Behind Green Eyes Ch. 03byElenia26©
The next morning. I was awake at sunrise. Two years of adventuring had done at least that much for me. I knew Jenna wouldn't be awake until at least 8, so I luxuriated in the giant tub and then went to select my clothes for the day.
Imagine my surprise when Jenna came in at 7:30. She didn't look too alert, it was true, but she was awake and that was unusual. She noticed my questioning look, and answered, "I forgot to tell you last night. We have to meet with Mr. Bryce at 9 am." Mr. Jonathan Bryce was Jenna's lawyer.
'Yes, of course. He has to settle the will, you know." I sighed, and turned back to my closet. She jumped in front of me.
"Please, won't you let me pick out your clothes today?" I hesitated, and she continued, "I promise it will be something nice!" How could I refuse her anything? I said, "Sure—but something pretty, OK?"
She looked at me teasingly. "Why? Do you want to impress Tiradon?" I laughed. "It wasn't my first thought. You know how I feel about that. If a man—"she interrupted and continued the statement, mimicking me wickedly—"finds you attractive, then it should be for yourself and not because you primped for him." Her imitation of me was so perfect that I laughed. I couldn't help it.
She turned back to my meager clothes. "All right, let's see here. No. No. Not this. Not this either. Ok—this!" I leaned over her to see what she had picked up. It was actually one of my favorite dresses—a very short white dress with a pleated skirt. It just about reached mid-thigh if I held still. I liked it because it was comfortable and easy and didn't get in the way of my bow or sword. It had short sleeves and a low neckline and I knew I looked cute in it, little-girl like.
I immediately started shaking my head, though. "I can't wear that in front of him!" She pouted. "Why not? Look I'll wear one just like it, will that make it better?" I considered. "All right." I finally conceded. "Good!" She said, jumping up and down. "Ok, get dressed and I'll meet you for breakfast."
She left, and I pulled a pair of white panties from my bag. I slipped them on, then the dress over my head. I rarely needed to wear any support, since my life kept me trim and although my chest wasn't small, I certainly wasn't huge.
I examined myself in the mirror. The dress did make me look younger than eighteen, where my ball dress had made me look older. Well he knew how old I was, so what difference did it make? On some consideration I bound my hair into a high ponytail, and put some jewelry on—my simple gold chain, with a topaz pendant, topaz earrings, and a gold bracelet. This particular set I had purchased for myself on the road. I liked the soft color of topaz, and it wasn't very expensive.
I had flat white sandals, which laced up all the way my calves to match, and as I laced them up I wondered what he would think of me. I didn't look like I had gone out of my way to dress up for him at least. But I did look cute, I thought.
We had breakfast in the kitchen with the cook serving us and lightly scolding us that we should eat in the family dining room. That room was massive, enough to seat 20 people and Jenna and I always felt overwhelmed.
Afterwards we went to see Mr. Bryce. Old Fuzzy Head—as Jenna and I used to call him when we were children—took ages to come to the point, but when he did, the point nailed me to my chair.
Jenna got the lion's share of everything, of course. However, I was to always have a suite of rooms in the mansion. They were to be named mine, in fact, with a gold plate even! I was also due a thousand gold a month—a pittance to some people but a fortune to me. A bank account had already been opened for me at the Bank of Sosaria, and the first deposit had gone in the day of my birthday apparently. I simply gaped as Mr. Bryce handed me the bankbook.
Jenna was ecstatic, of course. I got to leave around ten am, however, Jenna had to stay for another hour to continue going over the books.
I wandered out into the gardens clutching the bankbook, and sat down on a bench. I knew why I had been given so much.
When I was thirteen, I had been left behind while Jenna's whole family took a trip somewhere. It was only for a few days, but I had snuck into the mayor's study and found his journal. I found something in it I had already expected.
I was the mayor's illegitimate daughter. I was Jenna's half-sister.
Years before, the mayor had committed an indiscretion with a dancing girl. My mother must have been beautiful when she was young indeed, to attract him away from his wife. What I remembered of her, had been a very poignantly beautiful woman who had such a depth of grief in her eyes that all noticed it. They said she died of hunger, but much later I thought that she must have died of a broken heart.
What's more is, Jenna's mother knew who I was, and rather than resenting me, took me in and raised me like another child. Jenna was the apple of her eye but I was given love and affection, too. Why my father hadn't helped my mother before I couldn't guess.
I had never told Jenna. Even in my grief and shock I knew it would break her heart to know such a thing about her father. I had never told anyone how my heart broke in those days before she came back from her trip, and how difficult it was not to throw it in her father's face.
When he died I was petrified the journal would turn up but it never did. I thought perhaps her mother had hidden it away before she died. It still nagged me sometimes, but Jenna seemed so busy I took heart she would not find it.
This was another reason I wanted to leave at sixteen so badly. If it ever came out, who knows what Jenna's reputation would be in the town?
For a long time I had both hated and loved my father. Hated for the obvious, and loved for in the end taking me in and keeping me off the street and away from a brothel or worse. In the end, I forgave him his sins and learned to live, but I never mourned him for I never thought he loved me -- until I saw the will.
I sat on the bench, and for the first time in two years mourned a father I had never been able to call "father" once.
By the time Jenna came out at eleven, I had dried my tears and was watching Mac romp in the flowers. Occasionally he would stop to eat a flower, munching away with apparent enjoyment and either spitting it out or sneezing. He was adorable.
Jenna came up quietly behind me. This was a game we used to play, sneaking up on her, but I had learned a few things while on the road. I waited until she was ready to pounce, then reached back and grabbed her hand and tumbled her into the grass gently. She looked shocked, then started laughing with me.
I helped her up and she ran off to get cleaned up before our "lunch date", as she persisted in calling it.
We were planning to eat in the family dining room, and Jenna had ordered a delicious varied from the kitchen. Her butler, Lewis, would serve us. I was surprised to realize I was nervous. Jenna noticed, and squeezed my hand as we waited in her receiving room.
The receiving room was similar to a throne room in layout. Not half as grand, of course, but at one end on a raised dais sat two elegant chairs, and the walls were covered in banners. Jenna did not sit in the chairs, although she had a right to today, and we didn't do any of the pomp and formality that normally would take place on such an occasion. Instead, we waited near the door, chatting softly and waiting for the butler to announce our guest.
At five after Lewis stepped into the room, elegant as ever. He turned smartly, and spoke. "Lady Jenna, Miss Elenia -- Lord Brightblade here to see you." And in he came.
He was dressed impeccably, in a white nobleman's tunic with neat black breeches and knee-high black boots. The white tunic set off his hair marvelously, and as he entered, and bowed slightly as was protocol, I realized I had been holding my breath. I exhaled slowly.
He looked up, and those same dark green eyes caught mine for a brief instant before he stepped forward and took Jenna's hand.
"My lady," he said, bowing over her hand and kissing it lightly. He turned to me next. He took my hand and kissed it, and said, "My dear." His eyes sparkled as they met mine again.
Of course I noticed the unusually familiar greeting, how could I not? Before I could say anything though, he had already turned back to Jenna and it would have been rude to interrupt.
Jenna went right ahead and interrupted him, as was her wont. "Please. If you won't call me Jenna I'll return to calling you Lord Brightblade."
He smiled. "Very well. Jenna, then. Let me congratulate you on coming into your own and taking control of this fine house."
"Why, thank you Tiradon. Thank you for visiting."
"It was my pleasure." He turned back to me. "And you, Elenia? How do you fare?"
I had recovered myself almost completely now, and responded pleasantly, "Very well. Thank you for coming to lunch, Tiradon."
Jenna said, "Shall we move into the lounge, and perhaps a drink before lunch?" This sounded like a plan, and we acceded.
Jenna had a beautiful lounge, all rich velvet and red thick curtains. Jenna motioned him toward a large armchair, and sat down on a sofa, gesturing for me to sit next to her. "Now what shall you have, Tiradon?"
He responded, "Won't you allow me?"
Jenna looked knowingly at him, and inwardly I groaned. I knew what she was going to say. "Well, that's very kind of you, but our dear Elenia here can actually mix drinks very nicely. Elenia, would you do us the honors, if Tiradon doesn't mind?"
Tiradon sat back. "A lady of many talents, I see. How could I possibly mind?
I stood, looking down at them both. "Tiradon, what would you like?"
"How about a glass of sangria for this nice warm summer day?"
Jenna chimed in, "I think I'll take one, too, Elenia. Why don't you have the same?"
"It sounds wonderful." I went behind the bar, conscious of Tiradon' eyes on my retreating back. I was grateful for the chance to do something. What Jenna had said was true. I was actually quite good at making simple alcoholic drinks, and the sangria was mostly pre-made anyway. I poured a new bottle of red wine into a pitcher, and then sliced some lemons, orange slices, and limes into it. I poured sugar in to sweeten it and then stirred. In the cooler set into the floor I found a large block of ice. I chipped a few pieces off and put them into three glasses. I poured the sangria over them, and stuck a slice of lemon onto the edge of each glass. All done.
I pulled down a fine silver tray from the rack, and placed the three glasses onto it. Almost immediately a servant materialized and took the tray. I sighed, and followed him out and back to the lounge.
By sheer coincidence, I happened to be standing right behind the servant when he stepped out of the way. Either Tiradon had been looking down at his glass, or he did it deliberately, but he let his eyes rake up from my ankles all the way to my face. I felt my skin burn, but maintained eye contact.
"Lovely," he said. For a second I didn't know if he meant the sangria or me.
He raised his glass and I blushed. "I'm glad you like it." I sat down and took a glass. "So, what have you been talking about?"
Jenna darted him a very mischievous glance. "Well, we've mostly been talking about his keep, just outside of Willowroot."
He added, "Yes, Jenna here was very interested."
Jenna burst out, "Oh can't I tell her?" He looked amused, and nodded.
"Elenia, he invited us to his keep!"
My jaw dropped. "But—"That was as far as I got though, before Tiradon interceded. "Of course, Jenna did say she wouldn't be able to make it. A pity. She did say, however, that you were free for some time?"
I looked daggers at Jenna. She quickly jumped in. "I thought you'd like it!"
I sighed, and turned toward Tiradon. "May I have a moment to speak with my friend?"
He smiled that sexy smile again, and I almost forgot that I needed to speak to Jenna. "Of course."
"Jenna." I said, making my voice firm. She followed me out the door. I turned to her.
"I can't go there!"
"Well...we barely know him, for one thing!"
"I know him. The Brightblade name is well-known around here. He says his father is going to be there the whole time, and there are horses, and a garden, and a beautiful pond you can swim in at night, and even a waterfall! You'd have a lot of fun!"
All this had been said in a breathless tone, so I couldn't interrupt. Truth be told, it was working on me. I could imagine the flowers hanging low over the pond, and the stables full of fine horses. I was still nervous, though.
"Jenna. What if he tries something?"
She looked hurt. "Do you think I would have agreed if there was the least chance of it? He would never! His father is Mekorig!"
My eyes widened. Mekorig? The famous goldsmith and jeweler? Many a time had I wished to own one of the famous named pieces. But I was assured that his son would not attempt anything improper. Mekorig was known throughout the land for his fair and just dealings with his customers, and I knew his son wouldn't jeopardize that reputation.
I looked back at her, and she was smiling. "Good! You see? So you'll go?"
"He really asked? He doesn't mind?"
"Yes! No! Please go. I think you'll have fun. And I really can't, I have to start learning the business for real here." She looked wistful as she said this, and I felt sorry for her—poor or not, at least I wasn't forced into doing anything I didn't want to.
Not that I was poor anymore.
"All right. I'll do it. How long?'
"He said a week, but that you could leave anytime you wanted."
I hesitated one more second, then nodded. The whole conversation had been very short, but time was wasting and I didn't like to make him wait. I squeezed her hand nervously. Truth be told, I wasn't entirely sure why I'd said yes. Taking a chance, I guess.
I went back inside ahead of her. He looked up as I came in and sat down again, and his eyes caught me again. Sometimes I felt as though he were reading my thoughts. "I'm sorry to make you wait, Tiradon. Thank you very much for your offer, first of all."
He sat back. "Are you going to say no to me, Elenia?" I smiled. 'I'd love to visit, if it would be all right. Jenna told me who your father was, and I don't wish to upset your schedule."
He waved a hand dismissively. "Please. Don't mention it. Both my father and I will appreciate the company." I had to admit, he said it in such a nice way that my earlier fears were waved away.
"I am returning to my keep today, Elenia. I am taking my father's griffon—will you be so kind as to accompany me directly?" I looked at Jenna. She looked sad to see me go so soon, but she nodded eagerly all the same. I turned back to him. "Very well, then Lance. I will need some time to pack my things. Oh!I have my own horse..."
He leaned forward. "You are welcome to bring it along, Elenia. The griffon is large enough to accommodate all."