On the way home he pulled out a small green book, about as big as my hand, and handed it to me. I glanced through it but it really didn't make to much sense to me, there were a lot of strange words that weren't in any language I knew.
"It's a code book," Tristan said as I finished flipping through the book, "It starts out with a simple code and then you have to use that code to figure out the next code and so on."
"But how do I break the first code?" I asked, a little nervous.
"That's what I'm here for silly!" He laughed.
"But you're on your own after that, I mean I'll help you if you really cant figure something out but I think I'll be able to get the rest by yourself- it might you a while though."
"Normally it takes students about three and a half to four weeks."
"So I should be ready by the time we leave?"
"Well it might take you a little longer since you haven't been exposed to codes before. But you should be done around that time." Never been exposed to codes, I thought to myself, my whole life until now has been ruled but unraveling the code of looks and gestures of those around me, that's how life here was. Didn't he know that?
"Well lets get started then, we don't want to lose any time."
"As you wish my lady." He said with an over dramatic bow. I laughed and curtseyed back.
"First things first, you can use this notebook to write down what I teach you so you can look over it later. I don't want you to forget anything. So the first code is actually really simple and easy to memorize, you see you switch the second and first letter then…" I spent the next hour and a half writing down how to break the first code and some other methods I could use to try and break the others in the book. I was excited to start as soon as I got home but my dearest mother had other plans.
"Thank god!" She hollered as I walked in the front door, I had said good bye Tristan at the gate, and took my shawl off.
"What is it?" I asked.
"Where on god's green earth have you been missy?!"
"I went for a morning walk mother and was about to get some lunch."
"Lunch? You don't have time for lunch, do you know what time it is? Don't you remember what today is"
"Umm…." I searched my mind but I could come up with nothing, except the fact that it was probably around 3:30 or 4:00 and that was a little late for lunch.
"Sometimes I swear I could just slap you!"
"Sorry darling, but seriously how could you forget? We have to get to the major's by 6:00, and its 4:07! We have hardly anytime at all for you to get ready! I don't know how we're going to managed it, we have to…." She went on and on mumbling about hair and jewelry and all these other random and unimportant things while I managed to slip up to my room to get ready. That woman was losing her mind…
I looked through my dresses, trying to decide what to wear- it was harder than usually because my mind kept wandering and I found myself thinking of Tristan's smile. I was rudely awaken from my glorious day dreams when my mother burst in screaming about how the major's favorite color was teal but I didn't have quite the right dress…I looked at the window and consider jumping out for a moment but somehow I managed to survive the wrath of my mother and get ready in time. But that wasn't good enough for her, she made me listen a huge speech about how important this party was and how the major's son was smitten- thankfully we got to the major's house pretty quickly and I could escape her.
As soon as the butler opened the front doors for us, I ran…I ran straight into something tall and hard. I stumbled back and felt two strong arms around my waist steadying me. I looked up to see Tristan's good friend, Kayden, looking as if I was some kind of animal. We just stared at each other in silence for a few moments, then he looked away like he suddenly realized what was going on and practically pushed me away from him. I took a few steps back regaining my balance,
"Good evening Kayden," I said politely, I'm not going to lie I seriously wanted to slap him, Tristan's friend or not- no one tried me like that, ever.
"Good evening," He said after an awkward pause, "Pardon me, but I must excuse myself." He bowed quickly and practically ran away from me. I stood there stunned for a minute, he was one of the strangest men I have ever met- I don't understand why or how him and Tristan are such good friends.
I shook my head and went into the main lounge where it seemed most of the younger guests were chatting and drinking.
"Deirdre!" I looked around, trying to figure out who had just called my name when all the sudden a whole horde of people charged me, all wanting to know what I thought about this dress or that party or other stupid things like that. I sighed and answered a few of their questions waiting for the opportune moment to sneak away but until that moment came, it seemed like I was stuck with them.
I didn't see Tristan at all until a few hours later, the mass of people around me had migrated into the ballroom as soon as the dancing had begun. I was dancing with this tall redhead when he froze.
"What's the matter?" I asked.
"That filthy son of a bitch, I'll kill him!"
"What are you talking about?" I asked, looking around trying to figure out what he was talking about- then I saw Tristan smiling and walking towards me.
"Good evening Miss Deirdre, Mr. McGough" Tristan said as he walked up to us. I could feel McGough, the redhead, stiffen as he glared at Tristan.
"What are you doing here?" McGough asked angrily, still holding on to me even though we had stopped dancing a longtime ago.
"What's the matter?" I asked growing more and more annoyed, looking at them both.
"You stay out of this," McGough said angrily looking down at me like he just remembered I was there, he pushed me away from him, "Go somewhere else, we men have something to discuss." I was about to give him a piece of my mind when Tristan stepped in between us and looked McGough straight in the eye- I had never seen him look so dangerous before.
"You better apologize to this lady right now, you have no right whatsoever to touch her like that." Tristan growled.
"And what if I don't? What are you going to do to me? Huh? Nothing." McGough taunted him.
"You know exactly what I'm capable, and if for some reason you can't remember ask your father." Tristan said with an evil smirk. McGough looked at him with such hatred I could hardly recognize him, he cursed and brought his fist back to punch Tristan but stopped himself at the last moment.
"We'll settle this outside, meet me in 10 minutes." With that he turned around and stalked off the dance floor. I stared after him then turned to Tristan,
"What the hell was that about?"
"Nothing, don't worry about it." Tristan chuckled, all anger seemed gone from his face.
"Are you going to fight him?"
"He pushed you."
"That's not a reason to fight him, Kayden pushed me too!"
"What?" I saw a flash of anger in his eyes.
"Kayden pushed you?"
"Yes…but not hard, I accidentally ran into him and he kind of pushed me back. But then he apologized." I lied looking down but Tristan seemed to believe me.
"Well you see that's the difference, Kayden apologized- McGough didn't."
"What did you mean about his father?"
"Don't fight him."
"Why not? I don't think I can win?"
"No, I know you can but its just not worth it."
"To me it is."
"Ah! You're so annoying!" I said, frustrated. He laughed and took my hand, leading me off the dance floor out onto one of the balconies.
"Can I get a kiss before I go fight the brute?" He asked with a smile.
"No" I said, hoping he would change his mind and decide not to fight McGough. He laughed,
"Darling don't look so sad, I'll be fine. I just need to teach him a lesson! If I back down now then he will think I'm a coward." I sighed,
"Deirdre don't be angry! Please, look at me." I lifted my eyes, he smiled and kissed me gently on the lips.
"I'll be right back, it won't take long!" He said with a wink and walked off, grabbing Kayden on the way out to the garden. I watched as they whispered seriously to each other until they vanished into the darkness. I sighed and headed inside, I needed a drink.
I sat down at one of the small tables and sipped some punch but after maybe five minute I could sit still, all kinds of horrible thoughts were coming to my head- what if McGough brought a bunch of his friends and jumped Tristan? What if he had a knife? A gun? I stood up and started walking towards the garden, there was no way I was going to able to sit still here until Tristan got back. When I got farther away from the house it was easy to figure out where they were, I could hear them shouting at each other. I quietly followed their voices trying to think of what I could say to them to make them stop and come back inside when I heard a gunshot, I let out a startled scream and froze. The first shot was followed seconds later but two more, I started running towards the sound praying over and over in my head that Tristan was alright.
"Tristan!" I screamed as I burst into the clearing. I could smell the gun powder and the blood, I looked around anxiously trying to figure out what had gone on. I saw to bodies laying on the ground, McGough and someone I didn't know, then I saw Kayden helping Tristan to his feet- his right sleeve was soaked with blood.
"Tristan! What happened?" I screamed as I rushed his side.
"He pulled a gun on my while we were fighting, he shot me in the arm and I shot back at him then Kayden shot his friend." Tristan gasped, he looked up at me, "How did you get here?"
"I was nervous so I went outside to find you, I was close when I heard the gunshots."
"You need to leave now," Kayden said.
"You don't want people thinking you were part of this do you?"
"No…but I'm not leaving Tristan."
"We're leaving now."
"What?" I looked at Tristan, "Is this true?"
"Yes, we need to leave."
"What? Why? You were defending yourself!"
"They probably won't see it that way- in the end it will come down to the fact they know McGough but they don't know us." Tristan said as he started to walk away from the bodies, leaning heavily on Kayden.
"But I know what happened! I was there when it started I'll tell them!"
"You'll tell them nothing!" Kayden said angrily.
"Deirdre I'll come back for you as soon as I can!" Tristan said looking into my eyes and reaching out for my hand.
"When will that be?" I whispered taking his hand.
"I don't know." He said quietly.
"Come on! We need to leave now!" Kayden pulled Tristan away from me. I stood there staring for a second then made a decision. Probably one of the worst one I've ever made.
"Tristan wait!" I called out and ran to him, "Let me come with you!" I pleaded grabbing his hand.
"Absolutely not!" Kayden practically yelled. Tristan glared at him then turned to me,
"You know we won't be coming back, at least not for a long time."
"But what about the job you wanted me to help with?"
"It's too late for that."
"You sure? Its not going to be easy, you won't be living the way your used to."
"Yes, I'm sure. I don't want to live here anymore, especially without you." Tristan smiled and kissed my cheek.
"She'll only slow us down!" Complained Kayden.
"Oh shut up, she'll do fine! Besides we need her." Tristan said as we hurried towards the gate that led out of the garden. I smiled to myself, I was filled with a rush of happiness and fear- I was finally escaping from my old life. I didn't know what was out there but I was pretty sure it would be better than what I was running from. At least I was free now.