When the war was about to end, Alan was eager to return home. But the Emperor had placed him in the advance team. He couldn’t refuse. Alan had performed exceptionally well. The chief had commended him on his resourcefulness. The commander had sought his advice, which had worked to great advantage for the advance team. His strategies led them to one victory after another. He had been able to kill the commander-in-chief of the enemy camp. After five years, Emperor Girco ended the continental suspension and granted Alan the title of an Earl for his services and contribution to the war.
He had been acknowledged and provided with many lands, property, wealth, and the status of a ‘Lord’. He had felt frustrated when he couldn’t find Siana. It was like a curse that haunted him day and night.
It was said that if someone hurts another and doesn’t repent; they suffered from nightmares that rendered them unable to function, oftentimes resorting to violence. The curse was real, and Alan thought he was the subject of it. Power-holders didn’t suffer from the symptoms because of their resistance to magic, but it was fatal to anybody else. The military made every one of them undergo a three-month retreat, where they had to repent. He had done that too, as was required for military soldiers. Still, he hadn’t been able to find her. He had then made a request to a colleague to relay to him any information he could find about Siana.
The colleague had overheard Viscount North drunk in a pub declaring his upcoming wedding to somebody called Siana. He had immediately informed Alan about it. Alan had requested leave from his duties to find her. The commander had accepted his request and given him his permission. Alan had wasted no time in setting out to the city to search for Siana.
“Shameless bastard,” said Alan in anger, punching the wall of the carriage, bringing himself back to the present. He wanted to help her somehow. He also wanted to kill that vile, slimy cockroach. But murdering Viscount North was out of the question, Siana was what was important right now. He would meet her tomorrow and figure out a way to help her. And perhaps, possibly bring back the feelings she had for him from long ago…
* * *
Siana sat on the edge of her bed, staring at her feet. She didn’t know how long she sat there. The light spilling through the window dimmed, and the room turned dark. She still didn’t move. She was thinking about Alan and his proposal.
She knew she had no choice. Her life had come to these two choices: either marry Viscount North or marry Alan. Which was sad, really. Why did women have such limited choices? Alan surely must be disappointed by her firm refusal. Although he had left, there was still no resolute decision to the situation at hand.
She sighed heavily and dragged her feet up on her bed and laid down. She looked up at the dim yellow wallpaper on the ceiling. It reminded her of Alan, his blond hair. Her mind drifted to his blue eyes. She remembered his embrace, the safety and warmth that she had felt momentarily. At the image of a boy who had turned into man after many long years of separation, Siana’s heart began to pound unconsciously and she gripped her pillow tighter.
She tried to imagine a future with him. She imagined those lips whispering that he loved her… but, she couldn’t think of Alan in the way it meant to be a husband and a wife, beyond friends.
She remembered her conversations with Yulia after she was married. She had talked about intimacy between married couples. How I wish she was here now, Siana thought. She had been so naïve when it came to physical intimacy, so Yulia had explained as best she could. She had also talked about the pain that accompanied it. She had talked about how her husband pressed her to make love some days, when she didn’t want to. How tiring it was to always try to please him. She had seemed bittersweet talking about it. She would assure her that it was better than meeting someone inconsiderate to her pain.
“Decide on it after you sleep with a man before you get married,” she had said.
“Huh? Why?” Sia had asked her, confused.
“Because it matters. A while back I went to meet a couple of wives, they talked about various things, mostly about their intimate times with their husbands,” explained Yulia, “Apparently, there are a lot of men who don’t fit.”
“What? How do they not fit?”
“Alright, listen. From what I heard, some men are inconsiderate and just make it hurt,” said Yulia, matter-of-factly, “Some others leave the woman unsatisfied because it’s too small. Some can’t hold on for long, they finish too fast for anyone to enjoy the experience.”
“Yulia…,” Siana had asked, scandalized, “Are you talking about a man’s… thing?”
“Obviously,” Yulia had scoffed, “I will tell you something else about it as well.”
“What?” Siana had asked, curious but also clearly embarrassed having to talk about such private things.
“I knew it!” Yulia had exclaimed, “You are still so ignorant about these things.” She had turned serious then. “Okay, I will tell you. It’s all just flesh and blood. I had no one to tell me these things when I got married but you fortunately have me. I will educate you properly.” She had paused a while for effect. “I have come to realize that sex is quite important, especially between people who are married because they have to spend a great part of their lifetime together,” she had said, “It has to be bearable otherwise it’s just torture. Every night he presses me to do it. It’s so tiring. Even when you are in a good mood, it becomes tiring after a while. But if you meet someone like a rabbit or a shrimp like the other wives, it will be worse than that, don’t you think?”