Orion frozen when he saw his visitor. “Anna, what are yer doing here?” he asked seeming surprised.
“It’s almost Christmas” she explained feeling somewhat foolish. “I bought gifts for the girls”
“How did yer know where I lived?” he asked not budging from the door in a manner that made Raeanne’s heart sink. Truthfully gifts for the girls had been a somewhat frail excuse she could have easily given them to Christopher to pass along.
In truth she’d found herself missing the blonde warrior. He hadn’t visited her in several weeks and while she had tried to tell herself that it was only because he’d been busy, she couldn’t help but grow concerned that she’d done something to scare him away.
“I asked around” she smiled embarrassedly. “You’re not too hard to find”
“It ain’t safe for a woman alone, certainly not on this estate at night” he warned, looking past her and out into the darkness.
“It’s not late” she reasoned, “It’s only been dark a couple of hours… besides I have the driver with me”
Orion nodded, “Well you better come in” he instructed sternly, “Bring your man in as well”
“He’s fine on the carriage” she protested, not understanding and certainly not wanting a witness to what she had to say to the blonde man, least of all a witness that could run back to her father and tell him everything.
Orion paused, he seemed nervous on edge and kept peering passed her into the dark as though he was concerned someone might be watching.
“What’s the matter?” she asked. “I’m a grown woman, I can visit with whom I want”
“Aye I know” Orion nodded, “Still bring your driver inside where it’s safe”
“What on earth do you thinks going to get him?”
“It just ain’t safe” he reasoned, heading inside without further discussion.
Sighing she indicated for the driver to follow, he climbed down from the carriage bringing her gifts with him.
Heading inside she watched as Orion quickly tried to make the house presentable by shoving the bits and pieces lying around the living room under couches and down the back of chairs. “If I’d known you where comin I would have clear up” he explained, clearly embarrassed by her presence.
She peered around the dimly lit room, it was much darker than she was used to, which was unsurprising since oil and candles were expensive. The house clearly needed a woman’s touch it, sign’s of his wifes handy work had already begun to fade and it was clear while the solider was capable of general upkeep, cleaning and other womanly duties where beyond him.
The younger children sat huddled beneath a large blanket on the couch and though they where indoors the chill of the winter was not left outside the way it was at home. Christopher had been right, the solider did not live in anything like the comfort of Lar’s at the cabin, infact looking around Raeanne could scarcely believe there where people living in worse conditions.
“Would you like tea?” he asked uncomfortably.
She nodded numbly still reeling from the frightful condition’s in which the Carpenter family lives. The where merchants she kept trying to tell herself… during the weeks when she had allowed herself the naive luxury of considering being the soldier’s wife she’d somehow managed to convince herself that it would be no different to living with Lar’s however as she followed the solider into the kitchen and stepped into a puddle of water that had come from goodness knows where she realised that living with Orion would infact be nothing like living with Lars.
“Sorry” he apologised, noting her sudden pause. “there’s a leak in the roof, I comes right though the girls bedroom” he explained. “I keep meaning to get to it… but we’d not been here long when Thomas sent me to the mainland and since I’ve come back I don’t seem to have had a minute to fix it”
“It’s alright” she smiled weakly. “Where are the girls sleeping now?”
“In with me… its not so bad it’s a big bed”
“All of you?” she chuckled.
“Well not Hannah” he admitted, “I think she’d rather catch her death that be sleeping wit her pa. Damn Valdermar’s fault… put in us in a house not fit fer pigs, you think it’s bad now you shoulda seen in when we first moved. I wouldn’t mind ser much if I hadn’t just got the house on Graymont fit”
“Your father was a carpenter” she smiled remembering he’d told her that once.
“Aye he was” Orion nodded, “I’m pretty handy at fixin, just got to find a moment”
“I’ll tell Chris to ease off working you so hard” she offered.
“Aye.. well something’s don’t care about givin a man time to fix his roof” he chuckled passing her a warm mug of tea.
Grateful for it’s warmth she clung to it while standing staring at him. “Why haven’t you visited with me?” she asked suddenly.
“Bin busy that’s all” he replied.
She didn’t believe him, something in his face told her there was more to it than that. “Did I upset you?” she asked “Asked too many question’s… pried into things too much. Did I do something wrong?”
Looking uncomfortable he sighed, “Anna I just didn’t want you getting the wrong idea?”
“Wrong idea about what?”
“Bout us.. about what was goin on”
“I know what’s going on… I mean I knew it wasn’t serious… I don’t understand, are you worried your growing fond of me or something?”
“No lass…. Not me”
“Me?!” she asked in disbelief.
“Lass don’t get worked up” he offered “I was just worried you’d start thinkin, we could be more”
“Why don’t you let me worry about that?”
“The last few times we where together, it seemed different that all” he reasoned, “then yer brother he said…”
“What did he say?” she hissed.
“He’s worried about you that’s all” he argued. “He doesn’t want me to hurt you… look Anna I just think it’s best that we take a breather… I still miss my wife and I don’t want to hurt you”
The sudden lump in her throat, stopped her next retort dead in its track’s. “Maybe I don’t care that you miss your wife” she replied her voice barely above a whisper as she realised that if was ever going to let her feelings be known then perhaps now was the time “Maybe I’m willing to just be a woman about the house. Maybe I’m willing to be a friend and a convenient wife in the hope that later when your ready you can return my feelings”
“This isn’t the life for you” he reasoned.
“I have money” she retorted quickly, “Think of me as a financial investment. With the money I have your could pay a man to do things your don’t have time for. We… we could make this house quite comfortable I think”
“An you’d bring Skye to this?” he asked, she knew by his tone it wasn’t so much a question as a reminder of impact of such a decision.
“That girl could survive a plague of locust” she reasoned simply. “Besides I think she’d rather have a gaggle of sister’s than a wardrobe of fine clothes any day”