The Prequel, Chapter Forty-Five

It was a particularly dreadful January day.

Alexander, who had been working at the smithy's as of late, got back from work to find Miriam in a most disgruntled mood.

"I didn't know you were going to be here today," Alexander muttered, gruff.

Miriam put her hands on her hips. "I practically live here, Alexander. Besides, half my stuff is here. I can move, if you want me to."

"What's gotten into you?"

Sighing, Miriam shook her head. "It's not a big deal," she muttered, and her hands wrung nervously. Coughing slightly, she crossed her arms. "I just don't feel well today, and on top of it all, to come back here to such a mess..."

"It's only temporary, Miriam. It's only messy for the time being because of the work I've been doing around here. If you want me to fix up all the leaks and holes and such that you keep pointing out in this place, then you have to put up with the messes. Sometimes, things have to be dirty before they can be clean."

"Well, aren't you a philosopher!" Miriam shot back, clenching her fists. "Is it too much to ask that we keep this place a little bit tidy?"

"Is it too much to ask that you explain what's going on?"

Miriam immediately became defensive. "What do you mean?" she hissed, hands on hips. "I think I have a right to be irritated!"

"There's more to it than the mess around here, isn't there?"

Miriam burst into tears and fled the room.

Uneasy, Alexander followed Miriam to where she sat on the bed, sobbing. "I found this," she choked out. "I found this in one of your drawers, while I was putting away clothes from the laundress's."

Gulping almost audibly, Alexander watched as Miriam pulled a letter out of her pocket.

"It's from Eve," Miriam said. "She found you, somehow. And you've been hiding it from me. Why do you still have it? Why didn't you throw this away?"

Alexander made a move to sit down beside Miriam, but she scooted away. "I received that letter from Eve a few days ago, Miriam. I didn't show it to you because I wasn't sure how to react to something like this. Trust me, Miriam, I will never go back to Eve."

Miriam was still crying. "I don't know, Alexander. Lately I haven't been myself. My emotions are all out of line...I guess reading this note from Eve put me over the edge. Why would she write to you?"

"I suppose she fancies herself in love with me."

Miriam stood up. "I wish I could trust that you'll never return to Eve," she said, voice growing soft.

"I gave up alcohol just to have you, Miriam. I am serious about the two of us, sweetie. I wouldn't be doing all this for you if I wasn't."

Sighing again, Miriam allowed herself to fall into Alexander's embrace. "I guess it's just...I don't know. I harbor feelings that maybe I won't be good enough for you. Maybe I won't satisfy you. You could have the heart of any girl in the world - why would you ever be content with little old me?"

"Miriam - "

"I see the looks women give you when you pass by. You're like a Greek god to them or something. They would give anything, just to be yours. And then, they look at me. I can tell they're wondering why a plain girl like me would be with such a handsome prince as you."

"You're not plain, Miriam. You are the most beautiful woman in the world."

"To you, I am. But you're just blinded by love. Or at least, by what you think is love. Just you wait - sometime, a young woman with raven black hair and captivating green eyes will sweep you off your feet, and you'll forget all about me."

Alexander hugged Miriam more tightly. "You're lying," he whispered. "You're all I've ever wanted. I could never imagine a more beautiful person. It's I who am unworthy of you."

But something about Miriam's words made Alexander frightened. Because as much as he hated to admit it...the letter from Eve had been unearthlyly disconcerting.

The End

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