The Kiss that Saved Her (Chapter 4, page 1 of 1)


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Chapter 4

Late summer offered no respite from the heat and David worked near the cave
with the stream running underneath. He breathed in the musty air near the water as
he sat on a wooden bench and carved where a willow grew.
Joanna carried her basket back from the stream where she washed the clothes.
The wind caught the branches of the oak and beech trees surrounding the cave and
the leaves circled high overhead. The small beech leaves fluttered as if sparrows’
wings took to flight. The swaying leaves bent the sunlight which pranced toward
the earth. Joanna loved the forest.
Joanna spotted David, who was back from the forest. Her face showed her
happiness and he returned her joy with a smile to express his own. She set the
basket down and sat near him. He continued to file the wood smooth.
“Do you sell many flutes?” she asked. The current of desire moved her closer to
him as she slid down the bench.
“No. Plenty of people buy flutes, but it takes me months to make one flute. I
make a better wage making bowls. I can make them quickly and they sell fast.” He
paused before adding, “But I always enjoyed making flutes. I have sold about
twenty. I wish I had more time then I’d make more.” He blew the dust away from
his almost finished flute.
“Is it difficult to carve?”
“A bit.”
He looked at her, his eyes showing an idea flashing inside his mind. “Let me
show you how to carve.”
“No, I couldn't.”
“Let me show you, Joanna.” He slid closer to her and gave her his knife. “The
trick is to use the knife in a continuous cut. Like this.” He demonstrated the proper
way.
“I will try my best.” She began to carve. She had no success as the skill must be
practiced.
“You’re getting it, don’t worry,” he said.
Then he moved to her and his hand brushed hers as he showed her. She failed
again. He put his arm around her and took the knife from her. Her face showed her
surprise at how close he held her, close enough to breathe the same air.
His arms covered her and the two carved the flute together as he held her hand.
He finished the carving and let go of her hand and unwrapped his arms from her,
the flute nearly completed.
He took the flute and played a happy tune. Then he hollowed out the flute a bit
more. He tried the flute again and he seemed satisfied by the sound it produced.
Frank was outdoors and saw them sitting on the bench. He joined them and said,
“I think it sounds beautiful, David. I think it is the best sounding flute that you
have made.”
“It was Joanna who has produced the desired sound.”
“I did nothing to make this beautiful instrument. Everyone can see your skill!”
David looked at her and declared, “I did not say that you made the flute rather
you inspired it.”
The two stared at the other with an unspoken love as the sun’s unspoken warmth
blanketed the earth with a glance of its light.
*
George, Dom, Frank and David began the busy work of harvest. Joanna tried to
help, but it was the first time she harvested crops. She cut the wheat slowly. David
worked quickly as his wood carving made him skilled at cutting the wheat. The
others scattered in different fields and Joanna and David worked in the field
farthest from the cave. The sun set and the cold air worried Joanna. She stepped
through the stalks and in her haste she tripped in the bumpy field. Her hands broke
her fall but her leg hurt. She felt an arm around her waist and she was lifted up.
“Are you hurt?” David asked her.
“I am fine. My leg hurts a little,” Joanna said.
“Let’s take a look.” He helped her over to the edge of the field and she sat on a
tree stump and he looked at her leg.
“Oh Joanna, it is bleeding pretty badly, we better go to the pond to clean the
wound.”
“Yes, I should bandage it.” She took out a cloth from her pocket and wiped her
leg.
When Joanna stood up she wobbled, and David scooped her up.
“I insist on carrying you, it is a long way to the pond and you cannot walk it.”
She felt his arms around her and she put her own arms around his neck.
Time stopped and offered to suspend moving its pendulum to allow her to
behold her David.
David helped her sit on the bank of the stream. She lifted her work pants over
her knee and gathered the water and poured it over her wound.
“I will run to the cave and get some soap.” David left her there.
The first stars were visible in the sky and she thought of David. The dark
cloudless sky contained many stars and she found one she liked the most.
She saw David approach the pond. His broad shoulders were thrown back as he
walked briskly.
“I tried to hurry.” He handed her the bar of soap.
She stood up and took the soap. “I am fine.”
She winced in pain as she washed the wound.
“Are you alright, Joanna?”
“Yes, I am. It hurts a little.”
“I wish that I could take away the pain.”
She looked at him with tenderness. He gave her a cloth to dry her knee and then
she sat back down. David bent down to carefully dress the wound.
It was fully dark and she was alarmed at the onset of cold air.
“Oh David, I took you away from the harvest! Because of me you wasted
precious time.”
“We will get the harvest in, don’t worry. You are more important than anything.
You are the best thing that ever happened to me; to us I mean. You do so many
little things. Who else would have put flowers on the table? Who else would have
made George a little bit more pleasant? And when you smile it just makes the day
brighter,” David told her.
“I was afraid that I just slowed everyone down. I never felt like I could do
enough to repay the kindness you all have shown me. I am happy to hear you say
that I am needed.”
“Oh yes, we need you, Joanna, I can’t imagine what it would be like without
you. I have forgotten what it was like before you came. It is as if you were meant
to be here.”
“I am so happy you think that.”
David looked down at the cloth. “I think the bandage will hold, but I think that
your days of harvesting are over.”
“Oh no, I must help you!”
“No, the patient must rest so that she can get better. I will manage to get the
harvest in you know. I’ve done it pretty much by myself since I was fourteen.”
“Oh, I see. Perhaps I just got in the way.”
“No, you are a hard worker, and the prettiest worker I have ever seen to be
honest about it. It was a good harvest season.” David sat next to her.
“Are you certain?”
“Yes,” David answered. “I will leave you here for the next half hour while I pull
in the last of the wheat. Will you be all right?”
Joanna shook her head yes. David took off his coat and put it around her
shoulders. She was about to protest, but David said, “I insist.”
“You have always been the one who has looked after me.”
“I will always look after you, Joanna.”
She doubted real love existed until she met David. Joanna wanted to spend every
hour with him. She loved when he played his flute. When he played, the sweetness
of the sound echoed her feelings for him. The notes of the melody filled her soul
with him.
She watched him disappear through the forest. In the quiet night Joanna viewed
the rising of the full harvest moon. It was beautiful. The orange full roundness of
the moon rose higher and higher until it was a small bright white lantern in the sky.
Joanna had spent her childhood as the Princess, and while she felt lonely
because her father was busy, she felt secure. Her father was a good man. They
would ride horses after church which pleased her as she loved the times in the
barns away from the castle.
When she was twelve, she learned of his engagement to her stepmother. It was
difficult for her to understand, but she wanted him to be happy. The wedding was a
grand occasion, followed by a full month honeymoon trip. Joanna was used to her
father being away. When the Queen moved in, she understood she would see her
father less, but they still rode on Sundays. He insisted that Sundays were for her.
She witnessed the arguments it caused.
While Joanna never felt that the Queen loved her, she never dreamed that she
would try to kill her. Even after her father’s death, the Queen was civil. She didn’t
mind being left alone each evening — she had her studies to do — but for the past
three years since her father’s death, Joanna had never fully felt loved.
She felt overwhelming sorrow invade her soul like a sound invaded a dream. All
the love she had ever known disappeared the day her father died. As the sad
memory turned in her mind, she felt another emotion — hope. David filled her
thoughts until he returned.
The last of the wheat was cut, and the last vegetable was carried into the cave.
That night the frost came.
*
Frank, George, and Dom worked near town and David worked in the woods.
The air felt warm in spite of the cold temperature and the two might mix to
produce a wet snow. Soon he watched white flakes falling from the hazy clouds.
As the snow fell, he thought of Joanna and her skin soft to touch. He wished he
would be near her again. He imagined her softness as the snow fell in jagged
fashion from the gray clouds. David thought to go back to the cave. He hurried
back from deep in the forest and by the time he reached the cave, the ground was
covered.
“What on earth?” Louis began. “David, is that snow on your coat?”
“Is it snowing?” asked Joanna excitedly.
“Yes, I hurried home to tell you,” David replied.
Joanna grabbed a wool wrap and followed David outside. Louis put on a hat and
gloves and followed them both and sat on a big rock outside the door of the cave.
The brilliant white snow made the forest appear to be a new world. David took a
handful of snow and threw it at Joanna. She gasped at the shock of cold. Then she
took her own handful to throw but David ran into the woods.
Joanna ran after David. The snow in her hand began to melt and she lost sight of
him. Then David popped out from behind a wide tree and threw more snow. It hit
her hair. She threw her melting snow at him, but it landed near his boots. He
chased her and she stopped between trees. She had her back against a tree. His
hands grabbed her arms and he firmly held her and moved close enough for his
face to touch hers.
“Oh, Joanna, the snow looks so white against your black hair, and you are so
lovely.”
She thought he was so close that his lips might touch hers. She wanted him to
kiss her but he just stood there, near her. His fingers touched her lips. David
stopped as if he turned shy at his touch of her lips. He stood straight up, and let go
of her.
“We should get back before Louis worries,” he said.
As they continued back, she noticed the wind blew the snow on the ground up to
the middle of the tree trunks, which darkened the bark. The white flakes sat for a
moment before melting. Her mood darkened as melancholy thoughts of being a
hunted princess stuck to her mind. Even in the forest the call of the castle stood in
front of her.
*
David carved his bowls and boxes indoors after the ground was covered with
snow. Joanna was busy with chores, but she could watch him as she cleaned.
Louis sat in his chair near the cooking fire and sewed. He yawned as it was
afternoon and he was sleepy.
“I am going to take my nap,” Louis told her. He smiled at David, who was
carving his wood at the kitchen table.
Louis dragged his leg through the narrow part of the cave back to the main bed
chamber.
David glanced at her and said, “Louis naps so much you’d think he was a baby!”
Joanna thought of something that Louis had mentioned. She stopped washing
and dried her hands and then she sat down. He stopped his carving and smiled at
her.
“I want to ask you something, but I am not sure if I should.” Her hand covered
her mouth.
“I will try to answer anything that you ask me, Joanna.” David set his carving
knife down and shook wood flakes from his shirt onto the floor.
Her hand dropped away from her face. “Why did your parents leave you with
Dom?”
David looked at her, surprised by the question. He touched his head as if the
action would force the correct words to flow out of thoughts and into his mouth.
He saw she was sincere and he felt it was probably time to tell her about his life’s
circumstances.
“My father left my mother because I was damaged. When I was born, I had a
club foot and the doctor told my mother to leave me in the woods. I am sure they
all thought it would be best. They all thought of everything except me! My mother
stumbled upon Dom mixing his medicines and begged him to take me. I always
thought of Dom as my father because he rescued me. That is why I am alive
today.”
Joanna stayed silent as he revealed his past and reflected on what he told her.
“I am sorry, David. I never knew that your foot was damaged; I couldn't tell.
You are extremely strong. I know some people can be cruel and even want to kill
others.”
David said, “Why do you say that? Is that what happened to you?”
“I was abandoned.”
“Joanna, you were not just abandoned, you are too afraid. It is as if someone is
trying to kill you.” He tried to study her eyes but she averted his gaze.
“I can’t tell anyone, it is too dangerous for anyone who knows, as well as for
me.”
“You can trust me.” He took her hand into his own. His touch comforted her and
her fear left. Joanna felt something stir deeply inside her. She felt his love for her.
Then she remembered the Queen. Even in Ott she must conceal her identity.
“No, David, it is too risky, the less you know the better,” Joanna said, pulling
her hand away.
“Listen to me, Joanna. I will never let anyone hurt you. I promise you that. I feel
for you in a way that even I don’t understand.” He took her hand again.
David saw how vulnerable she felt. This side of her had remained hidden. At the
moment he told her about his past, he saw in her eyes she understood him as no
one else could, for she was abandoned as well.
She looked up at him and he moved even closer to her. He finally had the
courage to tell her that he loved her. Even if she didn’t return his feelings, he
wanted to tell her.
“You are the most beautiful woman in the world. I have seen many women in
the villages when I sell my goods. Some are very pretty and some are even
beautiful. But you are…you must know…”
He leaned toward Joanna, and she slowly closed her eyes wishing for him to kiss
her.
David pulled her close and whispered to her, “You are like the first snow,
beautiful and soft, and so white, you are my Snow White.”
She held her breath as his lips touched hers.
The mystery of love became known as she yielded to his kiss. The kiss, mingled
with desire, filled her. She experienced the power of his love. She felt nothing else
mattered in time or space. Kingdoms, castles, monarchs and gold ceased to matter
when her lips touched his. Their love mixed into a new beginning just as love
began in the Garden. David’s kiss became a covering. Life and death ceased to
have meaning other than what love had purchased in its desire.
Joanna knew that nothing was the same.

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