A Knight in Shining Armor: Chapter 17

At the church, Dougless wouldn’t release Nicholas. He knelt to pray, and she knelt beside him, both her arms tightly locked around his shoulders. When he didn’t push her away as she feared he might, she knew that, in spite of his pretended amusement, he was as frightened as she was.

They knelt together on the cold floor for over an hour. Dougless’s knees hurt from the stones, and her arms ached from holding on to Nicholas, but she never considered relaxing her grip. Twice, the vicar came in and stood for a while watching them, then silently walked away.

As hard as Nicholas prayed for forgiveness, Dougless prayed twice as hard for God not to take him away but to let him stay with her forever.

At long last, Nicholas opened his eyes and turned to her. “I remain,” he said, smiling. Laughing, he stood up, and Dougless, almost crippled, also tried to stand, her arms still tight around him.

“My arms have no blood in them,” he said, chiding her gently.

“I’m not letting you go until we’re out of this place.”

He laughed. “It is finished. Can you not see that? I am still here. I have not turned into marble.”

“Nicholas, stop teasing me and let’s get out of here. I never want to see your tomb again.”

Still smiling at her, he started to take a step, but his body didn’t move. Puzzled, he looked down at his feet. From his knees down, there was nothing, merely space. There was floor where his feet should have been.

Quickly, he pulled Dougless into his arms and held her as though to crush her. “I love you,” he whispered. “With all my soul I love you. Across time I will love you.”

“Nicholas,” she said, her voice betraying her fear at his words. “Let’s get out of here.”

He held her face in his hands. “Only you have I loved, my Dougless. No other woman. Only you.”

She felt it then. She felt that his body was no longer solid in her arms. “Nicholas,” she yelled in fear.

He kissed her again, kissed her softly, but with all the yearning and wanting and desire and need he felt for her.

“I’m going with you,” she said. “Take me with you. God!” she screamed. “Let me go with him!”

“Dougless,” Nicholas said, and his voice was far away, “Dougless, my love.”

He was no longer in her arms but standing before his tomb wearing his armor. He was faded, indistinct, like a movie seen in a bright room. “Come to me,” he said, holding out his hand. “Come to me.”

Dougless ran to him, but she couldn’t reach him.

A streak of sunlight came through the windows and flashed off his armor.

And then there was nothing.

For one hideous moment, Dougless stood and stared at the tomb; then she put her hands to her ears and screamed, a scream such as no human had ever uttered before. The old stone walls vibrated with the sound, the windows quivered, and the tomb . . . The tomb just lay there, silent and cold.

Dougless collapsed to the floor.


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