“What about now?” Chantarell asked Claire for further assurance, though spoke under her breath as the man moved the horse a few feet closer, never once moving his dark gaze from them.
“Mostly just confused, suspicious, wary,, for now.” Claire whispered her answer, her gaze seeming almost as glued to him as his was to the two of them.
Chantarell then took a deep breath as she moved with deliberate slowness to slide down from her own horse, which did well to gain the majority of his attention as she took only a step closer, still holding her own mount’s reins in her hand.
“Hello.” she said with a smile up at where he still remained atop the horse a few feet away, his deep brown eyes moving over her with that same suspicion that Claire had just spoken of., “Do you know any English?” she asked him, keeping her voice gentle, though he provided no response. She sighed quietly as she tried to reason out the rest of the encounter, “Anything now, Claire?”
“Same, probably trying to figure out what we want.” Claire said softly as her eyes moved over the man, trying not to be too affected by his very beauty, which somehow, shook her even more so now than it would have back when she had been truly alive.
“Any English, at all?” Chantarell spoke to him again as she moved a step closer, easily placing desperation into her tone to further the idea that they were not a threat to him, somehow. He just looked down at Chantarell again, with the same emotionless expression, as his eyes moved back toward the other woman, seeming to be particularly fixated on the long straight black locks that fell loose around her shockingly pale skin.
“Maybe we should just…” Claire began with a shake of her head.
“Claire, even if he doesn’t understand us, you still could at least eat.” Chan told her as she looked back towards her companion.
Though, that statement did seem to cause some ruffle in his otherwise steely composure as he quickly looked between the two women, a new wave of suspicion and confusion passing over his beautiful features for the slightest second before his composure was quickly regained.
“You do understand…don’t you?” Claire asked him shakily, having quickly noted the hairline fracture in his demeanor, however brief it had been.
“Listen, sir…” Chantarell quickly jumped back into the conversation, “We honestly mean no harm…we just…” she sighed as he turned another cool gaze back towards her, causing her to try another approach, “My name is Chantarell, and this is Claire.” she paused as he continued to watch her as she spoke, while he remained wordless himself, “We wandered farther into the woods than we had meant to. We just are having a little trouble finding our way back to our home, is all.” she fibbed a bit as he looked between them once more, narrowing his eyes as he continued watching them vigilantly for any hostility, as Claire was watching him for signs of, as well, “Could you possibly help us?” she finished, placing vulnerability into her voice that was nowhere near her own usual demeanor.
He just looked down at Chantarell’s words once more, still offering absolutely no verbal response as he then startled each of them a bit as he guided his horse closer to where Claire still sat atop hers, stopping it right next to her as he looked her over with his continued silence. Claire was sure her breath would have caught if she had had any. Though she was only startled further as he finally moved his hand from the spear at his side, and instead, reached up to take a handful of her hair in his hand, somehow, keeping his grip gentle despite the unexpectedness of the very action itself.
Claire let out an audible gasp as he lifted her locks in his hand, inspecting them even more closely as he cast another wary glance at her skin which wasn’t merely pale, but almost the same shade as the snow beneath their horses’ hooves.
“Where are your men?” he finally asked as he relinquished his grip on her silken locks, though still spoke and regarded both of them with quite a bit of suspicion, tempered only slightly by the underlying confusion he still allowed them to see a bit of in regards to Claire’s appearance.
Chantarell finally spoke up, “Our men aren’t here to help us get home. That’s why we asked you.” she reiterated, speaking more confidently now that she knew he did indeed understand at least some of their language.
“You ask a savage for help?” he scoffed as he only pulled the horse back slightly from where Claire still was frozen in shock by his earlier gesture, not to mention his continued proximity.
Chantarell narrowed her eyes thoughtfully as she looked over him once more, again noting that though his skin was a much darker shade than either of their own, it was still much lighter than most of his people, not to mention his knowledge of any of their language at all, and easily came to one conclusion.
“Well, you are part white, aren’t you?” Chantarell pointed out, causing his anger to immediately flare as he looked back at her.
“Not a part I acknowledge.” he said coolly.
“But your people acknowledge it, don’t they?” Chantarell said, speaking gently despite her words, as she took a step closer, “That’s why you’re the one they sent out here alone, to keep watch, isn’t it?” she asked in the same quiet tone, continuing the conversation despite Claire’s obvious worry at the whole of the entire situation.
“My people are gone.” he retorted in the same angered tone.
“Without you?” Chan pressed the issue, though still spoke gently.
“I chose to stay behind, and search for my so-called father.”
“He’s the one who’s white?” she asked, still ignoring the discomfort she was causing in her other companion as well.
“You know him?” he scoffed, “He may be hard to find. There being so many of those bastards who rape our women.” he added venomously, and then seemed to accent the statement by looking back at Claire, convinced that there was some sort of common bond the two may have had, despite all other appearances.
Chantarell then followed the look he gave to Claire, her own face showing the unspoken question, which couldn‘t help but compel Claire to provide the answer, “My grandfather, he did briefly take an Indian as his mistress.” Claire answered quietly, “My mother never really talked about it, only once or twice that I even remember having heard bits of it, since she doesn’t look anything like her mother. She never even acknowledged the Indian woman as being her true mother. She pretended his wife was her mother, as did the rest of the family, for obvious reasons.” Claire then paused once more, “I think that’s why she’s always hated me. I look too much like her real mother. Not to mention when I started spending all my time in the woods with you. And now this, too. Yes, I’ve made her very proud.” Claire scoffed as she continued to look down.
Chantarell was finally quieted as she also looked down. Oddly enough, it was their previously silent companion who spoke, “And now, you are alone at night with another white woman, asking a ‘savage’ to keep you safe?” he repeated, and then added, “I believe you’ve made a different member of your family proud.” he told her, for once his tone softening from the previously cold tone he had been using up until that point.
“You knew the way back all along, didn’t you?” he asked Chantarell in the same monotone when he stopped his mount as the farmhouse came into view in the distance.
“I wasn’t positive.” she continued her fib, “And it still doesn’t change the fact that we didn’t want to ride back alone.” she assured him, having to do all the talking as both of her companions were being quite silent. He just shook his head and began to turn his steed in the direction they had just come, “Wait, where are you going?” Chantarell spoke up to stop him.
“You are home now. And I’m not staying here to greet your men.” he told her firmly.
“Our men, as you call them, probably won’t even be back until tomorrow or the next day.” Chantarell informed, causing him to pause as he looked back at each of them warily once more.
“Why do you tell me this?” he returned with all his suspicion still not far from the surface despite the kind words he had shared briefly with Claire earlier in the evening.
“At least let us show our gratitude in, some way.” Chantarell stated, a bit of suggestion seeping into her voice, which caused him to narrow his eyes further at the words, before she continued, “We could at least offer you a meal.” she told him, casting a knowing glance toward Claire as an unspoken reminder of the reason they had went in search of these natives after all.
“Gratitude? To me?” he responded with the same wariness.
“You were kind to us. We wish to be kind to you in return.” Chantarell assured him, despite the entire truth behind her reasons for wanting to prolong their time together.
He glanced at the darkened home then back to the two women with a sigh, swearing that he would show them what a savage truly was if he found that they were trying to deliver him into the hands of any of their men after all. Though he was hungry, and not necessarily frightened of the two women themselves, considering the common bond he and Claire had, and the fact that Chantarell didn’t even seem to balk at becoming privy to it, herself.
“Fine, I will accept your offer of a meal.” he finally gave in as he slowly turned the horse back in the direction of their new home.
“Can you at least tell us your name?” Claire finally asked him quietly as they reached the barn and began securing their horses for the night.
“Hridayesh.” he said quietly and grudgingly as he felt no need to tie his own saddle-free stallion, simply guiding it to the fence and giving it a gentle pat to show something of an unspoken understanding between himself and the beast.
“Ree-day-ash?” Chantarell repeated, sure she was mutilating the word as she spoke it. She then shook her head, “I hope you’ll understand if we just call you, Ash? Maybe?” she asked with a shrug, “Everyone calls me Chan.” she offered politely.
He just shook his head but didn’t bother voicing any dissent; as he was too busy surveying the home they now slowly approached. After leading him inside, Claire offered him a seat in the living area of the home, despite how uncomfortable he seemed about being inside the home at all, let alone, taking the offered seat.
“We’ll just go and heat up the meal we had earlier, if you give us a few minutes.” Chantarell offered as she reached for Claire’s arm, pulling her with her toward the kitchen.
Claire sat somberly at the table as Chan went about heating the meal with a smile, seeming happy that her plan appeared to be working at last. As she caught sight of Claire’s expression, she couldn’t help another tiresome sigh, “This was the plan. Why are you so upset, now?”
“We promised him no harm, Chan.” Claire reminded.
“Wasn’t planning on harming him.” Chan returned with an unconcerned shrug as she stirred the food above the recently lit flames.
“Just getting me to force this addiction on him, then?” Claire mumbled, causing Chan to sigh once more as she brought the food to the table a moment later.
“He said he wanted to find his father. His father has most likely gone west, with everyone else. So, when we start traveling again, we can help him to find the man as well…Would that make you feel better? If you could at least attempt to give him something else he wants, besides just your blood, or whatever.” she smirked.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Claire retorted as Chantarell finished piling the food onto a plate at the table, seeming to forget the entire beginning of the other girl’s statement.
“I saw you looking at him.” she smiled back.
“Yeah, he was looking at me too.” Claire attempted to defend.
“I noticed.” Chan chuckled.
“That’s not what I meant, Chan.” Claire grumbled, though really didn’t have the strength for much of an argument right then.
“Point being, you need another servant.” she reminded, “And he already likes you better than other white women, since you are only mostly white.” she corrected.
“Shut up.” Claire retorted, though with barely any volume.
“I repeat: It’ll be all right.” And with that, she reached toward Claire’s wrist, finally getting back to the main reason for their entire adventure that night, at all.
When Sean made his way back to the room he had slept in upon his last visit to Marcus’ home, he still could not believe all of the things he had witnessed that night. More specifically, he wanted to know the reason why Haven had decided to have him witness them, at all. After all, everything Haven did always seemed to have some hidden purpose to it, especially in the nights since Sean’s embrace. He then glanced at the clock which was tucked into the corner of the guest room, telling him that dawn was right around the corner, which only caused him to sigh once more.
A moment later, Baila returned to the room as well, still looking flushed and only covered now by her undergarments. She greeted him with a smile as she slowly moved toward the bed, where he now lay, arms crossed behind his head as he waited for the sun to rise high in the sky once more, finally shutting down all those now racing thoughts of his. Her smile widened as his eyes caught hers once again, as they had during that one moment earlier in the night.
“Sleep well, Sean.” she whispered as she moved to the mattress next to him, laying her head upon his chest as she curled her barely covered body against his, “And thank you.” she added as she gently kissed his chest, which is the last thing he comprehended before having that unshakable sleep forced upon him once more, while Baila continued to hold him in her arms, somehow content to even be just that close to him, for that moment, anyway.