After hearing everything about the chocolate-event, Anni knitted her brows. Katherine was sitting opposite her, but didn't dare to look into her eyes. Right now, she looked very much like a cooked shrimp waiting for it's death sentence. At least she was as red as one.
You shouldn't have told her, the voice of embarrassment rang inside her. What will she think of you? Now she knows the earl is disgusted by you! She won't ever look at you with the same eyes.
But maybe she can help me, the rationality responded, a mere whisper compared to the embarrassment. She's an older woman, maybe she knows what mistake I made...
She most likely had to seduce someone else when she got to the capital, and she didn't want to repeat her errors. Anni wouldn't come with them, so she couldn't help her anymore then. She should use the opportunity.
The silence was impossible to bear. Just when Katherine was about to jump up and escape, Anni raised her voice. "I can't be sure, but I think he likes you."
"What?!" Startled, Katherine looked up. She must have misheard. Did she really say he liked her? "But... but..."
The idea alone was laughable. Why would he go then? And in such fashion?
Anni softly placed a hand on her shoulder, making her stop in whatever she was about to say. "Let me tell you: not everything you see is always as it is. Especially concerning feelings. You said he picked the chocolate himself and instead of just giving it to you, he even placed it on your lips. Something like that is not done by someone who has no interest in you."
"But-", Katherine disagreed. Before she could form her words, Anni interrupted her with a light shake of her head.
"Let me continue please, dear. I think he does like you, but he doesn't want to like you. That's a big difference. Maybe there is something obstructing him or he just does not want to acknowledge it, I don't know. All I can say is, it is not your fault."
With her violet eyes wide open in surprise, Katherine looked very much like an innocent child learning about the way of the world. Again all her thoughts had been mixed together, and only slowly separated into a completely different picture. However, she didn't trust this new perspective yet. It sounded too good to be true. "He likes me but doesn't want to?"
"Most likely. ", Anni confirmed. Then she thought about this devil of an earl and her brows knitted. With him involved, giving advice was not simple. First of all, she had to test the girl's determination or it would all be pointless. "The thing is, I was still only talking about liking. Love is much more difficult. Your target is not the easiest to hit. The earl is a very complicated person. Even after the time he lived here, one can see that he only trusts Sam completely. That is meant to say he is very cautious, distrusting even. It will take some time to convince him that you are the right one for him."
After just regaining her hope, Katherine felt more down with each continuous word of Anni. As the older woman saw the shadow of doubt and sorrow haunting the previously glittering eyes, she felt bad for the girl. She wanted to test her determination, but she didn't expect her to be this much affected. She looked like someone was dying, which was not matching in seriousness. After all, the earl really seemed to like her, which was kind of unexpected for such an ice devil.
With a sigh she pushed her intentions beside and went to console the girl. "Cheer up, milady. You already made the first step. He noticed you. Now you just need to continue staying by his side and don't let him forget about you. Even a stone is moved if there is just enough water!"
When Katherine didn't seem convinced, she added: "He likes you, but you need to tease him a bit to undermine his defenses. Slow and steady. Let me teach you a few tricks."
When Hazel saw her lady again, she wondered what kind of spices she had eaten without her knowing. She was red from head to toe and when Hazel asked her what happened, she drank her water so fast that it entered the wrong pipe. After a coughing fit of nearly five minutes, Hazel had completely forgotten about her original question, asking instead with sparking eyes: "Milady, can you also heal coughing?"
Katherine very nearly rolled her eyes at her short-time memory. But, well, as long as it was in her favor, she wouldn't remind her.
The journey was a boring one, at least up till now. Katherine thought it was regrettable that Sam placed the patient in a different carriage then her. Tending to him every minute instead of just when they rested would not only make her feel more at ease, but also less bored.
To herself she had to admit that his handsome body may also be a reason for her reluctance. She questioned herself what kind of pervert she was to find those black riddling lines one of his most beautiful features.
She was glad that the ride didn't seem to affect the patients condition much. Still, he needed to wake up soon or he would be starved to death.
Until now they had very carefully fed him with water and soup every day, but real food was impossible. Even his muscles were slowly receding and all fat eaten up by his body. How long could he still last? And what would happen to her if he died? It was a horrible thought, not only because it involved her own well-being. She felt like she would be genuinely sad if something happened to him. Though when he was awake she didn't like his character, she was with him for so long now that she felt she would really miss him.
Suddenly, the carriage came to an abrupt halt, making Katherine and Hazel beside her fall to the floor. The maid cried out, but Katherine only pressed her lips together in discomfort as she climbed to her feet again. But then she heard something that made her heart sped up as adrenaline shot through her veins.
Screams. The sound of weapons. There was a fight outside.
A cold glint flashed through her eyes. Sam had said there were people who wanted to kill the patient. What a despicable pack to hit him when he was down!
Helping Hazel up from the ground, she motioned her to keep quiet. The girl nodded, confusion and fear evident in her wide green eyes, and pressed her lips tightly together.
Rapidly, Katherine rummaged through the smallest of her bags, the only one she had taken with her into the carriage. Seconds later, she found what she'd searched. The metal of the dagger shined menacingly in the streak of light bypassing the curtains. Katherine had feared the guards or servants would remove the dagger if she left it somewhere else, so she'd held it close by. Now she was glad for her suspicious thoughts.
Though she hoped the guards could protect the carriages properly, she would always prepare for the worst. With her eyes, she told Hazel to climb on one of the banks, away from both door and window. The girl was trembling, but the strange calm of her lady seemed to soothe her fears a bit. What Hazel didn't know was that Katherine's heart was beating like that of a frightened rabbit the whole time. She was only calm on the outside, sweat pearls already started to form on her neck.
Carefully, she pulled the curtains a centimeter to the side to get a glimpse on the battle. As she was the daughter of a duke, it was not her first time to be involved in an attack, but now she wasn't as naive as back then. The blind trust that everything would work out fine - which it always had, gladly - was gone.
Outside, she could see the forest, expecting enemies in every dark shadow. But though she could hear the noise clearly, she saw no fighters. Frustrated and even more insecure, she dropped the curtain.
With the dagger grabbed tightly in slippery hands, she positioned herself next to the door. If someone managed to reach the carriage, they would either come through the door or the window, as they were easiest to break.
She had just thought to there when the door of the carriage burst open.