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Rated: 18+ · Fiction · Romance/Love · #703056
Romance Story Set In 1863 Virginia
Everything changed after the Battle of Gettysburg. Or so it seemed to twenty-two year old Lieutenant Daniel Sharpe.

It was a turning point for the Confederacy and a definite turning point in the life of the young lieutenant.

Before July 3, 1863, he was merely one of many loyal aides serving Confederate General Jeremiah O'Connor.

Loyalty hard fought, since he was desperately in love with the General's bewitching thirty-three year old wife, Lilianna. Her dimpled smile and gentle manner touched his heart in a way he'd never experienced in all his twenty-two years.

A month after Gettysburg and the company's solemn retreat to the General's home at the outskirts of Petersburg, Virginia, Lt. Sharpe saw the world differently.

The indisputable fact of twenty thousand dead and wounded souls of the Confederacy, sacrificed to the vanity of their leaders, opened his eyes as never before to the truth.

It was the very same truth that Lilianna gently urged upon him during their many talks of the previous year.

Lilianna O'Connor, twenty years younger than her husband, was a tiny brunette bundle of energy, with the greenest eyes Daniel Sharpe ever saw.

Though childless after fourteen years of marriage, Lilianna nursed and mothered everyone in her orbit, man and woman, child and grandfather, slave and soldier, Daniel included. As far as he could tell, her kind spirit and sharp wit knew no earthly bounds.

As a couple, they were bound by the reality of their circumstance. Both answered to the General and Daniel knew his place, just as the General's wife knew her own.

Regardless, Lt. Sharpe couldn't help but watch in wondrous awe as the tiny raven-haired whirlwind defied her husband and popular opinion, in her efforts to treat everyone in a loving, decent manner.

It particularly irked Daniel's commanding officer when his wife would make a point of spending countless hours helping sick children of slaves. Daniel winced as he witnessed him berating her like a child in public more than once.

"Lily, there are some things one just does not do in your position!"

"I'll do what I think is right. Thank you very much, General!" was her usual heated retort.

The eleven year age difference between Lilianna and himself mattered not a wit to Daniel. The one thing that mattered a great deal was the fact that she was married to his own superior officer. Even though he knew he would always love her, he also realized it would have to be at a respectful distance.

On the other hand, his thoughts were his own and he couldn't stop thinking about Lilianna and all things concerning her. The age difference between Lily and her husband was something that Daniel worried about a great deal because it did bother him in a jealous way, and perplexed him no end.

This was, if anything, more of a puzzlement after the debacle at Gettysburg.

What commenced with a ragged army's search for shoes resulted in the most deadly conflict in the history of the Western hemisphere. It culminated with General Pickett's disastrous charge right at the center of the strongest battalion of the Union Army.

In this charge, General O'Connor's top lieutenant perished, a sad, but not unusual fact of war which resulted in Dan Sharpe's immediate promotion.

While mourning the death of his comrade, he welcomed the challenges of his new assignment, at least initially.

It pained him greatly to discover that his new duties as top aide to the General, would include procuring young, willing women to satisfy General O'Connor's seemingly limitless sexual appetite. As the news from the war front grew increasingly dismal, the General's prowess and demands seemed to increase dramatically.

The same news that depressed and deflated his men, only seemed to heighten the General's insatiable cravings and need for an endless supply of young ladies, much younger than Lilianna and some even younger than Daniel.

Although the darkhaired, moustached lieutenant had no difficulty attracting women himself, the General's potential conquests held no interest for him.

Only Lilianna filled his waking and sleeping dreams, as she had been doing for quite some time. Ever the dedicated soldier, he kept these wayward thoughts bottled up in his heart, hidden from everyone, most particularly Lilianna.

The Lieutenant and the General's wife shared a love of good books and enjoyed many an afternoon's conversation, discussing their latest reading, as well as the progress of the war.

What they didn't share were walks in the moonlight, holding hands and romantic evenings - that was the stuff that filled the young lieutenant's dreams. He loved to talk with her, argue with her and just be around her, quietly sitting in the garden. Their conversations were always lively and spirited.

"The war is about states' rights and honor!" Daniel would invariably assert in his most forceful way, secretly enjoying the fiery response he'd learned to expect from Lilianna. As the war dragged on, he also secretly realized he was trying to convince himself almost as much as the raven-haired beauty.

"This cursed war is about arrogance and greed and inhuman waste of life! It's the scourge of mankind!" retorted Lilianna, her green eyes ablaze with equally righteous indignation.

"How can you say this? Your husband is a general!" Daniel asked again and again, but not quite as much or as forcefully since Gettysburg.

After The Battle of Gettysburg, more and more, he could see the wisdom in her words and steered clear of the war discussion, whenever possible.

His day-to-day duties seemed far removed from the honorable military service his father described in a world that seemed long ago and far away. Increasingly, he kept his own counsel, all the while procuring a steady supply of women for Liliana's husband, wondering if she knew the truth about that as well.

He didn't need to wonder for very long. She confronted him as he sat relaxing and reading on her garden bench.

Hearing the familiar rustle of her petticoats one hot August afternoon, he looked up with a smile as her intoxicating lilac scent filled his senses.

He was immediately struck by the fact that uncharacteristically, Lilianna was not smiling.

"So how long have you been finding girls for my husband?" she snapped.

His welcoming smile faded as the color rose immediately to his cheeks.

To betray his commanding officer's confidence was an unthinkable breach of duty and a line he could not cross, not even for Lilianna.

"I don't know what you mean, ma'am," Daniel stammered quietly, his guilty eyes cast downward, unable to meet her fiery gaze as she stood over him, literally shaking with rage.

But Lilianna was not to be deterred.

Tilting his chin up with her small hand, she said not a word, then slapped his face with all her might, turning on her heel and disappearing into the house, just as quickly as she alighted. Sighing, Daniel stared after her for many moments, still reliving the sting of her hand slapping his face deep within his heart and soul.

Heartsick, Daniel retreated silently to his quarters and quickly dispatched an underling to see to the General's "needs" of that evening, pleading illness. He couldn't bear the thought of business as usual, still reeling from Liliana's angry slap.

Sleep was out of the question so he tried to read, but his thoughts kept drifting to Lilianna.

Much later that evening, he was disturbed by a persistent tapping at his door, which he at first ignored.

"Go away! I'm not well!" he cried at last, but the tapping continued. Finally, in exasperation, he plodded towards the door, his feet seemed almost like two iron anchors weighing him down.

Opening the door, he was startled to face Lilianna, dressed as before in a dark green calico dress, with a white lace bodice, her eyes still smoldering as she brushed past him into his room.

Maddeningly, as always, the soft floral scent of lilacs overwhelmed his senses and filled the air. And he entertained the crazy, tortured thought that she never looked more beautiful than she did when she was furious.

She was ravishing.

Rather than argue with her breach of propriety, the better part of valor, and another instinct long submerged, told him to close the door and so he did, as he turned to face her wrath yet again.

"How could you, Daniel?" she demanded.

Daniel swallowed painfully, crestfallen because her husband's infidelity obviously hurt her so much, or so it seemed. He even allowed himself to hope she knew about it and didn't care. It also seemed pointless to deny the obvious anymore.

"I do my duty to my general...." he started weakly, but she interrupted as she moved closer to him and stared up into his eyes..

"Your duty? Your duty is to me as a friend! How could you lie to me? How could you do that? You of all people?" she said the last pointing her finger and finally touching his chest, pushing on him insistently with her finger to emphasize her words.

"How could you?"

The question tore through him like a knife.

Instinctively, Daniel covered her tiny hand with his own, capturing it still over his pounding heart. Other than her slap, and when she poked his chest, it was the first real physical contact between them and they both felt the same, undeniable jolt of electricity. Said or unsaid, he knew it was there.

"I'm so sorry," he said weakly.

"I'm sorry he hurts you so much," he added, still holding her hand, at the same time sensing her softness and the warmth of her creamy skin.

Lilianna's eyes remained hard and cold towards him, or so he thought. But the unbelievable sensory warmth and the touch of her hand drove him wild.

Finally, she spoke, her eyes flashing.

"He could never hurt me, Daniel. I'm not a fool. I know what he does. It's your precious duty and my father's that married me to such a man. I do my duty as his wife and I don't ask questions. But I never thought you would help him and then lie to me about it. That's what hurts me! It's you! Not him. You are the only one who could do that! Don't you feel even a little of what I feel for you? This is about you and me and no one else!"

As he tried to absorb what she meant and the implication of what she was saying, as well as what she wasn't saying, Daniel swallowed again. The line between right and wrong was as thin and blurred in their relationship as it was in the war.

This time it was he, without thought or deliberation, who tilted her chin up with his hand.

Daniel never planned to kiss his commanding officer's wife, but looking into her green eyes, he was lost. So, kiss her he did, as she struggled at first, and then gave herself to the kiss as he loosened her hair and it casaded down over her shoulders. The kiss was more than either had ever imagined a kiss could be. When they looked into each other's eyes, all of Daniel's questions were finally answered. He stared into her tortured eyes for a long moment, but there was no sliver of doubt in either of their minds.

Then, gasping, she made fast work of unbuttoning his clothing, little hands hungrily finding his skin as she practically ripped the cloth uniform away from his body, touching him in ways and in places he'd scarcely imagined. Taking the lead, she took him to the edge of the precipe, bringing him back time and time again with her soft hands and wickedly talented lips.

Like a tigress, she manuevered her way with her mouth and hands, leading him, exploring him, guiding him to his cot and then devouring him with feverish passion, so intense that it hardly seemed real.

But it was real.

Acquiesing to his murmurred request, she slowly removed her own clothing, letting him help a little, although he fumbled shyly, in awe of the unimaginable beauty beside him. Neither said, "I love you," but they both somehow just knew. So he followed her lead, giving himself to the waves of passion that enveloped them as lovers all night long. For one hot summer evening, they were just Daniel and Lilianna, not the Lieutenant and the General's wife.

Liliana left no doubt in either of their minds about who her love and passion belonged to that steamy August night, and it had little to do with marriage vows or a Lieutenant's sense of duty and everything to do with the heat of the moment. What was understood was that this would be their one and only night as lovers, so they both seized the precious hours that fate presented, before returning to the world, their duty and all that was expected of them.

Their coupling was never repeated and their next physical contact was when Lilianna died in Daniel's arms from the pneumonia that claimed half the town that December of 1863. As the General took to his own sickbed first, he begged his lieutenant to look after his wife. So, look after her he did, but it was to no avail. The General eventually recovered long after Lilianna perished on that sad winter's night.

It would be almost a year and four months until the Confederate Army surrendered at Appamatox on April 9, 1865.

General Grant put arrogance aside and wore a private's tattered uniform, honoring all those who perished in the name of honor and duty, leaving a generation to pick up the pieces of a half milliion dead.

Lt. Dan Sharpe attended the ceremony, thinking with a smile that Lilianna would have approved the victorious general's humble gesture.

Then he left for the day's ride to the little cemetery along the banks of the Shenandoah River, where Lilianna was laid to rest that awful winter.

As he stared at the young woman's headstone, he smiled and said softly, "You were right, Lily, my love. About everything."

It was not a matter of duty, after all, that brought Daniel Sharpe to Lilianna O'Connor's grave that day, and, faithfully, twice a year for the rest of his life.

It was a simple matter of devotion.

The End

To read more of my prose, please see "A MOOveable Feast
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