arranged marriage, Colonial Williamsburg, Flight of the Raven, medieval, proposal, romance, Soul of the Wolf, The Novels of Ravenwood
In the summer of 1999, I made up my mind to move to Williamsburg, Virginia and work for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. I flew into Newport News and gave myself one week to secure a job and a place to live. With dispatch, I achieved both goals, which left me with spare time at the end of said week. I ambled around CW’s historic area, wholly unaware I had a date with destiny.
I schlepped along DOG (Duke of Gloucester) Street. Thanks to the heat and humidity, I thought I was going to pass out. Then I spied a divine stretch of shade beneath the entrance to the 18th-century courthouse and made a beeline for it.
A young man in colonial garb with wavy, brown hair and blue-gray eyes guarded the door. I must’ve looked pathetic, because he grinned as I approached.
“Can I share your shade?” I begged.
“Of course,” he said.
We remarked on the hellish heat, shook hands, and introduced ourselves as Dan and Judy. We settled into an easy conversation, and I learned he was a native of New Jersey and had recently moved to Williamsburg with the express purpose of working for CW, just as I had.
For some reason, I told him I’d studied at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. His eyes lit up, and he explained that his ancestors had held lands around Aberdeen. In fact, Marischal College at the University of Aberdeen was founded by an Earl Marischal of Scotland.
We had a number of things in common. With minimal adjustments to circumstance, we might’ve met before in England or Massachusetts. We could’ve talked for hours, but he had to get back to work.
“Good luck with your new job,” he said, shaking my hand once more. “Maybe I’ll see you around.”
A week later, after I’d well and truly moved to Williamsburg, I was back in the historic area. This time, I explored the Magazine.
All of a sudden, the memory of Dan’s blue-gray eyes invaded my thoughts. Where are you, Dan? I asked in silence.
Without knowing why, I marched down the stairs and out of the Magazine. Then I crossed DOG Street and the Courthouse green in a straight line that led right to the Randolph House.
There stood Dan in 18th-century costume, guarding the gate against the long line of tourists. Somehow I’d answered my own question and known where to go. Or perhaps, a part of Dan had “heard” my question and responded on a level of which neither of us was consciously aware.
I started toward him. “Hi. You probably don’t remember me, but I’m Judy. I met you a week ago.”
“Of course I remember you,” he said.
That was a shocker. But I didn’t have time to react because another costumed interpreter approached us.
Dan glanced at the newcomer. “Perfect timing.”
Perfect was right. It was time for Dan’s break, and the other interpreter was his replacement.
We strolled down Nicholson Street toward the Cabinetmaker. Casual observers might’ve mistaken us for longtime friends. As for me, I had a gut feeling we were meant to meet. It felt right to walk beside him. I knew on some level, I’d chosen to do so.
His break was short, so we parted at Botetourt Street. But not before he asked me to dinner.
That evening, he took me to a Mexican restaurant where we indulged in freshly baked tortilla chips, a tasty array of enchiladas, and a candid conversation that ran the gamut from our respective childhoods to our impressions of Williamsburg. It was a long exchange…so long that we were the last customers out the door.
Even so, we were reluctant to part company. Dan suggested we go to his apartment to watch a movie. I’m surprised I wasn’t nervous. Why? Two reasons. One: he invited me to his apartment on our first date. Two: we watched Silence of the Lambs. How’s that for a first-date flick?!
When the ominous soundtrack swelled above the rolling credits, it was the perfect complement to my thoughts, but not about Dan. The one and only nuisance to my nerves that night was my new job, which would begin in roughly eight hours. I turned to Dan and confessed my worries.
He covered my hand with his. “You’ll do fine.”
Serenity, surrender, and a strong sense of déjà vu rushed through me. It seemed we’d sat beside each other in just that way hundreds of times before.
This man will support me, I thought. He’ll protect me with his life.
From then on, we spent all of our free time together. Two months later, I moved in with him.
Two months more, and we were home from work with nasty colds. Our trash cans overflowed with discarded tissues. We’d consumed at least a gallon of chicken soup and sneezed on each other more times than we could count. It was quite possibly the most unromantic day in history. But then…
Dan sat splayed across the couch as I shuffled toward him in my bathrobe and slippers. I made a ludicrous joke, and he was gracious enough to laugh. I knelt on the couch to hug him, and his arms closed around me.
Laughter still touched his voice as he asked, “Will you marry me?”
I thought he was joking. “Sure,” I said with a dismissive gesture. “Someday.”
“You mean you will?”
I pulled back to read his expression. “You’re serious?”
He was indeed. Our engagement had begun.
We had a choice about whom we would marry. Most of us in modern times take that for granted. In my first two medieval romances, the heroines—Emma, Lady Ravenwood and Jocelyn, Lady Nihtscua—must grin and bear arranged marriages, however much they object. Luckily, their benevolent creator (yours truly!) believes in happy endings…maybe because I’m content in the relationship I was fortunate enough to choose 17 Januarys ago.
~ ~ ~
Soul of the Wolf, the second of The Novels of Ravenwood, will be available soon. The first book, Flight of the Raven, is available now. Click here!
Christina Smith said:
I have known you two from the beginning. Dan was a coworker of mine and I remember how happy he was when you started dating. When you two moved in together we all knew it was serious. You two are perfect for each other. You have been through a lot but your love has kept you two together. It could of separated many people. Love you two.
Judith Sterling said:
We love you too, Christina. Thanks for your kind words and for enhancing our lives just by being you. Hugs!