***WARNING!!! My stories often contain strong language, sensitive issues, and, at times, other content that could be construed as offensive. Beliefs and viewpoints of characters are not necessarily the beliefs and viewpoints the Author holds in true life.***
Being reunited with my mother was a dream come true. Over the months, I imagined how it might be, but never did I imagine it coming about through a handsome man who made things happen to my heart every time he was near. Nothing could have prepared me for the reality of how it happened.
"If I am dreaming, I do not wish to awaken," I said, hugging my mother tight.
"Me too, darling, but it's not a dream. I'm here and I'll never be far from you from here on out. It fills my heart with such joy to see that you are well," Mother said.
"I am blessed," I said, pulling away slightly to just look upon her. "Living without you these past months was difficult, but I can scarcely imagine the greater pain you must have felt. You searched for centuries for me to no avail until now. Our separation lasted infinitely longer for you than for me, Mother. I am fortunate."
"No matter," said Mother, framing my face with her slender hands. "We are together now, and we can thank Robin for that."
Robin smiled softly at me as I turned my gaze toward him. "I am forever beholden to thee," I said, then gave him a curtsy.
"You owe me nothing, Alina. I was all to happy to help," Robin said.
The remainder of the evening passed as though in a dream. Mother and I had so much to discuss. I thought it would take another century just to catch up. Sandi was so gracious about letting us do some of that in her home. I offered to serve dessert and coffee, but Sandi and Robin said my work was done and that I should just relax. Och, times have changed, for this courtesy would not have been extended to someone of my class by someone of Robin and Sandi's ilk during my time.
My mother visited often over the next few weeks, and I learned much. She was ever always the wise teacher, and I soaked up the knowledge quickly. I was so pleased with myself the day I learned to dematerialize and materialize in another place at will. This ability made it much easier for me to visit my mother in Aurora Skies so she did not always need to come to me.
The day arrived when I was to meet Lenora Landgraab and her husband, Tyrone. I was happy for my mother that she had such a close relationship with Lenora during my absence. "She is so beautiful!" I said to Mother when she showed me photographs of Lenora. Tyrone was a very handsome man, and I loved how he stood so protectively and courageously next to Lenora.
I smiled rather tentatively as I escorted them inside my small house upon their arrival. Tyrone was even more handsome in person, and Lenora was so lovely. These were people of wealth, and I felt rather dowdy in my dress and my hair tied back and covered. I did not wish to put on airs or pretend to be something I was not, but I was still plenty unnerved. I need not have worried though. Tyrone gave me a warm smile and a courtly bow. Then, he kissed my hand and said what a pleasure it was to meet me.
I was taken aback for a moment but very pleased when Lenora immediately wrapped me in a warm, sisterly hug. "Tis such a joyous occasion to finally meet ye, Alina! Och, how I hoped Mathilda would find ye. Ye are even more beautiful than she described."
I found myself embracing her in return and loving her soft, lilting Irish tones. I could see why my mother loved her so much. Lenora was warmth and compassion itself, and I was immediately put at ease in her presence.
"I am so elated to finally meet you...both of you. Mother has spoken so highly of you both. Er...may I offer you some refreshment?"
We chatted amiably over cake and coffee. I smiled quite soppily at seeing how Lenora and Tyrone interacted with each other. They truly were in love, and it was plain to see how protective he was of her. She did not seem to mind, which puzzled me. Over the months I dwelt in this time, women became vexed, even very angry if a man so much as opened a door for her. In my time, ladies were protected and were expected to keep the home and raise the children. Women were treated like a possession many times. If she was truly fortunate, she was treasured and listened to by her husband.
When I voiced my puzzlement to Lenora and Tyrone, they looked at each other and chuckled. "Och! How strange and unsettling this time must seem to ye, Alina. I am all for women being respected and heard, but I enjoy being treated like a lady." She smiled at her husband. "Tyrone never belittles me for being a woman, nor does he treat me like an inferior person. He respects and loves me, and yes, he is very protective of me which I don't mind at all. Tis just the way of it with us."
"Nobody could ever hold a candle to my Lenora," Tyrone said, then leaned down to kiss her tenderly. I smiled rather wistfully, wondering if I would ever be loved that way.
We had a lovely visit which came to an end much too quickly. We promised to visit one another often, and I was given warm departing hugs by both Lenora and Tyrone. I had always wanted a sister and now I had one. Not to mention, I felt I had a great friend in Tyrone, who was so easy to converse with.
My life was never the same after that. Mother and Lenora phoned almost every day, and we visited as often as we could. Over the next few months, the friendship between Robin and me blossomed. He came to my house almost every night after his workday was done. We talked about anything and everything over dinner and then would read together on the sofa. He did not seem to mind that I owned no television. I reckon I am rather odd in that way, as television frightens me for some strange reason. I am intimidated quite frequently by what people in this time call electronics. I am content with my cell phone and a little stereo to listen to music on.
Sometimes Robin and I talked late into the night. I felt I could tell him anything, and he was always such a kind and thoughtful listener. I was falling in love with him but never imagined he would ever feel the same for me. We came from two different worlds, and my class was so very beneath that of his wealthy status. I knew he would drift from me someday and marry, and och, how that would hurt my heart! I cherished each day I possessed his friendship and would have to be content with that.
One night, however, he surprised me. "Alina, would you have dinner with me tonight?"
"Och, Robin! Of course. I have dinner with you every night you are here," I said. "Forgive me for paying such little attention to the time. I shall serve something right away."
I turned to go to the kitchen, but Robin took my elbow to stop me. "That's not what I mean, Alina. Your cooking is wonderful. It's the best, in fact, but I want to take you out to dinner tonight. I want us to have a date. That is, I want to court you if you are agreeable, Alina."
I goggled at him, knowing it was unseemly of me to have my mouth hanging wide open. His words shocked me speechless for a moment. I finally slapped myself to attention and blinked as I recovered somewhat. "You...you want to court...me? But...but why?"
Robin folded me into his arms and I could not bring myself to pull away. It felt right, and I longed to stay there forever. "Yes, I want to court you, Alina. As to why...well, there are at least a hundred reasons. You're beautiful and smart. You're warm and caring...and you're beautiful. You look at the world with such wonder and that adds so much to your inner beauty. I have very, very strong feelings for you, Alina, and I think we should explore that. I believe you feel the same. Am I right?"
I buried my face against his shoulder, basking in the feel of his arms around me. "I do. Och, Robin, I do! You said such lovely things to me just now that it makes mine eyes want to weep. I am just bewildered as to why someone of your class should feel such things for someone such as me. It would be unseemly for us to pursue a courtship knowing this."
Robin's lips were on mine the next instant. I had never received such a sweet kiss in all my years. "Things aren't done like that anymore, Alina. During this time...well, in this part of the world, class systems don't exist. People are allowed to court who they wish and are not governed by arranged marriages, dowries, or clans needing to form an alliance to one another by marriage." His hands squeezed my shoulders gently, and he grinned into my eyes. "Technically, if we're talking classes, I would actually be far beneath you. After all, your mother is in a class all her own. It is I who should be on bended knee and groveling before her."
A great explosion of laughter came from me. "Sometimes I forget how far my mother has come. Even so, my mother's accomplishments are hers and I have no part in that. I am still just a bumbling girl who still struggles with basic concepts of this time."
"You are far from a bumbling girl, Alina, that I promise you," Robin said, brushing his fingers lightly over my cheek. "Things will come more naturally to you over time. I'll help all I can with that. I want you in my life, Alina. Will you come to dinner with me tonight and be agreeable to allowing me to court you?"
"Aye, Robin," I said, smiling eagerly and nodding. "Och, aye, with all my heart."
Robin and I grew closer day by day. As time went on, I knew I was hopelessly and irrevocably in love with him. He opened my world to things I never thought possible. He was my sunrise and sunset. He became such a vital fixture to my world that I could ne'er imagine my existence without his gentle presence. We spent most evenings together. Robin often took me to dinner and a movie. Sometimes we went to a concert or to the symphony. He accompanied me on visits to my mother or Lenora and Tyrone and then took me along to visit his parents and other family members. Wherever I was, there Robin often was. My life was so filled with joy and blessings and I was never lonely.
Robin seemed quite nervous one night when he came over. It puzzled me because he was always so self-assured and confident. "Robin, is something amiss?" I asked him.
"No...no. Everything is fine, Alina," he said, giving me a wobbly smile.
My inside grew cold as a horrible thought came to me. "You would tell me if you wished to end our courtship, would you not?" I asked, aghast at how my voice shook with the words.
"Oh, Alina!" Robin said, sounding completely bewildered. He pulled me into his embrace and leaned his cheek atop my head. "Never has it occurred to me to ever want to end our courtship. That is the farthest thing from my mind, I swear. In fact, it's just the opposite and I'm..." He blew out a long breath. "I want to say just the right words to tell you how I feel but everything is just so...inadequate."
"Lenora always says to speak straight from the heart," I said.
Robin chuckled and kissed the top of my head. "That's good advice. Alina..." He cleared his throat. "Dammit! I wanted this to come at just the right moment, but I...I think I'd better do it now."
I gasped when he went down on one knee. Robin reached in his pocket and brought out a jewel box. "Alina, from the first moment I saw you, I knew there was something special about you. It wasn't the fact that you were from another time and place although that was truly fascinating to me. Your warmth, curiosity, and beauty intrigued me. Since I met you, my life has never been the same. I'm in love with you, Alina Blankenship, but more importantly, I LOVE you. You brought color and life to my world. You gave me a reason to live and hope for a wonderful future. Alina, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?"
Tears spilled down my cheeks and I wept unashamedly. "Och, Robin! I...I...och!"
Robin smiled a little lopsidedly, his gaze looking at me with such tenderness and hope. "Well?" he prodded gently.
"Och! I...Och, aye, Robin! I will marry thee," I said through bouts of weeping.
Robin pulled me into his arms and kissed me with such passion and love that my knees gave way. He held me tightly against his chest and then wiped my tears. "I can't express enough how happy you just made me, Alina mine."
"My heart soars to the heavens at hearing such words, Robin. I never dreamt you would feel this way about the likes of me."
Robin brushed his fingers along my cheek. "I love the likes of you with all my heart, Alina, my love."
"Och, Robin, I love you so!" I said, tightening my arms about him.
We announced our betrothal at a massive family dinner the next night. Lenora insisted on cooking. When I offered to help her, she just laughed and said that no way was the guest of honor setting foot near the kitchen. "This dinner is for you and Robin. This means you just sit back and relax and let us handle things," she said, a big, joyous grin lighting up her face.
Our relatives were ecstatic and I was never so happy in all my life. Robin and I wanted a traditional wedding, and we asked Lenora and Tyrone to stand up with us. .Wedding plans were in full gallop and there was never a happier bride-to-be than me.
Author's Note - Alina is still at level 5 (Line Cook) in the Culinary Career. She is now at level 9 of the cooking skill.