“‘Tis what I had to get this morning when everything else was ready,” Leigha answered as she sat back down on the soft rug beside him and smiled at his puzzled expression. “Your father gave it to me. He told me that your mother gave it to him when they got married. He said it is traditional for the father to give this to his daughter when she is to marry and for the daughter to share with her husband on their honeymoon as your mother did with him. He made me feel as if I were truly his daughter!”
“You have always been loved as part of our family,” Robert replied with a smile as he reached to take her into his arms. “Even when you did not remember us, we loved you. You shouldn’t be so surprised by that love now.”
He then kissed her nose and slid his hand down over her cool shoulders to her smooth breast. Leigha backed away from his touch and laughed softly.
“One present at a time now, you may have the other again later!”
Robert glared at her refusal but was appeased a bit when she handed him the precious gift. He sat admiring the beauty of the box and wondering why he had never heard of this family heirloom before this time, causing Leigha to pout at his delay. Noting her look, he laughed and carefully opened the box. He was stunned when he saw the treasure within, and his racing heartbeat roared in his ears. The amulet he saw before him bore the crest of a mighty lion, its powerful lines done in thick gold and silver with large, immensely valuable jewels sparkling brightly about it. It was not the great wealth that this represented that so shocked him. He had seen this masterly crafted piece before but only in his dreams, nightmares that he had recurrently had foretelling his death since he was but a small boy. The sight of this dreaded amulet here and real before him frightened him greater now than ever. The red ruby eyes of the lion glowed as fire and seemed to make the beast come alive with evil. Shaking his head in an attempt to erase the gripping horror that the object instilled in him, he then took deep breaths to push aside the revulsion that he felt. Recovering somewhat, he lifted it out of its elegant box and held it in his open palm to examine more closely though his hand shook at this contact. Forcing his heart to slow its rapid beating, he saw it for what it was, just a very expensive piece of jewelry that represented an ageless tradition handed down through generations of his mother’s family. After making himself hold it for several minutes and concentrating on controlling his feelings, he gently replaced it in the ornate box and closed the lid over its brilliance.
Leigha was puzzled and very concerned by his reaction of dark silence to her gift. She reached over and gently touched his arm to gain his attention as he sat staring at the now closed case. Startled, he turned his dark eyes to her and realized that he was being terribly rude to her for having become so absorbed in his thoughts of the gift that he had quite forgotten her presence.
“I’m sorry, Leigha,” he said softly, his expression troubled. Smiling now, he tried to mask his discomfort as he lifted his hand to gently stroke her face. “It is a very special present.”
“What’s wrong, Robert?” Leigha asked gently, her voice full of concern as she placed her hands on his shoulders. “Why does it upset you so much?”
“I’m sorry for reacting this way, it’s just . . . well . . . ,” he paused with a sigh, and shaking his head as if to deny his feelings, he then confessed his fears to the woman he loved, “I’ve had bad dreams since I was a boy, dreams of this amulet causing terrible things. I’ve never remembered any details of the dreams themselves other than the amulet and that it is somehow connected to my death.”
“Perhaps you saw it once when you were very young, and it frightened you enough to give you those nightmares,” Leigha suggested, shocked by his words and wanting to help alleviate his fears.
“If I did, I don’t remember,” he said, looking back down at the box he still held. “Besides, Father would not have shown it to me since it was to be for the daughter of the family. If not for you, he probably would have saved it and given it to his granddaughter instead, if God were to bless me so.”
Leigha took the jewel-encrusted case from Robert and raised the lid to see the amulet again. Looking with concern from it to Robert, she felt like crying, for it seemed that the gift had spoiled their perfect day together. Her heart broke when she wondered if his fears may prove real in time.
“Do not feel so bad, my love,” Robert said as if he had read her thoughts. Taking her in his arms, he smiled again and tried to give her comfort. “I do like the gift, and it was silly of me to react so to it. A child’s foolish dreams should not affect a grown man so. I’m sorry for upsetting you. Will you forgive me?”
“Perhaps you dreamed of it then with some intuition, knowing somehow that it would be yours someday. You have said that you have loved me since we were small children together,” Leigha said with a smile, still trying to come up with a solution for why Robert would dream of her gift. “The nightmares may have started due to the fear you had of having lost me forever after the accident!”
“That must be it.” Robert smiled down into her teary bright eyes and drew her closer in his arms so that her face rested on his chest. She could not see his serious expression as he thought to himself. “But the dreams began when I was only four years old, and you were not even born then, my love.”