"Megan," Thomas began but I rolled my eyes, focusing on dinner. "Megan, that was incredibly rude."
I shrugged. "I excused myself. I don't know how that's considered rude."
"You could at least have talked to him," he argued. "You didn't have to give him the cold shoulder!"
"I didn't give him the cold shoulder!" I snapped. "I was uncomfortable, Thomas!"
He rolled his eyes. "Megan, how many times do we have to talk about this? Why?"
I crossed my arms. Elvira was backing into their room and shut the door quietly. Thomas and I had this argument almost every other week and I was getting sick of it.
"Because I don't need someone! I'm only 18! I'm happy with you and Elvira! Isn't that enough?"
His arms were crossed, too. His eyes weren't angry anymore.
"Is this about Daniel, Megan?" he asked softly and I clenched my jaw.
I snatched up my shawl. "I'm going for a walk."
He sighed. "No," he said, stepping in front of me. "No, we're going to talk about this now. I want an answer."
"No," I snapped. "Now move. I'm done with this."
"Megan, it was 12 years ago," he said, ignoring me. "Besides, you heard from the constable. He died in prison and-"
"Stop it, Thomas!" I yelled, tears in my eyes. "Just stop it!"
I turned and ran to my bedroom, slamming the door. I ripped the shawl off of my shoulders and breathing heavily. I looked around and nodded once.
I pushed my window open and crawled out. I closed it and ran down the street to the forest path until I reached a rock that the three of us would have picnics on. I was panting and leaned on it to catch my breath.
I jumped and looked up. A man was sitting on the top of the rock, holding a sandwich in one hand and a cup in the other. His eyebrow was arched and I backed up a few steps.
"Sorry," I said. "I was just- And I didn't- Sorry," I sighed.
"You okay?" he asked, tilting his head.
"I'm fine," I mumbled.
"Is that why you're crying?" he asked sarcastically.
I glared at him. "It's none of your business."
He put his sandwich and cup down, leaning forward. I took in his appearance. He was incredibly pale. He had red hair and blue eyes. Currently, he looked incredibly curious.
"What's your name?" he asked.
I rolled my eyes. "It doesn't matter."
"Sure it does," he said. "I can't talk to a beautiful woman and not know her name."
I snapped. "Is that all you men care about!?" I shouted. "Looks?"
He blinked a few times. "Well, no. It's a compliment."
I ran a hand through my hair with another sigh.
"I'm sorry," I mumbled. "My name is Megan Buckley."
"Well, Megan Buckley, it's a pleasure to meet you."
I waited but we just stared at each other.
"Aren't you going to tell me your name?" I asked.
"Why do you want to know?"
I crossed my arms and popped my hip out. "Because it's common courtesy to give someone your name when they give you yours."
"Good answer," he laughed. "Silas McGregor, at your service."
I tilted my head. "You're not from around here, are you?"
He looked around. "There's a 'here'?"
"Do you know where you are?"
"The forest," he shrugged. "Where else would I be?"
I pointed over my shoulder. "There's a city down that way."
"Is that where you've escaped from?"
"I didn't 'escape'," I said defensively. "I'm just on an... evening stroll."
"Sure you are," he said and got out a strange tin box.
He put what remained of his sandwich and mug in it. He slid off the rock. He wore a three piece suit that was rumpled and torn in a few spots.
"What's the name of this city?" he asked.
"River Springs," I answered.
"Huh. Does this 'River Springs' have an inn of some sort?"
I shrugged. "Yeah but it's not very... comfortable?"
He shrugged, too, and started walking toward the city. "It's better than sleeping on a huge rock."
I hesitated. I was getting cold and, in spite of my anger with him, I didn't want Thomas to worry. So, reluctantly, I started walking back home. I wrapped my arms around me and looked at the ground as I walked, trying to come up with a response to that stupid question.
Yes, it was about Daniel but why did that matter so much? I'm just turning 19 in two months. What was the big rush?
Suddenly, something went over my shoulders and I stopped walking, looking down.
"You look cold," Silas shrugged. I hadn't realized I walked by him. "Although gorgeous, I'm sure that gown won't hold up against the fall."
I gave a noncommittal shrug. We walked in silence until we went over the ridge and Silas whistled, impressed. We both stopped walking and he looked around.
"Nice place," he said. "You grew up here?"
"No," I said and passed him his jacket. It smelled bad but I didn't want to judge. "Thanks for the jacket."
He arched a brow. "Don't you want to wear it until you get wherever you're going?" he asked, pushing it back.
"I live just right-"
I groaned as Elvira ran over to me, Thomas not far behind. Silas stepped to the side as Elvira threw her arms around me.
"We were so worried about you!" she said. "Don't ever just run away like that again! You can't- Who is this?"
Silas was standing, his hands in his pockets, and watching.
"Silas McGregor," he said with a bow. "Nice to meet you...."
"Elvira," she said slowly. "I don't recognize you, Mr. McGregor."
"And you probably never will," he said with a shrug just as Thomas arrived.
"Look, I know I made you mad but don't just disappear!" he snapped. "What do you want?" he snapped at Silas.
Silas held his hands up.
"Easy there," he said. "Just an innocent bystander to whatever family drama is happening here."
I handed Silas his coat back again.
"Thanks," I sighed as Elvira dragged me back home. "I hope you find a good enough room."
He made a weird salute and watched as I was ushered into the house. I sighed.
"Are you all right?" Elvira asked. "That man didn't touch you did he?"
"No," I said. "I just... bumped into him I guess. Look, I'm sorry I ran off. It's just-"
Thomas shook his head. "No. I was insensitive."
"We're just worried about you, Megan," Elvira said and I smiled.
"You don't need to be," I said. "I'm going to go sleep."
"Good night," they said in unison.
-Two Weeks Later-
Elvira and I left to go help Lauren get ready, me back in the dress Elvira made for me. It was cold but we were too excited. I hadn't heard from either Ewan or Roderick since the party. I figured that was a good thing. Elvira and Thomas hadn't brought up my lack of a young man, either.
When we got to Lauren's, she was sobbing in front of a mirror.
"I can't do it!" she cried.
Elvira made a pitying noise and hurried over. While they talked, I looked at her wedding dress. It was gorgeous. It was white silk with golden thread for the embroidery.
"Now get in that dress," Elvira said and Lauren laughed, doing so.
When her father came in, it brought more tears and I smiled in humor. We fixed her makeup and Elvira passed me a small basket with purple and white flower petals. Her father took her arm and I led the way out to the back of the Rivers estate. The celebrations would be held in the square instead of the house since there were too many people to fit in the house.
I glanced over my shoulder and saw Lauren standing, shaking like a leaf. I gave her a reassuring smile and walked down the aisle, straight backed. I tossed the flower petals and smiled at those who waved to me. Elvira was Lauren's guest of honor and Thomas was Bryant's.
When I got to where we would wait, I smiled. Thomas had his hand on Bryant's shoulder. It looked like a friendly gesture but I knew it was to keep Bryant from falling over. He looked more nervous than Lauren.
The music changed and I beamed as Lauren and her father began their walk down the aisle. I heard Bryant gasped and I looked over. His jaw was dropped and he looked lost for words.
"She's-She's beautiful," he gasped.
"Yes she is," Thomas whispered but he was looking at Elvira and she winked at him.
My feet were getting uncomfortable but I didn't think about it as I watched the display of love in front of me. As they said their vows, I wondered what it would be like to get married. I frowned at the ground and Elvira nudged me.
"Are you okay?" she whispered.
"Later," I whispered back and she nodded, still looking a little concerned.
When it was announced for them to kiss, Elvira covered her mouth, tears streaming down her face. They walked down the aisle, waving at everyone.
"My brother just got married," she whispered.
"Imagine what he thought when we got married," Thomas said then leaned over, dropping his voice to a whisper. "They waited."
"Gross," I groaned and they both laughed.