Orb's Year 941
Soon, the couple was busily shaping pottery to sell to Darius Marchant.
"He's never going to notice you, you know!" Wren said, annoyed. "He doesn't even know you exist!"
"I don't know what you're talking about!" Daisy attempted to bluff, knowing full-well who he was talking about. Garth. The only boy she'd ever love!
Daisy sobbed into her hands. "You're too cruel, Wren!" she cried as she turned and fled to the bathroom, valiantly tried to stem her tears.
Wren watched her go and started to step forward to apologize. He'd lashed out, annoyed that she hadn't even considered his attentions for a moment. Turning with a sigh, he left. Daisy would never have given him a chance anyways.
Gia smiled and patted his cheek. "I know. I just like to stay busy."
"Are you happy here?" Benji asked seriously.
"Oh, Benji! Of course I am!" she exclaimed quickly.
"I just worried it was too crazy and hectic over here..." he said worriedly.
Gia laughed. "You've seen my family, Benji! The Farmer's household was fair to bursting! At least we have more room here!" She rested her head on his shoulder. "Truly, Benji. I love it here. Most of all because you're here."
"Don't wanna know," Carey said in a clipped tone.
Casey frowned. "What's the matter with you?" he asked in a huff.
Casey scowled and crossed his arms. "You're just jealous because no girls fawn over you!" He popped up and wiggled Gena's note in his brother's face. "Maybe when I'm done with her, I'll send her to teach you the ways of a woman!"
Carey shoved the note from his face, slamming his book shut. "You're an ass, Casey!" He stormed from the room.
Orb's Year 942
The children wolfed down their toast and then scurried from the house. Benji lingered behind.
Gia glanced back and stopped. "Aren't you going?" she asked him.
"Not today. I'm going to help with the pottery. Dad is going to teach me the family trade today," he said proudly.
"Oh, Benji! I'm so proud of you!" she said, squeezing his hand. "I'll see you in a few hours! Good luck!"
Benji resisted the urge to tell his father that they would have better fortune if they wasted less of the clay they worked with.
"Sure, what is it?" Gia asked.
"It's about your cousin... Garth..." Daisy started hesitantly.
Daisy sighed heavily. "You don't think I have a chance, do you?" she asked sadly.
"Oh sweetie, perhaps it would be better to find someone your own age? Like that nice Wren Dalton that was over the other day!"
Daisy scrunched her face and announced that she'd rather marry a pig than Wren Dalton and stormed inside.
Gia sighed. "Well, that went well..." she muttered.
Casey glanced across the room and saw his brother broodily staring at him. He winked as he sauntered to the door. "Tell Gia not to hold dinner! I'll probably be late!"
Cocky cad, Carey thought ungraciously.
"Carey! Will you help us with our letters? You're so good at that!" Ella asked, pulling Carey from his reverie.
"Chicken out? Of course not!" Helga announced. "You said you had something to tell me?" she prodded.
Helga clasped the rose to her chest. "Oh! Casey! You shouldn't have! Oh!" She launched herself into his arms. "Oh! I think you're so handsome and charming, too! Oh just wait until I tell everyone that you gave me a rose!"
"Oh...." Helga said, enraptured, staring at his mouth. She swallowed audibly. "Or I could not tell anyone... It will be more romantic that way! Star-crossed lovers - forced to keep their love secr..."
Casey silenced her with his kiss as she wrapped her arms around him and held on tight.
Orb's Year 943
She nodded and followed him, slipping through the front door without anyone seeing.
"I love you, too, Benji. I'll be a good wife to you."
After Gia had slipped her ring on Benji's finger, she threw her arms around his neck. "Oh Benji! I'm your wife!" she said excitedly. "I can't wait to be your wife in every way!"
Benji gripped his wife's hand. "Then let's hurry inside and announce our good news! The sooner we get that over with, the sooner we can celebrate privately!"
Caitlyn raised her eyebrow. "That was rushed! Is there a reason for such speed?" she asked hesitantly, glancing down at Gia's belly.
Gia flushed with embarrassment as Benji announced, "The only rush is that we love each other!"
Caitlyn still wasn't satisfied. "I thought we were going to have a big celebration. And what about Gia's family! I'm sure they wanted to be included!"
"We'll plan a celebratory feast... but for now... we bid you good night!" Benji announced as he hustled Gia into their room.
"Well!" Caitlyn fussed as the love-birds slipped away. "Of all the.. what are you laughing about?" she asked her husband tersely when tears of mirth started slipping down his cheeks.
Adam tried to hold back the guffaws. "Nothing, dear. Nothing... But, did you see the look on his face as he hurried his new bride out of here?!" Benji had looked determined, embarrassed and very eager.
Cailtyn's mouth twitched along with her husband's and soon the two elders were leaning against each other, weak from laughter as their children looked on in confusion.
"No he won't. Come on! Say you'll do it with me!"
"Okay, okay. I'll go with you. But if we get in trouble, I'm going to tell them it was all your fault!" Elle reluctantly agreed.
Benji woke up with a start and glared at his younger sisters. "Out!" he demanded, pointing to the door.
Gia stepped forward and pressed a kiss to her cousin's cheek. "Hello Garth. How are the fields?"
"Tiring!" Garth joked, but Gia studied his face and saw the toll stress and exhaustion were taking on her dear cousin.
"You should rest more," she admonished him.
"Then who will care for the fields?" he asked lightly. "No, I'll be fine once I marry and have strapping, young sons!"
Garth looked over at his friends with wide eyes. "What did I say?" he asked incredulously.
Benji shook his head dumbly, "Who knows!" while Gia glanced down guiltily, adding, "Girls can be very emotional at that age. Just be kind..."
Orb's Year 944
"What do you mean, papa?" Carey asked in confusion.
Adam cleared his throat. "As you know, Benji is the heir and the house and everything in it will go to him. Now that Benji is married, he'll be wanting a family of his own."
The boys waited expectantly.
"And I'm afraid it will soon be time for you two to fly on your own. Carey, I've arranged for you to apprentice for Lord Knowles. Lady Knowles spoke very highly of you and recommended you to her husband as his scribe. And Casey, I've arranged for you to apprentice at Master Farrier's. He's in need of a good, strong man to help."
Adam sighed wearily as he stood up. He clamped his hand on Casey's shoulder and said with a laugh, "As if this little house has space for three sons and three wives! Let alone all the children that will come from the unions!"
Casey shook his father's hand off his shoulder. "Then I just won't marry!" he announced boldly.
Adam shook his head. "Yes, I see how you've been working towards that goal," he said caustically. At Casey's raised eyebrows, his father plowed on, "Oh yes, I know all about the girls you lead on a merry chase. I had hoped you would pick one and settle down, but I see that was a foolish man's dreams."
Casey crossed his arms. "Well, we can't all be like Carey - too stuck in the books to ever kiss a girl!"
Adam's gaze darted to his other son and noticed the look in Carey's eye. "I wouldn't be so sure your brother is as stuck in his books as you think he is," he said cryptically.
Casey swiveled to face his twin brother with surprise. "What?! Who? When?"
Carey got up without answering.
"I will, Carey. I will," she said as she gazed deeply into his eyes. "May I walk with you?"
Carey held his love's hand. "I'd like that," he said somberly as they began to walk towards the Noble's Ridge where his new home was located.
Adam put his arm around his wife's shoulder. "It's not like they're leaving the kingdom, Caitlyn. They're just becoming men and starting their own lives."
"Oh I know," Caitlyn said, wiping at her eyes with her sleeves. "But that doesn't make it any easier," she said with a fresh spate of tears trickling down her cheeks.
"I know, love. I know," he said. It was hard for him, too. Both boys had looked crushed when he'd delivered the unhappy news. He hoped they managed to find happiness at the places he'd worked so hard to get them. "Come, let's go to dinner," he prodded his wife. "Gia's made something special..."
Caitlyn squealed and hurried around the table to hug her daughter-in-law. "Oh, Blessed Orb! A baby! Happy news!"
"Have you told your family?" Adam asked.
Gia nodded. "Benji told Garth this afternoon."
Benji smiled at his little sister. "Yes, he came by with some exciting news," Benji said as he told her Garth's good news.
Daisy's face paled and her fork clattered to the table...