One Night of Love & the Hobgoblin
Based on characters from the book The Irish Devil
Eric of Shanekill could take no more. He flung the long, black wool cloak he had grabbed before leaving the keep around his wide shoulders and stomped through the village looking as fierce and potent as the name bestowed on him— Irish Devil. Everyone scurried out of his way, making certain to stay clear of him. It mattered not, he paid them no heed. His thoughts were on one thing and one thing only, his wife Faith. He had had enough and he was going to settle it here and now with her, whether she wanted to or not.
When he woke a couple of hours ago and reached out to take her in his arms as he did most mornings, to hug her close, feel her warmth, her softness, to drink in her beauty and remind himself how lucky he was to have her as his wife, he had found her gone.
Not that her absence in their bed was an uncommon thing, but of late it had become more so. He understood that as the village healer she felt a duty to the people, but she also had a duty to him… her husband. And he intended to remind her that she had been sorely neglecting him of late.
He had never had to remind her of such before and it troubled him to do so now. Didn’t she care that it had been one week – one whole week – since they had made love? Didn’t she miss him as badly as he did her? Didn’t she miss touching him, kissing him, loving him? Though it had been three years since they had exchanged marriage vows, the spark of passion had remained strong within them. And he believed that it had grown ever stronger… that was until this past week.
Faith seemed not to notice him at all. And a few times when he had reached out to take her in his arms, she had stepped away from him. Never had she turned away from his embrace. She would either drift or rush into his arms and cuddle as close as she could and he would whisper things in her ear that would rush a red glow to her cheeks and spark her desire as well as his. The more he thought about all they shared and all he missed, the angrier he became.
His strides became more determined and villagers huddled in gossip as they watched the Irish Devil hurry to the healing cottage. There was sure to be a confrontation and most knew who the victor would be.
Eric attempted to control his anger. It would do him no good to pounce on her, but the thought conjured an image that was hard to ignore. He had been blessed with a wife who enjoyed conjugal rights. Faith often made it known how much she desired him and he had never disappointed her. They made love often and in places…he smiled with the memories.
They were made for each other and most knew it. It was as if the heavens had connected them body and soul…made them one, then split them apart, reunited them and made them one once again. That was certainly how it felt when he made love with her — that they were one and would always be — one body, one soul, one love.
He recalled his half-brother, Borg’s remark this morning when he had left his three- year old son Ryan in his care.
“Don’t make a fool of yourself.”
Borg had then proceeded, while bouncing up and down a jubilant Ryan on his knee, to remind him of how from when Eric had first met Faith he had made a continuous fool out of himself.
While there were times Eric could agree, other times had not been as obvious, though he had certainly lost his heart to Faith quickly enough. But then she was a beauty, long fiery red hair that sprung in ringlets around her head and face, skin as pale as freshly fallen snow and though she had a scar that ran down along her cheek from below her right eye close to her temple and all the way to her breast, it did nothing to distract from her beauty. It more reminded him of what a courageous woman she had been and would always be.
So what had happened between them in this last week to have her avoid him so? It made no sense and made him crazy with worry. What was on her mind? Why hadn’t she spoken to him about it? She had discussed everything with him as he did with her. She had good insight and instincts and he often relied on her for settling problems among the villagers.
Which was another reason for his foul mood, he missed talking with her. She wasn’t only his wife; she was his best friend. While he missed her in his bed, he missed even more their talks.
Faith was everything to him and he feared losing the closeness they had always shared. He stomped like an angry bear the last few feet to the healing cottage. He would have his answers, he would demand them, he would not be ignored, she would tell him what the problem was, he would insist on it, and then he would do what he had been aching to do… he would make love to his wife.
Several villagers lingered around the cottage waiting for the healer to administer to their needs. But once they spotted him they dispersed quickly, leaving the benches outside empty. He should have waited for the door to open and not disturb her session with whoever it was she was tending to, but he had no patience. He grabbed hold of the wooden handle and swung the door open.
He was surprised to see that she was alone, though glad of it. There was no one there to prevent him from having his say. His heart hammered in his chest and his anger was near to boiling. This was it; she would explain or else.
Eric took two steps into the cottage and kicked the door shut behind him.
Faith dropped the batch of herbs in her hand to the table and with a weary smile said, “Good lord, Eric, I’ve missed you so very much.”
Her words knocked the stuffing right out of him and all he could do was spread his arms wide.
She hurried into them, her arms quickly circling his back, her head seeking his hard chest and her body resting against his.
His breath caught for a moment; she was home where she belonged – in his arms – and his anger vanished in an instant.
Holding her close, feeling her warmth, her need for him, he asked, “What troubles you?”
She sighed. “I knew I couldn’t keep my worries from you for long.” She raised her head to look at him. “And I feel so guilty for neglecting you.”
“Truth be told it angered me,” he said honestly not wanting any lies between them.
“I’m sorry —”
“I should be the one apologizing for thinking you ignored me on purpose.”
“I did not mean to,” she said, her fingers going to lightly trace his lips. “I have missed you more than I can say.”
“And I you, wife,” he said and as much as he wanted to kiss her and carry her to the single, narrow bed in the cottage and make love to her, he knew at this moment she needed to talk with him. “Now tell me what troubles you. What has kept you from our bed? What has kept us from making love? What has worried you so?”
Faith slipped out of his arms and went to step away from him, but he wouldn’t let her. His hand ran down her arm and took hold of her hand locking his fingers with hers.
She smiled looking up at him. “Not going to let me go?”
“Do you want me to?”
She shook her head and squeezed his hand. “No, I don’t want you to let go. I want you to hang on to me and keep me sane.”
He tugged her to him, though she came willingly enough and once again he wrapped his arms around her. “I will not let you go until you tell me and even then I have no plans of releasing you. I miss you and it is time you and I make love.”
She sighed much heavier this time. “I would like that, but I fear there is a problem that must be solved before that will come to pass.”
“Tell me and I will solve it, for there is nothing that will keep me from making love to my wife this night.”
“After you hear, you may think differently.”
“I think not. Now tell me.”
“The villagers have been coming to me with deep scratches and too many bruises. Some get them while in the woods and others while working the field, the land near ready for harvest with winter’s chill all too prevalent. They talk of seeing a shadow that darts and sprints and leaves behind marks on them. They see the shadow briefly before suffering its sting. They fear going into the fields and many, especially the women who forage for plants and branches to make baskets have hesitated to venture where they once felt safe. Gossip has started.”
“I’ve heard none,” he said.
“Have you listened?”
He hadn’t. He’d been too busy with his own thoughts to hear others.
Faith ran a tender hand along his cheek and he near groaned with the pleasure it brought.
“Worry not,” she said. “Tongues have just recently been wagging and it is with whispered breathes they speak.”
“They gossip but want no one hearing?” he asked perplexed.
“It is what they whisper about that they fear. It is what keeps them coming back to me and more recently asking for anything that will protect them.”
“Protect them from what?”
She rested her hand to his chest and whispered, “The hobgoblin.”
Eric was struck silent for a moment. He had heard stories of hobgoblins and how mischievous and devilish they could be, but he never truly believed in them. He thought them conjured by fear when no doubt there was a reasonable explanation.
“The people truly believe a hobgoblin lurks on the land?”
Faith nodded. “They do and the thought makes them more fearful by the day and with all the incidents, I must say that something lurks on our land and it is not friendly.”
Eric knew then and there he had no choice. If he wanted to have free, undisturbed time to make love to his wife he had only one choice… he had to capture the hobgoblin.
Don’t miss part 2 next Thursday, Oct. 15th!