Don't have much to say, other than I hope you enjoy the 2nd section of my serial! And check back next week for the next one!
Jarek watched the stunning girl leave the alley with the man who’d called himself her father. Instinct screamed at him. Hit him in the gut as sure as a fist. Something was wrong. She’d been terrified. Shaking. That had worsened when the bastard joined them. The grip on her arm hadn’t looked violent, but he hadn’t missed the girl’s wince.
“Son?” his father asked.
He shook himself but the worries didn’t exit his mind. Erron. Her name was Erron and she had to be the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen.
Jarek never liked to see females upset, but looking into her sky blue eyes had been different. The tears on her cheeks just about killed him. And he didn’t even know her. Why had he touched her? The move had been…something he’d had to do. Jarek hadn’t even questioned the urge.
“Jarek?” His father put his hand on his arm and squeezed. “Is something wrong?”
He turned, meeting the eyes so like his own and forced a smile. “Do you know that man?”
Brows drawn together, his father shook his head. “No.”
“Ever seen him at market?”
“Not that I can recall. What’s wrong?”
“Something…something about what happened doesn’t seem right, Da.”
His father was too trusting. Always had been. Jarek shook his head. “Never mind. Let’s go inside.”
“Yes, we’ve work to finish.” His father smiled but Jarek didn’t return it.
He followed him back into their shop, his thoughts nothing but Erron. He had to find her. He needed to see her again. He needed to make sure she was all right.
Jarek threw his tools down in disgust. His concentration was gone. And he needed to focus, because he had an order for three sets of ladies’ slippers to make for the Duchess of Dalunas. She’d come in personally to put the request in. If he did an exceptional job—and he would—she would come back again. More coin for him and his father, and word of their business would spread to elite customers. But his mind consisted of one thing. Erron.
Why was she afraid of her father? The man should cherish her. Did he beat her? Or…worse? Every possible horrible scenario marched across his mind, tying his stomach in knots. He shuddered. He needed a distraction. No, he needed to work.
“Jarek, I’m going to market. The butcher wants to speak of a trade.”
“Make sure he doesn’t cheat you this time.” He offered his father a smile, rising from his seat. He stretched his arms and back, chuckling when the older man glared at him.
Jarek didn’t comment, but he followed the Master Tanner to the front door of their shop, giving him an affectionate pat on the shoulder.
“Kirgan! Jarek! Fine afternoon,” the widow, Anais, called from across the street as she swept the front porch of her weaving shop. They often traded services and it was also many a night when she’d provided a hearty meal for the two bachelors.
Jarek smiled and waved, but his father looked away. He cocked an eyebrow and looked from one to the other. Was his da blushing? He stared, fighting a gape.
Anais waved, smiling brightly and obviously trying to catch his father’s gaze. Her affection for his father was nothing new and usually ignored by the older man. What happened to change that?
Kirgan muttered a greeting and shoved his hands into the pocket of his breeches. He looked down and shuffled off. The widow continued to sweep, whistling to herself. Apparently, whatever had happened didn’t bother her. Jarek shook his head, chuckling as he headed back to his work.
Anais was one of the sweetest people he knew and had mothered him quite a bit since his own had passed when he was twelve, some ten turns ago. If she could find happiness with his crotchety father, Jarek had no qualms. Kirgan, on the other hand, would have to be convinced. Stubborn man. It made sense for them to be together. Her children were grown, as was Jarek. What was his father waiting for? It was a waste of time. Happiness had to be grasped with both hands.
Erron floated back into his mind. She wasn’t happy. He would…love to make her happy. Jarek’s heart pounded. Where had that come from? He’d seen the girl once. In the back of his mind, a voice whispered that perhaps once was enough. He ignored it, staring at the work he was avoiding.
He couldn’t remember ever seeing Erron or her father in Dalunas Main or even at market. Could they be of another Province? Or from an outlying holding away from the city center? Their clothes provided no clues. They hadn’t been particularly rich, or obviously poor.
The rough man had asked about a blacksmith. That told Jarek nothing either, for the blacksmith forged more than weapons.
He circled the room, his thoughts chaotic. He had to find her.
Rushing back out of the shop, he called the widow’s name.
“Lad? Is everything all right?” she returned, heading to his side, broom still in her plump hand.
“It is, but I have to leave.” Jarek loosened his leather apron and tugged it off. Anais took it from him without a word. “Can you watch the shop?”
“Of course.” Her brows drew together, her blue eyes concerned. “Are you certain nothing is wrong?”
Jarek flashed a smile and pressed a kiss into her cheek. “Everything will be fine. Just wait for my father…tell him I had to run an errand? I don’t know when I’ll be back.”
Anais beamed, nodding. “I’ll see you later then. I’ll start evening meal.”
“Thank you, Anais.”
“Anytime, my lad.”
Jarek didn’t answer. He left at a jog, following the path his father had taken moments before. He sent a quick prayer to the Blessed Spirit that he’d find her.
TO BE CONTINUED:
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