Chapter 6 Part 7 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2
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Temmin usually missed having windows in his bedchamber, but this morning--whatever time it was--he was perfectly happy to wake up to nothing but low lamplight. His head was three sizes too big for his body, and his lips were crusted and dry. He flailed his arms in an attempt to get up and hit something warm and lumpy on the outer side of his alcove bed. A deep grunt issued from the lump's closest half: Mathanus. The other half said, "You just hit me in the nose, clumsy boy." Anda.
He was not surprised to find them in his bed--last night was the Spectacle, after all--but why couldn't he remember what happened? Anda and Mathanus at the same time? How could he not remember that? "What happened?" he croaked.
"You passed out on the lawn," yawned Anda. "Neya kissed you but good. That's the last I saw of you."
"You went down like a bag of rocks," added Mathanus.
"Last thing I remember, you'd fainted, Math," said Temmin.
"Eh, I came to right quick. I'm from hardy peasant stock, Yer Highness."
"Hmf." Temmin went to scratch his belly and discovered he still wore his garb from the night before. "Why'm I still dressed?"
"You got up and just walked off," said the Postulant. "Then things got...busy, I mean, it was Neya's Day, and the next I knew, I found you passed out again near the maze. I brought you back here and dumped you on your bed before someone stepped on you. And then Anda came in and sat down next to me here on your bed, and I think we'd planned on going to her bed, but..."
"It was Neya's Day, yes," finished Temmin. He smacked his lips, searching for a trickle of saliva. "Did we get drunk last night?"
"On Neya's Day? On duty? Of course not, silly," said Anda. "Anyway, it's time we all got up. Allis and Issak will be awake soon and they'll be ravenous. At least this year they won't have to contend with greedy guts here for their first meal." She reached over Mathanus and poked Temmin in the ribs.
"I like it when you squash your boobs against my chest," rumbled Mathanus.
"Do you, now? I'll do it some more, shall I?" She planted a sloppy kiss on him, and they began to wrestle.
Temmin rolled away from them, groaning. "If it's time to get up, get up! Or at least go to your own bed!"
Twenna Shelstone awoke in her bedchamber. Her headache throbbed in time with the chirps outside her bedchamber window. How had she gotten home? She remembered Harsin leaving with his wife, she remembered the sweet, paternal Barik Lover escorting her to the Temple...and after that, nothing.
She put a hand on her queasy stomach. Her fingers fell on the stiff silk wales of her bodice; she was in last night's dress, and she lay atop her still-made bed. Her headache tried to keep her down, but she rose enough to pull aside her bed-curtains--opposite the windows just in case the draperies were open. She tugged at the bell pull and fell back against the pillows again.
What had she done last night so horrible she couldn't remember? Harsin had smiled down at her as if she were an obedient puppy, and left with the Queen he'd said he hadn't made love to in six years. He'd abandoned her in front of everyone. That kind Lover had escorted her back toward the Temple, and then--nothing. Tears ran down the sides of her face, but she couldn't raise her heavy hands to brush them away.
Her maid Wendia poked her head through the curtains, made a quick assessment, and came back with tea, dry toast, and the promise of a bath. Twenna pulled herself upright and took a long sip of unsugared tea, burning her tongue a little; the mellow bitterness revived her, and she took a tentative nibble of the toast. Better.
She let Wendia undress her and took ever-bigger bites of the toast as her hunger increased. "You've torn some of the hooks clean off, miss," the girl murmured.
"I..." The toast stuck in Twenna's throat. The blank between Barik and this morning clutched at her heart with terrible white fingers. Had she and Barik...? Surely she would remember that, and she doubted the Lover's gentle hands would have torn her bodice. If someone else had taken advantage of her, he wouldn't have left her fully dressed in her own bed. "Yes, I was so tired I had trouble removing my dress last night and just gave up before I did more harm." That must be the truth. "Why weren't you awake to help me?"
"I'm sorry, miss, but you gave me the night off. You, ah, weren't expected last night."
Twenna let the maid lead her to the bath waiting in the fashionably modern bathroom attached to her bedchamber. What did it matter anyway? If she didn't remember it, she shouldn't remember it. She placed her trust on the charm against childbirth the Traveler Queen had placed on her left hip. The thought cleared the toast crumbs from Twenna's throat.
She sipped her tea as she sat in the hot water and tried to think what she might say to her father about the King's behavior. He certainly hadn't acted the besotted lover he'd seemed to be. She needed to remedy that. For the first time in her short career as a mistress, Twenna began to plot.
Son in Sorrow will end its serialization July 15, 2013.
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