My heart was in my throat as he pulled me close for one last spin and I whispered, “I love you Uncle Nathan.”
“I know,” he smiled and finished our dance by putting me in a dip. “But, it’s Nathan or Nathaniel from now on. You’re not a little girl anymore Lisa. And since I age way slower than anyone else around here, having you still call me ‘uncle’ is going to get people wondering and I can’t have that.”
Stunned and a little disappointed I nodded and muttered, “Okay, Nathan.”
Then he stood me upright and kissed my hand, while the room broke out in thunderous applause. I smiled as best I could under the circumstances. I’d just declared my love for this man and all he could say was “I know…” and then told me to drop the ‘uncle’ part. This was NOT how I had hoped things would go. What the hell had just happened?
But before I could dwell on things further some of my friends rushed over and dragged me to one of the crystal tables so we could sit and talk. I was too stunned to do anything but go along and soon, they had me in a much better mood. Yet, I couldn’t believe how Nathan had reacted to what I’d said to him. Did he think I wasn’t serious? I offered him my heart for crying out loud!
I tried to hold onto my annoyance with him, but it was slowly forgotten as friends handed me presents and told me how blown away they were by how much my family had done to set this place up. My dad had been passing by at that moment and said, “Actually, this was all Nathan’s doing. He’s spent the last few months planning this party and getting things arranged. Mind you he did consult with us and we gave the approval. But most of this was him.”
“Oh my God, I want to see if he’ll help set up my next birthday,” one of the girls sighed. “This is so cool. I mean look, we can even see our reflections in the table.”
Suddenly I stiffened and looked down.
Sure enough, she was right. I could see all their reflections in the tabletop, along with my own. Panicking I looked around and spotted Nathan coming towards us. Forgetting how angry I was with him I jumped up out of my seat and intercepted him saying, “I want another dance,” and dragged him out onto the floor.
Then I remembered how shiny and polished the dance floor would be and looked down. Immediately I let out a sigh of relief. The entire floor was covered by a thin was covered by a thin layer of colored fog.
Immediately I let out sigh of relief.
As if reading my mind Nathan smiled. “I thought about how shiny the floor is and how it shows people’s reflections,” he said proudly.
In the background a slow song came on and I allowed him to pull me in for a slow Rumba. I tried not getting too close to him, but when dancing a Rumba you have to be practically joined at the waist.
“Too bad you didn’t think about the crystal tables!” I shot back. “They show reflections too!”
Immediately, his face turned into a mask of embarrassment. For several seconds he kept opening and closing his mouth without saying a word. Finally he managed one word, “Oops.”
“Is that all you can say for yourself! Oops!” I hissed “Not everyone here knows about you!”
“Which is why all the mirrors on the walls and in the restrooms are made without silver,” he pointed out. “They use a different backing that does reflect my image, so we’re safe. Why are you so upset?”
“Because…” I began but then my words disappeared.
But once again, he seemed to know my thoughts and said quietly, “I know you meant it when you said you love me, Lisa. And believe me, of all the people and godchildren I’ve watched over these last fifteen decades, you’ve become extremely dear and important to me. So I’ll make you this offer. It’s one I’ve made to others before, but as you know, no one’s taken me up on it.”
Catching my breath I nodded, “Go on.”
“As I said earlier, you’re no longer a child but a young woman,” he said brushing my cheek with his as he leaned in close so only I could hear him. “But I’m over a hundred and fifty years old. I look like I’m in my late twenties. I need you to catch up a bit first. So, I want you to LIVE! You must go on dates, go places, see things, maybe fall in love a couple of times along the way. Some of them won’t work out, but one might. But if none have by the time you’ve gotten closer to my ‘apparent’ age, if you still want to be with me… if I’m still the one you want to love and marry, I WILL make you my bride.”
“Really? You mean it?” I gasped pulling back so I could look straight at him. Even before he could reply, I could see the answer in his blue eyes, he meant every word.
Still he answered, “Yes,” as the fog suddenly rose up and hid us from sight. That was when he kissed me, I mean really kissed me, as if we were already lovers.
After several moments our lips parted. Before he could speak I told him, “Now I can hardly wait to hit my late twenties.”
“But you have to live first,” he gently reminded me. “You have to get out and enjoy life. Date other people and explore the world.”
“I will,” I promised as we finished our dance and the fog slowly fell back to the floor.
That was of course the highlight of the night for me. Mind you, the rest of the evening was just as fantastic. Marisa did make an appearance but could only stay an hour, but still it meant a lot to me. I spent the rest of the evening walking on air. It was a magical night and one I will always remember and treasure.
And I will keep my promise to Nathan. I will start dating and exploring all that life and the world have to offer. Then, when I turn twenty-nine, unless my life has taken an unexpected turn, I will go to him and become his bride.
****KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR THE EPILOGUE TO THIS TALE, AS WE HEAR FROM NATHAN AND LEARN HIS THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS AS HE TALKS WITH BRIAN****