Arabesque,

Arabesque Chapter 6

10/20/2016 Laura Watkins 0 Comments

I will be sharing parts of my writing every week (alternating between Arabesque and Persephone) as I write them (with the exception of some parts of Arabesque, which were written previously), so please be patient with any errors you may find, as these are a first drafts.

About the book

Tatania is tired of living in her sister's shadow but doesn't know about Princess Anna's dark secret. Bound by a sacred oath, Anna's struggles to live a double life that can never be her own. 
Described as "Sense and Sensibility meets Ever After with ninjas," Arabesque is full of action, romance, intrigue, and betrayal.

Since I've always been super paranoid, Arabesque was officially copyrighted in 2009. Duplication or use of this work in any other form is prohibited by law.


Chapter 6
 Tatania

We eagerly rushed through our lessons then next day.  Well, we tried to rush, but Elena was as slow and methodical as ever.  I got yelled at even more than usual, but then again, so did almost everyone else.  It seemed that no one but Anna was able to pay attention.  Elena was going on and on about fan language, proper etiquette for serving utensils, and customs of our culture that I doubt anyone but Elena had ever heard of.  The day dragged on forever.

Everyone tried to be inconspicuous about leaving Licht Haven.  The snowball fight was to be at a secluded orchard, more than two miles away.  There was no way we were going to walk there in the snow, so we all planned to ride there.  Nearly all of the guests and students leaving two and three at a time were bound to be noticed, but we were too excited to care much.

Anna had said that she was not coming with us, but when I got to the stable, she was saddling her dapple gray mare, Moonfire.  Isabel passed me on the way to her horse’s stall, a knowing smile on her face.  How had she talked her into it?  Anna and I had done stuff like this all the time when we were younger, but it had been years since I’d seen her do anything so improper.

We rode as quietly and quickly as we could, but it still took a while to get there.  Thankfully, the sun was warm and high overhead in a cloudless sky.

There was a small group already waiting at the orchard.  Dorian smiled at us, the sunlight practically making his golden hair glow.  Sir Alec sat atop his horse; his dark hair and tan skin a stark contrast beside Dorian’s radiance in the pure white snow.  Their companions and the other ladies surrounded them.  Henry Ashenhurst was there too, which I guess shouldn’t have surprised me.  He was in charge of our “protection detail”, and he took that job way too seriously.

Genevieve had been looking at Dorian and she glared at me when he smiled.  Then she whispered to her two minions and pointed to the same spot on her forehead where my monstrous zit had been, and they laughed in unison.

Alec was looking at us a bit more intently than a new acquaintance should have been; I’d paid enough attention to Elena’s lessons to know that.  He seemed to be interested in Anna or Isabel!  At least he had decent taste there, but I wasn’t about to let such a “man” go near either of them.  Gen can have that one.

Dorian explained the rules to us in a strong voice.  “This game will be gentlemen versus ladies.  Each team will have twenty minutes to build fortifications and ammunition.  No rocks or sticks, etc. in the snowballs, we don’t want any serious injuries.  The game ends when the last man, or woman, on a team surrenders.  Get to it!”

Everyone dismounted in a flurry of movement, but the teams were far from united.  Dorian lead their group on one side, Alec the other.  Anna, Isabel, and I started work on a protective wall of snow.  We called Dinah and Sofia over to help make snowballs.

We piled the snow high and packed it down hard, making a sufficient barrier to hide behind, and we had a respectable pile of snowballs before Dorian let out a sharp whistle.

“Time’s up,” he yelled.  “Everyone ready?  Too bad, go!”

The guys had built several similar structures and a stack of snowballs in each that were tall enough to be visible over the walls.

I looked around to see how the rest of our “team” fared.  Genevieve, Sylvia, and Olivia stood behind a small stand of trees, a pitiful scattering of snowballs at their feet.  They were just standing there, warming their hands, gossiping, and giggling!

The first few snow balls whished over our heads.  Several hit those three, and they ran about screaming like they’d seen a snake.  There was no way we’d win this so out matched!  Stupid girls!
My fingers and toes ached in the cold; melted snow was starting to seep through my stockings, but I barely noticed.  Ok, I noticed it, but I was so mad that I tried to ignore it.  Discomfort added rage to my annoyance.

Anna was a force to be reckoned with.  She used her scarf as a sling and shot snowballs with so much power, they were knocking people down.  She hit pretty much everything she aimed at!  Where had she learned to do that?

Dorian and Alec started to advance.  They darted from tree to tree on opposites sides of the field. 
Most of the girls were sticking their heads out and giggling, then yelling, “I surrender!” when they got hit just once.  Disgraceful!  And it seemed that the guys were tempering their throws so they wouldn’t hurt us.  Guess they didn’t realize who they were dealing with.  We three would give no quarter.

We looked at each other, the same resolve in our eyes.  We headed off in different directions, creeping behind our fort, making our way behind enemy lines.

I was glad that I’d smuggled a pair of trousers into my trunks when we had packed to go to Licht Haven months earlier, although this was nearly the first time I’d gotten to use them.

The trees’ thick branches, although bare, let in very little sunlight.  I stalked along the shadows, making a wide arch around our fort; exhilaration filling me with every step.  This was so much like the war games we used to play as kids.

I smiled as I saw Dinah and Sofia following our examples and leaving the fort to attack.

Crouched low to the ground, I passed several boys, but I had a clear target in mind.  I was shocked that he had been brave enough to leave the safety of the fort, although it didn’t take much bravery to face down a few shrieking girls.  Regardless, any amount of bravery wouldn’t help Alec when I found him.

I stepped behind the tree closest to my destination and my breath caught.  Someone was behind me.  I spun around, a snowball in each hand, poised to throw.

There Dorian stood.  His empty hands shot up into the air.  I hesitated.

“Dorian, what are you doing?” I hissed quietly.

“Surrendering, of course!”  He was only about five feet away.  “Well, sort of.”  A snowball suddenly appeared in his hand, but I was too confused to hit him.  He didn’t throw it, just tossed it from hand to hand.  “I thought we might….join forces.”

“What?  Join forces?...  It’s boy against girl…who would we attack?”

He smirked, “Whoever we want.  As I recall, we make a fine pair.”

He walked closer, his blue eyes sparkling in a brief patch of sunlight.  My chest tightened, but I forced myself to breathe semi-regularly.  The shadows only intensified his handsome features.  I had to stop my hand from reaching to check my hair—that would have been disastrous since I was still clutching a snowball in each hand.  Nothing says attractive like slushy hair…

I shifted my weight uncomfortably and tried to concentrate on what he was saying.

My mind raced back to a certain afternoon last summer when we had trained together.  Dorian was a fine rider, a great athlete, and we had enjoyed several rides together.

One afternoon we had ridden through the aspen grove he had pulled his horse close to mine, tucked a stray wisp of hair behind my ear, and told me what “lovely tresses” I had.  He leaned in close, possibly for a kiss, but I tensed up and Bella took it as a signal to run.  We never got close to a moment like that again, and I’d barely seen him since.

I desperately tried to return to the present and understand what he was telling me; I couldn’t make any sense of it.  When had he stepped so close?  His warm breath met the icy air in a small cloud, and mingled with my own.  His eyes drew me in.  If he tilted his head forward, he would touch my own.
“Attack whoever we want?”  I wanted to slap myself.  I hadn’t meant to say that out loud.  Idiot! Stop repeating everything he says!  How could he just stand there with that expression on his face?  Didn’t being this close affect him at all?  I could barely breathe, but he seemed so casual!

He continued, his surely tone unchanging.  “Surely the firey Lady Tatania has enemies, or at least knows of someone who could use a snowball in the face.  I noticed that you and Sir Alec had a bit of a disagreement last evening…and I hear that Genevieve is your fiercest rival.  Perhaps we could help one of them become a bit more humble.”

I snapped out of it.  Alec?  Genevieve?  My heart pounded for a much different reason now.  I put my hand on his chest, pushing him back and inch or two, and winked.  “Why not both?”

We searched together in silence, darting, summersaulting from shadow to shadow.    Dorian thought he was really something, but I matched his every move. The tumbling was a bit silly, but it made things more dramatic; so much fun!

Our first target drew near.  My evil cousin stood with her groupies under a large tree, trying to escape the cold wind that was picking up.  The thick branches were heavily laden with snow, not far above their heads.  Not too much sense in that one.  Standing under a snow filled tree in the wind?  She really deserves this!  Besides, if I don’t do it, it’ll probably happen anyhow.  I’m just helping things along.

Dorian eyed the branches with clearly the same idea in mind.  We’d have to do this carefully.  I didn’t care if Genevieve knew that I was the culprit, there wasn’t much more she could do to me, but I’d rather that Dorian didn’t incur her wrath.  She’d find some way to have Elena make his life miserable.

I signaled for him to hide behind a tree and motioned that we’d do it on the count of three.  One…two…three!

Snowballs zoomed into the air, hitting the tree branches, causing an avalanche of snow, covering the girls, and making a mound up to their knees.  They fell down with squeals, their arms flailing!  My cousin’s freaked out expression was priceless.  I struggled to hide my fit of laughter, but managed it only by biting my gloved hand.

Alec appeared out of nowhere.  He rushed over and helped the hysterical girls to their feet.  Had he been following us?

Dorian looked as confused as me, but even more annoyed.  He jerked his head toward Alec and mouthed, “Get him.”

We gathered more snow and made more ammo.  Dorian gathered slush from a small, mushy puddle beneath a dripping icicle.  Nasty stuff, but it wasn’t rocks or anything, I guess…besides, this guy could use a healthy dose of humility.

Dorian gave the signal and we let the snow and slush balls fly!  One after another, we pelted the very confused Alec until he stumbled to a knee, hands covering his head, slush dripping down his face, and all over his body.

He looked so ridiculous, so different from the prim Sir Alec that I’d met last night! Dorian and I laughed so hard that we bumped into each other, falling down in the soft snow.  We didn’t even try to get back to our feet.  Our hands covered our stomachs, my sides hurt from laughing.  We each rolled back and forth in the snow, chuckling, occasionally bumping each other again.

The snow was soft, and the occasional warmth of Dorian’s shoulder bumping mine was pleasant.  I started to be able to breathe a bit.  Dorian bumped into me one last time, and stayed there, our laughter slowing as we both gasped for breath. 

Brilliant blue eyes, gazed into mine.  I was suddenly very aware of how close he was to me.  He smiled roguishly, his lips, coming closer until they gently brushed my own.

A cold shadow fell over us, and we looked up, expecting to see a soaked Sir Alec.  Our smiles dissolved and we snapped apart.  A very angry Lady Elena stood high above us.

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