In front of them was a narrow pedestrian bridge that spanned the busy road between the parks. Fashioned out of black iron, the stairs on each side of the road rose to a narrow walkway demarcated with ornate railings. As he started toward it he explained, “In Kiev, there is a legend that lovers who pledge their love by placing a lock on the railing and sharing a kiss while crossing this bridge will have a love that lasts forever.”
Meredith regarded thousands of locks and ribbons placed on the railings of the bridge as they approached. “How romantic. How many couples have made promises to each other here, do you think?” She studied a few of the individual locks. “Many have initials or sayings written on them.” Taking her hand, Kostya led her slowly across the bridge, stopping halfway across. The streetlamps glowed, lights illuminated the golden roofs of the nearby cathedral, and the first stars appeared.
“Make a wish,” Meredith said, spinning to face Kostya.
He looked puzzled, so she explained. “When I was a child, whenever you were present as the first stars emerged, you had to make a wish.” She leaned onto the railing, breathing in the night air and the view. “It can be anything you want.”
“A wish on a star.” Kostya stood beside her, and raising his eyes, put on a thoughtful face and gazed toward the heavens. Within seconds, Meredith felt the weight of that gaze on her.
He stepped in closer until he was standing behind her, a shadow that skimmed her body but didn’t touch. She perceived his breath first, leaning in, tickling her ear with his lips. “If I tell you the wish, will it still come true?”
“No. You never tell your wish.” Meredith said the words she’d known since childhood. “It’s the rule.” All at once frightened and thrilled, she forced herself to look at the sky as he put his hands on her hips and his presence filled in where the shadow had fallen.
“What if I just show you?” Kostya pulled Meredith around and swept her into his arms. Dazed, her eyes searched his but fell closed as he drew her in to him. His breath bloomed on her cheek, an accidental touch skimmed her chin, and then his kiss softly found her lips, its restrained intensity rising as quickly as her heart rate. At first, she braced herself against his chest, but he took her hands and held them by their sides, fingers intertwined. “Meri,” he breathed. And he slipped something heavy into her hand.
Opening her eyes to look, she saw a golden padlock and two keys attached with a small chain.
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