11- Asleep and Awaken
A plate of hearty soup sat untouched for a long while before Leanna. As if a looking glass, all she saw in between the chunks of potatoes and meat, crimson broth and curls of smoke that soon vanished, were Inara’s eyes, and the pale mare lying in the dark, surrounded by her fellow horsemen and her fear. No longer able to stand the quiet haunting, Leanna fashioned a pretext of having rooming business to sort out with Finvarra—which wasn’t entirely a lie—and excused herself from supper. She had to speak to Finvarra of his war with Krinard, of Inara and her fear. She had to see him.
And so she stood now in the shadows, a distance away from Finvarra’s illuminated tent, her eyes focused on the doorway blocked by Tomas. Conviction moved her forward toward the light, determined. One step, and then another. Her heart pounded fiercely the closer she drew, drumming the beat of her approach. She was going to see Finvarra. She hadn’t seen him all day, but she was going to see him now—
Leanna stopped abruptly, feeling a little breathless a sudden. There was no pain… no, nothing of the sort, only this strange airiness that suddenly possessed her heart. It fluttered a little lighter, a little faster…
Her brows furrowed at this new sensation. It was almost as if she were nervous, she mused, taking inventory of her feelings. Maybe she was nervous, anticipating even. Perhaps she wanted to see him—
Nonsense, Leanna reprimanded her thoughts with a shake of her head. Her heart was just not accustomed to all being demanded of it. She’d exerted herself more that day than she had in years. Her heart was just… adjusting, Leanna told her meddlesome conscience. That was all. Setting her jaw, she started again toward the tent.
Leanna paused. After what transpired that afternoon with Krinard, no doubt Finvarra was somewhat annoyed with her. She put fingers to her mouth in thought. He’d only be more bothered knowing she’d meddled in his private affairs—again. Leanna hummed. Perhaps she would come back later, once the events from that day had a chance to settle...
Yes, Leanna decided, and turned away from his tent. She would just go…
Go where? her conscience whispered, vanishing then into a passing breeze.
Leanna wavered with a frown. Where, indeed. She had no tent of her own, no place to lay her head. Furthermore, her carpetbag was still inside. No doubt she looked frazzled and dirty with stained shoes and ragged hair. She needed her clothes and hairbrush. Leanna chewed her lip and turned back to Tomas. She had to see Finvarra.
She turned away once more. But perhaps she’d see Minerva first—
“Miss Weston,” Tomas’ gruff voice rumbled like distant thunder behind her. Leanna whirled to see he held the curtain open. “The Ringmaster wishes to see you.”
Leanna dithered, but in muttering a few unintelligible and wholly un-lady like words, she steeled her spine, clenched her hands into small fists, and closed the space between them. With a curt nod, she passed Tomas and strode through the curtain before she changed her mind.
A soft hush resounded as the curtain closed behind her. Leanna fought off a similar sigh. The belonging warmth clung to her body soothingly as if comforting her against the cold she’d brought in on her skin. Her fists dissolved.
Candelabras cast faint glows in the extremities of the chamber, adding to the serenity of it all. And at the core of the room, the light of a blazing fire. Finvarra sat before this flame, though Leanna could not see his face. With the back of the chair toward her, only his arm was visible on the arm rest, and in his hand, a snifter of brandy. One leg was crossed over the other, the gilded hue of the fire reflecting its steady dance on his polished black boots. An air of calm radiated from his quiet frame like a fog, and in its midst, Leanna forgot what she had gone there to say. Truth be told, she could have curled up at the chair beside him and gone straight to sleep.
Leanna twined her fingers tightly at her waist and remained where she stood, hovering by the door. “You wished—” She cleared her throat in hopes to stay the tremble. “You wished to see me?”
Finvarra sighed slowly, and before him the fire hissed. The shadows hovering high in the ceiling waved to the sway of the flames, of his breath. “I believe we said we would free one another,” he said finally, his tone gravely calm, the vocal manifestation of the serene air in the room. “I have upheld my end of our bargain, have I not?”