Be Careful What You Wish For Ch. 02byPsychoticDreamer©
Author's Note: What?! Another submission!! You mean this ISN'T a DEAD one?? ^_^ Anywho, I thought I had lost this file. And after some hemming and hawing about the fact that I didn't know how to tie the beginning and the middle together, I have finally decided what to do. There is no sex in this chapter, but plenty of plot. Now all I need is a proof-reader... any volunteers?
A splash of cold water snapped Niadia out of her pleasant daydreaming as it was promptly dumped over her head. She shuddered and stood up quickly to let Margarie towel her dry.
Niadia had been staring out the same window in the morning for the past few weeks, her thoughts fleeting from one question to another. She had yet to come up with an answer.
She had not seen one glimpse of that... man... since she had meet him all those nights ago.
Rather upset at his crass treatment of her and the whole situation she found herself in, she had gone down to breakfast with a sour disposition that neither the closet full of rich clothes, the opulent meal, nor the politeness of the house staff could disperse.
Ready to do battle with the oaf, she had stormed into the lovely full dining room only to find that he was not there.
She ate alone.
Still upset and non-phased by her host's lack of an appearance, she had spent the entirety of the day searching through his large house in search of him. It was only when she had finally demanded from Achillien's personal man, Yuglov, where he was hiding that she was informed he had left that early morning on pressing business and should return by nightfall.
She had been furious. Calm temperament had always been one of Niadia's more pleasing personal attributes, but that man had pushed her too far.
The rest of the day was spent snapping at staff members and tearing apart anything she could throw at a wall.
That night she sat up, waiting for him to materialize like a ghost to haunt her.
He never arrived.
The next morning she was awoken by Margarie and given another through washing. As she stared out the window, Niadia noticed the fresh snow against the glass.
"Did it snow last night?"
Margarie lathered up her mahogany hair in a few long seconds before answering. "Yes, the pass is blocked. My Lord will not be able to return until it melts."
Niadia felt a few moments of relief before guilt settled in at her childish behavior the day before.
"Margarie, I am sorry for yesterday. I promise to help clean up the disaster that I created."
A bucket of cold water turned over her head before Margarie responded. As it flushed over her skin and caused goosebumps, Niadia suspected the lack of warning and the chill of the water was a way of her maid telling her exactly how she felt about the display.
"No need, Lady, we took care of all that last eve. Although I would warn you that the staff will not take kindly to you if you continue to tear through like a crazed puppy."
Niadia shivered and stood in the bath, allowing Margarie to towel her dry.
The next couple of weeks had been a blur. She had taken to eating her meals in the kitchen, swapping recipes and ideas with the cook. At first the cook, a rather skinny man for his profession, had only answered her in grumps and hand motions to move out of the way. Over time he had eventually warmed up to her personality and, as with the rest of the staff, he had begun to look forward to her routine.
Her bath with Margarie, breakfast in the kitchen, an hour or two in the library, a walk outside in the snow, accompanied by a visit on to the stables, lunch in the library, cleaning with the house staff (something of which the boys still had not gotten accustomed to), dinner in the kitchen, then early to bed.
She did the same thing in and out every day.
She was bored to tears.
That was why, this early morning in particular, she had been excited to see that the snow was almost completely melted. Not because that meant that Achillien would be back, but that she could possibly go for a walk. Perhaps even convince one of the boys to let her have a horse.
As she wrapped herself in a deep plum dress trimmed in black hare fur, she turned to Margarie.
"Do you think the snow will last much longer? I was told that the flowers bloom late up here but they are quite colorful when they do."
Margarie sat her down in front of a large mirror and started to comb out her wet hair.
"That is true. If we do not get any more snow, we should start to see some green in the next few days. Late storms are not uncommon, but they do not usually last as long as this one. Besides, I am sure the Count is quite excited to return home and see you. You both had just entered into the breeding contract before he left."
As Niadia frowned, Margarie tugged especially hard at a lock of hair.
"Do not disrespect that man, Lady. You may not be overly fond of how he did things, but he is a good man. He takes great care in what belongs to him. I would suggest that you well remember that childish spurt you had and make sure that it will not be repeated before he returns."
As Margarie finished scolding her, they both fell into silence.
The Lady Rhyinne and her brother, the Lord Masqin, sat next to each other as the horses plowed their way across the frozen ground. Both of their heads were together, faces barely a breath apart, as they spoke. Their fair hair glinted in the flashes of light that seeped in through the windows. It was when Masqin said something especially humorous that Rhyinne allowed her voice to rise as her laughter chimed through the cabin.
Achillien merely smiled at the pair. Masqin had been a friend of his since they had been children. His sister, and also his twin, had continuously plagued them on their trips across the landscape. She had grown up to be quite lovely, her pale blue eyes and soft skin emphasizing a frailty that both of the men knew she did not possess.
It had been speculated for quite some time that the pair would enter into a contract, but nothing had happened. When Rhyinne's father had come to Achillien with the offer, he had turned it down on grounds that she felt more like his sister than an actual companion.
If Rhyinne had been insulted by this, she never let it show. Now, with the vixen he had waiting for him at home, Achillien had hoped that brining in his long time friends would help his Niadia transition from the bustle of the city life into the quiet of the countryside.
As his thoughts strayed to her, he began to smile. She had denied him with word, but yet something strong and wild had blossomed between them with just a kiss. He had found himself unable to stop as he stoked her passions and her own response had kept him warm through these cold nights.
Even now, he felt an uncomfortable tightening in his breeches as his mind wandered. He had wanted to make love to her that next morning. Slowly lavishing and worshiping every inch of her. Instead, he had been drawn away in an emergency to one of his other estates and kept away from her for long weeks by the uncooperative weather.
He imaged his welcome. Would Niadia smile to see him home, or even send a frustrated and heated look that he had been gone so long? Perhaps this time apart would have settled her into the routine of caring for his home and given the situation a chance to settle within her. Yes, he had tricked her into signing away her little shop, but he had no doubt she would find happiness within his home and his bed.
Sighting his smile, Masqin grinned suddenly. "Are you thinking of your poor flower?"
Rhyinne's smile suddenly lit up as well, a mirror of her brother's. "Yes, she must be devastated that you have been away so long." Her voice took on a slightly husky purr, teasing.
With a sigh and a frown, Achillien glared slightly. "I am sure she is fine."
Ending the conversation there, Achillien moved onward to a discussion of one of Masqin's estates.
Sloshing through the remaining mix of soggy snow, Niadia made her way to the stables. As she pushed open the door, a resounding 'meowl' reached her ears. Furrowing her brow, she walked to an abandoned stall from whence the sound came and peaked over to see a rather plump mother cat in the middle of herding together her kittens.
Making a sound of delight, Niadia quickly abandoned the protocol that her new found status had awarded her and entered the stall, kneeling quickly in the hay.
As the mother cat looked at her with distinct disinterest, Niadia cooed softly at one particular kitten. She was smaller than all of the rest, the runt of the litter. Charcoal gray, the tiny thing had only a singular splotch of white on its front left paw.
Lifting a bit of straw, she wiggled it at the kitten, sharp claws and teeth quickly attacking the offending strand that dare to move.
As she played with the small creature, she found herself laughing, in a much more jovial mood than before.
And it just to happened, that this is where she was when Achillien returned.
As his carriage pulled up to a stop, one of his men announced him. Hearing the wheels as they had entered the courtyard, coupled with the shout, Niadia quickly got up. Not pleased to suddenly be ignored, the small beast she had been playing with grappled claws deeply into the velvet fabric of her skirt. Reaching down to remove the kitten, it would not let go. Finally, after some maneuvering, she managed to place it down on the straw next to its mother.
She had only made it a few steps, to the portal where the stables led into the courtyard, when the small creature was once more entangled on her skirt. It was then that she heard a bit of laughter. Looking up, she saw a tall man with pale blue eyes and hair the color of banged gold. As her gaze traveled over him in confusion, they were drawn to Achillien.
The woman he reached inside to escort out was beautiful. She felt herself sucking in a breath as a small and uncomfortable feeling stabbed at her stomach and twisted it. The eyes, pale blue, looked at Achillien with such adoration and longing that Niadia was sure she must be an important part of her new Lord's life. Perhaps, even, one of his old contract partners.
That thought sent another twist into her stomach and she felt slightly ill. Taking a deep breath, Niadia chastised herself. If, indeed, this woman was an important part of his life, maybe he would cancel her own agreement. It was the tugging of the kitten, and the soft growl as it toppled over, chewing and clawing at her skirt that removed her attention.
Reaching down to catch up the creature, she managed to dislodge it only after the kitten had caught her with a claw. Hissing out a breath, Niadia held the purring ball of fluff in one hand as she watched the blood swell bright against her skin.
"Did it hurt you?" A male voice spoke beside her, a bare whisper against her ear.
As she looked up, her green eyes met blue.
"No.. not really."
The man smiled, lifting her hand. He brought it to his lips, his eyes never leaving hers. He kissed the wound softly and lingered a heartbeat or two before releasing it back to her side.
"That is good.."
Niadia's heart fluttered, though she felt no shiver or electricity at his touch. Her cheeks flushed red and she suddenly felt other eyes upon her.
Taking a step away from this stranger, she looked to Achillien. He stood there rigidly; his own gaze thick and brooding. She felt herself shiver softly at the dark look in his eyes.
"My Lady Niadia, may I present to you my dearest friend and neighbor, Lord Masqin."