Love is the heart of everything.
* ~ *
If indeed this was a time-travel dream, she wished it had the sensible manners to take her to the future—as it should—and not have her kidnapped into the past. And a past where proper-covering clothes hadn’t come in play and loin cloths reigned supreme. Lucky for her she still had her dress on…
The almost indignant thought trailed off as her eyes shifted downward and Eve found she had a white woven fabric with red beads strewn around it wrapped around her and knotted just above her bosoms with only a long strand of red bead as her other adornment.
Damn dream didn’t even have the decency to fit shoes on her feet, she grimaced.
“I know this is a dream, but it sucks that I should go from a soon-to-be-wife to an oil mogul millionaire to a pre-colonial African maiden with no shoes on.” She said to Adam. Then narrowed her eyes at him. “If you are obviously a servant in this era, then who is this king I am supposed to be meeting?”
“The king, royal ruler of seven kingdoms, is soon to be your husband. It is why you are here.” He dipped his head slightly but his eyes remained lifted and pinned on hers. “And I am a warrior not a servant.”
“Oh.” Eve noticed that the tattoo marks on his chest were drawings of spears, bows and arrows. “Well, that surely is better. But the king to soon be my husband?” Her grimace darkened into a scowl. “I am not quite sure I care for that. Not that I am some kind of love-clinging hopeless romantic, but I thought this dream was about you and I?”
“Today is about his majesty and you. It is the choice you made.” Something flickered in his eyes. Like hurt. “Come, my lady, I am bid to bring you to my king.” He bowed this time, a full bend to his waist, before he lifted up. “This way, my lady.”
Eve followed him into a hall that had artistic drawings painted into its walls and into the dark wood that was its flooring. “It was… is my choice to marry his ma… the king?”
“You chose him, as he chose you.”
He did not look at her as he said this. But Eve could read the… was it disappointment on his side expression? Disappointment and that hurt she had earlier seen in his eyes.
“I chose him instead of you.” That was what disappointed him. What hurt him. “Why would I do that?”
“You question me for your reason? Do you not know it then?” The glance he cast on her was a shade scornful. “I am but a lowly warrior. He is king—king over seven kingdoms.”
“You are saying I chose him for mercenary reasons?” Eve was shocked. She wasn’t a social climber and definitely not money or class greedy. “I am not like that. I am not mercenary. I would only marry for…” what reasons would she marry? Momentarily confused, she broke off.
She didn’t quite believe in marriage, did she? Or in love, for that matter.
“You chose him because he is most suited to a woman of your class. You are, after all, a high chief’s daughter and very comely to look at.” For the briefest second something shadowed the eyes he cast on her again. Then it filtered off and he once more focused his gaze ahead. “You will be queen after your union with him. You will have servants and warriors at your beck and call. Wealth in gold and the rich harvests of the kingdoms’ farmlands and everything else you could ever desire. You would marry him today for these reasons and… and I do not reproach you.”
“You love me.” A singular distress constricted Eve’s heart. “You are in love with me, aren’t you, Adam?” Then she gave her head a shake. “Your name is still Adam here, isn’t it?”
“You know my name and you know my heart.” He stopped before another massive wood door. “The question is, do you know your own heart?” He pushed open the door.
But he had stepped aside from the door and had lowered to one knee. As did the throng of men and women clad in loin cloths and thread woven fabrics in. Eve shifted her gaze and her eyes fell upon the reason for their deferential posture.
“I chose that over you?”
The words were an astonished mutter and possibly only Adam, knelt beside her, heard her. His response was an urgently rasped instruction.
“Genuflect before him!”
“I most certainly will not!” She’d never genuflected or knelt before anyone in her life. “And I most certainly have no wish to marry him.”
“Genuflect before him with your eyes turned down or he will have your head.” Adam muttered back. “Do it now! You have made your choice and today, it is too late to change it.”
“It is a damn dream and nothing ever is too late in a dream. Not while one is still dreaming.” Eve set her jaw and hissed out. “And dream or no dream, I am not marrying that man. Hell no, I draw the line at utter ugliness.”
There was a choking noise from Adam. It was hard to discern if it was choked laughter or a choked scoff but it was followed by a rough demand.
“Are you trying to have your neck sawed off, my lady?”
“I am not your lady. I am your… well, Eve and I neither want my head sawed off or my hand joined in marriage with that one. Adam, he is pot-bellied, round and short. And his eyes are too wide apart and his head just too big.”
“He is also king and very wealthy. You considered those more important than love.”
His tone was once again pained and disappointed.
“Adam, this is only a dream…”
“Is it?” Adam softly cut in.
“Of course, it is.” Eve impatiently retorted in same hushed whisper. “And I only met you this evening, so I cannot…”
“Your heart has known me for longer than one evening, my lady. You have just failed to acknowledge that fact.”
“My heart has known… my heart is not involved here, Adam.” Eve debunked. “It can’t be involved and yours shouldn’t be either, we are only just meeting. You were my cab driver only minutes ago. That was how this dream started, right inside your cab in a different world. Do you not recall any of that at all?”
But how could he? It was her dream, not his. Her head chided her.
“I recall only what my heart knows, my lady. And it knows you. It knows love.”
“Love, love, love.” Eve was exasperated. “Can you stop piping about it? It is irrelevant here. What is relevant and we should be worrying about is how to get out of this era and make sure I don’t marry that fellow.”
“Love is always the heart of everything. Without love, what else is there but greed and emptiness?”
“I am not greedy, Adam. I cannot imagine what must have possessed me to make the choice to marry him… darned dream didn’t show me when I made that choice, so I very well can’t be sure if I really did.” She added in a vexed mutter. “Still, that is the case and I am telling you that we need to get out of here and not concede to this foolishness.”
“Why?” Eve swung her eyes down on him. His head was raised and his eyes watching her. “What do you mean why? I can’t marry him. He is wrong for him. Physically wrong for me.”
“That your only objection, his physical nature?”
“That should be reason enough for anyone.” Eve muttered, miffed at the scorn in his voice. “But if it isn’t for you, how about the fact that I strongly feel that this dream should only be about us—you and I.”
“Why do you strongly feel this… that what you consider a dream is only about you and I?”
“Because…” How had she come to the conclusion that it was about them? And why? “Well, I don’t know.” Unnerved, Eve gave her shoulders a defensive lift. “It started with just you and I in your cab… I guess that’s my reason. It was only you and I at the beginning. No one else. There shouldn’t be anyone else. We… I shouldn’t allow there to be anyone else.”
Eve stooped, and though not sure why she was doing so, she touched his dark handsome face. “I shouldn’t allow anyone else to come between us. Not him and not… no one.”
“You have condemned both of us to death.”
“What?” The tender look in his eyes made her numb to the alarm that fizzled inside her.
“You touched another man, a mere warrior, in the presence of the king who is soon to be your husband. Death is the penalty for that betrayal. Death for both of us.”
He was talking about death and yet his eyes were so tender. So… so filled with love. How was it possible that he could love her when they only met minutes ago?
Dream. An unrealistic world.
“We won’t die, Adam.” She told him positively. “You can be certain of that. This is only a dream. And it’s my dream, so I won’t allow us to die.”
The words thundered like a roar and stomping of heavy feet followed it.
“Oh God, they are going to try to kill us. He’s given them the order to.” Eve stared, alarmed, at the warriors—she supposed they warriors because they had the same dark woven fabric as Adam did around their waists and marched forward with drawn spears in their hands. “What are we going to do? We need to get out of here.”
She spun around her gaze. “What?”
“Say yes.” He repeated.
“Are you going to start with that?”
“Yes is always all it takes, my lady.”
“We haven’t got time for your strange talks right now, Adam.” Impatient, Eve grabbed his hands and dragged them to their feet as the warriors advanced closer. “You need to find a way to get us out of here. Frankly, I don’t mind being kidnapped again by those three men in black. Of course, they will have to kidnap you along with me.”
“You still do not get it.” Though he smiled, there was an edge of sadness to it. “You still do not get what this is about.”
“I don’t care what this is about, Adam.” Eve snapped. “There are men with spears closing on us from all sides and an escape route is all I care about. I am not ready to die… not even in a dream.” She yanked her eyes heavenward. “God, I demand you wake me up and bring this dream to an end right now.”
“Until you get it, it will not come to an end.” Adam said quietly. “But for now—are you refusing to marry the king over seven kingdoms despite all of his wealth?”
“Adam, can you get serious now?” Eve hissed.
The warriors were near to them and somehow, they were now the only people standing in their midst, surrounded by them with their spears drawn at them.
“Are you refusing the great king and choosing a warrior in his place?”
“Heavens! Stop asking stupid questions and do something, Adam!” A chant has risen from the warriors. A chant of war… or was it of death? “Draw your own spear at least even if that will not save us.”
“Are you choosing a warrior over a king, my lady?”
“God! You are adamant and foolhardy, aren’t you?” Eve gaped at him in exasperation, her heart thudding frantically in her chest. “Fine. Yes, I am choosing a warrior over a king.”
“Your answer is yes?”
“Damn you, Adam!” Eve swore. “Yes! My goddamn answer is yes!”
At once the ground beneath their feet shuddered, groaned open and swallowed them up.
Eve’s scream rend the air.
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