"Georg, why haven't you ever taken me riding?" Maria asked, after her husband returned from his usual morning tour of the grounds on his favorite chestnut mare.

He placed his leather riding crop and gloves on the table, pulled out a chair, and sat, as he watched his wife pour him a steaming cup of coffee.

"I had no idea you were interested, darling," he answered, stirring some cream into the dark brew. "If you like, you can ride with me tomorrow morning." He looked up at her, smiling.

She nodded at him. "I think I'd like that."

The next morning, Georg woke Maria at dawn. She groaned and rolled over, pulling the pillow over her head. She'd never been a morning person, and had gotten into trouble many mornings at the abbey when she would be late to morning prayer. Once at the villa as governess, the littlest girls woke Maria just as often as she woke them; and Maria had been consistently late for breakfast, regardless. Georg smiled at the memory, and sat beside her on the bed, pulling the pillow off her face.

"Good morning, darling. You said you'd like to ride with me, and it's time to get up," he said, tousling her hair.

Maria opened one eye and looked at him. "It's too early."

He laughed, and leaned over to kiss her. "And that is probably why I've never taken you riding before, my love."

She rolled over once more and reached her arms up to embrace her husband, pulling him closer. As he leaned it, Maria heard a soft 'thud', of something hitting the floor.

"What was that?"

"What was what?" Georg wasn't paying attention, preferring to kiss her neck.

"That noise. Did you drop something?" she pulled back a bit, to look down on the floor.

"Oh, uh, I suppose I did. Just the riding crop, darling." Georg leant down to pick it up. Maria took it from him, inspecting the length of the brown shaft, and the black leather tongue at the end.

"Why do you have this here? Isn't it usually in the barn?"

"I guess I carried it up yesterday, when I changed my clothes. Sometimes I forget to hang it up when I'm done with the ride," he answered, still a bit distracted, this time by the view of Maria's breast peeking out the top of her nightgown. He tossed the leather gloves he was still holding onto the bedside table, and brought his hand to trace the outline of the lace edging her neckline.

"How do you use it?" She moved the shaft side to side, the tongue moving back and forth in response.

Georg lay down on the bed beside her, kicking off his shoes. "Well, mostly to reinforce what you want the horse to do. If she isn't responding to other prompts, a flick of the crop against her shoulder will let her know to pay attention."

"It doesn't hurt her, does it?" Maria sounded distressed at the idea, and Georg was quick to reassure her.

"No, not really. That's what the leather tongue is for-it makes a noise when you flick it properly, and it also protects the horse from the sharp end of the shaft. The horse mostly responds to the noise."

Maria didn't look convinced. "Show me," she asked.

Georg laughed as he continued kissing her shoulders. "I'm not going to use a riding crop on you," he replied.

"Why not? If it doesn't hurt the horse, it won't hurt me, right?"

"I suppose not. But I won't do that, it isn't right."

"Then show me without touching me."

"No."

She opened her eyes wide, and looked at him plaintively. "Please?"

Georg felt his resolve slipping, as he always did when Maria looked at him that way."Well, all right," he relented, and took the crop from her. With a quick flick of his wrist, the shaft and tongue moved as if an extension of his arm, and a sharp crack of the leather was heard.

Maria jumped a bit at the sound. "It certainly sounds as if it would hurt," as she took the crop from his hand. She tried to flick her wrist the same way, several times, but couldn't get the motion right. Georg placed his hand over hers, and they snapped the crop together. The sound wasn't quite as sharp, but Maria smiled when it sounded through the room.

"Now let me feel it on my hand," she said, and Georg sighed as he very gently flicked the crop onto the back of her hand.

"It just feels like a slap," she said.

"I told you it doesn't hurt."

"You know, you look very, um, sexy, when you do that," she said. Georg raised an eyebrow at her, before smiling in response.

"Ah, Fraulein, you've never said that before," he growled, teasing her, as he began kissing her again.

"I've probably not ever seen you use that crop before, even though you do carry it around quite a bit," she laughed. "It's very, um, provocative."

"Oh, really?" His lips traveled down her neck, and he pushed aside the bit of nightgown still covering her breast, taking her warm flesh into his mouth.

"Mmmm, yes." She ran her free hand through his hair, and took the crop to tap his backside.

"What was that?" Georg said, looking up at her face. Maria laughed, and tapped him again.

"Come on, do what I want you to," she smiled.

"And what would that be, my love?"

"Take that riding suit off and come back to bed."

"I thought you'd never ask." He stripped off his jacket and shirt, and as he began unbuckling his belt he felt another tap on his backside.

"What was that for?" he smirked, with the half-grin that made his wife melt with desire.

"Just for, um, fun," she grinned back mischievously.

"You little minx," Georg teased, as he finished disrobing and dove under the sheets. He grabbed at her nightgown. "Your turn, lose this." Already bunched around her waist, Maria set down the crop and pulled the pale blue linen gown over her head.

Once she was freed of her nightwear, Georg covered her body with his, tracing long paths from her neck to her breasts and back again with his mouth, licking and sucking her sweet skin and making Maria gasp each time. Her hands roamed around his back, relishing the feel of his muscular form. She reached over to where she'd left the riding crop, feeling around for a moment.

Georg lifted his mouth from her breast. "Are you looking for this, darling?" she heard, at the same moment she felt a light tickle down her side. She nodded, and this time he playfully tapped her hip with the leather tongue. Her eyes sparkled and she smiled wickedly. Sitting up abruptly, Maria knocked her husband off balance, and he rolled off of her and onto his back. She quickly straddled him, leaning over to whisper in his ear.

"Take me for a ride."

His fingers moved between her legs to find the spot that gave her such pleasure with his touch. When he felt she was ready he guided himself into her, relishing the sensation of her, tight and wet against his hardness. Maria began moving her hips slowly, teasing, knowing exactly what her gentle movements were doing for Georg's state of mind. His groans of pleasure only intensified her own passions yet she held back.

She leaned forward, kissing him passionately, her tongue then leading her mouth to his ear. "More?" she whispered.

"Faster," was the breathy reply.

Maria reached down and lifted his hand, which had a tight grip on the crop. "Make me pay attention."

Georg was astonished at this new, adventurous side of his wife. So innocent on their wedding night, over the past few months she'd become more comfortable with his, and her own, passions. This, though, was far beyond anything he'd ever imagined.

Looking deeply into her eyes, Georg gently tapped his wife with the leather tongue. She tried to hold back a small smile, but it was visible to him. He tapped her backside again, a bit more strongly. Maria let her smile grow wider.

"You'll have to do better than that," she teased.

The third time, the leather made a light slapping sound as it made contact with her skin. Georg could wait no longer, and held her tightly to him as he sat up and rolled them over so that he was on top again. Within moments, he could feel her quiver beneath him, as he held none of his passion back. The intensity of her spasms pulled him with her, and he collapsed, spent, on top of her.

Maria ran her hands through Georg's hair, as they each tried to catch their breath. Relaxing in each other's arms, he nuzzled into the comfortable spot between Maria's shoulder and her ear, where his head fit perfectly and he could make her sigh with his kisses.

"Thank you, Maria," he murmured.

"Oh, darling, I..." she began. He stopped her with a finger to her lips.

"No, thank you for trusting me enough to be a little, ah, adventurous."

"You are the most loving and trustworthy man I've ever known."

Georg looked up into her unquestioning gaze, at they same moment they spoke.

"I love you."