Bonnie paused as she entered the room, the lady Nolia had joined Meliza while she’d been preoccupied downstairs. She stood there a moment, feeling rather uncomfortable. Nolia had married Ancel’s son, making her a Ridere, which meant that Bonnie answered to her. She wondered if Nolia was aware of this when the two women glanced up at her, smiling.
“Oh Bonnie! This is Nolia – her sister married my brother, and that makes us sisters!” Meliza was beaming, obviously ecstatic at having a visitor. “Nolia, this is Bonnie.”
The older woman smiled sweetly, and Bonnie curtsied. “Will you be helping when the lady Jaslyn gives birth, Bonnie?” Nolia asked pointedly.
“She has requested me,” Bonnie answered.
There was something unsettling about Nolia’s presence there, and Bonnie had a feeling that she had already known that Jaslyn had specifically requested Bonnie attend her for the upcoming birth. Her intuition was proven true when she saw Meliza’s face drop in disappointment.
“What does that mean? I’ll be alone?” She whined, “For how long?”
Nolia leant forward to place a comforting hand on Meliza’s knee, “It should only take a day or two.” She said reassuringly, “That is, as long as the lady Jaslyn agrees to release Bonnie after the child is born.” She grew quiet for a moment, and sighed. “I wasn’t going to say anything…”
“There have been rumours,” Nolia frowned. “That the lady Jaslyn has intent to leave court once her child is born.”
Meliza looked at her guest in horror, “Why would she leave? Where would she go?”
“I presume she’d return to her brother’s house, where her two elder children live.” Nolia said, “She would take a collective of servants of course, one being Bonnie – who was her primary maid before she fell pregnant.”
Bonnie felt she was in an exceedingly awkward position, although she was flattered by Meliza’s affections for her, she had not known that the lady Jaslyn had intent to leave court. The idea of returning to the Omari farm was comforting, having spent several years there alongside her mother and brother. But as well she felt a tinge of regret, if she was forced to leave behind her sister – who she had not yet connected with. And there was Jack, of course, but that wasn’t something Bonnie was ready to address.
“No!” Meliza called out, “I don’t want her to take Bonnie. Why is she even leaving anyway?”
Nolia appeared sympathetic, “Well – I guess. Because of you.”
“Me?” Meliza seemed genuinely surprised.
“Yes, you.” Nolia nodded, “Sir Soren has fallen in love with you, and that means he has no more time for his wife. The rumour is – she’s decided to retire from court life to raise her newest child.”
It took a moment before Meliza understood the statement, as she sat there wearing a frown for a solid few minutes. Bonnie stepped awkwardly from one foot to the other, she could hear the kitten Rosina meowing for her dinner. Finally, Meliza seemed to have come to some kind of decision and she crossed her slender arms over her chest.
“Bonnie,” she said sharply. “I won’t let you go, if she wants to take you, I will fight her. And Soren will just have to listen to me.”
Nolia remained unemotional, “He doesn’t have to listen to you.” She cleared her throat, “I mean, you’ll have to give him some form of enticement.”
“I need Bonnie, and that’s all there is to it.” Meliza’s eyes grew wide and bright, “He will give her to me, I know he will.”
Once again, Bonnie felt flattered. But anxiety twisted and curled inside her, and her chest had tightened so that it was hard to breathe. The lady Jaslyn was expected to go into labour any day now.