Once I started the bath, I found my favorite scent of bubbles; rose and poured some under the running water. While it filled, I went to the curtained window and peeked into the streets below. I watched for several moments, a set of Patrollers walked down the street. My eyes followed them a moment and then fell on to a shrouded figure standing under a street light. I felt his eyes on me and felt the smirk to go along with it. Giggling softly I waved to him and he began to lower his hood. Sure enough it was Mandrel. I opened the window and leaned out while he walked across the street.
“What are you doing here?”
“Babysitting, my dear.” He replied with a flourishing bow. “But what a poor sitter I am, seeing as you caught me in my first night of duty.”
“You weren’t exactly hiding, now were you,”
“No, no I guess not. Might I impose on your hospitality for a little while?”
“Um,” I felt a blush rising to my cheeks. “Well the room is only covered for me”
Chuckling, Mandrel began to scale the drain pipe with ease. Within seconds he was sitting eye level with me in the window.
“What the keep doesn’t know won’t hurt,” He said with a wink.
I moved away from the window to allow him to enter and turned off my bath water.
“If I get caught–”
“You won’t my dear, I shall be gone momentarily. As it happens I have a gift for you.”
I stared at him blankly for a moment, then shook the cobwebs from my head.
“A gift for me?”
“Mhmm,” he said smiling as he pulled a small brown parcel from behind his back.
The lumpy parcel took me by surprise as I took it gingerly from his hands. Cautiously I opened it, seeing two tones of blue fabric, along with the gold trimmings. It fell from my hands as I gasped loudly,. Mandrel had bought me the dress I spotted in the window.
“Like I said, that dress would look splendid on you,”
“I can’t accept it.”
“Because– because it’s far too expensive.”
“Pitiful excuse, Lyssa.” He said picking the half opened parcel off the floor. “It’s something you can wear to the festival.”
“I don’t even know if I’m going or not. It’s still up to Toeryn. And besides, he’ll want to know where I got the money for a dress that expensive and then make me take it back to the get the money back. So you must understand why I cannot accept this dress. I thank you so much for buying it, and I appreciate the thought–”
His hand covered my mouth quickly while he looked into my eyes.
“I’m not interested in your excuses. I want you to wear the dress to the festival. Since you won’t take it now, I shall take it with me and it will be waiting in the carriage for you should you come. Deal?”
I nodded silently, looking into his eyes, drinking them in. My heart raced faster, sending my mind reeling. Mandrel pulled away from me with an impish smirk on his lips and made his way to the window.
“Enjoy your bath,” he said, looking me over. I felt my ears redden on the tips as his face disappeared below the window. Though when I went to the window, he was already gone. Smiling, I went back to the bath, turned the water off and slid into the bubbles.
The next morning I work and retrieved my clothes. They had been cleaned and made to fit my body better. Quietly, I crept down the stairs and returned the key, then made my way back to mine and Toeryn’s room. He was awake, sitting at the table looking paler than normal. When he realized I was there, he stared at me for a moment, before looking back down at the glass of brown liquid.
“You can go to the festival,”
My head snapped slightly to look at him.
“You mean it?”
“Mhmm. Penelope talked me into it. So long as you come back, we won’t have any problems. I’ll even toss in a few coins to buy yourself something nice. Ain’t going with you since I got work to do. So I’m trusting you. Got it, Ana?”
I didn’t say anything, I was still slightly dazed from the fact he said that I could go to the festival. He looked up at me again. I could tell it had been a while since his last bath, his hair was grimy and hung limply over his eyes. However, I could make out the sharpness of his crystalline blue eyes.
“Remember what I said to you. So you better come back.”
“I will, thank you.”
Nothing he said or threatened put a damper on my good mood. He was allowing me to go to the Brockton Festival. He didn’t need to know all the details of who I was traveling with. So long as I returned and did his dirty work for him, he would simply let me alone. That was good enough for me.