Back | Next

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Mike looked in the mirror and grimaced.

"I'm not sure about this," he said, shooting his lace cuffs nervously.

Mike still wasn't sure about the whole "Kardane" thing. For one thing, he had a very hard time wrapping his head around Oleg being comfortable with it. But since he'd agreed, he decided that it needed to be right.

Part of that was setting the mood. He could, of course, simply pick up Lydia in the Expedition, drive up to the caravanserai, have a good old time and then dump her back at her house. That, however, had far too "casual" a feel for what was an intensely important event. One point that Adams, of all people, had brought up was that the Rite of Kardane was a form of bonding between the Kildar and the Keldara; the Keldara, effectively, provided a maiden sacrifice and the Kildar, presumably, responded by being more closely bonded to the Keldara.

The Right also provided genetic input. Anastasia had done some digging and found old records of the Kildars dating back to the Middle Ages. All of them had been "foreign" soldiers-of-fortune of one race or another, Kurd, Greek, German, French and even British. All of them had attained the position by being superior fighters and commanders. So if Nature had anything to do with culture, the "genetic input" of the Kildars, through the Rite of Kardane, had added to the warrior component of the Keldara, bit by bit over the years.

But he still wasn't sure about his outfit.

"I am," Anastasia replied, smiling. "If you're going to do something, do it right ..."

"... Or don't do it at all," Mike said, sighing.

According to the Keldara elders, the Rite of Kardane hadn't been practiced since the time of the Tzars. And the last "true" Kildar had been a German mercenary who had started off as an advisor to the Tzarist Army and eventually worked his way into the nobility and been deeded with the Keldara.

Anastasia, traditionalist to the core, had pointed out that it would only be fitting to dress in a traditional, and formal, manner for the occasion. And she, again, had done the research.

Which was why Mike was dressed in a dark-green, short-waisted velvet coat and a white silk ruffled shirt with matching, very tight, dark-green trousers. The knee-high riding boots completed the ensemble.

"I feel like I ought to have a cap and ball pistol tucked in at my waist," Mike said, fiddling with the the lace at his collar. "You set?"

"Very much so," Anastasia replied, straightening out the lace. "By the time you get back, I'll have gotten dressed and be gone. Speaking of which, it's just about sunset."

"Right," Mike replied, pulling his jacket down to smooth out the wrinkles.

"Time to go."

* * *

Petro held open the front door of the caravanserai as Mike strode through. Mike, despite trying to remain serious about what was, after all, a very serious event, could not help but play the bars from "Pomp and Circumstance" in his head as he strode down the stairs.

Uncle Latif was holding the gelding by the mounting stand. Genadi had done a good job there. The gelding was an Orlov-Rostopchin "Russian Riding Horse," a breed dating back to 1845 and the premier riding horse of the Tzarist court. Flat black and about seventeen hands high, the beautifully proportioned gelding was trained for both dressage and "pleasure riding." According to Genadi, who it turned out had practiced in dressage at the university, he was both an easy ride and quite biddable with "a very smooth gait." The black leather saddle, with silver accoutrements, was almost invisible on the glossy horse's back.

Mike, however, looked at the horse in trepidation. He hadn't ridden in years. He'd intended to get some refreshers in riding before he did this, but the current mission had taken up virtually all of his time.

There was a smaller mare behind the gelding, a lead line running from her halter to the saddle of the gelding. The mare was a less common Braz Curly, a Russian warmblood that was a descendent of cavalry horses. "Gray" in horse terms, the mare was a beautiful, almost perfect, white, and her curly mane had been plaited with red ribbons. Despite being a warhorse descendent, the fourteen-hand mare was so placid as to appear drugged.

The toughest part of the whole operation had turned out to be finding the sidesaddle. Two had eventually been ordered from a company in Germany, a severely plain "training" saddle for Lydia and a much more ornate one for the night of the ceremony.

Mike looked the two horses over for a moment and then, realizing he was stalling, stepped up on the mounting stone, stuck his boot into stirrup, which was being held by Petro, and mounted.

The saddle didn't budge. Then again, neither did the horse. No sidling, no shifting. It was like mounting a warm, furry, rock.

Uncle Latif wordlessly handed him the reins and then stood back.

"Good night, Kildar," the Keldara said, bowing.

"Good night, Latif," Mike replied, settling in the seat. One thing that he did recall was that a horse wanted to know that the rider knew what he was doing. He took the reins in his left hand, gripped between two fingers and his thumb and slowly released pressure, giving a grip of his knees and a slight "click" with his tongue.

The gelding automatically started walking, the mare following placidly, and Mike, just to be sure, walked them around the courtyard as the two Keldara went back into the caravanserai. He'd been clear that he did not want anyone seeing him trying out the horse.

The velvet pants had a patch of suede on the butt and crotch and the first thing he noticed was that the patch made for a very firm seat. He'd always ridden in jeans before, which tended to slide a bit, and he found this a much more reassuring ride. The horse was also responsive but not overly so. One circuit around the courtyard was enough to give him the surety to head down the road toward the Family's enclave.

Actually, he sort of liked the outfit. Deep in Mike's scarred soul there was a peacock he vigorously suppressed; his normal mode of dress was jeans or shorts, depending on weather, and a T-shirt. For one thing, he really didn't feel he had the panache to carry off nice clothes. But when he had the chance to show off, he liked to. Hell, he even liked dress whites, which was something of a heresy among SEALs. He was pretty sure that didn't make him gay; he'd never had any interest in guys. But he was also sure that it wasn't something he was going to admit to Adams.

There was no choice but to walk down the switchbacks; a canter would have been impossible at the corners and a trot was, for the time being, out of the question. Besides, it was simply safer for the horses to walk down a slope. So, despite the fact that he was running behind schedule he carefully walked down to the road and then, as he reached the relative flats, broke into a trot, then a canter.

The gelding had an excellent canter, long, smooth and fast. However, looking back, he noticed that the mare was up at a gallop. Next time he needed better matched horses. Lydia had been riding, though. He'd have to ask her if she was comfortable with a gallop on the way back.

As he pulled to a halt by the Mahona compound, the door was opened by Mother Mahona, the senior lady of the Family. Mike drew a little comfort from the fact that she had a sober but not unhappy expression on her face.

One of the younger Keldara females was outside, waiting, and she took Mike's reins as the Kildar dismounted. Mike had insisted that the minimum necessary males be included in the ceremony. Mike straightened his jacket again and then marched over to the door, pausing at the entrance.

"I request the privilege of entering the home of the Mahona," Mike said, pausing.

"This roof is yours, Kildar," Father Mahona replied from within. "These walls are yours. This home is yours to enter."

Mike nodded, secretly sighing in relief; everybody was remembering their lines.

Mike walked in and looked around. The main room of the Keldara houses was usually packed with people; there was a bit of housing shortage among the Keldara that he kept meaning to rectify. However, at the moment the only persons present were Mother and Father Mahona, Father Jusev, the Orthodox priest from town, and Lydia.

The latter was wearing a white silk dress edged in seed pearls that looked not at all like most wedding dresses. It was cut down the front to reveal a rather startling amount of cleavage, stopped well above the knees and was form-hugging all over. She also was wearing a pair of white high heels. Normally, riding in high heels was damned near impossible, but with a sidesaddle it was much simpler. The outfit was, by Keldara standards, scandalous. One of the reasons that nobody else was present.

The girl was looking nervous but had the presence not to tug at the outfit as she awaited her lines.

"I am come to take my rights as the Kildar," Mike said, sternly, looking Father Mahona in the eye.

"The right of the Kildar is acknowleged by the Keldara and the Family Mahona," the elder replied, nodding. "The Kildar is reminded of his duty to the future family."

"I acknowledge my duty," Mike said, turning to Father Jusev, the priest. "I have come to take my rights as the Kildar."

"The right of the Kildar is acknowledged by the church," the priest said nervously. The fact was that the Orthodox church acknowledged no such thing. But Mike, despite the fact that he never attended, was the local parish's single largest contributor. Father Jusev was also aware that the Keldara weren't exactly Christian. Between the two facts, he wasn't about to stand in the way of the Rite of Kardane. "The Kildar is reminded of his duty of teaching," the priest added, swallowing nervously.

"I acknowledge my duty," Mike said, turning to Mother Mahona. "I come to take my rights as Kildar." His tone in this case was much less stern, intentionally.

"The right of the Kildar is acknowledged by the women of the Keldara," Mother Mahona said, smiling slightly. She was the only one who apparently found the ceremony humorous. "The Kildar is reminded of his duty of gentleness."

"I acknowledge my duty," Mike said, gently, then turned to Lydia, dropping to one knee and bowing his head. "My lady, I am come to crave a boon of you, one night of gentleness. May I have my time as is my right?"

"You may, Kildar," Lydia replied, nervously. "May you remember your duties in all things."

"I shall," Mike said, standing up and taking her hand. "I shall return with this daughter of the Keldara when the sun rises," he said, looking at the three. "I shall render my duty as tradition fits and no shame is had in this Rite."

"No shame, only duty," Father Mahona said.

"No shame, only duty," the priest intoned.

"No shame," Mother Mahona said, winking, "only pleasure."

Now that was off the script.

Lydia blushed scarlet but followed Mike out of the room.

The young Keldara girl was still holding the horses when Mike came out. She had unclipped the lead-line and held both sets of reins. Mike first helped Lydia into the side-saddle, not that she needed much help, then mounted and took the reins.

"Have fun," the girl said to Lydia, giggling, then ran around the side of the house.

* * *

Mike kept it down to a light canter up to the flats, then Lydia kicked her horse into a gallop and hit the first switchback at a run.

The gelding snorted and took off after the mare and Mike, working hard to keep his seat, gave the horse his head. However, when he drew up behind Lydia's mare, he reined back slightly, letting the mare set the pace.

After the first turn, which they took faster than Mike liked, the mare began to struggle and Lydia let her slow to a trot then a walk.

"That was fun," Lydia said, smiling over at him.

"Had you ridden before you started training?" Mike asked.

"Just some bareback on the plow horses," Lydia said, shrugging. "Not like this," she added, gesturing at the sidesaddle.

"Well, you've got a good seat," Mike said, smiling. "A better one than I do, to tell the truth."

"But you've got the better horse," Lydia said, grinning back.

Two of the girls from the harem were waiting when they reached the courtyard, both in "traditional" harem dress, including veils. They silently took the reins as first Mike, then Lydia, with Mike's hand in assistance, dismounted. Then they just as silently led the horses around to the stables.

"Are you okay?" Mike asked as they stood in front of the doors of the caravanserai.

"Yes," Lydia said distantly then turned to look at him. "I will admit that I am even eager." But her eyes had a shuttered look.

"But?" Mike asked.

"I worry about Oleg," Lydia admitted, turning back to the open doors. "Not for the long term, but for tonight."

"So did I," Mike said, taking her arm and stepping towards the door.

"Did?" Lydia asked.

"Oleg is ... taken care of."

* * *

"Have another beer, Oleg," Sawn said, shaking his head. "And tell me what's been happening while we were gone."

"Nothing much," Oleg said, taking the mug from the other team leader and looking at it. "Training and more training."

"We'll need it soon enough," Padrek said, spitting through his teeth into the fire. "I've heard McKenzie muttering about this mission."

The team leaders were gathered around their own bonfire, taking a night off from training. Ostensibly it was a break so the teams didn't get too worn down before the mission. But everybody knew what the real point was; get Oleg good and drunk. The young man was superficially prepared for temporarily losing "his" girl to the Kildar, but it had to hurt.

"Hairy," Vil said, nodding. "But we'll get it done."

"To getting it done," Sawn said, raising his mug. "Hammer it, Oleg."

"I'm fine," Oleg said, sighing. "Just fine."

"You won't be if you br— " Vil started to say as there was a jingle of bells from the darkness beyond the fire.

All six team leaders looked towards the sound and then their eyes widened.

The woman, whoever she was, was wearing a blue harem girl's dress, transparent pantaloons, bikini panties and a blue midriff top. Lining every hem were small bells and more were on her fingers and toes.

The apparition moved sinuously into the firelight until she was sure she had the full attention of the group and then began to dance.

Somewhere in the darkness, a drum was being played, a beat that matched the human heart, as the woman sinuously glided in front of the fire until she was opposite Oleg. Spinning, bending and writhing, she appeared to dance only for him to the beat of the drum, until it abruptly stopped.

"The Kildar feared that you would be lonely this night," the woman said, huskily. "He has sent me for your pleasure and to teach you the arts of pleasuring a woman. I am for you this night, a proxy for your bride to be. Do you approve?" she asked, chuckling and kneeling down before him gracefully.

Sawn looked at his friend, who was sitting on the log with his mouth open.

"I think he does," Sawn said, grinning. "But you might have to give him a hand."

"Then I will," Anastasia said, taking Oleg's hand and pulling him to his feet. "Gentlemen, I will return him in the morning."

"Alive?" Vil asked.

The chuckles followed the pair back into the darkness.

* * *

Mike led Lydia upstairs to his private suite of rooms. As they climbed the stairs he could tell she was getting more and more nervous and he noted, with almost a chuckle, her surprise and shock when she was led to the kitchen.

"What, I'm supposed to cook, too?" Lydia asked, when she saw the food laid out on the counters and the pan on the stove.

"Not at all," Mike said, seating her on a bar stool where she could watch the proceedings. There were two places already set at the bar along with an unlit candle and flowers. He pulled a champagne bottle, one of three, out a large bucket filled with ice and water and uncorked it. "You get to watch." He poured two glasses of the champagne and handed one to her. "Cheers."

"You can cook?" Lydia asked, surprised. "I don't mean ..."

"Keldara men can't cook very much," Mike admitted, going over to the stove and taking down an apron. "But I learned to a long time ago. Lydia, we both know what this night is all about. But ... hmm ..." He took a sip of the champagne, tied on the apron and then poured some olive oil into the pan, working it around and then turning on the heat.

"In the U.S., we have a custom called 'dating', " Mike continued, tossing precoated slivers of beef into the saucier pan. The sides were rounded and hammered so he could use it as a wok. "It's also a custom in about all big cities. Now, you're a country gal. The only people you know are the people of the Keldara and a few townspeople. But in the cities, girls don't know the men around them, generally, from birth. And the guys don't know the girls. So they have to meet somehow."

"I guess," Lydia said, crossing her legs and taking a sip of the champagne, then looking at the glass. "What is this?"

"Champagne," Mike said, not looking at her as he smiled. "Sparkling wine."

"It's good," Lydia said, taking another sip.

"Have more," Mike replied. "Anyway, where I come from, a guy meets a girl, however, and generally asks her out on a date to test the waters. They have dinner, maybe see a show and then, if the chemistry is right, maybe more. The bottomline from a guy's point-of-view is the 'maybe more' ..."

"So I'd heard," Lydia said pointedly.

Mike turned to look at her and grinned.

"Different strokes," Mike said shrugging then getting back to cooking. "In the States, reasonably casual sex isn't that big of a deal. Different cultures and, trust me, I don't treat this evening casually. But the point is, when I was dating I was interested in getting the young lady interested enough to really test the waters."

"Were they?" Lydia asked, interested. "This wine is good, by the way. Dry."

"Makes you want to drink more," Mike said, looking over his shoulder again. "Go ahead. With the way that you Keldara drink, you're going to have a high tolerance. Anyway, to answer your question, a few. Okay, more than a few. But being a good date is the important point. There's a saying in the States: 'The way to a man's heart is through his stomach.' "

"We say something similar," Lydia said, giggling. " 'Food makes the softer bed.' "

"Well, what I found out," Mike continued, slooshing some wine into the vegetable mix and setting a cover on it, "is that it's really the way to a woman's heart. Most men can't do much more than grill. So, instead of inviting a young lady out to an expensive restaurant, where you'd then have several other steps to getting to the point, I'd invite her to my place for dinner."

"I'd have said 'take me to the restaurant,'" Lydia said, then giggled again.

"Ah, but that's because you're a good girl," Mike said, looking at her and grinning. "I was very careful to only date nice girls. Do you know the difference between a good girl and a nice girl?"

"No?" Lydia said, pouring her third glass of champagne. Part of the requirements that Mike had laid down was, since there would be dinner involved, she hadn't eaten since lunch. The champagne also had more of a kick than she realized. He didn't want her to get drunk, but alcohol would tend to reduce her tension and that was a good thing.

"A good girl goes to a party, goes home and goes to bed," Mike said, turning back to the stove. "A nice girl goes to a party, goes to bed and goes home."

"That's terrible," Lydia said, laughing.

"Anyway, I'd invite a nice girl over," Mike said, stirring the vegetables, then adding some oyster sauce. The latter had turned out to be nearly impossible to obtain and he'd resorted to making it from scratch. However, he'd tried the recipe out in advance and the homemade worked fine. "Then I'd cook for her and wine and dine her, maybe watch a movie on video, and when it came time to close the deal, voila! There we were already in my apartment. No 'your place or mine,' no 'would you care for a cup of coffee.' "

"Sneaky," Lydia said.

"If you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'," Mike intoned.

"And if you get caught, you ain't a SEAL," Lydia finished, giggling. "So I should expect sneaky?"

"Up to you," Mike said, transferring the Chinese beef and vegetables from the pan into a serving dish. "But let's just have dinner, shall we?"

He'd already had rice prepared and he brought that out as well, setting it down at the bar. Then he shifted her over to her place, carefully holding her chair out and pushing it back in. The last step was to light the candle and turn out a couple of lights.

"This is interesting," Lydia said, looking at the food dubiously.

"I think you'll find it edible," Mike said.

Lydia picked out a bit of meat to start and then, with a look of surprise, took more.

As they ate they chatted about conditions among the Keldara and the condition of the farm. Every time that they got near touchy subjects, Mike carefully steered them away. He didn't want to talk about the previous mission, or upcoming ones, or where he was going with the Keldara. Light and easy was the tone of the evening. And he made sure he kept her champagne glass topped up.

As for sneaky, she'd missed the first "cheat." Mike had been careful to keep the wineglasses separated by at least an arm's-length. That was because her glass was at least twenty-five percent larger than his. Even if he matched her glass for glass, she was getting far more wine. And it was showing. The alcohol, and food, was making her less nervous as time went by.

"This is fun," Lydia said, sighing and setting down her fork. She'd eaten lightly, which was good. "There should be more things in life like this. But there is always too much work."

"That will get better," Mike said, wiping his mouth with his napkin. "You'd be surprised how much better. Dessert?"

Lydia had also never been exposed to chocolate cake. Certainly not the deep, rich chocolate fudge cake Mike brought out.

"Better to eat this by the fire," he said, grinning. "Bring your glass; there's more champagne out there."

He led the way to the parlor area, where a fire had been laid, and set the plates and his glass dow,n then flopped on the couch. The centerpiece of the coffee table was a heaping bowl of strawberries.

"This is nice, too," Lydia said, grinning happily and sitting down next to him. "I was thinking that you'd just ... you know ..."

"Nah," Mike said. "The idea here is to have fun. You can't have fun if you're worried sick about what's going to happen. And you shouldn't be. It's important, don't get me wrong. But it's also something natural and very fun. If it's done right and I've rarely had complaints."

"I talked with Mother Savina about ... it," Lydia said, nervously, her grin fading. "And Anastasia. I'm ... it seems ..."

"There is no way to describe it," Mike said, getting a bite of cake on his fork and holding it out to her. "Try the cake."

"That's good," Lydia said, her eyes wide.

"Alas, this I didn't do," Mike said, picking up a strawberry and offering it to her. "I don't bake well."

"You do other things well," Lydia said, taking a delicate bite of the strawberry while looking into his eyes.

"So do you," Mike said, for the first time in the evening actually getting horny. He'd been working the situation so hard he had forgotten to have fun.

She offered him a strawberry and he bit into it carefully, then got in a quick lick on her fingers that elicited another giggle.

They traded strawberries like that for a little longer and then Lydia, unexpectedly, took one in her teeth and leaned forward.

Mike took the bait, biting off his end of the strawberry and then following up with a kiss, flickering his tongue against her lips. Whether Lydia had ever had sex or not, it was clear that she had been, as his mother used to put it, "spooning." She had no problem with kissing whatsoever.

However, when Mike's hand crept up her leg, she tensed for a moment, then went back to the kiss. He slid his hand up the back of her leg, checking with his other hand on her arm. Goosebumps were always an indicator that a girl was getting turned on by caresses and she had plenty.

"Kildar," the girl said, huskily, drawing away and wiping at her lips. "I want ... I think ..."

"Don't think," Mike said, smiling. He took her hand and had her stand up. "But, yes, time to progress. Lydia, take off your dress."

The girl stood there for a moment and then, closing her eyes, lifted the dress up and over her head. It had a built-in bra so all she was wearing once she'd doffed it was her heels, panties, a garter belt and stockings.

"You are very beautiful," Mike said, taking a pillow off the couch and tossing it on the floor. "So, we progress. But before we get to other things, there is one thing that I require."

He stood up and cupped her breast, eliciting a shiver. She still had her eyes closed which made him almost chuckle.

"What do you ... need?" Lydia asked, opening her eyes.

"There is a very old saying," Mike replied, pressing down on her shoulders so she knelt on the pillow. " 'Stand before your god, bow before your king and kneel before your man.' "

"I was told about this," Lydia said, looking up at him. "But I have never ..."

"I know," Mike said, unzipping his pants. "Later I will show you other things. But this I require. Later, I'll tell you why."

"Very well," Lydia said, softly, looking down. "I ... would like to."

"And you will take it all in your mouth," Mike continued. He wasn't right up on her, but back a bit. "I take it you haven't seen a man undressed."

"No," Lydia said, uncertainly. "They told me about it."

"Your turn," Mike said, stepping forward.

Lydia slowly reached for his pants and then just as slowly pulled them down, an act that caused Mike to almost lose it. He stayed calm, though, while she considered ... him.

Lydia cautiously held out one hand and touched him, tilting her head to the side to consider.

"It is bigger than I thought," Lydia said, nervously.

"And, frankly, Oleg is bigger than I am," Mike said. "Anastasia discussed what to do?"

"Yes," Lydia said, biting her lip and wrapping her thumb and forefinger around the base of his dick. Then she shifted forward on the pillow and took him in her mouth.

She had a bit of trouble getting the rhythm of hand and mouth together at first, but she quickly caught on.

Mike took her hair in his hand and sped her up. Again she got out of rhythm but soon got the feel for it, speeding up quite a bit.

Mike knew, though, that her neck muscles wouldn't hold out for long. However, being fellated by a delicious blonde virgin on her knees was more than enough for him. He quickly came into her mouth.

She stopped and gagged at that but he grabbed her hair and held her in place, pumping in and out to get the last drop.

"Catch it in your mouth and swallow," Mike said, gruffly.

"Yes, Kildar," Lydia said, after she'd swallowed.

"And now," Mike said, picking up her champagne glass and pulling his pants back up, "have a drink of champagne. It helps with the taste."

"It ... wasn't bad," Lydia said, her brow wrinkling. She still swilled the champagne around.

"Orange juice," Mike said, picking up his own glass and having a sip. "It does something to the chemistry." He knelt down and kissed her. "Thank you."

"You're welcome," Lydia said, frowning.

"Now for the rest," Mike said, lifing her up to her feet and then into his arms. "You'll be fine," he added at the look on her face.

"I know I will be," Lydia said, still nervous.

"Keep ahold of that glass," Mike added, chuckling.

"I will," Lydia replied, smiling and then finishing off the champagne in it.

He carried her into the bedroom and laid her on the bed, sitting down next to her and picking a strawberry from the bowl by the bed.

"Strawberry?" Mike asked, grinning.

They replayed the strawberry game until she was smiling again. During it Mike had managed to get rid of his boots, pants and shirt, sometimes with help.

Finally they were both more or less naked. Lydia still had her panties and shoes on but Mike was starkers. Lydia was starting to show some signs of nervousness, among other things trying to cover her lovely breasts, so Mike decided to take a detour.

"Roll over," he said, giving her a slap on the side and a smile.

"Why?" Lydia asked nervously.

"You'll like it, trust me," Mike said, more or less pushing her over.

When he had her on her stomach he opened up a jar and smoothed some of the massage cream onto her back. The cream was a mixture of almond cream with a bit of sesame oil, a trick that a former girlfriend who was a masseuse had taught him. She'd also taught him the proper way to give a massage so he started working Lydia's muscles with strong strokes from his thumbs, rolling them along the grain of the muscle in the girl's back.

"That feels good," Lydia said sighing.

"Better if we had a massage table," Mike said, continuing to massage the girl's back and neck, then working downwards.

The massage, unfortunately, was counteracting the earlier blowjob. The point of that, besides Mike just enjoying it, was to let him blow off some steam. But Lydia had a truly gorgeous butt, rounded and firm, and while Mike wasn't planning on going for any back-door action, it was tempting as hell.

He massaged down her back and onto her ass, sliding her panties off in the process, then down the legs to her calves. Then he worked back up until he was up between her thighs and slid his fingers into her pussy. That elicited another surprised gasp, but she was also wet, which was a very good sign so Mike rolled her quickly over and pulled her head back by the hair.

He slid his tongue down the side of it to the juncture of her neck and shoulder, digging into that tender nerve point strongly and eliciting a moan. More goosebumps had built up on her arm, which was another good sign. The idea at this point was simply to keep her mind off of anything other than the moment. If she started to stiffen up it was because she was thinking about secondary concerns; what Oleg would think, what her family would think, the Keldara. He had to keep her mind centered on what was happening now to the exclusion of everything else. And that meant keeping up the stimulae so she couldn't think of anything else.

While he continued to stroke at her neck with his tongue, his right hand was busy, first playing with her nipples, which seemed particularly sensitive, then sliding down her side, eliciting a giggle at one point. Ticklishness was another good sign. It showed she had a degree of sexual nervousness that was on the good side. Girls who had virtually no tickle reaction were generally either asexual or just not into sex, period. That would make this evening rather trying. But Lydia had always had a natural sexiness that had to have some depth to it.

Finally his hand had crept back down to the bottom of her stomach and he slid his fingers between her legs. They tightened for a moment as she half struggled to get away, then parted as his fingers did their magic. Some women got off on having their clit played with while others preferred penetration. From Lydia's reactions she was more of a penetration gal, so Mike slid his fingers in carefully, rubbing them along the clit as he did so.

He'd moved his mouth down to her breasts and found that the nipples were definitely an erogenous zone on Lydia. The combination of stroking and playing with her nipples had the girl writhing and panting.

The question at this point couldn't really be answered. Some women wouldn't orgasm without penetration while others rarely did with penetration. Without having experience with Lydia he wasn't sure which she would be. But the question was answered a moment later as the girl gasped and arched in a hard orgasm.

While she was still arching Mike quickly slid over and spread her, entering her quickly but as gently as he could. He could tell from the grimace on her face when the hymen was broken but he didn't relent, beginning to drive hard into her.

Lydia was clearly up for that, as her fingers dug into his ass and pulled him in, hard, as he stroked. Her eyes were closed and she was panting hard as he varied the rhythm, never letting her get bored with the action. She came again in less than a minute, then again almost immediately after with a scream of pain and pleasure.

The last orgasm was hard enough that Mike knew he had to stop for a second anyway. As he paused she opened her eyes and shook her head.

"I never knew ..." the girl whispered.

"It's impossible to know," Mike said, kissing her on the forehead. "But I'm not done, yet." He paused for a moment and then grinned evilly. "I think that's enough of a rest."

"Oh ... All Mother," Lydia whispered as he started again. "Oh ... Gods ..."

* * *

Lydia paused as she pulled the horse into the compound, biting her lip nervously. There weren't many choices. She could probably turn around and ride back to the Kildar and beg him to take her as one of his women. And there were ... attractions to that. Attractions that worked hard against the fear of shame from the night before.

But, then, there was Oleg. They had been friends as children and even before they were betrothed she knew that she loved him. She would always love him, no matter what. And he had promised that he would not hold this night against her.

She finally loosened the reins on the gentle mare and let her continue into the yard, pulling to a stop not far from the front door. It was early for most people but she was surprised by the lack of activity around the house; it almost looked deserted.

However, as she stopped the front door opened and Mother Mahona came out with one of Lydia's female cousins, Nastya. Nastya held the reins as Mother helped Lydia down.

Mother Mahonas face was a picture. It was clear that she was glad that her daughter had returned, apparently unharmed. But that was combined with discomfort over the reason she had been out all night and curiosity at what the large leather satchel attached to her saddle contained. The case was tooled and formed leather with bright silverwork around the edges and it was heavy as Lydia undid the ties that held it to the saddle.

"Come in," Mother said, finally, leading the daughter into the main room of the house.

The first thing that Lydia noticed was that with the exception of Father Mahona, who was also trying to keep a welcoming demeanor, the only persons in the room were women. Most of them, furthermore, were Lydia's friends and peers, girls of her own age, a few married, most unmarried. She was secretly glad that Grand Mahn, Grandmother Mahona, wasn't in the room. The old fart had been going around for weeks with pursed lips and an angry look for the whole Rite, despite the fact that she was usually the first one to proclaim the superiority of anything old.

"Welcome home, Lydia," Father Mahona said, bowing to her slightly. "We welcome you once more to our fold."

The words had that suspiciously formal wording that sounded like the Kildar had written them. And made Father Mahona rehearse.

"I'm glad to be home," she said nervously, looking around at the group.

"Oh, bother with this!" Nastya finally snapped. "I want to know what is in the package! What is it?"

"I don't know, honestly," Lydia said, setting the suspiciously heavy leather case down on the kitchen table. "The Kildar told me not to open it until I got home. And he said we have to send the horse back, but the case is mine to keep."

"So what's in it?" Nastya asked impatiently. "Open it."

"Don't rush her," Mother Mahona snapped, but she was clearly curious as well.

Lydia broke the wax seal on the case, then opened it. Within there were three more packages, one a blue silken wrap, one a soft suede purse that clinked and the last another silken package, tied with a silken cord, that was more or less rectangular.

Lydia opened the leather purse, first, dumping it out on the table.

What spilled from it was a waterfall of silver and gold coins that made everyone's eyes go wide. There was more money on the table than the entire Keldara made in a year.

"What's in the rest?" Nastya asked in a choked voice.

The rectangular package turned out to be cash, Georgian rubles tied around a thick stack of American hundred dollar bills. Lydia didn't want to think about how many dollars there were there, and dollars were much more stable than rubles, but the rubles had been fanned out so that it was clear there were five one hundred ruble notes. She snorted when she saw that. That was her official "price."

Lydia quickly undid the red ties from the blue silken roll and opened it. It turned out to be a jewelry wrap, containing a pearl necklace along with matching earrings and a bracelet. Contained within was a small note saying only "For your wedding."

"Oh, All Father," Nastya whispered. "I so want to be the Kardane Bride! Can we start making the arrangements now?!"

Back | Next