Friday, June 14, 2013

First Rewrite/Second Draft: Chapters 6, 7, and 8 (Excerpts)

Excerpts from  Chapters 6,7, and 8 of the first rewrite/second draft.  As I said, there were a couple changes made to Teresa's character and even a few things with Nicolae change a little.

CHAPTER 6 (Excerpt)

Teresa dried off as best she could and dressed before returning to where Nicolae was.  She handed him back his dagger. 
“Keep it,” Nicolae said.
“Thank you…” Teresa said. 
Nicolae then took the wet drying cloth from her and set it by the small fire to dry. 
Teresa sat down on the opposite side of the fire across from Nicolae.  She watched him as he studied the map, his brow furrowing as he plotted out a potential path for them.  A small smiled played across her lips.  There was something about the way his forehead crinkled when he was concentrating on something…
A small giggle accidently escaped from her mouth, causing Nicolae to look up.
“May I ask what you are finding so amusing?” he asked dryly.
Teresa could feel her face burning from humiliation and she said, “Oh, nothing…I’m sorry…”  She shifted her eyes away and began picking at a few blades of grass. 
Nicolae raised an eyebrow and returned to the map.  Teresa allowed her damp hair to fall to her face and peered at him again, catching him once again with his brow furrowed as he continued detailing their path.  Then stifling a yawn, she laid on the ground with her back turned to Nicolae.
Her movement caused him to look back up.  “You going back to sleep?” he asked.
“For a little while,” she answered.  She waited for Nicolae to reply, but he didn’t.  She sighed, shutting her eyes and pretended that she was lying in Nicolae’s arms.  This time, Teresa would welcome all that her fantasies brought her as she was no longer at her village under the watch of Gabriella and the elders.  While the uncertainty of what the future held was scary for Teresa, she was right where she wanted to be.
I’m where I’m meant to be, she thought.  And with that, she began drifting away, beyond the wall of sleep.


Nicolae and Teresa would continue through Spain over the next week.  As Nicolae expected, they would not be able to cover as much ground in the time he wanted due to Teresa’s lack of experience outside of her village.  He still questioned whether or not allowing her to come with him had been the right thing to do.  But Teresa seemed content and while Nicolae would never share this with her, she had begun to grow on him. 
They managed to work out the concept of traveling together and Nicolae began to anticipate the seaport and leaving behind the sadness that his home continent brought him.  He maintained his privacy when it came to sharing details of his life and only told Teresa what he felt she needed to know.  He managed to tell her (without much detail) of losing his parents at the age of eight and that he was from Moldova (which wasn’t exactly a lie as Nicolae knew that had been the birthplace of his mother). Teresa would often share her unhappiness while talking of growing up in her village and the effect that losing her parents had on her. 
Nicolae couldn’t help his amazement at Teresa’s ability to effortlessly open up to him.  He saw the way she looked at him and it scared him.  Even two years after Eloisa’s death, Nicolae considered her to be his wife and only love.  He couldn’t imagine it being any other way.  Nicolae also questioned whether Teresa could handle the truth about him and the details of the acts he committed on his last nights on the property of Alexanderscu Castle.  Nicolae still felt that his actions were justified, but Teresa was so young, impressionable, and naïve…so unlike Eloisa…who knew how she would react?  Teresa had stopped asking Nicolae of his box, but he would catch her eyeing it ever so often.

On the last night of the first week they traveled together, Nicolae had settled into sleep an hour or two after Teresa had.  He had another troubling dream that involved him unsuccessfully searching for Sebastian and Eloisa.  Teresa had been there too, though he wouldn’t be able to remember why after awaking later.  Nicolae opened his eyes to see a blurry outline of someone kneeling over him, looking down directly into his eyes.
“Teresa,” Nicolae muttered, “what are you doing?”
His eyes began to adjust and that was when he saw that it wasn’t Teresa.  Nicolae’s heart began to pound and he was barely able to utter out, “Sebastian?!”
“Why did you leave me?” the boy asked.

CHAPTER 7 (Excerpt)

Nicolae had tried to find logical reasoning for the cloaked man taking him to the island of impaled humans, the little boys in the field, the dark labyrinth suddenly appearing to him, the town in 1956, and the sandy-haired young man with the dark-haired girl.  It was possible that they were all dreams of hallucinations, but Nicolae would dismiss that theory even faster than it had come to him.  As unsettling as those instances had been, he also didn’t want to come to the conclusion that the nights he had spent with Eloisa after her death hadn’t been anything more than a product of his mind reliving memories.  Nicolae still wanted to hold onto the belief that although Eloisa wasn’t able to always be part of the world he lived in, he was still somehow able to physically see, hear, and feel her.  He wanted to believe that he was still experiencing her and the love they had.  There had been some initial guilt when Nicolae began to have his moments with her during his nights staying in churches and monestaries, but he had come to the conclusion that there was nothing sordid, sinful, or shameful about his marriage to Eloisa.  As Nicolae saw it, God had taken her from him long before he should have and therefore Nicolae was deserving of anytime he could get with her.

Nicolae sat, watching Teresa.  She seemed to be in a rather restless sleep.  He sighed, leaning his head back against the tree he sat beneath.  

Nicolae had always been a light sleeper which seemed to heighten after Eloisa had passed.  Normally, he would have picked up and moved on after waking up, regardless of the time of day or night.  But now he had Teresa with him and he still had hope that Sebastian may be around the area he was in. 
The hours passed as Nicolae sat wide awake that night, keeping a watch out for Sebastian.  Every so often, his eyes would turn back to Teresa. 
She is a sweet, beautiful girl. 
Nicolae marveled at her being so intent on accompanying him.  She had given him her reasons of not wanting to get married to someone chosen for her and Nicolae could understand and even relate to how Teresa was feeling about that.  He felt a faint smile cross his lips at seeing a peaceful moment in Teresa’s sleep.  The fullness of her chest moved slowly up and down and the tip of her tongue poked out to lick her lips.  Nicolae drew in a breath, feeling his groin tighten.   
What am I doing?! Nicolae thought, breaking his stare and bringing his hand to Eloisa’s box as a sharp pang of guilt shot through him.
How can I betray my wife like that?
He forced any thoughts of Teresa from his mind, gripping the box as he looked up at the moon.  I’m so sorry!  You’re the love of my life and nothing or nobody can change that.
A breeze rustled the grass and trees in the field.  Nicolae listened as he thought he could hear that sad, romantic song he had just heard.  Faint images of the sandy haired boy and his lover holding one another materialized before him before fading into a scene of him and Eloisa walking hand in hand together underneath a starry sky.  He felt alive again, as he always did when he was with her.  The sound of her laughter entered his ears and her eyes lit up as they always did when she was happy.  The happiness of her gaze became intense and passionate as she looked into his eyes.  He could her her voice, telling him how much she loved him and brought her soft, full lips to touch his...

...Nicolae sat in the aftermath, the images of Eloisa resting in his arms with her head against his chest faded until he was back at the field, alone, behind a tree, and out of Teresa’s view.  Nicolae realized that once again, he had spilled himself on to the grass.  He let out a defeated sigh as he reached into his bag and pulled out a cloth, wiping his hands before he readjusted himself back into his trousers.  He then took his bag and walked down to the stream to rinse the cloth, occasionally checking behind him to ensure Teresa’s safety and still keeping watch out for Sebastian (though his confidence in finding his younger brother was fading).
Nicolae returned to the campsite, placing the cloth next to the one Teresa had used to dry herself off.  The fact that he had just washed his seed away in the stream was another reminder of how all of his desires to have children had died with Eloisa.  It was a month prior to her death that she was able to confirm her pregnancy to Nicolae.  At the time, Nicolae was overjoyed at the news of becoming a father and Eloisa having his child.  They had kept the pregnancy a secret, even from Sebastian, as the risk for the news making it’s way back to the Domn and Dimitri was too great.  It also gave Nicolae even more of a push to take him, Eloisa, their unborn child, and Sebastian to a seaport as soon as possible while Eloisa was still in a comfortable state to travel in.  Aside from the obvious risk of the Domn finding out of what he and Eloisa had done, Nicolae also did not want his child being born into slavery.  Nicolae had finalized the plans for their escape, all the while anticipating being able to feel the baby move in Eloisa’s stomach as the pregnancy progressed and then when she would give birth and he would be able to hold his son or daughter in his arms.  He had thought about what he would do once they had gotten off the ship.  There were Romani communities in America and if anything, they could settle with one of them.  But none of that would happen as Dimitri would intervene on that fateful night.

Nicolae lie back on the ground, staring up at the sky and still hearing Teresa’s soft, slow breathing across from him.  He curled a protective arm around the bag, feeling the box through the material, and placed his other hand on his dagger.  The same dagger he had used to defend Eloisa one last time before he would be on the run.
“Goodnight my sweet Eloisa.  I hope you and our child are safe, wherever you may be,” he whispered before falling into a dreamless sleep.


Nicolae stirred as he heard a female voice calling to him
“Nicolae!” the voice said again with more urgency.
Nicolae opened his eyes to the morning light and Teresa shaking him awake with a worried look in her eyes.
“Nicolae,” Teresa said, “shouldn’t we be going soon?”
Nicolae groaned, bringing his hand to his throbbing head
“Nicolae, are you alright?” Teresa asked.
“I will be,” Nicolae said sitting up, “just give me a minute.”
“Is there anything I can do?” Teresa asked.
“I said just give me a minute,” Nicolae replied.
Teresa sat, watching Nicolae as he rubbed his forehead in an attempt to relieve the pounding in his head that assaulted him like the morning after a long night of drinking.  The pain seemed to intensify as he felt Teresa’s eyes on him.
“Can I ask you to stop staring at me?” Nicolae snapped.
“Sorry…” Teresa said, turning away from him.
Nicolae looked at the dejected girl, immediately feeling terrible about raising his voice to her.  How was she supposed to know what he was going through as he chose to keep it all from her?
“Teresa, I’m sorry,” Nicolae said, “It’s just…I didn’t sleep very well last night.”
“It’s alright,” Teresa said slowly.  She kept her gaze off of Nicolae as he rose to stand and placed the two drying cloths back into his bag.  He offered Teresa a small amount of food which she accepted with a quiet ‘thank you’.
“Shall we?” Nicolae asked as he slung his bag over his shoulder when she had finished eating.  Teresa nodded and the two of them continued heading west, walking in silence before she spoke up again. 
“What do you dream about?” she asked.
Nicolae turned his head to look at her.  “That’s a peculiar question.  Why do you ask?”
“I like to interpret dreams…or try to, at least.  My mother did that…at least I think she did.”
“And why do you want to interpret my dreams?” Nicolae asked.
“I’m just curious.  You toss and turn a lot,” Teresa said, “and sometimes you talk.”
Nicolae looked away rather sheepishly.  Teresa had always fallen asleep before him and she seemed to be a heavy sleeper.
“What have you heard?” Nicolae asked, afraid of what Teresa may have heard.  Sebastian would sometimes tell him that he heard him say Eloisa’s name a couple times.
“You only woke me up two or three times,” Teresa said, “but I enough to be worried about you.”
“I usually don’t remember my dreams,” Nicolae said, keep his gaze forward to avoid Teresa’s.
Teresa glanced up at Nicolae.  She knew he was lying to her.  They had shown her the woman he dreamed about and then told her the woman’s name.  Teresa stared intently at Nicolae as she now knew more about him than he thought she did.  She boldly said, “There are things you’re not telling me.” 
“Teresa, will you stop this nonsense?  I don’t have the time or patience for—“
“Who’s Eloisa?” she blurted out.
Nicolae halted his steps.  Teresa could tell that she hit a nerve with him and could feel anger beginning to radiate from him.  He turned to face her with a dark glare in his eyes that, for a moment, made her frightened of him.  In an attempt to remain calm Nicolae drew in a deep breath and said, “Look.  Part of our agreement was that we don’t pry into each other’s personal lives.”
“I know, but…” Teresa started but Nicolae cut her off.
“I don’t know what you heard me say while I was asleep, but I’m telling you for the last time to not ask me personal questions.  My life should not be any of your concern and I’m not looking for close companionship or for anyone to get close to me.”
“But why?” Teresa asked.  She remembered Nicolae with the other woman and how open he had been with her, in more ways than one, and she desperately wanted that with him.
Nicolae paused, feeling the anger pulse through him before he exploded.  “Because everyone who has ever meant anything to me, I’ve lost!  It started with my parents being executed in Romania where my family and I were slaves.”
“But you told me you were from Moldova!” Teresa cried, her heart sinking at the discovery that Nicolae had lied to her.
“My mother was born in Moldova.  So what if I stretched the truth.  After my parents were killed, my brothers and sisters and I were all separated at a slave auction.  There.  Does that make you happy?”
Teresa watched in astonishment as Nicolae walked with forceful steps ahead of her.
Slavery…That explains his scars…and the vision I had of the whip…
“Nicolae!  Please!  Don’t be angry with me!” Teresa cried, running to catch up to him, “I just want to help you!”  She remembered seeing how the other woman had comforted him and now she wanted to be that for him.
“And how do you propose you’ll do that?” Nicolae said in a dark, quiet tone dripping with sarcasm.
“Everyone needs someone to talk to,” Teresa said, “no matter how much they think they don’t!  I want to be there for you.”
“Teresa, trust me when I say that I’m well beyond that.”
“You expect me to trust you when you won’t let me know anything about you?”
“Well then go back to your village!” Nicolae yelled, “I never even wanted you traveling with me in the first place!”
“You don’t mean that,” Teresa said fighting back tears.
“I never say anything I don’t mean to.”
The tears Teresa was fighting spilled down her face.  “You’re going just let me go by myself?”
Nicolae calmed down, but maintained a grave disposition.  “Of course I’m not going to let you go back by yourself.  But…I made a mistake in allowing you to come with me.”
“Nicolae, no…”
Nicolae continued, “It will take us a fortnight, maybe more.  But it’s what I should have done in the first place when I found you at the old house.  Now come.”
“But Nicolae…”
“I’m taking you back.  End of discussion.”
Nicolae turned and began heading in the opposite direction they had come in, back toward the village in Aragon.  Teresa could only stand stunned, numb, and as though someone had knocked all of the wind out of her. 
Nicolae stopped and turned back, waiting for her to catch up to him.  Teresa could barely feel her legs as she walked to catch up to him.  She kept her eyes lowered, avoiding his hardened gaze, and wiping the tears away from her face.  She kept a safe distance between her and Nicolae as they began the journey back to her village.

CHAPTER 8 (Excerpt)

Nightfall happened once again upon the path that Nicolae and Teresa traveled.  They had said hardly a word to one another for that entire remainder of the day leaving the extent of the conversation being Nicolae letting Teresa know if or when they were stopping and asking her if she needed something to eat.  At dusk, Nicolae had chosen the edge of another field near the woods to settle at for the night.  He was silent as he built a fire for Teresa who had had her back to him when he was finished.
Teresa heard Nicolae rise up to standing and say, “I’m going down to the river for a few minutes.  Do you need anything?”
Teresa shook her head, still refusing to look at him.  There was a longer pause before Nicolae spoke again.  “Do you still have the dagger I gave you?”
Teresa nodded.  She could feel Nicolae’s eyes on her, piercing into her back.  She heard him turn and walk away from her, down to the river. 
When she was certain he was gone, Teresa turned her head and peered back over her shoulder.  She knew Nicolae was going down to bathe.  After the first time Teresa informed him of her intention to take a bath the night they began traveling together, he had worked out a system with her that was meant to avoid any accidental encounters.  Teresa surprised even herself at how resentful of that she was.  Even now as he was returning her to an uncertain future at her village, more cross with her than he had been before, Teresa found it to be very difficult to rid herself of the desire she still had for him.  In fact, she could feel her heated passion for him growing stronger.  Since the day she had met him with Alea and had felt that pull toward him, Teresa had questioned the idea of falling in love as she had.  But regardless of what any logic would tell her, there was no denying how she felt and what she felt was love and a yearning for Nicolae. 
There has to be a way to convince Nicolae to change his mind. 
Teresa let out a defeated sigh.  She knew that with Nicolae’s stubbornness, her chances of doing so weren’t very great. 
I still have to see him…
Teresa rose and began to move quietly toward the river bank where Nicolae was.  When she got to a descreet location, she hid behind a tree and watched as he retrieved his wooden box from his bag.  He held it close to him, just as she had seen him do when she had followed him on the first night he had been in her village.  Teresa could feel her blood growing warmer as the memory of Nicolae’s naked form in the moonlight filled her mind.  She chewed her bottom lip as he placed the box back in his bag. 
What do you have in that box?  What are you hiding? 
She stood watching as Nicolae removed his shirt, uncovering his scars.  Teresa swallowed back a sob that threatened to escape and give her away.  As angry and frustrated as she was with him, it was overridden by the love and infatuation she had for him.  Teresa stared at the scars on Nicolae’s upper body wanting to embrace him and heal any pain that still lingered. 
Why won’t you let me reach you?  I just want to help relieve your pain…
She was then met by the image of the other young woman she had seen him with in her dream.  Teresa shut her eyes tightly as she tried to make the vision of Nicolae and that other woman together disappear.  Then, for a reason unknown to her at that moment, she saw the box that Nicolae carried with him.  She began to have a gnawing feeling that the box had something to do with that other young woman.  Then there was the name she had heard Nicolae say in his sleep more than once.
Teresa felt her breath catching in her throat as she began to see a possible connection.  But that still didn’t explain what was in the box. 
‘You are right.  The box does have something to do with that other girl.’
Teresa jumped at the whispering voice.  They had returned.  Teresa slowly opened her eyes and stood listening for a minute, but the area by the river was silent.  She looked to where Nicolae was and let out a small gasp at the site of his naked backside.  Teresa found herself feeling a little more at ease this time at seeing Nicolae unclothed, though it still stirred many emotions inside of her that she didn’t know she had.  She was able to get a look at his front and her heart began pounding so hard that she thought it would explode through her chest.  The blood began to rush between her legs as she pressed her thighs together and gripped the tree-trunk. 
I can’t think.  Not like this, she thought and hurried back to the campfire.
She sat down, trying to get her bearings so she could think clearly of any ideas that would convince Nicolae to let her stay with him.  But the images of Nicolae and the other woman together in an intimate lover’s embrace assaulted her mind. 
Teresa took in breaths, letting out the air as she watched the flames of the fire flicker and the smoke curling up, disintegrating in the air.  Teresa had always found fire to be relaxing and comforting.  She could feel a soothing tranquility take over her as her breathing was brought back down to normal.  As she stared at the wavering smoke, a shape began to form in the cloudy substance.  Teresa smiled.  The shape was familiar and one she had seen since she was a little girl.  The fire began to course through her body, filling her veins with a magnetic pulse.  It was then that the shape began whispering to her.  Whispering as it had the night they led her to Nicolae and the other woman.  Whispering as it had confirming the connection between the other woman and the box.  Whispering to her as they had since the morning her parents disappeared.
Teresa had never told anyone about the shape or the voices.  They had always warned her not to.  When she was eleven-the day after Teresa had questioned Gabriella of the disappearance of her parents—they began to show her things.  Visions.  They were distorted, disorganized, and often frightened a young Teresa.  But they always assured her that she would know the answers to the riddles they proposed to her when the time came.  And when she had met Nicolae along the path near her village in Aragon, she knew that time came.  It was because of them that Teresa had gotten the ounce of courage she needed to follow Nicolae.
‘We’ll show you how you will be able to stay with him,’ the shape whispered to her. ‘It’s the best way a woman can hold the attention of the man she desires.  A woman’s charms can never fail her.’
Teresa looked up at the image of her mother as she knew what was being proposed.  Dominique stood in the fire, her image wavering as she spoke to her wide-eyed daughter.
“But mother,” Teresa said, “I want him to love me.  I don’t feel right about manipulating him.  Besides, I don’t even know what I’m doing when it comes to…that.”
‘Teresa,’ Dominique said, ‘we’ll guide you every step of the way.  I’m your mother.  I gave birth to you and your sister.  Don’t you trust me?’
“Of course I do, mother!” Teresa cried as her eyes burned with hot tears.  “But can’t you maybe just help me talk to him first?”
‘Don’t be naïve, Teresa,’ Dominique replied.  ‘Has he not rebuked any and all chances you gave him to talk to you?  Look at what trying to engage in conversation has led you to.  He’s rejecting you.  Taking you back to the village!’
Teresa sighed, knowing her mother was right.  Nicolae had rejected any attempts she made at allowing him to get to know her.
‘I must leave you, Teresa,’ Dominique said.  ‘He’s returning from the river.  Come down to the river when he’s here and we will explain more.’
Before Teresa could open her mouth to say another word, the image of her mother had left in a burst of smoke.  Teresa sat staring into the fire, going over in her mind what Dominique had told her as the flames continued their hypnotic dance.

Nicolae returned to the campsite to find Teresa, staring into the fire.  She was still.  As still as if she were a stone statue.  He frowned as he placed his bag on the ground and looked around the area.
Somethings different…he observed as chills formed on his slightly damp skin.  Nicolae glanced back at Teresa, regarding her behavior (or lack of) which he found perculiar even for her.
“Are you alright?” he asked.
Teresa turned her head toward him, gazing up at him for a moment before turning back toward the fire.  She looked…lost?  Nicolae began to feel guilt over his treatment of Teresa earlier.
I probably shouldn’t have been so hard on her. 
He looked at her expressionless face.  She’s just a girl…a young, curious girl.  I suppose I can’t fault her for that.
“Teresa,” Nicolae said, “Listen…I apologize for raising my voice to you earlier.”
“I’ve gotten used to it,” Teresa said shrugging, “If you’re not yelling at me you’re barely speaking to me at all.”
“Is that how you see it?” Nicolae asked.
“Well why shouldn’t I?!” Teresa yelled, startling Nicolae, “I’m the one who has done most of the conversation ever since we left the village.  All you’ve done is criticize me and treat me like mud when all I wanted to do was be there for you and to be your friend and get to know you!”
Nicolae stood at a loss for words as Teresa continued.  “No matter how it may seem I know what it feels like to be alone, just like you.”
“Teresa…” Nicolae said, “it’s just…I’ve been used to living a solitary life for two years now.  I don’t think I would make a good companion for anyone.  In fact, I know I wouldn’t.  Including you.  Especially you.”
“Why do you say that?  I just want you to give me a chance.”  Then Teresa drew in a deep breath.  It’s now or never.  “I love you, Nicolae.”
Nicolae stood dumbfounded and taken aback as though he had just been punched in the stomach.  Teresa stepped toward him until they were standing directly face to face.  She could see the darkness in Nicolae’s eyes.  Let me take your pain away, she thought as she began to slowly bring her hand to touch his face.
As Teresa’s fingertips began to brush the skin on the side of his face, Nicolae flinched violently and backed away.
“Teresa, stop!  Just stop all this foolishness!”
“I’m not being foolish!  I’m telling you how I honestly feel!” Teresa cried.
“You don’t know how you feel, Teresa.  You have no idea what you are asking for!”
“Nicolae, I mean every word!”
“Teresa, you are a child!”
Teresa stood, mouth gaped at him.  “A child?”
“Yes,” Nicolae said.
“I’m sixteen. And besides, look at me.  Do I look like a child?”
Teresa surprised even herself with the bold nature of her question and there was no denying on Nicolae’s end that she did have the body of a woman.  But there were other things about Teresa’s personal makeup that overrode any physical, womanly beauty.
“Age has nothing to do with it,” Nicolae said, trying to not hurt her feelings anymore than he already had.  “It’s the way you were brought up.  The way you view the world.  In that, you and I are completely different.”
Nicolae watched Teresa’s face fell.  He turned his eyes from the girl.  Seeing her so hurt and dejected did not sit well with him.  But how could he tell her that in some ways, even Sebastian had been more streetwise with a better understanding of the world at age eleven than Teresa had at sixteen?  And now here she was, professing her love for him when she didn’t know him or what he had been through at all.  Now I know I should never have allowed you to travel with me.
“The way I was brought up is not my fault,” Teresa said, “just like the way you were brought up isn’t yours.”
”I know,” was all Nicolae could say.  He knelt down to tend the fire, keeping his gaze away from Teresa.  The heat radiated from the flames drying the damp strands of his hair.  He felt a small hand on his shoulder and was instantly reminded of sitting in the 1950s bedroom and finding Sebastian sitting beside him.
His muscles tensed at the sound of Teresa’s voice and he could hear his heart loud in his ears as she stooped next to him. 
“I care about you, Nicolae.  I really do.  And I love you…with all my heart and soul.”
Nicolae dared to turn his eyes to Teresa.  Her dark eyes were intense (intense as Eloisa’s had been during their wedding night…after they had made their vows to each other) as she made eye contact with him, bringing her hands up to stroke his face with her fingers.  Every muscle in Nicolae’s body began to go soft at her touch.  Then he saw her.  His Eloisa’s face was right in front of him, her dark brown eyes soft but hungry for his loving touch.
“Eloisa…” Nicolae stammered.
“It’s Teresa,” the woman in front of him said.  “I’m Teresa!
Nicolae blinked in surprise and sure enough, Teresa’s face had replaced Eloisa’s.  He stood up quickly, picked up his bag, and strode away down to the river. 
Teresa watched in a stunned silence which was followed by the pain and realization of having her heart broken and rejected.  Tears began to pour down Teresa’s face.
“Why, Nicolae?” she whispered as she wept.  “Why don’t you want me to love you?”
Then she remembered what Nicolae had called her just a minute ago.
Eloisa.  There was that name again.
Nicolae sat down by the river, feeling badly about what had just occurred with Teresa.
“You really are only a child.  Whether you want to believe that or not,” Nicolae said softly.  He took out the box containing Eloisa’s ashes and held it close to him.  He looked out to the starry sky, noticing the constellation Sirius.  He knew that he could have Teresa in a physical way.  In fact, it was a thought that had crossed his mind as she was not an unattractive girl. 
But that would be wrong…Nicolae thought.  He knew that using her for a temporary comfort would do neither him nor Teresa any good, especially now that she had confessed her feelings of love for him.  If he were to be physically intimate with Teresa (or any woman for that matter), the only face he would see and the only name he would want to whisper would be Eloisa’s.  Nicolae also knew that he could never take a young woman’s virginity unless there were feelings of mutual love.  Doing such a thing to Teresa would also sully her among the people in her village. 
It’s already bad enough that she followed me out…there’s no way I will add to that by stealing what is sacred.
Nicolae had been faithful to Eloisa and her memory up until now and the nights she had come to him after her death made it easy to do so.  She was there, in his arms and he could hear her voice, telling him that she loved him.
“Eloisa, why don’t you come back to me?  I don’t want any other woman but you!”
Nicolae’s words to Eloisa as he held her box were heard by Teresa as she stood behind a tree, watching him, following his every move and listening to his every word.


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