Thomas ducked behind the large stalks of the sunflower field. His gaze fixed upon the naked form of the nymph splashing about the pond. His pulse quickened as she stood in a shallow spot, breasts bobbing on the water surface. Small and round, they would fit perfectly into his large hands. An image appeared before him: those striking auburn curls spread out beneath her, his tongue lapping first at one firm breast, then the other.
He wanted to move closer, to make the image a reality. The shriek of laughter from her companion stopped him.
Celeste. Damn that woman.
His wife stepped from the pond, a relaxed smile upon her face. The sight of her pale stomach, engorged with life, caused him to recoil. How was he married to such a grotesque woman, when he could have had the fairy queen next to her? The damnable woman had not even the decency to hide the evidence of her shame. Instead, she flaunted it. Any chance she could, she rubbed her rotund belly, talking about how big she was getting, how excited she was.
Licking his lips, Thomas moved his eyes back to Esther, creeping a few steps closer without realizing it. The ends of his fingers tingled, the nerves coursing with electricity. One hand reached up, gently caressing the length of his neck, a poor replacement for Esther’s.
Damn Celeste. Clenching his teeth, Thomas supressed the urge to call out, to denounce his wife as a whore, a charlatan.
Surely Esther would thank him. Once she knew the truth, once they discarded their faithless spouses – they would be free to show their affection openly. To let the Council know it got this one wrong, and they were going to fix it. Consequences be damned. Surely she felt the same – why else had she invited him to join them around 2:00?
He even had the champagne she requested. Two bottles.
A whistle opposite caught his attention. “Ho there, ladies!” called Baldwin, moving into sight, a large basket in hand.
“You remembered, Baldwin! How lovely,” said Esther. Walking from the water, she stepped into the robe Celeste held out for her.
“Of course I did, darling. How could I deny you?” Baldwin spoke to Esther, but even from his hiding spot, Thomas could see how his gaze fixated upon Celeste. His wife. “Now, we need only Thomas for our picnic to be complete.”
His nymph, his Esther, looked in his direction, as if she could sense him. His mouth grew dry, his throat thickening, as she looked right at him. Did she see him? If so, she gave no indication. She made no move to spoil this little game of theirs.
“Don’t count on Thomas today, Baldwin. His father continues to spread poison between us,” Celeste said. “I fear it affects his sleep. Said he was going to take a nap, last I spoke with him.”
“I don’t envy you that man as a father-in-law, Celeste. What was it you said – he told Thomas that my husband had fathered your child?” Esther’s quiet laugh filled Thomas’ heart. She knew of Baldwin’s perfidy? “I would insist upon living elsewhere were I you.”
“I suggested it, believe me. There is the quaintest little cabin near the Sacred Tree. I suggested even that.” Celeste sighed. He remembered the suggestion. As if he would leave the comforts of home.
I do hope he chooses to join us, though. Your husband can always be counted on to stimulate the conversation.”
Esther desired his presence? Could this be the time when they exposed their own feelings?
Quietly, Thomas backtracked, leaving the field of sunflowers and grass. He would follow the path Celeste would have taken earlier. It was time to join his beloved.