Story [Troubled Waters] Formerly Known as Princess (Dear Diary Challenge) Entry 24: 7/19 Complete!

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  1. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    Jade_eyes: I thought you might enjoy that :D @Jade_eyes

    Mira: Thanks! Well, it won't be quite as easy as Josetta hopes ...


    Entry Thirteen

    “Josetta,” Foley repeated. “I …” He trailed off, obviously unsure of what to say.

    For once, I didn’t hesitate. I couldn’t, if I was to get what I wanted. If I let my natural shyness overcome me and fled back to the house, it would be the end of any chance I ever had with this man.

    Instead, I put a finger over his soft, wonderful lips. “Shh,” I whispered, then replaced my finger with my lips. His arms went around me, and he pulled me close.

    It was, without a doubt, the best moment of my life.

    We broke apart for air, but before I could fully catch my breath, his mouth descended on mine again—a little harder this time, but I didn’t mind. All I could think about was how good his lips felt.

    Mine. Mine.

    He loosened his arms, and I felt the cool night air rush in between us. I met his eyes, unafraid—and determined to fight for him, if I had to.

    “Ah,” he said. “Well. Josetta. Princess. My lady—”

    I shook my head. We were not going back to that.

    “Josetta,” I whispered. “I want you to call me Josetta.”

    He hesitated for a moment, then nodded. “Josetta.” The light was fading, but I could still see the sweet smile on his face. It seemed he liked saying my name—almost as much as I liked hearing his say it.

    “Foley.” I couldn’t help giggling a little. We were both awkward and unsure—but that, I thought, could change. If only I knew what to do or say next.

    “Josetta.” Foley let his arms dropped. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry—that was wrong.”

    In an instant, I felt the bottom drop out of my stomach. No. This isn’t supposed to happen.

    “I can’t—we can’t—that is, I was wrong.” In the dim light, I could see his face shift to a cold, hard mask. “I was wrong,” he said stiffly. “I apologize.”

    “No.” I shook my head. “No, I don’t want you to—”

    “I think we should go back inside.”

    I tried to meet his eyes, but his were unfocused and aimed slightly over my shoulder. The wind felt freezing now.

    He doesn’t want me.

    I did the only think I could think of: I turned and ran back to the house. I heard him follow me, but I didn’t care. I could barely see the ground through my tears.
    Last edited by NYCitygurl, May 8, 2013
  2. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    Erm, wait a minute LOL That started off squeelicious but he wasn't supposed to insist it was wrong especially if she spoke up and said she didn't think so. :rolleyes: He could've said: "What will we do?" "What will others think?" Then: I guess we'll find out. [face_dancing] Now if and since Josetta feels rejected, however, oh dear!!! [face_worried] Romantic edge of seatness ;) =D=
  3. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

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    I have to second Deb with the 'romantic-edge-of-sweetness' there. :( And ack! That started off so very well. I loved him fumbling over what to call her, and she insisting on Josetta. There were so many adorable things about the first few paragraphs. [face_love]

    But the end . . . :( The poor thing! I look forward to when they can have this straightened out - even if we have to wait through a bumpy ride. ;)

    Wonderful update, though! :) =D=
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  4. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    @Jade_eyes Yeah, it didn't turn out exactly the way she'd hoped :( Stubborn boy! :p

    Mira: It won't be smooth, that's for sure :p Thanks!


    Entry Fourteen

    I didn’t do anything so undignified as slam the door in Foley’s face, but I didn’t stop running when I reached the house. I slowed a little but still flew through the halls to my bedroom. That door I did slam before I threw myself on the bed and let myself sob. I don’t know how far he followed me.

    It was only minutes later that the door opened. I didn’t care to check who it was, but the light footsteps and the size of the person who sat down on the bed told me it wasn’t him. A gentle hand stroked my hair, and my sister murmured softly.

    I don’t know how long she continued. I fell asleep.

    In the morning, I woke up curled around a warm body. As soon as she realized I was awake, Zoe shifted my head onto her shoulder. I expected her to ask what was wrong, but she didn’t need to. This was Lalinder land; the prime knew everything.

    “I’m so sorry, sweetheart,” she said.

    I closed my eyes. I didn’t want to face the morning or the reality that Foley didn’t want me. I didn’t even want Zoe’s gentle touch; it hurt, too.

    She kissed my forehead and sat up. “I’ll be here when you’re ready to talk.”

    I didn’t reply, but when she squeezed my hand, I squeezed back. I heard her footsteps as she left the room, and I fell into an uneasy sleep.

    ***

    It was close to midday, by the look of the sun, when I finally pulled myself out of bed. I washed and changed and brushed my hair. I was presentable—or, at least, clean—when I joined Zoe in the sitting room.

    She smiled when she saw me. “I’m glad you’re awake,” she said simply. “Are you hungry?”

    I shook my head, but as I sat, the smell of pastries caught my nose. I picked one up and bit into it, ignoring Zoe’s grin.

    She waited silently until I finished before asking quietly, “How do you feel?”

    I frowned. “Horrible.”

    “What happened between you and Foley last night?” Prime and my sister; she always seemed to know everything.

    “He said … he said it was wrong. He doesn’t want me.”

    “Oh, sweet girl.” Zoe put her hand over mine. “It’s hard for him. He very much sees the differences in your stations.”

    I frowned. “I don’t care about that!”

    “But the court does,” Zoe responded. “He doesn’t want to hurt your reputation.”

    “I don’t care about that!” I spat.

    “I know. And neither do I; you should love as you will.”

    I tried to settle down and remind myself that Zoe was always, always on my side. “Does he love me back?” I whispered. Zoe could read hearts.

    “I think that’s something you’ll have to discover for yourself.” She patted my hand. “Give it a while. He isn’t going anywhere.”

    But for the first time since I’ve known her, Zoe Lalinder was wrong.
  5. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    :gasp: I was on a total gooifying thing there with sweet!! Zoe and her encouragement and compassion, when :oops: :eek: that last line. Oh, my! So he up and split?! Yikes! =D=
  6. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    @Jade_eyes Zoe is the best :D You'll see ...


    Entry Fifteen

    “I think you should reconsider,” Zoe said.

    I stopped, still hidden right sight around the corner. I didn’t want to interrupt my sister’s conversation. I turned to go until I heard who she was talking to.

    “I can’t stay,” Foley said. “I’m sorry, Lady Zoe, but I can’t.”

    I froze. What? Foley’s leaving? My heart started screaming, and I turned around.

    I almost went around the corner to confront him, but Zoe’s next words stopped me. “I won’t stop you, then. But a bit of advice before you go—and this really is none of my business, but she’s my sister—you’ll hurt Josetta if you leave.”

    A pause. “I’ll hurt her more if I stay.”

    I stayed hidden, my arms wrapped around myself. I was—hurt. Shocked. I wanted to scream, but I couldn’t make a sound, couldn’t make myself move.

    I heard the rustling of clothing. “You’ll always be welcome to return here, after all you’ve done for her.”

    He just said, “Thank you.” And then his footsteps faded away, and I heard the front door close.

    “Josetta.”

    In this house, the stronghold of Lalinder power, the prime always knew who was where. Her power let her feel the blood flowing through our veins; she could hear the heartbreak of anyone on the property and instantly know where her guests were. She had known I was there.

    She hadn’t said anything to Foley. She hadn’t told him to say goodbye.

    He hadn’t said goodbye. He’d just left.

    I couldn’t face Zoe. I loved my sister more than anyone in the world, but after what I’d overheard, I couldn’t make myself have a conversation with her. She would be sympathetic, but I didn’t want sympathy. I was too hurt and too angry.

    So I fled. Not to my room, this time, but out a side door and to the edge of the river where I watched the sun go down every night. Where, just last night, I had kissed Foley. Where he had rejected me.

    I wanted to kick the dirt, cry, scream—anything to let loose my pain and rage. But nothing helped. Instead, I did the one thing I promised Zoe I would never do.

    I wasn’t a prime—I wasn’t a Lalinder; I wasn’t even coru, touched my water—but the Marasi was right there, nearly still as glass at this season. And Zoe had taught me to find comfort in the water; it was she who had taught me to swim. And warned me to never go into the river by myself.

    After the river race three years ago, during which her power had stopped the Marasi and saved me from tumbling over a waterfall, I had never had any desire to swim alone. But now, heedless of my past and the danger I knew lurked in the still waters, I flung myself into the river, searching for its warm embrace.

    I didn’t hear—well, didn’t want to hear—the voice that called my name right before I hit the water.
  7. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    Oops! Great cliffie and understandable reactions
  8. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

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    Ack, I have to echo Deb with the great cliffie remark. [face_worried] I can understand completely why she is reacting the way she is. :(
  9. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    @Jade_eyes Thanls!

    Mira: Thanks! Ah, first love :p


    Entry Sixteen

    I slid through the water—warm, at this time of day—and held my breath for as long as I could. But I wasn’t Zoe; like a normal human, I had to lift my head for air. I did, splashing noisily, and then dived back under the water, moving away from shore.

    Some part of me knew I wasn’t alone, but I wanted to be, so I ignored any other possibility. I wanted to escape the last day and my hurt feelings.

    So I was surprised to feel a strong arm grasp me and jerk me still. Against my will, I was hauled to the shore. I tried to fight, but he had a strong grip and had caught me at an awkward angle.

    I was dumped onto the shore, coughing and trying to push my long hair out of my face. I wasn’t to yell, but I was beaten to it.

    “What do you think you’re doing!” Foley roared. I started in surprise. He had never, not once in all the years he’d guarded me, ever raised his voice.

    I glared. “I was swimming,” I spat. “Not that it’s any of your business. You’re leaving. In fact, why aren’t you already gone?”

    He looked at me warily. “Your sister told you already?” he asked, ignoring the last part.

    “She didn’t need to. I heard.”

    Foley could have gotten mad—he had spent enough time at the house and was an observant man; he knew Zoe would have known I was within hearing distance. But instead, he shook his head.

    “I’m sorry,” he said quietly, “but you know why I can’t stay.”

    I shook my head. “No, I don’t,” I snapped. “I want you—and you want me, too; I could tell. You wanted me last night.” I didn’t like the pout that formed on my face.

    Foley sighed. “Look, Prin … Josetta … what I want doesn’t matter. You’re—”

    “A woman, and old enough to decide what I want for myself,” I interrupted primly.

    “You’re one of the Hundred Families,” he corrected. “Your mother was a queen. Your sister and uncle are two of the five primes. Your brother-in-law is the regent. And me?” He gestured to himself. “I’m—”

    “The man who saved my life,” I replied quietly. “The man who keeps saving my life. When Zoe looks at you? That’s who she sees. Not a commoner. A man who has proven himself.”

    He looked at me bleakly. “That doesn’t mean I’m good enough for you.”

    “Why don’t you let me be the judge of that?”

    He had rejected me the night before. He was leaving. But—but he had come after me, when he saw me dive into the water. He had pulled me to safety one last time. And he did care. I knew that.

    So I left myself open, trying once more, as I reached up and pulled his lips to mine.
  10. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    Fantabulous unshakable resolve by Josetta. Bravo!!!!!!!!
  11. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

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    If she keeps up her resolve like that, she will chip away at him in no time. [face_love] I adore that he came to 'save' her - and her way of handling his reserve seems to be the perfect plan to me. [face_laugh]
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  12. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    @Nyota's Heart (and it's so weird calling you that! :p ) Josetta definitely had guts :D

    Mira: He can't let go that easily, either :D


    Entry Seventeen

    This time, he didn’t resist.

    Foley wrapped his arms around me and pulled me against him. I let myself sag against him and sink into him. This … this was bliss.

    I don’t know how long we stood there as I had my third kiss. And my fourth kiss. And my fifth. And so many that I couldn’t possibly keep track.

    When we broke away at last, I pushed my face into his neck and giggled, clinging to him. He was holding me just as tightly as before, as if he would never let me go. I couldn’t remember ever being so happy in my life.

    Eventually, he sighed but didn’t pull back. “I think we have to go back in,” he said softly.

    “Mmm … I don’t think so,” I replied, still snuggled against him.

    “Your sister …”

    “Knows very well we’re out here,” I replied. “Don’t you know? This is Lalinder land. The prime knows every beat of every heart.”

    He was silent for a moment. “Do you think she can read hearts?”

    “What do you mean?”

    “Before, when I was about to leave … it seemed like she knew exactly what I was thinking.” I felt him shrug. “I didn’t think I was so easy to read.”

    I shook my head. “That’s just Zoe. She just … knows sometimes.” Which isn’t to say she’s not spying on us, I thought, but I didn’t want to scare Foley off.

    “I got the sense that she was … disappointed in me. For leaving.”

    I picked my head up off his chest. “You’re not leaving now, are you?”

    Foley shook his head and stroked my hair. “No, not now. Before …”

    I relaxed and shrugged. “She doesn’t care. She just wants me to be happy.”

    “She’s a good sister.”

    “The best. Oh, the very best.” Zoe saved me more times than I could count. But as grateful as I was to my sister, I didn’t want to think about her right at this moment. It was time for a distraction. I kissed Foley and felt him kiss me back.
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  13. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    Quite the delicious and squee-inducing update :) =D= Nothing feels as good as love that's reciprocated. [face_dancing] And courageously embarked upon together. :D [:D]
    Last edited by Nyota's Heart, Jul 23, 2013
  14. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    @Nyota's Heart Thanks! I figured you would enjoy it :D

    I can't believe it's been so long since I've posted 8-} But this is the year I'll finish this; I can feel it!


    Entry Eighteen

    It was much later by the time we made it inside the house. I looked around for Zoe, not sure how I would react to running into her—and, more importantly, I wasn’t sure how Foley would react. Luckily, my sister had made herself scare. The only trace of her was dinner for two waiting innocently in the living room, looking right out over the river … so that anyone eating at the table would see the sun set over the lake.

    I smiled and led Foley over to the table. He looked around, searching for signs of anyone else, but I knew we would be alone. I led him over to the table.

    We ate in silence, which gave me time to consider. Where would we go from here? I wasn’t letting him go, no matter what. But I had to make sure that nothing would make him pull away from me. He was finally, finally, accepting me here in the country … but the city was another story.

    I shuddered and dropped the line of thought. I didn’t need to decide now, and trying to start the conversation with Foley might scare him away again. No, it was best to just wait and see how the next few weeks went.

    Foley walked me to my room. I suddenly felt a little shy. What should I do next?

    Foley bent down and kissed me gently. He pulled away after a couple moments.

    “Good night, Josetta,” he said softly. He smiled that soft, sweet smile that took my breath away. I was still smiling as I crawled into bed and closed my eyes. This was going to work. We were going to work.

    I was still smiling the next morning. I felt like I was floating down the hall. I wished, for the first time in my life, that I had my sister’s gift of hearing hearts; I would head straight for mine.

    The first I heard from my sister was a yell. I froze, then ran for the sound. But Zoe didn’t sound upset or hurt; she sounded … excited.

    I found her at the front door. Beyond her was a smoker car. I could hear excited voices; a young girl shouting sounded familiar. And in Zoe’s arms was a tall, dark-haired man with his head bent, his lips against hers, his arms holding her close.

    Darien, my brother-in-law, and his daughter. My summer with my sister—and my free time to do with Foley as I wished away from the eyes of the court—was over.
  15. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    Hi! :) I applauded & agreed with Josetta's decision. Then :eek: her sister's rest of family had to show up, complicating stuff again. [face_worried] If she and Foley had had a few days to talk and get used to one another, then the arrival would not have been such a big issue. [face_thinking]
  16. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

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    I am so excited to see this back again! So excited. [face_dancing][:D]

    I loved Josetta's determination in this chapter - but yikes! As happy as I am for Zoe and her family, I am worried about how this will complicate Josetta's newfound relationship. :( [face_worried]

    But, I am looking forward to more. =D=
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  17. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    @Nyota's Heart Poor Josetta can't catch a break! Zoe is one thing, but Darien ... well, you'll see :D

    Mira: And I might even finish it this time 8-} It isn't going to be easy. Zoe's a lot more loose than her husband; that's for sure!



    Entry Nineteen

    Darien let go of Zoe and saw me standing there. I made sure to school my features and attempted a smile.

    I love Darien Serlast. He had been the king’s closest advisors and was named regent upon his death. He was serious and calm, a balance to Zoe’s passion—but he had a passion of his own, and it centered on my sister. He adored her.

    Even if he hadn’t dedicated his life years ago to keeping me safe, I would love him for that.

    I never talked much with Darien about my personal life. He tried to keep a good relationship between my mother and my sister, and besides that, he left me alone. He had never brought suitors before me; he had never so much as mentioned marriage. I’m not sure whether it was because he had no interest in trying to influence me or because he thought I was too young—though he was not much older than I am now when Corene was born.

    Whatever the case, I was sure he wouldn’t approve of my budding relationship with Foley. I was, as Foley had pointed out, one of the Hundred Families. Two of the five primes claimed me as a close relative, and I had been born a princess. And Foley was, in the eyes of the court, far beneath me.

    What would my brother-in-law the regent say to that?

    But that was a selfish thought. I was a guest in my sister’s house, and he had arrived for the birth of his child.

    Darien stepped out of Zoe’s arms and enfolded me in a hug—one I returned happily (or happily enough). “Josetta! How are you?”

    “I’m well.” I smiled up at him. “Are you excited to be here? We weren’t expecting you this early!”

    Darien chuckled. “I couldn’t wait. We hurried up here a little early.”

    Which turned my attention to the other newcomer. Corene was hugging Zoe and cooing over her rather large stomach.

    Corene … it’s still hard to not think of her as my sister, after spending the first ten years of her life that way. She’s a bright, vivacious redhead who wows easily—quite a contrast to my quieter nature.

    I used to be jealous of Corene. She was prettier and more popular, and she was never afraid of anything. But after the deluded king tried to marry her off to a cruel viceroy of a neighboring country and Zoe destroyed part of the palace to save us both, I spent weeks in Corene’s company, travelling the country until the court settled and it was safe for us to return. Corene and I grew close, bonding through incredible circumstances.

    I do still feel the occasional spurt of jealousy, particularly when I see my old sister with my new. But after our new statuses were revealed, Zoe claimed me immediately on behalf of our family, and our uncle and cousins were not far behind. Grateful to Zoe for saving me twice, my mother accepted my sister as part of my life.

    Corene wasn’t so lucky. Her mother was much more upset than mine at the loss of status, and she was jealous of Darien’s relationship with Zoe. Corene’s parents have spent the last three years not-so-quietly battling for her. Corene deserves all the affection that Zoe can give.

    And, after all, she’s about to be a sister to that little baby.

    Corene thrust herself into my arms and me back into the present. Surrounded by my family, I barely had a moment to wonder where Foley was.
  18. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    =D= =D= Glad to learn more about Darien & about Corene :cool: Darien seems a wonderful sort: a loving spouse for Zoe and considerate of Josetta besides being a capable regent. [face_thinking] But I have a strong feeling /hunch that Foley and Josetta just hit a big speed bump [face_worried]
  19. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

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    I very much liked learning about Darien and Corene in this update, and have to second everything Deb said! Darien seems very loving and capable, and yet part of his 'being loving' and looking out for Josetta may just do more harm than good in the future. [face_worried] I am looking forward to learning more about Corene, too - what a fascinating world this is, and I am enjoying this glimpse. :) [face_love]

    =D=
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  20. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    @Nyota's Heart Darien is completely awesome :D But yes, he could also be a roadblock ...

    Mira: We'll just have to see what Darien says--and if Zoe's opinion can sway him ;)



    Entry Twenty

    Foley kept himself scarce all afternoon. I was caught up in Zoe’s excitement that her husband and step-daughter had arrived, but part of my mind was stuck on my handsome guard and our magical kisses.

    I should have known that he would retreat the instant Darien walked through the door, but I had at least hoped for a glimpse of him. Apparently, he thought I was safe enough and didn’t feel the need to guard me.

    Still, I didn’t blame him, Darien Serlast was not a man to cross, and Foley had little reason to think his presence as anything but a guard would be welcomed by the regent. Foley had accompanied Correne and me on our journey years before, and I think it was only the fact that Foley had been following orders from Zoe that kept him his job.

    I caught little hints of his presence from time to time, but after the sun set and I crawled into bed, I still hadn’t actually seen his face. I felt a twinge of worry. He’d said he would stay, but that was when the only person of rank was by approving sister. Would the possibility of Darien’s scrutiny make him leave?

    I spent a restless night, tossing and turning as the possibilities played through my head. As a result, I was a little less happy than Correne at breakfast the next morning.

    After trying and failing several times to engage me in conversation, Correne gave up and turned to Zoe for entertainment. As ever, Zoe was attentive, and as ever, she knew me well enough to leave me alone. My hunti brother-in-law was perhaps not as astute, but Darien is a quiet, careful man; he was perfectly content to sit beside me and eat breakfast in silence.

    Correne wanted the four of us to spend the day together, so I had no time to leave and chase down Foley. Despite my frequent glances toward Zoe, my usually perceptive sister didn’t pick up on my need to escape for just five minutes.

    In fact, as the day went on, I began to get more and more worried about Zoe. I often caught her frowning and rubbing her belly. Once, I saw her face scrunch up in pain. I moved to her side to offer support, but she just kissed my cheek and smiled, waving away my concerns.

    It wasn’t until dinner that she finally gave in.

    “Darien!”

    Darien, Correne, and I looked up from our food. Zoe really did look like she was in pain, and she couldn’t hide it. “It’s time,” she said urgently.

    Darien was up in a flash, rounding the table and helping my sister stand. She started to fall, bending over with pain, but he caught her.

    Foley appeared for the first time that day, on the heels of Hoden, the butler. Without a glance at me, Foley moved to Zoe’s other side and lifted her into his arms. Darien kept to his side as he took Zoe from the room.

    Correne and I raced after them, but Hoden blocked our path. “I don’t think—” he began, but Darien stuck his head back in the doorway.

    “Five minutes,” he said sternly. “Then you can visit Zoe—but only for a bit,” he added.

    I wanted to follow my sister right away, but Darien ducked out, and I heard his footsteps race across the stone floor. He would brook no arguments from me.

    Correne and I looked at each other; her eyes looked as wide as mine felt.

    She reached out and took my hand, giving it a squeeze. “It’s time,” she whispered, repeating Zoe’s words from mere moments before.

    I nodded. It was time for Zoe’s baby to be born.
  21. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    Nat! =D= Excellent detailing of the sense of urgency and Josetta's initial worry that Foley would disappear. Hope the birthing goes well.
  22. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

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    Whew! We have a baby coming! I can't wait to meet the little one, and I hope all goes smoothly for Zoe. :)

    I'm hoping the best for Foley and Josetta too. I did not like how he disappeared all day, but it was a whirlwind of a day for certain. She can talk him out of his doubts soon enough. :p [face_love]

    [:D]=D=
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  23. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    @Nyota's Heart Thanks!! I'm glad you liked :D

    MIra: Things might get easier with Darien distracted :D Of course, Josetta will be too ...


    What's this? An on-time entry that's twice as long as usual? :eek: I'd intended this to be two, but they just fit so well together :p


    Entry Twenty-One

    The hall that leads to Zoe’s door is three paces wide. I know this because it seems like I’m wearing a hole in the floor, moving back and forth for so long, I can’t remember.

    Corene and I had intended to be in the room with Zoe, but the midwife who had been called quickly to assist the prime had firmly insisted that we stay in the hall. I hadn’t seen my sister or brother-in-law, but I figured they would have countermanded the orders if they’d wanted us there.

    Corene stayed in the hall, watching me pace, for a while before she got bored, though she often reappeared to check on Zoe’s progress. “How is she?” Corene asked with excited eyes and a breathless tone until I learned to say, “No change,” the moment I saw her appear.

    The estate’s butler appeared at least as often as Corene. He was often silent, but I knew he was worried about Zoe—and about me. However, his only vocal concern was for my comfort. After a few times of turning him away, I left for a quick snack, then returned to my vigil outside my sister’s room.

    It was also the first time since Darien’s arrival that I saw Foley. With my brother-in-law occupied, he appeared. Corene shot him speculative looks the first few times she saw him lingering near me, but none of the estate’s staff said a word. Whether they knew or whether they just didn’t care, I was grateful for their silence.

    Foley didn’t speak much—not that he ever does. But his presence was calming as I heard my sister moan and cry out—and curse—even through the heavy wooden door. More than from the staff, more than from my sort-of sister, I took comfort in his nearness.

    And as Zoe continued to labor for the baby to be born, I continued to pace the hallway, anxious for the birth of my nephew.

    I was so insistent that Zoe would have a boy, mostly because she insisted. I believed her. It wasn’t just mother’s intuition—Zoe Lalinder could read a person’s blood through touch, and no one touched her more than that baby. Even Darien never doubted; after the first time Zoe said “he,” my brother-in-law started referring to his child as a boy, too.

    And now we were all waiting for him to be born—some of us more patiently than others. I couldn’t hear Darien as I paced outside Zoe’s door, but I heard her frequent screams and curses, more often as her time drew nearer.

    Eventually, I’d had enough. I shoved the door open and peaked into the room.

    My sister was convulsing as the baby moved closer to being born—a contraction, I remembered. When it was over, she fell back onto the stack of pillows propped behind her. The midwife and Darien both murmured approvingly, but Zoe was having none of it.

    She met my eyes across the room and held her hand out. I ran to her like I was running to salvation and gripped it in my own.

    “I don’t think—” the midwife started, but Darien stopped her.

    “I don’t think you can get rid of her,” he said dryly.

    “Can I stay?” I asked.

    “Yes,” Zoe said. “But you don’t have to. This isn’t very fun.”

    “I want to be with you,” I said simply.

    Zoe smiled and squeezed my hand, but then another contraction hit, and she was gripping Darien and me and grunting in pain. I let her squeeze, honored to be part of this.

    I don’t know how much time passed before Corene, obviously having sought me out, poked her head in, too. “If Josetta’s here, I want to stay, too!” she said with a pout.

    “You can both stay,” Zoe said gently. “But if this gives me nightmares, remember that you wanted to be here,” she grumped.

    Darien laughed, then thought better of it after Zoe turned a glare on him. He held a hand out to his daughter, and Corene skipped to his side.

    “I’m sorry your aunt and Keeli can’t be here for this, Zoe,” I said. “Or Darien’s mother.” All three women had intended to be here, but the baby was coming too early.

    “That’s all right,” Zoe replied between contractions. “I’m just glad you’re all here—Darien and Coren almost didn’t make it in time!”

    “I’m grateful for that, too,” Darien added. He wrapped an arm around Corene and smiled across the bed at me. “But this baby’s big sister and aunt are all we need.”

    I felt a warm glow, happy to be included in their family, happy that Zoe loved me so much—and that Darien loved all of us, because I knew he did. And if I haven’t expressed before that I am grateful for my brother-in-law, I should. He has protected Corene and I our whole lives, and even though she is his daughter and I am not, he has, in all my memories, been more of a father than the man who created me or the man who raised me. Darien Serlast is the most steadfast man in the kingdom, and I love him.

    Zoe cried out again, longer and harder than she had before, and she gripped my hand painfully. Darien moved to support her.

    The midwife checked beneath the blankets. “Get ready, Lady Zoe. This baby is about to be born.”

    I saw my sister convulse with pain, and she screamed.
  24. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Oooh, edge of seatness. I felt I was literally right there :p =D= Very excellent writing there, and vivid and touching emotions. I am glad Foley gave comfort to Josetta and then she and Corene were able to be there with Zoe. Darien's words were sweet indeed. It gives me more comfort that perhaps he will care more for Josetta's happiness than the 'proper' match. [face_thinking]
  25. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2004
    star 4
    Oh! This update just had so many happy feelings to it that I do not even know where to start. The emotion and labor of the birth was beautifully conveyed, and I loved seeing Josetta's family around her. I especially liked her thoughts on Darien, and I, like Deb, hope for his support with Foley to come. Either way, I cannot wait to meet Zoe's baby! [face_love]

    =D=
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
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