A madman, that was Bjorn’s self assessment.
How else could he explain how he was running amok around women like he’d never been around them before.
He didn’t mean to, it was just the way it worked out.

   He really wanted to know everything about this woman, ever since he first hugged Erna, no, it was when he first heard her sweet voice calling his name.

   Clearing his thoughts, he looked down at Erna, who was swaying beneath him, with a mixture of desire and adoration.
He gripped her soft hair with a firm enough grip to stop her from moving her head from side to side, in an attempt to avoid his gaze.
She looked at him with a puny little scream.

   “You are learning well, you should look at me,” Bjorn said.

   Bjorn looked at her anguished face and pushed into her as hard as he could.
Erna let out a whine and swayed as Bjorn wished.
She was obviously excited, but he could feel her body tense every time he moved into her.

   Bjorn’s eye narrowed with scrutiny.
His annoyance at his stiff wife grew as much as it did at not taking the time to get undressed fully.
He let out a heavy sigh, bit her shoulder and then flipped Erna over.

   “Bjorn?” Erna said.

   Erna fell face down onto the sheet and realised Bjorn’s intentions as he moved behind her.
She tried to push her body back up, but he had already pushed himself deep inside her.
After a deep breath, Bjorn started to thrust with more vigour.
It was pointless to try and do anything, when they were already acting like wild beasts.

   Each time Erna tried to push Bjorn back, he would dig deep inside her and a wash of sensation would cause her to moan.
She couldn’t hold back any-more, it felt so good and she liked it.

   The sound of wet flesh slapping against each other became a harmony with Erna’s moaning and Bjorn’s heavy breathing.
This was getting too good and Bjorn lost himself in the feeling.

   Every time Erna pushed her waist up, he could feel her and satisfaction washed over him.
Gladys, who had been lapping Erna in the social hierarchy, was forgotten and Bjorn simply took in the pale form of Erna writhing on the bed.

   “Moan louder,” Bjorn said.

   After pushing as deep as he possible could, Bjorn paused briefly and Erna became a panting mess under him.
She vigorously shook her head, but resistance was ineffective.

   “I, I can’t do that.
I don’t want to,” Erna protested.

   “You must.”

   Bjorn held her waist firmly and leaned in to kiss the nape of her neck.
He then begun thrusting again, faster than before.
Erna’s moan was loaded with wetness and was so much more erotic than before.

   “You’re good at this Erna, do you not see?”

   He hugged her limp body and whispered into her ear like he was praising a child.
She was still babbling, but he didn’t mind it any more.
He became possessed by desire.
Even shaking as she did, trying to deny the urge, she tightened , which forced Bjorn to let out a low moan.
He could not over come his excitement.

   At the moment it felt like Erna could no longer speak, she let out a shriek.
Bjorn leaned down and bit into Erna’s neck, this was not like when he was playing, he was literally trying to cut off the breath of his prey.

   Erna twisted away from the pain.
The pain was somehow not the thing that was upsetting her.
The feel of rough clothes on her back, the sound of ragged breath and the sensations in her body were all  a kind of similar pain, and that betrayal of her own body was what upset her.

   She didn’t have to be swayed by the gossip of others, she knew what this marriage would entail and what would happen.
She was caught in Gladys’ shadow on this honeymoon that wasn’t really a honeymoon.
She was invisible in Gladys’ country.

   Erna closed her eyes and swallowed a cry as Bjorn bit into her.
She was sure she was doing well, he said so.
She looked back at her determination to become stronger and she was, she just wished it wasn’t so bestial. 

Bjorn gave Erna a delicate kiss on the bite mark he just left and turned her back over.
He looked down at her as he pulled off his tie. 

Erna’s lips trembled as she tried to say something, but Bjorn thrust inside her again.
Taking it all the way back to the tip and thrusting hard all the way down to the base.

   Erna twisted and writhed on the bed.
She let out loud gasps and was almost sobbing.
Her shoulders and chest shook each time Bjorn thrust himself inside.
A satisfied smile spread across his face as he looked down at the Erna’s beautiful, tiny frame.

   His straight flush.

   Enjoying her glistening form, he moved a hand to brush away the sweat soaked hair from her face.
She squeezed her eyes closed tight in disgust.
She could feel the heat begin to cool.


   As he brushed her cheek to try and sooth her, Erna trembled like she had a chill.
When he saw the reluctance and the flinching away, he realised something and a name came to mind. 

  An unwelcome name of a disgusting man.

   Walter Hardy.

   The man’s face came to Bjorn’s mind and overlapped with the memory of a young girl quivering in the rain under the old clock tower, body beaten and bruised at the touch of a disrespectful man. 

Bjorn looked at his frightened wife with a slightly dazed expression.
He felt renewed contempt for Walter Hardy and shame crept in at his own behaviour toward Erna.

   “I-its all right, I d like it, it’s just a little…”

   Unable to find the right words, Erna reached out a hand and cupped Bjorn’s cheek.
Her hand looked so small against his face.

   The fear had risen in her after feeling Bjorn’s arousal and the smell of alcohol on his breath.
She knew she did not have to fear the man, because she knew very well that Bjorn would never hurt her, but all the same, the feelings came up unbidden.


   Erna plucked up a little more courage and stroked her fingers through his fine, silky hair that tumbled between her fingers like fine sand.
He just sat there and frowned at Erna.
He did not try to stop her.

   “Just, slow down a little.
Can you do that, for me?”

   Bjorn looked at her blankly for a moment and let out a long sigh with a laugh.
It was funny.
This situation, this woman.
Most of all, he didn’t hate anything about it.

   Instead of answering, Bjorn wrapped Erna’s hand around his cheek and kissed her wrist, where he felt her pulse beating.

   He found himself thinking about Walter Hardy and all the lecherous wretches back home.
Clambering over themselves like wolves fighting over a helpless doe.
They ranted and drooled over Erna, who had been thrust into the marriage market. 

   “Thank you, Bjorn.”

   Erna put her hand on the back of his neck and pulled him in for a kiss.
Bjorn lifted his head and Erna smiled.

   “I’m fine now, please continue.”

   As if to prove her resolve, Erna put strength into her arms and pulled Bjorn onto her.
She whispered soft words of provocation.
Bjorn was dazed for a moment, but then let out a hot sigh and laughed.
It was like he was drunk without actually drinking.

The whole affair, which had started in a hasty display of half adorned clothes, ended in an intimate atmosphere of red haze.

   Bjorn stayed inside Erna until they had both cooled and their breathing returned to normal.
He even kissed he flushed face and stroked her wild hair.
Every time he did, Erna would look away, avoiding eye contact.
She was like a well behaved seductress, her ambivalence was both cheeky and cute.

   Bjorn got up from the bed and left Erna behind.
Erna stuck like a viper and grabbed his arm.
He turned to look at the tiny woman.

   “Don’t go, Bjorn, would you sleep here with me?” Though her eyes were soft and pleading, her voice as strong and clear.

   “Rest, Erna,” Bjorn said and gave Erna a kiss.

   “Come on, lets rest together.”

   Normally Erna would have left it at that, but she felt a stubbornness build inside her and she was showing no signs of backing down.

   “Erna, I’m uncomfortable sleeping with someone else.” Bjorn removed her hand from his wrist, but she only grabbed him by the hem of his shirt with both hands.

   “Me too.”

   “Then you understand?”

   “Yes, but we’re a couple, shouldn’t we do things together even if they’re uncomfortable? They say that a marriage is a journey two people take together down a thorny path.”

   “Who says that nonsense?”

   “The Archbishop did.”

   In that moment, Erna looked like she was going to cry.
She was being persistent and clung to it.
Bjorn forgot his irritation and smiled.

   “Erna, that’s a plausible sophistry from a man that has never walked a thorny path his entire life.”

   “But he’s married to God.”

   Even though she was talking nonsense, Erna was as serious as ever.
Bjorn wished he could lay a whole bush of thorns on the Archbishops bed and see what he made of it after that.

   “Lets try a little, please?”

   “Why should I?”

   “Because you are my husband,” Erna said firmly.

   “What does a husband mean to you?” Bjorn’s question contained doubts.

   “It means family, my lover, my closest friend.
Its a lifelong companion that supports and loves, they provide dependence, love, hope.” Erna said without hesitating.

   “Did the Archbishop also say that?” Bjorn made up his mind to dress the man in thorns.

That’s my opinion.” That clear answer quickly quashed the chance of war between religion and the royal family.

   After standing there for a long moment, looking up at the ceiling, Bjorn let out a long sigh.
Erna flinched, expecting him to get angry, but she didn’t let go of his shirt.

   “So, if we’re planning on sleeping together, are you also planning on bathing together?”

   “Yes?Ah…” Surprised, Erna let go of him.
“Y-you can go now.”

   Bjorn just stood there and stared down at the young woman.
It was because her eyes were filled with such innocence, but also something new, a strength that wasn’t there before. 

Impulsively, he leaned down and hugged her.
She hugged him back and then realised what he intended, but was too weak to fight his grasp.
He lifted the woman like she was nothing and carried her off to the bathroom to run the bath.

   It was a deep autumn night when the thorny path began.

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