Laszlo let out a deep sigh and shook his head at Ramiro. “How much longer are you going to wait? If you do not decide soon, someone else will. Yours are not the only eyes that watch her. Dorin’s eyes follow her as well. The men may wait for now out of respect for you, but they will not wait forever.”
“Ramiro narrowed his eyes. “I know this.”
“Then why did you not speak?”
Ramiro’s hands paused. “I did speak,” he said, “my father said no.” he threw the leather aside and walked up to one of the horses, patting it gently.
Laszlo blinked. “And why would Cezar of Cezar’s vurdon say no?”
“He says Ihrin,” Ramiro told the horse trainer, “he says Milena is not of Milosh’ kumpania. Ihrin is. She will make a good wife.”
“Tch,” Laszlo growled, “Cezar is the only one who remembers that. Has she not been with us since she was a child? She has shared a bed with Daria. They are sisters. She works hard and she is a pretty one.” He smirked. “And my horses like her.”
Ramiro turned to face the man with a frustrated expression. “What would you have me do then?! Should I defy Cezar of Milosh’ kumpania and have both of us cast out? Where would we go? I have not a wagon of my own. She has lost a family once already. I will not let that happen again. I will not cause her grief.”
“You love her,” Laszlo said.
Ramiro’s eyes were serious and he patted the horse’s head. “How can I not? Ever since we were children, she would come to me when she had hurt herself, to make her nightmares go away.” He shook his head. “Yes I love her. But it matters not.”
“Egh!” Laszlo threw his hands in the air, “what are you? A child? If you do not want Ihrin, then speak to Cezar again. Speak to Milosh. He will say Lena is of Milosh’ kumpania. And she is your grandmother’s favorite. Aishe will scold her son for being this stubborn.” He slapped the back of Ramiro’s head and walked off, muttering to himself.
Ramiro sighed and patted the horse’s neck before shooing it off. He sat back down on the stool and picked up the next bridle.
“Lenka Lenka!” A seven year old girl with dark curls stood up from the grass as soon as she spotted the older girl. On her head was crown of daisies. “Look Lenka what a pretty crown Nina made me. Shall she make you one too?”
Milena sunk down on one knee so the child could show her the flowers. She adored Tsura, who was Daria and Ramiro’s little cousin. And the little girl always sough her out in return.
“Do you like them, Lenka? Do you?”
Milena smiled at the girl and patted her hair. Seeing her always brought tears to her eyes. Her mother’s name had been Tsura.
“Tsura,” an elderly woman approached the two girls, “why don’t you go find your mother? I need to speak with Lenka.”
Tsura nodded at her grandmother and kissed Milena’s cheek. “Bye Lenka. Will you sit with me at the fire tonight?”
Milena nodded and smiled as she watched the child skip off. Se stood up and looked at Aishe curiously.
“Come inside my wagon child,” Aishe said and walked inside. Milena followed suit, wondering what the woman wanted of her.
Aishe started to cut some carrots and motioned for Milena to help her. The next couple of minutes were spent in silence, but Milena knew that whatever it was the woman had called her for would follow soon.
It didn’t take long.
“I have seen you with my grandson,” Aishe said, “I have seen the way you look at him and him at you. You should not spend so much time with him alone. You are not children anymore Lenka. Tongues will start moving.”
‘If only mine would move,’ Milena thought to herself. She didn’t look up, but kept cutting vegetables for tonight’s meal. Something tightened in her chest. The thought of losing Ramiro to Ihrin or one of the other girls hurt. She knew Cezar would never consider he for his son. She knew it wasn’t because he disliked her, but Ihrin had a voice. She could speak. And she was of this kumpania. Milena could even understand. Ihrin was a pretty girl and very skilled in crafting jewelry. Ramiro could consider himself lucky.
If only it wouldn’t hurt so much.
“Lenka, did you hear me?” Aishe said, demanding the young woman’s attention. When Milena looked at her she continued. “You are like my own grandchild and I wish you well. My son is a stubborn man, but he wants what is best for his son. In the end he will see reason, but you should not push things. Be obedient child.” She gave Milena a stern look. “I will speak to Ramiro too. Now go see if you can help Carmen with Tsura.” She cupped Milena’s cheek and gave her a sad smile. “I wish things were easier child.” She pulled her hand back and ushered Milena outside.