Pavel looked over the letter.
The hand writing was familiar, but the seal was not.
He put the letter down with a dejected smile.
He recalled her face when he whispered her name, a name that he was still not used to.
She had been a younger sister to him, as Erna Hardy, a lovely girl from a rural village.
“I’ll write a letter.”
Erna’s face floated above the stationary, densely filled with neat handwriting, she wore a bright smile.
Baroness Baden had invited him to lunch, back in Autumn, just before the wedding.
She expressed her gratitude for Pavel’s friendship with Erna and that the family were emotionally indebted to him.
He could feel her intent, to sort out the emotional connection before the wedding and Pavel’s heart fluttered like dust devils in the desert.
It was the last time, it had to be the last time that Erna and Pavel could face each other as childhood friends.
Their friendship ended there, when the country girl became Her Highness, the Grand Duchess.
Pavel smiled softly and reached out to touch Erna’s cheek.
After a moment she reached up to take his hand, looking at him blankly.
She was trying to smile, but only looked at him blankly.
She nodded her head as if to say she understood.
Erna watched his back as he left later that evening.
She was afraid he was not going to look back, but before he reached the end of the street, Pavel turned to see Erna waving slightly, she was still that little girl he had met in the village square, with one missing front tooth.
He raised a hand to her, but did not wave and he said a final goodbye to the woman that was his sister, but now his Princess.
Pavel opened his eyes and let the memory fade and started to read the letter.
My Dearest Pavel.
I know what you meant and I fully understand, but Pavel, I wanted to say my final goodbye properly.
I didn’t think I would get the chance, but when Mrs Fitz said it was courteous to write to my family, to thank them for all the days gone by, I naturally thought of you.
Thank you, Pavel Lore.
Thank you for reaching out to a lonely, muddy, wet child and giving me a ride on your cart.
It was so lovely.
Thank you for being patient with me, when I kept following you around the village.
Thank you for all the lovely sweets and pictures you gave me, I love them all.
Thank you for being a familiar, friendly face when I came to the city, I would have been so lost without you.
I am so grateful for you and your kindness.
I wish it wasn’t so, but this has to be my last goodbye and my only regret is that I am unable to pay you back for all that you have done.
I wont be able to write to you any more, but I will be okay, I promise, so you don’t need to worry about me any more.
I will be fine.
It is sad that our friendship has to end here, like this, but I will never forget you and I will cherish all the memories we have together.
Please, promise me you will go out and find happiness for yourself.
Bye, Erna Dniester.
Pavel smiled, he could feel every ounce of sincerity in every written word contained within the neat handwriting.
She had a long way to go, but Erna was so full of will and seeing Erna’s final farewell, he was somewhat relieved.
He folded the letter with care and slipped it deep into the drawer of his desk.
He took up the cauldron and headed out.
Red leaves carpeted the path all the way to the art centre.
He wished it hadn’t rained that day, if only the Prince hadn’t been out that day and reached the meeting point before he did.
If, if, if…
The thoughts drifted through his mind like falling leaves tumbling in the wind.
They disappeared before too long.
The same as the thought about why the Prince would take Erna to be his second wife.
The past can not be undone, so there was no point lingering on it.
Erna would be on her cruise right about now, as the Grand Duchess of Lechen.
All he could do now is wish Erna the happiest marriage.
He wished, at the very least, she was loved.
It was a strange wish, but he wished it with all the sincerity he could muster, because it would bring Erna happiness.
Bjorn’s bedroom had been empty, the sound of running water gave away that he was having a shower.
Erna felt guilty for sneaking into her husband’s bedroom while he was showering.
He was her husband, so why shouldn’t she be allowed to sneak into her husband’s bedroom while he was showering?
Erna looked for the best spot for an uninvited guest to sit and delicately placed herself on the sofa in front of the porthole and tried to catch her breath.
While she had been walking the deck with Lisa, they ran into the captain.
He said they were coming to an area that was frequented by Dolphins.
Excitedly, Erna ran back to get Bjorn.
“Bjorn.” She called out.
The shower stopped and Bjorn eventually came out of the bathroom, draped in a towel and getting water everywhere.
His eyes narrowed when he saw Erna perched on the soft.
“What’s the matter?”
He came and sat down next to Erna, seeing that she was excited, the stern gaze lifted.
He did not scold her for helping herself into his room and she felt tension lift from her.
“Have you seen Dolphins before?” Erna asked, unable to hide the excitement.
“Do you like Dolphins?” The excitement faded a little.
“No.” Bjorn said dryly as he towelled his hair.
“Well, they say that seeing a Dolphin is good luck.” Erna said, not wanting to let the mood take her excitement away.
Bjorn looked at his wife.
From the hat on her head, to the parasol in her lap, she had been finely dressed since she got up that morning.
“The captain has informed me that we will be passing through an area where Dolphins frequent, I was hoping you would like to see them with me.”
“No.” Bjorn said flatly, despite the shy smile.
His tone was firm.
He had a vague idea of where his wife had been talking about.
It must have been somewhere near here that his first wife had seen Dolphins on their honeymoon.
It was on that first honeymoon, as he had been escorting Gladys to a party, he had stepped aside to let some people pass, coming from the other way.
He happened to glance out to the sea and saw a pod of Dolphins swimming alongside the boat.
It had been said it brought good luck to the ship when Dolphins swam in its wake.
It seems like history was repeating itself as someone spoke of luck that day too.
Seeing the Dolphins, the happily married couple moved on with smiles on their lips and joy in their eyes.
Good or bad?
Bjorn let out a sigh as he went over to the small desk and opened the cigar case.
“You should go ahead, if you’re curious.” Bjorn said, placing a cigar between his lips.
“Alone, by myself?” Erna pouted.
Bjorn leaned back in the chair and lit the cigar, taking puffs of it between his fingers and drifted off into his thoughts, thinking that Erna would leave.
“Then I will see them next time too.” Erna said.
She put her parasol down and stood in front of him, she did her best to loom over him like Mrs Fitz did, that always seemed to work.
She looked at Bjorn expectantly, even though she already knew he wasn’t the type of person to be dissuaded from a decision made.
Bjorn seemed to consider her for a moment and then nodded.
Without warning, he grabbed Erna by the waist and pulled her onto his lap.
She let out a shriek as he did so.
Bjorn then took off her hat, he threw it onto the desk, along with his cigar.
Erna recognised his intent and felt a flush of embarrassment come over her.
Her gloves, shawl and dress effortlessly fell to the floor and Erna realised she was now sitting on his lap in nothing but stockings and shoes.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Erna said.
“A husband’s duty.” Bjorn said, smiling casually.
His lips whispered his intent as his eyes wandered down Erna’s front, bathed in the bright yellow light coming in from the porthole.
With sullen eyes, Erna looked at him.
He seemed to have no regard for what she wanted to do and was only absorbed in what he wanted to do.
At that moment, he was licking and sucking on her breasts.
That’s not to say she wasn’t enjoying it, the sensation of his wet tongue on her nipples made her mind go blank.
Her unreserved husband’s desire was strange to her and even if he didn’t truly love her, he kissed her like he did.
His shy touch told her that he wanted her deeply.
That thinking made a part of her heart tingle and desire this herself.
She decided that she wanted to believe his love was genuine and like the boat on a cruise, their relationship was on track.
There might be the odd difficult corner, a hurdle that needed jumping, but she hoped they would dissolve in time.
She remembered all the lessons of the past few days and let out a quick breath as Bjorn stroked his hands through her hair.
She could feel the heat rise between her legs and his.
Sudden embarrassment made her instinctively want to retreat, but Bjorn wrapped himself around her and prevented her from pulling away.
“Why do you always run?” A hand slid down her back and around her waist.
She knew where he was going.
He smiled miscellaneously.
Captivated by the feeling of his touch, her mind went white.
She exhaled quickly and averted her gaze.
The sky through the porthole was clear and bright.
She stretched for the curtains, the desire to close them was overwhelming, what if someone was to look in and see them?
The moment she reached, Bjorn pushed against her lightly.
She sighed as she felt the force of him inside, the pain was minimal, the pleasure was everything.
“Hey, Bjorn, Bjorn.” Erna cooed, trying to draw his attention to the curtains.
Bjorn dug in as deeply as he could.
A sharp exclamation and a harsh sigh erupted at the same time.
She was barely able to control her body and could do nothing to escape.
She simply clung to his shoulders and let him move without hesitation.
As she sighed, Erna let her lips part like she had been taught.
Bjorn kissed her deeply to compliment his student and stroked the back of her neck.
Bjorn could feel Erna tremble as became tight.
She was still impatient, but at least it was not as difficult as the first time.
He became aware of her reaching for the curtains and found it very off putting.
Let’s see if I can’t make you forget about the curtains. He said to himself.
With a sudden burst of movement, Bjorn grabbed Erna tightly and twisted round to pin her on the sofa.
Erna let out a surprised squeal.
The light poured over them and their pale skin shone bright.
“Bjorn, the curtains.” Erna gasped.
Bjorn dug into her deeply.
She couldn’t continue pleading any more and nearly forgot all about being exposed.
Her breath was suffocated by the sense of Bjorn being inside her, all of Bjorn being inside her, it was almost too much.
“You feel so good.” Bjorn said.
Erna’s eyes, which had been clouded by the sensation, went wide as he whispered the dirty words into her ear.
“How does it feel for you?” Bjorn asked, as he slowly moved his waist rhythmically.
“Smooth…soft.” Were the only words Erna could think of.
Bjorn smiled and as Erna tried to look away, he cradled her chin with a firm hand, holding her head in place.
The muddy sound filled the air with its lewd chorus.
“You feel so good, it’s making me crazy.” Bjorn said.
He spat the last words out with an effort, not able to hold back any more.
He let Erna go and rolled off to sit lazily on the sofa.
Erna was in shock.
She sat up and spread her trembling legs to see the bruising on the thighs.
“Oh, Bjorn,” she covered her face as the tears started to appear.
Bjorn simply giggled at her crying.
It would seem that his chaste ladies’ values were being shattered.
Having sex in full view of the bright sun.
Hopefully she won’t be scared in the future.
He stood and his shadow cast over her.
He realised she had a pretty good voice for calling out during sex, perhaps that’s why her chattering never bothered him during the act.
Her voice was so clear and soft.
He leant down and picked up her gown and draped it over the arm of the chair.
As much as he found her talking exciting, the next time and from now he had no time for idle chatter.
He looked out of the porthole.
Beyond the curtains that Erna couldn’t close, the sea sparkled like sapphires under the bright light of the sun.
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