Chapter 14: One Ending, Another Beginning

There is something about the country, where a distance from judging eyes and gossip fades into obscurity. It was the only way I could survive and still be myself.

—Glorias dea Kasin

Glorias sat on the steps inside her parent’s house and stared at the door. Her heart pounded as she silently willed it to open.

Despite the weeks of happiness that had followed the news, there was still that doubt. Would Benard realize he had made a mistake and void the offer? Would her father have to give back the sizable bride price that had been offered?

She tugged on the bottom of her dress. It felt more comfortable than ever before. It felt right, as if she had been born to wear it ever since the beginning. The corset was a bit tight. Her mother and she had decided to tighten it and she was still getting used to the pressure. It would give Glorias a more feminine appearance for those who saw her leaving town.

“Glorias?” Her mother came in. Her eyes were red with tears but a smile glowed on her face. “Don’t sit at the stairs like a little… girl. He’ll come.”

“W-What if he doesn’t?”

“He isn’t a fool.”

“He’s handsome and High Society. I… I’m…” Glorias opened her mouth to finish but the words wouldn’t come out. She sniffed and wiped the tears from her eyes. “What if he changes his mind? He can do that, I’ve heard the stories.”

Mindil came strolling in behind Glorias’s mother. She beamed as she leaned against the door frame near the stairs. “Trust me, he’s going to come. Navy boys always do.”

Glorias looked at her. “It’s easy for you to say, you’re beautiful. You have a husband who obviously adores you.”

Mindil looked up at the ceiling and grinned. She sipped from her wine. “More than you know.”

She lowered her glass and stretched out. Her belly strained her dress and the gesture pushed her breasts further up. “But your Benard isn’t into big girls like me.”

Relaxing, she continued, “He’s into beautiful girls like you. Slender, brown hair, and sweet.”

Glorias ran her fingers through her still-blond hair. She wouldn’t have Lily’s magic in the country, so it would turn brown later but she planned on keeping it long. “With boy parts?”

Maran made a disapproving noise as she stared at Mindil.

Mindil laughed. “Oh yeah, he likes the boy parts. And the girl parts. And the girl heart and love and joy and everything else. Trust me, he’s going to be here. The world may ignite on fire and he will be knocking on that door before the sky burns away.”

“Excuse me,” said Storan as he walked down the hall toward the door. He was just working at his table.

“Where are you going, Storan?” asked Maran.

Storan turned around and shrugged. “The man marrying my daughter is about to pull up in front of the door.”

Glorias’s heart skipped a beat.

He continued, “Tradition dictates that we speak outside the door and make a show of how a rich and powerful hero of this city is interested in my niece before asking her to join me. Then you will come out, say some things, cry a lot, and then we are going to see our daughter leave.”

His measured voice took longer to register than normal.

He stepped over to Glorias and knelt down. Taking her hands, he smiled. “You will always be my child. I love you very much. I always hoped you would find your place, I think you did.”

“I love you.” Glorias hugged him tightly.

“Your mother will be coming up in the beginning of fall to help with the ceremony and I will be up two weeks later. I promise.”

Tears running down her cheeks, Glorias sobbed and smiled. “Is it going to work out?”

“Of course. You are going to have the wonderful life you had always wanted, with plenty of visits from both of us. You won’t miss the city that much, but you can still winter here.”

He held her hand tightly. “We’re going to see you grow old but never sad. It will… it will…” There was a shimmer of emotion in his eyes but it faded. The sight of it burned into Glorias’s mind, the day her father almost cried. “It will be glorious.”

Glorias giggled and wiped the tears. “Thank you.”

Storan kissed her forehead.

Maran rushed in to hug Glorias tightly and kiss her also. “No, thank you for becoming the beautiful daughter we both wanted.”