~The Market~ pg 12

“Yes she does,” Trina chirped frankly. “She just fancies someone else more. I could tell when you asked 'er to stay.” Now it was Fiora’s turn to blush. Was she really that easy to read?

Melinda jumped on her hesitation. “Ooh, who is he?” 
“Yes, yes,” Sherry chimed in. “Tell us his name.” 
“Somebody back home?” Vera ventured. 

Fiora shook her head before she realized she was doing it and Demil raised an eyebrow at her. “One of the other Birchwoods, then? You haven’t met anyone else on yer travels, have you?”  All eyes were on her. They expected an answer, but she didn’t want to have to explain Civyl to Demil yet. In her panic she said the only other name that came to mind. 


Demil actually frowned while the women looked worried. “Uh, oh,” Trina mumbled. 

“What?” Fiora asked. “What’s wrong with Alex?” She paused for a moment with worry. “How many wives does he have?” 

Sherry chuckled and shook her head. “None, dearie, but not for lack of women trying.” 

Demil also shook his head, still frowning. “Alex has never shown any interest in settlin' down since I met him. Never took a fancy to a lady, not even fer pleasure’s own sake.” 

Melinda tisked beside him. “Just ain’t natural.” 

“I’d gander a guess that he liked the men,” Vera ventured, “except he’s turned all of those down too.”

“E’s got a broken heart.” Once again Trina blurted out her observation as if it were fact. “I could tell straight away. E does it for 'er.” 

“Does what? For who?” Fiora asked, not following. 

“Saves women from promises they didn’ want. Because 'e failed to save her – the woman 'e loved!”

Vera scoffed, “You couldn’t possibly know that. Don’t be spreading rumors about Alex, now.” 

But Fiora wondered if it weren’t true. Trina had already proved very accurate in her observations of herself. It didn’t matter, though, and she said so. “Maybe it’s for the best, then. I won’t be staying in Brittner anyway… no matter who I fancy.” 

“Even though you like 'im more than Demil?!” Trina asked with wide eyes. 

Fiora only ducked her head, unwilling to add anything else to her lie. “We should get back to Nivia’s house,” she said to Demil instead. “She gave me some tasks to do while she was gone.” 

He raised his brow. “You don’t want to stay fer supper?” 

“Oh, no, I really must be back before then. I’m supposed to cook in Nivia’s stead. Can’t let the Birchwood brothers go hungry.” 

“Best not,” Melinda agreed, “That Chink can be a bear.” 

“Don’t I know it!” Fiora sighed and they all laughed. She said her good-byes and waited by the horses while Demil kissed each of his wives in turn. Her mind thought about the implications of it. They were openly defying the rule of the Wisdom of Kavaccet. Did Lady Darya know? Fiora had once thought the Lady knew everything that happened within her realm, but now… she was sure it was the opposite. But maybe that was a good thing, because these women all looked so happy here with Demil in contrast to the pain they had suffered from their Wisdom granted promises. If the lady knew they defied her, they wouldn’t be able to be together. Watching Trina cling to Demil, Fiora hoped she’d never find out.

The End

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