The Road to Port Haven (Chapter 5­, page 2 of 11)

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'Bruising-!' Anana was by now laughing like Kara.

'Yes! You see, his kisses are bruising, and his arms are bruising-'

'Here, let me see that! Is this the book? Oh, here's a good one! "His cloak belled out as he strode manfully-" . . . what's that supposed to mean, anyway? Belled out! Was he suddenly shaped like a bell . . . maybe he was ringing like a bell-'

'You went too far!' Kara choked, wiping tears from her eyes. 'Go back a few pages. There's lots of "chin tilting." No, not like that! That's sticking your chin out! It means you go like this-!'

'Nobody does that in real life!' Anana protested.

'Yes, well, there's lots of chin-tilting and cape-belling in this book, let me tell you,' Kara said. 'Did your husband subject you to a lot of lip-crushing and bruising?'

Something in the way Kara asked this caused Anana to sober and consider her question seriously. 'You really haven't any experience with men, have you?'

Kara bit her lip, waiting for Anana to continue.

Anana smiled wryly. 'You are very young, you know that? I forget sometimes what it was like before I was ever with a man. Has Roman kissed you yet?'

Embarrassed, Kara shook her head.

'Well,' Anana said, choosing her words carefully, 'forget what you read in those books. The real world of love is nothing like that. There is no lip-crushing, or chin-tilting, or bruising kisses, or heroes in belled capes- there is none of that, and none of that has anything to do with love.

'Love, my dear Kara, real love, is a gentle thing. It is holding a little baby in your arms for the very first time. It is your man coming home after a hard day, and sitting down gratefully and playing with the children, and watching you as you cook, as though unable to believe his good fortune. It is all the small things there are no words for. It is . . . am I making any sense to you?'

Kara looked away, turning crimson. 'Well . . . it's just that . . . I've heard some things about . . . you know . . . on your wedding night-'

'Oh, that!' Anana said with a laugh as comprehension set in. 'If you were hoping for some sort of enlightenment from those books, you can forget it! What would you like to know?'

'Well . . .'

'Kara! Do you know anything at all about sex? No? All right- how much do you want to know?'

'It's not so much what I want to know, as what I should know . . . or what I'm comfortable knowing,' Kara said.

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