Ravyn's Nights - Book 1

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Chapter 8

~1584~

Months turned to a year as Chantarell continued secretly seeing Claire and ever so slowly bringing her further into the strange world of her own belief system, while still somehow managing to keep the other girl from having the opportunity to even lay her pretty green eyes upon any other member of her household, including Sean.

It wasn't that difficult a thing, as Sean had his duties during the day, as did Ana. Haven was obviously out of commission during those daytime hours, and Claire herself knew she'd be immediately rushed to the nearest convent if her parents ever even had a clue that she had tried to go and visit the Torrence home. Claire would risk having Chantarell be caught visiting her own home, if she must, as she could always claim that the girl was simply passing by on her way to town. No such excuse would have ever worked to explain her own presence at Chantarell's home though, which suited the Torrence household just fine, as having one person on the grounds as the sun was high in the sky, who did not truly know what Haven was, was quite enough for them.

As for Sean's adjusting to life there over the next year, he mostly just regarded the three of them from a distance, not saying much at all when Chantarell wandered out onto the grounds, which she rarely did anyway. He had somehow convinced himself to just give into his theory of all three of them being just a bit on the 'mad' side, but accepted it, as their 'madness' never truly seemed to cause harm to anyone or anything, except possibly his own psyche, mostly from just trying to decipher it all, in his less busy moments, anyway.

Sean then found himself with a bit more curiosity about them than he could usually ignore, as he realized that Hallows Eve, or Samhain, as the strange redhead called it, had come around once more. Upon realizing this thought, that sight that he had beheld the year before, on that same night, once again began rolling through his brain on a minute-by-minute basis, still just as disturbing as it had been when he had seen it with his own eyes.

He could barely concentrate on his duties that day as all he found himself doing was wondering if the fire-lit orgy was to take place again that night. He shook his head as his body reacted to the thought, wishing it hadn't, but obviously having no control over that very basic function of his body, considering his own reasonably inexperienced life.

Sure, there had been a few girls at the orphanage who were near to his age, and he had exchanged a kiss with a few of them here or there, or possibly an 'improper' touching of one of their thighs when the nuns were distracted. But every girl there, he just seemed to completely lose interest in before he even got so far as behind one of their bodices. They all seemed just completely and totally, abysmally, dull, and all the same as the next. This fact caused him to find himself mind-numbingly bored by each and every one of them, despite what surface beauty any of them displayed.

He sighed and took a breath, shaking his head at the memories of his uneventful youth. The other boys there had told tales of getting a bit farther with the girls than he ever had, but still, even that did not convince him that he could see himself finding interest in any one of them for more than five minutes. And then there was the thought of going to see one of the women who were paid to give their attentions to young inexperienced men, but somehow, that didn't even appeal to him. He found he had set himself the standard of wanting a girl to not only be interesting to him, but to also have an honest interest in him as well, not just a curiosity to know what it was like, like the young girls at the orphanage, or a thirst for cash, like the women at the brothel.

Another shake of his head as he realized that there had never been one girl he had met in two long decades, who did hold his interest for very long, and he wondered if there ever would be, in a town full of carbon copied young women. Then he looked back at the house and swallowed again as Chantarell moved past the window, forcing him to correct his previous thought.

It was true that he had convinced himself that she was just a little 'touched,' as they'd say, but that fact itself did mean that she had never bored him in their brief encounters. He swallowed again as he watched her move out of sight once more, almost visibly arguing with himself again.

The girl was not quite right, obviously, but she wasn't unattractive, and he knew that that fact extended to every detail of her physicality, after what he had watched the year before. But he also knew that there was obviously some kind of relationship between herself and Haven, and a very intimate one at that. Though, he also knew that Ana shared that same kind of relationship with the same man, which therefore lent doubt to the validity of such a relationship, for either woman.

He sighed again, trying to ignore the fact that no other girl who he had ever spoken to, had ever occupied his thoughts as much as the little redhead now did, and couldn't help letting himself wonder if there was truly a reason for that, a reason that should at least be explored, though very, very carefully, for many reasons.

As though fate wanted to force him into a decision, Chantarell then stepped out of the house once more, decreeing that he had to make a snap decision, then and there, of how and if he should hint at the thoughts about her which were now plaguing him.

"That works better if you actually move the shovel while you're doing it." she told him wryly, as she gestured to the way he had been standing, frozen, in a still dirty stall.

"Very funny." he replied under his breath as he half turned away, trying to buy himself a bit more time for that decision.

"You're just not a morning person, are you?" she asked as she carelessly leaned against the stable door again, upon approaching it.

"Gonna say the spirits kept me awake again?" he dared, then added, with a brief glance back toward her, "Thought that wasn't supposed to be 'til tonight."

"Wow, we got at least two fast learners in this town." she stated cryptically, though with a smile.

"What?" he asked as he looked at her once more, then added, "Nevermind. I doubt I wanna know."

"Of course you do." she teased playfully.

"If you say so." he mumbled back to her.

"Call it intuition." she replied before turning on her heel and heading back in the direction of the path through the woods once more.

"What on earth do you do in the woods by yourself all these times?" he couldn't stop himself from calling after her.

"Told you you wanted to know." she chided, beaming back at him.

"Forget I said anything." he mumbled again with a shake of his head as he looked back in the direction of the waiting stall.

"Come on." she laughed as she moved back to grasp his wrist and began pulling him from the barn, despite the foot or so of height he had on her.

"I do have a job, you know." he argued weakly, trying not to pay an undue amount of attention to the feel of her tiny hand encircling his wrist as he found himself letting her lead him away, after all.

"It's a holiday. You can take a few hours off." she assured as she continued to lead him with her towards the woods, just the way she had done with Claire, slightly over a year earlier, and several times, since.

"A holiday, hmm?" he mumbled, though once again, found himself unable to stop his next sentence, "I can just imagine how you'll be celebrating."

"Really, whatcha imagining?" she grinned, seeming to have some knowledge of his spying on them the previous year, after all. Sean just shook his head, refusing to answer her once more.

Once they reached that clearing, Sean was obviously flooded with even more memories of the previous year's celebration, and awkwardly took a seat on a large boulder that sat in the corner of the clearing, several feet off from the place where he had watched their lovemaking the year before. He attempted to sit in a position that would hide his arousal from her eyes as she proceeded to flit about the clearing, chasing after butterflies, and seeming younger than her actual age, when the opposite was true most often. Not to mention, how hard it was for him to see her as some innocent young girl after what he did know about her nocturnal activities, even before having been a witness to them, himself.

"So, why has your chattering suddenly stopped?" he asked, his own nervousness forcing him to fill the silence between them as she continued her carefree chasing and releasing of the last remaining butterflies that populated the woods before the temperature cooled and they disappeared for another year.

"I was still waiting on your answer." she stated simply.

"What answer?" he asked, attempting to feign innocence of what she meant.

"About how you were imagining we'd be celebrating." she easily offered, not letting him off the hook that easily.

"How would I know?" he stated with an uneasy shrug.

"Well, you did watch us last year, didn't you?" she stated point-blank, Sean sure that his heart stopped at the sound of her statement.

He forced every bit of wit he had, to come up with an answer to that accusation, "I heard noise, late at night. I was worried. I followed the noise then you were all out here, and I didn't think I should disturb, whatever was going on, or anything." he stammered the explanation as a blush rose to his pale cheeks.

Chantarell just shook her head with a surprising smile, "And you stuck around for another year. I'm impressed. Apparently the church isn't that good at brainwashing everyone, after all."

"Like I said, I have nowhere else to go." he repeated, still amazed that he wasn't facing her fury at him admitting that he had spied on such an activity, after all.

"Well, if it truly shook you that terribly, you would have found somewhere to go, anywhere else to go." she told him, speaking surprisingly softly as she turned back towards him with an oddly gentle smile, "There's hope for you yet." she added with yet another smile.

Sean swallowed hard at her having seemed to accept what he thought was sure to lose him his invitation to stay with them, and realized that this young girl was truly, full of more surprises than he could even imagine. And that drew him to her even more strongly.

"Do you really want this life though?" he asked softly.

"Did I appear to not be enjoying myself that night?" she replied with a trace of mischief.

"But everything else aside," he began with a deep breath as he slowly rose from his seat, "Do you really want a lover you have to share? Don't you want someone who's yours, and only yours?" he asked more quietly.

"I do love him, and I know he loves me. It's not like there's anyone else I've ever wanted." she admitted, her tone matching the softness of his.

"No one else?" Sean repeated, "I know there would be a man who wouldn't make you share him, who would just be yours, and yours alone." he dared.

"Please, it's not like there's many men out there who would fit that description, Sean. Even if there was a faithful one among them, they all think I'm some kind of devil-woman and won't come near me." she scoffed.

Sean then stepped closer to her and leaned down as he spoke, causing her to simply freeze, "I'm near you. And there's no one else I've ever really had any interest in, for more than one conversation, ever in my entire life. There's just you; devil-woman or not."

It was then that he bravely attempted to lean in for a kiss, causing her to bolt into the action of pushing him forcefully away, containing more strength in her tiny frame than he could have ever imagined.

"God, Chantarell, I was only going to kiss you, not, attack you, or anything." he assured her, wounded by her reaction, as he also reached for the shoulder that she nearly bruised with the force of her push.

"You can't do that, Sean." she told him, looking and sounding truly shaken by the attempt at what he saw as only a simple kiss, and a much, much more innocent action than the ones he had seen her indulge in, in the very place where they now stood once more.

"I don't get you. I watched you nearly have an orgy, in this very spot, but you're terrified of a kiss?" he asked, his own shock at her behavior, sharpening his own tone.

"That's not the problem, Sean." she told him in a near whisper as she turned away, nervously biting her nail as her refusal to tell him who he actually was, to her, had come back to haunt her so very thoroughly.

"Then what is?" he had to ask, almost afraid of hearing whatever answer this particular girl may give him.

"Sean, I was born here. I've lived in this home all my life. My father was a servant too." she then swallowed hard, not able to look back at him, knowing it would make it that much harder to the finish the sentence, "My father was...was your father." she choked out the last bit, turning just in time to see all of the color drain from his face as he quickly turned, fleeing from the clearing in more kinds of shock than there were words to describe.

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