He stopped at the archway and looked at her. "You do what you have to, Marian. If you have to scrub and polish this place when every move hurts you just to prove you can do your work, then that's what you'll do. Short of fighting you to a standstill, I can't stop you. But I can't stay here and watch you do it. We'll work with the skillet again in a few days… and we'll keep working at it until you can use it as a weapon."
He moved fast. She had to dash to the archway to reach it before he reached the front door.
"Are you coming back for the midday meal?" she asked.
"Yeah, I'll be back." He didn't look at her, didn't hesitate. He slammed the front door behind him.
Marian sank down on one of the kitchen chairs and braced her head in her hands. He got mad at her for sweeping up spilled sugar but dragged her outside to throw a skillet at bales of hay. She threw a pot at him and missed, so he was going to teach her how to clobber him with a skillet. Even taking into account that he was an Eyrien male, there was only one explanation for his behavior. The man was insane.
And she'd made him unhappy. She hadn't meant to, but she'd made him unhappy. Of course, she would have told him she'd intended to take things easy today if he hadn't roared at her as soon as he walked into the
kitchen, so it was sort of his own fault that he was unhappy now. Which didn't make her feel any better.
Her eyes filled with tears. Not only did she feel guilty for making him unhappy, but now that she was alone, her body was screaming at her and, Mother Night, she hurt.
Marian looked at the roast on the cutting board. It was almost too good to cut up for stew. She looked at the potatoes, carrots, and onions sitting on the counter next to the cutting board and sighed. No, the real reason she felt reluctant to start was that she hadn't considered how long it would take to cut up a roast into stew-size pieces when she had to use a knife. Using basic Craft, she could have done it in a minute. No help for it. If she didn't start now, she'd be very late serving the midday meal.
As she reached for the knife, someone knocked sharply on the front door.
Her heart galloped as she stepped into the front room and stared at the door. Maybe it was that Roxie woman again. She hadn't told Lucivar about the young witch's second attempt to enter the eyrie when he wasn't home. She hadn't mentioned that Roxie had implied she was meeting him in Riada for an afternoon of sex. She hadn't believed the woman for a minute, but it had made her wonder about things she shouldn't wonder about…like how he kissed… and what it would feel like to be in bed with him.
A second knock, sharper this time.
She could pretend no one was home…or say she'd been in the laundry room and hadn't heard the knocking if the person mentioned it to Lucivar. No, not the laundry room. That would upset him. She'd say she'd been in her room, resting. Besides, she didn't want to deal with anyone today.
The High Lord walked through the door, passing through the wood as if the Ebon-gray lock wasn't there. Of course, the High Lord wore a Black Jewel, so an Ebon-gray lock was little more than a moment's inconvenience to him.
He stopped as soon as he saw her. His nostrils flared slightly. His expression turned grim, almost menacing.
"What did he do?" Saetan asked too softly.
Marian swallowed to get her heart out of her throat. "What?"
"What did my idiot of a son do?"
If he'd slapped her, he couldn't have surprised her more. "I don't understand."
Saetan moved toward her. "He upset you."
"No. Yes. It wasn't…" How was she supposed to think when he was staring at her like that?
He made a quiet sound of disgust and shook his head. The next moment, he was leading her back into the kitchen, the hand on her arm sliding up to rest on her shoulder.
She couldn't say he pushed her into the chair, but she found herself sitting at the pine table without having decided she wanted to sit.
"I'd apologize for him, but there's really no excuse for upsetting a woman during her moontime," Saetan said as he removed his cape and laid it over the back of another chair. "His education in the Terreillean courts was abysmal at best, but he's been in Kaeleer three years now. He should have acquiredsome understanding from dealing with the coven. Idiot."
Marian's hands curled into fists as she watched him rinse out the teakettle, fill it with fresh water, and put it on the stove to heat. "He didn't do anything," Marian said.
"He upset you," Saetan replied in a tone of voice only a fool would challenge. "He probably walked in here this morning and started roaring, telling you what you could and couldn't do as if you were a simple-minded child instead of a grown woman who has enough sense to know when her body needs rest and care."
The High Lord was on her side. So why did she want to take the skillet that was still sitting on the counter and smack him over the head with it?
Finding the mugs in one of the upper cupboards, he filled one with hot water and slipped a tea ball into it.
"You don't have to tell me what happened," Saetan said. "I've had enough experience with Lucivar to see it all. You have duties and responsibilities that you take seriously.You would have planned for this and wouldn't be doing more than you had to. But then he comes in, snapping and snarling, so what else can a witch do except defend herself and push back, insisting that she's capable of doing more than she knows she can?" He brought the mug over to the table and placed it in front of her. "Here, sweetheart. This is a brew I make for Jaenelle when her moon-time is troubling her. Drink it up."
Reluctant to do anything that would please him after he'd insulted Lucivar but not having enough nerve to defy him, she lifted the mug and sniffed. It smelled good. She took a sip. It tasted even better.
"You're making stew?" he asked.
He washed his hands and began moving around her kitchen with a confidence that looked like he was used to being in kitchens. Which wasn't likely.
"His social skills are rough, to put it kindly," Saetan said. "He just smashes through an obstacle instead of considering if there's a quieter way around it."
Maybe Lucivar's social skills were rough compared to a slick Hayllian, but that wasn't saying much. She'd rather have rough and honest than slick any day.
"Here, darling." Saetan returned to the table and placed a cutting board, the carrots, and a knife in front of her. "Do you feel well enough to cut up the carrots?"
"I feel fine." As he turned away from the table, she drank the rest of :he brew and put the mug aside. She picked up the knife, then looked at :he carrots. They were cleaned and the ends were neatly cut off. She didn't remember doing that, but she must have.