Juanita is compromised and Don Ricardo is blamed for Teresa's pregnancy.
|Chapter13 Shifting the Blame
Benvolio stood in the fellowship hall helping erect the scaffolding. He was assisted by twelve Sisters who needed every detail of the work explained, not once but several times over. It was frustrating that tasks which appeared simple, were so hard for these women to grasp. He had hoped that Maria would be among those assigned but she had not come in with the group. Suddenly, one of the supports teetered and a board loosened and fell. Juanita, one of the more promising initiates, tumbled off and caught hold of a support pole. She dangled, hanging for an instant before losing her grip. Benvolio moved like a cat, and getting beneath, caught her falling body just before it hit the stone floor. She lay in his arms looking up with a look of wild eyed terror.
“That’s, enough for today!” he called out…”Now be careful and everybody please climb down. We’ll begin again tomorrow, if I’m not dead of apoplexy.” It had been a near thing….his heart pounded as it often did in the aftermath of battle, the adrenaline coursing through his veins. Sister Ramirez who had witnessed the incident, walked over.
“Quick thinking Benvolio, I thought she was dead.”
“It was a near thing, Sister…a very near thing.”
“God keeps us safe,” she said with absolute faith and assurance....."He sends us a miracle in you.”
“Miracle my ass....” he said still trembling.
“There’s no need for vulgar talk in God’s house.”
“Forgive me Sister, I meant no offense.”
“You said you intended to continue this work tomorrow. Well, it'll just have to wait. I’ve another job lined up for you.”
“On the road north to Madrid, ten miles from here, there’s a crossroads, in the town of Melengro. Taking the right fork and proceeding five miles further will bring you to Hermosa and on the outskirts is an old fortified keep known as the Hermitage.”
“You wish me to go there?”
“Yes, every week on Tuesdays we deliver the posts. It’s a retreat we maintain… a sanctuary for one of our missions. Have the livery bridled and ready by 8 O’clock. You’ll be taking our courier with the mail.”
Juanita was still shaking when she got back to her room. Maria was composing a letter. She noticed the pale look of her companion.
“You look awful,” she remarked.
“Just another traumatic moment in my life,” said Juanita breathlessly.
“I fell from the scaffolding. I was helping to prepare for the beam we're replacing in the fellowship hall. Had I not been caught by the supervisor, a man of amazing quickness and strength, I would have fallen to my death.”
“Dear me… lucky a man was around to catch you… how likely is that in a convent?”
“It was a miracle. The second one I've witnessed in as many days. As I fell to a certain death, I saw my life scroll before my eyes and beheld the Holy Spirit. He saved me that I might continue to serve in his glory.”
"What was the other miracle?"
"I'm sworn to silence."
"Well I wondered where you were last night. I assumed you were at choir practice." Maria had noticed that there were some strange things going on in the dead of night. There was altogether too much foot traffic in the corridors during the hours of darkness to be considered normal. However, these were new surroundings and perhaps there was some logical explanation.
"There was a choir all right but I wasn't doing the singing...and tonight I go again for a rendezvous with destiny."
“Then my prayers go with you and by the way, I’m glad you weren’t injured.”
That night after Vespers, Maria noted her friend slip noiselessly from the room.
Juanita moved like an apparition down the long corridors arriving at length at the chamber. She knocked quietly and the door opened. As she had noted earlier there were candles burning brightly. A bath was drawn and her nuptial dress was folded neatly on a table nearby.
“Take your bath and when you finish put on the gown,” said Mother Superior. “I’ll sit with you awhile.”
Teresa undressed and climbed into the tub. The water was still hot and there was a wash cloth hanging next to the soap. She lathered up and then slipped down to her chin washing away the suds. Reverend Mother held a towel and she got out drying herself. She put on the cotton night gown, walked over and climbed into bed.
“How do you feel?”
“I’m frightened," answered the young novitiate.
“It’s to be expected, however, you’ll be in the hands of the most gentle and holy of Spirits. His staff will comfort you and goodness and mercy will surround you. The memory of this night will follow you all the days of your life.”
“I Know, I know.”
She stood and began blowing out the candles.
“Please stay with me,” implored Juanita, “I’m so afraid.”
“As you wish…” and she took the hand of the frightened young woman. It wasn’t long thereafter that they heard again the heavenly choir. The faint yet distinctive voices of angles singing praises resonated from the stone walls. Juanita stiffened looking about the dark room, heart pounding with anticipation. A door opened revealing a dull light and closed again softly. Through the window a pale moonlight peeked into the darkness. She heard the foot fall of a measured walk and discerned the outlines of a form.
“I’ve come for you, Juanita,” spoke a soft voice.
She started and squeezed tightly the Reverend Mother's hand.
“Are you ready to receive me?”
“Yes,” she stammered.
The covers pulled back and the Spirit loomed above.
“I've come in the form of a man, as I did with Mary. Don’t be afraid…”
She began to tremble and whimper.
The apparition nudged her thighs. A weight settled on top and between her legs she felt the search of a man’s erection. It brushed aside the lips of her womanhood and slipped inside. She trembled as the length slipped inside, to the limits of her flesh.
“Ahhhh!” he said… ”It’s done; our spirits are joined in the matrimony. Can you feel the joy that throbs with every heartbeat?”
“Yes I feel it…”
"Squeeze your stomach..."
"Like this?" she asked, tightening her sphincter.
"Ohhh my gawd... yes, yes, Now welcome your Heavenly Host!"
She wiggled and rose up on her shoulders, hunching up and down on his straining member.
"That's it....Now tell me your name....don't be shy!"
“I’m Juanita," she complied, voice quaking.
“Don't be so timid.” A hand slapped her hip. "Make a joyful noise!"
She jumped with a start, surprised by the smack! "What kind of noise?"
"...a noise of thanksgiving! Show me your gladness."
Clearing her throat, Juanita remembered the hymn heard earlier.
"Praise be to God in the heavens above....Who came down from high and showed me his love...."
"Yes, that's it, sing to me your praises," encouraged the voice. He pulled back and thrust eagerly once more. She gasped but managed to continue the song.
“Who loved so his children he gave them a sign, wrapped in a rainbow of glory divine...”
He began moving to the melody as she struggled to sing and give answer to his intercourse. She groaned as her body stretched to accommodate his insistent and unrelenting demands.
"Keep it up, woman, don't stop...."
"Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Let the world hear my song..."
Their stomachs slapped in harmony as he surged in and out, her forearms pinned to the bed.
"With the heavenly choir I'll follow along...."
Her voice hitched as the first wave of rapture came and she moaned, thrashing about.
"Oh Dear God," she cried....
"Keep singing," he demanded, slapping her flank again.
"...And pray that my Savior finds worthy in me.....a seat at his table through eternity."
He paused and she felt his hands move down and take a fresh grip about her waist. Why has he stopped? She wondered.
“Tell me my dear, how it is you’re no longer a virgin?”
Dread reared up and joy died in her heart…. The memory of those nights in the stable flooded once more to mind.
“Because I sinned, because I sinned…”
"Confess to me my child." He said, picking up the tempo once more.
Like the opening of a floodgate she answered. "It was Juan, the groom… he told me I was beautiful and started kissing all those places....he pleaded, over and over, until his words had their way."
Unrestrained now he began to pummel without pity. "Hold back nothing!"
"At first I tried to resist but he wouldn't listen. He kept coaxing until...to my everlasting shame....I succumbed.”
She began sobbing hysterically as he worked now with a cruel insistence.
"You're a sinful and fallen woman," he berated, holding her hips as she twisted beneath....His exertions grew in intensity as he punished her without remorse. NOW ATONE FOR YOUR INIQUITY!"
With these words she spread wide and yielded in abject and total submission. Another wave of rapture brought relief to her anguish, but still she wept, writhing up and straining in the throes. Inside, she felt the swell of his sinew as it squirted and splayed about. With that the poor girl collapsed in utter exhaustion, and still he continued to assail her body until the last drop of his “Divine Grace” was spent.”
"Your sins are forgiven,” He said at last, breathing heavily.
Rising up the spirit came off her. She heard a heavy tread of feet moving across the floor. The door opened, briefly revealing its light and closed again. A match flared and she saw the Reverend Mother lighting a taper.
“Did you bear witness?" Juanita cried out, tears flowing down her face”
“I did my child…tonight you were visited by the Almighty One. Now get dressed and leave quietly…tell nobody what happened.”
After the young girl departed, Antonio returned and taking Consuelo in his arms, kissed her on the lips. He could feel the excitement in her body and knew she was still under the influence of his intercourse with Juanita. He carried her to the bed, laying the love of his life back on the mattress. She groaned as he knelt on the floor and pulled her legs towards the edge of the bed. Spreading her knees he took the flower to his lips. With thighs on his shoulders, she raised up pressing eagerly into his mouth. A shudder ran the length of her spine as his tongue flirted in and out with the most delightful of sensations. Afterward, they sat on the bed and talked as their passions began to subside.
“So... what did you think of my little sparrow?”
“She was as sweet and delicate a morsel as I ever tasted….and despite her experience, there was still an aura of innocence about her. It was like deflowering a virgin without all the mess afterwards.”
“You certainly seemed to enjoy it…”
“How about you?” he asked, nuzzling the side of her neck… “Weren’t you enjoying it right along with us?"
“What makes you think that?”
“Because it didn’t take much to set you skipping beneath my tongue…”
“I admit I found it exciting…both parts, actually. I've much to atone for ….and so do you.”
“Must we reckon the bill so soon?” he asked, fondling her breast.
“We can wait a few minutes,” she answered, pulling away… “I’ve news from the Hermitage. Yesterday Don Ricardo showed up with an escort of Dragoons. He wanted to speak with Teresa. Luckily for us he was refused an interview.”
His amorous mood was doused in a cold splash of reality.
“I should say we were…Teresa might have told what happened and the Count would not have been taken in. Next time we might not be so lucky What do we do now?”
“...Lay the groundwork for the future while at the same time insuring they never have an opportunity to speak together."
“What kind of groundwork?”
“We must make sure the word gets out that Don Ricardo visited the Hermitage…that he threatened to tear the place apart to get a hold of his little sweetheart. That Teresa was terrified that he intended repeating again, the rape that left her with child.”
“Dear god…this is devious and calloused too!”
“Speak with the Cardinal and tell him our fears… that the Church must intercede to keep this from happening…”
“Yes! I see where you’re going with this.”
“Then, after she has the baby, I'll take her to Segovia. She can make her vows and that'll be the end of it.”
“It’s a good plan. I'll set the parts in motion. Is there anything else?"
“Yes my love, it’s time for your atonement. Get out of bed you sinful man….Out! Out! Now down on the floor and on your knees.”
He groaned getting up, dreading the punishment she was about to inflict. He settled slowly onto all fours as she reached up into the cupboard for the flail. He pressed his forehead into the stones. She began reeling off her litany, recalling the young women he had violated and with each name she snapped her wrist, delivering a strong and practiced stroke. After what seemed an eternity she came at last to the end. ”...and this is for Juanita, seduced by a pretender, claiming to be the Holy Spirit…..the nerve of him.” Crack! Crack! Crack!
When after midnight, her friend returned, Maria sat up in bed.
“Is that you Juanita?”
“Yes,” came a voice trembling with anxiety…
Maria got up and gave her companion a hug.
“Are you alright?”
“Yes,” answered her young friend.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“I can’t…but it was wonderful…All I want to do now is sleep.”
Maria went over and turned down the cot. Juanita crawled inside. Pulling up the covers Maria noticed a distinctive aroma.
She returned to her bed. It was an odor she had not smelled for a long time. Juanita rolled over and sighed blissfully.
Then Maria remembered ….it was the smell of semen.