Greetings. Below is the next installment of my WIP, The Pledge. You can read it from the beginning by clicking here. Thanks for stopping by my blog.
* * *
Because it is late, Judah and his servants spend the night at Hirah’s house. The hospitality is unmatched; and they are treated to the finest wine, roasted goat and tender vegetables. Judah finds the attention intoxicating. He had always fought his brothers for attention – now it was being handed to him. Because of his grandfather, yes, but Judah didn’t care. He liked being able to stand on his own and when the servants go to him the next day, insisting that they get back on the road to Hebron, Judah decides, “Continue on to Hebron – I’m staying here in Adullam.”
The young servant boy that reminds Judah of Asher eyes him nervously.
“No, sir. This land is…” He hesitates, looking over Judah’s shoulder to Hirah. “They do not worship the god of your fathers.”
For a moment, Judah is stunned silent. How could this young man elevate himself above his newfound friend when he was only a servant?
“Know your place,” Judah states darkly through clenched teeth. He is aware of Hirah’s presence, and tries to avoid offending him any further.
The boy lowers his gaze to the floor.
“I will stay here in Adullam; and I am sure at some point, I will make my way to Hebron,” Judah firmly advises him.
“Then we will take our leave,” the servant says, though sadly. Judah knows he will have to account for leaving his master’s grandson in a strange land, but such was his burden as a servant.
The young man bows before Judah and leaves. Judah watches as he and the others lead their animals in the direction of the main gate, where the inhabitants of the city are already stirring. Maybe someday he would make it out to the land of Abraham, but for right now, his place was there in Adullam, with Hirah, enjoying his freedom.
“Are you ready?” he hears Hirah ask behind.
As the servants disappear into the sea of people, Judah nods his head.
* * *
Back in the temple district, Judah follows his friend as he gives him a tour through the city. Certainly, he had seen much of Adullam the day before, but he was lost and not paying attention to his surroundings.
He is paying attention now, though, especially when Hirah tells him, “All girls have to serve a week in the Temple of Ba’al Mot when they come of age.”
Judah stops, his attention piqued.
Hirah laughs at him.
“Sex, my friend.”
Hirah shrugs his shoulders.
“Priests. Faithful worshippers. Anyone with enough coin.”
“Oh,” is all Judah manages to say. His view is arrested as they come to the temple with the wooden façade and the lavish drawings. Judah couldn’t help imagine what went on behind those doors. No, he had never been with a woman before, but he was a shepherd. He knew what animals did. And his father sired ten sons.
“Come, let’s keep going,” Hirah says, putting his arm around Judah.
Though he would have liked to see more of the temple, Judah follows along. He doesn’t hear what Hirah is saying, because as they turn the corner of the street, Judah is again captivated – but this time it’s by a raven-haired, dark-eyed beauty.