Innocent Heart: A Slight Detour

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The morning, Gondorian sun streamed through the shop windows, casting rainbows through the cut glass. The last of the morning orders had been filled and Berest set to work knowing he had a few hours to replenish the cheese on his shelves before the afternoon rush. Looking up, he saw her golden hair before the bell of the door rang to announce her entrance, and a smile lit his face as she bobbed a curtsey.

“Good morning, Master Berest,” the girl chimed as she glided towards the counter, careful to avoid the display tables.

“Good morning, Feira! Is it payday already?” Berest asked as he set his cloth aside and leaned forward to rest his elbows on the counter. He’d never seen that blue dress on her before, and though the long sleeves covered her arms the young shop-keeper had to force his eyes to remain on her face.

“It is!” Feira practically sang. “But no treats for me today. I’m off to visit a friend — oh, well, I hope she’ll be my friend,” she said more quietly, a slight, worried frown creasing her forehead.

Berest arched a brow curiously. “Why would she not?”

Feira pursed her lips, a full-on frown twisting her features as she looked at him. “Cause she’s nobility. But . . . but she’s at the convent now. Not sure why,” she sighed with a shrug, “but I figured now that she’s there we could be friends . . . the Sisters can have friends, can’t they?”

Berest stared at the young woman in disbelief before standing up, his rich laugh filling the shop and trickling outside where several heads turned to see where the sound had come from. “I s’ppose they can, Miss Feira. You must have the day off then.”

“Mm-hmm,” she nodded in response. “I was in such a hurry that I almost forgot to stop by, as I’d taken a slight detour.”

“Keeping out of trouble, I hope, since the city’s calmed down again.”

“I’m rarely in trouble,” she chuckled softly as she peered into the glass case.

Berest laughed softly and looked down through the top. “So what can I get you for your friend?”

Digging a hand into her pocket, Feira pulled out a small coin purse and laid out her month’s wages plus a little savings on the counter. “Whatever small corners that can get me. Maybe a gouda . . . a biere, and a morbier . . . .”

“Not the belloc?” asked Berest with a smirk. Why would she be taking food to the temple?

Feira looked to her coins and shook her head reluctantly. “No, just those will do.”

Berest mulled over her stacks of coins, took three fourths of it, and set to work cutting off bits of each cheese, including the belloc. “Do you need a box for these?”

Her blonde curls swished over her shoulders as she shook her head, and Feira opened the parcel that was held under her arm. “I have this,” she said as she opened it and laid it out.

The box had two sections, one side already filled with berries he assumed she had picked on her way to town. Detours, he laughed quietly. Wrapping the cheeses he noted that she noticed the larger portions as he set them into the box. “Hmm . . .” Berest sighed as he looked thoughtfully at the box.

“W-what?”

“This is nice, but you cannot have cheese without bread.” Before she could voice her protest Berest slipped in several thick slices of fresh bread and a small wooden knife for the cheese. “There,” he said as he closed the box and handed it back to her. “A fine little picnic.”

Feira dropped a silver into the tip jar, put the remaining silver and few coppers back in her purse, and took the box with a curtsey. “Thank you, Master Berest!” she beamed.

“You’re welcome! I hope things go well,” he smiled, raising a hand in a wave as she hurried for the door.

“I’m sure they will!” she called back, raising her free hand in a wave as she opened the door, the bell chiming above her. “See you next month!”

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