An arrangement made when Elizabeth was just a babe ties her to someone she has never met, never spoken to, never loved. Now she desires freedom—a way to choose her own path—her own husband. The moment Elizabeth meets Patrick she knows he is her soul mate. But when you are bound to a crown how is any choice your own?
Her hand secured in his, he sprinted into a soft run. She giggled and he wished he could keep her happiness to brighten his heart on cold nights.
“Where are you taking me?”
“Just a bit farther, and a little higher, and you will see,” he answered.
They slowly climbed a rocky incline. Then, he took her hands to help her climb up the last large rock. Then he reached for her arm to steady her at the top. She did not rebuke him. The warmth that emanated from her made him complete somehow.
His eyes remained glued to the silhouette next to him until she looked at him expectantly. Then, he remembered why they were there.
He pointed at the dark mirror below their feet.
“Oh, Patrick, it’s so beautiful,” she murmured.
The glassy surface of a silvery moonlit lake reflected the millions of stars in the night sky, giving the illusion that the stars had doubled. It pleased him to have impressed her into quiet contemplation.
“It is majestic.” His admiration, however, was for the stars trapped in her blue eyes. Did she know how her mere presence affected him?
“I have never seen such a sight in my life.”
She turned slowly to take in the whole sky from the last diamond far away to the ones swimming in the lake.
Could he have strayed from a dream? If it was a dream, he didn’t want to wake up, especially to a reality he didn’t care for. The thought that they needed to go back to the unattended fire intruded in his mind and he sent it far away.
“See that star out there?” he said.
“The brightest one?”
“Yes. That is the star you can follow when you need to find your way in the night, it points to the north.”
“Is that right? I suppose that would be helpful if you knew where you came from.”
“It would be most helpful,” he smiled.
He told her the names of some of the stars and the location of various constellations until a shiver ran through her body that he felt in her arm.
“We have stayed too long, My Lady. Come, we’d better go back to the fire or it will go out on us.”
“This view is so amazing. I hate to leave it.”
“I feel the same as you.”
Once at the campsite, Patrick broke their silence, “How does my lady like living in a castle?”
“I thought I did, until I was told that my life didn’t belong to me anymore.”
Her eyes remained focused on the dancing flames at her feet.
“That would be hard to like,” he agreed.
“What do you think about your life in the palace?”
“I did like it. A lot of responsibility, but I was doing all right, I thought. Then I, like you, discovered that my future was not my own. After that, I am not sure I care to return to it any longer.”
“That is why you and I are here,” she said.
Their eyes stared deeply into the orange flames, as if they held some miraculous answer to their dilemmas. For a moment, only silence battled the noise of the crackling fire.
Here he was, in the middle of nowhere, yet he had found a soul mate, someone who felt the same way he did.
His eyes went to the moon and he realized it was quite late and Patrick broke the silence, “Does My Lady have a blanket?”