Chapter Four

Savannah lay still in the bed beside her husband Jason. She was waiting for his heavy breaths to finally turn to snores, but knew that if she moved a moment too soon, she could wake him up and ruin any chance she had of escaping to meet with her secret lover.

Secret lover. Just the thought made Savannah giddy enough to want to giggle, but she suppressed the urge, instead staring up through the open window at the waning moon, imagining what the night would be like when she finally found herself inside her lover's arms. She expected she would feel her naked body against another woman's again, feel a twin dampness that she had never felt before, a warmth that made her want to never leave the low bed in the dark brothel room. Now the guilt that Savannah always seemed to be fighting to surpress welled up to the surface once more, in tune with Jason's snores. He was a good man, despite his flaws. It was too much to expect a man she'd never met before their marriage day to provide and care for her.

When finally she could wait no more she lifted herself silently from the mattress, waiting to see if Jason stirred. When he didn't make a sound, she sighed with relief and proceeded to disappear through the doorway into the darkness of the shop. There she covered herself in her darkest overcoats and pulled a deep black hood up over her face. The night was cold as fit the season, melting piles of week old snow still dirtying the walkways. Savannah had pulled on boots over her night shoes and then pulled an extra covering over herself before sneaking out into the shadowy night, avoiding the main streets and the lamposts where guards were sure to be watching.

Through her alley and the next two and then a short distance beneath a closed covered walkway put her at the back entrance of the Lady Luck, the tavern where she had met her newest lover only the night before. She knocked on the back door and waited patiently for the eyeslot to slide open.

"Oh, come on in, Savannah," the innkeeper's wife opened the door with just a glance out the hole. Savannah stepped into the roaring warmth of the Lady Luck and smiled up at the old woman who kept all of her secrets.

"Is she here?" Savannah asked before she'd even gotten a greeting out. The excitement in her eyes was not lost on Morgana, who hesitated. "Is she in the room?"

Morgana bit her bottom lip and nodded, her dark eyes distressed. Savannah could see the old woman's reluctance, and she already knew what was causing it. She contemplated stepping passed Morgana and taking to the stairs in sheer anxiousness, but knew that would bruise the old woman's pride. After all, she was only showing Savannah how much she cared about her wellfare.

"I'm not going to do anything foolish, Morgana," Savannah took the old woman's arm and sat her down in one of the chairs the two of them shared so often. Morgana nodded, looking as though she were telling herself the same lie.

"You do know who you're dealing with, Savannah, don't you?" Morgana was going to get a straight answer from her younger friend if it killed her. "She's the bloody-"

"Don't tell me!" Savannah reached out and clamped her hands over the woman's mouth. "Please, she hasn't told me yet, and I want it to be a surprise." Savannah stood up and made for the stairs once more, before her resolve evaded her completely.

"A surprise..." Morgana mused. "Savannah that is insane! This could be a trap, and you could find yourself in the dungeon or worse come sunrise. What will I be left to do then, when my only friend is tied to the stake and burning?"

Savannah frowned, pausing in the steps, the image of herself being burned alive not a pleasant one. With every step up to the back room she took, she would be stepping closer to that end. Was the woman waiting in her rooms worth the risk? Savannah stepped back down the first three stairs she'd climbed in haste and sunk down into the chair beside Morgana once more. The old woman slid a tankard of ale across the knotted wooden table with a comforting smile.

"I know how much you want to be loved, Savannah," Morgana looked into her friend's eyes, hoping the girl could see how much she cared. "I know things aren't what they should be with Jason, and I know you miss home, but if you do this... it may be the last thing you ever do."

Savannah stared at the old woman and then at the knotts in the wodden table. They seemed to form faces, long sad many-ringed faces that mimicked the old woman's wrinkled frown. Savannah closed her eyes and brought the tankard to her lips, wishing she could drown in the frothy ale and forget about everything that was happening.

But the enigmatic woman was waiting in the last room at the top of the stairs, as she said she would be, and Savannah couldn't bring herself to resist, no matter how many tankards of ale she chugged. Morgana's stern warning was shocking, and even though the old woman was usually as frank, she was hardly ever as confrontational. That was enough to make Savannah sit and really weigh out her excitement and curiosity against the risk, and what she would be throwing into the flames by taking to the stairs.

"This is worth everything, Morgana," Savannah finally concluded, setting down the tankard with a stern nod. She stood up so quickly her chair fell backwards to the floor behind her. Her nerves were getting the best of her. "My life won't be worth living if I don't do this. I may not be a very good person," Savannah pulled her cloak closer around her shoulders, drawing the hood up so her face was shrouded in darkness. "But I deserve contentment the same as everyone, Morgana. I promise I'll be careful."

The old woman studied her young friends face and found nothing but determination. So, she pursed her lips with a nod, and Savannah turned to the stairs, finding that her hands were shaking with exitement. She took to each step quicker than the last, avoiding the broken sixteenth one and then grabbing the rickety rail and pulling herself up to the second floor. The door to the last room was unlocked. Savannah found herself wishing that the hallway she was standing inside was bright enough to shine some light inside the dark room, but knew she would never catch a glimpse of the woman without a lantern.

She slipped into the room without a sound, half hoping to find the bed empty and her secret lover gone. Morgana's stern warning would haunt her for the entire night, and she knew that her own nerves were beyond frazzled. Were she anywhere but standing in the upstairs hall of the Black Swan, she might have been able to talk herself out of this. With a deep breath she pushed open the door and stepped into the dark.

Whatever doubts Savannah had been harbouring as she unbuttoned the black cloak and heard the heavy garment drop to the ground were assailed by the warm hands that found her own in the darkness. The soft touch certainly was not Hans's, and it was a welcomed one after the afternoon spent obsessing over this moment.

"I never thought I'd see you again," Savannah breathed a sigh of relief as the woman pulled her towards the far end of the room, where the bed stood waiting. "I wasn't even sure what happened was real," she admitted, already having said more then she planned to.

"Were you not pleased?" a whisper in her ear was all Savannah had to identify her lover by.

"I was," Savannah quickly answered. The last thing she wanted was to ruin this by talking too much. English was a hard language to grasp, and it had given Savannah a lot of trouble when she first came to Aberton. "I just never imagined..."

Savannah though she heard a quiet chuckle and squeezed her eyes closed tight, trying to avoid the wave of embarassment that threatened to roll over her. Even in the darkness Savannah was sure this mysterious woman would be able to see her blush. "You never imagined a woman would make you feel that way," the woman whispered again, and this time Savannah thought she recognized something familiar in the cadence of her lover's speech.

But soft hands were on her body before she had a chance to contemplate further, and before long Savannah had given herself over to the woman standing in the dark beside her. She felt long thin fingers tracing the contours of her body, her waist, her chest, down to grasp her behind firmly, something Hans used to do often. Hans never let his hands linger the way this woman's seemed to, though; the man didn't posses even the nerves to look Savannah in the eye, let alone influence the rise and fall of her chest with a simple touch. The breath inside of her lungs threatned to burst free right through her chest.

The woman pulled her towards the corner of the room, where their bed awaited them. Together they sunk into the matress, too enthralled in tasting each other's mouths to notice the points of hay poking through the sheets, or to be annoyed by the sweltering heat that only seemed to rise with each move they made. When the woman reached for the buttons to the front of Savannah's dress, Savannah sighed in relief. The waiting all afternoon had been agonizing, and counting the seconds that passed while waiting for Jason's snores to upset the silence of the night was excrutiating. Even aying across from the woman Savannah had dreamed about nonstop for the past day waiting for the moment when the world around them stopped spinning threatened to drive Savannah insane.

She wriggled out of the dress in an instant, and reveled in the feelin of her warm skin against her mysterious lover's. The woman had allowed Savannah to sit atop her hips, her legs wrapped around the woman's slender waist, and pull the woman's tunic up over head, kissing the places the absense of the shirt left uncovered. The woman let out a gasp when Savannah nibbled on the soft flesh of her chest, causing her nipples to go taut. Savannah couldn't help but realize that this was the first time she had ever had a breast between her lips. Until a day ago, the shy merchant's wife had never even considered the possiblity. She'd probably passed two women in the throes of passion a dozen times on her midnight escapades to meet Hans in the very room.

The woman seemed to notice that Savannah's body had gotten rigid, the void of her warm lips more than noticeable. "What's wrong?" the woman asked, although she already had anticipated this situation, and had prepared for it.

Savannah sat up again, pushing herself with both hands against the woman's flat stomach, feeling the hard muscles beneath her fingers, and the soft skin. She felt her breath hitch in her chest at the contact. "I just..." Savannah faltered, feeling the woman's muscles contract as she sat up to look Savannah in the face in the pure darkness. Savannah searched for any sign that the woman in whose lap she sat was someone that she recognized, but could make out nothing. "I don't know what to do."

The woman chuckled gently, a kiss that was meant for Savannah's lips meeting her cheek instead. "You don't have to know what to do, that's what I'm here for," the woman explained her delight.

Savannah frowned in spite of the urge she had to join her lover in laughter. "But I want to be able to pleasure you-"

"-And I you-"

"-And I don't know how," Savannah repeated, feeling her heart beating through her chest. She bit her bottom lip for a moment before finally gathering her courage. "So I want you to teach me."

Whatever laughter had been in the woman's throat died on her lips. The pure desire in Savannah's voice was enough to make anyone loose their train of thought. Savannah threw her head back at the feeling of the woman's fingers slipping into a place only she ever touched. "It's something like this," the woman explained, kissing Savannah's pale neck slowly as she began to stroke. Savannah could feel all of the butterflies that had been making her feel so nervouce, disappear from her stomach. In their place was a warmth she had only felt once before, when the was was inside her.

Savannah stiffled her gasps as long as she dared, before the woman took it upon herself to make Savannah cry out, doubling her efforts with ease. Savannah found herself on her back in the center of the large bed, her legs spread wide, this amazing woman's tongue doing things Savannah hadn't known were possible. She'd long since given up trying to keep track of everything this woman was doing to her in favor of forgetting everything and losing herself in the woman's touch. She reached down instinctively, burrying her fingers in the woman's short silky straight hair, her hips rising off the bed in desperation.

Princess Alaire's hair is short and straight... Savannah pondered momentarily, before the woman between her legs found a sweet spot that made Savannah's mind explode. She went limp in the woman's arms and felt the woman shifting up to lay beside her. Savannah wasn't sure whether she should announce her discovery or keep it to herself. Maybe half the magic was in pretending she would never find out who this woman was. What if it was someone she knew or someone she cared little for? Worse still, this woman could be someone who wanted to see her harmed. One word to the magistrate and Savannah would find herself the tinder for a bonfire. No, ruining it was dangerous, Savannah decided. At least for now.

"Do you think you can copy that?" Alaire laughed again, and this time Savannah was sure that it was her handsome princess lying in the bed beside her, one arm draped over her chest, deft fingers tracing the freckles clustered on one side of her breast.

Savannah gulped. There was no way she could replicate what Alaire had just done. She realized with a hint of curiosity that the woman was experienced. How long had Alaire been risking her life this way? How many womean had she seduced? The questions were starting to pile up unanswered, and Savannah knew that soon her curiosity was going to speak louder than her lust. "I can try," she squeaked, hoping Alaire wouldn't understand the cause of her trepidation.

"You don't have to, you know. I'm more then delighted to make sure you're exhausted," Alaire offered her services in a way that made Savannah smile. She wished there was enough light in the windowless room to see Alaire's darling face, to watch her to confident, so brave. Savannah was sure she never could have acted on feelings such as these, not when the consequences were so dire. Somehow it made her want Alaire that much more.

But the bed was so warm, and the woman who's arms Savannah lay in was so firm and comforting beside her, that before she could return the favor she was dreaming of doing it.