Shocked silence followed Emi’s statement. No one seemed to know how to react. Finally the old priest gasped, “Noemi. My child …”
Emi’s chin went up a notch. “Forget it. I’m not ‘your child’, just your nephew’s daughter. You ignored me easy enough when they packed me off; it shouldn’t be a strain for you to keep on ignoring me.”
Regardless of his shock, the man in the frock was not used to being spoken to in such a disrespectful tone and tried to assert control of the situation. “I had my responsibilities ministering to the grieving and serving on the Council. There was no way for me to take in a … willful … wild …. And you went to a better place. Where you could be with your people.”
Emi heard the same tired prejudice hiding behind his words that had always been there. It wasn’t a racial prejudice so much as it was one based on the socio-economics of her mother’s family. In response she shrugged and told him, “Believe what you want. You always have.” Emi turned to look to Nate almost willing him to back her in this. “Are we done here? You need to get home to your kids.”
Nate saw what she didn’t want him or anyone else to see, that she was badly shaken and wouldn’t be able to hide it for much longer. There were a lot of things he could have said or done but didn’t. Instead he said, “We’re done as soon as he hands over our copy of the stamped license. I’ll be making sure that it gets filed with the diocese myself.”
As a jab it was on the surface a mild one, but everyone was able to read into it that Nate was taking a personal interest in making sure that the registry of their marriage and addendum contract was handled properly. He let them form their own conclusions, some simply taking it at face value while for some all it did was deepen the mystery they were witnessing.
Emi nodded her acceptance and walked away, unable to bring herself to remain in the priest’s presence another moment. She knew she’d make a fool of herself one way or the other if she didn’t. Reliving her terror and tears or showing her fury, both would have let everyone see a vulnerability she didn’t wish them to know she had. She also knew that Nate would have questions …questions about a life she wasn’t ready to reveal.