“I can carry that stack in too, if you’d like.”
Feira looked over to the petite maid from where she hung a sheet on a line. “I would. Thank you, Mariah! These go with the first load to be pressed. The ones on the bottom are to be put in the first three guest rooms.”
The brunette nodded and accepted the stack atop the basket of clean laundry she already carried. “Sure thing. You headed out after this?”
“For a few hours. The rest of the morning chores are done.”
“Don’t read too hard!”
Feira waved after her and hefted a large sheet heavy with water up onto the next line. Laundry was always best on days like these. Warm sun and cool breeze amplified the scent of flowers from the garden and the billowing white sheets that surrounded her. Two more sheets to hang and she would trade it for a couch tucked away in a quiet corner of the library.
A gust of wind caught the next sheet she hung, and Feira grinned, her bare feet curling in the grass. The sheets turned into sails and her mind began to wander. The grass turned into wooden planks of a deck, the billowing linens turned into an armada, and a whistled tune was taken up….
Her eyes snapped open. She knew that tune. Warmth rose to her cheeks and, taking up the last sheet, she back up to an open spot on the line behind her, whistling harmony as the first whistler drew closer. She hung the wide, white cloth and the voice fell silent. Feira followed suit. Footsteps drew near and she skipped into the shadow of a sheet partially to play and hide, and partially because it was all she could think to do as her heart began to race from anticipation.
The heavy footfalls stopped opposite of her sheet and a head appeared to peer at her. His sun-bleached hair longer than she remembered, Lhainan’s sea green eyes caught her and he grinned.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
She was warm. Deliciously warm. Inaris drew in a deep breath, not bothering to open her eyes, and smiled as she remembered.
How long had she lain there? Ten minutes? Thirty? Maybe an eternity… Yes, she could spend eternity like this. Life was not supposed to be like this. She wasn’t supposed to be okay with it, but she couldn’t help herself.
It hadn’t been like this before. It hadn’t been so easy. Was it supposed to be easy? Something ingrained deep inside of her told her she should slip out from under the covers and leave. That she should open her eyes and see it all as lies.
Hate was as simple as breathing. She enjoyed it, the hate and anger and control that fueled half of her work days. It had gotten her safely this far from the inland sea, and suddenly she had no need for that hate nor the indifference that came with it. Her walls were tall and cold and hard as iron… and he walked right through them.
Maybe she hated that most. That she suddenly did not have to. That everything beyond this point was an entirely different world than she’d ever thought for herself. That here in this moment she was more safe than she’d ever felt in her life. To the Pit with it all. Let them come for her now. Let them waste their time. And if they found her? Well, she wouldn’t want to be them.
Adjusting the ring on her finger she nestled close against his chest and beckoned sleep back to her. She was warm, and she was safe, and for the first time she believed it.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“I thought you were going to the Blue Theater.”
Peldirion looked over his shoulder to Halethon. “I mean to to. I walked by.”
The young soldier crossed his arms over his chest as he watched his superior rise to find a towel to wipe the sweat from his face and chest. “You spend too much time here.” He motioned to the empty training hall.
“I like the exercise,” said Peldirion gruffly. “Just because my off hand is out of commission does not mean I should sit idle.”
“Yes, but you should actually relax once in a while. Ask one of those ladies to the theater or supper or… I don’t know, go for a walk in the gardens.”
“I don’t need to walk in the gardens.”
Halethon chuffed a breath and went to retrieve Peldirion’s effects. “Because you smell like one?”
Peldirion cast him a glare.”It is lavender. Supposed to help the pain. I think the healer is just screwing with me.”
Tunic and light armour in hand, Halethon did not move as he leveled a look at the Captain.
“You’re not sleeping again, are you?”
Peldirion’s dark eyes did not meet Halethon’s.
“It is not a problem. Same as before.”
The young man pursed his lips and offered Peldirion the tunic. “Have you tried –“
“You know nothing helps,” interrupted Peldirion, snatching the tunic from Halethon’s hand.
“I could find you company….”
Peldirion paused before pulling the cloth over his head. “No. It did not make enough of a difference last time.”
“I don’t like it, Peldirion.”
“You don’t have to. I will try and sleep when this is all over.” Peldirion frowned and took his armour. “Get my weapons.”
Halethon’s brows drew together and he inclined his head, deciding it best not to challenge the man’s dark look. “Yes, sir.”