Part 1- Officer Green
“Sara, Sara, SARA!” my father shouts from outside as I finish pulling my dress on.
“Yes father, I’m coming” I say peaking out my window. Thank lord he’s leaving for Brightvale, leaving me behind again I might add. I stand with the household servants as we bid my father our farewells along with his safe return. I sigh once he’s long gone glad for the peace and quiet his absence brings. I change into my favourite dress and put on a pair of trousers I borrowed and modified for my use. Tonight I leave this life behind and strike out on my own with the help of my maid and the stable boy. I look in the barn and see that my father had been talked out of taking his favourite horse, Bluefire for me to ride.
“Yes” I whisper excitedly to myself as I go up to my room to pack some things that I wouldn’t dare leave behind. As I sneak down to the barn as everyone else sleeps I say my silent good byes hoping that my father doesn’t punish Macy or Terrence too much for assisting me. I mount Bluefire and pull my red hair back into a loose bun making sure everything I packed is secure in the saddle bag. I pull my cloak around me as I double check I have my inheritance from mother, and brother which isn’t much, but I couldn’t leave without his sword or her jewelry, hair brush and dress set aside for me. Everything else was food and water to last me to the nearest town and a change of clothes. I nudge Blue into a gallop as we ride into to the night and away from everything great and horrible on that manor. I reach the closest town with no problems and dismount. I sigh remembering how last year both mother and brother died of fevers induced by a plant my father received as a gift from a politician friend. In the end though they died because father wasn’t there to help me care for them too busy with a case was the excuse when he came home to their funerals. I strap brother’s sword to my hip as I buy some stew and watered wine. I pack my spoils and continue on my journey with Blue as company. I stop two weeks later in a forest to rest and wash before I make my final push for Meridell. The one place my father wouldn’t dare go to look for me.
“God I’m a mess” I say to my reflection. My face is covered in mud, my hair is all over the place and my clothes are also covered in mud plus god knows what else is in the pond like puddles we galloped through. I wash my clothes off as I wash or more liked rinsed of all the crud as I pulled Blue’s riding blanket to cover myself up from catching a cold. Blue moves closer to the stream to graze as I sit reviling in how peaceful it is today. I’m digging in the saddle bag for my spare dress when I hear armor rattle behind me. I turn and grab my sword to face my opponent to find it’s only a police cadet. I sheath my sword and turn to get Blue ready for tomorrow. I dress behind Blue, but as I come around Blue to find the cadet seated by the fire.
“What do you want cadet” I ask politely even though I want to wring his neck as I took note that he’s eating my food.
“Oh I’m just on my way back to Meridell from Greenwood Farms and was wondering why such a pretty lady as yourself was all by herself with no protection I may add” he laughs taking in the obvious angry look I was now giving him. He had completely ignored the sword in his assessment of me which aggravates me greatly.
“I’m travelling to Meridell as well and I’m perfectly capable of protecting myself” I say glaring at him.
“Let’s see then if you’re able to use that sword” he challenges laughing. I draw my sword as he draws his while we begin circling each other. Brother’s training comes back to me as I block the cadet’s first attack. I move in and strike multiple times using chi blocks I picked up of a Indian merchant years back then use the sword to knock the sword out of his hands.
“Well, well you do know how to use a sword along with a few Indian tricks” he laughs getting up, dusting himself off. Now that I look at him he looks about my age between 19 and 20. His hair is blonde and his eyes are the shade of blue only found in Greenwood, like mother’s eyes. A Greenwood country bumpkin learning to protect the law basically I think to myself.
“What’s your name?” I ask quietly slightly subdued at the thought of mother.
“It’s David and what is your name if I may ask” he smiles.
“Sara” I say smiling noting he’s Luke’s height as well and that his smile is infectious. Luke had been 6 ft exactly 5 inches taller than me. I eat the last of my stew as David talks about his assignment in Greenwood and some of the things he learns about at the Police Academy. It all sounds really exciting compared to my small conversations with father when David catches me off guard.
“Do you want to travel the rest of the way to Meridell together?” I nod in response to this question because I’ve taken a liking to him and I didn’t want to enter the city alone.
“Well let’s get some sleep then” I say yawning as I turn over and fall asleep glad to have made a friend outside father’s influence.
As I watch Sara sleep I wonder why she’s all alone considering how dangerous the road to Meridell is. Its part of the list of things I want to ask her about when I get the chance of catching her off guard. The way she fights also reminds me of Luke back home, well really everything about her reminds me of Luke, but more guarded and bitchier. I jot down her description for when I go home next or write to Gramps next. I put my note pad away and get her horse ready as I wake up hours later to surprise her a little bit with breakfast. It’s the least I can do considering I ate most of her rations. As I cook, I peek at her sleeping face to see that she sleeps like Luke does and I get the feeling they are related, but I’ll still write Gramps to be sure.
SaraI wake up the next morning to find David has already saddled Blue and is waiting for me with breakfast.
“Where’s your horse?” I ask as I mount Blue while he takes the reins.
“I left it at home since I decided to take the shortcut to Meridell that only Greenwood farm boys know bout” he laughs as I pull my hair back throwing him a scathing look for taking away the reins.
“What is so funny?” I ask as David continues laughing.
“You keep surprising me with everything you do. You fight and ride like a man yet you behave and dress somewhat like a woman” he explains finally dying down on the laughing a little bit. I shrug flicking him in the back of the head. I smirk as he flinches as I look up into the sky. We talk a little bit about stuff we liked to do and not do and people we thought to be a little too pompous for our liking.
“Hey Sara look we’re almost there” David points out three hours later. Oh wow is all I can think as I stare at the city I would now call home. David gets me into the city then we go our separate ways so he can go check in while I find a place to live and work. I stop in at the seamstress and she offers me board and work.
“Tie your horse up out back and get cleaned up, we have a long day of work ahead” she says.
“Thank you” I smile as I curtsey. I explain my situation to her as I unpack leaving out father and home of course. I do not want anyone knowing or suspecting I’m the daughter of Brightvale’s iron hand of justice/head of police. I only want to be known as Sara. Just Sara, not Brightvale’s Sara either. I settle in over the course of three days getting the hang of things from orders to final touches with the old seamstress. I pull on my new dress on the fourth day, my first day off ever I note to myself as I let my hair out of the loose bun I’ve kept it in. I put on mother’s choker as I go out for a walk to explore the city. I sit by the river a couple hours later dipping my feet in the water marvelling in the beauty and simplicity of Meridell. Everything is so much more lively here and more pleasant. I sigh splashing the water up as I kick my feet a little bit. I get up feeling giddy in my freedom feeling like I could run forever when I bump into someone. I fall backwards, my dress cushioning my fall only a little bit. I look up, retort at the ready when I realize it’s just David.
“Hello Miss Sara” he laughs helping me up.
“Hello David. What do I owe this pleasure?” I smile but feeling a little uneasy.
“Just wanted to see how you were settling in and I felt bad for leaving a pretty lady such as yourself to find work alone” he explains gently as I tense up ready to strangle him for that. I smile brightly as he offers to walk with me feeling glad for his company as I give him my hand. As we walk I can see he wants to ask me some questions that could potentially threaten my new found freedom. I also notice all the jealous girls, but I give them no notice holding myself high as we walk.
“Just ask away David I can see it’s killing you to know about me. It’s your police curiosity about strangers and obviously you only bug pretty strangers” I laugh at the last bit causing him to turn red from head to toe. I notice the jealous fan girl’s glares become murderous at this. We walk over to and sit on the nearby fountain and I grudgingly answer all his questions. We talk for hours sitting on the fountain as the rest of city continues on around us.
“So you’re the daughter of Old Iron Hand of Brightvale and Meridell’s enemy” I nod sadly as he continues.
“Well... I’m glad you ran away then” he whispers in my ear smiling as I draw back and look at him in surprise wondering why. He obviously sees I’m surprised and puts his arm around my waist drawing me closer to him.
“If you hadn’t run away we wouldn’t have met like we did” he explains. I lean into him knowing he’s right completely ignoring the fan girls wondering if he could ever trust me or even come to love me. I feel my cheeks turn pink at this last thought. David laughs figuring out very easily what I’m thinking.
“You know you’re thoughts are written all over your face, but that’s what I love about you.” David walks me home giving off the feeling that he wasn’t going to give up on pursuing me even though he knew who I was and who my family was. He leaves me at the door with my thoughts.
“Ahh I see young Cadet Green has stolen you’re heart like many girls your age” the old lady laughs as I turn to mending my clothes and making a new dress as the old lady tells me all about David. I listen fascinated to know that David is from a big country family, the third son out of four boys and two girls and had fought hard to become a cadet and is now the best of his year. I sigh as I sew rose embroidery in a silver thread on the finished dress. I pull my finished work up to full view happy with my work. It wasn’t poufy like today’s dress. It was more fitted and loose in the skirt for mobility. I wonder what David would think of me in this dress as I continued to admire my work. I pinch myself as I turn pink at that last thought. God I’ve only known David for a few weeks now and I’m already in love with him. I go to sleep that night feeling happier and warmer than I’ve felt for the first time in a year.
It’s been two months now since I moved to Meridell and I’ve spent almost all my days with David till his next assignment to retrieve the lord’s son for his summer visit from school in Winchester. He asked me to marry him a week ago before he has to leave and I eagerly agreed. I’m happy that I get to marry a man of my choice. David and I are really happy. When he’s not patrolling he sits with me as the old lady and I work on orders. Some nights he’ll even stay with me till I fall asleep. On occasion I’ll even get presents like flowers or a kiss before I doze off to sleep. I’m sad and glad on the days he has to patrol because it gives me time to work on my wedding dress although I miss him horribly. I finish the dress just as our wedding day approaches with time to spare so I’m really pleased when I find David by the river.
I’m hoping that Gramps approves of my marriage to Sara as I write two letters to him. One to let him know and another in case I die. It’s morbid to be writing the second the day before my wedding day, but it’s just a feeling I’ve had for a little while now that Sara’s past is going to catch up to us very soon with the rumors going around about Iron Hand. I’ve done very well keeping them from Sara, but I worry she’ll find out her father is out looking for her in Greenwood and Brightvale. It gives me chills thinking about it that I haven’t written Gramps about it in case he goes back on the promises I had to drag out of him for me to even marry Sara.
“Guess who” Sara laughs covering my eyes as I put the letters in my pocket.
“The fairest lady in the land” I smile as she uncovers my eyes her whole face turning pink her brown eyes twinkling with pleasure from my compliment. I get up and pull Sara into my arms feeling relief as all my worries faded away only thinking about how warm and fragile she feels in my arms. I pull back and take in her warm smile and her red hair as it frames her face nicely knowing that this beautiful woman would be my wife in four short days.
“Did you miss me that much” she laughs misinterpreting my analysis of her. I nod a little shyly as we walk towards the Seamstress’ place.
“I’m finally graduating to officer so my assignment has been put off a week from today so we have a couple days to ourselves” I explain smiling broadly as her face lights up at this.
“That’s great, no wait it’s brilliant” she exclaims nearly knocking me over. I nod as we both kiss each other good night.
I wake up and get ready the next day for the wedding ceremony. I’m walked down the aisle by Officer Gray, a friend of David’s family. As we exchange vows I notice only an old man came to represent David’s family, but I have nowhere to talk with having no family. Before going home David is awarded his graduation certificate and a house to call our own in the city walls by the training officer at the Police Academy. That night as we both undressed I feel David come up behind me.
“Hmm have I ever told you how nice you smell” he whispers into my ear as I fall backwards onto the bed ready for what we were about to do. Our cries filled the room as we both came again and again after the initial loss of my virginity feeling great pleasure in how I felt him inside me and the exhilaration of this feeling blocking out all my thoughts. Only feeling him as I fall asleep, cuddling up to him warm inside. The next morning we unpack our things and move Blue and his horse Fern into the new stable at the rear of the house. I love the spacious kitchen and all the fabrics and supplies in the storage room. We spend every waking moment of the next week in each other’s arms when we weren’t busy with our duties. The day he left I wave goodbye as he wears my good luck charm around his neck under his armour. I spend most of my time working while he was gone, but on the quiet days I would ride the perimeter of the city on Blue waiting for my brave husband to return to me unscathed. Every night before I go to sleep I pray for David, my sweet David to come home alive and unharmed but this prayer isn’t answered a week later into my three week vigil. The patrol rides into the city on horseback carrying the wounded and two horses dragging a cart with the dead. The lord takes his son from Gray as I rush through the crowd hoping with all my heart David isn’t among the dead. To my relief he’s amongst the wounded, but my relief is short lived as I get a good look at his injuries.
“Who did this to you” I whisper moving his hair out of his face to find a bruise. Before he can answer Sir Gray growls “It was Brightvale’s own Iron Hand!” I feel the tears stream down my face as I hold David’s hand as I notice the gunshot wound.
“Hey hey, sshssh it’s OK. I’ll explain” he whispers putting his other hand to my face. I hold it there as he quietly explains what happened.
“We were on our way back with the lord’s son from Winchester, but your father and his patrol ambushed us” I lean closer as he continues
“He was looking for you and thought I knew where you were because he recognized the good luck charm you had given me. It was an accident that it fell out from under my tunic, but the instant he saw it he was on me and the rest you can see as to who won. Your father doesn’t know you’re here and most of his patrol doesn’t know what you look like so they dragged him off and away from me” he sighs. I realize we’re in the infirmary now as I say
“David you need to rest OK.” He nods smiling his warm smile before falling asleep.
I wake up hours later sensing something is wrong as I realize how cold and pale David’s hand is. I sit up and immediately try to shake him awake. Nothing, I keep trying as I call for help. I realize he’s dead as Lady Durham leads me away. First mother then Luke and now David. Why did father have to take everything away from me? I was the happiest I’d ever been in my life I realize as I start to cry. I don’t sob uncontrollably as I realize also I’m truly alone for the first time in my life. David is given a hero’s burial and his will is read out to me after the burial ceremony by Lord Durham himself.
“Officer Green has left you all his belongings and estate here in Meridell as well as his inheritance from his family and his salary will go to paying for your home” he reads.
“What about his family” I ask quietly.
“They’ve been sent a letter notifying them of the past few days’ events, but David has left everything to you. To be truthful he seemed quite prepared to die, but all officers are in that line of work” he sighs handing me David’s will. I walk home in silence, not saying a word to anyone who gave me their condolences for my loss. Why me? Why not his family to leave all his belongings, including all his work things. I put in his earring as I put my own away and switch Luke’s sword for David’s gun. I stick a clean piece of metal through my other piercing. That night I crawl into bed alone and crying.
4 Months later
I feel empty inside as I close up the shop for the day. The old lady’s daughter has come and started to learn from me how to run the shop in the old lady’s place since the old lady died last month. I visit David as I finish my deliveries for today before going home. I’m a glutton for punishment because every time I leave I always feel a fresh batch of tears streaming down my face as if the his death only happened yesterday. I walk up to his tombstone kneeling down in front of him.
“Hi it’s me. How are you doing wherever you are? I’m doing OK so is Blue and Fern” I whisper placing my hand on the cold stone. I kiss my hand and place it on his name as I get up and leave for home. I feel like I’m being followed as I walk home. I turn into an alley and draw David’s gun in my hiding place. A man turns into the alley as I pin him against the wall I growl “What do you want?” He has his hands in the air in surrender as I press the gun against his balls.
“I’m looking for Officer David Green” he growls back.
“The gatekeeper told me if I wanted to find him to find a young lady fitting your description” he explains. I flinch at David’s name putting his gun away.
“He’s dead, killed by Brightvale’s Iron Hand” I say unable to look this stranger in the face as I say this.
“Oh then I guess I’m retrieving his belongings then to take home” he sighs. I look up angry for the first time in months.
“No you’re not and you can’t he left everything he had to his wife” I emphasize on everything.
“David was never married” the stranger says incredulously. I turn and race away feeling the tears already start again. I make it in the door and lock it before the idiot, who followed close behind me can say anything. Who was he anyways I think furiously to myself as I wipe away the tears. I lock and secure everything before going to bed rest assured that nothing would or could be taken. I will protect everything David left me even if it kills me. I wake up the next morning to someone banging on my door. I don’t answer knowing full well it’s the same idiotic man from yesterday. I realize I’m being childish, but this guy is very stupid to think I will just hand over David’s things without a fight. I unlock the door after I pull on the clothes I wore for my arrival in Meridell. I’ve shortened the skirt and embroidered the skirt and trouser. I open the door as the idiot falls backwards at my feet. The fool slept out here all night I realize as he gets up and dusts himself while taking a breath before speaking to calm himself. He looks as angry as I feel when he finally opens his mouth and speaks.
“OK maybe we got off on the wrong foot. I’m Mark Green, David’s older brother” he explains calmly.
“I’m Sara Green, David’s wife and now widow” I hiss feeling insulted by the look he’s giving me like I’m lying.
“I’m guessing you haven’t visited David yet?” I ask sweetly walking to the shop and away from Mr. Green. He catches up easily as I continue walking.
“You know if you hand over David’s things I’ll leave you alone” he says quietly. Something in me snapped as I stopped and turned on him. I slap him handing him a copy of David’s letter home and will I got from Lord Durham.
“Read this, then come and talk to me you self righteous pig” I shout continuing on my way, my hand stinging a little bit.
I’m rubbing my face where that rude witch, Sara slapped me as I read the letter and will of David or so she says
If you’re reading this letter then I’ve already died in the line of duty as an officer. I know I wasn’t very open about her background, but I’ve left everything to the love of my life and wife Sara. I’ve also left my part of the family inheritance to her as well. I’m glad and proud to have been the man to have fallen in love with her so treat her well. Sara will most likely still be grieving over my death so try not to upset her otherwise you’ll meet her temper first rather than knowing her like I did. Anyways I love you all and hope Mark marries because he’s the next head of the family.
From your loving son and brother,
I sit down in shock. David, my impulsive little brother left all of he owned inheritance included to that temperamental woman. I sigh remembering how that impulsiveness got him into so much trouble, but why that witchy red head. She doesn’t seem to be all that extraordinary, except maybe her skills with a gun. I look around and spot her entering the seamstress’s store. So David married a seamstress then. It’s a not bad way to go, but there’s something off about this one. She moves with cat like grace and her eyes. They look innocent and vulnerable, but at the same time seem to be hiding some sort of secret. I go visit David like she suggested. I find flowers and incense in front of the grave. I kneel and read the inscription on the stone feeling a lot of regret already as I read it.
Officer David Green
“God I really am an idiot” I sigh covering my eyes, hiding the tears everyone at home must be shedding over David. I remember all the warnings I gave him. Telling him he might die if he became a police officer during this time of upheaval. All I ever got in response to my warnings was “I have to and want to. It’s my fate, I can feel it inside my heart I was meant to protect people. Don’t worry though I’ll be an officer next time I see you and married to a pretty noble’s daughter” he laughed. His laugh echoes in my head as I walk to the inn. I’m sitting at the bar drinking an ale when a man comes up behind me.
“Is that you Mark?” Derek Gray says sitting down on the stool next to me.
“Hi Gray how are you?” I ask noticing the scar under his left eye.
“Been better, look I’m sorry about your brother” he sighs. I nod chugging back the last of my ale.
“Durham did everything he could to save him, but it was too late. His poor wife was at his side till the very end” he sighs. I raise an eyebrow at this.
“Lady Sara was truly at his side till the very end Mark no doubts there. Ask anyone although David was all she had for family here” he explains as I listen quietly to him tell me all about their courtship and marriage. Apparently everyone knew about it thanks to the previous seamstress and David’s fellow cadets and officers. I get up and say my goodbyes to Gray. I step outside into the sun and hear the regular noises of the city go on by.
I spend my whole afternoon working on orders for Lord Durham’s winter ball and celebration of his second eldest son’s eighteenth birthday. I finish and fold with care the last order of the day.
“Good work today Mistress Green” Meridon says quietly.
“Meridon how many times have I told you call me Sara” I sigh knowing she was quieter than usual because of my moody arrival this morning. I walk home quietly with no disturbances unlike yesterday. I lock my door behind me and curl up in his chair. It’s a chair he picked out and I modified it by making a wool cover then stuffing it with all my scrap fabric. As I snuggle into the chair by the fire I feel restless. Mr. Green has thrown off my tight knit schedule out of balance by showing up now of all times. I hear thunder and then the clear sound of pouring rain. I pull myself into a ball feeling everything I’ve kept bottled up inside for the last four months come out. I start crying quietly, but into turns into sobs as I realize how stupid and lonely I feel. My last thought before drifting off to sleep in the chair is a reoccurring one. It was my fault that David is dead all because I ran away from home and my past. As I’m dreaming David comes to me.
“David” I whisper throwing myself into his arms. “I’ve missed you so much” I mumble into his chest taking in everything about him all at once.
“I’m always with you and watching over you sweetheart so don’t feel alone. I want you to be happy even though I am gone and to stop blaming yourself. It was my time to die and that is all so let it go OK” he soothes gently wiping away my tears as I look into his face David kisses me and I wake up to someone banging on my door as I get up the tears still streaming down my face and the kiss still fresh in my memory I unlock the door not even bothering to wipe my face, my gun at the ready. I open the door wider and put the gun away as Mr Green says “whoa put the gun away it’s me, Mark Green.” I light a candle as I let him in, “may I help you” I ask quietly. He doesn’t answer only staring at me. Obviously I look an emotional mess.
“Sit down Mr. Green” I sigh worn out. I sit in David’s chair as Mark sits in mine.
“Are you alright Miss Sara?” he asks quietly. I don’t answer afraid my own voice would betray me.
“You really must have loved him then” he sighs. I nod wiping my eyes with my dress sleeve.
“Can you tell me what happened, the reason David died? You don’t have to if it hurts too much to talk about it” he asks gently. I nod and tell him what happened leaving out my relations to father knowing he wouldn’t be as forgiving of my past as David had been although it’s difficult with the issues so intertwined. I take a deep breath and tell him what happened the day David died.
“He was leading a patrol on return from Winchester to retrieve Lord Durham’s second son from school when a Brightvale patrol attacked them. Iron Hand was in the lead and singled David out because of something he was wearing. He died of a gunshot wound to the chest. We were only married a few months, but David had been courting me since he found me running away from home to Meridell. Really, he only stumbled upon me on his way home from Greenwood at the time, but I’m glad he did because he made my life a lot brighter and happier than it had been” I explain feeling the tears still falling as I finish my story. God I haven’t cried this much since I was a small child I think furiously to myself as I wipe at my eyes again.
“That’s not all there is to it is there Sara. Iron Hand Smith isn’t one to target someone without reason and I know what it is” he growls, glaring at me. Shit I think to myself my hand subtly slipping down to the gun.
“You’re his daughter, Iron Hand’s I mean. Did David know about that when he married you? It’s definitely the reason he’s dead I know that much. Why did you run when you knew your father would kill anyone that got between him and his daughter without his permission” Mark nearly shouts. I don’t flinch at his questions as I get up and open the chest by the fire pulling out the rolled up painting I did of mother and brother.
“Yes I’m Iron Hand’s daughter and I ran because I was done living my life in fear as a pawn for my father to control and someday marry off to some noble for political gain, but that’s the unimportant reason. My true reason for running is because he’s the reason I’ve spent the last two years miserable and surrounded by death” I growl not crying anymore, but trembling from anger and hatred. He opens his mouth then closes it obviously dumbfounded at my anger.
“Are you David’s older or younger brother?” I ask getting back to the topic of David.
“Older, but how’d you know David had brothers? And what else do you know about David?” he asks surprised. I list of what I know good and bad about David giving Mark quite a shock.
“Wow you did know him like we, his family did” he whispers. It’s nearly dawn as I look out the window. “Well you can stay here till after Durham’s party is over Mark” I sigh addressing him finally by first name while trying to stay awake. “Thank you” is all I hear as I finally give in to exhaustion.
I sit unable to understand why David married this woman. Her father is the enemy of this city for killing their messengers and prisoners. I’m curious to who else her father killed to be surrounded by death. I guess it was a servant or pet, but she shouldn’t be in mourning for that long over that. I do see the side that David married though and I guess chose well when he married her even if I don’t like to admit it. She’s loyal, loving, and fiercely protective. Sara looks lonely though like David said she would be in his letter, but also vulnerable though. It’s her revolutionizing personality that has me and most men in the city on edge. Her father is a fool to think she’ll go back to a life that made her so miserable. He can’t even drag her back now after killing David. If he gets out that is of his cell back home. Before I left word had reached Gramps, the head of our family that Brightvale’s Iron Hand had been caught trespassing on Greenwood land. I’ll wait to tell her this though to learn more about her and see if this ball she mentioned will provide an opportunity to win her heart. I wake up in the chair the next morning to find Sara standing over me. She’s wearing a regular black dress with gold embroidery. I notice David’s earring as I wash up, watching Sara cleaning up the tea cups from last night. I walk with her to her shop enjoying her company. No matter how prickly she is at this time in the day. I eventually get her smiling and god David had been a lucky man. Sara looks like a rose when she smiles. I don’t react out of fear of losing this smile. I leave her at the door my intentions towards her very clear even to her.
I sigh sewing another dress from the five dress order for the Brown’s.
“You look happy for a change, Mistress Sara” Meridon comments, smiling as I give her an evil glare. She shrinks back at this as we both continue working away. It wasn’t that I was happy it’s that I’m annoyed with myself for letting Mark in with his flirty farm boy ways. I’m not a farm girl who’s easy to play with I think angrily to myself as I get started on my own dress for tomorrow night’s ball. I pull out a light grey silk fabric and start sewing together my dress. By noon I’m done and I pull it up to look at it. It’s like my green dress in the way that it’s loose in the skirt, but I’ve made the neck line a little bit lower than my other dresses in the past. I pull out the black fabric and thread and start a rose embroidery along the hem, sleeves and neck line of the dress. I grab my lunch and eat it outside, but to my dismay the cadets are out for their winter march for the new recruits to impress their superiors and win a few a hearts of the girls stupid enough to fall for a newbie. I sigh as I walk down the river as a few cocky cadets try their luck at winning my heart, but they are out of luck thanks to my rule to never marry an officer with David forever being my only exception to that rule. I spot Mark walking over to where I’m sitting. The cadets scatter as he sits down on the bench next to me.
“Wow you seem to be very popular” Mark laughs
“They’re only interested because I’m a rose amongst a field of daisies” I sniff unimpressed by the cadet still hanging around as Mark finally scares him off. I spend the rest of my lunch talking with Mark about a few things and answering questions about my family, including the deaths of mother and Luke. I go home and think about what to do about my hair for tomorrow and remember I have seen the latest trends across Europe to India. India is my inspiration as I get myself ready the next day for the ball as I pull my hair up in the bridal style Indian women do without the veil. I certainly had the jewelry and hair supplies for sure as I worked away. When I finish my hair I gently pull on my dress and apply a little lip colour leaving everything else for a natural look. I pull on mother’s onyx choker and have Gray escort me to Durham’s castle. I shot down Mark’s offer because I knew he was up to something and I definitely didn’t like it as I get out of the carriage with the assistance of a footman.
“Thank you” I say smiling as I walk inside feeling the warm atmosphere already. I walk into the room to see some people already dancing as I take note of a young couple, 15 or 16 years of age fussing over tears in their clothes. I walk over to them and discreetly lead them into a side room to fix the damage. Mark comes in as I’m fixing the girl’s dress.
“You are always working aren’t you, even in you’re off hours” he laughs as I motion for the boy to come over next.
“Yes I’m always working even when my father wasn’t around when I was younger I worked. It didn’t change even when my mother and brother were sick and when my brother and mother died I never stopped working” I sigh killing the mood between Mark and I. I feel the look of pity he’s giving me as I work on the boy’s jacket.
“Don’t feel sorry for me it’s just reality and David understood this. My father didn’t come home to say goodbye to mother and didn’t even bother looking for Luke when he disappeared from his bed and he had been far worse than my mother” I explain not even shedding a tear. I hand the boy his jacket as I put away my needle and thread in my small pouch under my dress sash. I walk towards the dance floor taking the first invitation to dance from the birthday boy himself, Eric Durham. I dance a few songs with him feeling everyone’s eyes upon me, including Eric’s, but he was just trying to get me into his bed which I didn’t want to be anywhere near unlike other girl’s my age who would die for the chance. I curtsy and settle down against the wall away from anyone of sheer importance and Mark who has been accosted into dancing with one of Durham’s daughters. I smirk as she goes in to steal a kiss, knowing he can’t get out of it with the Lord watching him happily. I turn and walk away unimpressed with him and me for caring about who he kissed. As I make my way out to a balcony I notice a gentleman with black hair that’s tied back and unusual purple eyes watching me as I leave nodding and smiling at me. I feel a sense of security for the oddest reason as I open the door as the man continues watching me and I forget about him as the night air envelopes me. I’m out on the balcony when I feel a warm hand on my shoulder. I shudder and then realize it’s the man from the ballroom.
“May I have this dance” he asks quietly putting out his hand for me to take. I hesitantly put my hand in his and am whisked off my feet into a waltz as the music from inside drifts outside to the balcony.
“You dance very well milady” he smiles as I feel myself smile back.
“Thank you and so do you sir” I laugh as he spins me. The song ends but we dance for a few minutes more. I let him twirl me and as I’m getting comfortable and in rhythm he lets go but not before kissing my hand. I pull my arms around myself and a set of arms go around me but I go stiff when I realize it’s Mark.
“Why did you leave the ballroom?” he asks looking offended as I realize I was hoping for that strange man had come back.
“What I do and where I go doesn’t matter to you, you aren’t my parent” I say putting full force into my voice. He smiles a full smile and I realize he must have had a really good childhood compared to my own. I’m confused as my brain goes blank as he steps closer towering over me. “You were jealous weren’t you of the young lady Durham” he smirks and gives me no room to breathe or answer as he puts his arms around me. I can’t move or think as we stand there in each other’s arms in the cool night air and I try reminding myself of how nice it felt in that strange man’s arms. How safe and happy I felt.
“I’m sorry if this bugs you, but you looked really sad when you talked about your brother earlier” he sighs as I finally break down for the umpteenth time this week.
“How did he die?” Mark asks as we walk home, Mark carrying me to my dismay.
“I don’t know, one day my mother made a turn for the worse and I spent the whole day tending to her and when I finally found a spare moment after she fell asleep I went to care for Luke. He was gone, disappeared along with his important belongings and essentials. His fever had been worse than my mother’s so all I could think when my father wouldn’t look for him was that he died along the side of a road alone somewhere” I whisper as he puts me down. I open the door and crawl into my bed feeling worse about Luke’s death after not thinking or talking about it for so long.
I sit by the fire thinking about her. Sara is very complicated, it’s like she wants to be happy, but she doesn’t have the energy left to climb over the obstacles in her way given to her by her father and life in general. To add to it her brother disappeared without a trace while he and their mother were both sick. I look in the chest Sara mentioned she had stored David’s things. I find Luke’s sword on the top of the pile and remember she mentioned keeping it. If I’m right Luke left a clue to where he was going in his sword. I pull the sword out of it’s sheathe quiet as possible noting it was a fine quality sword for a farmer’s son. As I pull the jewel end off I realize her brother isn’t dead as a piece of note paper falls to the floor. I pick it up and put the sword away exactly as I found it still trying not to wake Sara up. I sit outside on the stairs already having my suspicions of where her brother was, also making her story that she’s the daughter of Iron Hand of Brightvale and the beloved Lady Mary true. I realize her complete story now as I unfold the letter.
Dear sister, I’m going away and I’m very sorry it’s when mum is getting worse, but if I don’t go now father will force me to follow in his footsteps as a police officer. I faked catching mum’s fever to put off father’s plans for me so I could run away from the life of fear we’ve been living all this time. I’m going to Greenwood, mum’s birthplace and home before she married father to either to find work as a blacksmith’s apprentice or a farm hand. So if you ever find and read this letter I hope you’ve done what I’m doing now. Running and leaving our bastard father behind for a better, happier life.
Your loving brother, Luke
Wow, is all I can think to myself not able to believe the same Luke I spent all last summer goofing off with is Sara’s older brother. He must’ve felt awful writing this letter and leaving Sara behind to watch their mother die. I fold the letter and put it in my front pocket, going inside and falling sleep in the chair by the fire.
I wake up one morning a week after the ball to the smell of eggs and pulled pork. I get up and go downstairs as quietly as possible to see who is cooking in MY kitchen.
“Mark, what are you doing?” I ask coming up behind him. He jumps and faces me, holding breakfast.
“Oh Sara when did you wake up?” he asks looking embarrassed. I laugh at his expression noting he won’t look me in the eyes as I go wash and dress myself. I look into the mirror and remember Meridon’s comment from last week and notice my brown eyes look less dead and my face was rosier. I also have this serene look to my face like I have found inner peace from my dream of David and Mark being here as the cause of these changes. I feel at ease, like I can move forward now, but I still need to confront Mark on this new issue. I go downstairs after putting in a stud in place of the piece of metal to find Mark eating breakfast as he reads the newspaper.
“What’s today’s news?” I ask as I start eating.
“A countdown till the next party, a murder in the north district and Lord Durham’s second daughter gave birth to a son to the eldest son of Lord Greenwood” he reads not taking his eyes off the paper once to look at me.
“Enough of this” I growl as I put the dishes in the wash pot.
“What?” he says looking up from the paper as I pace back and forth in the kitchen.
“Why won’t you look me in the eyes when you speak to me and don’t deny it” I hiss as I stop and look at him showing my hurt feelings. I look in his eyes as he tries to figure his way out of this and realize he knows.
“You now truly believe who I say my father is true and dislike me for it don’t you” I sniffle really hurt now at this turn of events. Mark gets up and walks over to me as I turn away wishing I could curl up and die somewhere right about now.
“Yes I believe you and I don’t hate you for it honest” he explains, pleading for me to understand as he pulls me into his arms. I nod and he explains further and I nod feeling better as I go out and feed Blue and Fern. I note he obviously is still hiding something from me, but I won’t pressure him for it. I’m getting the hay when I hear a hauntingly familiar voice.
“Hello Sara” father says as I whirl around pulling out David’s gun.
“What do you want Chief Smith” I growl, gun pointed at his face.
“Is this any way to treat your father, Sara” he sighs stepping forward as I grip the gun harder my finger pressed lightly on the trigger.
“It is considering you’re the one responsible for taking our family away from me. You also killed my husband adding to the body count” I snarl, feeling myself trembling with fury. He shrugs
“I didn’t kill your mother or brother, so stop blaming me for their deaths.” I stop trembling as I hear a door shut next door.
“As for your husband, I didn’t give my approval so that man’s death is irrelevant” he scoffs as I hear a gun click behind father.
“Mark, meet the man responsible for David’s death” I say as I move to stand beside Mark. Father watches me and turns surprised I wasn’t alone with the shotgun pointed at him, he puts his hands in the air.
“What do you want to do with him” Mark growls. I think about it as Mark ties him up and decide.
“We’ll take him to Greenwood to face judgement for the negligence of my mother on her death bed. Before we leave we’ll say goodbye to David” I growl as he nods his approval. I shoot him an evil look letting him know I didn’t need his approval as he lifts father onto Blue’s back. I pack all of my important things for our journey and that I couldn’t bear to leave behind while we were in Greenwood. We stop and say goodbye to David as we leave under the cover of the night. I kneel down and put fresh incense and flowers on the gravestone as I whisper my goodbyes.
“I’ll be back soon OK; Gray will come by to visit you while I’m gone.” I sigh, feeling wretched for leaving David behind as I let Mark lead me away from the home and life I had here with David.