He looked as relieved as a man walking off a battlefield. "Fine. That's settled." He took another step back toward the archway. "I'll go out and chop some wood."
Marian glanced at the dishes on the counter."Don't you want to eat?"
"Sure. I'll be out there. Just yell when it's ready."
The man could certainly move, Marian thought as she stared at the empty archway.
It was rather sweet, the way he got all testy and nervous about giving her wages. And it was considerate of him to realize there were things she would need to buy for herself.
She pulled the silver marks out of her pocket, fanned them out again…and smiled.
It was still excessive for a half-month's wages, but if she kept half of it for herself, the other half would give her a good start on buying the basics she needed for the kitchen.
Marian sipped her coffee, looked around her clean kitchen… and sighed. It was barely midmorning, and she'd already made a casserole, cleaned up the kitchen, stripped the beds and put on fresh linens, had all the laundry washed and hanging in the drying room, dusted the furniture, and swept the floors. There was nothing left to do…and Prince Yaslana would be gone for the next two days.
She still wasn't sure how service in Lady Angelline's court worked. It all seemed so… casual. She knew Prince Yaslana went back to SaDia-blo Hall one or two days each week for a few hours, but she wasn't sure if he went there for court business or just to visit family. He'd explained that since all the males in the First Circle had other responsibilities, his father, as Steward of the Court, worked out a rotation so that each male fulfilled his obligation to Queen and court by being on duty for two or three days twice a month.
So he'd left before sunrise, and she had the next two days stretching out in front of her. She could read, but reading was the reward after the day's labor. She'd finished the weaving she'd started on her small hand loom and had made a decorative mat for the kitchen table. She didn't feel like making something just to fill up time. So what…
Turning to look out the window, she studied the mess of rocks and weeds. It had been a garden a long time ago. She'd found herbs growing
wild among the weeds and suspected there had been an herb bed and a kitchen garden on this side of the eyrie.
Why hadn't Yaslana done anything to at least clean it up? For a man who was always aware of his surroundings, he seemed willfully blind to the fact that a natural meadow, which had its own kind of beauty, wasn't the same as the tangled mess she was staring at now.
Besides, it would be so nice to have a little kitchen garden to tend.
Marian refilled her coffee mug and took a moment to admire the coffeepot she'd bought with part of her wages. Yaslana hadn't said a word about the pot's sudden appearance in his kitchen, but he'd definitely approved of the taste of the coffee she could brew in it.
She walked down what she'd labeled the "domestic" corridor, since it provided entry to the pantry and the laundry and drying room…and the small area between the pantry and laundry that had a door to the outside and a purpose she was still puzzling over. Opening the door, she studied the land in front of her.
The growing season was already well along, and she wasn't sure what kinds of plants might be available. But the women in Riada would know…or she could ask Lady Angelline the next time the Queen stopped by for a brief visit. A few vegetables, a few herbs. Maybe some flowers. Yaslana wouldn't mind if she cleared a little ground. At least, she was almost certain he wouldn't mind.
He was, and wasn't, what she'd expected, based on the things she'd heard about Warlord Princes and him in particular. She had no doubt he was a trained warrior and a born predator whose temper could turn deadly in a heartbeat. She could see it in the way he moved, the way he looked at everything around him. But she hadn't actually seen a display of temper. Well, not much of one. The only time he'd snarled at her since she'd arrived was when he'd come home early one afternoon, taken a long look at her, and decided she needed something to eat. When she'd told him she wasn't hungry, he informed her that anyone who worked as hard as she did was not going to deprive her body of food. Then he marched her into the kitchen and rummaged through the cold box until he put together a plate of food that he considered sufficient. His idea of sufficient was vastlv different from hers, but her
token effort at eating had satisfied him enough that he'd eaten what was left on her plate.
Since he didn't seem to care what she did as long asshe was pleased with the result, she didn't think he'd mind her clearing some ground and having the pleasure of a little garden of her own.
After vanishing her coffee mug, then calling it back in so that it would reappear on the kitchen counter next to the sink, Marian pushed up her sleeves, stepped outside, and got to work.
As she stepped back into the eyrie, Marian understood the purpose of the little room. If it had pegs in the wall or a coat tree, wet or muddy outer garments could be hung in there to dry. Boots could be removed instead of tracking dirt or mud through the rest of the eyrie. And it was close to the big sinks in the laundry room for a quick wash if it was needed.
If there was a bench in here, it would make removing boots so much easier,Marian thought, groaning softly as she bent over to unlace her boots. At least Tassle was off doing his daily trot around the land surrounding the eyrie and hadn't heard her groan. He'd just start howling again.
Wolves had a very effective way of nagging. When he'd started telling her around midday that it was time for her to rest and eat, it had been easy to tell him she would do that in a few minutes, or after she'd moved a couple more rocks. But after she'd done that several times…
That howl rising up over the land wasnot something that could be ignored. He wouldn't hush, she couldn't catch him, and she suspected everyone in Riada could hear him. Since there was no way to shush him except to do what he wanted, she warmed up a piece of casserole and spent an hour reading at the kitchen table. When she came back out, he was pleased enough by his success in taking care of a female that he'd used Craft to help her move rocks until the game bored him and he went off for a while to do something wolfie.
So it was just as well that she'd announced it was time to quit for the day beforehe'd decided it was time for her to quit. One howling experience was quite enough.
She closed the door and touched the stone in the wall that had been
spelled to engage the Ebon-gray locks Prince Yaslana had put on all the doors. He'd worked out a way for the spell to recognize her and Tassle so that they could come and go, but he'd been adamant about the doors being locked whenever he wasn't home, especially the front door. He'd been equally adamant that she not allow anyone but his family to enter the eyrie when he was gone.