Ailana struggled uncomfortably with her gown, everything of Emily’s had been too small and everything of Raeannes had been several sizes to large. It was nice to be clean after two days sleeping in the back of a wagon wearing a bloodstained gown. Yet she couldn’t wait for the seamstress arrived, so she could finally begin to make her some clothes that didn’t ride up in uncomfortable places.
Glancing towards the bed she considered sleep, it wasn’t late but she hadn’t really slept much since this all began. It wasn’t an especially womanly room, bright colours and solid furnisher. Orrick had explained to her that it had once been Christopher’s. When he had told her that, she couldn’t help but wonder why she’s been given his sons, rather than his wives old room. But almost as if reading her mind the old man had explained that he and Nicole had need seen reason to sleep apart and therefore she hadn’t needed one.
It was terribly romantic she’d decided for a man and wife to not want to be parted even in sleep. Every noble couple she knew had separate chambers. Not even her mother and father who had seemed to love each other very much had slept together.
She knew what Gabriel would said to such a thought. Snorting he would have said that true reason was that Vaux’s where so poor they couldn’t afford the extra room. Yet looking around nothing about the house suggested a family in financial difficulty.
Still couldn’t yet consider sleep, gazing out of the window every movement keeping her on edge. Gabriel would no doubt send men for her, she wasn’t a Vaux yet and that would be justification enough to have her killed.
Taking a deep breath she tried to settle herself pulling herself away from the window she closed the curtain’s angrily. She needed to relax. She needed to trust that Orricks men could keep her safe.
No matter how many times she told herself that Gabriel would most likely thought she’s gone with Kaitlyn to the mountains, she still feared he was outside watching.
She couldn’t get that image from her mind, Gabriel lying on the flood bleeding. How was it that he hadn’t died? and why had she done such a foolish thing? It was so unlike her to act so rashly. She didn’t even remember picking up Kaitlyn’s knife.
She had hated him for so long even since Thomas she had hated him, but no matter how much he hurt her he was all she had. Abel took care of her the best he could be Gabriel was her guardian and there was only so much he could do to protect her.
She was scared, but as much as she was scared Gabriel would find her and kill her she was scared she had made the most terrible mistake. What did she know about the Vaux’s anyway? Only what Gabriel told her… was it really enough to consider the enemy of your enemy a friend. What if she had lept from one fire straight into another. Perhaps the Vaux’s where no better than Gabriel? After all it had been Christopher who had stolen her brothers wife, for all Gabriel was.. he was least justified for that hate.
Pacing uncomfortably she didn’t even notice the door open until a voice called to her. “You don’t belong here”
Spinning she saw a young girl standing in the doorway, she was a few years younger than Ailana and she recognised her instantly as one of Orricks daughters Emily. “I’m sorry” she apologised.
“Your nothing but a harlot and a whore” the young girl accused. It was then she noticed the girl was not alone, just behind her nervously watching was another girl, younger still “Do you know what she did?” the girl asked her sister. “She destroyed, Holly’s marriage… she’s a tramp. She’s going to steal our fathers money”
“No… im not” she tried to explain, quite taken back by the girls accusation.
“Shut up whore!” Emily hissed. “You don’t deserve to be here. The only reason you are is because father is to stupid to see you for what you are”
“I don’t want us to be enemy’s” Ailana reasoned, “Can’t we be friends?”
“I would no sooner be friends with you, than be friends with a cart full of horse dug. You ruined my sisters marriage. I don’t know what you want with my father but im going to make sure you don’t get it”
“It wasn’t my fault” she explained bursting into tears “I didn’t want to hurt Holly, I didn’t want to hurt anyone, I was told to do it by my brother”
“Then maybe you should have said no” the younger of the pair offered timidly. She didn’t seem angry like her sister. Clearly a little uncertain about the situation she seemed more cautious than ready to throw outright accusations.
“I tried” she whimpered.
“Don’t listen to her” Emily hissed, “It’s just an act….”
“My brother would have hurt me if, I didn’t do what he told me. He said it was for the good of the family, that I need to do it”
“Don’t listen to her Bren, its all an excuse” Emily insisted “She’s a whore and thats all she is, if father has any sense he will throw her out with the trash as soon as he gets the chance”
“What’s going on?” a voice Ailana recognised suddenly demanded. The two younger girls didn’t wait to respond instead they ran as Raeanne came into view.
“Nothing” she replied suddenly brushing away the tears as quickly as she could, not realising for a moment that the question wasn’t really directed at her.
“Where they giving you trouble?” she asked gently, walking towards her with two glasses in her hand.
“No … not really” she lied.
“Watch out for Emily” Raeanne warned, “She’s not been right since her mother died. She’s angry at the world right now, i’m sorry if she says anything out of line”
“What’s this?” She asked, as the older girl passed her the glass.
“Brandy” she smiled, “It will help you sleep” Nodding she raised the glass to her lip’s almost choking as the burning liquid hit her throat. “You’ll get used to it” Raeanne chuckled. “I promise, it will help”
“I keep thinking Gabriel’s … outside… he’s going to send men for me” she murmured.
“I wouldn’t worry” Raeanne soothed, “He’s not managed a direct assault on the house yet, besides the Baron has given us some extra troops and even Gabriel isn’t fool enough to attack us now”
“I wasn’t thinking about an army” Ailana admitted, “It only takes one man”
“I suppose” Raeanne nodded, “Do you know if that is what happened to Christopher? Did Gabriel send a man for him”
“I think so” she nodded, “He never admitted it”
“Ailana can I speak honestly with you?”
“Yes of course”
Raeanne nodded and paused for a moment. “I have to admit, when my father told me he was thinking of marrying you I thought it was a bad idea”
“And now?” she dared.
“I still think its a bad idea” she admitted, “I don’t know much about you Ailana and what I do know, doesn’t paint you in attractive light”
“I know” she nodded, feabily the tears she had just managed to stop returned.
“I want you to know that if you hurt him, if you take him for a fool after the kindness he’s shown you. I won’t be forgiving”
“I won’t hurt him” she promised.
“I hope so” Raeanne nodded, “I know this is a convenient thing for the both of you, but you should know my father cares deeply for the people around him. He has a great capacity for love and while im not even going to begin to imagine how a marriage between the pair of you would begin to work, I do know he will love you to some degree if you let him”
She didn’t know how to reply so she simply nodded, suddenly unsure if this was a good idea but before she could give it too much consideration she suddenly spotted Orrick in the doorway.
“Am I intruding?” he asked.
“No” Raeanne smiled “We where just having a chat, but you might want to speak with Emily she’s already paid Ailana a visit.
“Bother” the old man sighed, “She didn’t upset you I hope?”
“No it’s fine” she replied weakly.
“I’ll leave you” Raeanne smiled, heading towards her father as he walked into the room, kissing him lightly on the cheek the older girl left her and her husband to be alone.
“How are you settling in?” the old man asked.
“Im fine” she nodded, “everyone has been most kind”
“Good im glad to hear it” Orrick nodded, “I’m not here by accident i’m afraid. I’ve just had word that Gabriels men have been spotted on the estate”
“Really?” she panicked.
“Now now… there is no reason to think they know your here, but still … thinking practically I think it would be better if we married quickly”
“Well, Maegan did come to this fool arrangement with Gabriel. He isn’t allow to attack my family, doing so will nullify their vows… so the way I see it, the quicker we make you a Vaux the quicker your protected. Does that make sense?”
“Yes” she nodded, her stomach doing a flip.
“I’ve arranged a carriage to take us over the border into the outlands tomorrow. Anya says the Baron knows a priest who will be willing to marry us for a price”
“Tomorrow, really… that soon?”
“Well it will take a couple of days to get there. Is it a problem, we can wait”
“No tomorrow is fine” she replied, taking another sip of brandy to steady her nerves.