Chapter 2

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Chapter Two

In which the young master obtains a piece of advice…

She entered the room silently, as always, carrying a loaded laundry basket under her arm. Its contents included new sheets for the bed and freshly laundered clothes Lord Maslyn had worn earlier in the week. The boy moved to the back of the room to let her attend to her duties. A flurry of activity began around his bed as she turned back the coverlet and stripped the linens. All her hair was hidden underneath a starched white cap that tied under her slender chin. Her dress was very clean, neat, and every stitch was orderly. It was clear that she took great pride in maintaining her appearance. 

Jordis turned around and Lord Maslyn could see that she was, indeed, very pretty. Her lips sported a healthy pink glow and her eyes were the strangest grey. Lord Maslyn’s own eyes were a flat, muted brown just like his father’s had been. His older brothers had had the red-brown eyes of their mother. Jordis’ eyes looked wise and old—like an oracle’s. She stole a glance at him while she smoothed the comforter on his bed. Heat flushed Lord Maslyn’s young face and he turned away, hastily. A stifled intake of breath rang out in the room. The boy had startled her. 

“Uh—J-Jordis!” he said, unintentionally loud. 

Again, she looked up and then swiftly lowered her gaze as she curtseyed.

“Yes, Lord Maslyn?” her response was schooled to be calm and friendly, though her white hands were clenched at her sides. 

Fluttery sensations invaded his stomach when she looked at him from beneath her blonde lashes, inquisitive. “What is wrong with me?” he thought to himself. Swallowing hard, he looked at her square in the face. She blushed, her skin turning the most beautiful scarlet color he had ever seen. Her face then reminded him of the red lanterns and the Night Bells. It made him nervous.

“Um, Jordis, Can I ask a favor?” he managed. 

She looked genuinely surprised. Her shoulders relaxed.

“If it pleases you, milord.” 

The boy’s eyes darted around. His mind scrambled for what to say next. He skirted to his bookshelf.  He hadn’t thought through the plan that far, so he grabbed a book in a hurry. The spine looked like it was freshly bound and never opened once. Fabulous. An eager smile plastered itself onto his face when he turned around. She looked a little confused at his behavior. He held out the book to her and announced proudly,

“I need some candles to read with at nighttime. The red lanterns are far too dim and the suns set so early, I haven’t been able to read at nighttime like I want. It helps lull me to sleep, you see.”

The most skeptical expression darkened her pretty face,

“I can see why you picked it. The Common Ailments and Treatments of Horses would put anyone to sleep.” 

Lord Maslyn thought, “Oh no! What book did I pull off of the shelf!?” 

He bustled in his mind for something to say so he wouldn’t rouse her suspicions. Suddenly, as if by a miracle, it came to him. 

“Well, it seems the guards are having trouble with one of their horses. I noticed outside the window and I was just wondering what might be wrong with it. There isn’t much to occupy my time up here.” 

He even believed it himself. It was a brilliant excuse to have such a ridiculous book in his hand. Curiously enough, he found that he did want to know what was wrong with that horse. 

“Oh. Well, I suppose that makes sense. The horse’s name is Sable and he’s a vicious nightmare.” She flushed again as she realized she had criticized one of her master’s horses. “I’m sorry, sir! I did not mean to speak ill of your property, milord.” 

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