It was late, very late when again they stirred. The slow soft rustlings of the lovers held them in a comfortable state just between being asleep and awake. She was enjoying perfect relaxation as they shifted around, caressing each other's arms and sharing an occasional kiss.
It was fabulous to her. She felt her heart would burst each time he brushed her face and ran his fingers through her hair. The pleasure of their togetherness was an answered prayer to her. So this is what it's like, she pondered, half awake, to be with the one you love.
Her breath became hot, and so did her body. It was a fantastic difference from the coldness that one usually felt in Limbo. They kissed more, with open mouths and heavy breath. They were intoxicated with the joy of each other's lips and tongues. Their hands relished each other's arms, heads, and backs. Doug planted kisses all over her face, and moved on to her ear. She was in a state of bliss as he kissed her neck, the hot wetness of his mouth putting chills all over her body.
She was so content with him, and with their affection, that she wasn't fully aware that his hand was inside her shirt until it had been there exploring her breasts for more than a moment.
She sprang from the couch, and his embrace, shrieking.
"Rahne?" Doug called to her, "What's wrong, Honey?" The dwindling light of the fireplace illuminated his face, which was alive with confusion.
"What d' you mean, what's wrong? You touched my ... you TOUCHED me! In my shirt! You KNOW you did!"
"Uh ... yeah ... I guess I did. I didn't think ... I mean ... "
"You CAN'T do that! Why did you do that?"
"Rahne ... " He was struggling with the whole thing himself. "I'm sorry. It just ... came naturally, I guess. You're my wife, you know ... "
"Wife? What are you talking about?"
"Well, I was married to the you that I knew. The one that rescued me. The one Nightfeeder killed."
"YOU were married! I was never married! I ... we ... " She ran out of words. She was furious, and not sure exactly why. She had enjoyed it as much as he did. She actually felt frustrated that they had stopped. But she was sure that they shouldn't continue.
"Rahne, sit back down. Let's not fight! Please, just sit back down and let me hold you."
"And what part of me is it that you wish to hold now?" She wanted to sit back down, actually, and let Doug hold any part of her that he wished. Her mind was a battleground between these new feelings and the beliefs she had always clung to.
"Rahne, please! I thought it was mutual. Didn't you enjoy that?"
Oh, how I did. "I suppose it was mutual, to some extent ... I didn't want to stop."
"It doesn't have to ... "
"Doug, I know you love me ... But we are NOT married. You know I'm waiting for marriage."
"Isn't that what we have? Isn't it close enough? We're in Limbo—you won't find caterers, florists, or even a minister down here. I can't give you that, sweety. I can give you my love, and my life, what else do you need?"
"Oh, Doug, it's not about a ceremony. I would regret not having one, but it's so much more than that. It's more than cake, or vows, or rings, or a scrap of paper ... I don't know how to explain it. I just always thought it would be different."
"Isn't it better this way? Isn't it what you wanted, to hold out for true love and give yourself to one person only, forever? We can have that here, Rahne. We can do it right, not like everybody else."
His argument was tempting. Maybe if I would just shut up and lay with him, things would change for me. Maybe that's why I found him. Maybe life would change for me if I did. I want to know what the other girls know ... but not like they did it. I must wait. I must!
"Doug, I'm not your wife. Part of me wishes I was, but I'm not."
"Rahne, I'm sorry. I see you as my wife, and maybe I shouldn't. If that is something you don't want to do yet, then we won't do it. I'm just happy to have you here with me. It won't happen until you're ready, I promise."
Rahne's mind was in turmoil. She wanted to slap him. She wanted to get back on the couch and pick up where they left off. She wanted to kneel down and pray for forgiveness. Lord, help me to do the right thing.
"Well," she said, sitting back down on the couch, "Okay ... I'm sorry for shouting. We'll have to talk more about this. In the meantime, just mind your hands."
"Doug! I JUST TOLD YOU! I'm waiting for marriage!"
"I know, but it's not sex that was happening. We don't have to be married just to touch each other."
She was disillusioned by his argument. This talk had just become something else—something tragic. What could have been a mistake that they could put behind them was turning out to be an unwelcome revelation. "Don't go tryin' to shrug it off! It's all related—until my wedding day, you're not to do that again! You know what you meant by 'doing it right'!"
"Okay, okay, don't blow your top, Rahney. But who do you suppose is going to marry us way down here in hell's half acre? It's not often I see Margali coming in my scrying glass. We might have to wait a long time."
"As if this is any kind of proposal!" she shouted, very hurt by this new side of Doug. "As if this is any way to woo yourself a bride! Maybe staying down here in 'hell's half acre' with a man who casts wicked spells is not worth waiting for!"
"Whoa, wait a minute Rahne! That's not fair, it's not true! I only use a little magic! Just enough to keep me alive! I have tried to make a better place out of Limbo, and I think you'll agree it can be a better place than earth is sometimes! Excuse me for wanting to make you happy! I thought you loved me! Don't you? Don't you want to stay down here with me? The only reason I came to Limbo was so that you wouldn't have to be alone, and now you want to leave me alone?"
Rahne was crying hard. It had been so wonderful, from the day she found Doug right up to the moment before she jumped off the couch. And now she knew that it was already over.
"So staying here, to you, naturally means marrying you. You think that way because you were already married to 'another me'. I am the only me that I can be, Doug. I was so happy to find you that I ignored how much you've changed. You don't know how much I missed you ... how much I missed having someone who liked me, maybe even loved me.
"But you are not my Doug. The Doug I remember regarded the Bible as more than just a book. He would never have touched me like that, never in a million years if we weren't married, and certainly wouldn't try to change my ethics! I made a mistake by staying here. I am not the one who rescued you, Doug. You said it yourself — your Rahne is dead.
"Just like," she choked on the words, "Just like my Doug is dead, and always will be. I should have known better. We can't twist God's laws, whether they are laws of time or laws of ethics."
She felt as though her heart had been pulled from her chest. "You aren't evil, but you are not the man I will marry. I love you, but I cannot stay with you."
Doug's face was the image of sadness. His expression revealed a soul in such agony that Rahne could not bear to look upon it. He knew that there was no point in arguing; he had lost her, and nothing was going to change her mind. For a long while, each of them sat facing away from each other, each of them burdened with gut wrenching sorrows and regrets.
Finally Rahne spoke up. "I thank God for you. I am so very thankful that he directed me to you, even if it was such a short time. I have not felt loved at all, by anyone, since the day you died. I have been an outcast among my friends, because of my beliefs. Coming here and spending this time with you has reinforced my faith and my self-respect. I don't want you to think that I hate you, or think evil of you, even though I can't stay. You have your path, and I have mine, and though they crossed, they are goin' their own ways again now. I will always remember you with love."
They agreed that she should leave in the morning. They sat back down on the couch and held hands, returning to sleep eventually.
In the morning, Doug checked his scrying glass and prepared Rahne some food and supplies. She put on an outfit that was less likely to be damaged if she had to shift into wolf form. They held each other's face in their hands and shared one last gentle kiss, and hugged slowly. Then Rahne entered the stepping disc, forever consigning Doug to her memories.
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