Alice Suth looked over the mound of dirt below her. The fresh brown soil was dark and seemed more like coffee grounds than the top of a grave. Alice wiped the tears from her eyes again. A hundred people had walked by and paid their respects. They had come and gone as Alice watched over the grave as a silent sentinel, patiently guarding the memory of this person. Samuel had been her friend for only a short time, and she had wanted so much more. Alice always felt they had time. There would be time for tomorrows, time for love, for passion, for excitement, and for the peace both of them deserved.
Alice remembered only a few months ago when they were walking out of their office building. The two looked to the sky together and saw a shooting star fly by, the tail glistening in the sky like a million fireflies. That night she had wished for a miracle, and told Samuel that she needed his help.
Samuel had been curious and leaned against his Black Sportscar as she considered how to explain her plight. She was stuck with an abusive boyfriend, he had made her life hell, and terrified her to a point that she could barely function. She needed help and had no one to ask except Samuel.
To Alice it seemed like they had known each other forever, but she had actually met him in a meeting for a group of investors only a few months before. As he took over the meeting he helped everyone see different points of view, his, theirs, and in the process built a point of view that worked. To Alice, Samuel was driven to succeed, and he would do whatever it took to keep his word.
Alice had begun talking to Samuel. She was instantly attracted to his power, and to his presence. He was constantly helping her learn, and worked with her often to show her new ways of solving problems. All the while, he was a gentleman, and all the while Alice began to fall in love. Alice was terrified Chuck would find out, or worse, Chuck would beat her for the affront. Chuck was all about Chuck, and nothing more.
Alice found herself fantasizing about Samuel, and a life where she could truly love him, but as she came home each night she was reminded of reality and was forced to be that person that Chuck needed her to be. She was treated as a trophy, a property to be cherished, but not respected.
When Alice was moved into a new position, Samuel helped her understand the role, worked with her, pushed her forward and she shun brightly while he sat to the side, not needing anything but her smile. It appeared to Alice he had feelings for her as well. She would tease and ask in their short moments where he taught her about this and that, and he would smile and not answer.
Chuck had heard about Samuel from someone who worked with them both. Alice did not know who, but he promised he would hurt her if she ever talked to him again. That brought her to that night, with Samuel leaning on the shadow of a car, waiting for her to speak.
“Sam,” she started, “I mean Samuel, I, I don’t know what to do. I need to disappear, my boyfriend is going to hurt me, he may kill me, and I don’t know what to do. I don’t want you to get involved, but I don’t know who else to turn to for help.”
Samuel looked into her eyes, his hazel eyes glistening greenish brown in the light of the halogen lamps over their head. His car looking like a portal to another dimension, sparkling like it had a million black diamonds spread on its skin.
Samuel gazed at her powder blue eyes, she pleaded silently, “Please, I will do anything for you if you just help me get away.”
“What about your job, your friends, all the things you are?” Samuel said.
“None of that matters,” Alice said as she walked a few feet to the end of the parking lot. She looked down the hill, “He could drive here any moment, and I don’t know what I would do.”
Samuel spoke softly from behind her, “I would keep you safe.”
Alice turned, “and we could leave here together?”
Samuel turned her around to face him, his face strong but soft, “We would leave her together if it is what you want. Is that what you want?”
Alice looked into his eyes, they were mischievous, and powerful, and mysterious and intelligent, “I am not sure.”
Samuel looked deeply into her eyes, “It starts with a promise.”
“A promise,” Alice asked
“Yes, A promise,” Samuel said. “I will trust your word and you will trust mine. In the end, we will both fulfill our promise, and find our way.”
“What kind of promise,” Alice asked.
“What do you feel,” Samuel asked peering deep into her eyes and perhaps even her soul, “Promise what you feel.”
Alice had lowered her head that night and cried, then looked into the eyes of a man who had helped her and lifted her up to the clouds. A man who was selfless and gave of himself, and a man who was always trying to do the right thing. Alice looked into his eyes and said, “I promise if you help me, I will love you with all of my heart for the rest of my life, no matter what.”
Samuel looked into her blue eyes, “I promise you I will set you free from your current life, and in the process, will love you and all of who you are for the rest of my life and beyond, no matter what.”
Alice looked at him with her blue eyes, a tear forming in the corner, and he picked up her hand, “Shake on it now, and when the time is right, we’ll seal this promise with a kiss.”
“What if, well, what if you can’t free me,” Alice asked looking down.
“What if you can’t love me?” Samuel asked. “Whoever breaks the pact will die, plain and simple. Either way, the promise will be fulfilled. We have promised the rest of our lives, if the promise is broken, the life will be done.”
Alice was dumbfounded. He shook her hand again and she shook his, they made a pact, and she had promised all she was to a man she hardly knew, a good man, a great man perhaps. She felt panicked for a second and then realized, perhaps this was all a good thing.
Alice considered that moment those two months ago as she looked down at the mound of dirt, and the crisp marble tombstone. The words were simple on the stone, “No matter what…” with Samuel Smith, and his birth date and a death date of only two days ago.
She stopped crying, and let her purse fall to the side of the simple black dress she wore. The pearls were pure white on her neck, and the veil hid her face from all but the closest observers. She had stood for nearly two hours, and now the site was empty, and the cemetery was quiet. Only the occasional worker could be seen in the distance. She looked at the grave with reverence and heard the throaty roar of a car near her.
Alice turned and saw the ebony sportscar car she saw only a few months ago, sitting in the parking lot, looking at the stars. She walked to the car, and the door opened. Samuel Smith stepped out and looked into her eyes.
“Your service was beautiful, over a hundred people were there,” Samuel said.
“Yours was too,” Alice said, lost in the moment looking deep into Samuel’s eyes.
“Ready to start a new life?” Samuel asked with a smile.
“I am, but we have to seal this promise,” Alice said in a mischievous tone.
Samuel was mesmerized by her blue eyes, he had never felt what he was feeling now. A promise of a future, of passion, of love, and excitement. A new life for them to live, new names, new places, and new adventures, but it all started with them. Samuel lowered his head to Alice and kissed her, their passion sparked, and they felt as though the world was going to explode around them. They knew it was just the two of them, and this moment was just a new moment in a new series of moments to be reveled in, and enjoyed.
They separated, and Alice looked up at him, “I will love you with all of my heart, for the rest of my life.”
Samuel spoke softly, “I will love you and all of who you are for the rest of my life and beyond.”
He opened the car door for her, and walked around to the driver’s side, got in and put the car into gear, they looked at each other, with new hope in their hearts and souls and as one said, “No matter what.”