The Pledge (10)

Greetings and welcome back. Below is the next installment of The Pledge and the end of part one. We’ll start with Tamar’s side of the tale in the next post. You can read the story from the beginning by clicking here. Thanks for stopping by. 

* * *

5.

It has been a month since Judah’s arrival in Adullam. He has no job, no espoused and his money is running low; still he is content. And how could he not be? Though his reverence of Elohim has been replaced with a nodding pass to Mot, his chastity now belongs to the women of the city – a pastime of sorts for him. A pastime he is fully enjoying.

So when Alit requests to see him in private, Judah obliges. Though his fervor for her has cooled in the weeks since their first union, he continues to be fond of Alit. She was sweet and loyal and would make a good wife – if he ever decided to wed. And if life continued as it currently was, he saw no reason to marry, especially with the prospect of joining with Alit again.

After rising early in the morning, Judah leaves the house before Hirah wakens. The man had become like a brother to him – the brother he should have had, with no hidden agenda and no rivalries. He is grateful to have run into him on that first day and quietly offers a prayer of thanks to whatever god is listening.

Judah passes through the crowds, making his way through the city he now considers home. The sounds and smells of the marketplace are familiar, as are the vendors, who greet him with a smile on their lips and a glimmer in their eyes. He knows it’s because of his reputation, but Judah is fine with that. Unlike his life in Padan-Aram where he was no one of any consequence, here he enjoyed special treatment and favors.

At the temple, Judah is given entrance without question. He proceeds through the dim hallways to the room in the back where he is to meet Alit. The thought of her stirs his excitement and causes his heart to beat wildly. It is a feeling he revels in, regardless of the woman he is with.

Perhaps that’s why avi took four wives, Judah thinks.

He pushes open the door and is greeted with the sight of Alit. She is a vision to behold, with her deep, dark eyes and her black hair, dressed in a colorful silk gown. Even with the mystery gone of the treasures she covers beneath her clothes, she still delights him.

“I worried you wouldn’t come,” she says, standing to meet him.

But she doesn’t share the same enthusiasm Judah does.

“What’s wrong?” he asks, his heart pounding, but for another reason – had her father discovered their illicit relationship? Regardless of how revered Judah was, he had devalued Shua’s property; the man would not take this so kindly.

“I…,” she begins, but pauses, tears filling her eyes. “I’m… I’m with child.”

Fear strikes Judah’s heart, even as he takes Alit into his arms. He had fathered a child? He wasn’t prepared for that, any more than he was ready to become a husband. He didn’t want to be tied down to anyone. He didn’t want to take the same path his father had taken, only to end up with a wife he didn’t ask for and children he didn’t want. No, he couldn’t do that.

But when he hears Alit cry, he knows he must.  She would bear the brunt of the punishment; she would have to face a judge to account for their sins, only to end up in front of the masses to be stoned. And he couldn’t let that happen.

“I…will talk to your father,” Judah says, though the words hardly flow. They seem lodged in his throat, fighting to stay with him. “By week’s end, we shall be married.”

Alit pulls away and turns her head towards him, her eyes glistening with tears.

“Oh, Judah,” she gushes. “I had feared you would send me away…”

Judah shakes his head.

“No. I will care for you and our child,” he mutters. “It’s a promise.”

She throws her arms around him, happy and hopeful again; and assures him that she will love him for the remainder of her days; that she will be the best wife he could hope for; that she will make him happy and raise his children to honor their father …

Judah simply holds her.

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