When Shadows Fall
Robert had been gone and thought dead for over a year. How easy it would be to fall into Matthew's arms. Let him comfort her like he'd done when she was a girl. They seemed like such strong arms. But she wasn't a child anymore. She was a married woman with a child and a sick husband who needed her.
Her first love could be nothing more than a precious memory. Her heart grew heavy. She turned and was about to take her leave when Matthew asked about Robert. "If you'd rather not talk about it, I'll understand. I only wanted you to know if you need anything, I'm here for you. I'll help in any way I can."
"That's very kind. Things are okay for now. Besides, I couldn't expect you to help the enemy." She stood still, afraid to face him. Afraid of the concern he'd show.
"Rebekah, if you love him, and he cares for you, he's no enemy of mine." His reply was tender. He caught her shoulders, turned her to face him. "I mean that with all my heart."
Rebekah nodded. He meant it. Her eyes misted. Her tears were building. If she fell into his arms, it was wrong to even think it, but... would he hold her close? Or had time changed everything? Still, she wasn't his to hold anymore. In reality she never had been, though she wanted to be. Did he wish it were different? She wished they could go back, but they couldn't. She had to accept that she would never be his, and be grateful for the chance to see him again.
"I should go. Can I walk you to the house?"
Raising her head, she found his gaze in the moonlight. "You go on. It's such a lovely evening I think I'd like to stay longer. I'll look for you tomorrow."
"Goodnight then." Her heart lurched as she considered him leaving. She wondered when he'd have to say goodbye. Perhaps for forever.
"Goodnight," she whispered as she watched him cross the yard to his horse and swing his tall body effortlessly into the saddle.
"Goodnight," he called again. She waved, and watched him disappear into the darkness -- melding with the shadows on the road. Then she went to the bottom of the oak, and kneeling, tenderly brushed the ground where her old friend lay.