The Temptation of Neve
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away there lived a King and a Queen. They lived in a beautiful kingdom, which was known far and wide for its exquisite gardens and the blooms they produced. The royal couple lived a wonderful life and loved each other very much. They wanted for nothing; except a child. They had tried for many years, and had started to give up hope, thinking maybe it was not to be. Both were disappointed but did not want to say too much to the other for fear of upsetting them; but the Queen in particular was desperate to have a child, and she whiled away many hours thinking about it.
The King was often away from home, and on one such absence, the Queen, bored and missing her husband, went for a walk around the Palace gardens to try and take her mind off things. There was a slight chill in the air, and weak sunlight shone on the Queen as she walked, taking in the beauty all around her. She wandered through the orchards and around the lake, spending some time gazing mournfully at her reflection in its surface. Then she continued along paths leading through woodland, stepping carefully over fallen branches and stones. She decided to walk through the walled gardens, where things such as herbs and flowers were grown for use in the Palace. The walled gardens were well looked after, and only certain people were allowed inside. The Queen pulled a key from the pocket of her gown, slid it into the lock, and with a flick of her wrist entered the gardens.
A few steps into the garden, the Queen suddenly stopped in her tracks. The whole garden was filled with a gently swirling fog, which felt to the Queen like grasping fingers against her skin. She shivered and stepped back, only to bump into something. Startled, the Queen spun around and came face to face with a young man she had not seen before. She was sure he wasn’t one of the servants or gardeners, and demanded;
“Who are you?” She glared at him, waiting for an answer. Her face began to relax, as she gazed at the boy in wonder. He was tall, much taller than the petite Queen, with a broad chest and muscular arms that bulged through a tight white t-shirt.
“I am Temptation,” said the boy.
Yes… you are, thought the Queen. She continued to stare, taking in his tousled chestnut hair gleaming in the weak sunlight, and his blue eyes caught hers for a second before she nervously glanced away. After a final lingering look at his full, sensual lips, she queried,
“And what are you doing in my palace gardens?”
“I am here to help.” Temptation explained, “Your husband and I met on his travels and we started to talk and he told me how you both long for a child. I have a gift and am willing to share it.”
The Queen hesitated, always unwilling to believe people who claimed to have ‘miracle cures’ for every complaint under the sun. But this time it was different; this was no ailment she wished to be rid of. This was a child, the addition to her family she longed for more than anything in the whole world. She was willing to try anything.
“Tell me what you can do.” She said. The boy nodded, clearly expecting this request.
“First, may I have your name?”
The Queen, at first was shocked to be asked this by a commoner, but then again this was no normal human being. This boy claimed he had a gift that could help her, and she was in no hurry to make him withdraw his offer.
“My name is Neve.”
“A beautiful name, if I may say so. Now Neve, what you want most in the whole world is a child to complete the sublime happiness you share with your husband. Am I correct?”
Neve looked up at the boy, eyes full of hope.
“Yes, of course.”
“Well,” said the boy, “There are two things you must do before you will conceive a child.”
“Anything,” said the Queen decisively.
“Wonderful, that’s what I hoped you’d say. Now, the first thing you must do is find a certain rose bush in the palace gardens. This bush bears special blooms; both red and white. Now, you must decide whether you want to eat a white bloom, which will give you a baby girl, or a red bloom which will make you the mother of a baby boy.”
The Queen, delighted, reached up and kissed Temptation on both cheeks before scampering away excitedly in search of the bush. Temptation raised his shoulders in an exasperated shrug. She hadn’t given him chance to explain the second part of the deal. Mind you, it always was the most difficult part, and he had been on the receiving end of many insults and threats of beheading throughout the years. Maybe better to have some breathing space first.
Meanwhile the Queen was pacing through the grounds impatiently seeking the bush that would bring her happiness. When she found it, it was exactly as Temptation had described; bearing one red rose, and one white. The Queen hesitated for a moment. Did she want a boy, or a girl? She knew that her husband would prefer a boy to carry on the family line and be heir to the throne. However, what the Queen really wanted was a little girl, a little Princess she could dress up in pink and do her hair. She sucked in a deep breath, plucked the white rose from the tree and brought it to her lips. Neve paused momentarily, questioning her decision, then devoured the rose hungrily, and it was the most wonderful thing she had ever eaten in her life. It tasted sublime and excited a warm glow deep within what she presumed must be her womb, and which dissipated as a soft wave throughout her body. Neve smiled broadly, and, desiring that feeling once more, Temptation completely forgotten, she picked the red rose, and with a gulp, that was gone also. The Queen then made her way back to the castle, feeling smug and satisfied, eagerly awaiting the return of her husband.
Some days passed and Neve found herself wandering the grounds once more, still awaiting the return of her husband, aching to tell him that the boy he’d met on his travels had indeed been to visit. Then she would take the King to her chamber and they would make love, and the Queen would finally have the child she so desired.
Neve returned to the garden in which she had found the rose bush. Standing next to it, his back to her was Temptation. She frowned; wondering why he was still hanging around, and then coughed to announce her presence. He turned, a slow smile emphasising the sensual curve of his lips. They don’t call him Temptation for nothing, thought Neve.
“I thought you’d be back,” he said, “still no sign of your husband?”
“No,” Neve shook her head sadly, “and I did so badly want to tell him the news.”
“Neve, come here,” she walked toward him, and looked up into his startling blue eyes, blue as the ocean, and just as beautiful, “he will be back soon. But you never did give me opportunity to explain the second thing that has to be done before you will conceive.”
“Well I can’t very well do that with my husband away!” Temptation glanced at her, amused.
“Not that! That much is obvious. No, the second thing you must do has nothing to do with your husband, and everything to do with you.”
“I don’t follow.”
“Let me explain. The first step was to eat the rose. That was in order to nourish your body in preparation for the baby it must in turn nurture. The second thing you must do is to nourish your soul, and the way to do this is to find the ultimate pleasure. The ultimate pleasure is to be found in your sexual climax.”
Temptation completely expected the reaction he got.
“How dare you!?” blustered the Queen, “Have you any idea who you’re talking to! Conversations such as this should only be held between a husband and wife!”
“I’m sorry, but it is the only way you will have a child. You have to be completely satisfied, body and soul.”
“My husband satisfies me.” Neve yelled, a little too hastily.
Then realisation dawned upon her.
“Oh, I see where this is going. I have to be completely satisfied, and I suppose you’re the one to do it are you?” she laughed. “You’re just a boy!”
Temptation fixed Neve in his intense gaze, and simply said,
“If you say so.”
Then he turned and walked quietly from the garden, leaving Neve standing there aghast.
Several days later, Neve was pacing around the palace. She really wanted some fresh air, but daren’t venture out into the gardens for fear of bumping into Temptation. She was restless and irritable. The palace staff had noticed this mood, and had kept out of the Queen’s way, putting it down to the absence of the King.
However, what was really annoying the Queen wasn’t her husband. She was used to him being away for long periods of time. Her annoyance was with herself, and the fact that her mind kept wandering; to Temptation. Ever since their last conversation, she’d been in turmoil. She was livid at first, the idea of a mere boy making a sexual advance towards her! Then, as she thought about it, she began to consider what he’d said. What if the boy wasn’t simply making an advance, what if he was right? If she really did need to experience true sexual pleasure in order to have a child? Although the Queen had told Temptation that her husband satisfied her fully, she wasn’t being entirely truthful. He was a selfish lover, more intent on his own pleasure than hers. The only reason she allowed him to make love to her so frequently was because of her longing for a child.
So the Queen’s mind kept flitting back to the boy in the garden. His last words kept echoing in her mind – “If you say so.” What did he mean by that? Could a mere boy really give her the sexual pleasure her body secretly craved? These thoughts crowded her head, and eventually in exasperation the Queen stormed out of the Palace and into the gardens, deliberately avoiding the area in which she knew Temptation lurked.
Neve stood by the lake, watching the gentle lull of the water upon its banks, and the occasional ripples caused by fish and other creatures within the depths. Suddenly she sensed that she was not alone. Imagining it to be one of the gardeners, who would depart as soon as they saw her, she did not stir. After a few seconds, she still felt a presence. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up, and she turned, half knowing who would be stood watching her.
Sure enough, Temptation was leaning against a tree a few metres away, and a slow smile spread across his face as she looked at him. Neve knew exactly what was going through his head, and she was determined she would not give in. However, her head and her body were in conflict.
Temptation knew this, and wasted no time in approaching Neve. He captured her with his intense gaze; she felt like she was melting. Seconds later she was in his arms, hands in his hair, tongue in his mouth. She kissed him hungrily, her entire body responding to his touch, pressing closer to him.
Temptation, of course, knew she would give in to him eventually. He was Temptation, after all, and very few can resist. He kissed Neve deeply, knowing in a very short while he would have his way with her.
He didn’t have to wait long. Neve suddenly pulled away, took his hand and led him deep into the forest. Once they found a place where they would not be spotted from the palace, they began undressing each other. Temptation pushed Neve’s robes from her shoulders, exposing her breasts. Then he kissed her deeply, removing his shirt with one hand, the other caressing her naked skin. He then indicated she should lie down in the mossy undergrowth; and as she did he lifted her skirts, and as promised, Neve experienced true sexual pleasure.
A week or so later, Neve woke up very early feeling queasy. At first she dismissed it as a stomach upset, but when it happened again the following two days, she realised she was suffering from morning sickness. A tumult of feelings hit her. She felt terribly guilty for sleeping with Temptation, but he’d just been so… well… tempting. How terrible to have become pregnant with his child! She’d seen nothing of him since their encounter, and she didn’t want to. Neve decided to put him out of her mind; he’d served his purpose and she needn’t see him ever again.
Luckily for Neve, the King returned home that same week, and insisted on his marital rights. Neve was relieved, as this of course meant nobody would think it strange that she’d become pregnant. She began to get excited at the prospect of finally having the child she longed for. She told her husband a couple of weeks later, and he too was delighted, and arranged for a big feast to celebrate. The whole kingdom would be celebrating the long awaited conception of the heir to the throne!
A few months later and Neve was starting to struggle. Her pregnant belly was huge, so much so that she suspected she might be having twins. Of this she said nothing to anyone.
A week or so later, Neve’s labour pains started. The King had been called away on urgent business, so she was left alone with the palace servants to give birth. Several hours later and a beautiful baby girl with big blue eyes and fine blonde hair was in Neve’s arms. Neve wept with delight and relief, but this calm was fleeting as she was quickly assaulted by another and far more painful contraction. The palace doctor said not to worry; it was just the placenta being pushed out. This turned out not to be the case as Neve’s lower abdomen cramped and the pain rushed through her once more. The doctor checked her over, and gasped just one word – twins.
Neve began pushing with all her might, just wanting the ordeal to be over. After what seemed like days, the doctor delivered a second child. One look at his face told Neve something wasn’t right. The baby was rushed away immediately. After a few minutes the doctor came back and informed her that the baby was not normal.
“What do you mean not normal?!” she demanded.
“Putting it bluntly, your highness, it is a monster.”
Neve thought awhile and then simply ordered that it be dealt with. The doctor, ever the soul of discretion, said nothing, and it was done.
Neve named her baby daughter Christabel. She grew up to be a beautiful child, intelligent and bright, and her parents doted on her. Nothing was ever said of the other child, and Neve put it to the back of her mind and concentrated on what she had.
Neve sometimes wondered about Temptation for the handsome and mysterious boy had disappeared from her life as quietly as he had appeared. Some say he was spotted once a year, on the birthday of the Princess, but it was never confirmed.
Now Christabel was always an inquisitive child, and she liked to wander the palace grounds, seeing what paths went where, and she liked to surprise the gardeners by jumping out on them. They all liked her, mischievous as she was.
One day she was walking, and she found a path she didn’t think she’d noticed before, and of course had to see where it went. It led down to a clearing by the lake, and off to the left the forest got incredibly dense and dark. Christabel, like most children, afraid of nothing, headed straight into the trees. A brief glimpse of blonde hair glinting in the sunlight was the last that would ever be seen of her.
On discovering she was missing, the King and Queen had all the palace staff searching the gardens, thinking maybe she’d tripped and twisted an ankle and couldn’t get back. However, this was not to be. Some hours later a servant,
ashen faced, headed back to the castle with an item in his hand. He handed it to the Queen, who immediately burst into tears. The locket Christabel had always worn around her neck, broken. The woods where the servant had found the locket were thoroughly searched.
After many days, a tunnel was found, hidden in thick undergrowth. Armed soldiers were summoned to search it. What they found was the most hideous creature you could ever imagine. A huge hairy creature, with both male and female genitalia. Beside it, shredded remains of the Princess’ robes, and strands of her beautiful blonde hair. They killed the creature and burned its carcass, then went to report back to the King and Queen.
The Queen burst into tears when she was told what had been discovered. Everyone of course believed she was weeping for the loss of her only child.
You and I both know, however, that she was weeping in both grief and guilt. For Neve’s greed and weakness had resulted in the loss of her daughter. The monster had no doubt devoured its twin due to the jealousy and hatred it felt for her. The monster had been shunned by its mother, confined to the forest, whilst Christabel had lived with and been loved by their parents.
Neve’s punishment befitted the crimes. She was being punished for succumbing to Temptation.
Image copyright Jackie Adshead