Greetings from the land of Mount Olympus, the home of thunderous Zeus and jealous Hera, clever Hermes and bright Apollo, bellicose Ares and beautiful Aphrodite, wise Athena and wild Artemis. Greetings from Greece!
What a tumultuous journey we’ve had since I last put pen to paper and wrote to you lovelies. Between stopping off in Bengal to visit the former haunts of the hero of my upcoming novella How To Marry a Highlander, and navigating the Arabian Sea amidst brigands and wiley merchants, and posting cross country or alternately hugging the coasts of the powerful Ottomans until they gave us leave to sojourn at leisure in their lands, our little band of Englishmen and two women are exhausted and in need of a holiday.
We disembarked in Thessaloniki. Hosted by a splendid family of ancient Macedonian lineage—artists and musicians, the lot of them—we dined upon fresh fish, caviar, squid, grape leaves, olives, lemons and delicate pastries to our hearts’ content. But the great capital city was not to be our final destination in these lands of ancient cultures mixed in a delightful mélange. Not at all! Our hosts took us deep inland to the magnificent Metéora.
Pillars of sandstone, for centuries they have supported monasteries in complete isolation from the chaos and materialism of the world. One word: WOW. Do you know, when the monks wanted to contact the outside world, they would lower one of their own down the side of the cliff in a basket? (Talk about extreme sports!)
After this lovely jaunt, our hostess, a renowned grand dame of the Greek theater, noticed a certain glow to Penny’s eyes and a jaunty lift in Captain Frye’s stride.
Ashamed as I am to admit it: I, the resident romance author on this journey, had missed the crucial moment. Enthralled as I’ve been during these past weeks by the scenery, the history, the pageantry and danger and sheer epic landscapes of sea and earth through which we have passed, I had made myself blind to the tender moment of reconciliation, the blossoming of affinity, and the entwinement of two souls into one.
I did not, however, miss the epic kiss at the feet of the monastery of Saint Nicholas, the kiss that signaled the ultimate union of hearts. (I’m not that distractable.)
They kissed—tangled, locked, bound in all the right ways—until Penny fainted from near-asphyxiation. Captain Frye swept her into his arms and carried her into the shade of the branches of a sycamore maple to the excited singing of warblers and the applause of me, our hostess, and the crew, where he then kissed her some more.
Our hostess insisted upon a wedding. Naturally.
And so here we are, upon an outcropping (a cliff, I might call it, if I weren’t scared to death of cliffs) before a tiny chapel painted in brilliant white with a solitary bell in its tower. A garland of flowers upon her head, Penny circles Captain Frye thrice, but neither say a word in this ancient Orthodox rite. Backed by an azure sky, with the golden sun of Achilles and Hector and Socrates and Aristotle upon their glowing cheeks, this pair looks like just about the happiest bride and groom I’ve ever seen.
Someday I shall have to set a novel here. It’s sublime.
After the celebration, shortly, we will make our way back to the coast and our ship, then again to sea. Our next stop: home! I’ve had a marvelous time on this journey. Still, I’m ready to be back in Lady B’s ballroom with all of you. Quite simply, I miss you.
Until then, I wish you all new dancing slippers and waltzes at least every other set. And, as always, happy romance and adventure!