Marianne Brandon's wedding day was the happiest day of her life. She never could have imagined such happiness just months ago, after Willoughby's desertion. Colonel Brandon had become her dearest friend and confidante after her illness, and she was dearly fond of him. She did not know if she would ever be able to love him with such a passionate love as she had loved Willoughby, but she knew she did not want to be without him.

She had been completely surprised when he had proposed two months ago. She had no idea he held her in such high esteem, especially after her foolish behavior.

Colonel Brandon brought her back to Delaford, where she felt truly at home. He had had Mrs. Dashwood, Margaret, and Marianne to visit while they were engaged, and she loved the gardens and the library. Most of all she loved her dear Colonel's company. He no longer seemed old and stuffy to her, but very, very dear.

After dinner and some time in the library, where he read to her from his favourite book of sonnets, he showed her her room. She had been wondering whether they would share a room. Elinor and Edward shared a room, she knew; but that was for economical reasons. Every other couple she had ever heard of had separate chambers. She was not particularly looking forward to the physical aspect of marriage – both her mother and Elinor had taken her aside to describe what she should expect – but she wanted to marry her dear Colonel, and she wanted to please him, so she would bear with the duty.

After she had changed into her modest white nightgown, she climbed into bed to wait, and soon after the Colonel knocked on her door. She bade him enter, and he came in, wearing a robe over his nightshirt. He came and sat on the side of the bed.

"It was a wonderful day, was it not?" he asked.

"Oh yes, indeed, Colonel. I have never been so happy."

He smiled. "You must call me Christopher, my dear. We are husband and wife."

She smiled too. "Christopher. It is a good, strong name."

She had never seen him looking so happy. It made her happy to see it; that she could give this wonderful man some measure of joy, especially after his tragic past.

He took off his robe, blew out the candles, and burrowed under the covers next to her.

"My dear Marianne," he said, "do you know what to expect?"

"Oh, yes, Christopher. Mama and Elinor both had a talk with me."

She sensed he nodded. "I will do my best not to hurt you."

Then she felt his arms pulling her closer and felt his soft lips on hers. The Colonel had never kissed her before, and she found she liked it very much. His kisses were light and soft, undemanding. They were filled with tenderness, and she found that she felt that same tenderness for him.

She felt his uncertainty as he helped her to lie on her back and felt for the hem of her nightgown. She helped him to lift it; she could feel his hands were shaking. She wondered what he had to be nervous about. She spread her legs, as she had been told to do, and Christopher lay between them. His breath was coming out in sharp bursts as he propped himself up on both elbows so as not to crush her. He moved one hand down and she felt him positioning himself, then he began to push inside her.

As first Marianne only felt a slight discomfort; but then that turned into a burn that then turned into sharp pain. She did not want to cry out and upset the Colonel, so she bit her lip as he moved all the way inside her. He stopped once he was fully imbedded, then leaned down to kiss her softly.

"Are you all right, my Marianne?" he asked.

She was not, but she had been warned that the first few times might hurt, and she knew it would be over soon. "Yes, Christopher," she said, and kissed him back.

Slowly, he began to rock in and out of her. He was very gentle, but it still hurt, and she felt comforted when he kissed her softly as he moved. It distracted her from the pain. Soon, the rocking became faster, and his breathing accelerated, so that he broke his mouth away from hers to bury his face in her neck. Then, he gave one last hard thrust and made a guttural sound against her throat as his body shuddered and he relaxed on top of her.

Marianne held him close to her, feeling a remarkable tenderness for him in this vulnerable moment. The act was exactly as her mama and Elinor had described it, and she thought that once the pain was gone she would grown accustomed to it very well.

Christopher kissed her softly and then rolled off of her. "I'm sorry, my dear. I must have been squashing you."

"You were not," she said with a smile. At soon as his protrusion was removed, the pain receded. She felt liquid seeping from between her thighs and knew it must be his seed.

"Did I hurt you?" he asked, still breathing heavily.

They were always honest with each other, she and the Colonel; and she resolved to continue in that way. "Yes, but Mama and Elinor told me it would hurt the first time. Do not worry, Christopher."

"I am sorry, my dear."

She heard the regret in his voice and resolved to banish it. She moved over until she was snuggled up close to him, and he put his arms around her. That felt better. She hoped he did not go back to his room tonight.

She felt him drift into sleep, and she soon followed him.

They took their honeymoon trip in Brighton, where they spent two weeks by the sea, walking in the waves in their bare feet, hand in hand. They ate picnics and read aloud to each other in the warm outdoors. Christopher visited her bed several more times during the honeymoon, and stayed in her bed the rest of the night each time. She found she liked cuddling up next to his big warm body after he was finished. It had hurt the second and third time, but after that she felt no pain.

As the months passed, she grew more accustomed to his visits, and even to enjoy them. He came to her bed two to three times a week, unless she was sick or having her courses; and although there was not much to the act, she felt that she liked being so close to him. She even liked the feel of him moving inside of her. The kisses were her favourite part. Christopher did not show her much physical affection outside of the bedroom. He was still the reserved gentleman she had always known when they were among others. She liked that he invariably stayed in her room the rest of the night when he visited her bed; then she could snuggle up to him and be held in his arms.

It was on just one of these nights that she was pondering as he moved inside her and breathed heavily above her. As he rocked in and out of her, she lay looking up at the ceiling and thinking about Elinor's pregnancy, and wondering why she herself had not conceived yet. It had been almost a year, and Elinor was now seven months pregnant. Her mother, too, had born three daughters in quick succession. Was there something wrong with her?

She heard Christopher's breathing speed up, and his thrusts became a little harder before he shuddered and with a groan came to rest on top of her. He always kissed her sweetly afterwards, and she put her arms around him as his body relaxed. He uncoupled them and turned to lie beside her. She cuddled up to him, always her favourite part, and gave a satisfied sigh.

"Are you all right, my dear?" her husband asked her. He was so sensitive to her moods.

"I'm just a little worried, Christopher. Why have I not conceived yet? Am I doing something wrong?"

She felt him press a kiss to the top of her head. "Sometimes it takes time, my love. You cannot rush these things. We will have a child when it is God's will. You are happy, are you not?"

She heard the uncertainty in his voice and hastened to reassure him. "Oh, yes, Christopher. I have never been happier in my life." It was the truth. Christopher was her dearest friend, and she loved Delaford. Elinor and Edward lived close by so she got to see them often.

"Go to sleep then, my darling. All will look better in the morning." He kissed her softly and settled down to sleep. Soon she heard his breathing even out, and she lay awake in his arms for a while longer, reveling in his presence. It was when Christopher moved inside her and when he held her afterwards that she felt closest to him.

When she woke up the next morning, Christopher was just rising. She usually woke up around the same time he did, and she watched him put his robe on over his nightshirt. He leaned over the bed and kissed her forehead. "I will ring for a bath for you," he said.

"Thank you, Christopher," she said. He was always pampering her and seeing to her needs. She liked to pamper him in the same way, as far as she could.

Elinor and Edward were coming over for dinner that night, and Marianne wanted to see that everything was perfect.

A sense had been growing in her the past few weeks, that perhaps she loved Christopher. Not in the same way she had loved Willoughby; indeed, she saw now that her affection for Willoughby had been more of an infatuation. She thought that her love for the Colonel must be a deeper, more abiding love. He told her often that he loved her, but seemed quite content with her fond affection in return.

With this growing love had come a growing sense of his physical attractiveness. She had seen him before as passably handsome, but not particularly attractive. She longed to see him without his clothes on, but did not dare to ask him. She did not know if it was proper. They always coupled in the dark under the covers, she wearing a nightgown, he wearing a nightshirt. She liked to feel his hair roughened legs against hers, and the feel of his calloused hand occasionally on the inside of her thigh as he moved to lift her nightgown. She especially wanted to see that part of him that went inside her. She had seen drawings of statues, and wondered if the appendage looked the same in real life.

That night she found some private time with Elinor and bashfully asked her question. Elinor looked amused when she replied that she had indeed seen Edward naked, and that it was perfectly all right to do so, since they were married.

Marianne felt relieved after that, and resolved to tell the Colonel that night how she felt about him.

As soon as their guests had left, Christopher was about to take his leave for the night, when Marianne took his hand.

"Christopher," she asked in a soft voice, "will you come to my bed tonight?"

His eyes widened in surprise. She had never before requested his presence in her bedchamber, nor had he ever visited her two nights in a row. But he smiled and agreed to meet her there in half an hour.

He came a little earlier than he had said, wearing his usual nightshirt and dressing gown. She hoped to get them off of him as soon as possible.

When he went to blow out the candles, she stopped him. "Leave them on," she said.

He looked surprised again, but climbed into the bed beside her after removing his dressing gown. He looked at her, clearly waiting for an explanation.

"Christopher, I wanted to ask you here tonight because I wanted to tell you that – well, the feeling has been growing for some time, but I have just recently realized how much I love you."

He looked shocked. "You – you love me?" he asked.

She nodded. "More than life itself."

She saw tears fill his eyes. "Oh, my dear Marianne," he said, and pulled her into his arms, hugging her close. She felt him growing hard against her thigh and he pulled back to kiss her. She felt his body grow rigid with arousal, but she wanted to see all of him before he made love to her.

"Wait a moment, Christopher," she said, as he moved to position her on her back.

"What is it, my love?" he asked.

"I – I want to see you," she said bashfully.

He looked surprised. "You want to see my body?"

"Oh, yes. You see, I find you – quite attractive."

He looked incredulous, but with awkward movements began to take off his nightshirt. She gasped when she saw his muscular chest, abdomen, and arms. There were several scars, but they did not take away from the beauty of him. "Oh, my husband," she said, "I have never seen such beauty."

He still looked unsure, as if he was not certain she was telling the truth. She leaned forward to kiss one of his scars. "How did you get this one?"

She kissed each of his scars as he told her the tale of them. Finally, she took hold of the blanket, and asked him with a look if she could lower it. He swallowed hard and gave a little nod.

She pulled the sheet down past his waist and gasped to see the appendage that had gone into her so many times. It was so big that she wondered it did not hurt her. "May I touch it?" she asked.

He nodded again, watching her carefully. She reached out and wrapped a soft hand around him. He made a strangled sound in his throat, and she at once removed her hand. "I'm sorry! Did I hurt you?"

"No, my dear," he said in a ragged voice. "It just felt too good." He swallowed, then asked, "May I see you too?"

She had been expecting this, and had shored up her courage for such a moment. After all, she knew Christopher loved her more than life itself. She took off her nightgown, then lay before him on her side, trying to be brave as his eyes swept over her.

"Oh, my darling," he said. "You are glorious."

She smiled. This time, when he moved to help her onto her back, she did not stop him. She could see he was hard and aching, and she spread her legs eagerly. He lay on top of her, positioned himself, and pushed inside. He gave a loud groan as he seated himself and began to rock back and forth. She could tell he was feeling more than usual, for he grunted with each thrust, and occasionally let out a loud moan. He was panting and buried his head in her golden hair. She could feel his hot breath against her ear as he moved faster. His occasional groans and moans excited her, for she could tell he was finding pleasure in her body; but unfortunately the pleasure was missing for her. She was disappointed when his thrusts sped up and she could tell it was about to end. He said her name in a guttural voice, then shuddered and collapsed on top of her. All had happened as it usually had, only they were unclothed. She did not know why she expected it to be different, only because she now loved him. She would just have to comfort herself with the knowledge of the pleasure he gained from her body, and not ask for too much.

Panting, he removed to the side of her and pulled her into his arms. "I love you, Marianne," he said.

"I love you too, Christopher." She paused. "Will you stay here every night?" she said. "I like sleeping beside you."

He kissed her forehead. "Of course, my darling. Nothing could tear me away."

Colonel Brandon had never been more shocked or delighted than when Marianne told him she loved him, and had wanted to see his body. He had been content with knowing she felt a fond affection for him. Marianne was the only woman he had ever lain with, and after the night she told him she loved him, he found the pleasure he found in her body was sharper, more strong. He wished he knew how to give her some pleasure too, but she always lay quiet and relaxed beneath him. He knew he was not one to inspire great passion in women, so he had not expected to find that in Marianne. He wanted to make love to her every night, now that he slept in her bed, but restrained himself to two to three times a week, as he had done before.

However, he noticed that after her declaration, she had begun to touch his naked body before he made love to her, and would even smooth her hands up and down his arms or back during their coupling. He had wanted to touch her that first night she showed him her naked beauty in the light of the candles, but had not wanted to bother her. Soon he got up the courage to put one hand on her soft breast in the candlelight. Looking up quickly at her face he saw that she was smiling, and that encouraged him. The fact that she loved him was still so new, and he could not quite credit that she found him attractive.

Over the following nights, he started to touch her more, a hand gently shaping a round breast or smoothing against her flat belly. He glanced at the patch of golden curls between her thighs and wanted to touch her there. He had never seen a woman up so close before. One night he finally got up the courage to ask if he could touch her there. She had, after all, touched his manhood several times. When she gave her consent, he moved shaking fingers down from her breasts, which he had been caressing, to her womanhood. His hand met soft folds and silken wet flesh. He grew at once harder than he had ever been before. He had not expected her to be so soft. Nor wet. He remembered having heard army buddies' bawdy tales. He had tried not to listen, but sometimes could not help it. He remembered having heard about women getting wet when they were aroused. Was it possible Marianne was really aroused by him? He moved his finger up and down her slick folds, then pushed a finger inside her. She moaned, and lifted up her hips. He was astounded. He found a little nub at the top of her folds that made her arch her back and cry out. Aroused beyond belief, he at once lay down between her legs, and slid in one smooth stroke inside her.

It felt better than it ever had before. Perhaps the moisture made the difference, but he could thrust more easily, and he heard Marianne moaning. She wrapped her legs around his waist and he felt himself sliding even deeper inside her. With a groan he moved faster, leaning down to kiss her passionately on the lips. To his surprise she answered his kiss with equal passion, running her hands all over him. Soon he was shuddering over her, and he spilled his hot seed deep inside her. He hoped they would have a child soon. He wanted a little girl that looked just like his dear Marianne.

Marianne had enjoyed feeling her husband move inside her before, but now that he had begun touching her before they made love, it felt even better. Sometimes she could not hold back a moan as he fondled her breasts or touched that secret place between her thighs. There was one spot specifically, a little nub at the top of her folds, that was exquisitely sensitive when he touched it. It made her feel wet when he touched it. At first she was worried about the wetness, but Christopher had seemed excited about it, so she figured it was a good thing.

His thick erection sliding inside her, too, brought great pleasure. Sometimes she could feel the pleasure building stronger, but he always finished before it overwhelmed her.

One evening when she went into his room to ask him about a gift for Eliza and her baby, she forgot to knock and simply entered to find him in his bath. He looked startled to see her, but her eyes drew in the glory that was his naked body, smooth with muscles and pitted with scars. She had never seen it in the full sunlight and felt instantly aroused, a tingling beginning between her legs. He at once got up and wrapped a robe around himself to dry, asking her what she wanted. She stammered out her request, and he answered her. Then she tripped out of the room, not even taking in what his response had been.

The rest of the evening she felt aroused, sitting with her legs tightly crossed at dinner to try to relieve the ache as she thought about the slide of water over those taut muscles. Even as they sat in the library afterwards she could not wait to get upstairs to bed. She had the strangest desire to lick and kiss him all over.

When he came in, wearing his nightshirt, he found her naked in the bed. His eyes widened, but he followed her lead and disrobed before he slid in beside her.

"Ever since I saw you in your bath I've been wanting to make love to you," she explained. He looked surprised. "It's true," she said. "You are so attractive to me."

He gave a slightly uncertain smile. She leaned forward to kiss him. He answered his kiss with that tender love he had always shown her. She marveled that this man loved her. She moved her lips to his freshly-shaven jaw and down his neck. She felt him shiver as her mouth moved to his muscular chest, and she kissed and licked everywhere she could touch. Curious, she put her mouth around one of his flat, brown nipples and he jerked with a moan. She smiled to herself.

Christopher seemed unable to keep his hands to himself. He was touching her all over and she saw his getting hard the more she touched him. Finally he rolled her to her back, dislodging her mouth, and put his lips over her nipple, licking and sucking gently. She moaned and arched her back. She had never felt something so exquisite. She threaded her hands through his thick brown hair and held him to her as he moved from one breast to the other, while his hand moved down to touch the wetness between her thighs. The longer he spent lavishing attention on her breasts the stronger the ache became, until she felt a great hollowness inside her that needed to be filled.

"Please, Christopher," she pleaded. "I need you inside me."

He still looked a bit astonished, but obligingly moved on top of her and slid inside in a smooth stroke. She moaned, and he groaned, and he began to move. As he rocked in and out with the usual movements, she felt a pleasure spread through her, but felt that she needed something more; what, she did not know.

Her nipples felt super-sensitized from his ministrations, and as they brushed against the muscular skin of his chest, she moaned again, panting. She wrapped her legs around his waist, and tilted up her hips in the effort for something more. She thought maybe if he moved faster it would help, but his thrusts were gentle and steady. She reached down his back and gripped his backside with her hands. He grunted at the feeling and moved faster. At once her pleasure increased, but only for a moment: soon he shuddered and made a guttural sound, relaxing on top of her. He breathed hard as he laid sweet kisses on her neck.

She put her arms around his sweaty body. She had never felt such pleasure before. "I love you, Christopher," she said.

He lifted his head and smiled at her. "I love you too, Marianne."

When Elinor and Edward's baby was born, Marianne took some of the gifts she had knitted for the newborn to the parsonage. Mrs. Dashwood had come to visit to help Elinor through the birth, and she proudly showed her second daughter the little fair-haired girl. When she arrived home, Colonel Brandon asked about the baby. After she had talked enthusiastically about her niece for fifteen minutes, she ran out of things to say.

"Speaking of babies," he said, "do you have anything you wish to tell me?"

Marianne was confused. "About Elinor's baby? No, I think I've told you everything."

He shook his head. "No, not about Elinor's baby. I meant –" He seemed to grapple for the right words. "I meant our baby."

"Our baby?" she said, astonished. "What are you talking about, Christopher?"

Now he looked surprised. "I thought you knew and had just been waiting to tell me."

"Tell you what?"

"My dear, have you noticed that you have missed your – monthly courses for three months now?" he said, his cheeks pinking slightly in discomfort.

"Have I?" she thought back. "I suppose I have. That's strange. But what does that have to do with a baby?"

"My dear, that is a typical sign that a woman is expecting," he said gently.

She gasped. "Really? Oh, how exciting! Christopher!" She launched herself into his arms and he hugged her close, laughing.

"I didn't know you didn't know," he said with a broad smile. "I thought maybe you were just waiting to make sure before you told me."

"Oh, I'm so excited," she said, pressing a kiss to his lips. She could not resist, even though they weren't in the bedroom.

He seemed surprised by the spontaneous display of affection.

"We must go celebrate," she said, taking his hand and standing up.

"Where are we going?" he asked as he was willingly led away.

She did not respond, but the answer became clear as she led him up to their bedroom, and shut the door behind him. She turned her back to him and asked him to undo her buttons. He looked completely shocked but definitely interested as he did as she asked. Once she was left only in her shift and stockings he began to disrobe himself. He watched her as she took off the last of her clothes and waited in bed for him, naked. She had no shame anymore. She loved him and knew that he loved her.

Once he was naked he crawled into bed beside her. The sun was streaming in through the window and she could see him fully. She was so excited that she at once pounced on top of him and began to kiss him all over. He groaned and she felt him harden against her bottom. He began to shape her breasts with his hands as she sucked on his nipple. She moaned as she felt his fingers moving up and down her folds, and she felt herself getting wet. He pushed one inside her and she wiggled, feeling his erection trapped between her buttocks. At once she wondered if she could take him inside her in this position.

"Christopher," she gasped, as he groaned beneath her. "Can I? How do I?"

He seemed to understand what she was asking, and taking his erection in hand he helped her rise so she could lower herself down onto him. She understood at once what he was doing, and felt her body stretch around him. She moaned. She had never felt him so deep inside her; and she could see his whole body in this position. She moved slowly and uncertainly at first, balancing her hands upon his chest. He had his hands clasped lightly on her hips. She found in this position she could move as fast and hard as she wanted. As she felt him sliding inside her she moved faster. His hands went to her breasts and he fondled them, which increased the pleasure that was building up in her center. She had often felt this before when Christopher moved in her, but now it was a burning fire within her, and soon it has exploded within her, and wave after wave of pleasure coursed through her body. She cried out, and her body fell forward onto Colonel Brandon's chest. She felt him holding onto her hips and thrusting up into her from below. Then she heard him groan and felt him spill his seed inside her.

She looked up at him to see his astonished face. "What – what happened to me?" she asked. "I felt – something."

"I believe you climaxed, my love," he said, looking as amazed as she felt.

"Climaxed?"

"Yes. The height of sexual pleasure. I must be honest that I never imagined I could inspire such passion in you."

"Of course you can. Christopher, I love you."

"I love you too, my darling." He drew her down to him and kissed her.

They spent the rest of the day and all night in bed, making love over and over, taking naps in between and lounging on the bed while eating bread and cheese that the servants had brought up for them. Colonel Brandon finally accepted in his mind what Marianne had been telling him for two months: she certainly did love him. And, to his amazement, she was attracted to him; he could inspire passion in her. He could never ask for a better wife.

Six months later, Marianne bore him a daughter in the wee hours of the morning. It had been a long travail, but she was healthy, and the midwife called him forward to hold his baby girl. She had a tuft of soft brown hair on her head, and his brown eyes. Maybe their next child would look like Marianne, he thought ruefully. But he knew his dear wife loved him just as he was.

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