Smutathon Plans!

It feels like a very long time ago that I first said “I’m going to write pieces of erotic fiction in different decades as my Smutathon task” I might even have said ‘a story for every decade’ even though this would definitely be a big ask.

I love historical erotic fiction, it’s one of my favourite things to write – mostly the big knickers, men in waistcoats and the idea of intense sexuality hidden beneath a thin veneer of ‘respectability’ and primness.

Now, with only two weeks to go (in fact, two weeks today we will be recovering with pastries, coffee and lounging around in our pyjamas because the tough bit will be OVER), and spending every weekend saying “Yep, this weekend I am going to plot out my stories” before resoundly failing to do so, I have finally pulled my finger out and committed my stories and their titles to my laptop.

Five word files are now contained in a Smutathon folder on my desktop. Five stories, set at twenty year intervals, featuring an array of queer and heterosexual characters. My hope is that each will be at least 1k long – 5000 words in 12 hours seems doable, even for me.

So, drumroll please! Here are my five stories, their titles and a little note about genre.

1920s –  What the Butler Saw
Queer male masturbation, with a voyeurism/exhibitionism slant

1940s Ettie and Rose’s Dirty Weekend
Queer female romance, full of sweetness and discovery

1960s Flowers with de Sade
Het D/s in the Summer of Love

1980s Dancing With Myself Whilst Working as a Waitress in a Cocktail Bar
Het female masturbation for the working woman who wants to have it all

1999/2000 Taz and Noel want to make a millennium baby
Polya romance at the turn of the century

I hope at least one of these tickles your fancy. I am going to try my fucking hardest, I know that much!

See you all in August, and please DONATE!!

A Girl On A Bench

A girl on a bench.

A girl on a bench in a park

A girl on a bench in a park, in the sun.

Wearing a yellow sundress, just a fraction too small. Her belly presses against the unforgiving cotton fabric in large, beautiful ripples. Her breasts are unseemly but the weather so hot and the park so vast, she takes the risk to bare her flesh.

A girl on a bench in a park, in the sun wearing a yellow sundress which strains with the fullness of her breasts.

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I like to watch you work. I suppose I’m not supposed to linger near you, cocking my head and watching the muscles flex and regroup across your arms and shoulders.

In summer your shirt drenches with sweat and I can almost see the hair on your chest and under your arms through the coarse material.

Some days it rains and I catch you with your head skywards, cursing the grey clouds, the Lord, but mostly the frugal landowner and his refusal to hire another man to share your heavy load. I heft the basket of firewood higher on my hip, noting the brief, startling throb between my thighs before I pick my way through the mud back to the house.

It rains for five days almost solidly. There are brief respites of sun before the land is sodden again. And you work on, in a heavy oilskin.

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Dahlia learns her lesson

In 2016, I participated in Emmeline’s Team Amazeballs Erotica Exchange – we gave one another a prompt, and she asked me to write something based off Rosetti’s Lady Lilith, which I knew nothing of, instead imagining her as a petulant debutante with a string of music teachers in her wake.
I hope you enjoy this not so little historical tale.

Dahlia adored her music lessons. That precious hour of the day where she was indulged with lyricism and beauty. And the presence of a tall, broad, older gentleman whom she knew her father had chosen precisely because he was almost as old as her grandfather and could not be described by even the kindest soul as handsome.

To Dahlia he was the most exciting part of her lessons. He was the reason she was allowed in the music room, un-chaperoned, for one whole hour. She exploited every single minute.

On music days she woke early but didn’t rise from her bed until almost midday. She would lie in a blissful reverie, and explore the wonders of her own body as if the territory were new to her. Her own large breasts, which came to stiff, perfect peaks. Her own flaring hips and rounded tummy with its sweet fair hair. Fair hair which curved in a path between her legs, becoming coarser and darker until it curled outwards in a shield over her cunt which seemed preternaturally wet and wanting.

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She smoothed her best dress out over the dented wooden floor and looked up at him.

“You don’t think I’m pretty, do you? You don’t like me at all.”

His face was almost quizzical.

“No. Of course not.”

A loose frond of her chocolate coloured curls had worked loose – he tucked it behind her ear gently as she reached up and unbuttoned his flies.

They were not quite alone, though no one paid them much heed in their corner of the hallway. Occasionally stepping on her heavy silk frock, there would be a muttered “Excuse me,” and she could hardly answer them with her mouth so full of him and the distraction of his weight pistoning into her.

Keeping Up Appearances

Note: Whilst Gwendolyn refers to Whittaker as her uncle, they are not blood relatives. This is all part of the game to them. Both are well above legal age.



The room was stifling hot, a fire that had lain dormant all day, was now purring contentedly in the grate and the heat made the smoke curling from Whittaker’s cigar hang thickly in the air. He was facing the window, his back to her, watching the late evening lovers take the air.

“Did you have a pleasant evening?” He didn’t turn around.

Gwendolyn took off her jacket and shoes. “Quite.”
“Did he try anything?”

She laughed and made her way through his tightly-packed office to the window, whose ledge was just wide enough for her to perch on.

“He was a gentleman – he was the gentleman he was paid to be.” Here she reached forward and took the cigar from his hand. She took a long drag and when he took it off her, blew languid smoke rings into the air, kicking her feet into his thigh. He caught one and held it as he smoked, her toes contained in his fist.

“You’re drunk.” he said after a while.

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Taking Liberties (I)

Erotic romance was how I started. This is definitely a slow burn. An actual story for once, but it is a departure from what I have posted to my blog so far so may take some adjusting.

Many years after the fact, I learnt he had finely orchestrated our first meeting. Sat beside one another at a dull talk on moral responsibility, he put his hand on my thigh. I slapped it away. He was thoughtful, and when the room grew rowdy once more he placed the hand higher upon my thigh. This time, when I made to swat the hand away again, he caught my fingers in his and held them fast, delicately stroking the palm.

Afterwards the speaker announced that they would be serving us tea and fruitcake in the ante room. I broke free of his grasp, and had been speaking with Lydia’s sister, when he approached me at the samovar and said,

“I do hope you didn’t think me forward.”

Always that impertinent grin about his mouth. His blonde-toned hair oiled but waved towards his brow. Eleven months and two inches between us.
“I do think you forward.”

“Oh dear, that wasn’t my intention.”
He stroked his hand along the length of my index finger, I looked about us and tempered my voice.

“You manhandled me.”

“A misunderstanding.”

“Your hand was placed upon my thigh where it had no place being. How could I possibly misunderstand that?”
His large, child-like blue eyes registered my scandalous words with some amusement.

“I was gripped, gripped by Professor Bradley’s rousing speech, of course. Had your thigh been that of the good professor himself, or even my dear, departed mother, my reaction would have been much the same.”
His speech was firm and measured. He looked me in the eye carefully. It could almost have been true.

“I can see you don’t believe me. Perhaps I could take you to dinner and explain in a more detailed fashion?”

“If I refuse, would you persist in harassing me?”
“Perhaps. Perhaps not.” He shrugged, turning to the samovar himself for his own refreshment.

He was infuriating.

I went to dinner.

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Libraries Gave Her Power

The rather lovely and wonderful Exhibit A is running a competition based on selected lyrics by one of his favourite bands. So here is my attempt, from the prompt “Libraries Gave Us Power”.
I do love a historical romance, a sliver of D/s, a hint of exhibitionism, voluptuous female flesh and this rather nicely covers all of these things, and a little more besides (shut up, the 70s was nearly 50 years ago and therefore totally historical….)

With thanks to Hannah and Ros for reading, proofing and con/crit x


The smell of books was one of many that made Julia feel sick. Not the fish and chip newness of paperbacks, she didn’t mind that at all, but the musty, mildewy scent of decaying fabric and horse glue.

These books filled her with gloom, and libraries filled her with dismay. She only visited them because Gloria found them so endlessly fascinating.

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A Festive Frolic (Part I)

Every year I say I’ll write a Christmas story, and every year I fail to do so. Not this year, though!

Anyone who read my story Judith and Eleanor, may recall Eleanor’s young brother Matthew. This story sheds a little light on his innermost desires, and the year all his Christmases came at once.
Themes of adultery, cuckoldry, and avoiding midnight mass.

This is part one of two, the second part should go up just before Christmas itself. Enjoy, and seasons greetings to you all!

NSFW erotica, All characters 18+ and all sex consensual. Resemblence to persons already living or dead is entirely in your head.

Part I:  It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

Matthew knew he was an irritant. But he also knew that it had no bearing on his successes with the opposite sex, so he didn’t pay it much heed. He knew his sister was the golden child, who could do no wrong, even when she had descended into sapphism. Evidently parental love was strong enough to overcome the family shame. And perhaps being forever in her shadow was fortuitous – meaning he could do as he pleased with very little attention coming his way as a result.

Still, the girls who he found himself in bed with, or occasionally up against a wall or conveniently located tree – and they were girls, even in their twenties and thirties, flighty, annoying, more annoying than he could ever claim to be – were hardly the kind he truly desired. Caroline in particular, whose angular chest seemed to invade his personal environment every time he ventured home, was a pleasant enough fuck, but little about her personality or appearance aroused him otherwise.

No, only one woman had captured his heart, and made him throb with lust each time he encountered her, or even thought of her.

Each Christmas the family entertained the wider Addison clan, and amongst their number were cousin Edgar and his beautiful wife Cynthia and Matthew ingratiated himself to her and tried in vain to catch her attention and every year she resolutely ignored him in a dress more closely cut, more deep at the neck and tighter around her hips with every passing winter.

She yawned in his presence. She called him a child to his face and still his cock stiffened and he brought his hand to it over and over, imagining the feel of her, the sight of his come dripping over her chest. One year they roomed in the chamber next to his and all night through the wall he heard her moans of pleasure as Edgar fucked her. The next morning she smiled sweetly at everyone, with languid eyes, and Matthew felt sure he could see the pale residue of Edgar’s love on her elegant throat.

This year, his 26th, he stood in the nursery, watching the cars creep up the driveway as each guest arrived. First came his sister and Judith – still in the first flushes of love – and bearing large, ungainly parcels, which he did not feel inclined to help them with.

A gaggle of aunts and uncles arrived more or less in a clump, and then Matthew spied Edgar’s Jag gliding up to the front gates. He knew it was ridiculous that this made his cock twitch but he knew she was inside, and proximity to her made him giddy.

When she exited the car he was not disappointed. As Edgar took her hand, Matthew noted the new weight in her hips and chest, barely disguised by her heavy winter coat. In spite of the cold weather, his cock throbbed quietly.

Supper was a gay affair – they toasted and drank cocktails and played the many terrible party games their parents would insist on every year in spite of the youngest ‘child’ being a robust 24 and six foor seven. Matthew noticed Cynthia’s lingering glances but thought better than to encourage her. He drank, and flirted with Judith and angered his sister and watched a spill of champagne spread over Cynthia’s left breast, showing the puckered flesh of her nipple beneath it and he stared.

She seemed to be looking at him peculiarly, though. When the record player was brought out and some reluctant, aristocratic dancing broke out, Matthew watched Cynthia and Edgar talk quietly with their heads close together, before Edgar took Mrs Addison’s arm and began to steer her around the room. Cynthia licked her lips and advanced on Matthew.

“Care for a dance, cousin?” She asked innocently.

“Certainly.” He took her around the waist and they began to dance, rather awkwardly because he still held his glass in his hand.

“I’m sure you can hold me tighter than that, Matthew. Or else I’m likely to fly off.”

He swallowed the rest of his brandy and, emboldened by the fire in his belly, pulled her more tightly to him, the swell of her breasts firm and exciting against his chest.

“You’re suddenly very familiar. Is Father Christmas bringing you some charm tomorrow morning?”

Cynthia smiled and rested her head on his shoulder.

“Oh no, I am already far too charming. I have charm for days, weeks, months, years… It’s only that you can be rather tiresome, you know. You know I am married, you know I am ten years your senior, and yet you persist in approaching me as if I were a flighty girl of nineteen. Five and thirty, Matthew.”
“Harmless flirting.” He replied, his hand sliding lower down her back to where her curves flared. If anyone raised their eyebrows he would only reply that the silk of her dress made his hands slip.

“Quite. And I have resisted your flirting for all these years. And Edgar has watched you. He has seen everything.”
“Has he? And what has cousin Edgar seen?”
“Enough. He has noted your dogged determination.”
She pressed her hips closer to him, could feel his cock acutely present in his trousers. She leant very closed and whispered.
“Tomorrow morning there will be no gift for you under the tree. As Judith opens a beautiful silver necklace, and your parents gush over Venetian glassware, there will be no parcel covered in ribbons addressed to Matthew. I am your gift. Tonight I will lie in your bed; display myself to you in all my glory, and you will fuck me. And fucking me will be your gift. The gift you have waited five Christmases for.”

Matthew covered his surprise admirably.

“And Edgar has agreed to this?”
Cynthia gestured to her husband. Matthew looked, and Edgar was watching them over Mrs Addison’s shoulder, nodding in approval. He caught Matthew’s questioning eyes. He laughed, and then nodded.

“That proves nothing. He could think we are discussing the weather.”

Cynthia rolled her eyes, and, still with her body as close to his as the shepherd to his lambs, manoeuvred them over to where the other couple stood. The record petered out and Mrs Addison kissed Edgar’s cheek before toddling off to see if supper was prepared. Edgar put a protective arm around Cynthia.

“Edgar, darling. Mayn’t Matthew fuck me tonight?” She purred, coiling herself around Edgar’s stout body.

“Of course, darling. That’s the particular Christmas gift we agreed to give him, isn’t it? To see you naked before him and know he can take you, for one entire night? And wake up on Christmas morning with your arms around him?”
“Before I slip quietly away back to your side to wake you up with your Christmas gift.” She giggled.

“You may have noticed, dear cousin, how well Cynthia is looking. How fleshy and rounded she is.”
Edgar moved his arm to her belly and continued. “I’m sure I don’t need to explain why this would be of particular interest to you.”
Matthew felt his cock jerk once more.

“Is this some kind of shoddy trick? Am I to be ridiculed as soon as my trousers are down?”
Cynthia shook her head.

“No, dear heart. Nothing of the sort. I know how you have desired me, and I have rebuffed your advances because it is unseemly for a married woman to be seen in flagrante with her husband’s cousin. Edgar – dear, sweet, loving Edgar – has never actually forbade me from taking you in hand and fulfilling your base desires, but I simply didn’t want to.”
Matthew sagged a little at this, but she pressed on, as Edgar, with a quick look to make sure they were hidden from immediate view, moved his hand from her waist to stroke her nipple through the damp material. She sighed and shivered into his shoulder.

“But these past few months, this winter in particular, as my belly has swelled and the fires have burned brighter, I have grown somewhat… needful. Insatiable. I have run poor Edgar quite ragged. Even a man has his limitations. But when one cannot truly satisfy oneself, one must look outside one’s own home. And so to you, dear Matthew. My body – my cunt.” She emphasises the word, her lips shiny, crimson, pressed together as if making love to it. His cock twitched again. “The gift you have always desired. And to me, Satiation. Desire fulfilled. So. Shall we?”

The room seemed quiet all at once – the guests had filtered away to eat morsels, and prepare for Midnight mass.

Midnight Mass.

“They’ll miss us at church.”

Matthew knew he sounded as though he was making excuses, finding flaws in the plan, however small, but he wanted so much for this to be true that he had to make sure he wasn’t dreaming, or being set up for a terrifying fall and being turned out from his family.
Edgar put a firm hand on his shoulder.

“Matthew. When was the last time you attended Midnight Mass? Possibly when you were still in short trousers and chasing girls with frogs. No one will note your absence and be sent to fetch you. I shall go, leaving Cynthia to bed with fatigue. The house shall be quite deserted. Deserted enough for your purposes, at least.”

The clock struck the hour. 11.00pm.

“I really must go with them.” He enveloped Cynthia in his arms and she kissed him, his hand still cradling her breast and her fingers stroking his jawline.

“Tomorrow morning, my love.” She called, as he left to gather his coat and winter boots to walk the mile to the parish church. The last few guests set down their glasses and exited, and now they were alone.

“Come, will you take me to my room? I feel suddenly overcome and unable to return to bed without some assistance.” Matthew saw the lust in her eyes, and at last knew it to be true.

He took her arm, and lead her upstairs.


The Aftermath of Matty Groves (Team Amazeballs Erotica Exchange with Emmeline Peaches)

I am very excited about this post, the second to my exciting new blog, because it’s the first time I have taken part in the #TeamAmazeballs exchange!

First of all, what is #TeamAmazeballs? Well…

#TeamAmazeballs is a community-driven project where bloggers and like-minded individuals trade content to showcase on each other’s platforms. This can involve anything from a toy swap to an article trade, an interview, to a photography showcase. It doesn’t matter! What matters is that two people take the chance to boost each other’s content by providing a new platform and take the time to truly connect as a result.”

I was very flattered and excited when Emmeline immediately suggested an erotica swap after I asked if I could join the endeavour. She gave me a beautiful photo to use as my stimulus, and I, knowing very little about art, asked if I could provide her with a song to use as hers. She agreed, and mentioned she didn’t know a great deal about folk music – and as someone raised on folk festivals and Maddy Prior, this suited me very well indeed.


The song I eventually selected (it took me a while) was Matty Groves:


With themes of adultery and murder, it seemed a pretty good choice! (well it did to me…)

The story Emmeline has written, is gorgeous, appealing to my love of a historical romance, and of encounters between two people who aready hold a deep and beautiful love for one another. I hope you enjoy it.

The Aftermath of Matty Groves

Pennwell stumbled through his old oak doorway, a harrowed shadow of his former self. His face was grim and sombre—his usually handsome features dimmed by his expression.

Waiting for him by the hearth was a faithful figure. Eyes as deep as emeralds, and hair blazing like the fires on the coal, the woman approached the broken Pennwell. Her thick linen dress was almost black, save for remnants of dust and dirt left over from a long day’s toil.

“How was the funeral?” the woman asked sweetly, placing a sympathetic hand on his chest. His heartbeat was weak. Weaker than she had ever known it to be.

“Dreadful, Gwyn. Lord Darnell is in a state of complete disarray. He began shrieking with rage during the burial, cursing his wife for her licentious nature and for the mere existence of Matty Groves”.

Gwyn nodded lovingly. “I know Lord Darnell has kept you well in his employ and you have always stayed true and faithful to him, but this is not your burden to bear. You did what you thought was right, telling him of Lady Darnell’s infidelity. You could not have known the outcome”.

Gwyn’s words tried to reach out desperately to her husband, but she could feel him slipping away. His chest was laying underneath her fingertips but his mind…his mind was a ship amid a torrid storm; swept further and further away by the crashing waves of guilt and uncertainty.

“There was just so much…blood. Right through the heart…and the screaming…hers…then his…It is more than a person should have to witness” Pennwell spoke frantically, his eyes racing as it all flashed before his eyes once more. Droplets began to form in them, big and unconcealable. With this Gwyn could see even more fear creep in to her husband’s mind.

“Hush now my love” she comforted. “You are Lord Darnell’s sole heir now. What worry have you or I now that our lives and the lives of our children have been made better? Should not we take some joy out of this misfortune?”

Pennwell shook his head with certainty. “What good are riches if they come at the death of another? What good is a castle if it is not run by a man who is noble and true?”

Pennwell moved away from his doting wife and hid his shame in his palms, sobbing.

Gwyn looked on lamentably for a moment. Had her husband gone forever? Had the waves beaten at his sails for too long and with too much ferocity? Or was there hope within the undercurrent?

For a moment, Gwyn did not have an answer, but then one came to her mind.

Sudden, carnal, and somewhat perverse (perhaps one of her favourite combinations), it occurred to Gwyn: If her husband’s mind was adrift and her words provided no solace, then maybe her body would instead.

Approaching his shrunken and sobbing form, Gwyn parted Pennwell’s hands and met his teary eyes with a deep and desiring gaze. It was the kind of forceful stare that should only be commanded by those of royal blood, and yet Gwyn used it often when conquests of the body were on her mind.

All too familiar with the expression, Pennwell stood transfixed—his own hazel eyes meeting those of his wife’s. With her husband enthralled, Gwyn took a few delicate steps back, keeping her eyes locked upon him and she began to slide her dress off.

Her hypnotic gaze was one of defiance. A refusal of society’s conventions. A refusal to conceal her burning sexual desire. And a refusal to allow grief to consume her husband when she wished to do so herself.

As Gwyn’s black dress dropped, her freckled body stood in stark contrast to its dark hues. The russet hair of her vulva blazed with a burning intensity that was only matched by her hungry expression. Once more, she moved forward to try and dissuade her husband from sorrow.

As Gwyn stepped out from her dress she kicked it to one side, stripping away her wifely persona and embracing the ferocity of her Gaelic roots. Pennwell, still frozen in the place, did nothing in protest as she pushed him against the wall and engulfed his cold lips with the warmth of her own.

The act was almost symbolic, as Gwyn suddenly felt her husband’s desire rekindle, his hand sliding up the curvature of her waistline and moving to cup her pert breasts.

“Fetch some intestine” Gwyn whispered in Pennwell’s ear, and he gladly obliged—stripping off his own clothing and sheathing his impressive, swollen phallus. Wrapped in the skin of another Gwyn found her husband would often become more like an animal himself. Sorrow forgotten (at least for the moment) this continued to be the case.

Pennwell took Gwyn up in his hands and forced her against the wall before lowering her down on to his firm and flexing shaft. As he did so Gwyn wriggled and writhed cheekily, making her satisfaction known. This was partly for show but Gwyn had also grown achingly fond of the way this caused Pennwell’s penis to squirm and twitch inside of her, caressing her inner sponge and making her clitoris ache heavily.

Wrapping her arms around her sworn lover Gwyn began grinding her hips in to Pennwell’s body, seeking to press her clit against his wild and bushy pubic region.

“Can you imagine?” Gwyn panted in to his ear “The consequences if ever I chose to stray?”

“You would not” Pennwell responded “You have not it in your kindness”

“Yes, that is true”, Gwyn said without hesitation, “But let us fantasize for a moment; If I were to do so, would you plunge your blade in to my heart?”

“Nay, not your heart”, Pennwell uttered in between claiming Gwyn’s neck with passionate kisses. “Not your heart and unsheathing no blade. If I were to find you in such a scenario, my beloved, I would care not for revenge, nor the man in our bed; I would move over to you and take you with such ferocity that you would have no doubt in your heart of my love for you, nor further need to stray”.

“Prove it” Gwyn uttered.

By the glint in his eye, Gwyn could tell her words had been taken in good faith, but it was Pennwell’s increased firmness that revealed the true extent of his approval.

Sweeping her around in a powerful motion, Gwyn found herself thrown daringly on to their bed, soon followed by Pennwell, who arched himself above her.

With permitted confidence Pennwell grabbed at Gwyn’s now tussled red locks and yanked her firmly down to the rough blanket’s surface. Moving his weight on to her Pennwell wasted no time in returning to Gwyn’s lips, in more ways than one. His hand was firm and persistent as it slid its way down to her vulva and fondled her labia, exploring her natural form with brutal sentimentality.

Consumed by the commanding posture of her husband, Gwyn stretched out her neck and invited him to demonstrate his dedication. As he firmly obliged, Gwyn felt two fingers edge their way in to her vaginal opening as Pennwell’s palm began to apply a pressure on to her vulva. Her husband’s hands embraced her with all the mastery of a prestigious baker, kneading soft dough until it was plump and ready.

Just when Gwyn felt she would reach her natural edge she felt Pennwell reposition himself, grasping his sheathed cock and guiding his way back in to her. The tenderness of his entry was swiftly replaced with unyielding, confident thrusts, arching Pennwell’s coronal ridge deep in to Gwyn’s body and beckoning her body to succumb to him. Each thrust was a demand but also a dedication. Pennwell owned her in that moment, but he also treasured her.

Glancing up at her husband as he strained to his final pace, Gwyn saw no sense of sorrow—no hint of defeat. Instead she saw her husband triumphant, unafraid and unaffected by the world outside of their Eden. Gwyn’s body clenched and released in celebration of their ability to bring each other to such a jubilant frenzy as her voice broke into a song of profound pleasure.

As Gwyn released the last of her inhibitions she felt the sheath inside of her fill with her husband’s humours. Panting and covered in beads of sweat, Pennwell collapsed by Gwyn’s side and removed his spent coverings.

Gwyn stroked the remnants of sensation out of her throbbing vulva as she felt her husband’s arm arch around her and pull her in for a loving embrace, kissing her forehead in unspoken appreciation.

“T’will all be okay my love. I promise you that” Gwyn spoke softly, though she knew she could not be certain of her words.

“Aye, that is true”, Pennwell spoke with more conviction, “As long as we have each other the actions of young Matty Groves will exist only in the bard’s ballads”.

Somehow these words rang true with Gwyn and, although she could not be sure of how her husband’s role would be remembered (if indeed it were at all), she hoped that their lives would exist as the one true solace in an otherwise tragic tale.