Despite the summer heat on approach, the night was shrouded by heavy clouds and angry winds. Mirielle had fallen ill and as she was carrying the new prince or princess, she had been put into confinement, receiving no visitors. The king had become overly sensitive of her since the loss of the queen. Jack was pained, knowing that he was missing those precious moments in his daughter’s life, those moments that lasted a blink of the eye as she grew up.
He had spent the day outside in the garden, watching the young princes and princesses as they ran wild, being chased by their many nurses. The king’s eldest daughters had returned to their respective homes, bidding goodbye to their many siblings. There had been tears amongst the younger ones, especially the Corin children – who had been informed that they were now too old to be living at the castle, and would be returning to their mother’s home in Iridia.
Jack had quietly given praise to Mirielle’s observations about the child Siara, who was the spitting image of her father, the king.
All of this made Jack more and more aware of his situation, and he was reminded by his loneliness each time he caught a glimpse of Bonnie – who spent her days following up behind the young Mistress Meliza. Bonnie would look at him briefly, and the corners of her mouth would tug when he winked at her, but she never hesitated from her task to speak to him. She had been on his mind for awhile, as his first impression of her had changed so drastically in such a short time period.
He had first assumed she was dainty and fragile, weak in the ugliest form of description. But watching her from afar, seeing her controlled demeanour even under the worst kind of pressure – proved him she was not in fact weak. He had watched with clenched fists as Sir Soren and his companions ordered her about, demanding more food and drink purely to put her in distress. They humiliated her with crude insults and mocking jokes, all the while Bonnie held her head high and did as she was commanded. She had the kind of strength that came from years of sour treatment, and she was resilient because of it.
As though she had read his thoughts, Bonnie appeared in the hallway. She looked at him nervously at first, like she didn’t recognise him.
He moved closer and gave her a smile, “Hello there little bird.”
She stared at him and he saw that she was holding something to her stomach, hiding it from sight. “Why are you here?” She asked quickly, “Did someone send you to find me?”
“I’m just doing my usual patrol,” he frowned at her. “Is something wrong?”
“I – uh,” she broke eye contact. “I have a delivery, and it’s a secret, and I don’t know which room.”
“Did you ask–?”
“It’s a secret,” Bonnie hissed. “I can’t say anything to anybody.”
“Okay, well who are you delivering it to?”
She looked down at the item clasped in her hands, “Sir Raiden Mieko.” She looked back at him, “Could you take it to him for me?”
Jack frowned again, he had overheard several of the kitchen servants discussing Sir Raiden. He was the queen’s brother, and had shocked those at court by continuing his stay there for quite some time – even after the queen’s funeral.
He took another step toward Bonnie, and was privately happy to see she did not flinch away from him. “Who should I say it is from?” He asked her, noting the blue of her eyes.
She looked up at him, her mouth hung open. “You can’t say anything, just give it to him.”
“I can’t just give it to him, Bonnie. He will want to know,” Jack said. “Is there something you’re not telling me?”
He watched as she squirmed under his scrutiny, biting her lip and shaking her head side to side. He wanted to smile as her plaits swayed, but it wasn’t the time for smiling.
“Sir Raiden came looking for something of the queen’s,” she said eventually. “He said it was a family heirloom, and important. Sir Ancel told him he’d have it delivered, but he was lying.”
Jack blinked. “So you stole from the deceased queen’s belongings, to ease your conscious?”
“No!” Bonnie was pained, her voice became a whine. “I didn’t steal anything – I just don’t think its right – it’s a family heirloom – the queen would have wanted–”
“Bonnie,” Jack grinned. “Relax its okay. I will deliver – whatever it is, and ask that Sir Raiden keep it to himself.”
She looked at him like he had saved her from death, her blue eyes glistening with tears. In an instant, and to his pleasant surprise, she fell into him with whimper.
He hesitated before pulling his arms around her, it had been so long since he’d held a woman – not including his little daughter. She was so skinny, and yet warm. Her body shook as she forced her burst of tears away, and stood back.
“Thank you,” she said, extending her hand to pass him a small wooden box.