His brow wrinkling, he wondered if perhaps Alicia had not quite recovered from Farha's birth. Perhaps he should encourage her to rest more.
Baji looked down at the flowers doubtfully. "I don't know Caira. I just don't think they'll sell well. We'll put them out today and I'll let you know. But, don't let your feelings be hurt, okay?"
She carefully laid Farha to bed and patted her head. Toddlers were much easier now than they had been when she was younger!
Orb's Year 922
"MOTHER!" Caira called from the other room.
Alana tsked. "You should not be reading things that do not belong to you!"
"Belong to me?" Caira cried. "This is about me!" She threw the missive to the floor.
"I love Dirk! I will marry him!"
Caira shook her head. "You will not. He is a Taveryn and unworthy of you! You will marry in an arranged marriage and that is the end of it. If you do not, you will be sent away to the Abbey."
"Do not lose heart. Just because you are married does not mean you cannot find love," Alana counseled cagily.
"Oh stop Mother! I am nothing like you!" Pressing her face into her hands, she sobbed again. "I'll run away! I'll leave and never come back!"
"In that case, perhaps we should speed your vows sooner."
"Remington, old friend! So good to see you," Alana said cheerfully. "May I present your bride, Caira."
Remington barely glanced at Caira. "Yes, yes. That's fine. He pressed a gold sack into Alana's hands.
"No!" Caira said stubbornly.
Alana pushed a sack of her clothes into her hands. "Go with him. All will be well."
Caira stared at her mother, horrified that such a woman existed. She knew full well that her heart belonged to another, but she was being forced into a loveless marriage with an old man! He had to have been at least a decade older than her... maybe even two!
"Eryka is illegitimate, if you haven't noticed!"
"Of course I've noticed!" Alana snapped. "And when Eryka is of an age, she'll be sent to the Abbey where she will not breed more Taveryns!"
"No!" Baji yelled. "You will not have a say in Darius' or Eryka's future! I am the heir. I am the Master in this manor. Your place in my home is solely thanks to the love our Father had for you. Although, if he had lived, I'm sure he would have been just as shamed by you as we have been! Do not cross me on this or it will be you that goes to the Abbey!"
"Why I never!" Alana erupted. "How dare you disrespect me in this manner!"
But Baji was through talking. He turned on his heel and marched off.
That thought cheered Baji. Reaching out, he grasped her hand. "You always know the right thing to say, love." He blessed the Celestial Orb daily for bringing her into his life.
Orb's Year 923
Baji dropped to his knees and howled with pain and anger. Noooooooooooooooooo.....
Alicia Marchant, Celestial Orb Years' 900-923
Baji brought flowers to the grave daily and talked to Alicia about his day and Farha. He still couldn't believe she was gone. A double blow to find out that she'd been carrying his child when she'd passed so suddenly.
Orb's Year 924
"Is this a dream?" he asked her helplessly.
Barika hugged him tight with tears in her eyes. "It's not. I'm sorry brother. She's gone."
Baji hung his head and squeezed his eyes shut against the pain. He made a move to go back to the bed, but Barika stopped him. "Farha needs her father, Baji. She needs you."
Baji covered his face with his hands. Everyone needed him... all the time... With Alicia, she didn't need him. She was with him... helping him. But he had failed her somehow...
Barika pulled him out to the kitchen and put a bowl of food in front of him. "Eat." she said sternly.
"Well, we have to eat, too, you know..." Eryka tried to laugh it off, embarrassed by her brother's emotions.