Chapter 5 - Feelings and Secrets
Chapter 5 - Feelings and Secrets
Noah was unable to comprehend his earlier actions towards Lady Tompson.
How could he have been so careless around a member of Society?
What had he been thinking?
Why had he treated her with such familiarity and in front of Ms. Willaminia and Kimmie? How had he forgotten their presence? They had seen him act absolutely improper.
And so had she. She saw him approach her with barely a space for breath between them. She watched as his hand moved of its own accord towards her. She heard him utter words that a no servant should ever dare say to members of Society, no matter their kingdom of origin.
What had caused him to commit such actions?
Perhaps he could have blamed her eyes. Lady Tompson possessed eyes so entrancing that no man could have looked away from her. Her eyes, in contrast to her black hair, were filled with a plethora of color. She had an otherworldly type of beauty.
Who was he kidding; she was a member of Society from across the mountains, so of course she looked otherworldly.
Noah shouldn’t have been blaming her anyway. He was the one in error. He had acted first and against all rules of social conduct.
That’s what he couldn’t understand. Why had he done it?
“You’re sighing again, Noah.” A chuckle informed from behind him.
“You should have seen her Bert.” Noah exclaimed, as he tried to understand what had happened to him.
He didn’t need to look up at the man in front of him to know that Bert was frowning. “Listen Noah, I know that everyone has been messing with you for a while about not having a girl and all, but you just can’t be acting this way. This Lady is someone that you barely know and someone who you never would have met under normal circumstances.”
Noah gave Bert a pointed look and then returned to staring at his hands. He knew that Bert was right, but something inside of him refused to let her go.
“Besides,” Bert’s voice boomed, breaching his thoughts, “she’s a Lady Noah, a proper Lady. You are...Noah, a life long servant to people who treat you poorly simply because they can. This Lord Jenkins that you are pretending to be, he... he does not exist.”
“You’re right Bert.” Noah agreed, “I know that. I never should have done what I did, even if I was a member of Society. It helps knowing that I shall never see her again, but-”
“But?” The old man scoffed interrupting him. “There’s no but in this situation, Noah. If you even think about trying to see this Lady again-”
“-Annabell.” He corrected, interrupting Bert. “Her name is Annabell Tompson.”
“Is it now?” The man questioned.
“Is what now?” Noah asked, not even realizing what he had said.
Bert rolled his eyes at him, “If you try and seek out Lady Tompson, it will only make matters worse for you than they already are.”
Noah wanted to follow Bert’s instructions. He knew that the man was right, but... he couldn’t think past the images of her that kept bombarding his thoughts.
“I won’t pursue her,” He finally managed to say, “if that’s what you’re worried about Bert then I can promise you that much, but... but it doesn’t mean that I’ll stop thinking about her anytime soon. I just... I can’t understand why I did what I did, but I can’t seem to regret a single moment of it!”
Noah’s words came out more forceful than he planned and he instantly regretted his tone. “I’m sorry about that Bert, it’s just...I don’t understand this. How did this happen? Why did it happen, and why with her?”
The older man shook his head, and offered Noah a sad smile. “You’re just as bad as my lovesick sons.”
“I am not love sick.” Noah scoffed.
Bert rolled his eyes, “If you looked anything like me, I’d bet my wages that we were related.”
Noah looked up at the dark skinned Bert from behind his shaggy hair, and remembered the man’s words from earlier that day. “I hate it when you’re right.”
“What?” Bert burst out, caught off guard. “What was I right about?”
“You invited me over for lunch because you believed that I would have an awful day.” Noah reminded, “And apparently,” he said motioning to his current state, “you were right.”
Noah dropped his head again just as the jingle sounded from the front door. “Ah look who has finally came by for a visit.” He heard Bert boast. “Managed to steal her away from the Palace huh Richard?”
“Afternoon Tilly.” Noah muttered, without raising his head.
“Dad, what’s with the drunkard?” Richard’s voice questioned softly from behind him.
“Ah don’t mind him Ri-”
“I’m not drunk!” Noah interrupted.
“Noah?” An excited yet confused voice called out. “Is that you? Why do you look like that? And what are you doing drinking at this time of day? Did something happen at the-”
“Tilly,” he begged, “please contain the excitement. Or are you trying to break my ears?” Tilly was really a sweet and quiet girl, most of the time, but she was known to have busts of enthusiasm that caused her to ramble continuously.
When she quieted down he lifted his head. “See, it really is me.” He answered, “Richard, I haven’t been drinking, you know me better than that.” He turned back to Tilly, “And other than having to wear this, nothing of importance happened at the Manor.” He paused making sure that they had both understood him. “Satisfied?”
Tilly appeared startled by his frankness, but she nodded eagerly nonetheless.
“I’m not.” Richard teased, clearly searching for more answers, “Where did you get the outfit Noah? Did you finally snap and dispose of those Manchester’s?”
“They’re the Montego’s now.” Noah corrected not even answering Richard’s question.
“Oh right,” Tilly said softly, her excitement having died down slightly, “the big wedding between Cathliene Manchester, and Lord Louis Montego. I heard some ladies in the kitchens talking about it just the other day. How was it?”
Noah gave them all a pointed look, “The wedding, though dull, went off without a hitch.” He smirked as memories of the event rushed back to him, “but the whole bridal party did manage to look like Bert’s oversized pound cakes covered in icing.”
Richard and Tilly burst out in laughter, while Bert looked hurt. “My pound cakes take offense to that comment” he said with hidden amusement, “they’d taste terrible with icing.” he chuckled causing the rest of them burst out laughing again.
They were still laughing when Annie entered with Simon, the youngest of her and Bert’s three sons, “Now what’s with this racket?” she chided, “Come on now, quiet down or you’ll scare customers away.” She crossed her arms as if to make a point, young Simon mimicked her.
“Come on Annie darling,” Bert pleaded, “we were just having a laugh, trying to cheer up Noah.”
“Why on earth would Noah need cheering up, Bert, he’s not even-” she stopped noticing him for the first time. “Noah, what are you wearing?”
He spoke quickly before anyone else, mainly Bert, tried to do so, “I’m impersonating a distant cousin of the Montego family.” He explained. “And this ‘Lord’ is in town to help ‘Lady’ Cathliene prepare for the Royal Ball.”
“Alright.” Annie stated calmly not even questioning his statement. Richard and Tilly, however, offered looks of disbelief. “Why does Bert insist that you are upset?” she probed ignoring the two besides her.
A smile reached Bert’s face; “Well you see...” he started.
“I’m not talking about it Bert.” Noah said flatly, giving Bert a sharp glance.
Annie looked towards Tilly and Richard with hopes that one of them could elaborate.
“He was like that when we found him.” Richard replied to her unasked question.
“There’s this girl.” Bert squawked.
Everyone in room minus Noah and Bert gasped and started throwing around ideas about whom it was.
Did she live in town?
Was she a new servant at the manor?
Did her father have a trade?
Noah silently pleaded with Bert to keep quiet, but the man disregarded his plea completely.
“Well, look at how nice he had to dress today.” He chimed in, interrupting the others. “Noah’s gone and fallen for someone who is socially above him and he knows that there’s nothing he can do to have her.” Bert directed the last part of the sentence at Noah.
“No wonder he’s upset.” Annie said sadly.
Young Simon gave Noah a questioning look. “Leave it to you to have romantic trouble, Noah.”
“You’re eight.” Noah reminded him, “What would you know about romantic troubles?”
“I’m eight-and-a-half.” Simon rebutted.
“Forgive me young Master.” Noah said with the fake sincerity he used daily as a servant, “I was unaware of your many months of conquests.”
Everyone let out a hearty laugh causing Simon’s face to completely redden.
“Let me get you some lunch Noah.” Annie offered, “We can’t have customers enter and think that we don’t feed members of Society.”
Noah smiled kindly at the woman, before remembering the tight schedule that he was on. He finished the meal quickly, thanked them for everything and promised to return soon. He exited through the store’s back door out of habit, and returned to Madam Pumberly’s to retrieve his ‘cousins’ packages.
~~~Change Character Focus
“Kimmie, could you please slow down?” Alexandria gasped. She was glad that Kimmie agreed to escort her to Tilly, but the little girl refused to maintain a walking pace.
She recalled when Kimmie informed her that Tilly was smitten with the baker’s son so she assumed that they were heading to one of Town Central City’s many bakeries.
They weaved through the stalls that had been set up for Market Day and Alexandria couldn’t help but look for a light haired Lord in a dark grey suit.
It wasn’t that she wanted to see the tall Lord again, but... Oh who was she kidding, she couldn’t stop thinking about him. She thought about how she felt when his hand moved towards her, and how comfortable she was with such a small proximity between them.
It wasn’t fair how much time her thoughts spent on the man she knew next to nothing about, and yet something inside of her ached for his presences.
Why was that?
“Watch where you’re going, Miss.” A jewelry vender called out as Kimmie rushed past, nearly knocking over a display.
“We’re very sorry sir.” Alexandria found herself calling as she tried to keep up with the girl. Never in her life had Alexandria apologized to someone, but she didn’t have time to contemplate her actions. “Kimmie you must slow down,” she implored, “Honestly, there is no need to rush.”
“But we must hurry or.... –ing to miss...” Alexandria didn’t catch the rest of her words, but it seemed important to Kimmie that they hurry. So Princess Alexandria picked up her skirts as well as her pace and rush after the little girl in front of her.
Traveling fast was considered unladylike. She’d be the gossip of the town whether people recognized her or not, but for some reason Alexandria’s boldness energized her. The merchants, commodities, and shoppers all blurred together as she and Kimmie weaved through them. Eventually the crowd waned and Alexandria could more easily follow Kimmie through the streets.
They were nearing the town stables by the time Kimmie slowed her pace. She didn’t wait for the Princess, she just opened a door, with the words “Byrns’ Bakery” carved into it, and strolled inside.
Before Alexandria even entered, she was hit with waves of delicious smells. She could smell fresh baked bread cooling on a rack, along with ginger cookies baking in an oven somewhere.
The cozy atmosphere felt warm and inviting. It wasn’t the sickeningly sweet smell that suffocated other Town Central City bakeries. This was homely. It was safe.
“Hey there Kimmie.” A voice called out as Alexandria stepped inside the building, “Who did you bring with you?” Alexandria glanced down only to notice a small boy with dark brown skin. He looked a bit older than Kimmie, but it was clear that the two of them were close friends.
“Is there a customer Simon?” A deep female voice called from the back.
“Kimmie brought a friend mom!” The boy called Simon answered.
“Oh she did, did she?” The woman’s voice asked as she made her way towards the front of the store, “And how old might you be young L-?”
The voice stopped suddenly as a woman, resembling Simon, entered the room. “Forgive me Lady,” she apologized quickly, “the young lass does not often escort members of Society to our business.”
“There is no need to worry,” Alexandria said trying to calm her racing heart along with the flustered woman, “I am nearly eighteen by the way.” She offered a smile and held out her hand. “My name is Lady Annabell Tompson.”
The woman was clearly taken back by Alexandria’s willing response, but a smile matching the Princess’s quickly found its way to her face. “Annie Byrns, Lady.” She responded grasping Alexandria’s offered hand. “It is a pleasure to meet you.”
“Might I ask you a question Lady?” The woman asked bluntly before Alexandria could say anything.
“What brings you to our small bakery, so far from today’s Market?”
“Miss Kimmie,” Alexandria replied properly, “has informed me that my escort can be found at this location.”
Misses Byrns had a perplexed expression on her face. “Your escort?” She asked looking about the small empty room.
“Oh.” Kimmie chirped in response. “Tilly is her escort, should I let her know that Lady Annabell is here?”
“There is no need to rush.” Alexandria stated calmly.
All three of them looked at her with perplexed expressions, young Simon’s mouth hung open dumbly.
“I have not eaten yet.” she explained quickly, “Your shop smells absolutely wonderful, Misses Byrns, and it would be such a waste for me to leave on an empty stomach. Might you to recommend something for me?”
“I do not mean to sound rude, Lady,” Misses Byrns explained slowly, “but I’m not sure our menu will be what you are use to.”
“Please,” Alexandria insisted with a small smile, wanting to hold on to her new independence a bit longer. “Do not bother with anything extravagant. I simply request a little something to hold me over until I return home. Will you be able to help me?”
“Simon,” Misses Byrns said after a moment, “I am sure that your father would love to see Miss Kimmie, since she seems to have run here.” The boy nodded and the two of then headed towards the rear of the shop. “Lady Tompson,” the woman asked cautiously once they were gone, “might I be correct in believing that you have come from the Palace?”
Alexandria stilled and looked at the woman cautiously, “You would be.” She answered cautiously.
Sensing her alarm, Misses Byrns offered her a reassuring smile, as she walked around a small counter and began preparing something, “My Richard is rather taken with Miss Tilly.” She said fondly, making light conversation, “Her grandfather, Otis, informed us the other day that she was recently appointed a new position at the Palace. It was kind of you to let her visit with my son, while she accompanied you to Market.”
“Miss Tilly is actually Princess Alexandria’s new escort.” Alexandria informed, unsure what Tilly had told others regarding her position.
Annie stopped what she was doing. She seemed startled at what Alexandria had said, “Might I ask why is she escorting you?”
“Ah,” Alexandria said blankly, trying to remember that she wasn’t who she actually was. “That is essentially my fault.” She informed hoping that she sounded sincere. “I asked Princess Alexandria for Miss Tilly’s services today. I wanted to visit Town Central City’s Market Day before it became too hectic with preparations for the up coming Ball. Princess Alexandria was most gracious in her acceptance of my request.”
“I see.” Misses Byrns acknowledged plainly as she headed towards Alexandria with several dishes in her hands. “Lunch at the Byrns’ Bakery today is a lamb broth with mixed beets and potatoes and a buttered bread roll on the side.”
It was probably the simplest meal that Alexandria had ever been given, but the smell of the bread enticed her to at least try it. She smiled at Misses Byrns as she sat that the table the woman prepared for her.
“I know that it is not what you are normally given,” the woman apologized, “so perhaps this will help.”
Alexandria looked up from her examination of the food and noticed that a plate, holding a small piece of pink cake, had been placed in front of her.
“I hope you are not startled by its appearance.” Misses Byrns said with a giggle at Alexandria’s reaction.
“What is it?” Alexandria asked in awe as she eyed the slice of pink cake only to notice swirls of a red weaving throughout it.
“This is a strawberry cake.” Misses Byrns informed proudly.
Alexandria had tasted strawberry cake before, but it had always been a yellow cake with strawberry filling. This cake was pink, obviously pink.
“It’s our oven.” Misses Byrns replied to her unasked question, “There is something almost magical about it. Many Bakers closer to the center of town have managed to get a hold of our recipe. They’ve gotten really close to reproducing the taste, but not the color.” She said with a giggle. “It is always in ugly tones of brown, so no one will buy it.”
“A magical oven?” Alexandria asked.
Misses Byrns smiled secretively, “That’s the rumor anyway. If you would like to try it, I can add fresh strawberries and cream to the top of it for you.”
Alexandria looked again at that the unexpectedly pink cake and felt a childlike enthusiasm bubble up inside of her. “That would be most enjoyable,” she decided, “thank you.”
Misses Byrns, smiled at Alexandria’s words, and then topped the cake before placing it back on the table. “I shell let you eat in peace.” She informed as she headed towards the back of the store. “If you need anything Lady, please ring the bell on the counter.”
Alexandria nodded and the woman started to exit but she remembered something and turned towards Alexandria, “Please enjoy your meal, my Lady.” she added with a bow.
Alexandria dropped all manners that her mother and governesses had taught her and happily dug into the meal. The broth was hearty, and would settle her stomach until diner. The bread roll melted in her mouth perfectly without the need for butter. But when the first bite of that cake hit her taste buds Alexandria knew that Misses Bryn’s instructions would be easy to follow, she would defiantly enjoy it.
~~~ Change Character Focus
“Bert dear,” Annie hissed as she walked to the back of the shop, “we have a Lady in our shop!”
The room ceased all chatter as everyone’s eyes focused Annie.
“Oh you mean Lady Annabell!” Kimmie remembered with a giggle.
This caused Tilly to stiffen, “Is she looking for me? Is she angry?”
“She doesn’t seem upset,” Annie answered calmly, “but she does appear to be easily distracted. It is as if her mind is elsewhere.”
Annie’s words caused Kimmie to giggle again and everybody’s eyes turned to her.
“Okay what is it that you’re not telling us little one.” Bert asked.
“I think it has to do with Noah.” The young girl gossiped happily.
“Why would that Lady’s thoughts be on Noah?” Annie asked confused.
Kimmie took out a roll out from one of the many hidden pockets of her dress and took a bite while she seemed to contemplate the question, “Well Momma told me earlier that Noah was having to pretend to be a Lord, so when I introduced them I got to call him “Lord Noah Jenkins”.” She informed, taking another bite from her roll.
“Do you think that she’s the girl that Noah likes?” Richard blurted.
“Well,” Annie thought, “she is rather pretty, but we can’t be certain.”
“Noah described her earlier,” Bert offered, “Lady Annabell Tompson. She has black hair, hazel eyes, and is in a light blue dress. Does that help?”
“That’s the same Lady Annabell.” Kimmie chirped, before her eyes widened, “Noah, said that he likes her?” She questioned. “He’s never said that he liked a girl before.”
Simon looked up from his lunch. “Poor fool.” He mocked. “She’s too pretty for him.”
“We shouldn’t tell Noah that she dropped by.” Annie informed. “She’s clearly a high member of Society, and it wouldn’t do him any good to know that.”
“I agree.” Bert acknowledged. “It won’t do any harm to keep this a secret.” He offered. “This Lady Annabell is probably just distracted with something else.”
Kimmie snickered again and all eyes turned to her. Noticing the attention, Kimmie quickly became intensely interested in what was left of her roll.
“Alright, little Miss Gossip,” Annie chided, “What else do you know?”
Kimmie’s eyes widened, “Momma told me not to say.” She informed.
“What did she tell you not to say?” Simon asked eagerly.
“That she promised Lady Annabell that she’d make sure Noah was at the Masked Ball.” She responded cheerfully.
Everyone else stilled, and it took a moment for Kimmie to comprehend her actions.
“You tricked me!” She hollered at Simon.
“No I didn’t.” He bickered.
The two of them got caught up in their argument while the adults looked at each other concerned. Richard and Bert’s mouths hung open, Annie brow was furled, and Tilly had turned white.
“We can’t say anything.” Richard whispered rather sternly.
“You’re absolutely right.” Tilly quietly approved.
Bert and Annie nodded in agreement, and a silence fell between them that contrasted the noisy dispute between Kimmie and Simon.
The ringing of a bell caused several of them to jump right out of their seats.
“I’ll get it,” Annie offered, “but I don’t want to hear this in any of the chatter around town, got it?” All heads nodded. “Kimmie,” She said directly, “if you say one word about this to anyone, you will never again get free cookies from this shop. Do you understand me young lady?”
The girl looked like she had been hit in the face with a cake pan, but she eventually nodded, and Annie left the room.
~~~ Change Character Focus
“Is everything alright, Lady?” Annie asked clearly worried.
“Everything’s quiet alright, Misses Byrns. I’ve just have finished eating.” Alexandria informed pointing to someone behind the counter. “Your son was just taking my plates away for me.” Alexandria had been alarmed at his initial presence, but the boy clearly resembled his mother. “How many sons do you have Misses Byrns?” She inquired. “If you do not mind me asking”
“I don’t mind at all.” She said with a smile “I have three sons, Lady. Richard, Timothy, and Simon. You’ve met Simon, my youngest, earlier. ”
“I’m Timothy.” Timothy said proudly, from behind the counter. The boy appeared to be thirteen, perhaps fourteen years old.
“Did you enjoy your meal Lady Tompson?” Misses Byrns asked.
Alexandria smiled. “It was very satisfactory.” She admitted. “I was wondering if I might purchase a small strawberry cake for later.”
“I would be happy to sell you one, Lady.” Misses Byrns chirped cheerfully.
In truth Alexandria hadn’t been satisfied with her dessert at all. The size of the cake had been much too dainty, and she was left wanting more of it, but it wouldn’t be proper to admit that to the owner. Alexandria smiled as Misses Byrns placed the square cake into a small box and tied a pale green ribbon around it. Despite the woman’s refusal, Alexandria still paid full price for both the cake and her meal.
“It’s been a pleasure meeting you Misses Byrns.” Alexandria complimented. “I noticed that the town stable was nearby, would you please inform my escort that I shall meet her there.”
“I shall let her know.” Misses Byrns agreed.
“Also,” She added, “the driver will take some time to ready the carriage, so there is no need for her to rush.” The woman nodded at Alexandria’s words.
Alexandria hoped that her words sounded more sincere that selfish. She wasn’t yet ready to abandon her morning of freedom. Alexandria walked out of the small shop confidently, but she barely took three steps before she collided into someone. She landed with a soft thud on top of them as a plethora of multicolored packages flew in different directions.