“Come in, come in” the king beckoned.
The king’s chambers at court were quite modest, with a large canopied bed and a balcony overlooking the throne room. The king was standing beside a young blonde girl, who smiled warily as they entered. Bonnie followed behind her master with her head lowered, Lady Jaslyn was feeling unwell for the day and had banished Bonnie from her presence – and so Sir Soren had found a place for her in his work. The day had mostly been a disaster, with Bonnie unable to read the markings that Sir Soren pointed to, she could not organise them as he wished. Instead of that, Sir Soren had decided she was best use to him standing nearby wherever he went, waiting on his beck and call. Her feet ached, and she glanced desperately at a nearby chair. Lady Jaslyn at least appreciated her silent company and would often allow Bonnie to sit near her; Sir Soren seemed completely oblivious to her presence all together.
“Sire,” Sir Soren greeted. “Is that ...?”
He was gesturing to the strange bed against the wall, it was low on the ground and very small – made of some kind of fine blue fabric and featured an alcove of decorative purposes. Sir Soren looked to the king with raised eyebrows, his mouth hung open in an expression of shock.
The king laughed heartily, “I won’t deny it. I have a fondness for cats, or at least my little Caroline.”
“Caroline?” Sir Soren smiled, “What a peculiar name.”
“Enough babble,” the king waved his arm toward the girl seated nearby. “I wanted to show you this fine young thing.”
“Ah, quite a beauty.”
Sir Soren held out a hand to the girl, whose face was spotted with freckles. She smiled up at him, and let out a squeak as he pressed his lips to her hand in a show of affection. Bonnie watched the way Sir Soren held eye contact with the girl, she saw how gentle and charming he behaved, and remembered the many nights he would stumble into her sleeping area – to have his way with her. Bonnie’s mother had taught her early what to expect, and how easily it was to become enchanted by men who show favour to one woman. But Sir Soren had never been gentle or charming with her; he had never stared into her eyes boldly or told her she was beautiful. It amused her to ever think that servants could fall in love with their masters – the entire concept of love was strange and unknown territory to her. Bonnie knew that rich men like her master and the king saw women as nothing but objects to enjoy, and throw away when the time came.
“Her name is Meliza Tiernan,” the king winked, gesturing for them all to sit.
Bonnie glanced down at her small feet, wishing the throbbing would stop. She stood awkwardly by the door, and finally the king appeared to notice her presence. He motioned to Sir Soren.
“Oh, girl.” Sir Soren addressed her, “Stand out of the way.”
She nodded swiftly and moved across the room, looking about desperately for a place to go unnoticed. Her master had soon forgotten her though, and the king had already moved on to his next topic of conversation.
“Her father is old fashioned, but I suspect he won’t be around for many more years to come.” The king said, “Meliza here would produce some fine, strong lads for you.”
“Jaslyn would take it as an insult, I’m afraid.” Sir Soren was stretched out beside the young girl, eyeing her up and down. “But she is a very pretty young thing, isn’t she?”
The king grinned, “I knew you’d feel that way. And as for Jaslyn, she and her brother owe me their livelihood. She’s given you two children – and has yet to even fall pregnant again. I’m sure she would enjoy settling into a nice, prosperous retirement.”
Bonnie stood awkwardly by the king’s desk, trying not to cringe at their conversation – or the pain her feet were causing her. Sir Soren leaned forward to rest his arms on his knees, he looked around thoughtfully for a moment.
“How would you keep this from her father?”
“Well you know that no woman comes for free,” the king replied. “I would create a private account for the expense of dear Meliza here, and after the old fart is dead I’ll pass it along to her brother.”
Sir Soren smiled, “So I will pay you for her, and you will pay that to her brother?”
“After a few years I expect,” the king nodded. “More accurately you will be paying yourself, as I will have you handle the accounts.”
Both men chuckled, and Bonnie noted the young girl’s agonized face. She had probably thought that coming to court and becoming someone’s mistress would be some kind of fantasy love affair, only to learn the reality was not quite as glamorous.
“I think that is agreeable,” Sir Soren winked to his king. “When shall I get to enjoy my purchase?”
The king let out another hearty chuckle, “Now! Go on and use my chamber, I’ll take that servant of yours downstairs. There’s been an unexpected arrival,” he said and stood from his chair.
Sir Soren looked over to where Bonnie stood, and she hurriedly calmed her features and straightened her apron. He gestured for her to follow the king, and his eyes slithered over to the blonde girl beside him. He looked as though he was about to devour her and Bonnie couldn't have left the room faster.