“Daniel, are you sure she should marry me? Lady Meli but calls me a prince, whereas Gillianth has the dignity and bearing of a queen.”
“She will be our queen then.” He replied with a smile and pride in his bearing.
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“One question. Surely this is not the age of marriage amongst your people. She looks no older than seven.”
“She is seven. Normally among us no girl may be looked upon for marriage till she has at least closed her fourteenth birthday. More often girls will wed between the ages of sixteen and eighteen.”
“I’m sorry. We all watched how you reacted to Ashiir, how you behaved with her. We saw you with your bride Cassie. We saw a man who captures the heart of a girl-child and only fills it with love and joy. What more could any father ask for? When Gillianth spoke to her parents of her feelings they came to me in the hope that I could find a way to save her the heartbreak of finding out she would not be loved. Lord - Robert, I looked upon her and saw a girl fitting to be the wife of a prince someday and they all agreed that we allow her this chance at love. It is also easier for us in that she will not leave as a wife does to be with her husband. She would still grow up with the care of her parents.
From what Lady Meli has explained about your world, from what...Lua has told me, it seems that sex on your world is viewed as evil. We do not understand that. Surely what is done with love is as nature intended?”
I laughed, “That would be a lengthy conversation indeed should we decide to discuss it now. Perhaps I should have imposed a limit of seven years so that should I not return she would be safe from marriage till she is old enough.”
“When a heart is given without questions or reservations, it is not often that it can turn to another. Your time limit is meaningless, as Gillianth herself explained.”
“Gilli, would you sit by me till it is time to leave?”
As we sat talking casually, I got to know that Gilli has an impish sense of humour. I also caught sight of Eric and Aganthi deep in conversation. I kept my mind out of hers, but wondered, is it possible I will have reason to feel jealous? [Just joking Aganthi]
During the Gilli event, all my wives had kept their minds blank, not showing whether they approved or disapproved of the way I had handled Gilli and I suspected I was about to experience a scathing attack once we were home. I did notice Anna watching me with a strange expression, but she has many complex sides to her character, so I ignored it.
Soon as we had reached the limit of the youngest and Eric, we bid our hosts and Gilli goodbye and returned.
Anna said to me, “Robert, thank you for allowing us to come with - and thank you for allowing me to be an adult this time.”
I reacted with a grin. “Have matters been settled? I hope the divorce procedures in Greece do not take too long.”
She stared into my eyes, as if trying to read my thoughts. “Since we have agreed the financial settlements for Smaragda and myself and he is not contesting custody of her, it is practically over. Robert, thank you for your help.”
Smaragda and Anna, quite the experts already, jumped back home.
“So when are you all going to say something?”
“Please Dommi, not now. Just tell me, how else could I handle it?”
“You could have explained that if she marries you she marries all of us and we also have to agree.”
Even as I nodded, I put my face in my hands. “You may not believe me, but I did not think of it - as a solution I mean. I expected to look in her mind and find a childish fantasy and vanity as the reason for her wish to marry me. Instead, this is what I found.” I opened wide so that they all saw what I saw. I let them digest it for a moment. “How was I supposed to react, what else could I do?”
“And if you find a sweet girl on each alternate world you ever visit, you marry her too and we have wives all over the place?”
“I think I better let the old guy take me away for more than a year.”
For some reason Marian was angry with me. “Dommi is right. That was stupid. I can’t believe you want to marry a girl who only exists in the mind of our Meli!!”
They, of course, left it to me to explain. “Sorry Eric, we should have told you. The world you just visited is not completely real yet. At the moment it exists only within the mind of Meli.”
“But…but…the ale made me tipsy, the food filled my belly. I even went to the toilet! How can that be?”
“I presume your belly is not full now and you are no longer tipsy? You did not go there with this body. The world of Meli creates our bodies for us when we arrive there.”
“But, how big is her world?”
“Judging from the horizon, from what I saw in space, I would say a tiny bit smaller than Earth.”
“That is ridiculous!”
“We know, we are still trying to understand it.”
I took both hands of Meli. “Why didn’t you warn us?”
“I did not know. You think I watch everyone and listen to all conversations? I couldn’t even if I wanted to. There are too many people living there and on the other worlds for me to do that.”
“Fair enough. Can you think of a way to turn the heart of Gilli away from me? Is it within your power?”
“No. Why should I anyway?”
“I see, you are also angry with me - can’t you see I am only looking for a way to prevent my hurting Gilli? Meli, she is only a seven year old!”
“So what. You married Cherine when she was eight. Candy as a five year old. What about the babies, including me?”
“What are you saying!!?”
“You have to marry her. Maybe it will even be possible, if we all want her hard enough, for her to come back here with us.”
I looked back at Dommi. “I thought you were all against this?”
“You can be a blind fool at times.” She smiled to take the sting out of her words. “We were with you, in your mind and hers all the time.”
“Still, you were right and I was wrong.”
“Meli will explain to them about her marrying us too. I do not think it will be a problem. She already adores Meli and loves Wendy, even Cherine…while you were busy with other things we had met her before. We were all quite enchanted by her, but when we sensed how she felt about you we blocked her from you. It was not right that we tell you, it had to be her choice.”
Sadly I said, “I was right.”
“Cherine, on Hydra. About how we would now be able to hide things from each other, even lie.” My sorrow was so strong that they all could not help reacting.
Cherine cried out, “But this was not a bad thing, we did not lie!!” Her anguish was real.
“Yeah, I know, but you do not only need to hide things to be lying.”
“How Robert?” She was almost crying.
“Like for instance, if you pretend to be feeling very sad.” I let go the sadness, chortling with my amusement. “You know, like when you want to tease someone.”
Eric saw them all attack me, some hitting with their tiny fists, some with cushions. He shook his head in wonder. Cherine was soon back in his arms. “Told you he is crazy. Sometimes he drives us nuts.”
“I think you are all crazy.”
“Shh, you mustn’t let him hear you or else he will get too happy and crazier.”
I found out that the girls were planning a birthday party for me.
“But what if I have to leave?”
Cherine answered, her little hands fists. “The party is starting at ten in the morning and will not end before six in the evening. If he comes earlier he will have to wait.”
“I think you would make him wait!”
We went to Cyprus for supper, and the next morning we all went to Dar, back in time, and showed Eric a newspaper and explained. We spent a day in the Seychelles (in the present) and we spent our nights frantically making love, I kept tabs and made sure all my girls had their turn as often as possible.
Sometimes I can be very stupid. It was only on the night before my birthday that I found my solution. I jumped to the future, staying invisible, and was present at the birth of my daughter. I saw I was not there so I made myself visible and embraced a bunch of crying girls. I told them when I came from and asked them to keep their minds closed to me, as I do not want to know what has happened during this time. I greeted my baby, tasted of her mind and soul and after filling her tiny heart with my love I returned home.
With tears in my heart I let the girls know what I had done. “This means I will only miss the arrival of her soul. I can’t guess that closely enough.”
Ten minutes later I thought I was seeing double - another Cherine appeared, her face gaunt but smiling. “Give me your hand and let me take you my love. We know the exact time of her soul arriving.” I quickly first pulled her to me and kissed her, the present Cherine watched us with a bemused expression, and then we jumped. I was there when the soul arrived and greeted it. It was still too new, but I left a taste of me within it so that it will know that I love her. I gave all my girls a kiss and hug, especially Claudia who is creating this miracle for us and returned home.
“Thanks Cherine, that was thoughtful, it has taken away a regret I would have carried forever.”
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I hope you enjoy reading this story of fantasy, adventure and love - and should some of it be true for our reality, I hope you will love our Cherine.
Αλέξανδρος Ζήνον Ευσταθίου(Alexander Zenon Eustace)
25th October, 2019
* posted : 25th October, 2019
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