(Free song from iTunes equaled sudden bloggy thoughts.)
No state of being could be better than this moment. Little arms encircled Nostariel’s neck as Artis bounced upon her Nana’s shoulders. Half of her face was buried in hair like waves of sunshine that smelled of fresh strawberries, while the other half peek out at the world that had suddenly gotten so much bigger.
“How are you doing up there?”
Artis yipped as Nostariel hopped a break in the stone wall she walked upon. “I-I’m fine!” She was so convincing.
Nostariel laughed, and released her hold of Artis’s legs. “Give me your arms, sweetheart.”
She hesitated, but Nana was always right. And, while being so high up scared her, the thrill of fear quickly turned into exhilaration of seeing how small she was compared to the vineyards and mountains beyond.
“Hold your arms up like this.”
“Don’t let go of me!”
“I won’t let you fall, silly –”
The distant sound of horses interrupted them, and Artis forgot all else. “They’re back! They’re back!” she chirped as she flapped her arms in excitement.
“Would you like us to meet them?”
“Yes! Yes! Please!”
Bounding off the wall, Nostariel, holding onto Artis’s legs, changed their course to make for the front gates of Annúngilon. “Hold on! We can’t have you falling!”
“Yeeee! You won’t let me fall. Faster!”
~~~ * ~~~
“There’s my little girl!”
Squealing in surprise and delight, Inaris was plucked from where she stood in the garden pond.
“What are you doing in there, precious? You know fish poop in that water.”
“Daddy! There’s not poop in that water. There is no fish!”
Talagol stared at her in shock. “What did you do with the fish?!”
“Talagol, really,” huffed Vilaya. “You shouldn’t treat her like a child.”
The tall, dark Easterling shot the fair woman a disapproving glare. His smile quickly returned as he set Inaris on his hip. “You’re not a child?” he asked as if hearing of some unbelievable tale.
Inaris stared back at him. She felt unsure, especially with how her mother frowned, if it were a trick question or not. “I-I… I am,” she finally muttered, her soft, blue eyes growing wide.
Talagol almost chuckled, but was interrupted by Vilaya’s harsh clearing of her throat. “Woman, go back to work.” Though he still smiled at Inaris, his voice was harsh, and void of warmth. “I will find you later when I have use for you.”
Sniffing, Vilaya spun around and marched away with her nose proudly up in the air.
Inaris batted her long lashes as she watched her mother disappear into the next building. “Am… Am I in trouble?” she asked in a hushed voice.
“What? My little princess doesn’t cause trouble,” said Talagol with a laugh. Drawing giggles out of her as he nuzzled her neck, the man bounced to bring her higher up on his hip, and started walking out to the lush mazes behind the House.
“How long will you be here this time?”
“Oh… Three days I think.”
“Really? Three whole days?!” It was like her birthday all over again!
“Yes, little one. Three days.”
“Did you bring your horses?”
Talagol chuckled, and pointed to the far side of the complex.
“You did! Oh, daddy, can I ride one?”
The man hummed as if he were considering saying no, and Inaris planted a big kiss against his cheek.
“Wrap me around your finger. How about this. You can pet them this time, but in a month, want to go on a trip with me? You can ride on all of them.”
Inaris glanced back to the House. “What about mother? She might not like it….”
Talagol barked a laugh. “Who cares? You’re my daughter, and I’d like you to come.”
Beaming a sweet smile, Inaris nodded, and rested her head on his shoulder. “Then yes. I’d love to go.”
~~~ * * ~~~
“Mom… Mommy!” Feira whispered.
Eleanor opened an eye to peer up at the little girl. “What is it, faerie?”
Feira glanced over her shoulder before snuggling up to her mother. “I can’t find the answer!”
“Have you asked your brother to help you?”
“Noooo,” said Feira as she scrunched up her nose.
Eleanor rolled over to lay on her back, and held out a hand. “Well, let me see the clue.”
Scooching closer, Feira opened her locket to pull out a folded strip of paper. “It doesn’t say anything. What does it mean?”
Eleanor chuckled. Taking the paper she poked Feira’s nose with it. “It means I wanted to tell you the surprise.”
Feira rolled over to face Elanor. “What is it, Mom?”
“How would you like to move?”
“Exactly. Mommy is looking for a new job. If she gets it, we’ll have an actual house to live in, and you’ll get to see me more.”
“I’d LOVE that!” Feira threw her arms around her mother. “When do you find out?”
Eleanor grinned. “In the next two weeks.”
“Oh, I’m sure you’ll get it!”
About to speak, Eleanor stopped as a clinking if plates sounded from the next room. “What’s going on in there?”
“Father is cooking supper.”
Eleanor scrunched up her nose, and tickled Feira’s side. “You let your father into the kitchen?”
Feira giggled, and squirmed. “It’s your kitchen!”
“Oh, I see how it is!” Eleanor snickered, and sat up. “Well, come on then. Let’s make sure he hasn’t burned a good meal.”