Chapter 92 - Dress up
“Alena?” Rowan called out as she entered the cabin. She found Sarah sitting on a sea chest, laboring with a needle on a dress the same shade as Alena’s eyes.
Alena sat on the bed, and the way she considered Rowan, warned her that she was about to be caught into something she would preferably have avoided.
“Sarah, close the door,” Alena requested mildly, and Rowan had the feeling that she was the rabbit caught in the hutch.
“Undress Rowan,” Alena ordered, and Rowan only raised a brow.
“Well, my lady, it won’t do to put the dress on over all those belts and buckles,” Sarah teased with a look of innocence, and Rowan gave Alena a stare that could have frozen water, except that her barely hidden amusement ruined the effect.
“Do you require help?” Sarah asked in an overly helpful tone laced with laughter, and Alena chuckled.
“My sister did not grow up with ladies maids, Sarah, she’s probably shy,” Alena teased, and Rowan almost got angry, but there was no malice in Alena’s statement.
“I would turn me back, but I can’t remember where I put that pincushion,” Sarah drawled, and Rowan smiled despite herself. That low-class accent of Sarah’s came and went.
Rowan undressed, and Sarah untangled herself from the dress she worked on to hand Rowan some newly fashioned undergarments. Rowan frowned at the fancy lace and gave them back.
“I thought we were talking dresses here,” Rowan balked, only half kidding.
“It goes under,” Alena teased, but she was sad as well. Birthright. The word flickered into her head so often these days.
It took a while to get to the actual dress, and when Rowan finally finished dressing, Alena and Sarah both felt a little in awe. Sarah’s choices in cut and material suited Rowan.
Sarah turned the mirror around with a flourish, and Rowan stared with incomprehension at the elegant stranger reflected in it.
The red dress with its midnight blue stitching and insets brought out a daring in her that she hadn’t experienced before. There was nothing vulgar about the demure cast, tight bodice, and full skirts of the dress. It made her look mysterious, and yet, desirable.
Sarah had swept up hair and allowed a few ringlets to escape. Rowan felt truly feminine for the first time in her life, and she admitted to herself that Alena was right about what she said about Martin.
“All dressed up and nowhere to go,” Rowan tried to mock, but the words seemed unfitting coming from her mirrored lips.
“The Master requested that lady Rowan join him for dinner in his cabin,” Sarah teased, and the tinge of red on Rowan’s pale cheeks only added to the mystery.
“Go now,” Alena urged, and Rowan briefly hugged her close. She felt excited as if she hadn’t had a hundred meals with Marcus before. This dress, the formal invitation, and being alone with Marcus for their first date, changed everything.
Suddenly she felt jittery, hyper-aware of the world around her and the rush of strange feelings. She always scoffed at women for their romantic notions, but being in the moment, she could understand.
“Maybe you’ll make a lady of me yet,” Rowan teased, but there something in the expression of her eyes as she briefly hugged Sarah too, that put Alena at ease. She worried about pushing this moment on Rowan and going too far too fast, but even though Rowan hadn’t forgotten the past, the wounds were healing.
“Pity,” Sarah sighed wistfully, and Alena frowned.
“What’s a pity?” Alena asked.
“That such a lovely dress should only be worn once,” Sarah clarified as she settled beside the dress she just finished.
“Why? I doubt if she will be opposed to dresses after tonight?” Alena said.
“Here I thought you were a woman of the world. If our Master is half the man we know he is, do you really think that that dress will come off in one piece?” Sarah mocked, and Alena laughed as she threw a pillow at Sarah with just the right amount of force.
Sarah caught the projectile with ease, and as she fussed with it for a moment, her expression turned serious.
“I knew a love like that once. His name was Frederick von Blauw, and he was everything that I couldn’t have. We owned land, or my maternal grandfather did, but my father came from working-class parents, and I grew up between two worlds. Frederick’s father was a wealthy man with a title, and Frederick was his only heir,” Sarah volunteered and confirmed Alena’s suspicions about her past.
She often spied a sadness in Sarah when the human woman watched Marcus with Rowan. Alena knew the Dark Horde killed Sarah’s fiance, but she sensed something more profound than just loss. A story behind the story, but she didn’t want to pry, despite how well she’d gotten to know Sarah in the last few days.
Sarah had many of her father’s traits, including keeping her secrets to herself. They very rarely spoke of their lives, and only to people they both liked and trusted. Alena felt privileged to find herself in that small group. Victor would have never understood that she could value friendship with a human.
There was a time in her life when she couldn’t fathom of a vampire befriending humans. When she first met Rowan, she secretly ridiculed her for choosing humans over their kind, but both of them had come a very long way since then.