I was busy pacing anxiously as I waited for Darrow to arrive. I had woken ridiculously early and was still early to meet Darrow despite burying myself in translations for most of the early morning. Atani frowned concerned as they finally stepped out talking hushed and saw me pacing.
“I hope you slept kiddo” Darrow frowned concerned as he saw the dark circles under my eyes.
“For a while at least” I smiled sheepishly.
“Take care on your travels alright? Look after her Darrow” Atani threatened, pulling me into a hug before scurrying back inside into the warm.
He smiled ruefully as he held his hand out to help me climb up onto the carriage. I rolled my eyes at him playfully before taking his hand. The journey seemed to drag as we made our way to the other side of town. The sun had yet to even break the dawn was we made our way through the quiet streets. My stomach was doing flips as we finally drew up to the boarding school. Darrow helped me down as the chef waited patiently at the tradesmen entrance at the side of the school.
“New apprentice?” He asked warily as he eyed me suspiciously.
“Ma daughter. She wanted to speak ta headmistress Anders” He replied warningly as he shot him a glare.
“A’ight. She wants ta see you anyway” He shrugged indifferently.
Darrow glared unimpressed as I hoisted one of the sacks onto my shoulder. Ignoring the chef’s amazed stare, I walked into the kitchen and placed it down on the floor inside a huge fridge. Darrow wasn’t far behind me, carrying a sack himself as the chef called for his apprentice to help him.
“Ya outta your mind kiddo? You could really hurt yourself” He began unimpressed
“I’m fine Darrow.” I smiled reassuringly, patting him on the shoulder gently.
He sighed frustrated as I hurried back to the carriage, dumping his own sack beside mine. Between the two of us, we soon had everything neatly stacked in there fridge. The chef glared disgusted as we left to find the headmistress, muttering angrily about the sacks. Even with his apprentice, the flabby chef had been unable to get a sack to the kitchen door let alone the fridge. A lump rose in my throat as we stepped into the ornate, richly decorated boarding school main foyer. The school was eerily silent as we shuffled inside, both as unnerved as the other. Familiar, pain filled sobs suddenly broke the silence as we neared what appeared to be a reception desk. Sitting listless by an office was an auburn haired beauty. Her china doll like features extenuated by her lustrous curls. I grasped Darrow’s arm tightly as I felt my knees shake. Her face was much paler than I remembered. She continued to sob softly, oblivious as she wrung her hands in her lap anxiously. She froze terrified as an anorexic looking woman stepped out of the office in a pale grey skirt suit.
“They have been notified but are still insisting you stay. As I already told you, Kimberly. Now stop wasting my time and get back to class!” The woman ordered disgusted, her cold brown eyes sparkling angrily.
“I want Prudey” She begged softly, erupting into more tears.
“Enough nonsense child! You are acting like a baby!” She balked disgusted, narrowing her eyes on us as she finally noticed we were standing there.
“Ya wanted to see me headmistress” Darrow stated evenly, his voice cold.
“Prudey?” The girl gasped shocked as she looked over curious.
“Hey Kiimi-cub. I’ve missed you” I smiled shakily
“You know this woman?” The headmistress demanded as she grabbed for Kiimi as she jumped off her seat.
“I am her sister. And she is coming home” I stated proudly.
Kiimi stamped as hard as she could on the headmistress’s foot and charged over to us as Darrow laughed amused. I knelt down and caught her as she flung herself at me, clinging to me like a vice as she sobbed mournfully into my shoulder.
“She is not going anywhere! Her father!” She began flustered as she sat on the chair clutching her foot.
“Our father should never have had the audacity to send her here in the first place madam. I appreciate you keeping her safe but now she is coming home, where she belongs!” I snarled threateningly, glaring at her with cold eyes silently begging her to try and stop me.
“S’alright lass. Get her in the carriage, I won’t be long” Darrow hushed softly, smiling sadly as Kiimi flinched away from him just as I used to do.
I didn’t argue and turned on my heels, quickly sweeping back through the kitchens and out to the carriage.
“I knew you wouldn’t leave without goodbye, I knew it!” She sobbed softly as I pulled myself up onto the carriage to wait.
“Leave? Why would I leave when you’re here?” I chuckled softly, a lump rising in my throat.
“They said you left and weren’t coming back.” She babbled panicked
“Hush now. I won’t leave you sweet girl” I hushed softly, gently rocking her like I always used to do.
Darrow wasn’t far behind us, striding out proudly and quickly swinging up beside us, grasping the reigns tightly.
“You have to be joking! THIS IS A LUCRATIVE BUSINESS!” The headmistress screeched indignantly, her eyes bugging out of her head as Darrow turned to appraise her with cold disgusted eyes.
“You insult my family, you mistreat my family. You do not care for the girls in your care, not even a little. I do not need nor want ANY association with such a person or business” He stated proudly, urging the horses forward before she could argue any further.
Atani and Axel were waiting anxiously for us to return pacing outside the shop. Atani gasped shocked as she saw Kiimi sleeping exhausted in my arms. Axel hurried to help me down as I passed a sleeping Kiimi to Darrow, Atani rushing over concerned.
“She can sleep upstairs, I’ll make some tea and something for her to eat” Atani stated softly, urging Darrow inside despite his hesitation.
“I just need to go get a book and I’ll be back. I’d like to stay with her if it’s alright” I begged softly as I quickly grasped Atani’s arm as she went to hurry inside.
“Of course child. I was expecting you would” She chuckled amused, kissing me tenderly on the cheek before giving me a gentle push towards the bookshop as Axel took the carriage back to the stables.
I smiled gratefully before running down the street towards my little bookshop. Elise was watching nervously from beside one of the trade stalls, sighing relieved as she saw me opening the shop. It was well past my usual opening time and I couldn’t help feel slightly warmed by her worrying. But then was it worry for me or her book? I rubbed my eyes tiredly as I wandered over to the books I had left untidy and began sorting them out. Loud chattering and excited squeals made me jump as I wandered back towards the counter, Elise’s book clutched tightly in my hands. I slowly edged to look out the window leaving the book on the counter, carefully keeping the door in sight. My heart skipped a beat as my blood ran cold. An overly muscled man was standing in a sea of women trying to fawn over him and get his attention. He scanned the crowds looking for something, or someone, seemingly oblivious to the overly flirtatious and suggestive women. I couldn’t help wonder if they would still be so eager to have his attentions if they knew what he was. His striking icy eyes and unnaturally blonde hair immediately gave away what he was. A legend of old. A hunter. I shivered chilled as I thought of why he could be here.