His lips parted and hot breath rushed out of him as he panted.
Bjorn looked up at Erna as she moved on top of him, her breasts bouncing with the exertion.
Her delicate little body glistened with perspiration and glowed a flush red.

   “I don’t like it here, can’t we go inside?” She asked.

   Bjorn swallowed her words with a kiss and moved his hands down to her buttocks.
He lifted her skirt and removed her underwear.
Erna gasped and struggled a little, the resistance didn’t last long.
She hugged Bjorn, with her arms around his neck and with her legs.
She lost her balance and hung off Bjorn by the nape of his neck.

   They were pressed together and Bjorn could feel that she was already wet enough, maybe because she secretly enjoyed this.
He began grinding against her without penetrating.

“Look at this.” Bjorn’s hand, which had been stroking Erna’s moist bottom, reached up to caress her lips.
“It’s good.”  like he was applying lipstick, his fingers glided over Erna’s lips, and then he slowly inserted a finger into her open mouth.
“Eat it.
It’s your taste.”

   Bjorn started to wiggle her tongue slowly and Erna could do nothing to stop him from making his lewd deed on her.

   “Is it delicious?”

   His sweltering breath drowned out his words.
Erna sobbed as she took a deep breath for the first time after he slowly pulled his fingers.

    “Look here, you act like you don’t want to, but your body tells a different story,” he said.

   “Don’t do this, this words you use, its so crude,” Erna protested, but he was right, she was secretly enjoying this.

   Bjorn pushed himself into her and she arched back, letting out a gasp.
She was pushed up against the tree, becoming trapped between it and her husband.
Now that he was inside her and thrusting deeply, she had no longer had the desire to escape this situation.
She felt weak to give in so easily to the sensations.

   With her thin legs wrapped around him, Bjorn pushed up into Erna with all his might.
Erna had been stubbornly keeping her mouth closed, to stifle any more lewd noises, but at this she finally collapsed and moaned out loud.

   Bjorn found this intoxicating.
He did not mind that he had to work for it, because once Erna finally gave into the feelings, he never felt more attracted to a woman.

   The tree bucked and swayed to their motion and the petals fell like snow.
Erna opened her eyes, water in them blurred the world around her and to her, it looks like snow in springtime.
It was beautiful, she thought.

   It was good and a little sad.

   The man inside her caused all her thoughts to be erased.
Even as she struggled with shame, she could feel the heat of his body against her cool flesh, her toes tingle and curling.

   Bjorn moved more erratically and moments later, Erna could feel him finish and settle down to a slow, sensual motion and peace was returned to the world.
Erna clung to him as she felt the end and breathed heavily into his neck.

   When she pulled away, he looked at her and she looked at him.
Small petals of white fell between them.
It was an empty and emotionless expression they shared.

   She was as beautiful as this spring day, Bjorn thought to himself, but did not think to say it out loud.




“Look, here it is,” Erna said, standing up from where she had been rummaging through the bottom drawer.

   She turned to Bjorn, who was reclining in an armchair and held out the box she had been looking for.

   “Why don’t you ask Mrs.
Fritz to get you a safe?” Bjorn said casually, eyeing the box.

   Erna clutched the box to her chest defensively.
It looked like an antique cookie jar.

   “I like this.
I’ve been using it for a long time and I am familiar with it.”

   Erna removed the tin lid and Bjorn could see inside.
It was filled to the brim with junk.
Small notepads, trinkets, lace collars and a rolled up bundle of paper, tied up and kept together by ribbon.
As he frowned in disbelief, Erna pulled out the fat roll of bills and a small cotton pouch that contained coins.

   “I’ve collected so much.”

   She proudly showed off the money she had been hoarding in the large cookie jar.
She was like an old banker, who was well versed in securing liquidity and stabbed Bjorn in the heart with it.

   This deer was never a common one.

   Bjorn was stunned to find such an adversary under his own roof.
Gone are the days when the bank would say that anyone could come in and deposit their money safely.

   “Why?” Bjorn asked, stunned.

   Erna looked at Bjorn with round eyes.
She felt like she was facing his own grandmother, the Duchess of Arsene, who had been so against the rapidly changing world.
The Duchess of Arsene had some of her own savings accounts, so that comparison was not exact.

   Bjorn looked at his wife, who seemed to be living in the last century not in just the manner of her dress, but ideals as well.
He burst into laughter and Erna cocked a look at him, not understanding the joke.

   The Grand Duchess’ cookie jar bank.
This was the form of Bjorn’s insult? How he had been shut down.
Erna placed the bills back into the jar and replaced the lid.
The smiling snowman, who’s nose made up the handle, was laughing at him, as if teasing him.

   It was like the kids that would walk around with a piece of muslin for comfort.
Never letting it go and throwing a tantrum should anyone attempt to take their comfort blanket from them.

   A knock came at the door and Mrs Fritz came in.

   “Ah, you’re back, Your Highness.
You need to give confirmation to the Director of the Royal Academy of Arts today.”

   Bjorn raised an eyebrow.
“To the art director, why?”

   “For your portrait with the Grand Duchess.
You are needed to confirm if you wish to go ahead with the recommended artist.”

   “Ah, that.”

   According to royal custom, the portraits of the Grand Duke and Duchess were to be hung in the hallways with all the portraits of all the Dniester ancestors.
It has been several seasons already.
Bjorn was procrastinating on the matter, he found it very dull.

   “Just do as the art director suggests,” Bjorn said, waving a hand.

   He had no interest in art, so it didn’t really matter to him.
Since the Academy of Arts houses some of the best artists in the land, whoever the art director suggested would no doubt be well suited to the task.

   “Yes, Your Highness, I will send the reply immediately.
I believe the Director mentioned the artist’s name as Mister Lore.”

   “Lore?” Bjorn thought for a second, “Pavel Lore?”

   “Ah, yes, Your Highness, Pavel Lore.”

   Erna let out a sigh as Mrs Fitz confirmed the name.
Bjorn looked down at his restless wife.

   “Do you wish to discuss this more?” Mrs Fitz asked, seeing Erna’s reaction.
Bjorn shook his head and Mrs Fitz left.

   “Bjorn, I wish we could get a different artist,” Erna said, letting everything out once Mrs Fitz had left, “please, get someone else.”


   “Pavel…” Erna faltered as she recalled that Autumn night and how she had said goodbye to Pavel.

   Painting the portraits of the royal family was a great honour for any painter, but Erna could not face a reunion with the man she told never to write to her.
No matter how great the honour was for him, she didn’t want to go through with that and didn’t want to put him through that.

   “I don’t want to see him,” Erna said, strength coming to her words, “please Bjorn, please.”

   Erna begged again, an attitude that grated against Bjorn’s nerves, even though Erna spoke softer than when she was constantly prattling on.

   Bjorn leaned back on the cushions and looked out the window.
The spring day was very beautiful and the sunlight streaming in, making Erna’s skin glow, made her look just as beautiful.
There was no reason to linger on this painter, but if Erna was going to be uncomfortable with him being around, maybe he should get her a new painter.

   What would have happened if he had not found her, abandoned in the rain on that fateful night? It was a meaningless question that suddenly came to his mind when he looked at Erna.
It wasn’t a hard question to answer, she would have run off with that painter.

   She really must have intended to follow him, if she was willing to wait so long in the rain, in the dead of night.
If he had not taken the carriage past the station, she would have gone with Pavel Lore and probably be his wife by now.

   A light smile came to Bjorn as he considered the scenario.
Then, while Erna looked at him pitifully, he rang the small service bell and Mrs Fitz returned.

   “Yes, Your Highness?”

   “Let’s get things moving as they are, the sooner it’s done, the sooner we can move on to more important things.” Bjorn said.

   He saw no reason to change the artist just because things might be a little awkward for Erna, the sooner they got the paintings done, the sooner they could move on from this.

   When Mrs Fitz withdrew, the drawing room became very silent.
Erna looked at Bjorn, bewildered, but said nothing.
The snowman on the cookie jar in her lap carried on smiling innocently.

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