Posted: December 18, 2017 in World On The Edge


page 70 of CHAPTER NINE

To imagine a day without Arthur was to imagine no sun, or an ocean empty of water, even life without air. He demanded nothing from me, not even verification of my love, while I wanted all he would give. I did not want to be free of him, not ever; or him to be free of me. I wanted to be as essential to him as the beat of his heart.

On the brightest of nights, the moon like an elevated host, Arthur and I wandered farther than I had ever been. An Irish girl is warned of wandering, still I was not afraid. We passed by the jagged trunks of once mighty oaks to the other side of Lough Gill and climbed a hill of alder trees, their ragged leaves rustling like the sound of waves below us. Across the shimmering water was the castle, the rightful home of an Irishman, usurped by England and given to a Scot. The silhouette of the fortress appeared drawn against the sky like a great design, great as my father’s dream for me, until a fog crept up to blur its boundaries and apprehension overtook me. “Do you really love me, Arthur?”

He seemed surprised. “Yes.”

“But why? I’ve only caused you grief.”

“How do I explain loving you? I just do, that’s all.”

“Can’t you give me a reason? I’d like to know if it’s something I can count on.”

“Maybe that’s the reason—I know I can count on you.”

I smiled. “To put you in danger?”

“No, I think you’d die for me, if you had to,” he said solemnly.

“I would, “ I said, and he lifted my chin to kiss me.

I thought I knew what he would say and do next; stroke my face, run a finger down my neck to stop just at the rise of my breast, then kiss me once more, his hand on the center of my back pressing me closer. He would jokingly ask how long I intended to stay as pure as the Virgin Mary and I would give my usual answer, ‘Until no more priests are murdered to keep me from having a proper wedding.’ After months of constant companionship, I believed I knew him so well that I could sense all that, but Arthur simply took my hand and said, “Marry me, Nell.”

I did not ask him to repeat it or explain it; I only asked, “When?” And for a brilliant and brief time, I felt nearly invincible.

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