Year of our Lord 1283
A naked goddess, she arose from the top pool in the Roman bathhouse. A Venus in a fountain, her melon breasts dripped with water and rosy nipples pointed where they met the cooler air. She took a linen from the ancient mosaic floor and dried herself inch by inch with her eyes closed.
From the bottom tier, hid safely behind one of the thick marble columns, Sir Thomas D’Agostine could not make his legs move, nor divert his eyes. He hoped it was of him his lady dreamed as she touched herself. Did she remember her promises to him?
The lady Meredith, with lips the shade of poppies in spring, pouted, and let the towel drop from between her legs. Her gray eyes, that he’d once known so well, lowered towards the pile of clothing that lay beside her feet. Look up.
One thick lock of burnished gold hair escaped the mass tied to her head. The length twisted past a full breast, beyond her navel, and just above a thatch of curly hair. There, he had almost known her. Would she take him back? She’d haunted every one of his dreams, followed him like a wraith from London, to France, to Italy, the Holy Lands, and by God, back again. She would marry him. This time he would insist. He cleared his throat and stood out in the open, on the lowest tier of bricks.
Eyes wide, her mouth dropped open, and she screeched with hands covering her nakedness. “Thomas? Is that you? Haunt me not. Be gone. Damn you.”
He put melody to one of the hundreds of poems he had composed as his lower appendage swelled for her. “Merry, Merry. So very ever fair-ye.”
“Good heavenly Father above. Now it sings?” She picked up a scrubbing brush lying beside a pile of her clothing. Fire from the hearth reflected red into her crazed eyes.
Jumping up three stairs, he stood at the second tier of pools. Water gurgled from the top tier and dribbled out the other side to the bottom in perfect harmony, granting him the peace he needed to continue. He opened his arms wide with his best smile. “Nay a ghost, love. I have come back for you.”
A small nugget of soap whizzed by and would have grazed a cheek had he not stepped aside. She dropped to her knees with what he thought was a prayer, jostled in her belongings and rose with the vicious edge of a dagger. She hissed and jabbed in his direction. “Nay. Be gone ghost. You cannot be you. They said you were dead.”
“They? Who are these they, dearest? There is only I, your love. I have come back for you.” He jumped up three more stairs until only an arm’s length separated them and reached with palms up.
With her un-daggered hand, she finger-poked at him and her gray eyes went wider still when she hit the mail under his tunic. She paled. “Why did you never send word? Did you eat all your pigeons? Your messengers all up and died? It matters not. You cannot be here. You’ll ruin all I have planned. Go away and remain dead.”
He inched forward and the sweet smell of lavender lay siege upon his already assaulted senses. His already thick lance swelled under his tunic and fought forward to find a sweeter sheath. “Dead? No, not dead, love. Wed. A better option. Besides, how can I remain dead when I have never yet visited in that holy place?”
“Holy place? Nay, Sir Thomas. You’ll be dancing with the king of darkness by tonight, if I have any say.”
The love of his life lunged at him with her dagger, he twisted, and she splashed into the baths. She came up for air with long angry snake-like locks surrounding her head.
He squatted and pushed the top of her head under the water. “Drop the dagger.”
When blade drifted to the bottom of the pool, he let go. An angry maiden with a sharp object was not of his liking. Whatever happened to the giggling maid he had all but bedded five years ago? Who was this cantankerous creature? Where was his merry maid? His Merry of all days? Merry, lovely, Merry who had laughed at every one of his jests. She’d claimed the sun rose and set on his bidding.
For years he had dreamed how he would twist these golden locks between his fingers. But not thus. Oh no, but to them to bring close her lovely lips and claim them until she moaned and begged. Only then, would he thrust and pump and lay back spent. Gird up your loins, sir jester-knight of lost loves, life is full of disappointments.
It was then he noticed a boy of about five seasons wielding a sword half his size. The warrior with dark locks, dark eyes, and tiny penis, charged up the stairs with his sword steady. A good lad. “Let go of my Mama, you horse’s arse.”
Mother? So that was it? Five years of longing twisted his gut into a knot. She must’ve married another before he’d even set sail for France. Thomas howled within. “Now you work with your legs open, you, you, Magdalene?”
“What? How dare you? I’m no harlot.” She clawed her nails down the center of his face. The bloody wounds could not match the one tearing at his heart. He strode out, and swore when a brick of soap struck the back of his head.
“He is your son, you dolt.” Her words were plain as the unique shape of the boy’s nose. Thomas turned, put a hand to the rising bump on his daft noggin, and for the first time in his life, could find naught to say.