Alright! So, remember when I said I'd post a chapter a week? Yeah, I definitely crapped the bed last week. I'm blaming it on the flu that ravaged out household. Anyhow, here you have it. Chapter Three!!
“How’s your breakfast?” Neeka refilled their coffee cups.
“Excellent, thank you.” He took another bite of his omelet to prove he wasn’t lying. He wasn’t sure what kind of eggs had been used, but they were delicious.
She smiled and sat once again. “Once we’re done here I’ll show you to your room and you can get cleaned up. I’ll have head to the stables. It’s my turn to clean the stalls.”
“I’ll come give you a hand.”
She shook her head. “I couldn’t ask you to do that.”
“Of course you could. It’s the least I can do to thank you for the food and room.”
Neeka mulled the offer over for a moment before nodding. “Alright. Thank you.”
He grinned. “It’s my pleasure.”
Though there was nothing more he wanted than to go home, he knew that simply running out into the woods wasn’t going to help with his situation. Even if he made the trip to the coast, there was no way he could afford to buy passage on one of the Gysps’ trading ships. He needed information .
“You’d better hurry getting to your chores, Neeka.” Hanna scooped up their empty plates. “Brian will be back from the market soon.”
Her sister nodded. “We’re just heading there now.”
Kendall thanked Hanna for taking the dishes before following Neeka out to the stables. She handed him a shovel and pointed to the first stall.
“We tie the horses inside and clean around them. We’ve had a few instances where a horse managed to get loose when they were tied outside. Personally, I think someone let them go, but Brian doesn’t believe me.”
He frowned. “This Brian, he’s what to you?”
“My guardian.” She moved to the end of the aisle and came back pushing a cart before entering the stall across from his. “He’s been raising us since before I can remember.”
Kendall tied a tall bay mare before getting to work on his stall. “So, you’ve lived in this town all your life?”
She nodded. “As far as I know.” Done her first stall, she moved on to the next. “It’s not the most exciting town, but most of the folks that live here are decent. There are a few who like to cause trouble, but never anything major. It’s mostly outsiders that will do the most damage when they come through town.” She grinned. “You’re not going to cause any trouble, are you?”
He laughed. “You’ve my word, I’ll behave.”
“Neeka, when you’re done here I want you to…” The newcomer stopped short at the sight of Kendall.
The shifter tightened his grip on the shovel should he need to use it as a weapon. The man, shorter than him by at least a head, though thicker in build, widened his stance.
“Brian, this is Kendall. Kendall, Brian.” Neeka deftly stepped between the two men. “Hanna and I came upon Kendall while we out gathering vegetables. He’s been robbed and wasn’t sure where he was. We made him something to eat and he offered to help muck stalls as payment.”
Brian grunted. “Well, when you’re done here, maybe he could give you a hand in room twelve. The bastards destroyed it last night.” Without giving them another glance, he turned on his heels and left.
Kendall let himself relax. “Friendly fellow,” he mumbled.
“Don’t mind him. He’s in a foul mood because of the mess the soldiers left the inn in last night. Room twelve was one of theirs.”
They went back to cleaning the stalls, though this time with less talking. Once done, Kendall pushed the cart back where it would sit until the next day.
“Thank you.” Neeka smiled and led the way back to the inn.
They stopped at the kitchen and helped themselves to water.
“That was quick,” remarked Hanna. She wiped a forearm across her brow before returning her attention back to the bread dough she’d been kneading.
“It’s going to be a busy day. Brian wants Kendall and I to take care of room twelve.”
Hanna grunted. “You’ll be there until tomorrow if you don’t get to it. I was in there this morning and it I don’t think there’s one piece of furniture that can be saved.”
Neeka shook her head in disgust. “Soldiers.”
“Maybe once you’re mated to Christopher you could have a chat with him about his little army’s manners.”
Neeka scoffed. “Not likely. I plan on spending as little time as possible in the man’s company.” She gave Kendall’s arm a tug to let him know they were leaving.
Kendall glanced at her as they made their way down the hall. “Your intended runs the soldiers?”
She rolled her eyes. “He likes to think he does. We call them soldiers, but really their just goons with sharp weapons. Christopher put them together to hunt for shifters.”
“And they’re good at what they do?”
Neeka shrugged. “They’ve never brought one in to prove they’ve actually killed one. It’s always a piece from whoever they’ve killed.”
She opened the door to room twelve and Kendall stopped short.
“By the moons, what in the world did they do in here?”
The entire room was destroyed. Anything that could be broken had been splintered, smashed, or ripped apart. The floor was covered in wood, glass, and mattress down.
Neeka let out an exasperated sigh. “Bastards.”
He walked to the window which had somehow been spared and glanced outside. “Do you have a bin we could place under here? We could simply throw everything out the window.”
Her brow furrowed as she thought. “I think we have one in the back. We’ll need some bags as well. Hanna will want the mattress down to make pillows.”
“This happens often?”
He opened the door and let her lead the way to wherever they needed to be next.
Someone behind them whistled. “If she wasn’t Christopher’s, I’d be having my way with that one.”
Neeka’s back straightened at the comment, but she didn’t stop walking.
Kendall, however, turned with a growl. He found himself looking at three drunks, one of which was leaning against the wall to stay upright.
“Just ignore them, Kendall.” Neeka tugged at his tunic sleeve. “It’s not worth it.”
He reluctantly followed her once again. “How about that? Does that happen often?”
She shrugged. “It’s only words. They all know Christopher would kill them if they touched me.”
“Let’s just concentrate on cleaning this room. I’d rather not talk about Christopher.”
Kendall put a hand on the exit door before she could open it. She was upset. He could see it in her clenched jaw and her rigid posture.
She relaxed slightly then closed her eyes as he brushed his thumb over her frown.
Whatever it was this girl was going through, it was weighing heavily on her being. She definitely put on a brave front, but under the happy exterior, something was definitely wrong.
“Are you alright?”
She gazed up at him and nodded. “I’ll be fine.” She smiled. “Come along. This room won’t clean itself.”
A strange shiver ran through him as she opened the door. The feeling was gone before he could decide what it was and he quickly forgot about it as the day went on.