaves”; gifts for his parents up the river to his parent’s home in Natchez on the Mississippi. Letty was almost a year old and had not spent much time with her grandparents, and her visit would be a wonderful gift for Pierre’s parents. Colette would be too worried about him and Celestine to do anything but sit on the long porch, and shred her expensive handkerchiefs.
Celestine went back to the city, opened the house and waited five days before going back to see M. Dubonnet. The house had been searched twice, but of course, no one was found. It was an ongoing investigation and as such M. Dubonnet almost fainted watching her glide into his office as if nothing had happened.
“What are you doing here, Mme. Dubois?” He bent to whisper in her direction.
“I’m here to inform you of the death of two of my slaves. They escaped and were found in the bayou down in Barataria. I’ve had them buried down there and I’d like two death certificates drawn up if you wouldn’t mind, Monsieur.”
“This will never work, Madame. There are too many people looking for them. They’ve been at the convent every day since the girl escaped.”
“Then they should’ve looked elsewhere, and found them before they drowned in the swamp like animals, Monsieur.”
She was holding steady as only Celestine could and not about to change course.
“I don’t wish to charge anyone with their deaths. I’d like it to be quietly recorded in the court, and I wish to hear no more of it. Once my husband returns he can go to the proper authorities. This is a man’s business and I’m just an uneducated woman trying to do the right thing.” She looked up at Dubonnet with cold steel blue eyes that threatened to cut his throat if her request was not granted.
“I’ll draw up the papers, Mme. Dubois. I must warn you, there’ll be officers wanting to examine these graves.” He looked to see a reaction but got only a lovely smile instead.
“Of course, M. Dubonnet. I’ll be glad to escort them myself as I have a map where I was told their graves can be found.”
She left his office and walked back home. What the hell would she do if asked to present graves and bodies? She had not been home two hours when she heard the cries on the street that the young murdering slaves, had been found dead in the swamps of Barataria. Another hour brought the constable to her gate. He had an entourage and wanted to see for himself the graves and bodies. Celestine went upstairs and dressed in her traveling clothes and met them back in the courtyard. She was not a liar, and this her first big lie was so huge, she had said prayers, and rosaries, and then, given it over to God. The children were in His hands at this point and should be safely in Natchez. She had done all she knew how. She knew the trip to the non-existent graves would take two days on a small boat, and she had to pack and pray. She wondered if praying for a lie was a sin.
She was sitting in the front of the little boat using every brain cell she could muster to invent her next lie. She was actually surprised they had believed her thus far.
Pierre was told of her excursion when he went to the house to check on her. Neighbors on either side were anxious to tell him of the deaths, and her trip to show the men where to find the bones.
Oh, damn. What have Colette and I done getting Maurice involved with this crazy woman?
He paid a visit to M. Dubonnet and found the gossip was true, and he should set off at once. Pierre knew he could go faster than the boat full of men, if he hired a piroque and went alone, but they had a half day’s head start.
Celestine was becoming more worried by the hour. What would they do to her? Would she be jailed? That would be a nice homecoming for her husband. Would they hang her? No, Pierre and M. Dubonnet would never let that happen. Would they? Both men were exasperated over her mistake, and this latest lie would not make them happier.
They were in the morning of their second day when another boat approached from the south. There were three men in the boat, two looking like the men she had grown to know and hate mounting her mama in the little crib back on the rue du Quai. Maybe she had come full circle. But, if they meant to do mischief, the men in her boat could do some damage also.
Jean Laffite had been told about the little blonde haired woman, the wife of a Sea Captain who rescued a young slave from the gallows almost single handedly a week before. He was new to this territory… were there more beautiful women like her, ready to cut a man’s throat for pleasure? He looked in the boat coming down the Bayou and saw the most beautiful young woman he had ever seen. She was an angel with a halo of blonde curls escaping her hood, with skin like warm milk to a Tomcat. Surely this was not the very one who had ridden into town in men’s clothes and attacked the twenty jailors at the Cabildo? What a treasure! He was not usually envious of another man, but this was a woman he would love to know… without her husband. What the hell is she doing on my bayou, and how can I keep her here?
The men pulled up alongside the boat holding Celestine.
“Bonjour, Monsieur.” Lafitte said to the guards. “What brings you down my way?” Celestine looked over at the dangerously handsome man dressed in black. He was not at all like his men. He was classically handsome, with a large black mustache, black curly hair and bright hazel eyes. His broad shoulders and muscular legs had the stance of the open sea about him… this debonair man would be at home on a ship or in a fine drawing room and was definitely a man to be noticed.
“We’re looking for the graves of two young slaves. Mme. Dubois says they are buried around here. She says they were drowned and buried in these swamps, and she’s here to show us where.”
“No need, Monsieur. I buried them myself, but alas, I’m sorry to say Mme. Dubois, the graves I chose were too shallow, and the gators ate both bodies.” He looked at his men who both shook their heads sadly and removed their dirty hats to show faux respect of the dead.
“I asked you to be respectful and give them a decent burial, how could you let this happen, Monsieur... ?” She realized too late, she did not know the handsome man’s name so she left it at that. She had heard of a pirate moving into the area, but had no idea this would be he.
“Monsieur what, Mme. Dubois?” It was the guard asking her the question, and looking intently to her waiting for an answer..
“Don’t be ridiculous, Jean Laffite and Captain Dubois go way back. Don’t we, my pet?” He was bowing and giving her a darkly handsome, and very sensual smile. She caught her breath at the beauty of his hazel eyes with the long black lashes.
“Of course... Jean. I’m sorry I accused you. You’re right, of course, I should’ve known, the swamp wasn’t suitable.”
She smiled at the man and relaxed into the smile he gave back, she was on a sinking swamp with this lie. For a woman who never lied, it was coming quite naturally to her… and quite often.
“You must stay for the night, Madame. My men will take you back in the morning. We have so much to talk about. How is your dear husband?”
“He’s fine... Jean. He’s in Haiti at present.” Why had she not said he would be sailing into port any moment? Now this pirate knew her husband was not going to be home anytime soon. She was doing it again, speaking before thinking.
“Give me your hand, my pet; we don’t want the gators to see you as dinner.” She had no choice, as he could give her over to her lie at any second if he so chose. As she reached to take his hand, she felt to see if her knife was still hidden in the little sheath sewn to the bone in her corset under her arm. It was snuggly safe and waiting.
“I’m taking your word for this, Laffite. If you say the slaves are dead, then I believe you. You have no reason to lie about this.”
“Of course not, Monsieur. What do I care if the gators eat a couple of lost souls?” He looked at Celestine’s eyes turning dark and angry.
“Sorry, my pet, just having a laugh with the officer.”
Pierre had seen the exchange from a distance and wondered what the hell had transpired. He would catch up to them soon… he may not be able to save her, but he could die trying. If he knew this waif, Celestine, she still had her knife, and the pirates had better beware for their own safety.
Maurice received Dubonnet’s packet and headed back to New Orleans the same day. It was his fault, he knew his wife didn’t believe in keeping slaves, and without his introduction, what was she to think? It had never crossed his mind she would try to free them before he returned. He had been headed back for five days and was making better time coming back than he expected. Anna asked him to leave the day he arrived, no she commanded him; as she knew her children were in danger. If anything happened to the children he would never forgive himself for not telling Celestine to protect them. He thought he had… had Josef not given her his letter? Why had Pierre not stopped her? He had finally reached the mouth of the Mississippi, and stopped a fishing boat to inquire of news of New Orleans. If the worst had happened he would be a sitting duck, sailing into the harbor to be arrested, and then he couldn’t help anyone. The fishermen only knew that the two young slaves had been killed in the swamp, and eaten by the alligators. Jean Laffite had buried them himself.
There must be some horrible mistake, why would Josef and Marguerite be down this far in the first place. He could not let it rest. He had to see for himself. He put Le Celestine at anchor and took the dingy into the bayous. He knew there was a mistake, there had to be a mistake. Anna would never forgive him, and he could not stand her losing another child; especially since it was his fault and his alone. He didn’t want to think about losing them either. They had been with him ten years, on sea voyages and land, and before that they were the only family he knew. Marguerite was only a baby when her father died, and Josef was a toddler. He taught them to read, write, do arithmetic, as much history as he knew himself, and the sailors taught them how to read the stars and use a sextant, and other instruments of the sea. They worked as his ‘servants’ because they wanted to pull their weight, and there was no other reason for a white Sea Captain to travel with two young people of color around the Atlantic. They kept in touch with their mother and wrote to her daily. Whenever they reached a port, there would be packets of letters going to Anna, and was the only thing keeping her sane. Maurice made it possible for her to spend time with them on the safety of his ship when they were in port. It had worked out as well as could be expected. He left them in New Orleans this time so they could help Celestine, and she could watch out for them. His stupidity may have caused their deaths, and he would not rest until he knew for sure.
Celestine was in… way over her head. She may be a street rat, but she was in the company of a pirate for God’s sake; and not just any pirate, Pierre told her he was known as the Terror of the Gulf, and you do not get a nickname like that by being a friendly uncle… and she owed the dangerous man a huge favor. He was smitten with her, and she could not help but to be flattered by it. He was the perfect host to Pierre and herself, and kept them in his compound for two days. Pierre was trying to stay brave, and she knew if push came to shove, he would die protecting her, and she sure didn’t want to leave Colette a widow to raise Letty alone. Celestine looked over at Pierre’s bravery and thought he seemed more like a brave mouse in an owl’s nest than the seasoned sailor he was. Whatever happened she would tell Colette of his bravery under pressure. Celestine had gotten them both in this mess, and she needed to get them out. The children would be safe until she could get back, and have their names officially changed, and new papers drawn up, but they would not be slave papers; they would be official adoption papers.
Meanwhile, she needed this handsome pirate’s protection. His dark good looks and beautiful eyes would turn her head if she were not so in love with her husband. This was a man to be reckoned with in any situation. Celestine was discovering that a dangerous man with beautiful eyes and gentle manners was a sweet challenge to a woman’s affections... and lust. Asking for protection for Marguerite and Josef until her husband came home would be another big favor, but she had no choice.
After dinner the men all disappeared except for Pierre and Jean. Pierre would not leave her alone with this man; at least she hoped, but not for the reason Pierre suspected. She was on dangerous ground here with her newly awakened power over and appreciation of men, and was not as comfortable as she should be in this particular situation. She thought of playing the damsel in distress to the pirate, but he had regaled his men at dinner both nights with her exploits at saving the girl single handedly from the gallows.
“Come, my pet, walk with me in the moonlight.” Your friend can watch from the gallery. He wouldn’t be much help if I intended you harm, nez pa?”
“Don’t underestimate him, sir. He’s very brave, and owes my husband many favors.” Surely that did not sound as simpleminded to him as it did to her.
“You’re the brave one, my pet. Tell me, why’d you come into my world if you thought you’d be in danger? Does danger amuse you?”
“Of course, Capt. Laffite, why else would I be walking in the moonlight with such a handsome, dangerous man as yourself?” Woe, I’m alluring now. Yes sir; I’ll have him eating out of my hand in no time at all.
The big pirate turned to her, put an arm around her waist, and pulled her so close she could feel his response to her flirting. He kissed her deeply and found her tongue a willing partner before she could take a breath.
“Do not toy with me, Madame. I can be a generous lover or a very dangerous adversary… or, I can be your friend. Which would you prefer?” He released her and stood back. His look told her he was deadly serious.
I’m in such trouble here, oh damn; what have I done? She turned to see if Pierre had seen the kiss, but he was looking at something coming up the bayou.
“Capt. Laffite?” She had another idea.
“You were calling me Jean at dinner, why am I now Capt. Laffite?” He was enjoying this much more than she.
“Jean... I’m only a simple woman in a man’s world, and I need someone intelligent and powerful like yourself...” He was laughing before she could finish her sentence.
“Take the knife out of that… oh, so beautiful bosom, and we can discuss your frailty, my pet.” He whispered a bit too closely to her face. His desire was growing and making her nervous as hell. She was realizing too late she was just a few sweet words away from being seduced… by a master of the art. She had no idea he could see the knife, obviously he had been looking closer than she cared. Oh my God, he felt it when he kissed me.
He ran his hand over her breast and felt the silky soft skin, and felt her shudder as he reached into her dress around the short stays and pulled out the knife. His eyes were still laughing at her when they both heard the dark voice coming from the Bayou.
“Is there something in my wife’s dress that interests you, Captain Laffite?” Maurice was standing; hand on sword waiting to draw, his blue eyes dark with anger. The two men on either side of him were prepared to die defending their Captain and his wife.
Pierre came down from the gallery.
“Hold back, Maurice, Laffite is displaying bad manners, not a threat. He’s the hero here. He helped us lie to the authorities and rescue Marguerite and Josef from certain death.”
“Are they safe?”
“Yes, they’re safe at my place in Natchez.” Putting your hand down a woman’s bosom in front of her husband was far more than bad manners, but Pierre knew how many men were in, and around, these palmettos waiting to spring at Laffite’s command.
Maurice read Pierre’s intentions and stepped back.
“Pierre get my wife’s cloak, we’re leaving.” Pierre ran back to the gallery to get the cloak and satchel she left on the gallery.
Maurice walked over, picked up his wife and put her over his shoulder. Riding on his shoulder, she put out her hand, frowned, snapped her fingers twice, and Laffite threw her knife which she caught in mid-air.
It was amazing how brave she could be on top of her husband’s big shoulder. She gave Laffite her best smiling ‘thank you’. She would not forget the part about ‘dangerous adversary’, and she did not know if she would need his kindness again. They could hear his laughter all the way back to the dingy. Maurice got to the dingy, sat her down and gave the order to go back to the ship.
“Don’t speak, wife.” He was murderously angry, and the pirate’s laugh bellowing from the swamp made him want to kill.
“Maurice, may I just say...” Maurice turned to Pierre and the young man had not seen his Captain this angry since he had the man flogged for raping Pierre years ago.
“But, husband...” Pierre was desperately motioning for Celestine to be quiet.
“One more word, wife and I’ll throw you overboard, and the alligators may have their way with you.” That was rude. She would not tolerate rudeness.
“How dare you, sir?” She had enough. She stood up…
With one flick of his big hand and arm he tilted the dingy fast and hard and she flew over the side of the boat into the bayou. Pierre went in after her.
“Maurice, help me! Get me out of here.” She was holding on to Pierre and trying to reach the boat before an alligator could come and get her.
“Keep talking wife; it’s a long swim to New Orleans, but you already know that, don’t you? You’ve recently made the trip before.” He turned back to the bow, and kept his eyes straight ahead.
Pierre and the men fished her out of the water and covered her with her cloak. She was not even going to say ‘thank you’ to the men. She had her swamp bath for the evening. She saw the masts of the Le Celestine and knew he would be wishing he could change the name now, for sure. They came along side and Maurice went to the back of the dingy, put her over his shoulder again, and climbed the ladder back onto the deck of the great ship.
Celestine could not stop her tears; she hated being treated like a bad child. She did not like her handsome husband mad at her, and she certainly did not like being humiliated in front of the whole crew.
“Robert, prepare my wife a cool bath, please.” He took her into his cabin and dropped her on the rug.
“Don’t move. I don’t want my cabin smelling like the swamp. It’s bad enough that I have swamp on my clean coat.”
He poured himself a brandy and sat down in his big chair behind his desk.
“It’s not my fault. I didn’t know about the children and you should’ve told me.”
“You think that’s why I’m so angry?” His eyes were dangerous but finding dark humor in what she was saying. She was becoming frightened, again. She felt for her knife.
“You allowed that man to put his hand down your dress.”
“I couldn’t stop him. What was I to do, fight him off in the middle of a swamp, and have his men kill me and Pierre both? If that’s why you’re angry, then you’d better direct the anger toward him and not me.”
Maurice looked over at her and was deadly quiet for a moment.
“I saw your eyes, Celestine.”
He surprised himself at his anger and the depth of his fear. He had not felt such fear since his days with Anna when he was young and stupid with hate.
“You enjoyed it. You enjoyed the man’s hand on your breast.” His voice cracked just enough to make him want to leave the cabin. He finished his brandy, threw the glass against the wall, and walked out onto the deck.
She wanted to scream obscenities at him, scratch his face, and cut him with her knife, but she could not. She had indeed enjoyed it, and to her unbearable sorrow; her husband, the love of her life, the reason for her happiness was witness to it, and was hurt by it. Thank God he hadn’t seen the kiss.
Her bath was set up in the cabin and she went into it sore from being pulled from the swamp; stinking like the swamp, and wondering what the hell happened to her in the swamp. She let the clove soap melt her tension and ease her sore muscles. She dried herself, put on one of her husband’s nightshirts and got into bed. She rolled over and sobbed herself to sleep.
Maurice found Pierre and sat down with him. He wanted to know what happened with the children and legally where they stood. Pierre told him everything. He told how Celestine was angry about finding he owned ‘slaves’ and how she had come to him for advice, but only after she had mistakenly gone to Dubonnet. Then he told of her getting Marguerite out of jail and riding with her all the way up river. He told of her calmly going back to New Orleans, and waiting a decent time, before notifying Dubonnet of the ‘death’ of both ‘slaves’. Finally, he told of her going alone into the bayous with the authorities, and how Jean Laffite lied to save her and the children. He also told him about the rat and how dangerous his wife could be with a knife. Finally that cut through to Maurice and he laughed in spite of his anger.
“My little wife scare you, did she?” The look on Pierre’s face said it all. Maurice could believe his little wife in men’s clothing wielding a knife dangerously. He still had the scar from the knife under his chin. His desire for her was growing in spite of the fear of what he had just seen on the bayou.
“Tell me honestly, Maurice. If a beautiful woman, not your wife, put her hand down your breeches, would you not enjoy the moment? Honestly, mon ami. Would it make you think less of your wife or desire her less?”
Maurice stood smoking his cigar by the railing looking out at the river. Pierre hit a nerve with his friend, after all had he not just been with his mistress in Port-au-Prince? Maurice remembered his thoughts of Anna, and how his love for her could never compare with what he felt for his wife. He could even make love to Anna, and still desire and think of Celestine during the act.
“Yes, I’d enjoy it and no, I’d not desire Celestine any less.”
Maurice walked over and clapped a hand on Pierre’s shoulder.
“Thanks, my friend. I owe you for protecting my wife and family. I’ll do my best to keep her from getting you killed in the future.” Both men laughed at how true the statement could be.
He walked back in to his cabin. His wife was asleep with red eyelids and puffy cheeks from crying; gently hiccoughing in her sleep. Could a man love a woman anymore? She looks so tiny in that big nightshirt cuddled into the pillows. God, I’ll give up Anna, just don’t make me have to compete with that bloody pirate.
He got undressed and got in bed. He put his arm under her neck and she snuggled close to him and buried her face in his chest. She woke and looked at his face, gently hiccoughing still.
“Don’t let it happen again, wife, and certainly not with that damned pirate.” He took her in his arms and kissed her. She opened her mouth and hiccoughed into his kiss.
“I love you, husband. Let me pleasure you.”
“Will it get Laffite out of your head?”
“Who?” She pulled him down and took his mouth in hers.
“Pleasure me, wife.” He lay back and thanked God for this woman, once again. She sat up, got on top of him and opened her legs. She let him in slowly until she could feel him touch her core. She cinched him in and nestled herself around him and remembered how much she liked having sex with this man. He tried not to spend too soon, but she felt so wonderful, and the idea that she preferred him over the handsome pirate, made him crazy with lust and desire, and he couldn’t hold it any longer. They slept for what seemed like days.
They sailed into New Orleans and he went to the house to get her some clothes to wear. They walked together along the market, and bought food to have in the kitchen and she bought some peaches. They picked the best shrimp and oysters, fresh onions, garlic, peppers, and sausage to make a wonderful gumbo. He picked his favorite hot breads and she picked her favorite sweet cakes and they went back to the house. The two of them made a feast fit for lovers and talked half the night. He told her about the children and how he had been the only father they had ever known. He finally told her about his past and saving his friends, Andy and John from the prison ship. Then he told how Anna saved his life and his sanity and he finally told her about his life in the little house in Port-au-Prince. This gave her the courage to open up and tell him about her life with her mama, and about the awful guilt she carried for not going to her as she was dying, asking for her. She told her new husband it had haunted her for the last four years, and she could think of no way to ease her guilt. They held each other and felt the bond only a husband and wife can feel once they’ve cleared the air of old secrets. They slept until the sun came in through the big French doors. Maurice wakened first and whispered in her ear.
“Open to me, wife and let me pleasure you.” A morning request that Celestine wanted to hear for the rest of her days. She rolled onto her back and welcomed him between her legs thanking God the memory of her past life was dead. He was her husband and would be welcomed in her center forever. Suddenly, she pushed him off, jumped out of bed and went behind the screen.
“Ah, morning calls.” He said to the air.
Maurice must make decisions before going back out to sea. He could not leave her and the children after what they had just been through. He made the decision to take them with him on the long voyage. He would not tell her yet, but he would talk her into it. If not, he would have to kidnap her, like the sailor he was; sling her over his shoulder; up the gangplank; hoist the sails and down the river to see the world… kidnapping. It would be fun. He was smiling to himself picturing the whole event as he heard her retching behind the screen. His little dove was sick. If she had contacted something from the swamp he would never forgive himself. There were fevers and illness in the brackish water and he had thrown her in himself. He heard her washing her mouth in the bowl and waited to see how she looked when she came back around.
“I’m hungry. Husband, please bring me some of that cake from last night? Please dear, I’m hungry and I think this baby might have a sweet tooth.”
He sat up in bed and sighed. Well, his prayer was answered; he wanted her to be with child, but not so soon. He could not take a pregnant wife on such a long voyage, especially a first time pregnancy; and he could not take the children, they would have to stay and help her. He got up and took her in his arms and looked down into her eyes.
“You knew I wanted you on this trip didn’t you?”
“Yes,” She would not show him her disappointment. She planned to ask him to take her and Marguerite and Josef, as she could not bear his being gone so long.
“I’m still hungry… and I didn’t plant this seed by myself, husband. I believe it was your first entry into a little virgin, on a beautiful ship with a gorgeous name.” He laughed as he walked out of the bedroom and down the stairs to the kitchen. She felt her stomach to see if there was a mound, but she was flat as ever.
He finished in the kitchen and started back up the stairs.
“You won’t be able to walk around the house naked once the baby is here and the children are back. You know that, right, husband?”
“Yes, wife, I know that.” He got into bed and held the cake for her to come and take it from him.
“Why are you holding my cake over your head?”
“If you want it, come and get it.” He put the plate on his stomach and gave her his best lecherous smile. She reached over for one of the peaches, picked up her knife and peeled it; cut it in half and took out the pit. She shaved the rough edges around the nest where the pit lived until it was smooth and wet. She was remembering what Pierre told Collette. The head of the cock is like a strangely shaped little fat heart. Caress under the little indention in the heart with the tip of your tongue, and then take the head in your mouth and go from there. She got into bed next to him and held it for him to take a small bite; then cupped it around his big erection until it was covered in the sweet juices and bits of fruit. She moved the cake to the side table and went down to suck and lick the peach juice and bits off him. She started with the tip of the heart, and slowly took the head in her mouth to lick the juice. She then allowed the flavor to fill her mouth with saliva and she went all the way down until the spongy velvet head was touching the back of her throat and farther down. She gently sucked the sweet juice coming back up and circled the head again and went back down for more juice that collected in the hair around his seed. She could do this all day. He smelled of fresh cloves and peaches and the scent was filling the room and making her dizzy.
Maurice had women gift him this pleasure in his life, but this was different, he never felt anything like this, but he was worried where she learned it. She kept going for what seemed like forever; the stickiness of the juice and the warmth of her mouth were driving him toward an explosive release. He could not move or think, and he wanted her to do this forever, but he knew he couldn’t wait much longer. He moved her head but she had gotten the peach again and started all over. He tried to move her head away again and she only continued her mission. He spent and went farther down her throat than he thought humanly possible, and she continued until he pulled her up to his kiss. Her mouth tasted of seawater and peaches and he was dying with love for her.
Reality set in, and there were questions that had to be answered by this woman carrying his child. Where could she possibly have learned this? She had been a virgin, he was there, he knew; he experienced it first hand, but a woman could be a virgin and still have done this before. The thought of his wife’s mouth going down on another man’s cock was raging inside of his head, and bringing up anger he no longer thought he harbored. Lying next to him, she stretched and looked over to see his eyes changing with his mood.
“I knew it, damn it, I knew it. I told Colette this would happen. Don’t look at me like that, husband.” She should have told him first, but she wanted it to be a surprise. She turned away from him. She did not want him to see her cry again.
“Turn to me, wife.” She turned back to him. Usually she loved it when he gave this little order, but at the moment, she loved nothing about him.
“Just tell me what it is you knew, wife?” He was waiting for an answer. He wanted to kiss her again, and use the peach on her, but he had to know. She stared defiantly at him and aimed to wound.
“My friend, oh what was his name, something to do with ‘feet’. Remember him, the nice man from the bayou?” There, take that, my ass of a husband.
He was out of the bed, pacing and running his hand through his hair, and not getting the joke, until he looked back and saw her smirking at his jealousy.
“Why would you do that to me, Madame, why? Are you out of your mind?”
“It amuses me.” She knew it was a terrible thing to do, but if he was jealous of a lover or lovers who didn’t exist, then he deserved it. What he saw in the swamp was hurtful, but had the last two days of making love not convinced him of her desire for him and only him? He grabbed his dressing gown, and walked angrily out of the room and onto the gallery.
“If you’re going to the kitchen, bring me another peach.” She got up grabbed her wrapper and ran down after him.
He was in the kitchen stirring the ashes in the big fire place to get coals to make coffee. She could see he had never been teased this much and he was trying to be patient, but was more angry and confused, than amused. She went up behind him and put her arms around his waist. She spoke as lovingly and softly as she felt at the moment.
“You cannot possibly believe that man does anything for me, husband. Not when I have you. Don’t you know the power you have over me? Is that it? You don’t know how much I desire you? When you’re not here I have to keep from touching myself thinking of you.”
He didn’t answer her. He was taking in everything she said and wanting to believe it so desperately. Anna never joked like this, and his long relationship with her was the only thing he had to compare to his relationship with Celestine. His women in the other ports would not dare try to make him jealous. He did not know how to handle it.
“And, while we’re talking, do you want this baby or not? You haven’t even said you’re glad?”
“Oh, wife, of course I want this baby.” He turned and took her in his arms. “I just didn’t think it’d be this soon. I wanted you to go with me and now you can’t. I have to leave you here in your confinement, and worry about you every damned day.”
“Why can’t I go? You know how to midwife and the sea air would be good for me. We need to get Marguerite and Josef out of here until things calm down.”
“I only know how to midwife in emergencies, Celestine. You need to be under the care of Dr. Pabon and the good sisters. You need to eat right and not live in the stale cabin during bad storms. It’s out of the question, so just keep still.” She took the cup of coffee he handed her.
“Keep still, wife.” She knew that tone well enough. She loved when he called her wife, but when he said it in the mood he was in, it reminded her of stinky swamp water and rotting vegetation, and was a loud reminder oh her pledge to ‘obey’ in her wedding vows.
“I’m sorry, my love, I’ll do as you say. Maurice, you have to know, I’ll always do as you ask, my love.”
“Then answer the first question you didn’t let me ask in the bedroom?”
She looked up at him, and decided she had better tell him the truth. She sat down at the table, defeated; her one try at mature romance and mystique squelched by her husband’s petty jealousy.
“Pierre taught Colette and she showed me on a banana.” I hate telling my secrets, why couldn’t he just find me mysterious?
He stopped to let this sink in. He started laughing. He picked up a banana off the table and handed it to her.
“Wife? Each time you see this, please think of me while I’m gone.” He was laughing so hard now he started coughing.
“Or do you need a bigger banana?” He was still laughing.
“No, that one will do just fine… once I bite it in half.” She turned and stomped back upstairs. Why did men make nice things women did for them so hard to appreciate? She turned and headed back downstairs, and walked into the kitchen.
“The next time Colette teaches me something, I may seek out a pirate and try it on him?” He walked slowly over and took her in his arms again.
“You think he’ll want you now, fat and round with my seed growing in your belly?” He was laughing at her again.
“Ooh, Husband.” She pulled away and marched back upstairs.
Maurice picked up a peach and walked back to the bedroom. He liked to eat a peach now and again himself. The smell of peaches wafted through the bedroom for more than a day. She had been stuffed with fruit, and cleaned out like a peach tart until her legs stuck together. He had been licked and sucked and left limp and sticky with fruit juices. They were happy and the only thing they had to fear… fruit flies and hungry ants.
Sitting in a dark corner of the barn at the David’s plantation, Marguerite held on to her big brother and would not let go. She understood they had to act as slaves in Natchez until Papa Maurice came for them, but she never wanted to be parted from Josef again. Who was this little lady who caused her to be jailed and then saved her so heroically and why had Papa Maurice married her? Marguerite had known gut-wrenching fear years ago in Port-au-Prince while she and Josef watched as the little gallows was being built outside their cell. At the time, she was very young and wanted her mother, but Josef assured her God was not going to let them die. Josef had powers like her mother that Marguerite counted on to save them, but watching the weapon of your death being built by big men and their hate, made her doubt her brother’s promises and bravery. She wanted her mother, but they did not know if she was alive or dead in the little hospital where she was taken after the man stabbed her. She could still see and smell the blood and didn’t know a human body held that much. Some of it had to be from the young English Captain but the rest was from her mother. The man had taken her mother’s knife and turned it back on her over and over again.
Josef acted first and hit the man with his mother’s big black skillet, but Marguerite grabbed the knife, slippery with blood and stabbed the man in the leg. She did not know if she killed him or not, but she wanted to. Josef took the knife from her and plunged it into the man’s heart as he was grabbing for Marguerite’s throat. When the man’s friends came to take him back to his ship, they yelled bloody murder and called down the street for help. Now she and her brother were in this stinking cell covered in their mother’s dried blood and swallowing their own nauseating fear.Marguerite’s mother brought angry men home to ‘heal’ them. This was part of Marguerite’s life. The only life she knew and it wasn’t strange to her, just different from what other mothers did. Her friends on the street tried