Chapter 8 – A Great Ritual

Closing time finally comes and I can turn off the lights and lock the door before we head upstairs.  While I’m doing the tasks involved with getting things shut down, Zeke goes upstairs to prepare for the ritual we are going to do.  I walk into our space to smell the sage and cedar that means he has smudged the rooms.

I hear the water running in the bathtub so I drop my clothes in the bedroom and join him in the hot bath he has drawn.  It smells of lavender and frankincense.  He has me sit down in front of him and he begins washing me with a new bar of soap.  He has been very busy with the herbs as this is something he made up just for this ritual.  He shampoos my hair and rinses it carefully.  The entire time he does this I can hear the low rumble of him praying, but I can’t catch the words.  It doesn’t have the rhythm of the Kwan Yin mantra so I don’t know what he’s saying.

Once I’m clean, he instructs me to close my eyes and just sit.  I am very aware of the feeling of the water against me; the sounds he makes as he washes himself, even Vader’s breathing as he sits at the door, guarding us.  I catch the cadence of him praying again but the words are no clearer this time.  I can feel the steam of the water and the drops that splash as Zeke finishes up his bathing.

He steps out of the tub, then takes my hand and helps me out.  I stand there, looking at him with water running down me.  He picks up a bottle of oil and pours some out.  Rubbing his hands together to warm and spread the oil, he proceeds to put it on me.  By its smell I know where at least some of that mistletoe oil has gone.  He manages to get oil on pretty much every part of my body.  It’s very intimate and I have to consciously tamp down the surge of sexual desire it incites.  I figure this is not the time to get horny…but oh, it feels so good.

He hands me the bottle and gestures that I am to do this for him as well.  I take my time, spreading the oil and leaving no part without.  By the time I am done, he is very hard and very erect but he doesn’t let me linger on that aspect of the touching.  He picks up a towel and sort of blots at me, drying any water that might be left and removing the heaviest amounts of oil but not taking it off completely.  I do this for him in turn and we go out into the bedroom.  He unfolds my cloak and lays it on my shoulders.  He fastens the frog, then he puts his on and we head down into the garden.  Vader tags our heels until we get out, then he runs ahead and lies down at the front of the gazebo.  Zeke gives a little laugh and leads me to the entrance, just past Vader.

“He always knows,” is his only comment.  I stand there, looking inside in amazement.  Zeke has been very busy.  While I gape, he goes over and puts a match to the fire he has already built in the –new and when did he get this?—brazier.  The flames flare up and he turns to me.  He holds his arms out and I walk to him, enjoying the male beauty that is bared by his motion.  I move my arms to reach out to him and he stops me.

“Not yet.  You stay covered until the time is right.”  He puts me in the center of the space, facing the fire as he takes a spill and lights all the candles that are placed around the area.  He has put up some sort of netting that mostly covers the sides so that it is enclosed but still lets in the light of the fading sunset.

I look around.  There are pillows piled on one side, and he’s arranged an altar opposite to the fire.  I recognize a lot of what is placed there—he’s got my athame and his boline, and the Waterford crystal chalice that we got in Ireland but have never used…before.  There is a plate of fruit and a bowl of water.  He’s got salt in another bowl and incense piled on a plate next to that.  He has taken the Goddess image that I use on the altar and placed it at one side of a large black candle—something else he must have made since I don’t make seven day candles in black and I can tell by the size that’s exactly what it is.  My eyes slide to the right of the candle and there is no God image, only a large chunk of rose quartz—so that’s where it went, I thought he had sold it—and a metal ankh.

He has finished lighting candles and stops in front of me.  I look up at him and he puts his hands on my shoulders and leans down to kiss me quite thoroughly.  I am a little confused by the sexual overtones from his mouth on mine as he is not kissing me in a “ritual” way.  This is the sort of kiss he gives me when he wants to get naked.  I participate fully, knowing that he will lead this to wherever he is going with it but in his own good time.  He steps back and turns to the altar.  Bowing to the north, he takes the bowl of water and walks the circle around the furthest edge of the gazebo, then repeats it with the bowl of salt and follows up with the incense.  He takes up the athame and casts the circle.  I can sense the change in the air as we are enclosed by a bubble of energy that holds us in the space between worlds.

He puts the athame back on the altar and turns to face me again.  Once more he leans into me, kissing me deeply, using his tongue to probe into my mouth and once more, he stirs my blood.  I am breathless by the time he straightens and then begins calling the Quarters.  He startles me by summoning the dragon guardians.  This is something we have talked about doing but have never done because they are the most powerful and you have to be very careful about stirring them up.  I feel a shiver go up my back as I realize that he is beginning something that is going to be overwhelming and strong.  He is dead serious about doing this and I am both frightened and awed at the energy I feel him building.  I also start to understand the use of sexual energy.  We connect both literally and spiritually in the act of coition; he’s using our love for each other and its physical expression to guarantee that his spell works.  I admire the way he thinks and I am more than willing to participate.

I sense the dragons as they take up their place at the four cardinal points of the compass.  Vader’s fur is standing on end but he makes no sound, he only keeps looking between those four points.  Zeke then invokes the presence of the Divine and I can sense the change in him as he calls upon the God’s power.  He takes up a candle that is shaped like a man—my, he has been very busy since we do not even carry these at all—and he lights it from the black candle.

He sets it next to the rose quartz and points at me.  That’s my cue.  I call upon the power of the Goddess and I feel the change in me.  It’s like I am an observer in my own body while Someone Else is moving me, talking with my voice.  I can hear Zeke but it sounds like he’s far away or under water.  I take the female shaped candle and hold it to the flame of the black candle.  He speaks but I don’t understand the words as I put the newly lit candle on the altar.

He then reaches out and undoes my cloak, pushing it off of my shoulders.  It falls in a puddle around my feet and I stand there, naked but not cold.  He points a finger at me, tracing a pentacle on my forehead, then kissing it and repeating these actions on my left hip, right shoulder, left shoulder and right hip, coming back to my forehead as he makes a pentacle out of me.  His hands grasp my shoulders as his lips press against my head.  I stand quietly.

He steps back and undoes the clasp of his cloak.  Like mine, the silky material slides easily down his body to form a pile around his feet and he casually pushes it out of his way.  He throws incense on the fire which makes it flare as the resins hit the heat.  I recognize the smell of myrrh and frankincense as the wisps of smoke come past my face.  He has certainly not pulled any punches in this ritual; he’s using all the big guns, so to speak.  I take the opportunity presented to me to admire the glow of his body in the soft light of the candles, watching the ripples of the muscles as he moves.  When he turns back towards me, I am just slightly startled to realize that he has an erection again.  I gaze at it, looking at it gleam from the oil we have used and watching it bob gently as he steps back over to me.  I want to touch it but by the time I can begin the motion, he is holding me against him, kissing my eyes, my jaw and my neck.

He stops at my mouth to rather completely ravage there, thrusting his tongue in and out like a promise of where he is taking us.  His hands begin traveling over me, lightly grazing, tantalizing me and his mouth follows.  He pauses only long enough to pull the pillows into the center of the room with us and he lowers me onto them.  I lay there, quiescent but with the start of longing, the sense of desire building as he continues to stroke and kiss me.  He does not let me touch him so I end up clenching my hands at my side as he very carefully works at raising my energy.

He is slow and extremely systematic, leading me through a state of barely controlled lust that soon has me wet with wanting him.  My body writhes as I rise up to follow his hands, trying to keep the contact.  As the fever pitch grows, I become frantic with the need to join our bodies.  He just keeps touching me, caressing me.  He pays particular attention to my breasts, teasing the nipples with his fingers into hard buttons that he then suckles, drawing them deeply into his hot mouth.  I have never felt this much lust, this much animal drive to mate.  I am like a wild creature in heat.  He uses his teeth to nip and nibble everywhere and I will die if he does not spear himself in me.

I reach for him, trying to pull his shaft into my eager and ready body.  He gently pushes my hands away from his hardness and taking my wrists, he holds them in one hand over my head, pinning me down while he continues to ravish me with his mouth and other hand.  He is very careful not to let his erection rub against me and he watches closely as I become more and more frenzied in my attempts to have him inside of me.  I am thrusting my hips at him and moaning, begging for release.  He slides his fingers into me and I scream as I come in his hand.  That seems to be the signal he was waiting for because he then lowers himself into me while I am still shuddering from the waves of ecstasy.  He fills me, his body joins mine and the feeling of it sends me over the edge again and I lay there helplessly as he drives himself into me, having orgasm after orgasm with each thrust.  I am screaming my passion and am only dimly aware that he is also giving voice to our actions.

We have never used the actual Great Rite as a part of a ritual and the small part of my brain that is functioning understands that this is Power, raw and primeval.  He is using this, our most intimate and loving act, as a way to protect us from the horrors that I have seen in my dreams and to keep me safe from John Robert’s lust.  I feel him push harder and deeper, growling out his passion as he reaches his climax.  He pours his seed into me and then he is still, breathing heavily into my ear.  I can hear my own breath, gasping and panting as we float back down to earth once more.

He slips out of my body and kneeling over me, blesses me again with pentacles and kisses.  Then he helps me to stand once more in front of the altar and we share Cakes and Ale.  He sits on a pillow and has me sit on his lap, feeding me pieces of fruit and sharing sips of wine from the chalice.  We don’t talk, only huddle close.

Time has no meaning and I am not cold; we are in a world of our own.  We nibble and drink until it is almost all gone.  Zeke puts the last piece of fruit in the chalice and I know that he will pour both out on the ground once we are done.  We stand and face the altar, thanking the Divine Presence and letting them go.  Once again I am wholly myself and I feel the same thing happen to him.

He bows to the four Quarters and thanks them as well.  I sense them move back but take up positions around the yard, like they are going to stay for a while and this feels good to me.  Zeke opens the circle and suddenly there is a cold wind.  It has gotten quite dark while we were in the gazebo and the lights in the house look far away.  He throws my cloak around me while snagging his up and putting it on.

“What can I do to help clean up?”  I ask him as he puts out the candles.  He checks the fire in the brazier and closes the door on it.

“Nothing.  I will take care of this tomorrow.  Here.”  He hands the black candle to me and I clutch it as he dumps the chalice at the edge of the grass.  Vader barks and leads us back into the warmth of home.

Upstairs, I set the candle on our altar and put the cloaks away.  I pull on sweat pants and a t-shirt.  Zeke pulls on some clothes and then heads out into the kitchen.  I come out to see him take food that I didn’t even know we had from the refrigerator—and it’s a feast worthy of the name.  He sets out several of my favorites: crab claws, already shelled out so that all we have to do is pull them between our teeth to enjoy the ocean taste of them; marinated artichoke hearts and a chunk of bleu cheese.  The microwave chimes and he takes out a platter of miniature quiches.  He keeps dragging stuff out of the fridge: a jar of sweet pickles, a plate of devilled eggs, and another chunk of cheese, which looks like the Irish Cheddar we both like so much.  We’ve been together almost constantly for the past week.  I have no idea how he has managed to not only prepare this food, but to go out and buy it.

I help him shuttle dishes and bowls out to the living room.  He sets a plate of vegetables on the coffee table, something he has had to have prepared beforehand but I couldn’t tell you when.  They almost look like a picture, with the bright colors and different shapes.  I see grape tomatoes, snow pea pods and carrot slices arranged with cucumber slices and celery sticks.  I am touched by the fact that he has paid enough attention to me that he knows which vegetables I particularly like.

He gets out a tub of dip for the veggies and then he opens a bag on the counter to pull out a loaf of French bread; he puts both of these with the other food.  There is already an open bottle of wine and he pours a glassful.  He hands it to me and I take a sip.  I smile as the flavor spreads in my mouth and I recognize my beloved merlot.  Zeke has made a sacrifice of epic proportions since he does not particularly like it.  He’ll drink it but he prefers something a little sweeter.

I start to sit down on the sofa but he stops me long enough to arrange the pillows and then he sits, pulling me down onto his lap.  He yanks the coffee table over to us so that we can reach all this food.  He also points the remote at the stereo and the music starts.  Once more he has catered to my taste, putting on Santana’s “Supernatural” album.  He adjusts the volume so that it’s audible but not overbearing and we sit back to eat.

He feeds me and I share with him.  He takes the wine glass from me and turns it to drink from where my lips have just touched.  I have never felt this close to him in all the time that we have been together.  I think we have a good relationship, but it would seem that there are further heights that we can reach.  We move almost in sync, as if we are one person instead of two.  It does feel like we are the same person to me and I mention this to him.  He kisses me tenderly.

“I’m glad that you feel this way.”  He kisses me again.  “I have always felt like this, m’dear.”  I am surprised.  I had no idea that this was the depth of his feelings and I feel bad about making a game out of his marriage proposals.

“Zeke, I…I…”  I don’t know how to say this to him.  He watches me, his eyes warm and gentle.  I try again.  “I am sorry.”

“For what?”

“For not taking you seriously when you have asked me to marry you.  I didn’t realize…”  My voice trails off.

“Love, it’s okay.  I know that your first marriage was enough to make anyone not want to marry again.  Hell, after I heard about your ex, I didn’t want to get married to him either.”  I giggle.  “I understand that you have hesitations about the whole concept of giving up that much of yourself again.”

“But I have given all of myself to you.”  I live with him, eat with him, sleep with him, shower with him.  There’s not much I do without him.  Maybe—no, not that even.

“Not—really.  Until tonight, you have always held back that little bit of yourself.  And that’s ok.”

I am honest enough to admit that he is right.  I have kept some scrap of my own identity held away from him and there has been no reason to do so except my own fears.  I turn this idea over in my brain, trying to figure out if there is any cause to not give it all to Zeke.  I will not lose and the promise of gain is so great, I make the leap of faith.

“Zeke, will you…that is…will you marry me?”  I have managed to shock him.  His face goes white and now I am shocked to see tears come into his eyes.  “Baby, what’s wrong?  What did I do?”

“Nothing!”  He manages to gasp out at me, laughing and crying all at once.  He grabs me into a bear hug and squeezes.  “Oh god, Mattie.  I love you so much.”

“Then—let me—breathe!”  I push at him until he loosens his arms.  I take a deep, shuddering breath.  He tries to apologize but I am not letting him out of answering that question.  “Tell me…Will.  You.  Marry.  Me?”

“You’re overwhelmed from the ritual.  Are you sure about this?” He is giving me an out if I want it.  I could smack him.  I may be slow but once I’ve thought about something, I do know what I want.

“You are not going to be able to get out of this.  Answer the question: WILL YOU MARRY ME, Goddammit??” I practically shriek at him.

“YES!  YES!”  He shouts at me, setting Vader into a frenzy of barking and bouncing on us.  I find myself surrounded by man and dog as they both try to kiss me.  I push the dog away so that I can kiss the man.  He’s not happy about it—the dog, that is—but I don’t care.  And the kiss goes on and on and on…

I wake to the sounds of that man singing.  Singing!  In the shower, too.  I slip out of bed and go into the bathroom.  He has just put shampoo on his hair so his eyes are closed and he doesn’t know I’m there until I touch him.  The ten years of his scaring me are suddenly worth it all as he screams like a girl and jumps about a mile.  I just grin at him as he glares at me through soap and water.  He grabs my wrist and pulls me into the stream of water to kiss me roughly.  I hold onto him as if my life depends on it—and it does—and kiss him right back.  Vader pokes his head into the shower and looks at us like we’ve lost our minds.  Once he’s decided that we aren’t dying, he leaves us to our morning ablutions.

The world seems brighter and happier this morning and I don’t know if it’s the ritual or the events following it.  We are barely more than arm’s reach away from each other through cooking and eating.  Even when we sit to the table, our knees touch so that we can maintain contact.  He washes the dishes that we left last night as well as the few we have used this morning.  I dry them and put them up and what is usually a task to be completed as fast as possible seems almost like…well, fun.  Once the kitchen is clean, we head out into the garden to clean up the gazebo.

It’s chilly enough this morning that I am glad I have a sweatshirt on.  The fire has gone out in the brazier so Zeke empties the ashes and cleans it out.  I gather up the altar items and put them into the basket which I find under the table that served as the altar.  Vader is supervising us, his nose twitching as he sniffs the air.  I also take a deep breath and identify several different scents.  There is the frankincense and myrrh…the lavender…and something a little more earthy and musky.  I feel a surge of desire as I realize that what I smell is sexual activity and its aftermath.  I glance up at Zeke to see him looking at me and I realize that he knows what I am thinking.  He smiles, and it feels like a loving caress as he stacks the pillows to carry them back to the house.  I follow him with the basket and the dog at our heels.

I do have to ask him one question.  “How’s come I couldn’t touch you last night?  You drove me right straight out of my mind but you wouldn’t let me even touch you!?”

He gets a wicked grin on his face as he answers.  “My dearest love, if I had let you touch me at all, I’d have embarrassed myself in about two seconds.  I have never felt so damned horny in all my life.  I couldn’t let you put your hands on me or we’d have wasted all that energy.  I almost lost it when you were putting the oil on me.”

“Ahhhhh.  Makes sense.  And for what it’s worth…it was divine.”

“Divine with a capital “d”, sweetie.  And that was the point of it.”

We spend the day within touching distance.  While I enjoy it, I do have to wonder how we are going to work if we can’t bear to be parted physically.  It should make for quite a reunion at the end of the business day.  Bedtime is especially tender and we make love as if we’ve just discovered it for the first time in all of humanity’s existence.  My sleep is the best I’ve had in several months and if I dream, I don’t remember it.

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