A Sneaking Suspicion
That same night Red tossed and turned terrified by nightmares.
In her dreams she saw Peter... and blood... so much blood…
“No!” Red cried sitting up in bed, panting and sweating.
“Red! Red, what’s wrong?” Peter asked, sitting up.
“I-I saw you, and you were gone” she sobbed.
“Gone? What do you mean, gone? I’m right here!”
He wrapped an arm around her.
“Hold me…” she whimpered.
“I am” Peter muttered. “Go back to sleep”
“B-but… the nightmare will come back! I know it!”
Peter sighed. “It’s just a dream, Red. It will go away… just go to sleep.”
Red nodded, tears falling, still shaking from her dream long after Peter fell asleep.
Had Granny ever felt like this? Miserable? Alone, even with Grandfather beside her?
Red did the best she could, returning to a fitful night’s rest…
The next morning was the start of wolf’s time.
Red awoke to the sound of Peter bustling around.
“Good morning, dearest” she smiled.
“Good morning” he said awkwardly, as though in a hurry.
“What are you doing?” Red asked, with a sleepy smile. “Come back to bed”
Peter glanced at her, then shook his head.
“I can’t. Come, you must get up”
Red looked at him confused. “Why?” she asked.
Peter was agitated. Must she question everything he said?
“It’s wolves time. You need to return to your grandmother’s where you’ll be safe”
Red felt a feeling of nausea and dread.
“What if she does not want me back?” she asked.
Peter looked sideways at her. “She’ll take you back. You threatened to return home before, so why wouldn’t she?”
That stung. Red sighed, and decided that now would be the best time to tell him the news.
“Peter, there is something that I have to tell you” she said.
He sighed as he continued to pack in a rush.
“What is it?” he asked.
Red glanced at him bashfully. “I’m with child”
Peter looked at her, a pale glance washing over his features.
“Wh-what?” he asked.
Red nodded excitedly. “Yes. I am with child… our child” she rubbed her stomach affectionately.
“You can’t be…” Peter stammered.
“We haven’t… I mean, how could we…?” he placed a hand to his head.
Red looked confused. “Yes we can… and we have, darling as we are man and wife”
Peter fought the urge to glare at her and tell her the truth of what he had done the year before…
But now, her, pregnant? It was… inconceivable! Though entirely possible…
“Come. You must pack and I am nearly finished.”
Red smiled as she got out of bed.
“Where are you going?” she asked. “Won’t you come with me to Granny’s to share with her our wonderful news?”
Peter shook his head, feeling his stomach drop down to his boots.
If Granny ever found out about this, any of it, he was a dead man, surely.
I am so screwed he thought.
“I have no time for visiting with your grandmother. I am traveling with a group of men on a hunting journey- I must hunt...we will not have food if I stay”
Red was disappointed. “Very well” she smiled sadly.
As she got up, she felt sick.
Once her stomach settled, Red got up and packed quickly.
Both were silent on the way to Granny’s, though Red held on to Peter’s arm. He rolled his eyes, but said nothing.
When they got to the well, Peter turned to Red and gave her a half hug.
Red thought this was odd, but returned his hug.
“Be careful” she murmured.
Peter felt his stomach flip. “You too stay in bed you need your rest...”
Red blushed. “Oh… what shall we name our little one?” she asked.
Peter shrugged. “Whatever your heart’s desire is, my dear… I have to go”
He started to walk away.
“I love you!” Red called.
Peter smiled, yet it was ingenuine. He blew her a kiss, waving.
Red smiled, thinking as she made her way back to the cottage she had known as home for so long.
One thing was strange...Peter had never kissed her lips since that first night he urged her to run away with him.
Did he not love her as he once did?
At the Lion’s Den pub, Jiminy Lamb as the ginger stranger called himself paid another visit to the bartender Abel, and his girlfriend Marie.
Marie’s mother, Teresa, was a cook…and a good one at that.
Jiminy smiled as he walked over to Marie and Abel.
Both of them were sitting and talking, since the pub was nearly empty.
“Lunch crowd should be coming around soon” Marie smiled.
“Can I get ye anything?”
Jiminy smiled bashfully, and ducked his head. “A pint of beer if you don’t mind, thank you”
Abel winked at Marie, who blushed.
“So, find anything special you like about our town?” he asked.
Jiminy looked up as he fiddled with the honeyed butter and bread that rested on the table.
“Oh, I haven’t had the chance to look around yet” he said. “I’m here on brief holiday”
Abel nodded. “I can relate. Every man needs a break from working now and again.”
“Not you, ‘Angel Boy’” Teresa hollered. “Get your blonde behind back in here before I come ’n get you myself!”
Abel ducked and winked at Jiminy. “Duty calls”
Jiminy chuckled as he watched his new friends argue playfully with Marie’s mother.
Turning at the din by the door, Jiminy noticed a crowd of men enter, all with bows, arrows, swords, and a few hunting traps.
Jiminy shuddered. He remembered… wolves time was near.
He’d ought to get back to the caravan soon and warn his parents about moving to higher ground.
Just then, Jiminy noticed the young man he’d seen on his previous visit, about two months ago, sitting with the group of huntsman.
Peter. That was his name. “So… Peter, lad… word is it that your wife’s with child” one of the men said.
Jiminy saw Peter’s face heat red as he nodded. His comrades started to laugh, tease him and huzzah as they congratulated him.
“Mina! More ale for the group!” one of the men called.
The blonde maid who had been with Peter before, sauntered up to the group and smiled at them all.
“On the house” she smiled seductively, trailing her finger on Peter’s arm.
Some of the men started to jeer.
For his part, Jiminy was incensed. He gripped his tankard so tightly that his ale started to spill.
There was so much about this man he could not comprehend or withstand!
He was married, with a child on the way, and he chose to have an open affair with a woman who was hardly decent or modest?
Marie jumped as Jiminy’s tankard hit the table.
“Uh oh” muttered Teresa. “Abel, you might wanna…”
Abel shook his head.
“No… like it or not, this is something Jiminy has to do on his own.”
Marie touched his arm.
“Something bad will happen, won’t it?” she asked.
Abel grimaced. She knew him too well.
“Don’t worry sweetheart. You’ll stay with Mother while I go and see to things when the time comes”
He lifted her chin. “Until then, keep your chin up. Understand?”
Marie nodded sadly as she watched Jiminy get up and pace around.
On his way with Mina to who knows where, Peter nearly bumped into the ginger youth.
“I beg your pardon sir.” He said.
“You don’t have it” Jiminy snapped.
“What?” Peter asked. “Do I know you?”
“No, but I know of you” Jiminy answered, doing his best to keep his composure.
“Yes, I’ve seen you… you were here two months ago” Peter said.
Jiminy nodded. “Indeed”
“Fancy meeting you here” Peter smiled.
Jiminy folded his arms, as he motioned to Mina. “I trust you are enjoying your evening” he said.
Peter nodded smugly. “I am. No worries and responsibilities, no aging relatives that disapprove…”
The more Peter spoke, the angrier Jiminy got. He didn’t even know the man’s wife, so why was he getting so angry?
He reached for his tankard and took another sip.
Peter touched noses with Mina who giggled. “I’m free to do what I want with who I want”
Abel gulped. Wrong answer.
He shoved Marie at Teresa and nearly leaped over the bar to stop Jiminy from doing something stupid.
In hearing what Peter just said, Jiminy went with his instincts, pulled back his right fist, and hurled it in the direction of Peter.
It connected with the boy’s eye.
Peter in retaliation punched Jiminy in the jaw.
Unfazed, Jiminy roared and pulled back his fist to hit Peter a second time.
Before he could do it again, Abel pulled Jiminy’s wrist back. “Let go!” he yelled.
Jiminy growled and let go of his fist. He was breathing heavily.
Having no control over his emotions or his tongue, his words came out in a heavy rush.
How dare this coward pledge to love and cherish his wife, and then decide to ruin that promise and any future with his wife with a bar wench?!
“May God have mercy on your soul for what you’ve done… I’m not so sure that your wife will be able to forgive you when she hears about this.” Jiminy growled, his light blue eyes changing to indigo for a moment.
Grabbing his arm back from Abel, Jiminy wiped his mouth and stormed out, not noticing Marie and Abel glancing after him with concern.
He also didn’t hear Mina yelling at Peter, and her pouring the rest of Jiminy’s ale on Peter’s head.
Peter’s mates and friends all glanced at him and then at each other…
What on earth had just happened?