Author’s note: This update and perhaps the rest of Season Two will originally be featured WITHOUT PICTURES. Sorry, guys, it’s just story. I have inspiration for writing, the shooting part is evading me. I may come back later and shoot the pictures for this, but I will, at least, finish the season in text form. Thanks!
Nessa paused and looked up at the sky for a long moment, it seemed exceptionally blue today, or maybe it was just her. She hadn’t noticed the color of the sky for a long time, probably since she’d left the circuit. No matter what color the sky was when she was with Mitch, it’d seemed gray. Since she’d come to Shadowcrest it seemed like she was to busy to really notice the color of the sky either.
Well, that wasn’t entirely true, she blushed, even though there was no one to see it, the street completely empty as most people were at their tasks at this point in the day. There was one day she remembered what color the sky was. But it hadn’t been blue. It had been the most vivid sunset she’d ever seen and that wasn’t just because she remembered it.
It had been the brilliant colors in the sky, reflecting off Lake Haven, that had made her lean against the split log fence and watch it. Jarrett had joined her at the fence and rather than heading back to the house, they’d hopped over the fence and sat down on the grass.
He’d been close enough she could feel him, but not too close.
… He was good at that. Judging where to stand, when to come close, when to back off…
Then he’d put his arm around her shoulder and it had been… perfect…
She smiled and ran her hand through her hair, feeling the silky strands slither through her fingers, it was weird–good–but weird, to have her hair down. Weird but good. If she had to explain Shadowcrest in five words or less, that’s exactly what she’d have used.
The sun had hidden behind the horizon, but it wasn’t dark yet when she’d felt something nudge her hand. A carved wooden box, Jarrett studiously wasn’t watching her, focusing on the stars sprinkled across the gathering night as she picked it up and opened it.
It was like something out of a movie, one of those moments that she’d never really even imagined for herself, not even in those innocent days before the accident.
“I know,” he’d said in that quiet, steady, deep voice. “I can never take away all the hurt, all the bad memories you’ve got. I know you can’t take away all of the ones I have. But–Nessa–would you help me make new ones–maybe better ones?” Her heart had shuddered to a stop and she looked for a long moment into Jarrett’s dark, dark eyes, seeing just a hint of chocolate at the heart of the black.
“Mornin’, Nessa.” Tate said startling Nessa out of her thoughts, causing her to jump. He reached out a tanned hand to steady her and she–somehow–managed to let him touch her arm without cringing and jerking her back out of her thoughts. Tate’s smile was half-hearted and scarred, it was a smile.
There was so much that she wanted to tell him–about how time might not heal everything, there would be twinges, there would be bad nights, but with patience, time, and good friends, it wouldn’t be so bad–someday. But the words just wouldn’t come, wouldn’t surface. So she smiled back and tried to put it in her eyes, her face.
“What brings you out this way?” Nessa said instead. Tate shrugged.
“I’m–I’m supposed to see Lady Kennedy once a week–cause–well, that’s what his majesty wants.” There was more to it than that, she knew it, but she couldn’t press, not when his wounded eyes could have been hers not that long ago. She knew enough. “And you?” He asked, falling into step with her.
“I’m here to see Lady Kennedy, just a bug, I think, a little under the weather.” Nessa shrugged.
“I know Sawyer feels that way too.” Nessa snorted a laugh.
“Mine isn’t just a hangover, I’ve been feeling this way for a while. However we’re supposed to report these sorts of things to Kennedy as soon as possible so she can work her voodoo.” Nessa told him. “But I’m sure that Sawyer is feeling his head just a bit today.”
“If I didn’t know better, I’d think Lady Olivia did it to him on purpose.” Tate said.
“Oh, I know she did it on purpose.” Nessa winked at him with a grin. “Really, never take up a dare from the person mixing the drinks. They know more than you do.”
“I don’t think it was just the dare, though.” Tate said. “Not when it was your and Jarrett’s wedding he was celebrating. Short of him and Jolene, I think you and Jarrett were the people he most wanted to see married out of all of us. He adores you both and wants you to be happy.” Tate blushed as if that was saying too much. Given that this was a seventeen-year-old boy, perhaps it was.
Nessa nodded. The only thing better than watching Sawyer standing up in Livvie’s tavern and making that long, slurred, rambling speech, with Jolene blushed red would have been watching Kian make one as well.
Maybe she was crazy, but, there had been–just once–when she’d glanced over the audience yesterday, but she would have sworn that…
Well, Fox had paused in the middle of his preaching with an odd look on his face. She wasn’t the only one who’d turned and looked behind them. But most of the faces turned back blank if a little puzzled. The ones that hadn’t had been the King–and Heidi, they’d both looked–not quite disturbed, but… something very akin to it.
All the eyes had rested on her then, because she was still looking back, it had looked like–seemed like maybe they were seeing what she was seeing. Only unlike them, she understood what she thought she saw. She’d know that lazy lean, those beat-up boots, that hat with the grin underneath to match the brim.
Had it really been Kian? Maybe she was silly, but if it had been something else, someone else, she’d gladly delude herself, she wanted him to have seen her so badly. To see her healing, to see her happy and light-hearted. But something had been there, right? The others had had to see something.
“Nessa?” Tate asked, his hand on her elbow.
“Oh, sorry, I’m just lost in my thoughts today.” Tate nodded. His lip caught in his teeth, his eyes lost again.
“I–understand.” He said.
“Tate!” Emanuel called from the back. “Nessa, I wasn’t expecting you…”
“Oh, don’t worry, Emanuel, it’s nothing to worry about.” She smiled at the apothecary who looked only slightly relieved.
“Kennedy, I think, is still handing out hangover advice.” Emanuel tugged at the hem of his shirt. “Your friend is a wicked woman, I’m told. Half the nobility and that foreigner’s aide have been here this morning so far.”
“I didn’t think Lady Vivianne drank that much.” Tate said in a quiet, almost embarrassed voice. Why–oh, yeah, the little maid at the castle who was sweet on Tate and the cook had both developed friendships with Vivianne. And if she thought about it, most of last night, Tate had spent with the girls.
“She didn’t.” Kennedy said from the deck. “It was the Ambassador who drank too much and wanted me to come make it all better. He just sent Vivianne to fetch me.”
“Obviously you didn’t go.” Nessa commented.
“I don’t need to go see him to know that he had at least four of those big mugs of that devil brew Olivia was slinging around yesterday. I wrote down the same thing I told everyone else who got caught in Olivia’s trap for him.” Kennedy grinned.
“Which was?” Tate asked curiously.
“Drink a lot of water, stick to something mild and soothing to eat today, and don’t be so stupid next time.” Nessa snickered right along with the others. “There’s no miracle cure for a hangover. What was that stuff, garbage can punch?” The doctor asked, her brow arching upward.
“No idea. She wasn’t serving it to me.” Nessa said.
“Garbage can punch?” Tate glanced at Emanuel who shrugged.
“It’s an old university recipe. Quite simple. Whatever’s in the cupboard, all poured into a big vessel, like a garbage can, and stirred up.” Kennedy chuckled. Tate mouthed an ah. She turned to Nessa. “I know why the kid is here.” She jerked a thumb at Tate. “But might I inquire why you are. You just told us that Olivia wasn’t serving whatever it was to you, so I doubt it’s your head.”
“Just a bug, it’s been lingering around for a couple of days, nothing serious.”
“I’ll be the judge of that.” Kennedy sniffed.
“You can see Tate, I don’t have anything that needs my attention for most of the day and I know the castle will fall apart without Tate there.” She nudged him with her shoulder and smiled. Tate blushed. Kennedy nodded and then nodded at the chair outside the office for Nessa to wait in.
“Sorry to keep you waiting.” Kennedy said, shutting the door after Nessa.
“It’s alright. I think Tate needs to see you worse than I do, all the more because he’d never admit it.” Nessa told her, hopping up on the table in the corner of the office. Kennedy looked sharply at Nessa, but didn’t agree or disagree.
“So what’s this bug like?” The doctor asked, gripping Nessa’s wrist and counting softly.
“A stomach thing, mostly. It’s hard to keep stuff down, sometimes, but it passes, my back hurts and I feel a little achy, but not feverish.” Nessa said.
“Mmm-hmm.” She looked down Nessa’s throat, tested her forehead with a wrist. Next came the general pokes and prods of a visit to the doctor’s. Kennedy looked puzzled when she finished, something like suspicion playing across her face before shaking her head.
“You’renot sick.” Kennedy said. “Unless–Nessa, I have to ask…”
“Have you engaged in intercourse–say any time in the past six-eight weeks–prior to, I imagine, yesterday. Prior to these symptoms occurring?” Nessa’s face flamed but Kennedy’s eyes managed to drill into hers while holding only compassion.
“Y-yes.” She admitted, feeling the blush spread up her neck to her ears.
“Can I assume that it was not protected–or the old stand-by of coitus interuptus?” The doctor asked gently.
“No. No, it wasn’t protected.” She whispered.
“Right. Lay back.” Kennedy said. Nessa winced but did as she was bade. “Uh huh. Alright.” The doctor told her a little while later. “Why don’t you hop off the table and sit down here.” She patted a chair back as she made her way to the other side of the desk and sat down in a chair nearly identical to the one on Nessa took a seat in.
“Nessa, you’re pregnant.” Nessa felt her heart stop entirely, in fact the entire world seemed to stop for a moment.
“I’m–but!” Nessa protested. Kennedy looked at her. “Is there–is there gonna be any trouble cause–cause I–I…”
“Had a previous miscarriage?” Kennedy asked. Nessa nodded. “I believe, when we talked about that before that you said it was a situational thing?”
“Well, um, it was.” It was. And Jarrett would never throw her down the stairs. He’d barely raise his voice to her, even when they had the occasional spat about the animals or whatever. “But–but what about my hip?”
“I can’t proclaim that old injuries will have no effect whatsoever, I’m not an idiot and things do go wrong, but I think that if we keep an eye on it, and as it’s long since healed, you’ll be fine.” Kennedy said.
“How do I tell Jarrett?” Nessa whispered to her hands, not even realizing, consciously that she spoke.
“Well, I would imagine that the word pregnant–or baby–and the word I should enter somewhere into the equation, beyond that–I–couldn’t say?” Kennedy offered blandly. Nessa stared at the doctor and then began to laugh–and then she began to weep. Kennedy stood up and put a comforting arm around Nessa’s shoulder.
But when she caught her reflection in the window–she almost would have sworn it was someone else entirely.