Eleanor inhaled the indelicacy of the market. It was held on either side of the road that led all the way into the town, the dirt road turning into cobble stone to appear more civilized. Eleanor hated going into town, the smells of too many bodies, rotten food, and animal shit made her stomach churn with sickness. She also did not like the way many of the people interacted with her. They were either too rude or too friendly, and too many alleys for her to disappear down if someone decided to drag her in one. For that main reason, Grayson always insisted she have a knife on her. Right now, it was safely stored in her boot.
So, Eleanor stayed outside the town. There were fruits and vegetables, bread and salted meat, kitchen and dining cutlery, fabric, and dyes. Eleanor knew what her main mission was, but she still could not help but look over everything. Even though she hated going into town, she loved coming to the market.
After looking over various items that Eleanor knew she could not afford, she got down to business. Looking for her flower seeds, she did not notice a black carriage coming up the street. Why would she? There are carriages coming and going all the time.
The carriage stopped in the middle of the dirt road, just before it turned to cobblestone. The black Shire horses whinnied and stomped their feet, seemingly agitated by the sudden stop. The market people started to gather around, noticing that these horses where oddly large and tall, and that the carriage was not a typical carriage. It was long and sturdy, with large wheels in the back and smaller ones in the front. The seating area was enclosed and the maroon-colored curtains around the windows were closed shut. There was a maroon-colored symbol on the door that no one recognized. To the people, it resembled a circle with a V in it. As the crowed started closing in around the carriage, a whip suddenly cracked in the air.
“Back you disgusting cumberworlds!!” The coachman yelled.
Another flip of the whip broke the sound barrier. The people shouted out in surprised and moved away before they felt the leather whip on their skin. By the looks of the coachmen, he would do it without a moment’s hesitation.
Eleanor paid no mind to what was going on. The cracks of the whips only startled her a little, but still she searched for the right flower seeds.
“Find anything you like, dear?” An elderly woman came out of nowhere with flowers in her hand. She wore a simple blue dress with a white apron in the front. Her gray streaked hair was tied back into her off-white cap.
Eleanor stopped her search and clasped her hands together, glad to see Miss Mary. “Hello! Nice to see you again Miss Mary. Do you perhaps have some more flower seeds for me? Preferably ones that can withstand the oncoming cold?”
Miss Mary’s brown eyes narrowed as she thought to herself. “Hmmm. Withstand the cold…” she repeated. Then her eyes lit up as she remembered. “Oh! I have the perfect one! Just give me one minute dear while I look for them.” Miss Mary set the flowers that were in her hand with another bundle then scurried around to the other side of the table back to her cart of flowers.
Eleanor waited silently. Another cold breeze caused her to hug herself. ‘Darn it! I should have brought a shawl,’ she thought bitterly to herself. ’Hopefully Miss Mary won’t be long.’
“Quite chilly out today, isn’t it?” A man spoke behind her.
Eleanor jumped and spun around so fast she almost fell over. Catching herself she looked at the nuisance, completely annoyed he scared her. ‘How the hell did I not hear him?’
She stood face to face with a chest. Slowly she tilted her head up to a man that was a head taller than her. His long blond hair was tied back with a maroon-colored ribbon, showing off the short, trimmed sides. He had high cheek bones and an angular jaw that seemed so sharp that they could cut glass. His heart shaped lips turned up into a kind smile. Eleanor looked into his eyes and gasped. His eyes were a light gray. ‘How odd,’ she thought.
“I’m sorry, did I scare you? I have a tendency to do that,” he chuckled.
Eleanor glared at him. “Honestly, it was really rude of you to sneak up on a lady.” She replied, trying to relay to the man that she was not interested.
She turned back around and stared at the flowers before her. Unconsciously, her hand trailed to the side her knife was and slowly started to hike up the skirt
“I apologize. I was merely trying to state that you seemed rather under dressed for the weather today.” He said, leaning over her shoulder. His eyes caught site of her hand bunching up the fabric of her dress.
“Well I had no clue as to what the weather was going to be like once I stepped outside my home.” She snapped. Instantly she regretted the harsh tone. ‘You are a lady out in public, act like it!’
Not letting go of her skirt, Eleanor side stepped away from the stranger and looked at him. “I’m sorry. I misspoke to you. I am just in a hurry since I have many things to do and little time before the rain comes.” Just as she said that a roll of thunder made itself known. Eleanor estimated she had about maybe an hour till the storm was upon the market.
“Oh no! Miss Mary! I need to get going, I’ll be back later to get the flower seeds!” Eleanor rushed past the stranger and quickly grabbed a bottle of whiskey from a husky man that smelled like he drank a whole barrel of his own product. “Here,” she handed the money to the whiskey man. She knew the price of it without asking, why wouldn’t she? She has bought more whiskey than she can count.
“Would you like a ride? You could get your flower seeds and not have to worry about getting drenched.” The stranger was behind her again.
Eleanor’s face turned bright red from anger. This time when she turned around, she did it so fast that the bottom of her skirt went high enough to see her knees, but she did not care. She was too mad at this ignorant man.
“Sir, I’m sure you mean well but I do not take rides from people I don’t know. Especially strange men.” Eleanor was about to step around him when he held up his hand, making her stop abruptly. Then he took off his black coat and put it around her shoulders. “The least I can do.” He said.
He bowed and left, walking back to his carriage.
Eleanor did not waste time thinking about it at the market. She sprinted down the dirt road, opposite the town, hoping she would make it home in time.
About halfway home she felt the first drop. Eleanor stopped and put her hands on her bent knees. Her lungs were on fire, her throat dry and burned for water. She gulped down the air, trying to get as much as possible.
Straightening up, Eleanor gazed up at the sky. The ice-cold raindrops splattered on her face, sending a shiver through her spine. The clouds looked puffy and heavy with rain. A good flash of lightening lit up the dark gray sky, almost blinding Eleanor. Turning her focus back to the road, she started to walk. The rain began to fall heavier, drenching Eleanor’s handkerchief.
She sighed in relief when she finally saw her house. There was only one candle lit. ’Ok, he is either at the Mattis house and unable to leave because of the storm, or he is passed out from too much whiskey.’ Eleanor thought, secretly hoping he was not at home yet.
She got to the front door and took a breath, bracing herself for what was on the other side. As she opened it, she knew instantly Grayson was home. Even with the one candle lit, she could see the damage. Her vases and flowers were scattered across the floor, the cabinets in the kitchen were open, the end table by the arm chairs was on its side, the candle that sat there was alongside it, and the rugs were not where she left them. There were muddy boot prints every. The end of the trial seemed to be walking to the bedroom. Eleanor closed the door and followed the boot prints.
Grayson was snoring on the bed, with an empty bottle of whiskey in his hand. Without a second thought, Eleanor pulled off his muddy boots, placed a blanket over him and took the empty bottle. ’He will be out for hours. Best to leave him be.’ She thought as she walked slowly to grab him a glass of cold water for the morning. After placing the cup on the nightstand, she quietly closed the door with her own blanket and pillow in hand. She decided she wanted to sleep near the fireplace since the house was a little chilly from the storm.
After she cleaned up, made a fire and her bed, Eleanor sat down and stared at the jacket the strange man had given her. It was a beautiful jacket, she had to admit. It was the color black and made of wool. The embroidery along the edges were patterns of a silver wolf on each side, one facing up and the other facing down. It was hard to tell if you were not looking directly at it because they blended in with wisps of leaves and curled designs. The buttons were silver wolf heads that trailed the edge of the opening and stopped about waist height. The tails of the coat were pointed with little embroidery.
Eleanor brought it up to her face and sniffed it. It smelled of rain and… what is that? She sniffed again. ‘Is that…Iron?’ she thought to herself. Eleanor kept sniffing the coat until she noticed that maybe she was smelling it a little too much.
Irritated with herself for finding interest in it, she threw the coat across the room. Crossing her arms, she scowled at the coat, wondering what the hell she was going to do with it.
‘Whatever, I’ll figure it out later. Perhaps I could use it for the fire,’ Eleanor chuckled to herself as she laid down on her makeshift bed. Her eyelids began to droop as she stared into the orange flames. She thought of Grayson. How she loved him so much that she was willing to do anything for him, but what he was beginning to turn into was starting to become more that she could handle. A single tear rolled down her cheek as she drifted into sleep, her thoughts slowly turning to the strange man from the market.