We ran through the snow, both of us laughing quietly. When we got to the shoemaker's, we turned left and ducked under the low hanging branches. The weight of the snow would get too much for them soon.
"Fresh air," I said in relief. "Fresh air and cold feet."
Silas laughed. "Yes, I had forgotten about that. My apologies."
"Oh, it's okay," I said and found a place under a tree where there wasn't as much snow.
I sighed and he stood beside me.
"May I ask what happened to your parents?" I whispered.
He didn't answer right away. He was biting his lower lip, though, so I could tell he wanted to speak.
"I was ten," he whispered. "We had bandits come through our town. When they got to our house, my father defended us. They killed my mother first as a... lesson I suppose. Then they killed my father. I don't know why they left me alive."
"I am so sorry," I breathed, tears in my eyes. "Oh, if I had known I wouldn't have said anything!"
He smiled a little at me. "It's okay. My grandparents raised me but, as soon as I got the opportunity, I left. That place has too many bad memories. I had been walking for about five days when we ran into each other at the rock."
"What about your parents?"
"House fire," I said sadly. "I was two. My father was showing Thomas how to chop wood when a log rolled out of our fireplace. Thomas ran in for me and my father ran in for my mother. The fire made the beams weak, though, and it collapsed on my parents before they could get out."
"I'm very sorry," he said and held my hand.
For the first time, I didn't mind having a man hold my hand.
We didn't speak for a while. The snow was starting to fall harder and I remembered how Bryant said there was a snow storm coming through. I told Silas.
"Yes, I heard the same thing. Perhaps we should head back."
I looked over at him. "Yes, probably."
Our eyes met, though, and I bit my lip. I hadn't felt this feeling before. Slowly, he laced our fingers.
"Those boots were a gift, weren't they?" I whispered.
"Yes," he whispered back. "It was a rather clever cover up, wouldn't you say?"
I smiled. "Yes it was."
His eyes searched mine. "I'd like to kiss you, Miss Buckley."
My face turned bright red. I didn't know what to say so I took a deep breath.
"Only if you call me Megan," I said in a barely audible voice.
He smiled. "I think I can do that."
I laughed nervously and he held my other hand. He stepped closer.
"I-I'm very scared," I whispered.
"I know," he said. "But you don't need to be," he breathed, his face inches from mine.
My eyes closed as soon as his lips touched mine. I felt my heart skip a beat. I was afraid and excited at the same time. I worried he would try to touch me like Daniel had touched Elvira. He kept his hands holding mine, though.
When he stepped back, I opened my eyes slowly. Our eyes locked and I wanted to kiss him again. Before we could even walk back, though, the branch above us got weighed down with snow and we were soon covered in snow.
I laughed and shook my head vigorously.
"Well, we won't be so discreet this time," he laughed as we walked back.
"Eh, my brother found out about the first time," I said and he chuckled.
"Yes, I know. That's when he first started talking to me."
"What do you really talk about?" I asked. "I know it's not just about work."
He smiled at me, opening the front door a little.
"Maybe I'll tell you one day."
The rest of the party passed without incident. Silas kept his distance but I couldn't stop looking at him. When I would, he'd smile at me and I'd blush. When the cake came out, Thomas found me.
"Sneaking out again, eh?" he said in a low voice.
I flushed. "I don't know what you're talking about."
He smirked as I blew out the candle.
"Did you make a wish?" Elvira asked as Thomas cut the cake.
"Of course," I said.
"What was it?"
I rolled my eyes. "Come now, Elly. You know I can't tell you! It's bad luck!"
She giggled. "So, how did your hair get wet?"
I avoided the question by eating my cake.
"Storm is here!" a man near the door shouted. "Sorry, Miss Buckley."
"Don't apologize," I said and looked to Bryant. "Can you keep everything until we can come get it?"
We said goodbye and Silas walked with us. It was rather awkward, mostly because Thomas and Elvira kept smirking over their shoulders.
"Oh great," Silas groaned, patting his pockets.
"What's wrong?" I asked, my teeth chattering.
"I forgot my keys," he sighed. "I'll have to go to the inn."
"Nonsense," Thomas said. "You can stay with us. Who knows how long this storm will last?"
"You don't have to. I'm sure I can walk back."
"It'll be a whiteout soon," Elvira pointed out. "Come on, Mr. McGregor."
"Okay," he relented and I felt a little excited.
Thomas opened the door and Elvira immediately started to get tea ready while I got a fire started. Thomas went into their room and mine and brought out the blankets.
"On nights like these, we all sleep in here," he explained to Silas. "It's warmer."
He nodded. "Would you like me to cook dinner?"
"You can cook?" I asked.
"Yes. It probably won't be as awful as your beef stew, but I'll try my best."
I laughed and Elvira told him what we were going to have. I changed into a dry gown and dried my hair. It was freezing in my room so I was about to go into the main house when Elvira walked in with a heavy robe.
"I'm fine in this," I said but she shook her head, nodding at my chest. I looked down and snatched the robe. "Oh, please tell me it wasn't like this the whole time!" I whispered and she giggled.
"No, it wasn't."
"I hate being a woman," I grumbled, tying the robe around me.
She laughed this time. "Yes, it has its downsides."
We went back out and I gathered my art supplies. I got down on the floor in front of the fire and started sketching.
"No dragons?" Thomas asked, sitting beside me and I leaned into him.
He saw my drawing and sighed. It was a dragon. He put his arm around me.
"Which one?" he whispered.
I sighed. "Our house."
He kissed the side of my head and left me to my drawing. When I was a little girl, Thomas explained our house being burned down as a dragon attacking our house. My father was given the role of the valiant knight going in to save his princess but he didn't make it in time. Until I was 14, I believed the story. It was an emotional day when he told me the truth.
Silas announced that dinner was done and we gathered at the table.
"It smells awful," I said and took a bite. "Oh, it's horrid!"
He snorted. "I added some extra poison in there for you."
I chuckled and finished the chicken noodle soup. I yawned a little and grabbed one of the blankets. I curled up by the fire and shut my eyes. I wasn't so much tired as I was trying to get comfortable with Silas in our house.
"Bed time," Thomas said and I sat up.
I narrowed my eyes at him. He was already lying down with his arms around Elvira. Normally, I slept on his other side. He winked at me when Silas wasn't paying attention.
I sighed and got on my side and put my back against Thomas's back. Silas hesitated but I patted the floor beside me. He bit his lip and got down beside me. Wind blew against the window and I shut my eyes, shivering. I could smell Silas's aftershave and I knew I was blushing.
"Sorry," he breathed, "but I'm cold."
I was about to ask why he was apologizing until he wrapped his arms around me. I squeezed my eyes tighter as he pulled his blanket over him again. I was incredibly embarrassed.
I couldn't sleep. I was confused. Why wasn't I scared? Why was he able to hold me like this? Why wasn't I pushing him away from me and demanding that Thomas let me sleep on his other shoulder? Why was I letting Silas into my life so easily?
I sighed, a little frustrated that I couldn't get my mind to shut up. Suddenly, Silas began to hum. It sounded pleasant and my body started to relax. I hadn't realized how tense I was. My eyes slowly closed again and I fell asleep.