Wednesday, November 2, 2011

WIP Wednesday

Halloween and a stupid sinus infection slowed me down a little this past week, so my word count on this isn't as far along as I'd like it to be. Well, and there's a new bunny that distracted me a little bit before I got it under control again, lol.

Klea's station doesn't afford her many friends. Her handmaiden, Shani, is the only one who really fits that bill...



Shani’s curious call shattered the spell winding around Klea. Her arms jerked to her side, and she met the handmaiden’s eyes as directly as she could. “Is the bath ready?”

“Yes.” She stepped aside to allow Klea room to enter. The questions were there, lurking in her gaze, but she wisely held her tongue from further queries. “Do you wish privacy?”

Part of Klea did. She wanted free rein to think of Garen without fear of being watched. But being alone would lead her thoughts down darker paths, which wasn’t necessarily best. Besides, Shani knew everything that was going on, as well as had been with Jae and possibly Garen prior to coming to Klea’s chambers. She might have answers to some of Klea’s questions.

“Stay, please.” She stepped over the edge of the polished white tub, the crystals from the sand from which it had been forged glittering in the light of the lamps. The water was hot and silken, perfumed with one of her favorite massage oils, and she sank into it with an audible sigh, closing her eyes as she leaned her head back against the rim.

Water splashed. Shani’s sure hands swept the soft wash rag along Klea’s arms, moving in slow, hypnotic circles that erased all memory. In the water’s sanctuary, Klea was tempted to fall asleep and let Shani see to her ablutions, but Shani would never speak unless spoken to first, and if Klea wanted answers, she had to be the one to address the topic.

“Somehow, I did not see these events transpiring when I rose this morning,” she said, trying to keep her tone light. “Who knew accepting a marriage proposal could create such havoc?”

Shani laughed at her small joke. “That seems like something far more suited to one of your sisters than you, Mistress.”

“Perhaps. Though I don’t think they would have waited until the seventh proposal like I did.” When Shani didn’t immediately respond, Klea opened her eyes to find her friend gnawing on her lower lip. “What? Is something wrong?”

Shani lowered her lashes, concentrating on dipping the rag in the scented water. “I guess I just wondered if you’ll still go through with the ceremony.”

“Why wouldn’t I go through with it? It’s hardly Sire Bonsu’s fault.”

“No, but…” She weighed her words while running the cloth over Klea’s arm again. “Nobody wishes to see you hurt, Mistress.”

“I won’t be. The guards shall see to that.”

“I know. Jae and Garen would give their lives before seeing harm befall you.”

Klea frowned. “I thought nobody else was to know of the threats that were made.”

Shani’s attention snapped upward again. “They don’t. Not…directly. But it’s clear someone meant to hurt you this evening, and the servants, well…” She blurted the rest, speaking so quickly Klea almost didn’t catch it all. “Many think you deserve better than the Bonsu house, Mistress. You don’t need this union like the Sire does, and we’d rather you stay here and be safe than go off and marry him just because it’s good for trade.”

Her jaw clicked shut as soon as she was done, and she sat back on her heels like the effort she’d expended admitting the latter had exhausted her. Klea took the cloth from her limp hand and set it aside, sitting up in the bath to speak with her on the same level.

“I’m grateful you’re worried about me,” she said with a smile. “But I’m not entering this union lightly. Too many people depend on this marriage to work, and I don’t want to let them down.”

“And if the next attack succeeds?”

“It won’t. I trust Jae and Garen to do everything they can, and if that means I have to spend the next month locked in my room, then that’s what I must do.” Though admitting that aloud weighed on her spirit far more than it had letting it fester unspoken.

Shani didn’t seem pleased by her response. “It’s hardly a fitting place for you,” she complained. “It would be simpler to call off the ceremony.”

“Perhaps. But the things with the most worth are often those that require the greatest effort. It’ll all work out in the end, Shani. Trust me.”

As Shani nodded and resumed her washing, Klea wished she believed whole-heartedly in her own assertions. So much could happen in the span of thirty days. So much had already happened in just one. If, for any reason, Garen wasn’t quite as quick the next time, or her enemies a little bit smarter, she might not live to appreciate a wedding at all.

The understanding chilled her to her bones. She shivered, in spite of the warm water.