LUCIEN - Dreaming of Watchers
Lucien crouched in the tree outside Miss Carter’s chamber as he’d been the last sennight. Feet dangling, he fiddled with a loose thread on his overcoat. Bored to tears.
There’s not so much as a sniff of cimmerii anywhere near her. Why am I here?
Because the Captain said so. He answered his own rebellious question. Nodding to himself in annoyance. To watch for them. Grunting, he dropped his head back against another narrow branch as he stared up at a night sky littered with stars.
I could be flying across it right now.
No one would even notice…He was too dark for anyone to see against that backdrop. I live for this. For nights like this.
Instead he watched the pretty bit sleeping soundly in her chamber. But even as he thought it, something changed. She’s dreaming. He could tell from her restless movements, feel the change in the air. He connected with her mind. What does the venomous hellion dream of?
Meralee Elaine Carter tossed onto her back. Dreams consumed with visions of running through a forest, splashing through puddles. She was a tiny child looking up at a much older girl. Who had fire-red hair and scared green eyes, clutching Mera’s hand as she tossed a soft smile down in her direct. The fear obvious on her face, the redhead pushed them on, barefoot through the woods.
Rocks dug Mera’s tender feet. Icy puddles made her gasp, but she understood the urgency. She shivered uncontrollably. Pain throbbed under her ribs from running so far. Putting a hand there she felt them protruding under paper-thin flesh. Biting her lip, her tiny hand tightly clutched the larger one. The redheaded girl gave a gentle squeeze and offered a reassuring smile before sending a furtive glance behind them.
They ran through mist so thick Mera could’ve cut it with a blade. But the older girl couldn’t slow. Meralee became dizzied and couldn’t run any further. Another girl, with purple hair and eyes carried her until Meralee’s head dropped to her shoulder exhaustedly. The redhead took her and carried her the rest of the way to a clearing bordered by hutches and booths. The focal point of the village.
Meralee threw an arm over her face because the light around the bell tower was brilliant, shooting a beam into the sky as high as Mera could look. A wooden overhang sheltered the door from the weather and vines hung from the uneven metal sign hanging above the door, to shield it from passersby. The other girls piled into the clearing with them. A couple blondes, one with midnight hair, a couple brunettes, and the purple haired girl. All looking to the eldest, this redhead, questioningly. Confusion and fear written over their faces.
But Meralee was mesmerized by that light. Looking at the other girls, she knew she was the only one that saw it.
Meralee awoke. Panting heavily and choked with fear. She hated that dream.
The next morning found Meralee sitting at the breakfast table with her family.
Father blinked blearily. Incoherent from the opiates he favored.
“I had the dream again.” Meralee murmured. Averting her attention to her brothers to await their reaction.
“Mum died having you, Mers. You know this.” Drake dismissed, sipping a spoonful of oats. Reassuring her they were senseless dreams. As he always did.
But there was a look in Noran’s eyes that made Meralee level him with a lengthy stare. “We don’t know anything about a bell tower.” He blew on cooked wheat. Evading her gaze. “Just you being crazy again.”
She waited for their attention to avert back to their breakfast and tried again.
“Are you sure?” Shrewd brown eyes slipped from one brother to the other.
Noran looked to Drake who compressed his lips. They returned their attention to her, and together, they nodded.
They were lying.
“I can’t take much more of Meadowbrook.” Meralee murmured.
“You promised.” Drake tossed his spoon into his bowl to give her a chastising look. His curling brown hair jerked at his rough movements.
She ran a hand through long mahogany tresses. “I told you I’d come here, play lady and see about a suitable match. But it’s proven impossible.”
“Like in LandingTown.” Drake slapped a palm to the wooden table. “Where Miss Carter had ‘quite the reputation’.”
“I wasn’t as bad as they said.”
“Perhaps not.” Noran’s expression was sympathetic. “But you weren’t good.”
Drake, the older of the two, rolled his eyes Heavenward.
“The only friends you’ve managed to make is that terrifying young widow, Anna. Which doesn’t have an ideal reputation herself.” Drake reprimanded.
“Yet you seemed quite fond of her when we first got to the country house…”
Drake dropped his spoon to give her a black look.
“I’m friends with Nora Marcelle as well.”
“Yes, and that’s far better.” Drake said sarcastically. “Beautiful as she is, she’s no connections.”
Meralee rose quickly. “If you see fit only to speak poorly of my friends why are we having this discussion?”
“Yes, why are we?” Drake was spooning his oats again.
“They’re my friends!” Meralee spat. Sounding very much the irate child.
“Widow Valentine is incessantly outrageous and her off-hand comments are quite scandalous, as you well know.”
“I find her lively. Far better than the dull wits here!” She tossed down her napkin and stalked from the room.
“Come now, Mers.” Noran contributed softly. “Even you must admit all she discusses is the appeal of whichever gentleman has struck her fancy for the moment.”
“Yes, well Miss Bishop does not.” Meralee tossed over her shoulder. “And she’s kindred to me. More so than any in this house.”
“We aren’t foolish, Meralee.” Noran said softly.
Meralee paused and was tempted to apologize to him but knew he’d continue to take their eldest brother’s side. Despite his closeness with her.