“Who hurt you so much that you started to hate yourself?”
-Midnight thoughts (what made you so sad)
It was Thursday and I was beginning to regret my ferocious ride the other day or at least, the lack of practice beforehand. My legs hurt from the exercise and my back and abdomen were stiff from the ride.
“Why are you walking so funny?” Sky had whispered that morning but I had merely given her a tightened grin. Good for her, she had some meat on her bones that cushioned the fall every time Pillsbury and Ebony or Night Rider or Soot or whatever she settled on after the flurry of bad puns- had trotted perhaps a little too fast over the bumpy stretches. I was fairly certain my butt had turned black from the bruises.
“Ladylike stroll,” I murmured, turning abruptly away from the scraggly crowd to take a walk on my own. I vaguely recalled that the rule handbook had said something about being alone, but I was fairly certain that no one here really cared all that much. Archery was later and it was all I needed to be sore on the upper half of my body as well. It had been awhile since I last worked out, a fact obvious only to me because apparently being skinny in this place meant that you didn’t eat enough. Italians and their food, I had to grin at. Aunty had invited me to dinner that night, but I was hardly in the mood to have food shoved down my throat at each passing. My extended family had come under the impression that I never ate or Angelo made it worse by saying that I worked out all the time. The horrified look on their faces was enough to set my teeth on edge. Working out once a day or even a few times a week was nothing to cry over. It was healthy.
“I seemed to recall something about the etiquette for women is never to be alone in a public place,” Angelo’s chiding voice should have brought a smile, but my temper had fouled. Now I longed to shoot something with my arrows and get away from everyone. The pang of having a best friend who automatically knew when to give me space-something Mary would have known- was tugging at me, but I could still see Bret’s face hovering in front of hers and that wide eyed expression that she had given me when she caught sight of me.
“I seem to recall the etiquette of women including not talking to a man late into the night as well but yet, here we are,” I replied briskly.
“Are you mad with Adelaide for speaking to me?”
I turned my head, leaning against the railing that lead down into rest of the garden.
“I heard your voices floating up to my balcony. You’re laugh is quite loud, if you recall.”
“But are you mad?”
I couldn’t place why his concern sounded so genuine. Why would he care about my opinion? We weren’t even that close, not really. His brows met together over that scruffy facial hair and I was instantly reminded of that knight who kept pestering me. I actually wouldn’t mind seeing him instead of Angelo. I had to answer to Angelo a lot more than I had to for the knight.
“No, just don’t get Skye kicked out and don’t lose your job over this. Abide by the rules.”
“You’re one to talk,” he replied, those sparkling brown eyes teasing me. I wasn’t in the mood.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Don’t go on runs by yourself. Klause told me. He’s concerned about you.”
There was no underlining meaning to that statement, but I couldn’t help feel a slight lift at hearing his name. Finally, I had gotten some answer out of someone.
“I don’t think it’s any of your business when I decide to venture out on my own. My job security doesn’t rest on abiding by the rules and honestly, I don’t mind if I am forced to leave early.”
“That’s not good enough.”
Angelo’s sharp rebuke slapped me across the face, leaving my insides churning and alarmed. Every nerve tensed up at his brief rebuttal.
My tone surprised me at how cold it had become, the expression read on Angelo’s face betraying the same emotion of surprise and hurt.
“I said that’s not good enough, Berkley,” he replied softer, trying for the gentle approach but I was tired of his one sided concern. Why did everyone think that I was a fragile human who couldn’t live without any of them? I was doing just fine without any of them, thank you.
“I don’t need you deciding for me what is good for me and what isn’t. I answer to none of you people, least of all you.”
“You are making an enormous mistake and it could cost you, Berk. I can’t stand to leave you alone and unprotected when no one can find out if you are okay. If you think of nothing else, think of mother.”
“Auntie Lopie? Cute, but I think I’ll pass. Tell her that I’m not coming tonight. I have some other things to do here before I go crazy and kill the princess for being such a brat and then get kicked out.”
I walked away before he could say anything else but he yelled at my back as I was leaving.
“What am I supposed to tell her? Not to set you a place at the table?”
“Keep it,” I barked back. “Maybe you can bring your new girlfriend to your house to meet your parents. She’s probably not even able to find food for herself otherwise since women are such delicate and fragile creatures!”
I kept walking quickly away, ignoring my pain in my legs until I reached the archery grounds next to the range. I had donned on the equipment and grabbed a bow before most of the girls had begun. Jerking the string back, I let the arrow fly, embedding deeply within the board and missing the middle target completely. I had taken archery once before but I hardly could remember any of the tips.
“Wait for the instructor, Lady Caterina!” Princess Mary chided from the side, her voice annoyingly soft and musical.
Maybe I would wait to embed her with the arrow instead, I thought savagely, turning my scowling face at her. Her eyebrows met sharply together, that doe face morphing into something quite dramatic and terrifying. A true princess.
But I wasn’t about to back down.
But it wasn’t just one instructor. No, there were three. Angelo avoided my gaze and so did Klause, my stalking knight that just kept on appearing. I guess that’s what stalkers did. Prince Luca hedged around all of us, taking particular interest in Skye, but that was more frustrating than anything else. All of the instructors stayed away from me the entire archery lesson, leaving me to fester in my annoyance and keep practicing on my own. Eventually I got it, but I wasn’t sure what I was more annoyed with. Myself for being angry, the fight with Angelo or just being here amongst these people. Skye tried to catch my eye several times but I wasn’t in the mood to link arms and stroll through the castle halls afterward. I just wanted to escape. I would hit the town tonight and do some penny boarding around. It would feel good in this heat to be out of the long dresses and do some sight seeing. I might even take my camera along and some paint brushes and my sketchbook. I just wanted to be alone.
from my collaboration with my friend R.L. Trace for an email chain link story we did for fun about a Renaissance reenactment much like our fanfic about Austenland that we worked on with another friend just for fun. This idea was just a fun splurge for this summer to keep us writing some every now and then even when we had no ideas for our own books. So far, it’s been a pretty fun summer working on this story and plotting the inevitable. Keep checking my Wattpad for any updates on this story after I finish posting Winchester Abbey from our last venture into this fun release of writing.
from our last coffee shop run, me and R.L. Trace drank Italian sodas in honor of our story together.