“I love you, Tally.”
In the bedroom, I professed my love easily to this beautiful creature who deigned fit to make me her husband.
“I feel like I am in my fourteenth summer again in your arms, Gar.”
“Fourteen? Such a specific age.”
“Mm… it was the first time I fell in love.”
“With him, yes. You are my husband now, Gardavan.”
I warmly smiled at her.
“It wasn’t until a year had passed that I surrendered my body for the first time to him. But we would often embrace each other and I had always felt so protected and loved. Just as I do now, with you.”
“Do you miss him, Tally?”
“He has been absent from my life now for longer than he was present in it. While he was here to see Nefetina born and taking her first steps, he was conscripted while I was still swollen bellied with Trevorkane. He… never even got to hold his son.”
I could feel a profound sadness in her words.
“I am truly, truly sorry for the loss of your beloved husband.”
She reached for my hands and held them.
“You are my husband, Gardavan. Only… you.”
“I’m honored to be your husband, Tally. But I also want you to know that you are free to speak fondly of him whenever the mood take you. There are people who come into our lives and have such a profound effect on us that even when they are gone, there is a part of them that always resides within.”
While I meant what I said, most of those words were not mine. As I said, my mother was a huge fan of the romance genre, and it wasn’t unreasonable to think a thirteen-year old me would try and read one of them with the hopes of coming across a racy scene, well written. What I spoke was merely something spoken of by a female lead in one of them, but I felt it might earn me some brownie points with Tally.
I wish there was chocolate. I would make her a fudge brownie so good she’d not only forget her former husband, she might forget her current husband as well!
She pulled my hand to a place on her stomach, right around her belly button.
“Right here is where I feel the warmest. It should be the heart, but… this is where I feel the comfort you give me.”
I pressed my hand in lightly, and she giggled.
“Tally… what are the formalities for becoming your husband officially?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, do we need to go to some government office and sign some documents, or to a church to gain the approval of some religious cleric?”
“I’ve never heard of such things. Is that how it is in your homeland?”
“Yes. Marriage is considered a contractual thing and isn’t recognized usually, without a document signed by both parties agreeing to the union.”
“Maybe they do something like that among the nobility, but for us commoners it’s a simple declaration of intent. Usually a small celebration is held by friends and family to bless fortune on us, and for the family we would create. We grow old together until our children have to look after us in our old age, and then pass away, having been together all our lives.”
“Until death do us part.”
“That is the final vow of marriage in my homeland.” I told her, then explained the common theme of the wedding vows. I had only ever been to one wedding, being that of my older sister to her husband, so I was listening intently to what the vows were and thinking about the depths of their importance when I attended.
One day, I would surely meet a woman and marry, or so I thought at the time. I was still in high school back then, and hopeful for what kind of love the future would bring me. How could I have ever believed it would come only when I went to another world?
“Tally, may I make the vow of my homeland to you… the vow a husband makes to his wife on the day they marry?”
“You may do so.”
“I, Gardavan, who you have so named and plucked from the fringes of death by starvation, take Thalica, my dear angel of mercy to be my wife. To have and to hold from this day onwards in faithfulness and loyalty, come the good and the bad both, through the tides of riches and the woes of poverty, whether at the peak of health or the valley of infirmity, to love, and to forever cherish, to the end of time, or heavens protect us, until death do us part. In accordance to the gods or goddess who watch over the life of my dearly beloved, in the presence of all here who listen, I make this vow, with all of my heart and soul.” I held her hands tightly, “Thalica, my love, under the warmth of the sun, and the darkest chill of night, finding in me the worthiness to stand beside you in mutual companionship, encouragement, and understanding of each other, for the duty of nurturing your children, both physically and spiritually, will you accept me as your only husband henceforth, and allow me alone to warm your bed, and your heart, until the end of all our days?”
She said nothing. Her hands, warm, trembled ever so slightly.
Then…, a breath.
“Yes, Gar, I swear! I swear to take you as my husband, and as the father of my children until the end of all our days!”
“And you, my sweet Mrs. Thalica, I take to be my wife, forevermore until the end of all our days. We are now husband and wife, our lives and future bound, together, forever, under the heavens."
“Oh, Gar… that was so romantic! My heart is aflutter. Feel it beat so.”
My hand was placed firmly on her chest over her heart, and it was indeed racing.
“I mean every word of it, Tally. I will be as good a man, a husband, and a father to you and your children as I know how to be. And what I do not know, do teach me.”
It’s needless to say what came afterwards.
The Bakery did not open on time the following morning. Tally didn’t want to open it up at all, but had reluctantly gotten out of bed only because there was the delivery from Zedron’s which had come as promised, and we could not afford to turn it away. We did eventually open for business, and though making a late start of it, that fact did nothing to slow the business we received throughout the day.
Not a single loaf of bread was made today. We had plenty of reserves of the regular brown bread she made, and the new cinnamon raisin bread I made yesterday to give selling my almond butter and blueberry jam sandwiches a try.
There was a clamoring for the soft oatmeal raisin cookies, so Tally set about the task of refining the oats, and she quickly was able to make them all on her own. All the recipes I have made so far have been freely shared with her as she watches. There is no one I trust more than her, and now that she is my wife, that trust goes even further.
I believe in her abilities as a baker, as a bread maker, as… a mother. I know she will probably surpass me in skill eventually when it comes to making these confections, and that warms my heart. I’m not above her as her husband, I am beside her. She is beside me as my wife, never below me.
And I don’t mind it at all when she’s on top in the bedroom, either!
Yes, no matter where she is, only wonderful things follow in her wake. Today, I have an assistant in the kitchen. It is the eldest daughter of the bakery-castle, Milady Nefetina! She has been entrusted with a most important task. She holds the office of the head of provisions, as well as quality control tester. In other words: she’s my gopher who also gets to taste-test everything.
I kept my word to Nefe, and of the six jams I was now able to make, the first one of the day was her favorite by a country mile, Apple Jam.
Along with oatmeal, oatmeal raisin, almond butter, and almond butter and walnut cookies, the six types of jam were apple, blueberry, raspberry, cranberry, elderberry, and boysenberry.
I had held off on the grapes, because they were not the dark grapes I was hoping for, but light green grapes, which, while my favorite to eat singly, I have a deep-seated prejudice for when compared to a dark purple colored grape jam.
It’s ingrained from my childhood that grape jelly should not be anything other than a horribly clothes-staining purple in color. Even if it might taste just as good, it’s no different than my feelings towards cauliflower, which is an albino broccoli and cannot be trusted, even if steamed and slathered with butter.
The last item was exclusive to the cinnamon raisin bread, and that was cinnamon honey toast.
I took slices of the raisin bread, added butter, honey, and a good pinch of cinnamon-sugar which I had to scrape and mix myself in a separate bowl, and toasted them in the oven for a very short time. It went four slices to a copper and sold extra-ordinarily well.
She also became merciless when it was time to sup. The bakery closed firmly then for the day. Our workload has increased many times what it was from the first week I was here, and sitting down to eat, only sweet foods abound in the kitchen, she sighed deeply as her head rested on the table.
“Are you okay, Tally?”
“I’m tired and sore, Gar. My feet ache and I want to have a drink.”
“Shall I fetch you a glass of lemonade?”
Lemonade existed here long before me. It’s possible that everything here has been made already, I’m just fortunate that it isn’t popularized here in Avondale. So, our bakery can get away with a monopoly for a short time.
“I want a wine, Gar. A bold and rich wine, more cookies as well.”
“We have plenty of cookies, my love.”
“Do you enjoy a wine, my husband?”
I shook my head.
“I’ve never really cared for anything with alcohol or spirits in it.”
Again, my head shook.
“No. However, if it pleases you to drink until you are merry, you have my blessing that I will most likely take advantage of you in that state. I will feed you sweets and massage your tired legs, and you will be warm both inside and out until you slumber deeply and wake with your head ringing like the bells of the hour.”
“Mmm… Goddess, that sounds nice.”
She got up and walked over to the counter, opening the drawer underneath were the coins were kept and pulled out a silver coin.
“Nefe, Trevor, will you visit Daean’s and fetch mommy a wine. If you tell him it’s for me, he will know which one to give you. What copper is left from this is for you two to split and you may buy whatever fancies you.”
That excited the both of them. Trevorkane took the coin and Nefetina chaperoned him as they left our home to run the errand.
“You really don’t mind that I enjoy a wine until drunken?”
“Not one bit.”
“You will massage my aching legs?”
“Until your toes curl in delight.”
“And you’ll make love to me?”
“Until you pass out from exhaustion and satisfaction.”
“Yes, my angel?”
She grinned wildly at me.
The floor of the bakery became unsanitary for the next five minutes. There were crumbs everywhere, and one husband left a little weaker in the knees by his experienced wife.
It’s cute to discover that my hard working wife has this kind of side to her, the kind that just wants a day off and to get loose. The children returned with a large green glass bottle after a while, and as soon as it was in her hands, she was rubbing her face affectionately against it.
Grabbing a mug, she began pouring some in it and took a seat on the floor, her back resting against the wall and a large sip of it passing through her lips. Her head tilted back loosely, and her eyes rolled upwards as she let out a satisfying breath.
It was followed by a quality burp.
She’s so attractive.
“Keep me company?”
She scooted forward, and I joined her as she leaned against me. I had taken the liberty to bring a small plate full of cookies with me. Setting them on her lap, my hands wrapped around her stomach and she was just giggling non-stop sip-after-sip as I hand-fed her cookies. Sometimes she would even bite on my finger playfully, so I had to return the favor to her shoulder.
Her body wiggles into my own and I drape my head over her shoulder.
“Enjoying your wine, my queen?”
She nodded exaggeratedly.
“This isn’t a dream, izzit… hic… Gar?”
“Not that I’m aware of?”
“MMh… It’s so… nice t’have you back, an’. the bakery’s making money, an’ the children… hic… are happy, an’… I’m… really liking this wine!”
“I’m glad to hear it.”
“hic… what… took you so long… to come home… Gar?”
Her butt slid along the floor and she was soon laying a little lower, the back of her head in my lap now. She was staring up at me, and after taking yet another sip and spilling it all over her chin, then cackling cutely, she was just looking so damn happy.
That raised every red flag in my mind it possibly could, but even so, none of that would change my feelings about her. She could be a bit of a lush if she wanted to from time to time. Because she was my cute little drunken angel right now.
And she was happy.
All it took was one bottle of wine, and she was gone. I carefully scooped her up, noticing my pants stained with the wine she spilled from a careless sip, but uncaring about it. I wasn’t sure I had the strength, but I was able to scoop her up much the same as her daughter, and brought her upstairs to the bedroom to deposit her on the bed.
I had promised to take advantage of her in this state, and I may yet very well do that, but for now, I will let her rest. There was still some cleaning to do downstairs, and someone will have to make the children a meal by sundown when they come back from playing outside.
I had a couple of hours I figured to get a few things done, so I had a wonderful idea for dinner that I thought the children would absolutely love.
Buttery spaghetti noodles with mushrooms and grated cheese!
There is no child who exists in any world that does not love it. If there is, that is not a child then, it’s something else. Something evil, sinister, and unnatural.
With a failing whistle, I began my work, practicing the way of the househusband, while my wife had some time off, drunk as a skunk, and free of any responsibilities, especially the children.