Poster: Rhett Shawnesey
Post # 26
With warmer weather finally beginning to set in during the day, Vanessa
had been spending most of the time with Ysa and Karina around the
gardens, getting them prepared and cleaned for planting and growth. Most
of the heavier snows were gone and the gardens were looking better, but
the mornings were prettiest with the sparkle of frost covering
everything when the sun rose. Karina was out doing whatever it was
she did when not there, Vanessa and Ysa were just now finishing up
supper, which Vanessa set a plate aside for when Karina got home. Most
of the ground floor was lit up by some means of light since both Van and
the babe were awake and moving around. Ysa was set in her nest of
blankets on the floor before the hearth, batting at small toys that hung
from a cloth covered arch to keep her entertained. Her giggles and
squeals could easily be heard, which Vanessa was grateful for. Meant she
knew what the babe was doing and where she was.
The more Rhett thought on his date with Karina, for certainly he
considered it a date, the more confused he became over it. Like one
plucked the petals of a daisy, she likes me, she likes me not. That
saying kept playing over and over in his mind to a point of distraction.
Dangerous distraction as he worked forging swords and finally set them
aside before he either cut or burnt himself. Just as desperately, he
needed someone to talk to. In the past it had always been his brother
Douglas he turned to. He was ruled out for his inexperience with women.
If he asked his father's advice, or mother's, then they would want to
know all about Karina and pretty much assume they were together. He was
not ready for that with only one date. It was not a question of him
being ashamed but assumptions. He took to walking and that walk had him
headed for the Avian Gardens. He caught sight of Karina leaving for one
of her walks and was about to follow her, catch up, when another idea
hit instead. Vanessa was her closest family, a good woman, that
knew about them or the start of them, if one was to put a 'them' to it
and found his feet taking him to the front door instead giving it a few
knocks. He stepped back and waited obviously very nervous as he removed
his hat thinking on it and kept running the brim between fingers and
palm in a nervous tic.
Dishes were cleaned, dried and put away, Vanessa went about setting up
for a couple of bottles for Ysa for the night to keep in the window for
when she was ready when the knock came on the door. "One
moment." Called towards the door as she dried her hands. She
couldn't imagine who it was that would come calling this late except
Segan, but he knew well enough he was welcome to come in. Apron was
untied from around her waist and laid over a chair back, she went to the
door with a glance to Ysa who was now chewing on her toes. Apparently
she'd discovered she had feet. Smiling a bit, the door was opened with a
peek outside and small blink of surprise. "Good eve, Rhett."
She was indeed surprised to see him, but stepped back to pull the door
open fully. "Come in."
Hands went into a cold sweat, much like that day he was chosen to fight
to the death. A matter of pride and a whole battle depending on his
expertise in keeping Sir Aiden alive more than himself. "I hope I
.. I am not disturbing," pauses as this was a whole new step for
him. "Good eve, Vanessa." Swinging back mentally as he
grasped for what to say even with her invitation of which he
stepped in as she stepped back inside. Seeing to the door, "I know
Karina has taken her walk. I wanted to talk to you." Feeling the
heat creeping up his neck as he quickly amended, "about
Karina." Wondering there for a moment if Segan was here as a quick
darting glance was given the room. If he was, he still needed to
talk but had kind of hoped to keep it down to a minimum until he knew
what to do.
Brow quirked upward with a gentle shake of her head. "Not at
all." Then offered him a small smile and motioned towards the
kitchen so she could finish with Ysa's bottles. "Come sit down and
we'll talk. Would you like something to drink?" Another glance to
Ysa who was happy on the nest of blankets, gumming on her toes, then
into the kitchen. "Have a seat." It wasn't hard to tell that
Rhett was either nervous or upset. Hopefully it was the first of the
two. Upset wouldn't do at all.
The rigid line of his shoulders relaxed a notch as he followed her into
the kitchen and a chair pulled out to sit upon. He set his Stetson on
the table before he completely ruined the creasing in it. "I'm
fine," in response to something to drink as he wasn't sure he'd
not spill it on himself at the moment. "I .. I don't know who else
to talk to that can help me. I am not sure if Karina likes me much other
than a friend, which is fine," he quickly amended not to be taken
wrong, "but I can't tell. Seems she does but then says she doesn't.
Thinks she is not good enough for me because of her past."
Which he didn't know but added his thought, "I wasn't judging our
relationship on her past. She said I didn't understand and I still don't
after she explained some." Finally taking a deep breath as he got
to the point of why he came to talk about it, "it is confusing how
she feels but that becomes a mote point when she implied that her life
is in danger by ones from her past. I got the impression they
will come here after her and she doesn't want any of us getting hurt.
She thinks she is the only one that knows how to deal with them, that
they have ways of harming others we would not know how to handle. As
much as I know little of her past, and admitted that, she as much
doesn't know what I can handle or not, or what any others here that care
about her can do or not do. Because of that, I think she just doesn't
want me involved much with her or her life but the fact I know she could
be in danger, I needed to talk to someone." And here he finally
clamped his lips shut in a pressed way but not a smile. He felt he got
most of all of it out in one rant before he forgot anything.
Vanessa went about preparing the bottles and filling them with fresh
milk while listening to Rhett. Vanessa knew as much about Karina's past
as Rhett did, or that's how she felt, and that was fine. She always
figured that Karina would tell her if and when the time was right, and
never pushed it. Except perhaps the time Karina returned with a broken
lip. While Rhett explained, Vanessa thought back on a couple nights past
and the sort of, not really conversation that she and Karina had.
Leaving the bottles, she turned to look at Rhett, quietly for a moment
of thought before speaking. "Karina likes you. I would dare say
that she likes you very much. She worries about her past catching up
with her a great deal. We had spoken of her past when I asked that she
move into the cottage with me. She never really goes into great detail
regarding her past, but those involved are dangerous. I ... feel that
her concerns are justified enough to make her fearful that if her past
catches up with her, it would do harm to those she's grown to care
"Aye, that is what I am saying. Except I feel she may think she is
not safe even here from those of her past. I never dated one before
Karina, and I'm left confused. I'm not sure what to do. Leave her alone
until she comes around and tells me differently, if not too long."
He had sworn he'd never let a lass leave him hanging on indefinitely
like he'd seen on some others. "I know she cares, as I care but in
the same breath she tells me we can never be anything more."
Vanessa smiled softly and moved to the table to sit across from Rhett.
"Karina came back after your date a couple nights past, holding
onto that rose you gave her. I honestly can't say I know of her past any
better than anyone else here. As much as I wish she would speak about
it, she doesn't. It wouldn't be fair for me to say one way or the other
what I think you should do. The only thing I can tell you comfortably is
that she does like you and she does care. I think perhaps she
needs to know that you'll be there if she truly wants you there, but you
have to decide to be there, and allow her to decide if she's comfortable
with that. Take things slow, and let the winds guide you, Rhett."
She paused for a moment. "I told Karina that if you want to be
there for her, she can't make that choice for you. And if you want to be
there, don't let her make that decision."
"I hope I am not over reacting for all such being new to me and not
certain what to do. I think you should know and the others that care for
her that there is a possible danger that could follow her, so it doesn't
come as a surprise. To keep an eye out even if not telling her." He
wasn't sure how to put it but felt it urgent to do so. "I will take
your advice to take it slow, be more a friend." Which reminded him
he had one date before Karina but it was an Attendant Services one. A
lass that was part devil and Karina had her beat in that department!
A nod was given to the warning. "Yes, Karina's given me the warning
as well. It was given the night I asked that she stay here with me. I
told her that whatever came to the door, we would deal with it then if
it came to the door and not a moment before that, and that she was safer
even in my company than alone." Vanessa couldn't fight, but at
least Karina wasn't alone and that was important.
Fingers ran through the thick spiky curls as he listened. The motion
then stopped, "aye, I am pleased she is in your company and with
Segan around a lot.." like maybe he wasn't needed but that didn't
stop him asking, " if someone or ones came to the door, would you
let me know so I can help? I am a knight." Which may be something
Vanessa didn't know, he wasn't sure if Karina realized it either being
he didn't go around saying such because of decisions and circumstances.
He was rising from his seat as he would not keep her either. He had
barged in on her time plus the fact that Karina could walk through that
door at any moment.
Another smile dawned to Rhett with a nod. "I will let you
know." It didn't surprise her much that he was a knight. When he
rose from his seat, she stood. "I think you should join us for
dinner one night soon when I can get Segan freed for a night to join us
all." Oooh...Karina was going to ring her neck, but that was okay.
Vanessa just smiled. "Would you like something warm to drink for
Karina enjoyed her evening ramble as she always did, for it gave her
some time in the open air to clear her head. Though her own decisions
and what had transpired in the Celtic Gardens still weighed on her mind
heavily, the walks helped relax her some. But she'd had enough of her
alone time for the night. plus the sun was dipping beneath the horizon,
chasing away the last of the day's warmth. So she came back up to the
cottage, knocking the mud from her boots against the stoop and calling
out as she opened the door. "Vanessa? I think we're gonna need a
new lock on the parrots' cage, they've been pickin' at it and -
Oh." During the course of her speech she'd taken off her coat and
scarf, and walked across the den into the kitchen, where she now stood,
blinking in surprise at Rhett. "..What.. are you doing here?"
She didn't seem angry, just taken aback.
"I would like that, to come to dinner," barely responding as
he turned on a heel hearing Karina. Surprise evident in bright blue eyes
as brows lifted. He had already gone over if Karina came before he had
left in what to say. "I was out for a walk," all true,
"and it had me here so I decided to stop in, see if you were
around." Which was bending it some but definitely true for after
his talk with Vanessa which was done. Pressed smile followed as he
watched her closely.
Vanessa nodded to Rhett and looked to Karina with a small smile. "I
invited him out of the cold for a bit. Perhaps now that you are here,
he'd like to stay for a while?" Curious glance to Rhett, then to
Karina. "I will take care of the lock tomorrow when I go into the
square. We'll have to devise something more clever to keep the birds
from ruining it."
"Oh." She said again, seeming to accept his explanation, which
wasn't really all that suspicious after all. Though she wasn't sure what
she ought to be feeling after the way they'd parted last... what she WAS
feeling was glad to see him. Distracted, she looked back to Van and
nodded. "Aye, I've got some ideas, there's this type of lock I've
seen that I think will be sturdy enough.." What was she doing
talking about work with Rhett still standing there? Ack, she glanced
back to Rhett once more. "Um... do you want some tea or anything...
want to sit over by the hearth?" She'd never hosted somebody in her
own place before and it was a rather odd feeling, playing the hostess..
but despite her uncertainty she was hoping he did want to stay.
"Aye, some tea or cocoa." He would leave the choice with her.
Although with the near caught, potcheen came to mind but he didn't
really need any tonight. "Here or by the hearth, I don't mind
either, so what you would like. What is more comfortable. I wont be
staying too long enough time for a drink." Almost reassuring her
for how nervous she seemed.
Vanessa just smiled quietly and returned to the counter to fill the
bottles and set them in the window. "There's plenty of left over
supper if you're both hungry." A bottle she'd made a while ago that
remained at room temperature was picked up, she turned to go to the den.
"I'm going to go put Ysa to bed. It was nice to see you,
Rhett." Out she went to gather the babe and take her off to the
nursery room to put her to sleep.
Strangely enough Karina was thinking the same about the potcheen.
"Oh - no - I mean... you can stay as long as you like." She
reassured him right back, lips quirking in a tentative smile. Glancing
to Vanessa when she left, Karina waved her good-night and then looked
back to Rhett. Oh... right... drinks. "Um... if you wanna go sit
out by the hearth I'll bring some tea right out." She sounded
slightly more decisive now as she nodded and offered him a crooked
"It was nice seeing you again, Vanessa. I look forward to that
dinner. Send word when and what time." Standing still before moving
off to the hearth as Karina got the drinks. Probably a good moment for
her to catch her breath figuratively too. The awkward moment seemed to
be passing which had a silent breath exhaled as he relaxed more.
"How was your day?" Lifting his voice to travel from the
living area to the kitchen. "A splash of potcheen in the tea if you
Wait. Dinner? She blinked, looking over her shoulder at that, but by
then both Vanessa and Rhett had gone from sight. Her brows knitted
briefly but right now she had other concerns on her mind. When Rhett
left the room she knelt to open up the cupboard beneath the sink,
reaching within to find the potcheen bottle. It was mainly kept there
for Segan's visits though Karina nipped from it occasionally too. The
bottle popped off, she took a small swig, then straightened to Rhett's
voice. The fact that he asked for potcheen while she held it guiltily in
her hands, she couldn't help the grin at that as she walked back out
into the den, carrying a tray with two steaming tea cups, and the
potcheen bottle. "Already on that." A little smirk as she set
one teacup down beside him, then one by the chair she'd sit in; their
chairs shared the same table. She held the potcheen out for him to take.
"My day was... you know. A normal day." She gave a slight
shrug, watching as he poured the potcheen, then dropped her voice to
speak more seriously. "I'm glad you're here." With the way she
met his eyes it was clear she meant it.
He took the bottle as she spoke, listening as he automatically added a
good dose to his tea then set the bottle aside. Blue eyes were intense
that met and held hers captive. Not a word for a long moment before the
pressed smile showed again. "I'm glad to be here and that you had a
normal day." He too meant it and decided if he wanted to know the
truth, he needed to read the actions over the words where Karina was
concern. "Spring is coming, the snow is melting, the ground is
getting softer, soon there will be crocus, the first small flowers
before the snow is completely gone."
That intense eye contact had her heart skipping a beat or two, and she
would have gotten lost in it had he not spoken up again. Reaching for
the potcheen, she just barely resisted the impulse to take a swig
straight from the bottle, and instead poured a shot into her tea cup.
Nodding at his words, a smile came naturally to her lips at the thought.
"I saw a bit of green poking up today, beneath a tree where it
must've gotten some shelter from the snow. Spring won't be long."
It felt like it had been such a long winter... but also short in some
ways. Karina swirled her tea around in the cup to mix in the alcohol.
"Listen, Rhett..." She took a breath. Though his arrival was
unexpected she'd been trying to think of what to say to him ever since
their date, and now attempted to recall the cogent speech she'd written
in her head. A useless endeavor, instead her words just came out
improvised. "I didn't mean to offend you or.. or make you think I
didn't care. It's not that, it's just - I don't know... I don't ever
know what to expect and I feel like it's not fair to make you a part of
those threats.." Her lips twisted abashedly as she glanced up.
"I only said all that to.. protect you. I just don't want to see
anything bad happen to you because of me, if that happened I'd.."
she trailed off with a shake of her head.
He was enjoying the tea, no wonder for what was in it. Eyes watched the
while as she spoke, listening quietly. Quiet was a normal place for
Rhett to go. His talk with Vanessa was probably the most he ever spoke,
especially in near one sentence, to a lass. The tea cup was set down
soon as he heard the more serious tone. Almost coming to 'attention' as
called by the King to his knights when needed. He too had been thinking
a lot, although getting him more confused before he talked with Vanessa,
cleared up some anyway. "I would not say you offended me. You do
confuse me." Being real honest here, "I wasn't sure if,
well.." pausing, "if you like me more as just a friend, not
that there is anything wrong with that," this is where he would be
tripping over his own feet trying to explain, "I don't want to
offend you. I'm new at all this and don't know the rules or guidelines
if there are any. I think they are experience and learn as you go and
I feel like I'm fumbling." Then on a more serious note.
"Threats on people you care about, well, they are threats on you
too even if indirectly. If you loved someone that was threatened and
those threats were realized and something bad happened to them, it
happens to you too. Way it is. I would not change it to not knowing you.
If I did, then those other people win and I'm not one that likes to lose
to such people." His words lowering even if filled with passion for
he didn't want to disturb Vanessa with the baby.
The first thing she registered was surprise, when he said he wasn't sure
if she liked him. Karina had been ever so careful throughout to not act
like some stupid love-struck girl, but even so... did he really not
realize how crazy she was about him? Her response slipped out before she
could think about it, "Do you think I kiss everyone I know like
that?" Her natural joking habit fueled by the potcheen... a crooked
smirk offered after. She meant it though. "I'm new at all this too,
and... I never really thought I'd have to worry about caring for someone
else's safety, honestly." Eyes dipped away for a brief moment,
falling upon the potcheen bottle. Screw the tea. She uncorked the bottle
and took a small swig, then held it out for Rhett with a faint smirk.
She had a feeling he might want some more too. She was reflecting about
what he'd said, about it affecting him either way, either directly or
indirectly. "I never really thought about it like that.." she
admitted quietly and it sounded almost like a grudging surrender. A
slight sigh expelled as she looked up again to meet his eyes, not sure
where to go from here.
Well, he hadn't really thought about it in that way and thinking on it
the response came in a definite tone. "No, I don't think you'd kiss
anyone that you didn't really want to kiss a lot. Not just a passing
wonder." Rhett had natural insecurities just like anyone else. He
took the bottle and a good direct swig from it too before handing it
back. Tomorrow Vanessa and she would find a case of it left on their
doorstep. "Aye, it is, why I would like to help if the time ever
comes. Hopefully it wont and this be a mote point but a good point to
know, aye?" He finished off what was left of his tea too as it was
moving to luke-warm.
"Yeah... hopefully it won't." She looked up to him again and
offered a half-smile, genuine for all it was small. In that moment she
really thought that day might never come. Or she wanted to believe so
anyway. Taking the potcheen back she took another swig herself
before setting it down on the table. The drink was making her feel a
little woozy and making her tongue loosen. "The reason I got so mad
about it is 'cause I do care, alright? And I never have felt like that
about another person before, so... sometimes I just don't really know
what to do about it." A slight sheepish laugh. Not the most
eloquent speech but entirely true. "Your fault." She added the
accusation on a lower note with a brief grin that said she was only
He wasn't the most eloquent speaker either so she was speaking his
language. The honesty behind her words were what reached him best. He
was up from his seat and over to hers only to bring her up into his
arms. "Allow those who care about you to care. Warn them of
anything that might bring you or them harm for their caring, trust in
them for there are a few here, Karina, who care very much for you."
One arm around her shoulders and back while the other hand cupped her
cheek. Held this close as blue eyes could burn to her very soul with the
intensity behind his words. "I do understand, so I hope you can
understand me too." Maybe making that connection, one she was not
use to which he was. He knew his brothers and sisters, mother and
father, friends would all go to bat for him if he was in danger. "I
care too," and that was followed by a searing kiss as head tilted
and lips met. Classic moment if Vanessa happened down to get something
for the baby!
Her heart started beating faster when he came over to wrap her up in
that embrace, which felt natural and comforting and exciting all at
once. Her gaze was captured easily by his own intense one, staring back
into his eyes as she absorbed his words. Just now she could believe in
them... and trust in them. It shouldn't have been a shocking
realization, the reminder that people did care about her, but it was. Of
course she'd known that already but never had the point been reiterated
so soundly. She just nodded slightly when he asked her to understand
too, wordlessly agreeing that she did, and then she was swept up in that
kiss that she would have initiated herself had he not. Arms wrapping
about his neck as the liplock was returned just as fiercely. Even
shifting some in her stance to get closer. Yep, she had completely
forgotten where she was...
She was wrapped up good as the kiss intensified seemingly of its own
accord and he as much being swept away in the strong current. Kissy
sounds would be heard in the quiet of the house if one were listening!
Couldn't be helped, even the easing off had nibbling and smaller kisses
from the fullness of her lips to the corners then up and to her nose.
"I better go now," not something she would understand but for
a man if they stayed they would be wanting far more. There was a point
of no return which she would not understand so the excuse she would came
easily, "I need to be on the king's field tomorrow by dawn."
Not quite giving up her being in his arms.
Not something she would understand?! Au contraire.... even if he didn't
think it was something she'd be thinking of. Street kids learned the
birds and the bees young. Busily devouring his lips, she felt the loss
of the kiss suddenly, eyes reluctant to open and end it. Instead she
kept her arms snugly wound about him and laid her head against his neck.
"Do you have to?" She murmured it against his shirt playfully,
even if her reluctance to let him go was real.
"I don't want to," of course he didn't and if he kept kissing
her.. well.. best his mind didn't even go there right now, "but I
have to." Still reluctant to ease from the hug but finally started
to disentangle, slow but sure. "I will see you soon." Not
really asking but a statement. "You know where to find me,"
least most of the time.
She pretended to be grouchy when he insisted on pulling away, letting
him go slowly as he towered above her. Head tilting back to look at him,
she nodded and let a smile surface fully to her lips. "Maybe I'll
come find you sometime then." She suggested almost mischievously.
Certainly there was a glint in her deep sea-green eyes.
"Yes, as the flowers bloom in the meadow soon." Stealing one
last kiss for it was too irresistible not to and then he was decisively
heading for the door while he still had his mind about him to see it
through. Hand on the knob as he turned with a wink and pressed smile,
moment suspended, then was out the door and gone, heading into the night
to be back and get some rest. He had a long day ahead of him but
certainly left calmer than he had arrived on the other matter.
She lifted her face for that last kiss, and would have happily made it
last, had he not whisked himself off without delay. She watched him go,
returning his last smile with a crooked grin of her own. When the door
closed behind him she was stealing across the room to perch on the
windowsill to watch him walk away. Sigh. Heading back to the armchair,
she flopped down into it... also feeling much better about things in
general. Of course, in the morning it would occur to her that she still
didn't want him meddling in her affairs, if only for his own safety..
but for now she was just glowing.