Copyright © 2012 Deborah Castellano
All rights reserved, Freya's Bower.
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He reached out to tuck a stray piece of her hair into one of the bundles of pins. “Come away with me.”
She slapped his hand away. “No.”
“Please, Luna. It’s unbearable without you. I’ve missed you more than I can say, it’s why I could never write you or even send a whispercall. Come away with me. You’ve never even been more than two towns over. This world...this world is so very big and beautiful and terrible, and you need to see it.”
“So you want me to ignore my sisters? Forget my responsibilities? I will not do it, Aldwyn.”
“No. I want you to leave this,” he said, pressing a small, heavy velvet bag into her hand, “on your baking table with a note to your family and a note to Randhir that you can’t marry him. Here is what I’m fairly sure is twice as much as your settlement, to be split however they see fit for the inconvenience of losing you. Then I want you to take a position as one of my crew on my aereship.”
She bit her lip. "But what of my sisters?"
"This money will shield them from your doings, you know that as well as I do. They’ll still be able to go away to school or work in your family’s bakery. It will be of their choosing. Hell, Clarisse can marry Randhir herself, she’s always had aspirations."
“You...you own a ‘ship?”
“A small one, but yes. I do.”
“This is a terrible idea....”
“Everything we’ve ever done that was worth doing has been a terrible idea.”
“That doesn’t make it any less of a terrible idea.”
“You’ve stopped saying no.”
“But I haven’t said yes,” Luna said, biting her lip. “I don’t know that I can do this.” She had never even thought of ever being on an aereship before or of anything that didn’t involve life in her little town. She always loved looking at the maps that Aldwyn’s father and brothers made on their aereship, and she and Aldwyn would pretend that various boulders were ‘ships when they were small, mapping adventures to all kinds of foreign lands that she only knew anything about from the small gifts his brothers would bring her. The Aelanic doll, the Elixeir bracelets. She had never even been to d’Terre. She had always assumed she would spend all her days here, baking. There was never any reason to think otherwise. And now....
A small thrill coursed through her blood.
“And you won’t know until you try. And if you don’t want it, then just say the word, and I will return you to Stonewall to pursue whatever kind of life you would want to lead.”
“This is a lot of money, Aldwyn—”
“I don’t want you to have any regrets whatsoever.”
They stood in silence for many long moments. “I still don’t understand why you’ve come for me,” she said finally. She felt the weight of his stare and brought her weddinggown-green eyes up to meet his.
“I need you with me,” he said simply.
She nodded and then slowly and carefully untied her apron and folded it up far more neatly than she ever had before. “Hurry, before I change my mind.”