The cold was bitter.
The warm kiss was wonderful.
“I thank you for honoring me with your presence. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon.” Walter was smiling as he admired the young woman beside him.
“I agree.” Were the only two words that Selena could force through her lips. Her afternoon had taken such a sudden turn that she was left breathless.
There was a carpet of freshly fallen snow all around the log where they sat. The sun gleamed high in the sky above them.
The clamor and the chaos of the distant town were not allowed here in this clearing. This fact was exactly why they had chosen it for their meeting place.
“I don‘t think my Father would listen though. All he thinks about is the bank and how much more profitable he can make it. My mother does what she can, but she likes peace in the house so she does what she is told.”
“I understand. I just thought I’d ask.”
Walter was the picture of a healthy young man. Intense blue eyes and a head of blonde of blonde hair betrayed his German origins. His muscular stature betrayed his three years in the military.
“You look troubled. What’s wrong?”
“You wouldn’t understand.”
“You think so?” Walter ran his arm around her slender shoulders. “Try me.”
“Alright.” Selena felt her reserve collapse under the pressure of her emotion. She stood and took a step away from him. “Walter, you live a privileged life. Your father owns a bank! If everything goes as planned, someday you will as well. I’m…well, you know what I am. I spend my days on my hands and knees cleaning the floors after the important business of the day is done. Honestly, I’ve enjoyed our times together over the past few months. But truth is truth! Being involved with someone like me can only bring you pain!”
“Don’t you see? It doesn’t matter what you can offer me. It is all about what I can do for you. What can I do to make you understand that? After what I went through in the war money doesn’t mean anything at all to me!”
“You always say that but how do I know that’s true? You weren’t the only one to suffer in the war! Many of my people suffered. My country of France was destroyed!”
“I know…and I’m sorry I had to be a part of it.”
“You’re sorry! The Generals say they are sorry! Everyone says they are sorry! But that doesn’t bring my brother back! Look at you, you aren‘t even brave enough to confront your Father!”
“Listen! Would I have done all the things for you that I have if I didn’t care about you?” Walter stood as emotion powered through his voice. “I don’t care about what you’ve done. That’s why I wanted to meet with you. A new year is here. I’d like a fresh start, a new, and public, relationship for us. I want peace in my family about all this. If loving you makes my Father angry, let him rage. If loving you means giving up my inheritance, so be it!”
There was a moment of silence as Selena brooded over this. “This is sudden. I…I’ll need some time.” She finally stammered out.
“Sudden? We’ve been meeting here for six months!”
“You’re right.” Selena stood to face her man. “But how will we survive? You know what people will say if they found out about us.” She sighed. “It’s only 1920; the great war wasn’t that long ago.”
“I know the war inflicted a lot of wounds. Believe me, I know!” Walter took her slender shoulders in his war hardened hands. “Many people around here want to keep the war alive. My Father is one of them.” His voice grew rough, sanded by the edge of emotion. “Still, I’ll talk to him. Will you at least think about what I said?”
“I’ll think about it. That is all I can say. I will think about it.”
“Selena.” He raised his head to look directly at her. “Love is a gift that can heal the past but only if you give it a chance to grow.”
“I wish I could believe you.”
“I understand. I asked a lot of you today. Think about it. We can meet back here tomorrow and discuss it further. Just promise me that you’ll be here.”
“Yes…I suppose I can promise that. What time?”
“We have a gold shipment going out tomorrow. I have to meet the train at 2:30. ” Walter examined the watch attached to a gold chain around his neck. “How about 3:00? Does that work for you?”
“I’ll be here.” Selena turned to leave but was stopped by the sound of Walter’s voice.
“At least let me give you a ride back into town.”
“I’ll think about what you said. That’s all I can promise you.” With that, Selena turned away from her lover and walked away into a veil of falling snow.
Walter watched her leave for a moment. Then, overcome with purpose, he strode toward the black horse and buggy that stood waiting for him.
He only had twenty-four hours to settle things.
It was time for a confrontation with Father.
Walter placed his foot in a step and hoisted himself aboard his buggy.
It wouldn’t be a easy. Still, he was determined to do what took to win her hand. Even if it meant that he had to give up everything that he had ever known.
“Heyah!” Walter slapped the reigns, urging the horse onward the town.
It was time for a new battle.
To be continued…