Flora knew that she and Arlwyn did not belong together. He was a wealthy, privileged boy from a powerful family. And she was nothing but a commoner – worse than a commoner. What would Arlwyn think if he were to see how she lived, toiling in the dirt, cooking and scrubbing until her fingers were almost too cramped to play her violin? The very idea stained her cheeks red with shame.
She tried to focus on her work, and church, and family—anything but him.
But she could not stop her mind from drifting away and picturing the way his face glowed when he smiled, and the rich sound of his voice, as deep and gentle as the lake by which they had met. When she played her violin, she closed her eyes and imagined that each note was a melody just for Arlwyn Roble.
“What has gotten into you lately?” Her sister, Corinne, shook her head, a teasing smile on her lips. “Oh, let me guess. Could it be Timothy, from Devon Hollow?”
Flora’s eyes widened. “No, of course not!” She shook her head furiously. “I was just – just daydreaming, that’s all.”
Months passed before she saw him again. She was walking toward town by way of the lake, on an errand for her mother. The lake was completely frozen over by then, and the winter air so cold and still that it was hard to recall that warm summer night and the songs of frogs and insects that had serenaded her and Arlwyn. She stepped carefully across the hard, icy surface, as she had done many times before. She was nearly across the lake when suddenly, one foot slipped out from beneath her, and she landed with a thud.
“Are you all right?” someone called from the shore. For a moment, Flora just blinked, unable to trust her own eyes. But it was true – the person walking toward her was none other than Arlwyn Roble.
“Yes, my lord. Thank you,” she said, curtsying.
“Do you remember me?” he asked, his hopeful eyes searching hers.
“Of course.” Flora smiled. “How could I possibly forget?”
It was in that moment that she knew. All was lost. The errand, her future, the rest of the world dropped away into an abyss, leaving her on an island, where nothing mattered but her and Arlwyn. Even the chill of the winter air was not a sharp enough distraction.
As the hours raced by, the two of them stayed together by the lake, talking without cease, uncovering each other’s secrets one by one, and falling in love faster than the sun’s rays faded from the sky. And before they parted, Arlwyn kissed Flora softly on the lips, and murmured promises of love that they both knew he could not keep.