We followed them around the side of the house to the front of the square. The orchestra moved to near the fountain and struck up a happy tune. People mingled and some danced but I sat down at the table that was set up for the family of the bride and groom. I took my slippers off and sighed in relief. After kissing Bryant and Lauren on the cheek, Elvira immediately came over to me.
"Spill," she said and I sighed.
"I don't know," I said, stabbing at the broccoli on my plate. "I just.... Watching Lauren and Bryant, I wondered what it would be like and I guess... guess I'm a little lonely. Maybe having a man wouldn't be...."
Elvira sighed and held my hand. "It's okay to want to be in a relationship, Meggie," she said.
"I don't know," I mumbled. "All the men around here are just interested because of my looks."
Elvira shrugged. "It's a place to start, sweetie. Take your brother and I for example. Tommy and I were immediately attracted to one another. We started off our relationship simply because we were physically attracted to one another. Everything went from there."
I still frowned. "But Daniel-"
"Look at me," she said and I obeyed. Her eyes were hard. "Daniel was a horrible man. Not every man is like that, Megan. Look at your brother and Bryant. Do me a favor: Roderick and Ewan are here. Dance with them."
I sighed. "Are they going to assume that we're going to be courting because I dance with them?"
She laughed a little. "If they do, then they're a little dense."
I laughed, too, just as the orchestra struck up a slower song. Bryant took Lauren to the center and danced their waltz. I smiled happily, watching. Thomas came over and took Elvira to the dance floor as other couples did the same. I stood to get a grape and someone cleared their throat.
Ewan smiled at me. "Would you honor me with a dance?" he asked, offering his hand.
I bit my lip. I glanced at Elvira but her eyes were focused on Thomas. I took a deep breath and took his hand. He led me over and put his hand on my back. We started to revolve slowly on the spot.
"So, Morgan has told me a lot about you," he said.
"Oh?" I asked.
He smiled. "She was especially talking about your prowess with fighting."
I laughed a little. "Yes. My brother taught me how to fight as I grew up."
"What happened to make you fight?"
"Morgan had tried to cut her hair." I giggled. "She was being teased and I got upset. I didn't like people making fun of my best friend."
He grinned at me. "Maybe you'll have to show me some of your moves one day."
I laughed nervously. "My moves?" I repeated.
"Yes," he said and stepped closer. "You know, how to kick and punch."
I didn't know what to say but I was spared as Roderick came over and tapped his shoulder.
"May I cut in?" he asked.
"Certainly," Ewan said and kissed my hand.
Roderick took my waist now and I frowned. I made him put his hand up to my back and he shrugged.
"So, are you from here?" he asked.
"No," I said.
What is it with people wanting to know if I grew up here?
"Ah okay," he nodded. "I heard you graduated recently."
He stared at me and I knew he was waiting for me to speak. But what was I supposed to say?
"You don't speak much, do you?" he asked and I shrugged.
"I don't have much to say."
"What about hobbies?" he asked.
I thought for a minute. Did I have hobbies?
"I enjoy cooking," I said. "Elvira taught me after I turned about 15."
"Maybe you can cook me a meal one day," he said and I frowned a little.
"Perhaps," I said slowly. "Er.... I think I'm going to get a drink. Thanks for the dance."
"But the song isn't over," he said.
"May I cut in?" someone said once again and I looked up.
I was surprised. It was Silas McGregor. He had a nicer suit than before and looked cleaner. His eyes were looking expectantly at Roderick.
"Maybe when the song is done," he said.
"To be fair, you cut in before Ewan was done," I said and he sighed.
"Very well. Thank you for the dance, Miss Buckley. I look forward to seeing you again."
He passed my hand to Silas's and I sighed. I really didn't want to dance anymore but I had to be polite. To my surprise, Silas didn't dance. He looked around and pulled on my hand.
"Come on," he said.
I frowned. "I'm not going anywhere alone with you. I don't know you."
He chuckled. "Too afraid, Miss Buckley?"
I glared. "I'm not afraid," I said defensively.
"Prove it," he teased.
I shifted my feet. "Are we going far?"
I sighed. "Okay."
He pulled me down towards the street where the harder laborers like the blacksmith worked. I frowned, wondering where was he taking me?
He turned left just before the shoemaker and we came to a small trail I didn't know existed. We walked through it a little way and gasped. It led to a clearing with a very small lake in it. Around the lake were bunches of honeysuckle.
"Wow," I breathed, walking forward slowly. "How did you find this place?"
He flopped down on the grass and patted the ground beside me. I sat down but kept a long distance between us. He shrugged a little but didn't look insulted.
"I got a job with the shoemaker," he explained. "I was bored after work one day and walked in the back. I saw this trail and followed it. It's a nice place to sit and think." I saw him smirk at me. "And escape from men."
I sighed. "Am I that obvious?"
"Nah," he said. "Only if you're paying attention."
I stared at him and lifted a brow.
"Have you been stalking me, Mr. McGregor?" I asked.
He laughed. "What can I say? I just have this pull to sarcastic women."
"Well be careful," I said. "My brother taught me to fight."
"Did he really?"
I nodded. "We moved around a lot," I said, picking some honeysuckle. "A little boy bullied me so Thomas taught me different things as I grew older." I laughed quietly. "One time, I got carried away and he was about to beat me when we were fighting. I was desperate and promptly kicked him right in the-"
"Oh my God," he groaned, cringing. "You didn't!"
I laughed. "I did. I felt awful but it was too funny seeing him writhe on the floor."
"You were quite violent!"
"I still am," I pointed out. I frowned at the ground. "You have to learn to defend yourself in this world, Mr. McGregor."
He looked at me. "What do you mean?"
I got on my back and looked at the overcast sky. "It's a dangerous world we live in. You never know what could happen to you. Self-defense is important."
"You speak as if something happened to you," he whispered.
"I should probably get back to the wedding," I said and stood up. I wiped my skirts. "Thank you for showing me this place."
"Of course," he shrugged. "Feel free to come whenever you need to."
We walked back to the wedding in silence. We slipped into the crowd. I knew no one was aware we had left. He did that strange salute again and disappeared. I sat at the table and frowned at the table.
Elvira joined me.
"So? How was the dancing?" she asked.
I wrinkled my nose. "Awful. They're stuffy and make me uncomfortable."
She frowned. "What did they do?"
"Well, Ewan was like," I did an imitation, "You should teach me the moves your brother taught you. Then Roderick was like, Maybe you should cook a meal for me one day."
Elvira laughed. "Don't you realize what they're doing?"
I crossed my arms. "Being disturbing."
She laughed again. "No, Megan. They're flirting with you."
I frowned at her. "Flirting?"
"Yep," she said. "Let's talk to Thomas about it."
"Lord no," I said, my eyes wide. "He's going to freak!"
"Who will?" Thomas asked and I cringed.
"No one," I said quickly. "I'm getting tired. I'm going to say good bye to Bryant and Lauren."
"Don't forget, we're going to be watching the estate while they're gone," Elvira said and I looked at her.
"Do you think it's okay for you? I mean, it's a month, Elly."
She smiled and kissed my forehead. "It's just a month. I'll be fine. You're a sweetheart. Go say bye and we'll meet you at the house."
I hugged her. "Silence is a virtue," I whispered and she laughed quietly.