“We’ll make better time to the city if we leave tonight Miss.” He sighed, eyeing the couch with some trepidation. He was tall, of course he wouldn’t fit on it, not that Ursula cared much.
“We’ll make it there in one piece if we don’t go barrelling into a storm as soon as we hit the road.” Ursula countered, drawing her net curtain back triumphantly to show the first drizzles of the rainstorm to come.
“That’s no storm, sure it’s only spitting!”
“Where are you from Mr News?”
“Born in Autumn, east of the border, but…” He was abruptly cut off by a clap of thunder which brought with it a renewed onslaught of rain bucketing from the heavens.
“We Winterfolk know a storm when we taste it.” She grinned. She slipped into her parent’s old room and brought the boy the covers form the bed and a pillow, unceremoniously dumping them onto the couch. “I’m going to bed now. Kitchen is there, eat anything but the cheese wheel, that’s mine. There’re books on the shelf, we’ll wake up early for travelling tomorrow.”
After one last look over him, gauging his reaction to her hospitality, she nodded and turned toward her room.
Rothbert let out the breath he hadn’t known he was holding in when he saw her go. Good Lords. That woman was going to be difficult to deal with. He kicked the blanket up into his hands before draping it around his shoulders gratefully.
What does Mr Street want with this hellcat? He mused, allowing his eyes to wander lazily over the spines of the books which he assumed he was allowed to peruse.
Daughters of the Sunshine
Two Days Until tomorrow
How to Hunt and other Important Winterfolk Skills
Fifty charades by Martin Grey
He regarded the spread curiously. Either Miss Major had some varied interests in woodcarving and parlous games, or this collection belonged to more than one person. He sighed and took the volume on Winterfolk skills. Perhaps he could teach himself to read the weather like she seemed to.
The fire crackled in the hearth, softly illuminating the room he was in. It was cosy, no doubt of it. Lacy doilies draped across the mantelpiece and family photos hung on the walls. How could such a frigid girl live in such a nice place? Her witchiness made him think she was better suited to one of those icy manors back home in autumn.
He curled onto the settee as best he could, tucking his long legs underneath him and wriggling in an attempt to get comfortable. He groaned in exasperation and decided to just sprawl out and let his feet dangle over the edge. Three weeks of travelling without a good bed and at the end of the road was a tiny sofa. NOT the ideal situation for a grumpy giant such as he. Looking at the ceiling he allowed his mind to wander down the track it had done these past weeks, every evening.
What was Mr Street doing? Why was THIS girl important? Why of all the people in his employ did Mr Street send him? Who is Ursula Major…
His thoughts unsettled, and no mystery resolved by meeting the girl, Rothbert News fell into a fitful sleep, knocking the copy of “How to Hunt” to the ground while he snored.
Morning, ah. “Okay Sumi, I’m awake” Rothbert yawned, wincing as a bolt of pain shot through his back. Damn, he hadn’t slept this badly, even on the road.
“Okay Rothbert. I’m not Sumi. You’ll see your girlfriend once we get to the city.” Ursula grinned down at him, startling the last of his sleepiness out. “Breakfast’s on the table. You ought to be hungry enough.”
He eyes the food with suspicion. Were those… sandwiches? For breakfast? His stomach growled with the promise of food so he didn’t bother questioning it. The bread was toasted to give it a satisfying crunch, and inside was fried egg. Well, there’s something to be said for being able to compact one’s breakfast into something so handy he supposed.
From the corner of his eye he noticed Ursula eyeing him warily. Ah, who would trust a man who’d just shown up on their doorstep and invited them to go travelling. This wasn’t some fantasy novel after all. His brow knit with concern at this thought, because that would make an already uncomfortable journey significantly more so is he had to sleep with one eye open.
“Well Damn, if you don’t like it don’t eat it! Stupid man…” She grumbled, glaring at him. Woah woah, what did he do? His eyebrows shot up and he raised his hands in an unspoken plea of innocence.
“What? It’s a good breakfast. Why are you so worked up?”
“Then why did you have a face like thunder as soon as you took a bite?” She scowled, sweeping the rest from under him and dangling the plate above the bin.
“I was worried that you were worried and that the… Oh hell just let me eat that.” He said, longing for that odd eggy sandwich which had been so cruelly stolen from him. “’Tis cruel to give a man a taste and leave him wanting more!” Her contemptuous scowl melted into surprise, letting her mouth fall open into a small ‘o’.
“Ah, well…” She stammered, her cheeks heating from embarrassment. “Here.” She dropped the plate in front of him with a clatter, then stalked off into the depths of the cabin. Interesting. Perhaps she wasn’t simply a hateful devil as cold as the mountains that cradled her after all.