16 - Shadow of the Past

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Fye sipped her wine and watched the dancers. Sir Reuben could dance! She had never taken him as the dancing type—unless swinging a sword around and chopping people's heads off counted as dancing. But he and Lady Ayla moved beautifully with the other dancers—and Fye almost laughed every time another man touched Lady Ayla's hand because Reuben looked ready to commit murder.

"Are you hiding?" Xander asked Fye.

"No."

"Then why are you standing behind this large, decorative suit of armor?" he asked with a smirk.

She glanced at the armor, which she had indeed been using as a barrier between her and the dancing.

"Dance with me," Xander said as he extended a hand.

She glared at him. "Do I really seem like someone who knows how to dance?" she snapped.

The hand dropped. "Fair point. But we have a week before the next ball. I'll teach you."

"No."

"But you're missing out on the fun."

"Men always lead during dancing." She said it as if it explained everything.

"So?"

"So why do men have to lead?"

"Uh..." He shrugged. "I guess I never really thought about—"

"Of course you didn't think about it."

"The Scriptures do say that the head of a woman is the man—"

"How do I know the Scriptures actually say that? I don't speak Latin! For all I know, the church could be lying to us about everything in the Bible."

He shrugged again. "Fair point. The church is kind of hypocritical, isn't it?"

Fye found a small smile. "I see why Sir Reuben likes you." And trusted you enough to sleep in the same tent as me. Maybe he actually would let me marry you. Not that I would ever do that, of course, but... it's interesting to think about.

"He doesn't like me."

"He does."

Xander shook his head. "No, Fye, he likes you. I'm just the squire. In a few months, I'll be a knight. When I'm a knight, I'll matter to him less than Demon's excrement. But, anyway, if you're going to stay here and hide, I'm going to find someone else to dance with. Do you see that redhead over there? She's—"

"You can't dance with someone else if people think you're courting me." Why did I say that? I don't care who he dances with.

He shrugged as he stepped away. "Why not?" With that, he left her by herself to continue awaiting the end of this torturous, music-ridden ritual.

Xander was a promiscuous cad. A rake! A... a normal young man with great teeth and pretty olive skin.

No. He's terrible. Just the squire. A friend, yes. But just the squire. He still shouldn't be dancing with someone else. But he was dancing with someone else. Fye memorized the girl's face—just in case Fye had to pretend to be jealous later.

She wasn't by herself for long. A handsome-ish man with a young face and a touch of gray in his hair approached her. It was Lord Reynolds... but it wasn't Lord Reynolds. Lord Reynolds was on the dance floor, smiling at a young woman whose dress had an extremely low neckline. Speaking of necklines, Fye's new visitor looked her over, his eyes lingering on her chest. She resisted the urge to pull the gown upward—and the urge to break the man's nose.

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