by Roberta Belinda
Rafe gazed out of his window at the sea reflecting the overcast
sky. Shrugging tiredly, he went out into the mist-filled air. He walked to the beach and let the cold water lap at his tired feet. He still was carrying his paintbrush, which he twiddled in his hand as he walked. The sea air always had helped him think, but was failing that night. A picture of a girl was clawing at his mind, willing him to paint her. The vision remained faceless and try as he may, Rafe could not place the perfect visage to be framed by the lovely gold-tinged tresses.
The moon glided in the sky accompanying Rafe as he travelled further
along the beach. He drew his hand through his curly, chestnut hair, and his wide, sensitive mouth mellowed into a smile. His dark brown eyes softened with unshed tears as his loneliness became evident. Sighing, he made his way back to the cottage as the breeze caressed him and whispered words of comfort.
As he entered his home, the white, empty canvas seemed to mock him. He
threw his brush at it in retaliation and realized he was being silly but didn't care at the moment. While he slept that night, the faceless vision stretched her arms to him, pleading, willing, demanding him to make her live. He was locked into a cage, captured by the dream. And he knew it was true that he was indeed a prisoner of this fiction. Would that he could make her real.
As the morning light stabbed at his tired eyes, Rafe woke up in a
surly mood. Grumbling, and mumbling he made his way through his morning chores and decided to go to town for more supplies. The road was dusty and he coughed and sneezed as he walked, which made him even grumpier. When they would pave this road would be anyone's guess he figured. Coming into the town he spied a gypsy's wagon. This mildly interested Rafe, as gypsies always travel in caravans and not in solitary vehicles.
His normally insatiable curiousity, however, was dampened by his gloomy
mood so he passed by the wagon without investigating. As he did he espied a slight figure standing next to the wagon wearing a shawl about her hair and face. As she turned from him, he caught a quick glimpse of brilliant blue eyes, like the sky at dawn. Again he grouchily figured that gypsies never stay long anyway, so it would be no use in introducing himself.
Rafe paid the storekeeper for the supplies and walked into the
courtyard. He noted that a woman had stopped to speak to the gypsy but didn't seem to be shooing her off. Surprisingly, she took her to the boarding house instead. A man came out and led the cart and horse away. He was about to query someone as to who she was, but decided against it. He was going to be too busy staring at a blank canvas to concern himself over some girl. Making his way home though, he discovered his mood had lifted a bit in spite of all efforts to remain glum.
Meanwhile, the young woman sat forlornly upon the straight, wooden
chair in the foyer of the boarding house. She had removed her scarf and amber hair lay in heavy brushstrokes about her shoulders. She nervously pleated the hem of her dress as she waited for the woman to come back. Lyra was sure that she would not be accepted here. She was a vagabond, afterall. The woman came back smiling though, carrying linens and a plain, simple dress for her to wear. Lyra looked down at her gaudy beads and brightly colored clothing and concluded the lady was right.
"Here we go child. We can't have you walking around like that. The
women's church group would have a fit," The boarding house matron chuckled.
"Thank you for having me. I will try not to be a bother madame. Do you
know where I might find work?" she asked.
The lady mused over this for awhile and then a gleam came into her eye.
She looked the girl over as she stroked her chin. "Yes! I believe I do.
Lyra smiled unsteadily, a bit tired at her journey. Her small, heart-
shaped face grew pale. The matron dropped the things she was carrying and hurried over to her. "My goodness! You look terrible! Enough about work and all that. Let us concern ourselves with getting cleaned up and rested. A nice hot bath will do you well. If you should need anything just call for me. My name is Mrs. Mintrel."
The young woman rose and followed Mrs. Mintral who had stooped to
collect the things she had dropped. The room she took her to was plain, but was clean and neat. There was an adjoining bathroom. The matron smiled proudly saying, "I have the only boarding house for miles that has private bathrooms here in England. Enjoy!"
Lyra was amazed to see the bathtub, having only washed in streams and
lakes all her life. As the matron left, she started to run the water and realized how hot it was. She quickly removed her hand and turned the other spigot to see what came out of that one. Cold water soothed her stinging member. She sighed in relief and having plugged the hole, the bathtub soon filled with soothing, warm water, which she happily submerged herself in. This had to be heaven!
After her bath, Lyra came out and found that Mrs. Mintral had left a
nice flannel nightgown for her to wear. The material felt as soft as down as she slipped it on. She brushed and braided her still damp hair and pounced on the tall feather bed, sinking into its softness. Nestling under the covers, she thought of the man she saw in town. He had looked so sad, and she wondered why. He had a beautiful mouth, such a mouth should have been smiling. Her eyes drooped as she pondered, and soon she slumbered.
Over in the seaside cottage, a battle was raging. Rafe was nearly
pulling his hair out in frustration, as he threw yet another unacceptable painting out the open window. His yard was littered with dozens of golden- brown haired girls, all whom were lovely masterpieces, but none satisfying his vision. Surveying the mess he had made, he decided it was time to quit. Sighing, he realized he had less than two months before his next showing and he needed to get this painting done. But, today would not be the day.
His stomach growled making him aware that it was suppertime. He didn't
feel like cooking, instead, he would brave the dusty road back to town. So he set off, and as he approached the town it was starting to get dark. Mrs. Mintrel was nearly closing the restaurant, but saw Rafe and smilingly ushered him in. Having settled down with a bowl of chowder, he looked around the restaurant.
He thought he saw someone peep at him through the door to the kitchen,
but when he looked again, the person was gone. Did he really see auburn hair? He was working much too hard he thought as he rubbed his eyes tiredly. He wondered if perhaps Mrs. Mintrel had the gypsy girl working in the kitchen. Shrugging, he rose and called out to the matron who came and took his money, asking him to visit her again as he left.
Lyra's heart was beating as she realized that the man had seen her.
She didn't know why he affected her this way, but she felt incredibly shy in his presence. Maybe it was because his hair begged for her to twine her fingers in its locks, or that his eyes reminded her of the baby fawn she once had as a pet. Now that he had left, she felt sad, thinking she had missed an opportunity to meet him. Who knew how long she would be allowed to stay? All her life she had been warned that the townfolk hated gypsies. But the people here had welcomed her, saddened that her caravan had been killed, and the fact that she wasn't a true gypsy, but was taken as a baby. Still she never hated the woman who had stolen her, for she cherished Lyra as her own mother would have.
Lyra dried her hands after doing the dishes and approached Mrs. Mintral.
"Thank you for letting me help in the kitchen. I want to earn my keep," she said shyly.
Mrs. Mintrel held her face in her hands. " My dear! You are far too
pretty too work in a kitchen! Your lovely fingers will grow rough and dry with the harsh soap and scrubbing. Hopefully, we can find a much better job for you to do! This is not the employ that I have planned for you."
Lyra was astonished at the depths of charity that this woman had
within her. She was sure no one was as beautiful as this old woman was, not even she. This woman's husband must bless the Lord everyday that he is alive to have such a treasure in his midst. "Really, madame. You have done far too much for me already!"
"Tut, tut! I won't hear another word," Mrs. Mintrel said, as scooted
Lyra out the restaurant door. "Tomorrow we need to find you more suitable work."
Lyra prepared for bed that night, with the thought that she had never
had the luxury of sleeping twice in one day. But, she was tired, and thankful that she was able to. She dreamt the sea was a man with fathomless eyes and strong sinuous body. The waves were like his hair. she dived into the depths of him and didn't wish to be rescued. She floated further out into the sea lost forever in the leagues of his gaze. Suddenly she awoke to a cold chill – the window had been left open. The salt in the air bit her nose and she rose to close it. The stars, sparkling gems in the sky made her pause, and she leaned on the window and thought that tomorrow she would like to go to the seashore. The memory of her dream nudged at her knowingly, and she laughed.
Hopping back into bed after closing the window, she hoped she would
dream again. Sighing, she settled back into sleep, her smile giving clue to what her mind beheld.
In another bed, the occupant was not so tranquil. He was sure he had
seen someone in that kitchen. And surely, the flash of bronze was not in his imagination. He gazed up at the beams in his ceiling and thought of how he must be going mad. He was seeing brown- haired women wherever he went. It had to be an illusion; his vision was haunting him during the day now as well. Tossing and turning, he finally dozed off into a restless sleep, his final thought being how he must ask Mrs. Mintrel about that gypsy girl.
A little bird twittered playfully outside Lyra's window as she bustled
about the room. Mrs. Mintral had welcomed the idea of a visit to the beach, and so Lyra was being extra swift with her morning routine. As she trotted down the stairs, The old woman had just set a picnic basket on the trestle table near the door. Outside, the horse was chomping impatiently at his bit, kicking the dirt with his hoof. Lyra picked up the basket against all of Mrs. Mintral's protests and they set off in the carriage to the beach.
The sun danced merrily in the sky and sent beams of warmth on them as
they arrived at the shore. The waves wagged beckoning fingers at Lyra, begging her to come frolick among them. She saw a couple of lonely clouds in the sky as she raised her head to breathe in the salt air. Not being able to constrain herself any longer, she kicked off her shoes and hiked her skirts, while Mrs. Mintral admonished her in mock dismay. Running to the lapping water, she hopped and skipped in the icy surf. Her hands flew to her hair and she pulled the ribbon binding it demurely. As she twirled, burnished flames seemed to burst from her head. The matron sighed at the lovely picture she was making, reminding her of how she was once as a youngster, with hair just like Lyra's.
The sounds of Lyra's laughter were carried on the wind to Rafe's
house. Looking up from his tea, he glanced at the window. Rising he went to it and tried to strain a peek at who the owner of that lilting sound may be. He could not see the person from his vantage point, but espied Mrs. Mintral. His heart leapt in anticipation as he debated whether to go investigate. His curiousity got the better of him and he bolted out the door down to the seaside. As he neared, he could hear the old woman chastising the girl for getting her skirts wet. Once again, the sound of laughter clear as a bell rang out from the sea. This spurred Rafe to pick up his pace and he hurried to a large rock near the matron. Hiding behind the rock, he poked his head around the side to see who was playing so happily in the water.
The girl appeared to belong to the sea. She was graceful and slender
as a reed, skipping nimbly over the waves. Rafe stood mesmerized by the dazzling sight before him, then it dawned on him. Her hair was like shining columns of burnished gold. Straightly it flew about her head as she spun, taking on a life of its own. Golden-brown hair, could this be? Suddenly, Rafe was afraid to be seen. Running, he whisked away from the happy women, fearing rejection. Lyra stilled her dance as she spied him running away. Sadly she watched him dash on, thinking he must have been disgusted with her. Quietly, she emerged from the surf and asked if they could return to town.
Lyra was very subdued on her trip home. Large teardrops began spilling
from her lovely eyes and she fell on Mrs. Mintral. The older woman clasped the girl to her in surprise. "What is wrong, child? You were so happy dancing in the sea!"
"Oh, Mrs Mintral! He hates me! He ran away from us like I was a
MONSTER!" Lyra sobbed.
Mrs Mintral's whole body shook with mirth. Lyra looked up at her
curiously to see what was so amusing. Between guffaws the woman managed to say. "Oh my dear girl! He doesn't hate you! Oh ho ho no! I saw how he was looking at you out of the corner of my eye."
"I saw him also, but was pretending not to. He never came out to say
hello! If he liked me so much he would not have ran away," Lyra replied, dismally.
The matron sighed in exasperation and eyed the girl in disbelief.
Shaking her head, she left the matter closed and the trip went on in silence, broken only by the occasional melancholy sound from Lyra. They arrived back at the boarding house and Lyra ran to her room. After punching her pillow angrily a few dozen times she decided that she was being childish and maybe she should just take a nap. She stared awhile at the ceiling and thought how wonderful he looked as he ran. A strong stallion or proud buck would be put to shame at his powerful gait. How she wished he had been running to her instead of away and she pouted prettily. Closing her eyes, she tried to rest, knowing that she would have work to do for the missus.
After her nap, Lyra still felt depressed. She left her bedroom and
made her way to the dining room where Mrs. Mintral was sitting down at the table with a sad, far-away look in her eyes. Lyra felt selfish, having been sobbing over something so trivial, and never realizing something was wrong with the old woman.
She sat down next to her and put her hand on the matron's. Lyra's
azure eyes were filled with concern as she tried to comfort her. Mrs. Mintral smiled wanly and tried to compose herself. "Oh do not mind me. I am just going over some old memories . . . and I am afraid that seeing you with your lovely hair so much like mine when I was young does not help in forgetting the pain."
Lyra leaned back in surprise, unsure of what was being said."Do go on
Mrs. Mintrel. I am curious now."
The woman wrung her hands ashamedly. "Many years ago, I had a lovely
little girl. She was the light of my life and I loved her so. One day, when she was a little over a year old, we went to the market. I'm afraid I was haggling with the storekeeper over the price of her apples. Seems so dumb, and trivial after what happened next. My little love, Lina, saw a puppy scamper by, so she ran after it. I did not see her until she went around the corner. When I did spot her, of course I ran frantically after her! But, when I got to the corner, she was gone. The townspeople searched for her for days, but eventually, we had to admit to ourselves that it was a hopeless case. I admit that I took you in because you look much like what she might have looked like had she grown up. I have a picture of her: I have it in this locket. She had one just like it around her neck with a picture of me inside."
As the lady held the locket out in front of Lyra, her eyes grew wider
and wider. Shaking, she drew something out from inside her neckline. In her hand was an identical locket. She opened it, and inside was a tin- portrait of Mrs. Mintrel when she was young. "I can't believe this! I only have this locket because I took it off of my adoptive mother when they were all murdered by passing soldiers. I wanted something to remember her by. I never even looked inside it after all this time. I knew that they took me when I was a baby, but she had loved me. I was never treated badly."
Mrs. Mintrel was sobbing with joy. "My little Lina. I have found you!
I'm so sorry I ever took my eyes off of you! Oh my dearest joy!"
Lyra smiled at her. "I finally have a real mother. But, may I keep Lyra
as my name? I know it was wicked what she had done, but she must really have wanted a child. My name is all I have to remember her by."
Mrs. Mintrel nodded her approval. "As long as I have you back, I dont
care if your name is Samuel!"
Lyra giggled and squeezed her mother tightly. She was really home. She
would never have to leave here. Now, if only the painter liked her. This dampened her spirits a little, but she tried to forget him and squeezed her mother even closer while unknowingly, the object of her desire trudged up the path at that very moment.
As the women embraced, Rafe stomped up the steps to the boarding house,
he knocked loudly on the door. Lyra started at the sound and jumped up. "Who could that be?" she cried in surprise.
Mrs. Mintrel shrugged. "whomever it is, it must either be very important,
or they are very rude!" She replied.
Lyra ran to the door and flung it open, meaning to give the perpetrator
a piece of her mind! She stood gaping as she gazed face to face into the deep brown eyes of Rafe. He stood dumbfounded as well, as his faceless vision was transformed into the beautiful wonder that was standing before him. He was still unsure of how she felt about him, so he pretended that he was angry. "I saw you on the beach and did you know that you were not allowed there? That is private property!"
Her mouth dropped open for a second in astonishment, and then she
quickly snapped it shut. "No I did not! I know you live close by the beach, but I had no idea that you owned it."
Mrs. Mintral came to the door as she heard the ruckus going on. "What
is going on? Rafe! What is the meaning of this?"
Rafe was starting to feel like a first class oaf by this time, but he
could think of no other way to get her to be near him. "I never gave permission to use my beach! I must ask for some sort of recompense!"
Lyra's eyes flashed blue fire. "By all means! What does his Lordship
require?" she spat sarcastically.
He leaned back on his heels and his eyes narrowed, making them dark as
coal. "What you must do is come work for me. I need someone to paint and also I could use someone to have around the house to clean and whatnot."
Mrs. Mintral tsked disapprovingly at him. " Rafe, you have never acted
like this! I know you own that part of the beach, but you've always let people play there!"
"Yes, but I was disturbed! I must ask recompense or I will have to
complain to the constable!" he roared. And he was disturbed, she had been in his thoughts since the day he first laid eyes on her.
Lyra stomped her foot. "Oh all right! But only as long as it takes
to paint me and then that is it! You can complain all you want to the constable after that!"
Rafe could not believe his luck at having got away with this. He
pretended to consider her proposal, having already decided it was good enough. To have her for even a short time would be paradise. "Fair enough. I must ask you to come right now. Have Mrs. Mintral pack for you for I will need you to stay there. I don't know how long it will take for me to finish painting you and I don't want to travel up this dusty road to fetch you everyday."
"I can travel to your house! Why must I stay with you?" She hissed.
Rafe waved his hand disparagingly." I do not want to have to wait for you to come to my house! That is what I require!"
Lyra looked like she was going to hurl him down the steps so her mother
stepped in front of her. " Oh, yes. That will be fine! We are very sorry that we DISTURBED you, and we will be happy to settle the matter in anyway that you see fit."
She looked at her mother as if she had gone mad, but then sighed and
nodded in agreement. Rafe bounded down the steps happily, which Lyra took to be gloating. Mrs Mintrel closed the door and leaned against it grinning. She had seen right through his little ruse and was very pleased!
Lyra trailed along behind Rafe, seething inside. How could someone so
handsome be so mean? If it hadn't meant that her mother may also have been in trouble, she would have told this Mr. So and so what she thought of his little demand! He strided on in front of her, seeming oblivious to her black thoughts, his steps long and cat-like. She admired his gait in spite of herself, never having seen someone move with such grace. Then she mentally kicked herself for giving in to her raging hormones.
Rafe felt a little sheepish as he walked in front, hearing her low
grumblings behind him. But he felt elated as well, feeling that he at least had a chance this way to win her. Hopefully familiarity wouldn't breed more contempt! He grinned happily and looked back at her. "Come on now, let us not drag behind! We are almost to my house."
Lyra glowered but quickened her pace until she was walking next to
him. His nearness sent her reeling as she took in the woodsy scent of his cologne. She felt frustrated that she was still attracted to him even though he wasn't what she thought he would be. Perhaps he would be nicer if she apologized. "Look. I am sorry that we trespassed, I really had no idea."
Rafe looked at her and grinned, shaking his head. "Well it is nice to
hear an apology, but I still want you to do as I asked."
"You meant demanded did you not!?" Lyra shot back.
He grinned at her even more broadly. When he smiled his whole face
would light up with a soft glow. She had trouble not being dazzled by him. She turned her face from him so as to not belie her feelings. " Oh forget it!"
A low, silky laugh rippled out of him, which sent goosebumps up her
back. If she stayed this close to him she would not be reponsible for her actions She spied the cottage and quickly sprinted the rest of the way to the door, making distance between her and the strange feelings this man gave her.
Rafe admired her as she dashed in front of him. She was tiny and
faerie-like as she ran. He was unsure whether it was a mistake to insist that she stay with him, for she was far too adorable to keep his hands off of. Being a gentleman though, he vowed not to sully her by making advances. But he did take off in pursuit, reaching her as she made it to the door. He grabbed her about the waist and set her on the high wall as she protested, thrilling at his touch. Laughing, he regarded her as she pounded on the wall in rage.
"Let me down from here you! Just who do you think you are? " she fumed.
He gazed up at her with dancing eyes. "Oh I do not know. You make a nice
lawn decoration I think. This wall can use some sprucing up. Besides, I want to paint you up there. I do believe you would be better trusted up where you cannot reach me right now, at least until you calm down," he teasingly replied.
Lyra paused a moment at this audacity and then huffed. "Well, if you
think putting me up here will calm me down, you have another thing coming! I would not like to be you when I manage to get down from here!" she said glancing about herself for a way to escape, but the wall was too high.
Rafe only laughed in that maddeningly seductive way and entered the
cottage to retrieve his canvas and supplies. Outside, Lyra was still kicking on the wall and looking about her for a toe-hold. She wished that he did not make her blood burn so, for he was being beastly. She finally sighed in resignation and ceased thrashing about. Rafe returned, carrying his things, and smiled up at her. "Calmed down? That's good. It is hard to paint a moving object!" he teased once again.
"Oh I am just reserving my energy until I get a chance to murder you!"
she vainly threatened. She knew she would never be able to hurt him for inspite of herself, she was growing fond of him.
He shook his head in mock despair and set up his things. There was
still daylight so he wanted to start quickly. The sun set the golden strands in her hair afire, making a glowing halo around her head. His face gave away for a moment the naked adoration that he felt for her, startling her and stirring something within. His expression became blank as he realized how hewas baring his soul. Joy spread within him as he painted her. She was perfect. She was what he had dreamt of. The lines of her body flowed beautifully across his canvas, creating a stunning portrait of love. He decided he would never be able to let her go, even if that meant that he had to paint one million portraits of her. He could paint her forever so that would be bliss.
After a few hours the sky grew dimmer and he closed his easel. "Okay,
if you promise to not bite off an ear, or pull my hair, I will let you down now," he said.
Lyra narrowed her eyes as she considered his request. "Well, okay, as
long as you promise to feed me! I am too weak with hunger to attack you anyway," she replied.
Rafe chuckled. "Oh come now, you have not been up there that long."
He reached up and lifted her off the wall, letting her body slide slowly down his length until she was just under his chin. Having her this close, he felt the quick beating of her heart against his chest before she pushed away.
She smiled unsteadily. Had she heard his breath quicken? She dismissed
the thought and said, "Well, are you going to waste me to nothing, or are you going to feed me?"
Rafe grinned and went into the house with Lyra following him. She
loved his cozy little home. It had a cheery fire blazing and paintings everywhere. His paintings were truly wondrous with emotion and life emanating from them. She paused at one and touched it, thinking she would actually be able to reach for the object. She shook her head in disbelief at the realism he had attained.
"You truly are good, Rafe. I love your work." She said truthfully.
Rafe moved to her side and looked up at the painting. "Thank you. But
the work I did today eclipses anything I've ever undertaken." he said as he grabbed her hand and pulled her to the portrait he had made of her.
Lyra gasped in awe at the work. She looked like an angel with beams of
light flowing out of her. Her hair in the painting seemed to be moving and her eyes were bright with mischeif. She looked at him with her mouth ajar. "This is beautiful! I am not that lovely!" she cried.
Rafe only sighed. "I need to paint you tomorrow too. Be ready in the
morning and do not be late. I have dinner for us on the table. Please eat with me?" he said.
Lyra ignored his demand and centered on his changed demeanor. He was
not being boorish any longer. His eyes were gentle and pleading as he requested her presence. Her resolve, to argue that she was only going to stay for this one painting – melted. Sighing, she nodded and went to the table. He had placed coldcuts, cheese and bread on it. Apologetically he said, "I know it is not much, but I did not think you would have come."
She glanced at him sharply. "You did not think I would have come? After
you threatened to throw me in jail??"
He sheepishly grinned. "Oh that. I was not really going to. I was just
posturing. But I do still need to paint you so would you please stay? "
Confused, Lyra muttered her assent. Why did he go to all that bother
if he just wanted to paint her? He could have just asked! She chewed her lip pensively and regarded him with queroulous blue eyes. Well she did not know what he was up to, but she was going to play along for now. She could not say no anyway to those dark eyes pleading at her so.
After dinner she perused his bookshelf and selected a title. He had
the same passion for mysteries that she had. As she settled in a chair with her book, Rafe sat in the chair opposite her, watching her as she read. She looked up every now and again, uneasy under his gaze. Soon though, he had dropped off and she let the book fall in her lap. Sleeping, he looked like a fragile little boy. His mouth had softened and his lashes fanned across his cheek-bones. She had the urge to touch him, and knelt down beside his chair. His hair had fell onto his face and she brushed it back. The lock was soft as silk as her fingers grazed through it. Her touch made him murmur and his eyes opened.
Stepping back, she stuttered, "Oh, you had fallen asleep. I was just
going to suggest that you go to bed."
Sleepily he stared up at her. Had she caressed him? No, that must have
been a dream. Groggily he staggered up and made his way to his bedroom. Falling on his bed he smiled. She did touch him.
Lyra could not believe that she had touched him and was further dismayed
that she wanted to do it again. She lay in the guest bed and stared at the ceiling as her desire raged within her. Finally she dropped into a fitful sleep.
The morning was not welcomed by Lyra and she glared at the sunny sky.
Her embarrassment had only grown more strong with the passing hours. Her ears pricked as she heard a merry whistle outside her door. Rafe was certainly cheerful this morning. Seeing as she had nearly thrown herself at him she was sure that he was feeling smug. She threw her pillow at the door and the whistling stopped.
"Come on, Lyra! I said not to be late!" He called through the door.
What Lyra said could not be comprehended through the heavy wood but Rafe
got the general meaning from her tone. When he heard yet another pillow thud against it he grinned broadly and began whistling again. Lyra emerged from her room in high dudgeon and stomped past him to breakfast. He had made pancakes, eggs, and bacon. She was surprised as she sat down to know that he could cook after all. Rafe sat down in front of her and watched her in amusement as she savored his cooking.
"Well I know how to make you smile, at least! Just throw some food in
your mouth and you will be quiet!" He joked.
Lyra smiled a bit at his jest. "I am sorry for my bad humor. I have
not been a very good guest."
He sat back with slight astonishment. She was apologizing to him after
he had forced her to come. His face lit up and he bounded out of the chair while pulling her from the table. He hurried them out of the house so that he could get his work done. She stumbled a bit at his pace and he picked her up tenderly. His concerned face made her heart leap.
"I am sorry dear lady. I did not realize I was moving to quickly for
you," he apologized.
Lyra gazed up at him with warmth dawning in her eyes. Something about
him belied the gruff exterior that he was putting up. Everything within her softened like snow in spring. Her sweet smile rocked him to the core and he stepped back from her.
"Well, I suppose I better paint you so that you can be on your way. I
will try and do as many as I can in the time I have. I hope you don't mind staying that long?" he said, as he gazed at her, still astonished at her expression.
Lyra shook her head. "No I do not mind. I am honored that you want to
paint me. I am sorry that we did not start off on the right foot. Could we start again perhaps?" she replied softly.
Rafe smiled and led her to a chair placed in front of the rose vines
clinging on his home. He did not think that she could have been more lovely than she was yesterday, but she had managed. Something had changed about her and as he painted it became evident. Love was pouring out of her eyes like a shining fountain. He stared at the finished portrait in disbelief and then looked at the girl still sitting in the chair. Her tender expression mirrored the painting. She slowly rose and neared him, looking around the canvas at his work. She gasped in dismay as she saw that the picture had betrayed her. Would she ever get over this embarassment?
He touched her shoulder and gently turned her towards him. With one
finger he lifted her chin so that he could look into her eyes. His eyes were brimming with unshed tears as deep emotions began to rip his composure. Shocked, she drew him into her arms in comfort. He ran his fingers through her long hair, so thick and soft.
All the feelings she had for him since the day she first saw him came
to an apex and she lifted her face for a kiss. Their eyes locked and he murmured her name as his lips captured hers. Her body stiffened with desire and she twined her fingers in his chestnut curls. Everything passed from their eyes and for a brief moment, eternity was he and she. The earth resounded with their thundering hearts as they clung together as though melded into one body. With a shuddering gasp he released her from his kiss and she weakly fell against him, ducking her head on his chest.
Still shaking with spent emotion, Rafe pulled her inside with him. He
nearly had taken her into his bedroom when he finally realized what he was doing. Turning he led them to the couch and sat down with her falling into his lap. He regarded her curiously as he saw mischief gleaming in her eyes.
"Does this mean that you are done painting me?" she quipped.
Rafe roared with laughter. "No, I am afraid that your actions have
made you my prisoner. I am going to have to sentence you to life with me forever. What do you have to say to that?"
Lyra looked up into his eyes and sighed, "Your honor I plead guilty
and accept my fate!"
"Then let us seal this judgement with a kiss, my lovely
trespasser," Rafe said, as he lowered his head again and sent her world spinning once more.
# # #
Copyright 1994 Roberta Belinda
Born in San Diego, Roberta's love for writing started as a small child along with other creative interests. She also enjoys singing, and art, and would like to record a song one day. Preferably, one that she wrote. Roberta has been married for nine years, and has four, small children. She came to Arizona in 1983 to start a new adventure, and has been enjoying the story as it has unfolded.