Rene Hermes sat at the dining table with Sofia. It was midmorning, and they shared a bite to eat, as was their custom. Rene looked dully into his cup at the spices that floated on top of his mulled cider. Sofia was pensive as she worked at her crocheting. She looked down at the work she had just completed and saw that she had made an error. She let out a huff and tossed the ball of thread and her two hooks down on the table. Sofia let out a sigh, took a deep breath, and crossed her arms.
“What vexes you, filia mia?” Rene added more cider to his cup.
“Pater, tell me about you and Bella. How did you know she was the one for you?”
“Child, that is something you feel in every fiber of your being. When I saw Bella for the first time, I could not take my eyes off of her. It was the May Day festival. Even though all the young girls were dancing around the Maypole, I could only see her. I can remember the clothes she wore, the way her hair shone, the sparkle in her eyes, and her smile. Her smile could lift you out of the darkest humor.”
“And what about her?”
“I caught her looking at me. How could she not? I was young and as handsome as I was ever going to be. I was just a year away from earning my doctorate. After the May Pole was covered from top to bottom, all the girls formed a dance circle around it and were ready to start their dance; all the girls except Bella. Without a word, as if bewitched, we started walking toward each other. Everything around us fell away the closer we got until we made our own cosmos. She was Luna, and I was Sol.”
“What did you do then?”
Rene chuckled. He had a twinkle in his eye. “I stood dumbstruck. Finally with great effort I asked her name. She told me and asked me mine. All of our questions were answered when we looked into each other’s eyes. Our lives were before us, and there was no doubt that we would be together.” Rene fondly held the thought of Bella to his heart. “Why these questions, filia?”
“Oh, Pater, I do not know what to think or do.”
Rene looked at his daughter and could not help but smile. “Ah, does this concern a young man? Perhaps a certain Roland Hughes?”
Sofia could not disguise the ache in her voice. “I do not want to lose him before he knows how I feel.”
Rene sat back in his chair. He took a sip of the warm and spicy cider. “Well, how do you feel toward him?”
“One moment he fills me with joy. He was so brave when that awful soldier tried to hurt me. My heart races when we are together. Then, he might do or say something that makes me want to scream. But when I am in his arms I feel so safe and at peace.”
“I see. You might tell him how you feel.”
Sofia sat up straight. “He says he feels as if he has known me forever.”
“Do you think he means it?” The playful side of Rene knelt before the concern of a loving father.
“That is what he said to me soon after I found him hiding in the barn, of all things to say.” She looked to her Pater for an answer.
Rene took for Sofia’s hand. “What does your heart say?”
Sofia looked down at the table and spoke softly. “I think I love him. I want to give myself to him. I want to embrace him and stay in his arms forever. When I told him the oath I made to you, his ardor waned. I all but scolded him and I was so cold. Now he is with that Lady Rosanera. Pater, I am afraid I have lost him. He has been gone over a week.”
Rene hoped to soothe Sofia’s pain. “Have faith. If it is to be, he will return. When he does, you must help him any way you can. No matter how you feel, you must help him. He has come to us for a reason. I cannot release you from your oath to wait coitus. The reason is something beyond explanation. But it must be.” Sofia’s shoulders slumped. “Come now, give your old Pater a hug. Things will be fine.”