Elizabeth awoke the familiar feeling of sunlight streaming across her body and warming her bare skin. She wore only a thin night slip, and felt the silken sheets haphazardly across her body. She felt the warmth beside her before she realized that she wasn’t alone. She awoke with a start, jerking upright for the second morning in a row. Beside her, Leon was sprawled across the bed, wearing only his riding pants. Elizabeth stared at his bare skin and realized she had never seen him so vulnerable before. She gasped as she noticed the intricate scarring across his back, as though he had received many injuries over the years, or at one time was flogged brutally for a crime she was uncertain of. Without thinking, she reached out to feel the bumps of the scars across his skin, warm to the touch. Leon stirred at the touch and Elizabeth jerked her hand back reflexively. Piercing blue eyes opened to stare directly into hers.446Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ1yvKKfdcLZ
“Good morning?” Elizabeth managed to squeak out, though it sounded forced and awkward to her ears. Leon seemed to notice it and chuckled.
“Nothing happened,” he assured her and Elizabeth breathed a sigh of relief.
“Then why…?” she trailed off as Leon sat up and she noticed the scarring also ran across his chest. Leon noticed her gaze and hurried to find his tunic to cover up again.
“You fell asleep as I was reading to you in the library,” he explained. “I put you to bed but you were clinging to me in your sleep and mumbling to yourself. I didn’t want to wake you, so I lay down with the theory that you would eventually relinquish your grasp. Turns out, I just fell asleep, too.”
“So, it was all a dream?” she asked.
“What was?” Leon asked, his curiosity piqued.
“You said nothing happened, so I must have dreamed it did.”
“You dreamed about me and it was not a memory?” Leon seemed amused and Elizabeth became irritated and flustered. “Was it at least a good dream?” he asked. She realized in that moment, though, that he had somehow changed her clothing at some point during the night.
“Get out,” Elizabeth fumed and Leon bowed in mocking fashion before complying. “Thank you,” Elizabeth managed to get out before he closed the door behind him.
Elizabeth set about putting on the new clothes the maid had offered her the day before, finding the fitted riding pants and tunic seemed perfectly tailored to her proportions. She examined her reflection in one of the windows, realizing there were no mirrors within the room, and decided she looked rather stylish after all. She found a hair brush provided on the only dresser in the room and set about trying to work through the building bird’s nest that was her hair.
Ten minutes of painful hair pulling later, and Elizabeth felt prepared to leave her room. She realized in that moment how famished she felt and went to rediscover where she had originally seen the kitchen. Peering through the doorway, she saw the maid hard at work over a bubbling pot.
“Smells good,” Elizabeth said, startling her.
“My lady.” The maid curtsied. “Breakfast is nearly ready, I have prepared an assortment of porridge, fruit and fresh yogurts in a multitude of flavors,” she explained. “Please, join the others in the dining hall and I will bring you your food shortly.” Elizabeth smiled and nodded, complying and heading to the next room over.
Inside, Leon was already seated at the table, having changed into a new outfit of the same type but in different shades of brown and tan.
“Good morning,” Leon greeted her as though nothing had happened that morning, and she wasn’t still annoyed at him. Elizabeth pursed her lips and decided to be pleasant, after all.
“Good morning,” she greeted as warmly as she could fake. Leon didn’t seem to notice the strain in her voice.
“I hope you both slept well,” The Dreamer said as he entered the room behind Elizabeth.
“Yes, thank you,” Leon replied.
“Sure,” Elizabeth added. The Dreamer cast her an all-knowing look and Elizabeth wondered briefly if he knew about her midnight escapade, but dismissed the idea. He may be all powerful, but surely he wasn’t all knowing, as well.
The maid entered the room carrying a large silver platter, piled high with various fruits as Elizabeth and The Dreamer took their seats. Some fruit Elizabeth recognized, but some were foreign and brightly colored. Elizabeth took a piece of each other, determined to try every delicious looking type. A moment later, the maid re-emerged with bowls of porridge and yogurt, as she had promised. Elizabeth was delighted to eat real food after having spent the former day too excited to even think of food. She filled her belly with two full servings of everything, as Leon ate slowly and polite, and The Dreamer merely watched them.
“It is so nice to have company again in my home,” The Dreamer remarked as Elizabeth stuffed her face. Unable to respond, she just nodded her understanding.
“I apologize for my long absence,” Leon expressed.
“No need,” The Dreamer replied, “you were on a very important mission.” Both pairs of eyes fell on Elizabeth and she nearly choked on her porridge.
“We will leave as soon as you are finished,” Leon called out to her.
“Okay,” Elizabeth replied as she used a napkin to wipe food off her face. She had been gorging herself so completely, she didn’t realize until that moment how rude she had been acting. “I’m ready to go whenever,” she added.
“Very well.” Leon had finished eating a long time ago, and he had been waiting patiently for her to feel full. “Pack up anything you need,” he said as he rose to his feet.
“I don’t have anything,” Elizabeth replied lamely.
“Abigail,” Leon called and the maid emerged again from the kitchen.
“Yes, good lord?” she asked with a curtsy.
“Have you packed a bag for Elizabeth yet?” Leon asked.
“Yes, my lord. It is already loaded onto her horse,” she replied.
“My apologies then, you have already been provided for,” Leon told Elizabeth as he politely dismissed the maid. She took away their empty dishes as she went by.
“Wait, a horse?” Elizabeth asked.
“Yes. Why?” Leon asked.
“I don’t know how to ride!” she exclaimed. Leon seemed perplexed.
“Eloise was an expert rider; I merely assumed you would be well-versed, as well,” he mused. Elizabeth had enough and rose to her feet, storming over to Leon, despite being a full header shorter.
“Eloise, Eloise, Eloise!” she exclaimed. “That’s all you talk about! Well, guess what? I’m not her! I’m Elizabeth! Get over your dead girlfriend already!” The moment the words had left her lips, Elizabeth immediately regretted it. She saw the light in Leon’s eyes dim as he glowered at her, his expression dark and his lips pulled tight.
“We leave now,” he retorted, pushing roughly past her and headed towards the doors. Elizabeth looked to The Dreamer as he rose to his feet, having been silent this whole time. His grim expression showed disappointed as he left the room without another glance or word. Elizabeth mentally began kicking herself.
What the hell is wrong with me?446Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡK2ARIId8Pm