Twilight faded as the little stars went out and the moon rose and floated upward. Its silvery light flooded the sky and the prairie. The winds that had blown whispering over the grasses all the summer day now lay sleeping, and quietness brooded over the moon-drenched land.
“It is a wonderful night,” Almanzo said.
“It is a beautiful world,” Laura answered.
It wasn’t until the moon was fully up the reality of the boundary which she straddled, came over Laura. As the silence around them grew, the pitter-pat of her heart seemed much louder than before, and all the nerves she had suppressed suddenly came back to her, full force.
Almanzo shifted slightly, and put his hand over hers.
“Shall we go in?”
She nodded jerkily, not trusting herself to speak. She followed him into the house, and as he shut the door, she walked into the bedroom. She hesitated, but then shut the door. When she was alone, she let out a shuddery sigh and pressed her hands to her cheeks.
Oh what had she been thinking? Suddenly she wanted to go home, and be a little girl again, looking longingly at the horses from afar. She had come for the horses, but with them came a man-a large man, with large hands, and blue eyes. The way he looked at her made her feel weak, and then she was frightened at the way it made her feel.
She knew he was incredibly handsome, and having taken him out from under Nellie’s nose had given her such pleasure. But now, faced with the impending moment that she would no longer be a little girl, but a woman, she felt like hiding.
Forcing herself to take deep breaths, she poured water from the porcelain pitcher into the washbasin. Splashing water onto her face, she took the small cake of rose scented soap and washed her face. Trembling, she removed the blue calico dress, and then her corset and underthings. Naked, she stood in the middle of the room, not knowing where her nightgown even was.
Frantically, she opened her trunk and found a brand new one, neatly laid out on top, made of white muslin and trimmed with blue silk ribbon. “Oh, Ma,” she whispered. “What shall I do without you?”
With shaking hands, she picked it up and pulled it over her head. She had just let down her hair and was brushing it when there was a knock at the door. Laura jumped in fright.
“Laura?” came Almanzo’s voice through the door. “May I come in?”
“Yes,” Laura managed to squeak out, her voice catching in her throat.
She was swallowing hard when the door opened and her husband filled the doorway.
He really was very good looking, she thought again as he moved about the room. He had not worn his boots into the house, for which she was grateful, and standing in his stockings, he somehow looked less fearsome. Warmth rushed through her, and when she met his eyes, he looked at her with wonder.
She blushed and turned back to her mirror. She could see him in the reflection staring at her movements, and it made her start to ache, deep down in places she had never had feelings before.
“You have beautiful hair,” he said quietly. Startled, she turned and looked up at him, unable to continue pretending he was not there.
He moved towards her then, but she was not afraid of him anymore. Mesmerized, she allowed him to take the brush out of her hands and set it down on the dressing table behind her. Then, taking her hands in his, he drew her up close to him.
He looked down at her, his blue eyes darker than usual with an emotion she did not recognize.
“Laura,” he said in a low tone. “Your Ma...did she tell you what was going to happen tonight?”
Laura flushed and looked away, embarrassed. “I-yes, she did, but I am not sure how much of it was very useful.”
Almanzo let out a soft, nervous sounding laugh. “Do you know...what will happen between us? You and me?”
Laura couldn’t meet his eyes, and though his hands held hers, she felt almost disconnected from him at that moment. She knew something of the copulation of animals- horses especially- and she was positive it was something like that, though she couldn't be sure. She knew men had a similar appendage, having seen them on baby boys, but she was vague on where exactly it was supposed to enter her.
“I-I have spent much of my life in small one-room houses,” she stammered. “I have heard things…”
That was true. She could remember being woken up to noises that were not unlike moans of pain, but the longer she listened, she had realized that they were not. Still, she had been confused for a very long time, and when she heard them, she always put the pillow over her head and tried to go back to sleep.
“...And the horses…” she trailed off feeling silly. She was a teacher, and yet she couldn’t seem to string more than a few words together in coherent sentences.
His fingers caressed her chin forcing her to look up, and she gasped in surprise, too shocked not to meet his gaze.
“It is...something like that, but not quite.” He brushed her chin with his thumb, and she was sure she would melt into a puddle for how hot her cheeks were.
“May I show you?” This came out a whisper, and Laura suddenly realized he was nervous, too. She was not the only one.
“Have-have you experienced this before?”
To her great surprise, he was the one that blushed now. “My brother, Royal…” he broke off, looking embarrassed. “No, I have not.”
“But you know what to do?” Laura whispered. “For I do not.”
He looked down at her, his eyes tender and soft. “Yes.”
“Th-then yes,” Laura replied, hoping her voice was steadier than she felt.
Almanzo looked relieved, but then took a step back from her. “First, I must wash. I won’t be long.”
“Should I leave?” Laura pointed absently at the door.
“No, of course not. You are my wife.”
So Laura climbed into bed, turning her back to him as he poured fresh water in the basin and washed himself. She heard the rustle of clothing, and her mouth dried up. Was he getting undressed?
Of course he was, she scolded herself. Don’t be a fool.
So lost in thought and scolding herself, she didn’t notice that he had sat down beside her.
“Laura,” he said softly.
Slowly, she turned, and found him gazing down at her, his head propped up by his hand. His hair was damp and his face was pink from being freshly scrubbed. He was wearing a clean shirt that was open at the collar, the expanse of tanned skin intriguing to her.
He stroked her cheek, which she unconsciously leaned into.
“Do I frighten you?”
Laura shook her head. “No, it is not you I am frightened of. It is that I do not know fully what to expect. I am afraid I am woefully unprepared to be a wife.”
“No more than I am a husband,” Almanzo replied ruefully. “I know horses and farming, and that is all.”
“But you are older, and a man. By that alone, you know more than I.”
He took her hand in his and pressed his lips to her knuckles. “Then tonight I shall lead, and tomorrow we will learn together.”
Laura smiled, and then he was kissing her, gently nipping at her lips, urging her to open her own for him. Hesitantly, she did, and he took full advantage of it. He took her upper lip between his. He stroked his tongue over her bottom lip and then slid it against her own tongue, velvet upon velvet, catching deliciously against each other.
Laura gasped as bolts of lightning burst through her. It was a storm that had not moved her alone, for he rolled her onto her back and knelt over her, his knees on either side of her hips, arms beside her head. He hadn’t yet pressed against her, but she could already sense where he would touch her when he did. She was a smoldering fire, waiting to be stoked.
Her breath caught in her throat, and her fingers fluttered by her head as she stared up at him. “What now?” she murmured.
“Open your legs,” he said roughly, eyes bright.
She did, and as he settled in between them, she felt the first lick of flames ignite within her. It was like the itch from a mosquito after being scratched. It was both relieving and still itchy. She moved a bit, but that only seemed to make it worse.
Almanzo’s face tightened. “Laura, don’t do that. You feel...so good.”
“I’m sorry,” she whispered, not knowing what it was she had done.
He shook his head. “No, don’t be sorry, I am just...I won’t be able to control myself if you move like that.”
“What do you mean?” Laura asked curiously.
To her surprise, Almanzo blushed. “I-I can’t explain. I don’t have the right words. I can only do something.”
And then he leaned down and kissed her. But it wasn’t like any kiss he had given her before, it was something else entirely. His tongue was in her mouth, and he kissed her until she was gasping and breathless. Aching need jolted through her, causing her to whimper against his lips. He pulled away and stared down at her, breathing heavily, brows drawn together.
“Are you in pain?”
“No,” Laura reassured him. “I ache, but it doesn’t hurt. Does that make sense?”
Almanzo closed his eyes. “You ache,” he said, his voice hoarse. “Where?”
“Inside...down there.” She nodded to where his hips were pressed against hers. “But it’s because of you.”
He screwed his eyes shut. “God help me.”
Startled by his plea to God, she opened her mouth to speak, but before she could get any words out, his lips were on her neck, sucking, nibbling, and making her squirm. Gasping, she ran her fingers through his hair. He shivered under her touch and she did it again. His hands slid down her waist to her thighs. And when they found the hem of her gown and began to lift it, she froze.
He stopped and gently kissed her on the forehead.
“We were made in the eyes of God. He would not have made us this way, giving us these feelings…” He shook his head. “Don’t be ashamed in front of me, Laura, for I will always cherish you. I will love you as you are.”
She colored at his words. They had not once said they loved one another. It was a strange addition to the eloquent words he spoke, and she wanted to return the sentiment, but she didn’t know how.
Instead she nodded, and he drew her nightgown up over her head, leaving her naked before him. She closed her eyes, unable to see his face as he looked upon her.
She had hardly seen herself clothed, let alone naked, and now she lay beneath Almanzo, bare as the day she’d been born. She had always felt she was too chubby, too brown, and not as beautiful as Mary.
But, she reminded herself, it was she who was married to Almanzo Wilder. He had chosen her over Nellie, over any of the girls who would have given anything to be his wife. He had looked at her, and only her.
When he said nothing, she opened one eye, and then the other. Almanzo’s lips were parted, and he was looking at her as though she were something precious. She had seen, what looked much like his expression now, when he watched Lady’s colt, but this was darker. She searched for the word and was unable to find it, for she had not the experience to define it. Perhaps the bible might have something...
He put his mouth on her then, and stroked her nipple with his tongue. She gasped at the bolt of pleasure that shot through her lower belly. He ran his hands over her belly, and then to the apex of her thighs, cupping her with one large hand.
“Oh, Almanzo.” The sigh that his name left her mouth on lingered in the air, startling them both.
“I-” she started, but he stopped her with a kiss, his tongue delving into her mouth. He kissed her desperately, and it was all she could do to just cling to him.
Eventually, he rose up to his knees and she watched as he stripped off his shirt, and then his underwear slipped down over his hips, revealing dark blond hair, and then--
She couldn’t help staring at him. He was so large, (though not as large as a horse, she thanked her lucky stars), and the thought that he would put it in her was both terrifying and exciting.
“Does it hurt?” she asked breathlessly, looking up at him.
“No...but it isn’t comfortable.” He peered at her. “Have I made you afraid?”
“A little...but also...not.” She blushed and whispered, “I find you exciting.”
His breath hitched in his throat, eyes scanning her face. “Exciting?”
Laura nodded. “Yes, I feel-I want something from you. I feel it deep inside, but I can’t explain it. And I’m still not sure where exactly...” she trailed off because Almanzo was looking at her with an expression that made her so hot, she couldn't think any longer.
He pushed down his drawers and kicked them off. Then he parted her thighs, and she trembled as she felt her most intimate place opening for him, the cool night air making her shiver.
He pressed himself against her opening, and she finally understood. It made sense now, as babies came from the same place.
“Laura, I’m going enter you” he asked hoarsely. “Do you understand?”
“Yes,” she breathed, closing her eyes and wrapping her arms around his neck. “Yes, Manly, I do.”
He let out a growl, and she gasped as he pushed himself into her. “Oh!” she cried out.
With each of his gentle thrusts, the ache within her increased, and soon she was urging him to move faster, her heels digging into his calves, hands in his hair.
“Oh, Laura,” Almanzo moaned against her lips. “Laura, my love.”
She heard his tender words, but was unable to reciprocate, for all the sensations within her. Trembling, she finally reached a precipice. For one exquisite moment, she was suspended, and then she fell over..
“Manly!” she couldn’t help crying out as she shook beneath him. “Oh, Manly!
A shocked expression crossed his face, and seconds later, he was jerking against her, moaning and panting.
He pressed his forehead to her breasts, and as she held him, stroking his hair, she marveled in that she now knew the secret to life, and the beauty it held. This act was what made her a wife, and not a daughter. A woman, not a child.
The stickiness between her thighs was not to be feared or despised. It was a powerful thing, she thought, to be able to bear children. Not the curse the bible claimed it was. Shocked by her wicked thoughts, she muffled a giggle.
Almanzo looked up curiously. “Why on earth are you laughing?”
Laura shook her head, and suppressed the smile that threatened to break out over her face. “I am not laughing, I am just so very happy.”
He gazed at her in puzzled wonder. “You felt something, didn’t you.”
“Oh, yes,” Laura sighed contently. “That feeling deep inside...when you entered me, it grew, and then was released. Was that what you felt?”
He frowned thoughtfully. “Yes, it is normal for a man during...copulation, but I did not know women could feel it so strongly, too.”
“Oh.” She frowned back. “Does that mean I’m not normal?”
Almanzo shook his head. “ From what I have been told, it is just...rare for a wife to enjoy the marriage bed so much.” He smiled ruefully. “Though I am not sure now, if it doesn’t have to do with the husband.”
Then he reddened and said in a low voice, “I very much liked it when you called me Manly.”
Laura felt her cheeks grow hot. “I wasn’t thinking about what I was saying.”
“I know,” he replied. “That’s why I am so very pleased.”
“I am pleased too. I never imagined marriage could hold such pleasure.”
The smile that crossed Almanzo’s face lit up his eyes, and they shone like the summer sky. Laura's heart skipped as she realized she would see those eyes everyday for the rest of her life.
Almanzo dimmed the oil lamp, and they fell asleep in each other’s arms for the first night out of many to come. They would not all be happy and golden years, but even among the painful and sad ones, they would have one another, and that was enough.