CHAPTER 18: IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

Fielder’s brutal advances had prejudiced Fabana against her own natural inclinations. She was afraid that Jalkort would come to her in the night with dull glowing eyes the way Fielder did to have his way with her. But she would endure it for the sake of her love for him and to bear his pups.

Jalkort drew up almost timidly to her. “How bright the stars are tonight.”

“Yes,” she said stiffly. Her muscles tensed. “They are bright, aren’t they.”

“We’re alone now,” Jalkort whispered. “Safe from the eyes of night, this small part of the world is our private kingdom, and you are my queen.”

“Come on. Get it over with,” Fabana said tensely.

“Get what over with?” Jalkort said with a gentle laugh. “You’re such a timid creature. That’s what I love about you.” He pawed her, then came down on his front legs and wagged his tail. “Hey, I bet you can’t catch me!” He tapped her on the shoulder and ran a short distance, then said, “You’re it! Come on, Fay! Work off that fat, honey bunch!”

“Fat??” She ran after him. “I’ll fat you!”

He bounded over a row of bushes like a gazelle. She followed, just skimming the top.

She looked around for him, but didn’t see him anywhere. Then she looked back and saw him hiding at the base of the bushes with a rakish grin on his face. “Gotcha!”

Fabana laughed. “You little fakir! You never change!”

“That’s right,” Jalkort said. “I’m still your friend. See, I’m not so scary am I?”

“Well, no….” She looked into his warm hazel eyes. “Well, yes. You’re the most scary and wonderful thing I’ve ever seen.”

He drew close to her face and nuzzled her gently. “I can be patient, as patient as you need me to be.”

She smiled and rubbed his cheek gently with hers. “You’re my best friend, and against all hope you’re my husband. Whatever you want to do is fine by me.” She pawed the ground uneasily. “Will it hurt?”

He chuckled. “No, my darling.” He pawed her face and smiled. “You’ll feel loved, very loved.”

She looked into his eyes and saw the honesty and openness that liberated her love for him. “I’m ready. Make me feel loved.”

“Are you sure?”

Trembling with mixed fear and desire, she whispered, “Yes. I’m sure.”

Fireflies like tiny shooting stars brought the splendor of the heavens close enough to touch. In the distance, a lion sang an ancient song of the joys of owning territory. Another lion roared back in eerie antiphony. The acacia leaves whispered wordless messages of peace and love. Fabana felt very happy, safe, and loved as he said she would. With Jalkort, no one would stare at her. With Jalkort, no one would shake their head in pity.

FABANA:

I looked into the water, and I dreaded what I’d see

A tortured face with ugly scars was looking back at me

I shied to go on living, and I wanted just to hide

And yet he doesn’t see that face, but one that lives inside



JALKORT:

She ran before the hungry fire that burned our world away

I thought our love was buried deep in some dark yesterday

Our path had forked, the dream had died,

like grass our love had burned

But life renewed amid the ash, and with it love returned.



BOTH:

The day before was void of hope, you were a sweet regret

A sad dream tugging at my heart I tried hard to forget

Then fate decreed our paths would cross,

our love was meant to be

Tonight the stars of Heaven smiled because you came to me.



Jalkort and Fabana went to a place where fear and shame could not follow them, a place found only in the heart where scars do not make ugliness and the boundary between two hopes is removed. They were one love and one spirit burning brighter than the sun, and everything the light touched was made pure and holy. Fabana felt her old sadness washed away in the tide. With it washed away the clinging traces of Spotty. She was Fabana, daughter of Kelvar and wife of Jalkort!

She discovered her special heritage with the help of her husband. Born to an ancient line, she knew the joy and comfort of a husband as her mother and grandmother did before her. All fear was gone. She floated in a pink sky on a golden cloud of joy, warmed by the sunshine of his love. She drew nearer, ever nearer to the sun, and finally trembling like a dry leaf she was swallowed up in the sweet caress of its fire. “Oh, Jal! I love you, so much!”

The end of their passionate encounter was just the beginning of their close bond. Fabana turned to meet her husband’s shining hazel eyes. He smiled gently and kissed her.

“Are you happy, Fay?”

“Delirious,” she said. “You are love.”

He went and rolled on his back in the sleepy savanna grass, and Fabana snuggled next to him.

“Aren’t the stars beautiful, Fay?”

She didn’t notice. Her gaze was turned upon him. “You make everything look beautiful. Even me.”

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