After four years of rooming with Anne she was sadly on her own when she went off to med school. She had enough money, thanks to Louis, to have her own apartment in the city. She had never lived alone, but found it peaceful through the solitude. Anne was a frequent visitor though, especially tending to crash at her place on Friday nights after partying in the city.
Anne had been dating this guy, Joe, for over a year now. They were really happy and Elora could tell just by seeing them together that their relationship was the kind that would last. As soon as things started going well for Anne she started making comments about Elora needing a boyfriend too.
Nothing made her more anxious than thinking about replacing Louis. Ever since her breakup with Rob, her parents had been pressing her to date again, but Anne had always been understanding and never pushed her. Anne had allowed her to be the grieving widow ever since she found out about Louis, but now Anne said it was about time she begin looking for someone new.
Joe had this friend who he thought was a good match for her for some reason or another. Elora had to tell her that she was not interested. She honestly felt no desire to start dating again and it was not because she was still hoping to be reunited with Louis. She had come to terms that Louis was in her past and not to expect him back in her life. For the most part all the guys she met throughout college she had no interest in. Anne said she just never gave anyone a chance. She rationalized that she was too busy with school to be dating.
So she continued to lose herself in her school work. Becoming a doctor was her primary focus. She would be a doctor of general medicine if it killed her. The first term she had been invited to join a study group with her classmates, but was not inclined to do so. She studied much better in a solitary atmosphere. She soon gained a reputation of being a loner, but she did not care.
On the three year anniversary of her return to the present century she found herself at school with a full day of classes ahead of her. Sometimes the memory of the day she was torn from Louis was so vivid she would lose herself in despair. She had woken this morning in such a state. No one around her could understand her pain. Her classmates knew her only as a young, unattached woman striving towards the same goal as them. Little did they know she was not only a grieving widow, but a 17th century royal unable to let go of the past.
Suffering through a flood of painful emotions she still managed to force herself to go to the university. She could not slack, not even today. This was med school after all. Her professors and classmates would hardly notice if she were less talkative today. If she got through the day without having to directly interact with anyone she would be grateful. She had some free time in the early afternoon between classes, which she took advantage of to review her lab notes in the gazebo outside.
"You're Elora Roux, right?" came a masculine voice from in front of her. She peered up through her sunglasses to see who it was. The sun was bright behind him, but she looked at him none the less. He sounded like an old professor with his British accent, but he could not be much older than she and he was dressed in a polo shirt with a pop-collar and jeans so she knew he could not be one. She had heard of this British guy. All the girls, even in her class were crushing on him.
She tipped her head to block out the sun a bit more and asked, "Why do you ask?
"Well, I've seen you before in the laboratory. You see, I have a class directly after you. I sit at the same table in fact."
She was unimpressed up to this point. "You don't look familiar. What are you, an upperclassman?"
"Yes, a year ahead of you, I believe. I'm Peter Winthrop."
"You seem to know an awful lot about me, Peter Winthrop."
"Well…I…" he stuttered.
"What do you want?" she sighed and put down her notes.
"Have you not noticed something of yours has gone missing?"
Could he be dragging this conversation on any longer than this! "Obviously not. What do you mean?"
He held up his stethoscope. Wait, it was her stethoscope! "You left it behind in the laboratory. I was just doing you a favor popping out here after you."
"Geez, I didn't even know it was gone." She stood to take the stethoscope, but he drew his hand away. "Is there something else you wanted?" she asked, becoming annoyed.
"I was thinking now that we've met you would fancy accompanying me to the dining hall."
"I thought you said you had the lab after me. Don't you have to get to class?"
She had taken him aback, she knew, for he was hesitating to say, "Well, the study does not begin for another twenty minutes."
She nodded and said, "No."
"No?" he questioned.
"Yes, my answer to your request is no. I do not want to have lunch with you."
"But all the girls want–"
Heavens, the arrogance just dripped from this guy. She was too old to be dealing with a superficial guy like this. "You must think you're hot shit just because you're wearing $200 sunglasses and rockin' the British accent. I mean do girls really fall for that fancy popping into the laboratory nonsense?" So she just made fun of his accent and foreign phrasing, but she really felt this guy needed a reality check.
Peter ripped off his sunglasses at such a remark. Suddenly something about him struck her. His face, no his eyes…they were so familiar. She flinched when she recognized that his eyes were exactly like Louis'. For more than a moment, after looking into Peter's eyes she was certain it was Louis she saw standing before her. With an audible gasp she fell back onto the bench where she had been sitting. She very nearly fainted. Her eyes shifted from Louis for a second and when she looked back up at him she again saw Peter.
"What is it?" he questioned, sounding off his game.
She shook her head as if that would clear its confusion. "It is just…" she began breathlessly as she came out of her daze. Peter suddenly attracted her and terrified her all at once. "Nothing," she finished nervously.
Before Peter could say another word she grabbed the stethoscope from him and walked away toward the library, without turning back or even saying another word. She could not make sense of what had just happened. That guy had Louis' eyes. Was it the Devil's idea of a cruel joke? She would have sworn Louis had just been standing there. This was exactly why she should have stayed home today. She should not have pushed herself, for now she knew she was not up for school.
She skipped her last class and rushed to her favorite refuge when life became too overwhelming: church. She gripped her wedding ring, which she had on a gold chain hanging from here neck as she kneeled in prayer in the front pew. It was there she remained until hours later when physical exhaustion from kneeling for so long hit her. She went home and cried, regretting the day.
As the semester drew to a close summer came into full swing. Anne had finally convinced her to go on that blind date. She and Anne had gotten ready for the double-date together. She really thought Anne only insisted on coming with her because she did not believe she would come on her own. The four of them were to meet at their favorite hang out, Gurdmann's Bar & Grill.
"Anne, so have you met this guy that Joe's so insistent upon?"
"No, well, maybe once, I think, at a party. If I remember right he was really sexy hot."
"And what exactly do you know about him?"
"Not much, just like I told you before. He's been friends with Joe for a few years. I think he's two years older than you 'cause he's about to finish up med school. So you two should have a lot in common."
Just because they chose the same profession did not mean they would get along, but Elora was willing to give it a chance.
Upon walking into the bar area with Anne she literally bumped into one of her classmates. It was that obnoxious, British upperclassman. His familiar gaze still gave her chills. After turning him down at that one meeting she had basically been treated like a pariah by her classmates. She did not know what he had said about her, but she experienced the stinging after effects. She did not like him at all.
She looked at him with distaste as she passed him toward the bar. "Not even a hello," she heard him say.
She turned around. "Maybe you haven't gotten my subtle hints, so I'll just put it words that you'll understand. Sod off!"
"Elora," began Anne anxiously.
"Oh Anne, never mind him. Let's keep going."
Joe walked up to the three of them. "I see you guys have already met."
"What?" asked both Elora and Peter at once.
"That's what I was trying to tell you, Elora," cried Anne. "I recognize him from that party."
"Wait, this is the guy you're setting me up with?" She covered her eyes with her hand. This was a disaster. The one guy in her whole school she really could not stand. "Did you know about this?" she demanded of Peter.
"I just knew Joe wanted me to meet his girl's friend. I didn't know it was you."
"Oh, so you two already know each other?" Joe chucked. "That's a riot! See Anne, how good I am at this matchmaking thing." Anne nodded with little conviction.
They were dragged to the table by Anne and Joe. Through most of the meal there was awkward silence that Anne and Joe did their best to keep conversation up. After Elora's first cocktail she grew emboldened to speak. "So Peter, how did you end up across the pond?"
"Me mum and da moved here for work when I was fourteen and we've been here since."
"Elora," began Joe. "I think you will get a kick out of this story Peter was telling me. I guess there's this girl he goes to school with. She's one of those brainy, antisocial, teacher's pet types. Peter goes out of his way and returns something to her and she totally throws him over. Ever since he catches her staring him down, looking at him all disappointed, like she regretted passing him over."
Elora looked fiercely towards Peter who lowered his eyes guiltily as he punched Joe's arm.
"She sounds crazy, huh Elora." Joe continued, "Do you know who she is?"
"No." she replied, standing up at once. "Not by that description, but she sounds like a real weirdo. This date is over. I'm leaving."
"But Elora, you have not gotten your dessert yet," reasoned Anne.
"Sorry, I'm just trying to match the antisocial character I am described as."
"Elora, is he the guy you were telling me about?" Anne began to understand the situation and darted a dissatisfied look at Peter. She stared into his eyes intently. "Wow, you were right he really does have his eyes! That's creepy."
If Anne only knew how painful it had been seeing those beautiful eyes on such a kid who was nothing like the man she loved. She hated looking at him, but at every chance she got she could not help but stare. It was strangely like Louis was there with her, when she focused on those eyes. It was so much more real than all the paintings she had of Louis.
There was nothing else to say so Elora left. Peter ran after her outside and stopped her on the sidewalk. "Don't worry, you'll never catch me staring at you again." She jerked his hand off her arm and continued walking.
"I did not say that about you."
"Yet somehow that's what Joe interpreted."
"That is no fault of mine. You know how Joe exaggerates things.–You must forgive me if your feelings were injured."
"Must I?" The day after she met him back in April she had wanted to find him to apologize for her strange behavior. Then she found out after the stares and whispers all morning how he had trash talked her and she no longer felt like apologizing. Yet now as she looked him over, he truly did look penitent. Perhaps she was being too harsh.
"Well Peter, I suppose it was not entirely your fault. You could not have known that the first day we spoke I was quite overcome with grief, which was why I was so short with you."
"Really?" He seemed surprised.
"Yes. And I have been staring at you a lot. I am sorry about that too."
"Who exactly do I look like?"
"A relative that passed away a few years ago."
"Are we really that similar?"
"Not really. You don't exactly look like him. It's just your eyes that are similar."
"Might we start over? I would really like to be your friend."
"Why do you want to be friends with me? From what I hear you are quite popular with all the girls at the university. From what I've seen, they seem to be dying for your attention. My opinion of you should be insignificant."
"I am favored by the ladies," he said without modestly. She swore Louis said something similar once. "Except you, which grieves me because you are the one girl who interests me. I wanted to speak to you so badly all year, but you never gave me a chance. I could not even get you to look in my direction, so when the day came that you forgot your stethoscope I could not help myself."
"Peter, I'm not the kind of girl you think I am. Just because I focus on my studies does not mean I–"
"Never mind what Joe said. I know you are not like that."
"You seem like a nice guy. I'm just not sure I'm ready for the pressures of dating. Are you really okay with just being friends for now?"
"I am willing to accept such a proposal.–Must you really be going now?"
"I guess we could go next door to McFaddens for another drink."
This was how it all began with Peter. She finally surrendered and let someone else in.
The summer passed by quickly for Peter. He and Elora were often together. She certainly was not like any girl he had ever dated. Though Elora would not admit to it, they were dating. She let him pay for dinners and when he occasionally reached out she would let him hold her hand. Though they had not kissed, there had certainly been enough moments for it.
He could not understand why she was so hesitant to have a relationship. There was something in her past she was keeping from him, but he sensed she was not trying to deceive him, she merely could not bring herself to speak of it. He knew something must have really gone south with her last boyfriend, but he could not imagine something so bad as to affect her in such a way.
It was only a week away from school beginning again and he wanted to take her to the lobster festival he was so fond of in Gloucester. Though it was not difficult to find a woman who loved lobster in Massachusetts, Elora certainly showed the most excitement in going to such a festival. They spent the day gorging themselves with tasty seafood as they passed through the vendor's tables, listened to a pretty good 80's rock cover-band, and walked along the seashore.
That night as he was walking her to her apartment door he built up his courage for what was to come.
"Peter, thank you for shelling both of my lobsters today. You really didn't have to. Just look at the condition your hands are in now." She took hold of his hands in hers, holding them up for them both to view.
"It was nothing. Your delicate hands would look worse if I left it to you."
She smiled. "Well, goodnight Peter." She casually reached out to hug him. Whether she noticed or not, she did linger a tad within his embrace. As she began to step back he rested his hands on her shoulders, stopping her. Her loveliness drew him in. He could not restrain himself another moment. He gently pulled her to him and pressed his lips to hers in a tender kiss.
"Elora, I think I may be falling in love with you. Please tell me you feel the same way."
Her breathing increased and she looked on the verge of a tearful declaration. She did not speak immediately, but looked upon him searching his eyes. "Peter, before I speak about us there is something I must tell you. Please come inside."
She led him inside and set the water to boil for tea. She was more British than she knew. He sat on the sofa, watching her prepare the drinks. Everything about her was beautiful. He never thought he could be so turned on by a woman dipping a tea bag. She brought the tea on a serving tray and sat with him on the couch.
"I'm not sure where to start. This is not something I talk about often. Anne is the only one I have been able to confide in until now. My family does not even know. I've wanted to tell you so many times, but I was afraid how it would affect our friendship.–During my second year in college I went to France for an extended stay."
"Sort of.–While I was there I met a guy." Peter knew where this was going. "Our friendship had a rocky start, but it soon developed into something deeper."
Trying to speed things along he said, "So you had a bad break up."
"I suppose that's what any normal person would think from my behavior ever since, but that's not quite the case."
"I am on tenterhooks; what happened?"
"After six months we were so much in love we got engaged." His stomach certainly turned. "Three months later we got married."
"Married," he gasped. This was more terrible than he could possibly imagine. "But you are not together anymore. So did you get divorced?"
"Good God, you're still married!"
"Not quite." She was looking as peaked as he felt. "We were together for a year, then he suddenly died."
"Yes." Then those tears which she had probably been holding back until now came flowing out. "I've been widowed for over three years."
"I never expected…" he could not bring himself to finish. He stood up awkwardly. "That's why you didn't want to date…because you aren't over your dead husband?"
"No, that's not it."
"Do you still love him?" He was not sure what was wrong with that question, but she seemed hurt from it.
"I…think I will always love Louis. He was…" she smiled. "He was the best person I had ever met."
He nodded. That summed it up. It was plain to see. Elora was still in love with a dead man who she idolized. He never even had a chance with her. "I think I must be going," finished Peter.
He had opened the door and was about to leave when Elora's faint voice cried, "Please wait, Peter." He turned back to see her desperately clutching the arm of the sofa. "I'm begging you; let me finish."
"What more could there be?"
"We have not touched on the reason why we are having this conversation. I want to talk about us." He sat back on the couch beside her. "The last few years, before I met you, I was living, but really just going through the motions. When we were thrown together at Gurtmann's Grill it was the first time I really gave anyone a chance. I was not sure how to proceed. I wanted to spend time with you, but I was not certain I could love anyone in the same way again. This summer was wonderful and becoming friends with you, though unexpected, has been a blessing. I have found happiness with you that I never thought I would have again. I too found myself falling in love with you."
"Truly." She leaned into him and kissed him.
"So let me get this straight. The man I look like is your deceased husband?"
"Yes, but you just have his eyes. Does it bother you?" She looked worried again.
"Not the least. Just because we look alike does not mean we are the same. I get to be the one here with you; that's enough for me." He kissed her with all the love overflowing from heart.
Elora was nineteen when she first married. No one could ever replace Louis in her heart; nonetheless she had come to love Peter Winthrop. She would not let him get away; she wanted him for keeps. He proposed to her the night of her graduation from medical school. They were married by the next summer.
Though Peter could never give her gifts like Louis had, he gave her the two best gifts of all, children. Elora's oldest was Gabrielle Thérèse and then three years later came Christopher Louis. Her little princess and prince were so precious to her. They grew up hearing her bedtime story about King Louis and Queen Elora in the 1600's. Gabrielle especially loved to hear about Elora's adventures.
Elora had gone through college, became a doctor, married, had children, and became the kind of woman she always wanted to be. It seemed she had fulfilled all of her life's dreams. She had everything a woman could want; yet she felt there was still a small part of her left behind in the 17th century.
Elora still dreamed of her Louis sometimes. She loved those dreams so much she hated waking to find all it was a dream. Peter could always tell by her mood the next day if she had one of those dreams. She would share little things about Louis when Peter asked, but nothing to give suspicion of the time period which it occurred. She could never bring herself to tell Peter about her adventure in the seventeenth century. There some things in a marriage that were better left unsaid.
She had always been strong and she retained that strength even when she was older. Peter did not have that same strength that she had. She could not save him from sickness. Cancer killed him a year after the diagnosis. She had lived through so many deaths in her life, not merely her patients, but her family and friends, nothing could break her heart further. She had loved him very much, but she had a good, long life with him and she knew God was caring for him in heaven.
Now Elora was twice a widow, having outlived two husbands. She was left alone again. In the spring of Elora's ninetieth year her body began to fail her. The doctor made a house call. He assured her she would recover, but Elora knew the truth; she was dying.
Elora lay abed in her bedroom with her children and a few grandchildren around her.
She was going to miss her family so much. What would they do without her?
"What day is it, Gabrielle?"
"It's Sunday the tenth."
"The tenth of April; now that sounds familiar. Lord, thank you for this day."
"What do you mean, Mom?" asked Chris.
"Today has always been a special day for me.–I am going to die today." She did not have the strength to open her eyes, but she could hear her children crying.
"Please don't die, Mom," pleaded Christopher, as he took hold of her hand.
She opened her eyes long enough to look upon her son and daughter. "Die, my darling children?–That is the last thing I shall do.–Give me a moment alone, my dears."
Elora reached under her pillow. She looked upon Louis' portrait. The little miniature had lasted over four hundred years. The priest had given Elora the last rights only days ago. She was ready to die. "My Lord God, into your hands, I commend my spirit," Elora whispered after finishing the rosary.
Things began to grow dark, like she was falling asleep, yet still conscious. She could barely draw breath. Suddenly, there was a bright light! She could see nothing. She felt strength within herself she had not felt in years.
Elora sat up from bed. The room she was in was not her own, yet it was distantly familiar to her. She stood and was taken aback when she had no pain. It was another dream, she thought, yet it seemed so real. She was looking at herself in the mirror, but a younger self. She saw herself as she was when she was nineteen years old.
Elora walked into the quiet hallway to the Hall of Mirrors. In the distance, she saw her beloved Louis. He was standing in front of his throne. He smiled lovingly at her, as if he had just seen her a minute ago.
Elora ran up to him and touched her hand to his cheek. "Louis, I only dared to dream that I would ever see you again." Elora embraced him, never intending to let go. "I've waited so long."
Louis finally spoke, "I have been waiting just a little longer to be with you again, my love.–I told you we would reunite in heaven. For you see Versailles is our celestial city."
With arms wrapped around her, Louis kissed her. This was the kiss Elora had waited a lifetime to once again receive. This was indeed heaven. God must have known this is what she wanted more than anything. Ecstasy filled her heart, knowing she and Louis would never again be parted from one another. They would forever be happily ever after in their celestial city.
Thank you so much for sticking it through. I hope the ending was pleasing to you. The Celestial City is complete! I really hope you liked the story. I had a lot of fun writing it! Now maybe I'll try to get it published!
I've been working on a sequel for a few months now. I'll start posting by the new year.
Thanks for all your support!