“Oh look at you” Raeanne exclaimed, seeing Anya for the first time. The bump of her stomach now clearly visible beneath her gown.
“You should not have come” Orrick warned sternly, “Not in your condition”
“Father I’m not an invalid” Anya smiled “Women have babies all the time”
“My daughters don’t” he chuckled moving to embrace her “Where is Vincent?”
“He’s away” she replied “But he offer’s you his best wishes. How are you Ailana?” the young woman asked finally turning to speak to her.
“I’m fine” Ailana nodded, though in truth she felt sick to the very pit of her stomach. The chapel was pleasant enough and it seemed that Anya who had arrived earlier than they did had made some effort to dress it with some simple gatherings of flowers.
Still this was not how she had ever intended to marry. Dressed in a grown that was neither hers nor fitted, in a tucked away chapel away from all the family she had ever known. She would be married in a manner of a peasant and for all her dreams of banquets and music she would be lucky if her wedding night wasn’t a repeat of last night.
“Am I late?” a voice asked at the door, spinning she recognised that voice. Bursting into tears she ran and threw herself into her brothers arms. “Aliana don’t make a scene” Abel chuckled.
“Good to see you made it” Orrick smiled.
“Thank you for taking the risk of inviting me”
“I know you are close with Ailana” Orrick reasoned, “She told me, you where the one who always took care of her. I guess it’s fitting that you give her away”
“It will be my pleasure” Abel nodded, before prying her head from his shoulder. “I have a coach outside, I bought some of your things. If you’d like you can go and find something to wear that doesn’t make you look like a sack of potato’s”
“What .. how .. how did you get them?” she mumbled.
“Your brother is not without his means” Abel smiled, kissing her lightly on top of the head. “Gabriel will never miss them. I must say I wasn’t sure I would make it, you didn’t exactly give me much warning?”
“Sorry about that” Orrick apologised, “I sent a runner as soon as Ailana agreed to do this I was hoping you’d make it”
“I have barely slept in two days” Abel agreed “But it’s worth it, as long as we both agree not to tell Gabriel I was here”
“I think we can agree to that”
“Run along, little angel. You should get changed” Abel instructed “See if Lady Raeanne will help you”
“Do you mind?” she asked turning to the noblewoman.
“I don’t mind” she agreed.
“I’ll help too” Anya offered.
“If you can fit that belly in the coach” Raeanne chuckled while Anya scowled back playfully.
Ailana missed not having sisters to grow up with. Sure she had Kaitlyn and Sophie but Kaitlyn had been almost grown when she was little and Sophie had never really been the sisterly type. Climbing into the coach, Ailana found her favourite gown sitting on a hanger ready for her. It was not her fanciest or most expensive, not a party gown or wedding dress. Simple but comfortable Abel had chosen well.
Dressing in the back of a coach was awkward at best, but with the two women helping her she finally managed to change.
“I’m sorry about yesterday” she suddenly blurted out as Raeanne fixed the pin’s in her hair “Did you get into ever such a lot of trouble?”
“Whatever do you mean?” Raeanne asked.
“I didn’t know what to do” she apologised, “I didn’t want you to do something you’d regret”
“Ailana your not making any sense?”
“I told your father where you where going” she explained.
Ailana nodded, suddenly fearful. She didn’t want to make an enemy of her husband to be’s daughter before they where even wed. She just hoped the older woman could forgive her. “I didn’t mean too… but I was so worried, I just didn’t know what else to do. I know it seems like a good idea… I’ve been there and honestly you should really wait till your married”
“Raeanne?!” Anya chuckled, “This sounds interesting”
“Oh behave” Raeanne scolded.
“Did your father not not say anything?”
“No he didn’t” Raeanne mused, she didn’t seem upset. Perplexed, confused perhaps but she didn’t seem angry. “You told him everything?”
“Well…. I….. “ she hadn’t told Orrick everything, she hadn’t actually dared utter that Raeanne had already admitted to bedding down with the soldier. “I didn’t tell him everything, just that you may be involved and that you’d gone to see him”
“Involved, who are you involved with?” Anya squealed.
“No-one” Raeanne snapped, lashing out at her sister hitting her in the arm.
“Aw, it doesn’t sound like nothing” Anya complained, “Tell me…”
“It’s not important” Raeanne reasoned, “It’s over now”
“Well if it’s over there is no harm telling who?” Anya grinned.
Raeanne sighed, “Do you remember that solider that used to help Chris?”
“No the other one, the blond one”
“The HUGE guy!” Anya squealed.
“Hush!” Raeanne demanded, “Everyone will hear you”
“The guy with the scar?” Anya whispered more quietly.
“Yes.. him… well… one night at Chris’s … we got a little drunk and things happened, then after that we sort of started courting each other for a while”
“Oh goodness!” Anya exclaimed. “A solider.. is he solidly build? he looks like he is … I dare say I’d be most disappointed to get the wrapping off if he want rather soft underneath”
“He’s…… quite… he’s very well. He’s quite adequate” Raeanne agreed.
“In EVERY way?” Anya dared.
“He lives up to expectation’s”
Ailana could scarcely believe her ears. She had sat with Persia and Sophie countless time when they discussed their men and even occasionally their bedroom habits, but never before had she heard it discussed so crassly.
“So … what happened last night?”
“We broke up… a few months ago, last night Father got into a brawl in the tavern and a man pulled a knife. Orion was there and he saved me”
“Ohhh I see” Anya exclaimed, “Trust father to get you into trouble… I dare say if anyone in this family is irresponsible it’s him. Sometimes I wonder if he isn’t worse than Chris….” her voice trailing off at the reminder of her brother which was so very clearly still a painful memory. Seeming to shake herself back into shape she smiled “So you had to go and thank him for his kindness?”
Suddenly Raeanne looked sad, “I wish… I went to see him, but…. he sent me away. So nothing happened”
“God Anna! Do you love him?”
“I believe I do” she replied matter of factly “but he won’t pursue it… he lost is wife not so long ago and he doesn’t think he can provide for me… so its… hopeless”
“Oh heavens if it’s just money, I’ll give you some. The Baron has buckets” Anya declared.
“He wouldn’t accept it” Raeaenne reasoned, “He’s the proud sort, he wouldn’t live off hand outs. I ready offered my dower”
“Do you think your father will be mad with you?” Ailana dared, she couldn’t fathom what a noblewoman would see in a solider but she did fear that perhaps she’d caused a fuss for something that seemed to be over.
“I can’t imagine why he wouldn’t have said something already”
“Oh bother what is he going to say?” Anya declared, “He married my mother when she was round as a house… he hardly has room for disapproval and if you remember he helped Holly marry…. “ her voice suddenly trailing off as the young girl glanced over at Ailana. “The point is he really has no room to talk and I shall tell him that if he dares utter a word against you”
“I hope so…. I just don’t understand why he hasn’t said anything” Raeanne admitted.