Felyx followed the form of his mother as they made their way to reach the door, she looked back at him with a grin as they entered. They were once again visiting the Turnwhip family, fellow merchants and residents of Marlowe.
Padric Turnwhip was a fool of a man who believed he had Felyx’s mother wrapped around his finger. He spoke to her as though she were a child, unaware of the bargains Mae had tricked him into giving to her. Each time they visited for business, Mae would wink at Felyx when she’d struck a deal and they would leave laughing at the man’s ignorance. But beyond those games, the Turnwhip clan were the best trade industry in Marlowe and second only in fortune to the Talisman family.
As they entered, Felyx spied his friend Maxley. Maxley Turnwhip was quite a character, with a nose the size of a horses’ and thick unyielding eyebrows, his humour was his only saving feature. His father was a much less agreeable man, in appearance and personality. Padric had red hair and a rough beard, his eyes were a steely grey and his words were never trustworthy. Both father and son turned as Felyx and his mother entered, a foolhardy grin spreading across Padric’s face.
“Mistress Mae!” He exclaimed in surprised, “How pleasant a day it is now to have lain my eyes upon you.”
Felyx rolled his eyes and looked to his mother, she was very plain with light brown hair and simple features. At first glance one would not recognise her beauty beyond the plainness of any commoner, but her mind had a wicked kick that always left her foes lacking in breath. Mae Talisman was equal to any man in her wit and charm, even Felyx fell for her tricks.
“Goodman Padric,” his mother cooed.
Padric made a show of bowing to Mae, and Felyx felt it was a mockery of her lack of station. But his mother simply laughed, throwing her hair over her should like a teenage girl.
“May I invite you to my private rooms?” Padric asked, extending an arm out to Mae. “I’ve just had the desk refurbished.”
“Oh, Padric” Mae giggled, “You’re much too good to me.”
Felyx felt like throwing himself into a flaming pit. The shows of mock affection really got on his nerves, especially when it was his own mother being toyed with. But he was powerless to stop her, as she often pointed out it was her leadership that had led their empire to grow vast and their fortune to expand to the rumour it was equal of the king’s private reserve.
With Mae on his arm, Padric called over his shoulder to his son. “Boy, see to Felyx, would you?”
The couple disappeared beyond the door, and Felyx glanced at his friend. He had known Maxley for many years, though they had taken awhile to become acquainted. Both boys were unbearably quiet in the presence of new people. And Maxley had the doubt of his appearance lingering over his head in addition to typical shyness. He wasn’t all that ugly, in Felyx’s opinion, he just wasn’t all that attractive either.
“Do you suppose either of them realise how ridiculous they look?” Maxley asked with a scowl.
Felyx grinned at him, “They’re oblivious.” Both boys chuckled for a second, when Maxley became stern and quiet. Felyx cocked his head to the side, “Are you unwell?”
Maxley grunted, and looked down at his feet. “Felyx, have you ever, well. Have you ever kissed a girl?”
“Once or twice when I was a lad I suppose,” Felyx winked. “You found yourself a sweetheart, hey Max?”
His friend seemed to be avoiding eye contact, and wore a ceremonial frown as though he’d been readying himself to lose a fight. “I think I did something bad – to a girl.”
“You didn’t slobber all over her chin?”
“Well,” Max thought for a moment. “Maybe, but that’s not what’s so bad.”
Felyx rolled his eyes, “Then what could be so bad? Your lack of skill?"Max was not in a laughing mood. “There’s this girl,” he said eventually. “Her name is Jessamyn, she’s really pretty. She has freckles but I don’t mind and well, she said she likes me.”
“There’s a first,” Felyx raised his eyebrows.
“That’s what I thought,” Max smiled for a moment. “Well, she wanted to, you know, kiss.”
“I didn’t really know what I was doing and well, now she says I have to marry her.”
Felyx sighed in relief, “That’s nothing bad, Max. She sounds like she’s just fishing for money, if you ask me. Mother has warned me of girls like that.”.
“But she said she was pregnant.”
“You can’t get a girl pregnant from kissing them, Max.”
“Are you sure?” Max asked hopefully.
“You have to do more than kissing,” Felyx frowned, taking a step closer to his friend. Max wasn’t the brightest boy he had met, though he had been educated well enough for a merchant’s son, he wasn’t quite as apt when it came to social situations. “Did she make you take your clothes off?”
Felyx groaned inwardly, he put a hand to his head as though he were in pain. Padric would strangle the boy.
“I’ve done it now haven’t I?” Max asked desperately. “I’ve ruined my life; I’ve ruined my father’s life. I’ve ruined everything.”
“Not really,” Felyx shrugged. “You’ll just have to marry her I guess, or at least make a deal with her father.”
“But that’s the thing, isn’t it Felyx? She’s little more than a peasant, but do you know who her sister is?” Max said. “Janoah Draki! Lady Janoah! Toal Draki’s wife! If I don’t marry her, they’ll eat me alive!”
Felyx couldn’t help but smile at that idea, “Oh I’m sure they’d spit roast you first.” The blatant fear in his friend’s eyes was enough to make Felyx momentarily regret his words. “That’s not such a bad thing,” he said trying to sound reassuring. “Think of it as an alliance between the Turnwhips and the Drakis – your father might see it as an expandable opportunity to advance business into Iridia.”
“We already have stalls within Iridia and regular wagoners operating through the mountains,” Max replied.
"To advance business, Max" Felyx repeated.
His friend looked uncertain, but nodded his head dutifully. Felyx gave him a wary smile, pondering how his mother would feel about this 'alliance' he had just invented.