Chapter 47 - A Fresh Start

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***If you have not read the edited version of chapter 39 "Parallel Coincidence" I recommend reading that before reading this. I added a huge part  to that chapter.***

Kastlai Dun

Claire watched Desaree's movements in the reflection of her mirror as Des pinned the remainder of her hair into place. She was already dressed—only the finishing touches remained. She glanced down at her vanity. Queen Ahelessa's sapphire necklace sparkled up at her in its box. After a brief look, she grabbed the box's lid and covered it.

"Oh no!" Desaree swatted her hand away and uncovered the gems. "You will wear it."

She sighed, gazing at Desaree's stern expression in the mirror. "It's just so gaudy, don't you think? Besides, why do I have to go? Since when do handmaidens dictate their lady's schedules?"

"Lady Claire," Desaree's voice was stern. "You have locked yourself in your sleeping chambers for four days consecutively—ever since your kidnapping. Now, I understand that you need time to heal. However, you cannot hide from the world forever, and you especially cannot hide from King Talon."

Claire shrugged and offered Desaree a what's-the-big-deal look. In exchange, she earned a gentle shove in the back and a loud scolding. "How many times did King Talon knock at your door?! And how many times was I forced to turn him away? Gods above! Me—turn away Dragonwall's king. What would my mother say?"

"I assure you, Desaree, he'll live."

"The king is worried about you, Claire. Don't you crinkle your nose at me! You should have seen how he looked each time I refused him."

"Oh? And how did he look?"

"Like he might gobble me up!" Desaree cried.

Claire laughed. "I think he prefers livestock."

They both laughed. When Desaree calmed down, she said, "The least you can do is walk with him, which is all he requested."

"I suppose you're right...It is just a walk." Claire knew that she couldn't avoid him forever, no matter how badly she wanted to.

"There now. See?" Desaree smiled. "That was not so difficult, was it?"

Desaree knew all about Claire's rescue. She also knew exactly what happened between Claire and King Talon—about the bath and how he had taken careful care of her. "Anyone who takes meticulous care of you has earned my favor," Desaree had said. "King Talon did exactly what he should have."

Desaree also knew why Claire was avoiding him. She knew about the confusing and even frustrating feelings Claire had developed. "It's probably just some kind of rescue romance syndrome," Claire had claimed rather defensively when she spilled the beans. "I mean, how cliché can I be? But it makes sense, right? I'm sure I'm not the only person to feel something for her rescuer."

"Reyr rescued you too—how do you feel about him?

Desaree's point had turned her theory on it's head, and she was unable to give an answer at the time. Even now she knew she felt something different for Talon than she did for Reyr. But Desaree had been right, Reyr had rescued her too.

In the mirror's reflection, she watched her frown deepen. She hated her confusion, hated not knowing how to feel. What was worse, none of it made sense. How could she go from hating someone's guts to...well...liking them? What happened to the neutral phase?

When Desaree finished her hair, she attached the heavy diamond encrusted sapphire necklace to her neck. "There. You are ready for the king's company now."

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