Lingering Hunger

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Chapter 3

The night seemed never ending, filled with twists and turns, anxious awakenings, and whirling thoughts. Once I awoke, the day was much the same. I was surrounded by servants, the same as the night before, dressing and primping me. The room was abuzz in preparation, as was the rest of the castle. I was highly guarded by the women around me as well as 3 of the Lord’s friends.

Kirt, Bryant and Alden were with Richard, while the other 3 were outside my door. Kirt was very formal, drawn to tradition and loyalty, yet hovered over Richard and I like a den mother. Bryant was the bulky and broad sort, reminding one of the side of a barn. While he was rough and had a hearty laugh that could bowl you over, he was as gentle to those he cared about as a bear watching its cubs. Alden was often next to Richard, a firm voice of reason and calm wrapped in a less muscular build than the rest of the group, but more than able to hold his own. Pierce stood firm and fast, a rugged broad sort with dark black waves for hair which always caught the young ladies’ eye. Luther, who stood by his side, was a rogue of a redhead, spirited and feisty with the raw ability to make the others roar with laughter. Lastly Gerard, ever quiet and watchful, had an uncanny ability to see what may happen before it arose. When Gerard snapped to attention, everyone else was on edge with him. There was no doubting his senses were true. Each one of them was trusted, equal to the others. Though each of their abilities were different, they melded as one, acting like a band of brothers more than friends.

Hearing a knock on the door, I was ripped from my thoughts of the group and pulled back into the present. I was fully dressed and ready as the servants still bustled about me. Looking at the door I raised my head high, “You may enter”.

Cracking the door open slightly, Pierce looked through the door, “Mary, it is time.”

At least they were still holding their familiarity with me. I was getting tired of all the titles and propriety that abounded in this station. A lump caught in my throat as I smoothed my hands down over the skirt of the gown. Turning to catch Brittany’s gaze I smiled slightly, then turning to follow my guard. I felt strange as I walked down the halls and stairs surrounded by the three of them, knowing that when I returned that way again, I would be wife to the Lord of the castle, the wife to Richard. Chills ran down my spine at the very thought of it. Not only was I going to marry the man that I loved, but I had been chosen to be the mother of his heir, the one who would take care of this castle and the inhabitants of its lands.

I had no idea how long that he had been trying to talk to me, but Gerard’s pressing voice snapped me out of my daze, “Mary, are you alright?” My eyelashes fluttered as I realized that I was on the floor and not walking any longer, cradled in the arms of Gerard, with Pierce and Luther overlooking the two of us with concerned gazes. I couldn’t place my finger on what had happened. I suppose that I got overwhelmed and fainted. What a ghastly thing to happen, to appear so weak, especially right now.

My voice was quiet and shaky, surprising even me as I spoke, “I’m fine, I honestly don’t know what happened.” Trying to rise, Gerard lifted me from his position as Luther reached forward to take my hand and aid me as well.

“Fine,” he chuckled, “You bloody faint as you’re walking and you’re fine.” The other two smirked some, but all three still held the look of concern in their eyes.

I took a breath and smiled, “Yes I said fine, and you had better not tell anyone of this.” That seemed to bring them a bit of relief.

“Good then, spunk, well at least we know that we have Mary back,” Luther interjected with a chuckle. They all murmured in agreement and continued to lead me to the grand hall.

After Richard and I were joined, there was a grand celebration with more music and feasts, with dancing and entertainment. Everyone had a bright smile on their faces, especially Richard. I don’t think there was a time that our hands separated their hold that entire evening. The hour became late, as the group all cast each other knowing looks and Alden leaned over to whisper to Richard. Turning to me, Richard grasped both my hands, raising them to his lips. Leaning close to my ear as he kissed my cheek, he whispered, “I shall not be long. I have something to attend to and I will be at your side again. Brittany will help you get settled my love.” Smiling he released my hands and stood to leave, the entire group standing and following him.

Brittany had escorted me to a new room, lavish and large, though set about the same as the other I had been in. My brush was on a vanity in the corner. The same drapes darkening the windows, a deep plush red cascading from the ceiling to the floor. The bed was larger than the one I had slept in last night, even though that one had threatened to lose me in it from its vastness. The canopy of the bed was draped in long, billowing navy blue bed curtains.

I stood at the doorway, gaping like a child, taking it all in until Brittany finally brought my attention back to reality from my dazed state by clearing her throat. “Milady, we should get you out of that gown so that you can relax. It has been a long day.” Nodding I followed her into the room and gladly removed the heavy garments. Having donned my nightgown I felt a bit better, like I could breathe anyway. It wasn’t long until Brittany was excused from the room. I wanted to be alone with my thoughts. Soon enough I would see Richard again for our first night together, a time which brought me much excitement and anxiety at the same time. Sitting down on the vanity seat I picked up my silver brush, turning it and watching it glint in the light from the candles.

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