Chapter 17 - Songs and Secrets

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Chapter 17 – Songs and Secrets

"There is no way I am walking out there in... in this!" Sylara waved her hand down the front of the dress she now wore. The low scooped white top was covered by a much too snug turquoise corset. The silken skirt flowed down to just above her ankles with one side gathered up higher than the other showing much too much of her legs when she moved. She gave Nomi a pleading, desperate look.

"It's not really that bad. It's a very beautiful dress. As long as you don't bend over... or move too fast."

"That's very reassuring," Sylara muttered stoically as she smoothed her hands down the skirt before walking with stiff steps towards the door leading onto the small stage. A man who looked to be some kind of musician had already told her it was time several minutes ago and was now sticking his head back around the corner motioning for her to join him. She felt Nomi's hand on her bare arm holding her back just a moment more.

"How did he know you could sing?" Sylara knew she was referring to Rhydian. A smile tugged at her lips despite her anger with the egotistical prince. Remembering that morning in her kitchen when she'd first seen a glimpse of what a caring, sincere man Rhydian could be, she couldn't help but feel a peace wash over her. Without answering, she gave Nomi a quick smile before marching up on stage before she lost her nerve.

The din of the tavern filled her ears causing her senses to send tingles up and down her spine. Her breath hitched even more when she noticed several dozen pairs of eyes swing her way. Over in the corner of the stage in one of the two chairs sat the man from early. He gave her a nod then strummed lightly on the dark wood guittern sitting across his lap. She opened her mouth but nothing came out. The musician strummed again giving her a chord to start on. Sylara, pull yourself together. You've won battles! You can sing a little song in front of a crowd of drunk men. She wasn't sure her pep talk worked but when she opened her mouth that time, words that could pass as a song tumbled out.

"Come to me, my love. Run o'er the dales and hollows, through the vales. Come to me, my love."

The words poured out slow and sweet. A song of love she'd heard since she was a child. After several minutes the noise level in the dark tavern cut by half. She saw a lone figure stand and weave his way through the crowded tables. Rhydian's aquamarine eyes seemed to glow in the dimly lit room. They never left her face even as he took a seat at the table closest to where she stood. The look of awe on his face bolstered the rest of her courage. She no longer sang for the crowded bar. She sang for the dark fae prince in the front row who had yet to take his eyes off her.

"You've been away so long, my love. I've pined o'er you many an hour longing to see your face. You've been away so long, my love."

The musician behind her strummed along with her words as she sang the ballad. After the last stanza, she still stood in the same spot she'd first taken but when the crowd of rowdy men erupted in whistles and claps, she dipped her head as she did a slight curtsy. She'd been told she needed to sing for the most part of the evening. She wasn't sure how she'd get through. Glancing back to where Rhydian sat, a smile lit up her face when he sent her a cheeky wink. No longer angry with him for doing what he had to do to get the information they needed, Sylara squared her shoulders and launched into another highland ballad although a bit more upbeat than the last.

The songs continued each a bit more upbeat than the last until the tavern was a hum with clapping and singing along from the men seated at the dozens of tables. By the time she reached the last song of the evening, she picked up the timbrel and played as she sang and danced across the stage.

"We drink, we ride, we fight. Battles rage but we carry on. With you by my side, we survive." 

She glanced at where Rhydian sat grinning ear to ear. He now leaned back in his chair, but his eyes followed her every movement back and forth across the stage. She pried her eyes away from his, looking over where the rest of the group sat. She saw both a mix of surprise and awe on their faces. She was glad to have them in the crowd bolstering her resolve.

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