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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Dreams Made Flesh (Chapter 9)      Page
  • Dreams Made Flesh(Black Jewels,Book 5)(9) by Anne Bishop
  • THREE

    Listening to the voices just beyond the kitchen, Marian watched batter drip from the wooden spoon back into the mixing bowl, nervous that even the quiet sound of a spoon against a bowl might call attention to herself. It wasn't likely anyone would notice sounds in the kitchen if she continued making breakfast. No one in her family noticed she was around unless there was some hearth-Craft they wanted done. But there was something about the anger and desperation edging her father's wheedling voice and the strained annoyance in her mother's that made her draw her wings in tight to her body in a defensive gesture and want to play least-in-sight.

    "Hell's fire, woman," her father said, his voice rising. "It's not so much to ask. I need the errand done, and I need it done now."

    "Why can't it wait until after breakfast? One of the girls…"

    "No." A pause. "A Priestess-in-training and a Healer-in-training can't take valuable time away from their studies for something simple like this. Besides, Marian isn't doing anything important. She won't be missed."

    Marian pressed her lips together as she looked at the biscuits ready for baking. She wouldn't allow her father's words to cut her this morning. She wouldn't. Besides, she'd been hearing that sentiment in one way or another her whole life…more in the past few years since her younger sisters had been accepted into training. A hearth witch was a convenience, but her skills wouldn't enhance the status of a family who wasn't aristo, wouldn't aid her father's ambition to be more than a Fifth Circle guard for a light-Jeweled Queen.

    She heard her mother's exasperated "Very well, then" and went back to mixing the batter as Dorian entered the kitchen. Her mother hesitated, then moved briskly to the table where Marian was working.

    "You heard," Dorian said.

    "Hard not to," Marian replied, keeping her attention on the mixing bowl.

    With a huff, Dorian pulled the bowl and spoon out of Marian's hands. "Well, go on then.Take care of this errand that's got him so bothered and get back here as quick as you can."

    "To do more things that are unimportant?" Marian asked, surprised to hear the resentment that had been building inside her for a long time actually color the words.

    Dorian's face flushed with temper, but she kept her voice low. "Don't you use that tone with me, girl. I won't put up with you getting snippy and acting above yourself."

    Marian swallowed the lump in her throat. Yes, this had been building for a while now. It might as well be said. "If I'm going to be treated like hired help instead of family, I should at least get a wage for the labor."

    Dorian dropped the spoon on the table. Her hand swung back. Then she regained enough control to press her hand against the table. "You've got a roof over your head and food in your belly. You shouldn't have to be paid to help me provide those things."

    "My sisters get those same things…and spending money besides… without doing any of the work."

    "Marian…"

    "What's the delay?" Her father's voice boomed from the kitchen doorway.

    "We'll finish this later," Dorian said.

    She disliked confrontation, couldn't hold on to anger. She'd end up doing more work to make up for her show of defiance…and nothing would change.

    As she walked through the kitchen doorway, her father raised his hand as if to cuff her, but she hurried past him and stayed ahead of him until they were outside the eyrie. Then he caught up to her and grabbed her arm hard enough to bruise.

    She saw temper in his face, but it made her think of a scared bully rather than a dangerous Eyrien Warlord. Still, a scared bully could become dangerous if he needed to convince himself that he was strong.

    He started to speak, then held back, clearly deciding to ignore a household squabble since it wouldn't interfere with whathe wanted.

    Using Craft, he called in a thick envelope and handed it to her. "Messenger's waiting for that. Needs it before the day begins at court, so don't be dawdling."

    "If it's so important, why don't you deliver it?" Marian said.

    His fingers dug into her arm. "Don't sass me, girl. Just do as you're told." His other hand pointed at a small wood in the valley below. "He'll be waiting for you there. You fly down, then take the path through the woods."

    "And if I don't find him?"

    "He'll find you." He released her arm with enough force that she staggered a couple of steps to keep her balance. "Get on with it."

    Vanishing the envelope, she moved farther away from him before she spread her wings and launched herself skyward. She forgot him as she pumped her wings to take her up into the pale dawn sky, dismissed the troubles waiting for her at home as she focused on the joy of soaring over the land. She loved flying…loved the feel of it, the freedom of it. When she was in the air, she could almost believe her dreams were possible. A home of her own, with a garden big enough to grow food, flowers, and the herbs and other plants she could sell to Healers for their special brews. A place of her own, where her hearth-skills wouldn't be dismissed and she wouldn't have to tiptoe around male temper and moods.

    It was nothing more than a dream. Her Purple Dusk Jewels didn't give her enough power or status to keep her safe from stronger males if she were on her own. She didn't have the temperament to cope with the cruelty and vicious games that were played in the courts and in aristo houses, so there was no point thinking she could work in one of them. If her mother turned her out, she'd end up working somewhere for room and board and little else. Or, worse, she could end up begging for a place in one of the large eyries that stabled the warriors who served in the Eyrien Queens' courts. She'd seen some of the women who did the cooking and laundry in those eyries…and who were expected to take care of other needs as well. She wouldn't survive long in one of those places. So it always came back to accepting that she would be her mother's unpaid help.

    But she still wished for something better.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire