About 1545 - Somewhere in the hills of the north near the great waters
“He means nothing to me.” Onatah sighed.
Juan caressed her face in his calloused hands. “Ona, I am not questioning your loyalty; I am concerned he will misinterpret your kindness.”
“Am I not to be kind?” Her dark eyes rose to meet his.
“I’ve watched how he looks at you.”
She was aware of Juan's protective nature. Not possessing a jealous nature, Juan cared only for her safety. “I cannot help the stars in his eyes,” she noted softly. “Surely he can see I have eyes for only you.”
“My sweet Ona, you are so very good to everyone. He does not know the difference and is mistaking your kindness for interest. It is no wonder the young brave is enamored with you; after twenty years, even I am still flattered that you chose me as your husband. It is hard to believe our son is sixteen and yet you are as fresh and beautiful as the day we met.”
Juan kissed her soft lips and then smiled. She lowered her eyes, unwilling to let Juan see her resignation. Her time with him neared its end. Carving out an existence in the New World was not an easy task and made old men quickly from the young stalwart ones who set out to tame the land. At forty-three Juan looked closer to his sixties. His hair had long since grayed and his face, though still handsome with his high cheekbones and kind eyes, was a map of the hardships he had endured.
Onatah, young, fresh, and untouched by the years or the harshness of the land, appeared closer to the age of her son.
Over the many years she had lost count of her many husbands. She could visit them in her dreams, but the pain of separation from her many husbands and children gripped her chest and threatened to squeeze the air from her lungs.
Her mind wandered into regret. If she could choose, of all her husbands and all her children, she would choose this man who came from afar and their son as her one lifetime. Juan was not an Algonquin like Onatah. Where her skin blushed as if kissed by the sun, his tanned brown warmed by the earth. Juan told her his birth home was far across the great water. Onatah could not imagine a place like Española, even when she saw it through her husband’s dreams and knew it to be a wondrous place. Her land, the land of the Iroquois, although vast, was slowly shrinking with the migration of the ‘white man.’
“Promise me you will stay away from Nootau.” Her wonderful husband spoke firmly.
Nootau, a young brave from a nearby tribe had become captivated with her. Although she quickly told him she had a mate, it was too late. If only the young brave had not happened upon her while Onatah gathered mushrooms in the forest…
“I will try, my husband. He waits until I am alone doing my chores and only shows himself when you are away.”
“I fear he is completely besotted with you, Ona, as am I.” He ran his calloused finger down her soft cheek.
Onatah smiled at her husband. He never failed to let her know how much he loved her. While she carried the burden of mating with many men over many lifetimes, she had never rested her heart with anyone until she met Juan.
She owed him an explanation; she could not keep her secret one day longer. Although she failed to share her story since her first lifetime, she sensed this special man would understand. She waited until after the evening meal, and once their son was asleep, she took her husband’s hands in hers and began her tale.
“My dear husband, I have a tale to tell you that will cause you to not believe your ears. But you must believe me, Juan, for as the great wind blows, the mighty sun shines, and the forever moon looks upon our faces, I speak the truth.”
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