Beneath Outstretched Arms

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Tristan to Velena: “I know that God has brought me here for a reason. He has…has allowed these things to happen to us, and I…I don’t know why. I truly don’t. I don’t pretend to know His purposes, but one thing I do know is that in my misery, God has not allowed me to remain blind to the pain of others. I’ve been staying away from you because I didn’t want to expose you to any further sorrow when you already had so much of your own. And it’s definitely not my desire to have you walking on eggshells, worrying about what you might say to me, or hoping that I won’t take offense at your words, or you at mine. The truth is…” Tristan took a deep breath. “I’m in sore need of company, and I was hoping that if we shared in each other’s, we might have the benefit of being encouraged to…to live again.”

~ Taken from Beneath Outstretched Arms: Chapter 16

fleur de lis

Velena to Tristan: “Peter’s coming won’t change anything,” Velena protested.

“You’ve really never given this a second thought?”

“What’s to think about? There’s no act of wrong in our friendship.”

“I know that, but your father and my Uncle Rolland trust us, and they give us little notice as they’re busy with their own affairs, and wouldn’t think to suspect us of anything else. But when your uncle comes with Peter, their affairs will revolve around you, and they’re sure to notice a great many things. This isn’t normal, Velena, surely you know that—a man and a woman being friends as we are.”

“You’re like my brother.”

“But I’m not your brother, and Peter won’t be sympathetic to your version of family.”

“He can’t order me not to have friends.”

“Yes, he can.”

“Well—he won’t.”

“If you were my wife and you had a friend as we are friends, I would most definitely put an end to it. I blame myself for getting too close.”

Velena cocked her head to one side in frustration. “We won’t be able to meet in your room anymore, but I don’t see why we can’t enjoy each other’s company as we’ve always done.”

“Do you think we’ll be living in the same house when you marry? And married woman don’t usually receive social calls from men.”

Velena’s thoughts began to go in different directions as she began to think about the reality of what Tristan was trying to say. Yet, here he stood in front of her, faithful and familiar, and she really couldn’t picture life without him. “Do you hate Peter then?”

“No, only the general idea of you marrying someone.”

Velena put her hands on her hips and leaned forward, playfully suspicious. “Someone or someone else.”

Then laughing at his expression, she walked out of the rain and into the hall, immediately taken up into the commotion.

Not to be left behind, he quickly caught up, speaking almost directly into her ear so she could hear him, for the merrymaking was still in full swing, as the men continued belting out song after song.

“That is not at all what I meant.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” Velena quipped, “Why wouldn’t you want to marry me? Daisy’s always telling me that you do,” she said, raising her hand to acknowledge her lady’s maid who was now waving to her from one of the lower tables at the head of the room.

“Would you want to marry me?” he threw back.

Velena laughed before she could think better of it, and then shook her head. “Never mind. A sister cannot marry her brother; it would be—annoying.”

“Among other things,” Tristan mumbled.

~Taken from Beneath Outstretched Arms: Chapter 29