Monday, July 27, 2009

Excerpt Monday - Mihai & Theresa are married.

Enjoy this excerpt from "The Wolf's Torment."


It was a late August day as Mihai stood in the entranceway of St. Mikhail’s Orthodox Church. The church had been founded in the 1300’s and built in the shape of a cross with smooth, rounded spires and stained-glass windows. A series of steps led up to the vestibule where two statues of Romanian saints, St. George and St. Mikhail, guarded the door.

Mihai wore the uniform of the crown prince. He impatiently paced the length of the vestibule, unable to hide his anxiety. This was where he was supposed to meet Theresa according to Orthodox custom, but the waiting whittled away his fast-beating heart.

Next to the heavy wooden doors, there was a small window that looked down onto the steps. Viktor walked up to the window and glanced outside.

“Theresa’s carriage has arrived, Mihai,” Viktor said.

“Come here, Son – for God’s sake stop that incessant pacing,” said Stelian.

Mihai approached his father. “This is it.”

Stelian put his hand on his son’s shoulder. “I am proud of you.”

“Are you all right? You look pale,” Mihai said. Cheers from the crowd outside permeated the air and Mihai knew Theresa would enter at any minute.

“I’ll be strong enough to watch you get married,” Stelian replied.

Mihai nodded his head. He knew his father was suffering with a lot of pain, but because this day was so important, Stelian refused any painkillers meant to alleviate his agony. Viktor had promised to help keep watch over the king and Mihai was grateful to his friend for that.

The door opened and all eyes turned toward Theresa, who walked into the entranceway next to her father. Behind her were her sisters, Beatrice and Victoria, and behind them, Sonia. Mihai’s tense expression softened when he spied Theresa’s familiar smile. Her wedding dress was perfect. The bodice fell down past her collarbone, accentuating the full curve of her cleavage. The sleeves tapered down to her wrists, and the dress hugged her waist with a white train elegantly falling behind of her. She wore pearl earrings and a matching necklace.

Theresa’s father presented her to Mihai, and for a precious moment, time seemed suspended between them. The bells stopped ringing. The crowd became silent, and the heavy church doors closed behind the wedding party.

Father Nikolai greeted the couple. His purple and gold robe glittered in the shining colors of light coming through the stained windows. Mihai and Theresa held hands as Viktor, Sonia, Stelian, and Theresa’s family looked on.

“Is there anyone who objects to the marriage of Mihai and Theresa?” Father Nikolai asked.

Mihai turned to look at his pretty bride. He knew in his heart she would be a good queen. This was one choice he felt wasn’t reckless or impulsive and would benefit his nation.

“Prince Mihai, do you come here of your own free will to marry Lady Theresa?”

“Yes.” Mihai squeezed Theresa’s hand, reassuring her, and himself, this was what he wanted.

“Theresa, do you come here of your own free will to marry Prince Mihai?”

“Yes,” Theresa replied, smiling.

Viktor stepped forward and exchanged the wedding rings between the couple three times, in accordance with the Orthodox customs. The fourth time, Mihai slid the wedding band on Theresa’s finger.

Mihai looked into his bride’s eyes and saw how moist they were. He was convinced in that moment she would be a good wife, and that she wasn’t a witch.

She slid the wedding band on his finger. If only he could find the words to tell her how seriously he intended to take his vows, but the words hung in his throat.

Father Nikolai motioned for the couple to enter the church. Mihai and Theresa followed him down the aisle accompanied by a solemn march. The church was adorned in white and gold candles. The incense was thick, yet sweet. When they reached the altar, Father Nikolai presented them each with a candle. Mihai’s eyes locked on Theresa’s as they held their candles in front of them.

“Christ is the light of the world and will light your way through life as husband and wife.”

The prayers and readings were said. The couple took communion. Mihai watched as Theresa’s favorite sister, Beatrice, gave her the crown she was holding and Theresa passed her the candle. With a deep bow, Theresa presented the crown to Mihai. Mihai’s lips trembled as he kissed it. Then, with tears streaming down her cheeks, Theresa crowned him. It was the church’s marriage custom to crown each other, and Mihai was overwhelmed. A part of him felt a little guilty. He was fond of Theresa, and he certainly considered her a friend, but his heart didn’t harbor the passionate emotions for her that she held for him.

He took his crown from Viktor and presented it to Theresa. She dutifully kissed it and he placed it gently on her head. Kissing the crown meant she accepted him – his faith, his world, his country.

The couple walked around the altar three times. The final time, Nikolai turned to look at them.

“In the name of God, I pronounce you husband and wife, Crown Prince and Princess Mihai and Theresa Sigmaringen.”

Mihai lifted his wife’s veil and kissed her lips. He only meant to share a brief kiss with her but when they met, he realized he didn’t want the kiss to be perfunctory or lifeless. His lips softly caressed hers, lingering for an extra moment before he pulled away.

The bells began ringing throughout Constanta, announcing his marriage.

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