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He had waited so long, four years to be exact, but now the waiting was no more. He reached across the bed and gathered her close against his powerful body. She came eagerly. The privacy of the big bed formed a delicious cocoon about them, shutting out the world and everyone in it, save this pair who were about to make love.

He slipped the thin gown off her shoulders and down her body, his mouth following its descent until he tasted the luscious breasts, all velvet cream and rosy pink in their swelling perfection. Her silken thighs opened willingly to his hands as they explored the secret valley, and his shaft throbbed with the pent-up torture of the long denial.

She was trembling beneath him. Small incoherent cries filled his ears and his nostrils flared with the intoxicating scent of her. She reached her mouth up to his in a slow, soft kiss that began with a rich warmth, then rapidly changed to a burning, fiery blaze that threatened to consume them in its intensity. Poised above her, his hands shook as they caressed the soft curves, now quivering with anticipation that matched the passion he felt. His voice was hoarse with his desire as he whispered love words against her ear. He could wait no longer; if he did, he would die with agony.

Suddenly he felt a shimmering, dissolving, as she moved away from him, out of his reach.

"No!" he cried sharply. His vision was clouded by a dark veil, then it brightened to a red mist. The mist thinned and separated and he shot up from the pillows, fully awake, as the dream dissolved and evaporated like mist on a summer morn.

He took a great gulp of air and tore the clinging bed sheet from his naked torso. As the morning air cooled the powerful throbbing of his body, he stretched his arms beneath his head and let out a long, slow breath. He gazed up at the ceiling where the morning light sketched a pattern of dappled sunshine and realized that this was his wedding day.

As every bridegroom since the beginning of time, he experienced one moment of doubt. He crushed it instantly. He was doing the right thing. He had made the right choice. He would be master of his own fate unless the Gods were laughing at him; playing with him. This day would culminate a four-year period that had changed his world, his life totally. When had it begun? When had the Fates stepped in to alter the course of his life? Four years were swept aside like four seconds, as his mind winged back to that blazing October afternoon in 1856...

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