It may be said that she had a very long white neck and that it was quite lovely.
The weight of the folds and layers of the wedding-outfit were still familiar to her, even if the color was different. Red wasn’t a bad color, though, and one she was very familiar with. Against her white skin, it was rather striking.
Her first wedding had been tense. She still remembered the looks from her husband’s family and their whispers behind their hands. Her mother groveled the whole ceremony, terrified she would be thrown away at the last moment. Perhaps those tears had been genuine, but perhaps not: her mother was quite the actress.
She can’t remember how she actually felt at the time, though.
Her first wedding night had lasted a long time. Or maybe it had just seemed like that, watching the moon veil and unveil with clouds itself through the window. That man had been very heavy, and his breath stank of sake. He’d pawed her breasts free and squeezed them like he intended to see them burst; he’d laughed to see how red her skin turned. It had been easy to lie quietly and let him finish–twice, and he complimented her for being good and obedient. When he slept, it was with his back to her, and she’d stared up at the ceiling and counted breaths until the ache between her legs faded into the rhythm of her heartbeat.
She had no second wedding night.
“Ochou-san has such pretty white skin, I’m jealous. Ahhh, give some of it to meeeeee.” Long sharp nails stroked across the nape of her neck. It stung. She shivered before she could stop herself.
“Ah! Look at that! Look at that, with just one touch! Brother, what sort of woman have you married?”
She closed her eyes and moved away. The sake was nearly gone. She lowered her head and went; their laughter followed her to the kitchen.
To her, the fox-mask had been more lovely than anything. A thought bubbled up and dissolved, that she could wrap herself around it and hold it warm and safe. She could take him into herself. If she opened the door, then it would be an invitation.
The mononoke’s hands were long and elegant: a scholar’s hands, her mother would have called them. His skin was cool and dry, like the smoothed edges of a mask.
She would have liked to feel them on her neck, just once.
“Was I really married?” she asked. She bowed her head forward. The breeze was cool against her neck, and the close presence behind her stung like the sun’s heat. “Did it happen?”
“If that is your belief,” he said, “then perhaps that is the truth.”
“But was it really?”
Long nails traced across the nape of her neck. She arched into it willingly. A hard hot hand pressed low on her throat. There were sword calluses across the ridges of the palm. Briefly a thumb pressed across the dip of her collarbone, then skittered away. When she closed her eyes, fingers shaped themselves almost gently across her breast, then let go.
“Well … perhaps–not.”
It did not hurt.