“Do you think me a beast for wanting you so much?” Eden asked Sophia, as they lay in each other’s arms watching the fire.
Sophia smiled and considered a moment before answering her. “If you are a beast, Eden Smith, you’re a pretty yearling colt, tossing your head and prancing about; making everyone who sees you smile at your fire.” And she ran her fingers through Eden’s hair and kissed the top of her head.
Eden rolled over, propped herself on an elbow and asked, “Can’t you stay one more night?”
“I’ve worn my mother’s patience thin,” Sophia said. “I have to go home.”
Eden stood now, and walked to the wardrobe in the corner of the room and opened a little drawer, reaching in and pulling out a small velvet bag. “If you’re really leaving me, have your Christmas present now.”
She walked back to the bed. “Hold out your hand and close your eyes.”
Sophia smiled and did as she was told.
Eden shook the bag and let its contents fall into the girl’s palm.
It was a flat band of yellow gold, carved with a star, in which sat a winking garnet. “Oh! It’s so pretty,” she said.
Eden sat beside Sophia, took the ring from her palm and placed it on the third finger of Sophia’s left hand. “You’ll wear it always, won’t you?” she asked.
“Of course I will,” the girl answered, holding out her hand to admire the ring
“See the little red stone?” Eden asked. “When I saw it, I thought of the little glowing coal inside of Sophie, that she tries to hide. She thinks no one sees it. But her boy…” Eden almost whispered the word “…can see it, however practical she pretends to be.”
“What nonsense,” Sophia said, but pulled Eden’s face toward hers for a kiss.
“And it means you promise to belong to me always,” Eden said. “If you agree to have it, you must agree to that.”
“I would promise to belong to you, ring or no ring,” Sophia told her. “But if that’s what it means, you must wear one for me too.”
Eden found a finger that fit the ring and put it on. “I never will. Never, Sophie. I swear.”