Casting her eyes down, Scarlet shifted uncomfortably in her seat. The small group of beings had only been in the dining room for no more than ten minutes and yet the itch to go fleeing from the room grew by the moment within her. The words exchanged between Theo and the Queen was brief and each one laced with ice.
Scarlet stuck her fork into the salad in front of her, moving in small, slow motions. She stuck a small piece of a cucumber into her mouth, idly moving around a cherry tomato on her plate as she did. “Scarlet,” at the sound of her name her body jerked and the small tomato was knocked from the plate into her lap. She looked up, bringing her free hand down to her lap. She gave the King a small smile, hoping that no one had noticed. “Why don’t you tell Theo here a little bit about yourself, she’s quite… curious about you.” Scarlet’s eyes widened a bit as she glanced from the King, to the werewolf, and lastly to Renee. Renee, who had just stuck a rather large bite of bread into her mouth chewed with chipmunk cheeks for a few seconds. Scarlet was the only one close enough, being the two girls sat on the same side of the table, to see the tears form in Renee’s eyes as she forced the food down. She looked towards Scarlet, whose risen eyebrow was asking her if she was okay, and nodded. “What would you like to know? That is, if the King and Queen do not mind sitting through stories they have already heard and information they have already gained.”
“No, no, please, this dinner is a chance for Theo to formally know you two. Start from the beginning, and go from there.” The King held out a hand towards Renee. As he did the salad plates were removed and replaced with the main course. “Of course, thank you.” Renee gave a small nod towards the King, knowing that her thank you being nothing but a formality. “Scarlet was born in the small town of Khan, Tobus which is only a few miles from the Capital of the country. The cottage she born in was the one that her mother raised her in.”
“Just mother, did your father work? Perhaps he perished in a mining accident?” Theo’s placement of her words were blunt and took Scarlet back slightly. “Her father was someone she never knew, he was never in her life and her mother never spoke of him. Even though her life was hard, between bullies, rumors and having little money… it was still her life.”
“And you always wished to change it?!” There was a small sparkle in Theo’s eyes, one that hinted more towards an urge to know rather than give out sympathy. “No. Her mother worked her hardest and tried her best to make Scarlet’s life the best. She worked her fingers to the bones as a seamstress, often sporting bags under her eye yet she was always there for her. She taught Scarlet everything she knew, allowed her to become her apprentice. So that one day she could provide for herself, so she would have the best life possible and-” Renee cut herself off as Scarlet’s eyes fell to the untouched food in front of her. She made a small motion, one mean more for herself than for Renee. It was then, in a small, single blink that soul tear fell from her eye. Taking a deep breath she suddenly realized where she was at, looking up at the silent table. Without excusing herself she pushed her chair back and rushed from the room. The royals and the werewolf all looked to Renee. “I don’t understand, why did she just go rushing from the room?”
“Perhaps it was your blunt tone or lack empathy, Theodora. Most preferred to be treated as living beings rather than thing.” Renee, who was straight across from Theo, stiffened slightly at the change in her eyes. Long gone was the gleam of knowledge, and in its place was determination. “Or maybe, my queen, she fell under the impression that some of us had lost interest?” Queen Dolra’s eyes fell into slits and Renee fought the urge to pull what Scarlet had and rush from the room. “Renee, what did Scarlet say?” The King’s voice broke up the forming fight but the glaring gazes were still there. “She said, she would have the best life possible and… she never even got the chance to thank her… Or say ‘I love you’ one last time.” Renee casted her own glassed over eyes down, part of it was for her friend’s pain while the other, was from slight guilt.
For the second time that day, Scarlet found herself leaning against the door to her bedroom in a fluster. She had thought that she was finally coming to accept her new life. Yet, for the first time since her kidnapping, she had allowed herself to truly focus on her mother. There were so many words, so many things, and so many strings left untied with her. She couldn’t even image what her mother was going through, what feelings ands emotions she must feel. The ache in Scarlet’s chest- which had started up in dinner- grew more, though she tried to fight it. She didn’t want to cry, didn’t want to focus on everything in her life that would never be completed, but the more she fought it the more it hurt. She didn’t want fancy gowns or tubs so big she could near swim in it. She sought no riches or wishes for a better life. She had never wanted any of those things, never ask of any of them. All she wanted in her life, and all she wanted now, was her mother.
With a silent sob, Scarlet’s knees begun to buckle in until she fell onto them.
“Thank you, again Theo, for coming.”
“Oh no, sire, the pleasure is all mine. It was an interesting night.”
“Yes, it was, have a safe ride home.”
“I shall, have a lovely evening sire.” The King gave Theo a nod, closing the front door behind her. Renee watched in silence, amazed that she had made it through the dinner in one piece. The King kept insisting her to speak about Scarlet, and a little on herself. It was as if he wanted to prove something, though nothing else pointed to that. When Renee wasn’t speaking endlessly, over and over about Scarlet, Theo and Queen Dolra seemed to be two seconds from attacking the other. Renee was slightly jealous over the fact that Scarlet had gotten herself freed from the dinner, but then after would come the feeling of remorse. Scarlet was clearly having a harder time adjusting, no matter what the mute Blessed told her. Renee wished that she could make it easier on her friend, but what was she to do? There was not much power in her hands and what little she did hold; she held to with a grip tighter than death. “Renee,” She turned to the King, “Go to the Kitchen, and have Ariana make a plate up. Take it to Scarlet. I’m sure Scarlet is not too hungry, but should she gain the urge for something then she will not be out of luck.” She nodded her head but as he turned to go up the stairs, her voice stopped him. “Sire.” it was now his turn to look at her, “Yes?”
“Did you get what you wanted?” His eyebrows fell and he gave her a small frown. “Excuse me?” Renee took a few steps forward, praying she wasn’t making a mistake. “From Scarlet and that werewolf. You were doing something, I could tell.”
“Pray tell me what that something would be, Renee.” The King, who had taken two steps up the stairs moved back down. “I don’t know, I may not have gone to some fancy, high class school or whatever but I’m smart enough to put two and two together. That werewolf is a scientist and you are a King in possession of a Blessed human. One thing Scarlet didn’t mention about her mother tonight is that she spent her whole life hiding Scarlet from the world. Protecting her from those who sought to use or abuse her for their own personal reasons.”
“Are you implying that I seek to misuse Scarlet?”
“No, I’m implying that without Ms. Solomon I’m Scarlet’s only front line defense… and you can bet as sure as hell is hot that I’ll die before I let anything happen to her.” The King studied Renee, his eyes looking her over once. At her sides she had fisted her hands, in the hopes to hide the fact that they were shaking. “Most wouldn’t dare speak to a King in such a tone or tongue… Nor would they indirectly threaten him…” Here it was to come, he would surly kill her. She wish she had the power to control her tongue yet she never could. “You have moxie Renee, never lose it. Now get to the kitchen before everyone eats what is left.” She nodded her head. “Of course sire.” Both turned to go towards their own destination, “One more thing Renee?” She turned, and nodded, “You need not worry about Theo, Scarlet showed her tonight the one thing the mulish wolf needed to see about her.” Renee found her heart race picking up once more. Merely by the fact that she had been right, the werewolf had wanted Scarlet. “And may I ask what that was sire?”
“That she’s human.” With a quick spin, he was going back up the stairs, leaving Renee alone. Only slightly confused.
“Scar?” When there was no answer, the door to the bedroom opened, a triangle of light from the sitting room spilling in as it did. “Scar?” Renee repeated herself again, entering into the dark room as she did. “I brought you some food, still warm.” Renee moved towards the bed, where the outline of Scarlet’s back was gently lit from the inpouring light. She didn’t move from where she laid, her slow rising chest telling her that she might be asleep. It was barely eight thirty, but Scarlet had always been one to enjoy her sleep. Setting the food on her night stand, Renee peered over her friend. She was indeed, asleep. “Oh Scar.” Renee brushed a small stray hair from her barely visible face. Leaning down she placed a light kiss on her forehead, “I love ya Scar. Sleep tight.” Standing back up, Renee backed away and left the room.
It was only when she heard the door to the hallway close, that Scarlet opened her eyes. She sniffled, in an attempt to keep the snot in her nose, but in the end she ended up using the sleeve of her nightgown. She stayed on her side for few seconds before the smell of the food beside her bed forced her stomach to growl. Placing a hand over her stomach, she sat up. A good-size silver platter waited for her. Reaching over she removed the lid, and was met with the wonderful, mouthwatering smells of a small steak with steamed and mashed veggies. Sitting up, Scarlet picked up the fork and begun to eat.
“Good morning Renee.” Renee smiled, as she came to a stop short of the kitchen door. “Hello Vern.”
“And how are you this morning?”
“Just fine, and yourself?”
“I’m wonderful. Working on my bikes always puts me in a good mood the next day. How was your dinner last night? I heard a bit of gossip that Scarlet left before the end of the second course.”
“She did, she was tired. The day had been long and all…” Renee glanced away, rubbing the back of her neck. “There’s something else.” Renee pulled her hand from her neck, and shook her head. “No, not at all.” Vern crossed his arms, “Come now Renee, you can trust me, you can talk to me. I do not go running to the King with everything I learn.”
“Why does the Queen and Theo hate each other so much?” Renee was startled when Vern uncrossed his arms and closed his eyes in a chest-heaving laugh. “What’s so funny?” She felt the bubble of both anger and… hurt… forming. “They do not hate each other, oh no, on the contrary they both like and admire the other very much.”
“But last night, they were so… cold.” Renee crossed her arms, as Vern returned to his normal state. “They admire from afar, I should have added. They might be very cold and formal, but they are friends in their own strange way.” Renee slowly nodded her head, “I see. Well, I’m going to go get some breakfast before waking Scarlet up. If I can’t get her out, would you be willing to bring her a meal?”