Chapter 8 Part 7 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One
Ansella did not wish to be found. She sat in the pear orchard beneath a tree; her head rested against a knee covered in dark green linen, smooth beneath her cheek. Pear blossoms scented the air, and bees murmured among them. It would be a good year for pears, she thought drowsily. She closed her heavy eyes.
"Annie, don't go to sleep," whispered her lover.
"If you keep playing with my hair, I will." The hand stroking her golden locks stopped, and she sighed in disappointment. It had been so pleasant, dozing in the orchard's dappled sunlight. Lovemaking always made her sleepy afterwards. "Don't stop," she said aloud.
"I won't, if you tell me how goes your foolish son's pursuit of Allis Obby," answered Ibbit.
Ansella hummed as Ibbit resumed her soft touch. "It's proceeding well, actually. Harsin told me to discourage him, but I couldn't do that, darling, you know I couldn't."
Ibbit pursed her lips, and said, "I asked you to discourage him as well--perhaps the first time your husband and I have agreed on anything. Could you not do it for me?"
"I wouldn't go against you for the world," said Ansella. She captured the Sister's hand and kissed her fingers. "But I would go against the Gods even less. I must say I was surprised you thought I should." Ibbit yanked her hand away; Ansella sat up in mild alarm, and searched her lover's face. "Are you angry with me? Please, don't be angry, Ibbit."
"But I am angry," said Ibbit. She fell back against the tree trunk, and petals snowed down. "I'm very angry!" At Ansella's stricken face, she said, "Sweetheart, how can you let your only son fall into error like this? Yes, he is a man, and yes, there's nothing to be done for him--"
"He's a good boy--man--he's the best of all of them!" cried Ansella. "I know Venna doesn't approve of men--"
"She hates them," said Ibbit.
"But how could I hate Temmin!"
"I don't ask you to hate him, darling, I ask you to guide his feet on the better path, and that path leads away from the Lovers' Temple--away from women in general. Much better to send him to Farr. Oh, now there, my girl, don't cry. Don't worry about it now," Ibbit murmured.
Ibbit's strong arms encircled her, healer's hands working at her nape until she loosened again, and opened completely. Before Ibbit came to the Sister's Temple at Reggiston, Ansella had no one to carry her; she was her children's strength, rigid, impervious, closed to everyone but them, and completely alone as a woman. Now, the world moved through Ibbit into her, relaxing every inch of her, disconnecting her joints, turning her thoughts soft and malleable. She still considered herself her children's only strength, but now she had a love--a reliable love--to sustain her.
She let her head fall back on Ibbit's shoulder, and closed her eyes as Ibbit gripped her chin and kissed her, urging her mouth open and capturing her tongue between sharp, sharp teeth. A thrilling fear always split Ansella open from the top of her head to her core when Ibbit bit her; the priestess had broken skin before.
It wasn't always teeth. Sometimes Ibbit would hold her by the neck, as if the bigger woman were assessing the best way to break it. Knowing Ibbit could hurt her, and chose not to, made Ansella weak with desire.
Ibbit let go of her tongue, and pressed her down into the grass. "Don't worry now. Let me take care of you. It's all I've ever wanted, to teach you, to bring you and your daughters to the Sister's true path, and to take care of you, my sweet, beautiful girl, my Ansella. Don't move. Be still, now."
Ansella lay still as Ibbit pinned her to the ground and opened her bodice, still as the sharp teeth left little strawberry marks along the skin at the top of her corset, still as Ibbit's hands and head pushed her skirts up, as the sharp teeth pulled at her lips, and then as they worked at her clit, Ibbit's tongue circling all around everywhere the sharp teeth had been, erasing their traces only to have them mark her again, and again. She stayed still, until she couldn't stay still any longer.