When Rethisa woke it was to an empty bedroom, not that she had really
expected any different. Before leaving the night before, Demir had
told her that they would be leaving to return to Hidden Meadows. The
thought of leaving the safe haven that Zathris and Benani had created
for her at Amber Hills made her feel anxious, but this was the path
that she had chosen for herself when she'd decided to go through with
"Milady?" Allera's voice carried from the other side of the door.
Kicking back the blankets, Rethisa crossed the room still wearing the
same white, lacy nightgown that Allera had helped her into the night
before. Swinging open the door, Rethisa's face crumpled the moment she
saw her handmaid, who had become more like a sister and confidant than
"Oh, milady." Allera closed the door and and wrapped her arms around Rethisa.
"He didn't stay the night." Rethisa cried into Allera's shoulder.
"Oh sweetie, I know, well, the whole Hold does." Allera steered
Rethisa over to the vanity and nudged her to have a seat. "Dry those
eyes while I pick out something for you to wear while we travel."
Numbly Rethisa sat and watched Allera's reflection in the mirror. The
maid moved quickly and efficiently, laying out a handsome traveling
jacket, blouse and skirt set. **At least the jacket will hide most of
my stomach.** Demir had told her not to say anything to anyone.
"Come on, milady, let's get you cleaned up and ready to travel."
"Wake up," the hand that shook Demir's shoulder was heavy but
understanding. "We're almost ready," Kobias' pushed at his shoulder
again. "Get yourself together man at least for the first couple of
A hot cup of klah was shoved into his hand as he sat up with a raging
hangover. At least he'd met his goal of feeling worse this morning
than he had the night before. The beautiful white mare he'd gifted his
wife was led past him. "Take her..." he started with a wince and then
lowered his voice to a volume he could tolerate. "Take her to Hidden
Meadows," he told the groom. "My lady will not need her today."
A swift nod and a tugged forelock acknowledged the order. Demir
watched through squinted eyes as the young groom mounted his own
runner and led the mare in a leisurely walk toward where the luggage
cart and ladies carriage were being prepared. Running hands through
his hair wasn't much preparation and his clothes were certainly slept
in... in the hay. But right now he just wanted to go home. So he
slapped his brother on the shoulder and nodded.
"Where's my hat?" Well he needed the hat and the runner in that order
and shortly he had both and waited, mounted near the carriage but
facing away from the hold and the door from which Rethisa would
Rethisa descended the steps of the Hold, the wind tugging at the free
strands of hair that weren't held back by haircombs. The traveling
attire she wore looked flawless and expertly hid the secret she was
carrying. Just behind her Allera followed, also dressed for traveling
and carrying a small bag of necessities that the two ladies would keep
with them in the carriage as they traveled.
Disappointment blossomed in the pit of her stomach when Rethisa looked
up and realized that Snow Maiden was missing, not that she could have
ridden her anyway. She wondered if she was even the owner of the
beautiful mare that had been Demir's betrothal gift to her.
Next, her green eyes traveled to the familiar form of her new husband.
He was sitting astride his runner, with his back to her, but even then
she could tell that his clothing was rumpled. Pressing her lips firmly
together, Rethisa arrived at the carriage door and murmured her thanks
to the young stablehand who helped her inside.
It was still early enough in the morning that the entire Hold hadn't
been roused to witness their departure and that was as he had
intended. He didn't think that facing Lord Zathris would be wise at
the moment. Anger at the situation he was forced into was still
running in his blood and if anything he didn't want to accuse his Lord
in front of the entire Hold. He didn't trust himself to do anything
else. His jaw tightened and when the stable hand arrived to tell him
the ladies were in the coach he nodded and gave his guard captain the
signal to proceed.
He'd already sent word ahead to Hidden Meadows and they would be
welcomed when they arrived. There, he knew he would present Rethisa
with a smile and wave for his people but until that moment arrived he
would make no effort at her emotional comfort. She had deceived him in
more ways than he could count but the fact of his marriage made his
responsibility for Hidden Meadows permanent. For that, at least, he was
After they were out of sight of the Hold, Demir kicked his stallion in
to a fast trot and took two guards with him. The rest of the train
could follow at it's own pace. She would stop for her luncheon at one
of the Thread stations, and arrive at Hidden Meadows around dinner time.
Demir waited on the steps of the Hold with a well schooled smile on
his face for the holders gathered around the square. The traveling
party had been spotted and he could even see the lead runners as their
tired head bobbed toward home.
The ride in the carriage seemed interminable, and the incessant
rocking motion left Rethisa in a constant state of nausea. Long before
they reached their midway stop at the Thread station she found herself
lying with her head in Allera's lap. It was some time later, after
falling into a trouble sleep, that Rethisa was jostled awake.
"Milady, we're at the Thread station. Let's get you cleaned up so we
can get out and stretch our legs." She guided Rethisa into a sitting
position and set about carefully fixing the tendrils of Rethisa's hair
that had come loose of the clips while she'd been sleeping. "Not much
I can do about those shadows." Allera tittered, rubbing her thumbs
beneath Rethisa's eyes.
A knock on the carriage door preceded the door being jerked open.
Blinding light flooded the carriage, and Rethisa squinted as she took
the hand that was shoved in to help her and Allera down. Her legs
screamed and tingled as she climbed down from the carriage, and she
gasped a little as she straightened herself and slowly waddled away
from the carriage.
Where was Demir? Men walked here and there, retreating into the Thread
station for a cold drink and a bite to eat, but she didn't see Demir
anywhere, nor even his runner.
"Excuse me," she asked one of the hands passing by, "where is Demir?"
The man looked perplexed by the question, and he squinted at her as he
wiped his sweaty forehead on his sleeve, "Rode on ahead, ma'am. I'd
say he's already well at Hidden Meadows by now."
Hurt and disappointment slithered through Rethisa's stomach. He'd left
her. Left her on the road with some hired hands. **Do you expect any
less?** She realized the man was still waiting for her response and so
she flashed him a smile that she didn't feel, "Thank you." It was
clear to see by the man's expression that he wondered why a wife
wouldn't know her own husband's plans.
Demir waited on the steps of the Hold with a well schooled smile on
his face for the holders gathered around the square. He'd had time for
a bath after his arrival and was dressed in a fresh and well tailored
tunic. The rest of the traveling party had been spotted and he could
even see the lead runners as their tired heads bobbed toward home.
Dusk gathered the clouds into pink and purple stripes high above and
Rukbat sank toward the horizon. The hold was lit from within with all
the warmth he could manage. As the carriage came to a stop in front of
him. He took the steps down two at a time as any eager groom would
have done. He even beat the attendant to opening the door and reached
his hand in.
"Lady Rethisa," he said warmly. "Welcome to Hidden Meadows."
Last updated on the October 12th 2015