It was Sunday and Gabriel had asked me to meet him at the barn around lunchtime. I took my time walking the path to the farmhouses which caused Isolde utter dismay. She was in an exceptional mood; bounding ahead and galloping back to my side as if to say we should hurry. It was a beautiful day and I imagined that she was determined not to let it go to waste by squeezing in as much fun as she could while it lasted.
When I finally walked through the doorway of the barn she trotted up to Gabriel and insisted on greeting him first. He indulged her as long as either of us could stand it then pulled away and gathered me close as he told me how much he had missed me. He had grown a great deal since we had met and was just over 6 feet tall easily allowing him to tuck me under his chin so that we were molded together like two puzzle pieces. It was something I never tired of, being close to Gabriel, and every time he held me I felt the world fall away and was reminded how very much I loved him.
We lingered that way for several minutes before we finally pulled apart and could focus on other things. I noticed that Gabriel's horse was waiting by her stall ready to take us somewhere. Her saddlebags were bulging so I suspected we would be picnicking again. Gabriel smiled as I took in the situation, "It's a beautiful day for it, n'est-ce pas?" He patted the mare's shoulder.
"Oui, it's perfect!"
"Good," he loosed the mare then took the reins and climbed into the saddle.
He brought us to the clearing where we had had our first picnic. We hadn't been there for many, many months and when we finally brushed through the last of the trees I couldn't believe the sight that greeted me; it was completely transformed. All the undergrowth had been cleared away and beds of flowers had been planted. A path was broken and it outlined all the little alcoves of flowers and shrubs that had either been grown or transplanted there. It was breathtaking and I couldn't help gasping as I glanced this way and that at all the splendor that met my eye.
"Did you do all of this?" I waved my hand expressively.
"Oh, my! It must have taken you months!"
He chuckled, "It did! Do you like it?"
"Like it?" I whirled around to face him, "I love it! It's…it's amazing! Hurry, let's get down so you can show me everything you've done!"
Gabriel slid from the saddle and caught me as I tumbled down beside him. He took my hand and led me along the little path pointing out each significant improvement of the clearing as we went. After he felt satisfied that I had seen everything he took me to a small patch of grass near the boulder we had shared our first outing on. The turf had not been there before so I imagined that he must have managed to either bring it from somewhere else or he had grown the miniature field himself so that we would have a more comfortable place to sit and relax whenever we came.
Gabriel fetched the saddlebags and began arranging our picnic for us. He brought out a large blanket and spread it at my feet. I offered to help but he insisted on doing everything himself and motioned me to take a seat on the corner of the blanket. I was giddy with pleasure as he lay out all of my favorite things and finally took seat beside me.
"I love you," I said as I leaned over and kissed him. "I can't imagine what it took to do all of this, or know why you would go through so much trouble…"
"Of course you do, Vivienne! I love you…I would do anything for you…and…" he let that linger for a moment.
"And?" I asked expectantly shaking my head at him.
"I wanted to be the first to wish you a Happy Birthday!"
I laughed out loud, "It's not for another 3 weeks!"
"I know, but I couldn't wait, Vivienne. I love seeing you happy. I love making you happy. I want you to always be happy!"
I didn't know what to say, "You don't have to do anything to make me happy, Gabriel, I am always happy when I am with you."
Smiling he kissed me then turned my attention by offering me a strawberry that I carefully nibbled as he dangled it before my lips. We playfully fed one another while we laughed and talked and lounged. Just when I was about to say that I had had my fill he told me to close my eyes.
"One last thing," he teased. I closed my eyes. "Open your mouth…a little more…now take a bite."
"Oh," my eyes went wide as I could taste the pastry on my tongue. It was a delicate, miniature crème puff covered in chocolate and I had never tasted anything like it. "Mmm, that is wonderful! Where did you get it?"
"I made it," he said his voice filled with pride.
"No you didn't!" I joked.
"I did! Papa taught me. It was my mother's recipe."
"It's heavenly! Here try some," I took the pastry from his hand and held it to his lips.
He was looking directly into my eyes and I was smiling until I felt his lips wrap around my fingertips. He gently sucked the bits of cream from them and suddenly all the playfulness of the moment disintegrated.
He kissed me; a beautiful, soft, lingering kiss.
My heart stopped and a shiver ran through me from the tips of my toes all the way up my spine to the top of my head. I reached for his shirt and undid the ties then began easing it up over his head. He took my hands, "Vivienne," he whispered, "are you sure?" he waited, watching, "Are you sure?" he asked again.
I kissed him and when I pulled back I finished tugging his top over his head. I had never been more sure of anything in my life. Slowly and with meaningful, loving caresses we undressed one another. It was magical exploring his body; he was so solid and strong every fiber seeming to be in perfect symmetry with one another.
He bit his lip and moaned as I glided my hands across his shoulders and chest down to his waist then I traced the inner edges of his thighs. I had no idea what I was doing but instinct seemed to take over for the both of us. Soon we were lost in a sea of passion; kissing and touching and our senses were awakened to one another in a way that they had never been before.
Gabriel rolled on top of me and with the gentlest of pressure eased himself inside of me. It was very painful at first and I involuntarily cried out. Gabriel was very nervous afterwards and it took a minute or two for me to convince him that I was fine and that the pain was nothing compared to the joy I felt from feeling our love joined together in such a way. When he was finally able to relax again I did my best to encourage him. We moved together, slowly at first but every motion seemed to create an increased urgency to everything we were experiencing.
I lost sense of the world around me and soon there was nothing but Gabriel and I and this terrible need overwhelming me from the inside out, "Oh, Gabriel," I cried, "I love you…I love you…" I whispered it over and over again until something seemed to burst within me and the fire of fulfillment spread throughout my body. I could feel it from him, too, his absolute pleasure as he fell against me and clung to my body in exhausted ecstasy.
I ran my fingers through is hair and kissed his temple, "Vivienne," he sighed as he rolled to the side and curled himself around me. "I love you…I feel like I have always loved you," he turned my head so I was facing him, "I will never love another," he took my face in his hands and kissed me. "We will always be together."
"Always," I assured him.
"You are a part of me now; the part that gives me life and losing you would be the death of me."
"Yes, Gabriel, I know. I feel it, too. We…we were meant to be."
We closed our eyes and dozed against one another our arms and legs intertwined. I did not know how long we lay there but the time had certainly gotten away from us. Fortunately Isolde had tired of traipsing through the woods chasing squirrels and prodded us both from our daydreams.
"Whoa, easy," Gabriel laughed at her and gently pushed her away.
He stood up and helped me to my feet then with the same delicate care and admiration we redressed one another. Quietly, we gathered all that we had brought and packed it all back up for the journey home. Neither of us spoke; we didn't seem to need any words just then. I could see him so clearly; understand everything about him so plainly.
We slowly rode back to the farmhouses with my back to his chest and our bodies swaying together in the saddle. He nibbled my lobe once or twice and whispered in my ear, "Vivienne, my love," or "I love you, Vivienne," or "Tell me you love me, Vivienne," to which I graciously replied, "I love you." Once I teased him and drew out my declaration, "I…." and I waited a number of paces as he moaned forlornly, "love…" "Ugh!" he cried. "y…y…" "Please," he begged. "I love you, Gabriel," and smiling the words rushed out.
When we got back to the farms we walked the mare into the barn.
"Well, well, well…where have you two been?"
I jumped as Philippe stepped from the shadows, "We…were…we were having…a picnic," I stuttered.
He eyed us both suspiciously and took a step closer but Isolde was right on our heels. She quickly moved around and squared herself in front of Philippe challengingly.
Philippe threw his hands up, "I'm not here to cause any trouble you brute," he spat at her then looked up at me, "I came to let you know that Papa is home and he would like to see you."
My heart sank, "I'll be right there," I mumbled.
"Good," Philippe tossed a nod at Gabriel "nice to see you," and without waiting for a reply arrogantly strode from the barn.