Disclaimer: The characters in this story are copyrights of Paramount and Fireworks Productions. No infringement is intended. The story plot is original and copyright to the author, Maril Swan.
Author's Note: This is one of my favourite stories. I hope you enjoy it too.
Queen of Cups
Asleep at last, he sighed to himself, as the girl's tear-stained face relaxed and her breathing quieted. He settled back in the chair to keep his nightly vigil, his own breathing almost forced against the heaviness of his heart. Only three days, he thought, it's only been three days, and it already seems an eternity since she died. His eyes burned with fatigue and unshed tears, tears that threatened to spill as he watched his daughter sleeping. His own loss was great, but he knew hers was greater, to lose her mother at so young an age. Don Alvarado brushed his hand wearily over his eyes, almost surprised to feel the moisture there. He had held his own grief in check, lending Tessa his strength to help her bear this heartbreak. But now in the silence of her little room, his strength was exhausted. He bent over, unable to hold himself up any longer and finally began to silently weep.
A little hand brushed the hair off his forehead, and through a film of tears, he saw his daughter, Tessa, bravely trying not to cry as she reached out to comfort him. He clasped her tightly and for a long time, neither spoke, as they sought solace in each other.
At length, Don Alvarado moved, wiped his eyes, and then his daughter's. He smiled briefly, his heart too full for words. He led her back to the bed and put her in, covering her with a warm comforter. From the vast whiteness of the pillow, she stared up at her father. She looked so tiny, so vulnerable, he felt his heart wrench as he gazed into those dark sad eyes, innocently searching for his reassurance, his strength. "Will we ever be happy again, Papa?"
"Yes, Tessa," he whispered, "Your Mama would want us to be. It may take a while, but we will be happy again. Go to sleep now." He kissed her warm damp cheek and sat back down in the chair.
The years have not been kind to her, Don Alvarado remarked to himself as his sister came forward to enfold him in a bosomy embrace. The woman he remembered was fine-featured and slim. This woman was stout, with hard black eyes, her mouth drawn into an attitude of perpetual distaste. She was dressed entirely in black, mourning for a husband who gratefully departed this earth many years before. Doņa Damona, his older sister, had changed so he hardly knew her. If she had not seen him first, he would have missed her on the crowded docks of Barcelona.
"Rafael!" she squealed, her eyes brimming with tears. "How long has it been? Eight, ten years?"
"More like twelve," her brother laughed, detaching himself gently from her robust embrace. Turning to the little girl hanging tightly to his hand, he said, "This is my daughter, Tessa." Pushing the girl forward, he added, "Tessa, kiss your Tia Damona."
Shyly, the child raised her face, then tried to turn away as Tia Damona swooped down and landed a loud, wet kiss on her cheek. Tessa rubbed the moist spot, a look of aversion on her young face. Her aunt regarded the child with some annoyance, her lips pursed even more than usual.
"Where is your daughter, Damona?" Don Alvarado asked, looking around the crowded quay. "Didn't she come with you?"
"Elena is a very delicate girl, and I was afraid being here on the docks among all the rough sailors and these noxious smells, would make her feel faint. She will meet you at our home."
"Is this how colonials look, Mama?" the blonde girl whispered to Doņa Damona, eyeing Tessa with unconcealed contempt when she saw her new cousin enter the parlour. Elena's pale complexion and fine clothing exaggerated the difference between the two young girls as Don Alvarado introduced them. She was as fair as Tessa was dark, and being older, Elena was taller, her body already maturing. The older girl's gown was of the finest blue satin, a colour, she knew, matched her eyes, and she wore it with the hauteur of a princess. Elena dismissed Tessa with a disdainful look at her travel-stained clothing and unkempt appearance, turning a simpering glance to Don Alvarado. "Mama has said so much about you, Tio Rafael, I feel as if we have already met," Elena said in a carefully modulated voice.
The deportment lessons must be paying off, Don Alvarado thought cynically, trying to keep his face bland. He squeezed his daughter's hand encouragingly. Tessa was quiet, subdued, her eyes downcast, trying to avoid the arrogant looks she was receiving from Elena and her mother. She seemed overwhelmed by these grand people with their haughty airs, their elegant Spanish. "I hope you and Tessa will become the best of friends," Don Alvarado said heartily, though, with a sinking feeling, he very much doubted it. He could see by her attitude, Elena had already placed Tessa in an inferior position, and he feared she would might be jealous of any attention her mother paid to Tessa. Still, he reassured himself, he was doing what was best for his daughter. She would be cared for by her own relatives, and could get a good education in Barcelona.
"Where did you get those ugly clothes?" Elena smirked, watching Tessa putting away her things into a wardrobe in the room she shared with her cousin. "Even a peasant wouldn't be caught dead in them." The older girl snatched a gown from Tessa's hand and held it out with an air of disgust. "Is this what people wear in the colonies? These rags?" Tessa tried to grab the dress but Elena hung on and as they tugged back and forth, the seams ripped and a sleeve came off. Elena snapped, "Now you've done it! You're in trouble. Wait till Mama hears how you tore your dress." The older girl scampered out of the room, and down the stairs, calling out to her mother.
Tessa gloomily held the two pieces of the dress, wondering what punishment would befall her this time. In the week since her father had gone to Madrid on business, Tessa had been in trouble with her aunt more times than she could count. It seemed that nothing she did was right. As often as not, it was Elena who got her into trouble, and escaped any of the harsh discipline her aunt exacted upon the younger girl. The punishments usually took the form of penance, saying rosaries, repeating the Pater Noster and Ave Maria, over and over. At least, Tessa consoled herself, Tia Damona did not believe in physical punishment, though she thought, that might almost have been better. At least it would be over quickly.
Tessa strolled around the library of her aunt's villa, gazing at the leather-bound volumes lining the shelves from floor to ceiling. So many books, she thought in awe, who could read them all? She trailed her fingers along the ribbed spines, tracing the gold lettering, and wondering what the words said. Pulling a book out, she sat cross-legged on the floor, and flipped open the pages. There were no pictures and the black lines of print seemed to mock her as she browsed through the leaves.
"You can't read, can you?" a familiar and unwelcome voice behind her taunted. "How old are you, Tessa?" Elena asked nastily.
"I'm seven, going on eight next month," Tessa replied defensively, hoping the other girl would leave her in peace.
"You're such a baby," Elena jibed. "Can't read, can't write. You don't know anything. You're just a stupid, colonial peasant!" The older girl pulled Tessa's hair hard, causing tears of pain to start from her eyes. Tessa leapt up and gave Elena a hard shove, landing her on the floor with a heavy thump. The older girl ran from the room wailing, and soon Tia Damona was standing over Tessa, scowling and demanding an apology for Elena.
"I won't apologize because it wasn't my fault," Tessa said adamantly, her little heart beating violently with fear of her aunt, and the injustice of the accusation. Her obstinacy earned her a night without dinner, but Tessa felt vindicated and rather proud of herself. She had not given in to injustice even though apologizing would have been easier.
Don Alvarado returned from his business trip to find a cool reception. As soon as he had unpacked, his sister began a litany of Tessa's mischief and shortcomings. "I will speak with her," was all he could offer Damona in compensation for the burden of looking after his daughter. When Damona left the room, he arose from the study chair, and paced, wondering what to do. Sighing heavily, he admitted, this idea of leaving Tessa with his sister might be a mistake. Don Alvarado went out to look for Tessa whom he hadn't seen in over a week.
The young woman paused, frowning slightly with curiosity then worry, as she watched the little girl leaning over the edge of the fountain, swirling her tiny hand in the water. Dark, like my people, the young woman thought, a wistful smile playing over her lips, as she noted the girl's pretty olive features and long dark hair. Glancing around, she saw no one with the child, and thought uneasily, where are her parents? Why is there no one minding her? The young woman set down the basket of clothing she was carrying to the laundry, and staying in the shadows of the courtyard, continued to observe the child.
Eventually, the little girl took off her shoes and stockings, and swung her legs over the edge of the pool. She hoisted up her skirts, and waded through the fountain, staying out of the spray. She had not noticed her watcher yet, as she sloshed her solitary way around the shallow pool. Her young face was set in sorrow, the adventure of wading in the fountain seemed to bring her no joy. At length, the child sat down on the edge of the fountain, staring somberly at the water rippling around her bare feet. Something about that lonely, sad face and those downcast eyes tore at the older girl's heartstrings. She ventured out into the courtyard, being sure she was not seen by anyone. As she neared the little girl, she could hear her weeping, and without conscious thought, sat beside the child, putting her arm around the narrow shoulders. Instinctively, the child turned toward the warmth she suddenly felt, and wept against the young woman's breast.
"Why are you so sad?" the older girl asked gently, turning the little face to look up her.
"My mother..." the child began, trembling and choking. "Papa says she is with the angels." Dark, innocent eyes searched the other's face. She suddenly realized this was a stranger, and was overcome by shyness. Disengaging herself, she moved away slightly. "Who are you?" Tessa asked, brushing the tears from her cheeks. "I haven't seen you before."
The young woman smiled warmly. "I'm Marta, and I work for the Doņa."
"My name is Maria Theresa Alvarado," the little girl said formally, then added, "Papa calls me Tessa."
"I am very sorry about your mother, little seņorita." She touched the child's cheek tenderly, watching the tears welling up in the dark eyes again. Marta knew she should be at her work, but this child needed someone to comfort her, to ease that terrible ache she must be feeling.
"Do you have a mother, Marta?"
"Yes. She lives far away, with my people, in Andalusia. I hardly ever see her."
"Your people?" Tessa frowned slightly she took in Marta's exotic appearance-her vivid patterned skirt, the golden earrings looped in her ears, and the white blouse frilled with a brightly coloured fringe. "Who are your people?"
"The gitano. Gypsies to you, I suppose." Marta had to smile at the way the child's eyes widened with curiosity.
"Mama used to say I dressed like a Gypsy," Tessa said naively.
Marta laughed at her innocent tactlessness. She gave the child an impulsive hug, and said, "Then I suppose we are both Gypsies." To her surprise and delight, Tessa laughed and returned the hug.
A loud voice called from somewhere across the courtyard, then Elena stepped out, her face tight with vexation as she scowled at the two seated on the fountain. "Lazy girl! I'll tell Mama you are idling, Marta. You will be punished for this." Elena snapped. Marta jumped up, and quirked a wink at Tessa, then moved to pick up the laundry basket and go back to her work.
Don Alvarado stepped out of the shadow of the doorway from which he had been observing his daughter and the other girl. His brow was knit in concern as he crossed the courtyard to his daughter, still seated on the fountain wall. "Tessa," he called gently. She turned and he saw for the first time in months, a smile on her face. It uplifted his spirits and he smiled back. "Who was that girl you were talking to?"
"Her name is Marta, and she works for Tia." The child beamed on her father, and he felt again the warmth he had missed for so long. "She's a Gypsy," Tessa breathed in childish wonder. "And she's my new friend." Tessa looked away at the retreating figure of Marta, not seeing her father's troubled expression as he also watched the older girl taking her laundry basket through a doorway off the courtyard.
The plaintive sounds of a violin flowed faintly from somewhere beyond the courtyard, and Tessa followed the sound to a high gate. She had been told to stay inside the courtyard and not wander, but curiosity got the better of her, and she pushed the gate open and found herself in a large yard with a row of buildings along one side. The music seemed to come from an open doorway in what looked like a dwelling. Her heart in her throat, Tessa crept nearer the doorway, then peeped in.
The violinist looked up and smiled, a warm welcome in her eyes. "Come in, little seņorita," Marta called. "Are you allowed to be out here?" she asked, suddenly concerned.
"No. I just wanted to hear the music. It sounded so pretty." Tessa glanced around the small, sparsely furnished room. It contained only a cot, the chair Marta sat upon and a chest. To one side was a table on which sat an oblong shape wrapped in a colourful silk scarf. The bright colours attracted the girl and she stepped forward to pick it up.
"Don't touch that!" Marta said sharply, then softened her tone when she saw she had alarmed the child. "It is only for me to touch."
"What is it?" Tessa asked, moving her hands away quickly as she viewed the object warily.
"A deck of cards. Very special cards." Marta lifted the silk package up reverently and showed it to Tessa.
"May I see them, Marta? What kind of games can you play with them?"
The Gypsy girl unwrapped the Tarot deck and set it face down on the table. "Yes, we can play a little game, if you like. Now, Tessa, you may touch the top card." When the child had done so, Marta lifted the card and placed it face up. She laid out a pattern of cards, her eyes moving over the pictures with an intense look. She shook her head, and glanced at the little girl standing beside her who was entranced by the pictures. Impossible, Marta thought as she read the cards' message to herself, but the cards do not lie.
"So what do we do now?" Tessa asked, waiting for something else to happen.
Marta studied the little girl thoughtfully for a few moments, then laughed lightly and said cryptically, "That is a very good question." She gathered the cards and replaced them in their wrapping.
"This game is not much fun. Do you know any others?" Before Marta could answer, Tessa looked up suddenly, alarm in her eyes as she heard her cousin calling for her.
"Tessa! Tessa!" Elena's voice shrilled, and came nearer. Elena had come through the gate and into the yard.
"Hide me!" Tessa said urgently. "I'll be in trouble again if she finds me out here." Marta held back for an instant, uncertain, then as Elena's voice sounded closer, she grabbed Tessa, and pushed her into a small closet, resuming her seat and picking up the violin once more. When Elena entered without knocking, Marta was playing a quiet melody, barely audible.
"Have you seen my cousin, Tessa?" Elena demanded, scowling insolently at the Gypsy girl. "I think she came out here. She's going to be in trouble when I find her."
"No, I have seen no one." Marta returned the haughty stare with one of her own until Elena looked away. "If I should see her, I will send her to you."
Without another word, Elena left, her shrill voice calling and then diminishing as she went back inside the courtyard. "You can come out now. She is gone."
"That was close," Tessa said, relieved. "She's so mean to me. I hate her."
"Hate is a very strong word. You should not hate anyone."
"Well, I do hate her. She's mean to you, too, Marta. Don't you hate her?"
The Gypsy regarded the little girl for a moment. "No. I don't." Then she laughed at the skeptical expression on Tessa's face, and admitted, "Well, maybe just a little bit...sometimes." Getting up, she said, "Now, seņorita, we must get you back inside without being seen."
"You can't keep calling me 'seņorita'. Call me Tessa."
"It isn't proper for a servant to address you so familiarly. I would get in trouble for it."
"Well, just when we're alone then, call me Tessa. Please. Aren't we friends, Marta?"
The child reached for Marta's hand, and with that trusting touch, she felt such a warmth of affection for this little girl, her voice caught in her throat. Tessa's loneliness seemed like an echo of her own, a sense of being an outsider, cut off from everything that was familiar and beloved. Marta knew such isolation too only well. It had been her sole companion since leaving her people to work in the city. She knelt and embraced Tessa warmly, then rose and took her hand. "All right...Tessa. Now we must hurry or we'll both be in big trouble."
"Do you like doing that, Marta?" Tessa asked as she watched her friend scrubbing a washtub full of clothing over a ribbed board in the laundry room. The steam from the hot water enlivened the untamed curls in the Gypsy girl's hair, and she kept brushing stray locks off her face with a heat-reddened hand.
"What do you think, Tessa?" she replied, dabbing a bit of soap on the end of the child's nose. Tessa swiped the soap off and said,
"No. I don't think I would like it. Why do you do it then?"
Marta shrugged. "It's my job. I have to earn a living, you know."
"Why doesn't your father take care of you, like my Papa does."
"My father died a long time ago."
"Oh. I'm sorry about your father," Tessa said solemnly. "What did he die from?"
"You ask a lot of questions, little one. Soon, you will be going to school, and then you can ask all the questions you want." Marta laughed at the look of reluctance on Tessa's face at the idea of school. "You will like school - learning to read and write, learning about the world, art, music. You are a lucky girl."
"Can you read and write, Marta?"
"More questions," the older girl laughed. "Yes, I can read and write. Stop with the questions or I will drop you into the tub!" She swooped down and picked Tessa up, and held her over the soapy water, making the child squeal with laughter. "Are you going to plague me with more questions?" Marta pretended to drop her, and the young girl screamed with excitement.
"Yes," Tessa said breathlessly, "I have lots more questions."
"All right then. In you go!" Marta said, lowering the girl so close to the water, she wriggled and shrieked, trying to scramble up away from the steamy suds. Tessa froze suddenly, and her mouth opened in surprise. Marta turned to see what had startled the child, and nearly dropped her.
Don Alvarado stood at the door of the laundry, watching the antics, his face unreadable. "Come with me, Marta," he said curtly, stepping back into the courtyard.
"Madre de dios," Marta breathed, her eyes widened in fright. "You better go, Tessa." She was about to say she would see the girl later, but at that moment, she doubted it. Drying her hands on her apron, she went out into the courtyard. She caught up to Don Alvarado, and followed him into the villa, and then the study.
He closed the door and turned to face her. "I have been watching you with Tessa for some time..."
"Don Alvarado, your daughter and I..." she didn't finish as the don waved her to silence.
"I think you already know, Marta, how unsuitable it is for Tessa to spend so much time with you. The difference in your ages, your stations. It is quite improper for Tessa to befriend a servant, especially a ..." He stopped, tactfully leaving the sentence unfinished.
So Marta finished it for him. "A Gypsy." She lifted her chin and met his eyes frankly. "She is just a child, and doesn't see any difference between us."
"Yes, that is the problem. I brought her to Spain to be educated as a young lady, the daughter of a don. And I see her running wild about the place with you. It must stop. She will learn to behave properly, like her cousin, Elena."
"Elena!" Marta quickly bit back a retort as she saw Don Alvarado's face darken. Madre mio, she thought in desolation. Well, my position is lost anyway. She plunged on. "You would want your daughter to be like Elena? Elena has no heart, she treats everyone with contempt and she is spoiled beyond belief. You would want that for Tessa?" Marta's voice faltered for a second as she observed the don's eyes narrow with anger. Then she pressed on. "Tessa is just a child, Don Alvarado. She needs to be allowed to play, have fun, be young. She will grow up too soon. Don't take her childhood away from her. With her mother gone, she has already lost so much."
"You are an impertinent girl!" he bellowed at her, making Marta start but she held her ground, keeping her eyes firmly fixed on his. "How dare you tell me how to raise my daughter?"
But Marta, in spite of her fear of the nobility, could not hold her tongue. "Tessa is high-spirited and adventurous, Don Alvarado. She is very curious and takes risks, and there is never anyone minding her. Among my people, children are everyone's responsibility. We are too few and children are too precious to lose any to mischance. Your daughter is always alone." Marta continued more passionately, " I know she misses her mother. If she still had her mother, then she would be well looked after. But she is not. The Doņa cares only for her own daughter, and Elena is a spiteful, jealous child. There is no place here for Tessa. Her spirit will die like a flower without water." Marta swallowed, her throat dry with fear at the dark looks she was receiving from the don. She knew she had gone too far.
Don Alvarado glared at the Gypsy girl for a long moment, then said, in a voice harsh with restrained rage, "If I see you with her again, I will have you dismissed from my sister's service. Do you understand me?"
"Si, seņor," Marta said with quiet dignity. "I understand you perfectly."
"Don't touch the clean clothes," Marta said sharply as the little girl bent to the basket to pick up a white linen cloth. "Your hands are not clean."
Tessa looked at her palms, and saw the grime there, smiling abashedly at Marta. "Well, I can hand you the pegs," she offered, grabbing a wooden peg from the peg basket.
Marta snatched it away, and tossed it back into the basket. "No, you can't help me. Go and play with someone your own age. I don't want you around anymore."
A hurt look crossed the little girl's face, then cleared. Marta was always teasing. This was another game she was playing. But the rigid set of Marta's face told her this was not a game; her friend was serious. With a sinking feeling in her stomach, Tessa said softly, "Aren't we friends anymore, Marta."
Without turning, Marta replied harshly, "No. We cannot be friends. You are a daughter of a noble family and I am just a servant." The Gypsy girl took a deep breath and turned to face Tessa. "Now go away, and don't bother me again."
Tears welled up in the child's dark eyes as she waited for her friend to relent, but Marta just continued with her work as if Tessa were gone already. Tessa ran back to the villa and disappeared inside. Marta turned to watch her go, thinking sadly, she has already had so much sorrow in her young life, and now, I have added more. It would seem, this time, the cards were wrong.
The sound of the splashing fountain seemed a balm for the child's troubled spirit, always drawing her to its spirited, playful waters. Tessa, somewhat hampered by the satin gown her Tia had made her wear that day, climbed onto the edge of the fountain. She imagined herself to be a tightrope walker in a circus, carefully measuring her steps on the narrow wall. To the amazement of her unseen audience, she daringly placed one foot in front of the other, balancing precariously as she made her way around the fountain.
Elena stepped into the courtyard and seeing her cousin on the fountain wall, was about to call her mother. Suddenly, a sly grin spread over her face as she crept up behind Tessa, and with a hard shove, pushed the little girl into the fountain pool. As Tessa fell, her gown flew up over her face, and the heavy garment dragged her down. The pool was not deep, but Elena could see that Tessa was struggling, unable to see or get to her feet. Panic overcame the older girl and she ran back inside the villa.
Marta heard a loud splash, and stopped her work, listening. The sound came from the fountain, and then, there was more commotion of splashing. She ran to the courtyard and saw what looked like a bundle of clothes in the fountain, except it was struggling and coughing. In a instant, she was in the pool and lifting the bundle up. With the weight of the wet clothing, and the squirming child, it was all Marta could do to get her out.
Coughing and spluttering, Tessa suddenly found herself safe with Marta holding her, and patting her back to get the water up. "You're all right now, Tessa," she said gently. "You're just a little wet," Marta laughed shakily, with a quick hug. "You should not take such chances around water," she admonished. "How did you fall in?"
"I didn't fall in!" the child said angrily. "I was pushed!"
Marta drew in a sharp breath, and was about to speak but the sound of running steps could be heard approaching and they turned to see Don Alvarado hurrying toward them. His face was ashen as he saw his daughter, still coughing up water, drenched and shivering. With a hostile glance at Marta, he lifted his daughter up and took her back inside the villa.
"Elena said you pushed Tessa into the fountain," Don Alvarado said flatly, turning to Marta as she entered his study. The Gypsy girl staggered under the impact of this lie, and the don added quickly, "I know it wasn't you, Marta. I'm sure it was Elena. She ran in to tell me she saw you push Tessa. Later, I asked her why she didn't go into the fountain to rescue Tessa, and she said she was afraid to get her dress ruined with water. The spiteful little vixen! But since Tessa didn't see who it was, nothing can be done. It is between Elena and her conscience, if she has one. But you saved her, and I am thankful."
"I don't think Tessa would have drowned, Don Alvarado. You were near enough this time." He looked away guiltily under this subtle rebuke, then smiled wryly.
"Everything you said to me a week ago is true. I don't know how to raise a daughter. Especially a daughter like Tessa. She needs the care and influence of a woman. Since my wife died...," he hesitated, those words almost overwhelming him as he spoke them. He began again, "I have been trying to decide what is best for Tessa. She needs to be educated, and only in Spain can she get the kind of education I want for her. I had intended to place her with my sister, but after seeing how things are here, it does not seem such a good idea. My sister is a stern and pious woman. She has her own daughter whom she loves, and has no love left over for Tessa. The daughter, Elena, is...a little tyrant. Tessa would be miserable here with her."
"I have decided to reopen my villa in Madrid, and hire a staff to look after things. There she will live while she goes to school. But I need a guardian for her, someone who will not only take care of her, but love her as well." He watched Marta's face light up as she suddenly realized what he was about to offer her. "I want you to be her guardian and friend, Marta. I think you already care for her a great deal. I also think you can be trusted to be good to her. And good for her. She had not smiled or laughed for months, until she met you. You gave back her smile and I am grateful to you for that."
"Don Alvarado, what you offer is beyond my dreams." And written in the cards, she added to herself, with a small, satisfied smile.
As she smiled at him, he realized something he had not noticed before. She was very young, and quite beautiful. She was tall and slim, her fine features framed with an abundance of richly curling auburn hair. It unnerved him and he was suddenly unsure of this idea. "How old are you, Marta?"
She hesitated, and then said, "Eighteen, seņor." Well, almost, she rationalized to herself, in a few months.
"So young for so much responsibility." Don Alvarado seemed to be having second thoughts as he asked, "Are you betrothed to anyone?"
She flushed self-consciously. "A young man and I had an understanding. But I have not seen him for over three years. I do not think we will ever marry," she said with resigned finality.
The don paced the study, a pensive expression on his face. "If you take on this responsibility, you will be giving up many things - marriage, children, your people. Think carefully before you decide. Your future is in your own hands now. But I hope you will agree to look after Tessa for me when I return to California."
Marta gave him a long considering look, then drew herself up, lifting her chin. "You objected to my friendship for Tessa on the basis of my race. What has changed your mind?"
"Perhaps a child opened my eyes, and I saw past my prejudice. I saw what Tessa saw in you, someone who loves her, and will protect her. Tessa needs you. Will you accept my offer and come with us to Madrid?"
"Of course, Don Alvarado. Did you ever doubt it?"
The don's face relaxed and he laughed easily. "It's settled then. Let us go and tell Tessa. I can't wait to see the joy on her face."
As she followed her new employer, Marta thought wonderingly, we are all in the hands of Fate. The cards did not lie. My destiny is linked with the child's somehow. Only time will tell, and meanwhile... She smiled radiantly at the little girl scampering toward her as she held her arms open.
Queen of Cups - ŠMaril Swan - December 2000
|Home||Queen of Swords||The Raven||Other Stories|
|Other Authors||QoS 2nd Season||Contact|