"Oh, it's beautiful, Lord Arthur!" Deanna said, bobbing quickly in bow.
Arthur laughed and held out his hand. "No need for that formality! We are glad to have you here! Please consider this your home!" Arthur began to walk away. "Oh, one more thing," he said, turning. "Lady Breena would like to make sure you remain in instructional school. Your chores may be done in the morning or the afternoon. But, please do not neglect your learning. She would see every child reading, if she could!"
Deanna nodded enthusiastically. "Yes, sir. I understand."
She breathed a deep sigh of relief after he'd walked away. Still, she stood and stared at the piano, wondering if she dared touch something so expensive and beautiful.
Deanna startled and looked back. "Oh! You scared me!" she accused him, feeling her heart pick up a beat at his nearness. She'd heard he was a handsome devil, but goodness!
Bradshaw leaned in again, "I just wanted to let you know that you could play the piano if you wanted. Although, we could always find other things to do..."
Deanna resisted the urge to fan herself. A handsome devil with a slick tongue!
Hastily she backed away, "I have chores to do!" she blurted out, hurrying away before he could addle her senses completely.
Bradshaw glanced down at his younger brother. "Don't be dense! She's a peasant!" he said more sternly than he had intended. He felt bad when Camelot's face fell.
Danica laughed, "Why would you want to marry her? She burned our meal! You should at least marry a woman who can cook!"
Bradshaw was driven to defend Deanna. "Perhaps she'd never cooked before! I'd like to see you try, Danica Knightley! Mother did not raise you to speak ill of people!" He avoided looking at Danica's crest-fallen face.
"Me?!" Bradshaw yelped, annoyed at getting caught in the cross-fire.
"Of course, come get your papers and your quill. It is time you caught up and learned from Deanna's example!"
Bradshaw glanced up and smiled. It had been an afternoon well-spent if only Deanna would lean in closer again and smile!
Bradshaw waved his pesky brother away. "Nothing."
Camelot watched Deanna walk away. It didn't seem like nothing had transpired for Bradshaw was grinning like an idiot and Deanna looked quite pleased with herself.
Danica smiled. "Oh yes! Do you think Father will get me a pony?"
Breena laughed. "Maybe not this year, but you never know!"
Danica clapped. "I would be so happy for a pony," she said dreamily.
Breena smiled. Camelot was growing up so fast!
Orb's Year 922
She was dying to know what it would be like to kiss him!
Dejected, she hurried away before he saw her.
Deanna sighed. That was Camelot - always cheerful! "Nothing..." she grumbled. "Just feeling a bit sorry for myself."
Camelot nodded. "Ah, I do that myself some times when what I want is out of reach," he said.
Deanna looked at him surprised, "Do you?!" she asked. "I've never seen you looking unhappy! What do you want that you do not have?!"
A strange look came over Camelot, but was gone in an instant. Grinning, he laughed, "What indeed? I suppose I misspoke!"
Deanna shook her head, "You are so silly, Camelot," she said, lightly tapping his knee with good humor.
She'd asked him what he wanted that he couldn't have and for an instant he almost told her. He was in love with her and he saw the glances she shared with his brother!
It had killed him not to grab her hand when she'd touched his knee.
Hopefully, he would be the hero in this tale...
Camelot laughed. "What else would I be doing?" he asked. "I find it quite nice in here!"
Deanna rolled her eyes and continued on with her work.
Being typical Camelot though, he caught her off-guard with some silly story and made her laugh. Lightly tapping his shoulder, she grinned, "You are so funny, Camelot!"
Camelot stepped back. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean any offense. I just... I wanted you to know how much I like you... My brother doesn't deserve you!"
Deanna stared at him a moment, thinking what he could not tell. Finally she nodded. "But you can't tell Bradshaw... this has to be our secret..."
Camelot nodded quickly. "I promise, I swear on my honor! No one will know!"
Orb's Year 923
Arthur shook his head, "It can't be! They're nobles! Why would they have such a strong reaction to a raven-haired peasant-girl? I'll allow that she will be quite beautiful when she's older, but they know their responsibilities!"
Breena shook her head, "I'm afraid the heart does not follow such logic."
Arthur argued, "But the head should!"
Breena smiled. Men clearly had no sense when it came to love. She would need to enlist some help from another woman.
Beth Ann Farmer grinned and held her daughter close. Already she could see how much her sweet child had grown. "No dear, it's just me this time!"
Deanna smiled, "I'm so happy you came to visit!"
Beth Ann folded her hands in front of her and sighed. "Perhaps not so happy when you hear what I have to say," she began.
Beth Ann shook her head. "Nobody dear. A mother can tell things, though. Lady Breena has sensed her boys interest," when Deanna open her mouth to argue, Beth Ann continued louder, holding up a hand, "Real or imagined," she amended. "And I, your mother, can tell when my girl is infatuated."
Beth Ann sighed again. "You do not wish to wind up like Auntie Debbie, do you know? A child for each lover, spoken about in whispers and her children, objects of pity?"
Deanna blanched. "No.." she said shakily.
"Then I advise you to cease whatever is between you and the young Lords. They will marry within their class when the time comes. And when you are of age, you may marry within yours. Do not ruin your reputation for something that could never be." Beth Ann counseled sadly. Perhaps it had been a mistake to send her daughter here, to a home with young, virile boys. She should have known her daughter's nature and sent her to the Abbey!
Sadly, she stroked her daughter's cheek. "I love you and wish your happiness."
Deanna leaned into her mother's shoulder and let the tears drop. "I know Mother. I'm just so confused..."
"Boys," he called from across the room. "Be ready in the morning before school for our daily lessons. You'll be working under me from now on."
Bradshaw and Camelot looked to each other and shrugged, wondering what had come over their father.
Orb's Year 924
Deanna elbowed Bradshaw again to gain some space from him. "I'm trying to cook dinner or can't you see that?" she snapped.
"What is it? Are you mad because I don't have as much time to spend with you?" he demanded.
Deanna rolled her eyes. "It has nothing to do with you! I'm simply busy being your servant!"
He reacted as though she'd slapped him in the face, jerking backwards and paling. "Yes, well.. my apologies, Miss Deanna," he said, stepping back and executing a deep bow. "Do not trouble yourself to set a plate for me tonight. I find I am too tired to eat."
Deanna watched Bradshaw walk away and felt her heart drop. What had she done? she wondered sadly.
Life was so unfair. Bradshaw Knightley was not meant for her... but she ached to have him for her own...