“What in blazes are they doing back here?” Valdermar fumed as he watched Orrick getting out of the coach that had just pulled up outside his home. “Your father is determined to get me killed!”
“Actually” Holly replied cautiously. “I may have invited them”
“Oh Val!” she exclaimed, “You can’t expect that girl to spend her first night as a married woman in a dingy tavern”
“Why in the heaven’s name would you care? After all she has done to you”
“Oh Val…. I don’t know, but it just didn’t seem right. Who knows why she did what she did, but after everything I suppose I’m starting to doubt she had any control it in. Besides Orrick is my step father and the least we can do is wish him the best”
“Frankly I think it’s rather soon for him to consider marriage”
“Your being very judgemental. He has a baby to think about Matila deserves a Mama. Your going to remarry when i’m gone for the sake of Eaddie why should Orrick not do the same?”
“Because he’s an old man and frankly the whole thing is absurd”
“What’s absurd?” Orrick asked approaching the front door.
“The mess the maids have made of the kitchen” Holly smiled. “But dinner is ready”
“Oh I might have known!” Valdermar declared, “I knew something was going on in there … there seemed an awful lot of fuss going on in making dinner for three”
“You didn’t know we where coming back?” Orrick queried.
“Hush both of you” Holly smiled, “It isn’t much im afraid we didn’t really have time to prepare a proper banquet”
“Oh good lord, my wife is going to get me killed! ….. its bad enough we harboured the pair of you last night, but now i’m throwing you a wedding banquet” Valdermar complained, so distracted by his own woes he didn’t even see Abel heading up the path behind him.
“I won’t tell if you don’t” Abel interjected suddenly, making Valdermar jump.
“Abel don’t tell me your in on it too?”
“In on it… not really… but I couldn’t see my sister married without me”
“Gabriel will kill you”
“Then Gabriel better not find out” Abel reasoned, calmly “Come on Valdermar… aren’t you at least going to offer us a drink?”
“I damn well need it!” Valdermar agreed, ushering them inside before taking hold of her chair and wheeling her inside and towards the lounge.
Over dinner Holly found herself staring, she hadn’t meant too and yet she couldn’t seem to help herself.
Ailana seemed uncomfortable and while Orrick tried to engage the girl in conversation it was blatantly clear they had little in common to discuss. It was not that way with her mother, when Orrick and her mother got into conversation they always seemed to get so lost in it they barely seemed to register the rest of the world.
While she had tried to settle herself with the idea that the girl who had ruined her marriage was now family, but somehow it all seemed terribly unfair her mother was dead and now that girl had replaced her. In a month she would be dead and in a month Ailana could be pregnant with a baby she would see into the world.
Resting her hand to her stomach she reminded herself that she had done this to herself. She had chosen to give her husband a baby and she had known the consequence of that.
Once upon a time that would have been considered a fair trade, she would have happily gone to Thomas and leave Valdermar here with a son, but now nothing seemed fair and despite herself she felt angry about it.
“It’s time!” Anya suddenly squealed when dinner was over, leaping too her feet.
“Anya no” Orrick protested, seeming to understanding what she was about to do.
“But it’s Ailana’s wedding night!” Anya protested, “We need to get her ready”
“Yes … but … ”
“Hush now father” Raeanne insisted, “Surely Aliana deserves to have things as they should be as much as we can?”
“Yes… but … I just didn’t want to put a lot of pressure on her” Orrick reasoned, looking somewhat pale.
“I’m sure Ailana would rather have things done properly” Abel reasoned, “Wouldn’t you Ailana?”
The young woman nodded, though she too looked somewhat nervous.
“You see Orrick, nothing to worry about” Abel smiled.
“A farce if ever I saw one” Valdermar muttered, a little too loudly.
“Well.. “ Orrick nodded, somewhat uncomfortably. “I suppose if Ailana wants it then I’m … happy to oblige”
“Good” Anya grinned, grabbing Aliana’s hand and forcing her to stand. “Raeanne you’ll help won’t you”
“Yes of course” her sister smiled, standing herself. “Holly would you like to help?”
“I… um… I’m not sure I’ll be much help” Holly reasoned.
“Nonsense” Anya grinned, “It’s not all about bathing and dressing, im sure you have some words of wisdom to offer”
“Hurmph” Valdermar snorted, “Like she needs schooling”