Orb's Year 945
Andre grinned confidently. "Do you yield?" he asked.
"Yes! Yes!" Bianca cried, straining to catch her breath. "I never should have said you smell like the horses! It was so utterly wrong..." she said, placing her hand over her heart and attempting to appear earnest.
Andre crossed his arms and nodded regally. "That's more like it!" he announced.
"...and utterly TRUE!" she yelled, lifting her skirts and hurrying away.
Juan shook his head with disgust. Feathers in their fool-heads, he thought sourly. "ANDRE!" he bellowed.
Both children dropped their pillows with chagrin. Evelyn hurried inside to complete her chores and Andre walked with his chin held high towards the lecture he was sure to receive.
Andre attempted a charming smile, "Would you believe no one came by to buy anything?"
Juan shook his head. "This is not fun and games, son. This is our livelihood and responsibility..."
Andre nodded his understanding and drifted off as the lecture continued.
"Even worse," Andre conceded. "A lecture."
Andre shook his head. "I know my duty. I am his heir and need to know how to take his place one day when he's gone... but... I just... I don't know what I want..." Andre stood up. "Excuse me," he said, striding across the room to the ladder that would take him to his new bedroom in the loft.
Bianca sighed as she gathered up the dishes and took them to the sink.
"Oh nothing. You're so lucky that you don't have the responsibilities that Andre and I have! It's not fair! And then, you waste that freedom by reading a silly book!"
Orb's Year 946
Bianca glanced out the window and gave an elated cry. "Brock is here!" she called out excitedly, rushing outside to greet her half-brother.
"Slow down, little one," Brock told her teasingly. "I'll tell you everything once I've greeted Mother."
"I'm fine!" Brock called after his birth mother with a laugh.
Evelyn looked around the table and smiled, "It's so good to see my family at the table altogether again!"
"Tell us more, Brock!" Bianca said excitedly. "What about Sister Faith? Is she very beautiful? Do you like her?"
Andre scoffed, "You're not allowed to like anyone at the Abbey, Bianca. You're supposed to devote yourself to the Celestial Orb!"
Brock blushed. "She's very nice, of course. Everyone is!
"He's blushing!" Bianca cooed. "He likes her!"
Juan put his hand on his daughter's shoulder. "That's enough, Bianca. Leave the poor boy alone."
"It sounds like a perfectly lovely place!" Camilla said wistfully. "They must have an amazing library collection!"
Brock nodded. "There are some rare and ancient texts I've never seen before, as well as some instructional books the prior Headmistresses have written themselves. You're welcome any time to come see them!"
Camilla's eyes lit up. "Oh I will!" she said fervently. "Oh that would just be perfect!"
"I can't wait to see you. Just send word and I will escort you." Sighing heavily, he glanced at the window. "But I fear it is time for me to leave now. I have missed you all and will see you soon."
Evelyn covered his hand with her own and squeezed. "Thank you for visiting," she told him, valiantly holding the tears back. "I had lost so much time with you. I treasure these moments with you!"
Brock squeezed her hand back. "I feel the same."
Orb's Year 947
"Bianca," he called out to her as she prepared breakfast in the kitchen. "Hurry up. Plans have changed!"
"Quiet, he'll hear," Andre cautioned her. "He would not like that we're skipping the instructional classes..." He, too, was looking forward to speaking with Gabriella... perhaps convincing her to give him another chance...
The first thing Andre saw as he approached was Gabriella and he smiled at her in greeting, hurrying to her side. But, she'd immediately turned her back to him and spoken to her brother. And then, worse, she'd turned towards Grant Pettas, laughing and flirting with him.
"Cursed Orb," Bianca grumbled under her breath. "You're not still hung up on her? Are you? You can do so much better!"
Andre shrugged his sister off. "Of course not," he denied. "Why would I be!"
"You left me alone with your friend," Andre huffed. "It was awkward!"
Bianca rolled her eyes. "I just thought you might like her!"
Andre turned towards his sister suddenly and shook his head, holding up his hands. "Just don't. Okay? I'm fine. I don't need any help from you in my love life!" he said before turning again and hurrying towards the horses stalls.
He didn't need his father's reminder to work this time...
But none of it wiped out the memory of Grant with his arm slung around Gabriella's slim waist.
He pounded harder.
He'd lost his chance...
"Andre? Your mother wants you to come in for dinner," Juan said, shaking Andre out of his thoughts.
Andre glanced over his shoulder. "I'll be inside in a moment," he said wearily.
Juan paused a moment and watched his struggling son. "Is everything okay, son?" he asked with concern.
"Of course," Andre answered brightly. "What could be wrong?"
Ignoring her, Bianca snapped, "Get out of here! Your gold isn't needed here!" Angrily, she shoved Gabriella again. "Go on! Get!"
"WHAT love life, Andre? You've let her suck all the joy out of your life!" she replied hotly. "You're not the same anymore!"
Andre pointed his finger in his little sister's face. "I don't need you interfering with my life, Bianca! Grow up!" he shouted before stalking back to the stalls.
Bianca whirled around and ran inside, covering her mouth as she sobbed.
Marchant, 948) It was over.
He'd lost her....