All in all the meeting with the King had gone well; if you discounted the fact that Sarah would have to take the first year trials. Of course Jason only had himself to blame for that. What had he been thinking bragging about her skills like that in front of the King? Well better he than her, Jason supposed.
Opening the door to his assigned Scout Sergeant’s house he found himself greeted by his men. Apparently they all waiting for him to return from his interview with the King. Jason groaned inwardly. He always felt awkward addressing them in court attire, but judging by their expressions they didn’t want to wait.
“I am still your Scout Sergeant.” A sigh of relief ran around the room, “for now.” Faces fell and Jason sat down in the one empty chair. “However I boasted that Sarah was better than most first years.” Someone snorted. “So, to prove my boast, and allow me to keep my rank, she must take the First Year Trials.”
“As a woman?” Mathew pulled himself from the shadows by the stairs.
“Glad to see you decided to join us.” Jason meant it sincerely. As a second in command Mathew was very good. He had; however, made himself scarce since they got back to Verdas.
“Is she to take the First Year trials as a woman?” he repeated. The rest of the men looked expectantly at Jason.
“No,” all eyebrows raised. “And what’s more, as we will participate in the trials, you must keep her identity to yourself. If the situation arises, test her as you would any first year.”
“What, no special treatment for your Lady Love?” Mathew sneered.
Jason rose and placed his hand on the table. “Do you have an issue with my command Scout Mathew?” His men looked back and forth from Jason to Mathew. “Or is it my personal life that bothers you?” Jason stood straight, air of a Lord’s son about him. “The King has accepted it, and my mother embraced it, so tell me why can you not?”
But Mathew knew better than to belittle his commander in front of the group. His grudges were personal. Jason’s command was impeccable, even in the use of his Lady Love to carry out the mission to perfection. “Fine,” he grumbled.
“Thank you.” Jason sighed. Mathew, though good, could be a hot head. “As I said, I do not want any of you to give her any special treatment. Is that clear?”
“Yes, Sergeant,” his men replied, though Mathew’s voice was faint.
“Now that we have that cleared up.” Jason grinned at his men. “My mother and Sarah have extended us an invitation to dinner this evening.”
Curious glances were exchanged across the table as Jason sat down. “So,” Allen looked at the rest of the men and then back to Jason. “That was Sarah that Jess and I saw heading to market with Lady Abigail?”
“So Mathew did bring you and Sarah back from Griffon’s,” Mike stated.
“Why hasn’t she stopped by to visit us?” Jess wanted to know.
Mathew smirked from his dark corner. His Lordship clearly hadn’t told them yet though he’d been back for eight full days. Jason groaned inwardly and sat back down. As he had avoided talking with Sarah about his feelings for her, he’d now been caught avoiding having a similar discussion with his men.
“Well,” Jason leaned back and looked at the ceiling. “As my fiancée my mother deemed it her responsibility to see to it that Sarah was properly trained in the ways of a Lady.” Shocked gasps ran around the table.
“Sarah? Are you sure you’re talking about the same person?” Allen asked.
“When did you get engaged?” Jess asked confused.
Jason sat up. “The morning before she parted from our group.” Astonished whispers circulated through the room. “Well,” Jason stood again, “you heard what Mathew called her. I can no longer deny it, nor will I.”
Jason’s eyes locked on Mathew’s. He had denied it for so long it had ruined what little friendship he had had with the man. An apology would not be nearly enough. The only thing he could do, was support Mathew’s decision to seek out Sergeant’s status; though he knew it was not likely to be granted any time soon.