I sipped the moonlight from her lips and stumbled home drunk.Atticus
Sins of Our Mothers
The darkness in the room was a refuge. Here, there was no counting of regrets, no false atonement, only the peace brought by the coming events that played through Ras’ fertile imagination. The feel of her, the smell of her hair made him drunk with the knowledge of what he must do with Dari. He wanted it to be meaningful, he wanted her to remember him as the portal she stepped through to find her destiny as House Razvan’s Wolfmaster. In a way, he would always be her master, as was his great uncle to Dari’s mother.
In this moment of reflection, a late fall breeze rustled in the trees and played a symphonic melody that blended with the rise and fall of Dari’s slow breathing. Ras sat on the vanity bench and studied his objet d’art. She lay on her side, facing away from him. Dark eyes and patience took in every detail of the revenant’s body. The slope of her ribs dipping into a slender waist and the acute rise of her hips falling along labor toned legs became a sensual notebook of measurements. Already, he could visualize her bondage harness he would make for her. Dari was special. He would use the highest quality leather and rope he could find.
Vanya placed her hand on Ras’ shoulder to remind him that she was there and not to forget her presence in his revelry of this mysterious revenant she was to serve. Ras placed his hand over Vanya’s to reassure her. He stood and drew Vanya to him and kissed her forehead. I must be ever watchful, he thought. The girls will sacrifice everything to their emotions and insecurities. Like men fighting for a woman’s love, women too were wicked with their jealousies.
“I will wake her. I want you to fix her hair then bring her to the table for lunch. Moira and I will wait for you.” Vanya nodded and picked up the hairbrush from the vanity.
A hand as large as Dari’s face caressed her cheek. Eyelashes fluttered. Ras slipped a hand behind Dari’s neck, and the other took a light grip on her hip bone. With a deft movement, he rotated Dari on her back and lifted her to a sitting position and settled in beside her, propping her up with a hand on her thigh and an arm around her back. Dari struggled in the dense fog of dreams. She reached for Ras’ and turning into the arms that held her, she touched her lips to the neck of her Dominus.
Dari startled as the curtain of sleep lifted to reveal Ras holding her while allowing this intimate moment meant for another. “Oh, oh, I’m sorry. I was dreaming and thought you were my Marius,” Dari confessed, her face blushing as she tried to extricate herself gracefully from Ras’ hold.
“There is no harm meant and none taken. I hope you slept well, Ras said. It is time for lunch and Vanya will help you get ready. We start your training after lunch.” Ras touched Dari’s shoulder with a lingering tenderness then left the room.
* * *
The hairbrush tapping in her palm, Vanya set it down harder than necessary and worked to open the shutter louvers to allow the noonday light to flood the room, burning Dari’s eyes. “Would My lady sit here by the vanity and I’ll fix your hair.” Dari did as she was asked, ignoring Vanya’s possessive nature with Ras. Hmm, I hope I can remain friends with this girl. She thought about Marius warning her that comfort was secondary to her reasons for coming to Moira. Becoming the Wolfmaster was her lighthouse to guide her through her ordeal. Dari relaxed as the brush forced the tangles from her hair and promised herself she wouldn’t drain every ounce of blood from this poor jealous girl.
* * *
After a satisfying lunch of Moldavian pork stew and a shot of plum brandy, Vanya and Ras cleared the table and cleaned up the dishes while Moira took Dari outside to sit on the porch to look through an old photo album.
“I have waited for this moment for many years, My Lady. You know your mother loved you with all her heart.”
“I can only remember she abandoned me to the castle’s dank cellars,” Dari replied.
“She told me many times you would say that. Moira’s face reflected the hurt she was reliving. I hope you will find it in your heart to forgive her. Your mother is gone, dead of a broken heart and her insatiable need for the comfort her bondage to the rope provided. We are all addicted to something; love, status, power, the adoration of others who ultimately are meaningless to a life better lived.”
Beseeching eyes probed Dari for a reply. How could she answer when she knew nothing but the suffering of countless lives beyond the one she lived now. Moira was right; bound securely where only the mind wanders free is a better fate than the constant war that raged across eons for the dominance of Carpathia consuming everything in its march across time. Dari hoped her mother found solace and penance in the knots that marked her skin.
The old master she had mistaken for her father surely warned her mother. But, wasn’t mother a foolish young girl like I was at one time too, feeling invincible with no worry for consequence. Dari met Moira’s distant gaze. “There are always consequences even when we believe there aren’t any.”
“Yes, My Lady. The consequences of living are pain and hardship. Pain is the currency of life, and the cost is high. I found joy and pain with your mother. Like my mother, Daciana was given to unreserved passion without the guarded suspicions we all have learned. The Count stole her heart and left her with a child – you. He could not acknowledge his love because to do so would have cast doubt into the minds of his courtiers and staff. The fury of the Countess would maul everyone. No, he had to sacrifice your mother for what he felt was the greater good, and it matters not if he was right or wrong. It only matters that he did it.”
There are memories inseparable from emotion, Dari thought as Moira’s words seeped into her mind. Moira’s mother chose the duty of Wolfmaster and died of the loneliness it requires. Moira abandoned it and lived in a small paradise forbidden to return to her people. My mother, whose genes fill my quiet days with introspection, died from the same loneliness and now it is my turn to join Moira in life or take the secrets of the Wolfmaster’s bondage to an early grave. Marius, oh Marius why must I choose the Wolfmaster, Dari lamented to herself. She was compelled by her lover’s instruction to be only the Wolfmaster and nothing else. This test is far more complicated than any physical challenge I have endured before.
“Would you like to see the pictures of your mother?” Moira changed the subject. Dari needed to connect again with the truth of her mother before she committed herself to the same fate.
“Yes, please. You must tell me everything,” Dari said, leaning against Moira to look at the dusty album filled with old black and white photos of a dramatic life Dari never knew about.
Pleasure and pain, the good and the bad, are so intermixed that we can not shun the one without depriving ourselves of the other.Francoise d’Aubigne, Marquise de Maintenon