ROMAN FELT HIS BREAKFAST RISE IN HIS THROAT as the servant escorted him into the parlor. Alexander sat on a chaise and cast a severe expression his way. Roman swallowed hard. “Sir.” He clicked his heels, bowed then returned to attention. His arm lay in a sling to prevent the stitches from splitting.
Alexander rose. “Let us step outside.”
The plush tree lined park with its rolling green hills stretched beyond sight. The warmth of the sun and fragrant summer blooms helped to calm Roman’s nerves, although he stuttered. “I…I.” He paused, took a breath, and began again. “Sir, I’ve come to ask your permission for Kira’s hand in marriage.”
Alexander stopped walking and examined Roman.
“I don’t hold great wealth,” Roman said, “but my military career will provide a comfortable life. My promotion to captain is certain. I will command a company and follow a family tradition of rising up the ranks.”
Alexander rubbed his chin. “I’m not convinced you’re a good match for my daughter.”
Roman’s shoulders collapsed. Kira had assured him that his offer was all but certain. He straightened his backbone. “My life could not be content without Kira. I promise you that she will have a good life and be loved.”
“Love,” he grumbled. “My daughter is a high-spirited young woman. I had hoped to find a mature man who could tame that spirit and settle her down so she can take her place in society.”
“Sir, with all respect, the one thing that makes Kira most endearing is her spirit.”
Alexander shook his head. “I am not sure that constitutes a good marriage. You may find that quality unacceptable later. The things that most draw you to a person can later repel you.”
Roman wondered if Alexander referred to his own marriage.
“I believe you to be a good and honorable man,” Alexander said. “After all, I owe you my life, as well as my daughter’s.” He paused, look up to the heavens then continued, “I am reluctant, but I give you permission. However, I will hold you to your promise.”
Roman beamed and without thought vigorously shook Alexander’s hand using his good arm. A sharp pain extended over to his injured shoulder, but it would not supersede his joy.