Sophie started running home as soon as lunch was over. She tried to shrug off the fact her best friend might be dead, and tried to smile when Carter said something, but she had to get home fast. As
the door burst open, she found Irene sippin’ tea on the couch.
“Irene,” her throat got tight, blocking incoming tears.
“Come here,” Irene sighed as she got out of her seat to hug her friend ‘for she knew Sophie would not get over this very well. Sophie came crying over and Irene comforted her with a big embrace.
“That was my fault, I’m so sorry,” Sophie sobbed.
“Sophie, look at me,” Irene commanded, she did, “Am I not alive?”
“Well you are...”
“Okay,” she smiled, “so I’m not dead. As long as I am not dead, you don’t have to blame yourself.”
“But you got hurt,” she said.
“It was just a scratch, like I say-”
“You’ve had worse,” Sophie smiled.
“There,” Irene smiled, “I made you smile. So how did the lunch go?”
“Okay I guess,” she shrugged, “just like any normal lunch.”
“What’s a normal lunch?” Irene rose a brow.
“A lunch with normal people,” she joked around.
“Am I not considered normal then?” Irene gasped, pouring herself another cup of tea.
“You are anything but normal,” Sophie grinned.
Dylan sat there on his couch reading a book. He despised reading books, but he wanted to impress a certain someone. The book didn’t confuse him at all, it was almost like he could relate.
The maid, Gretel, walked in the room. She was an eighty year old lady, still running around cleaning stuff. She had raised Dylan when his mother passed, and because the father had never helped around.
“Boy! You never read anything! Now I find you reading a book!” her Polish accent yelled.
“I just wanted to impress a girl Gretel,” he smiled, still reading the book.
“A girl eh? I haven’t seen a decent girl in this house for about eleven years!” Eleven years ago was when his mother died.
“Can I tell you a secret Gretel? You promise not to tell?” he got from his seat.
“Boy, I keep all my secrets. I know more than I should too, but you have my word,” she smiled.
“I’m... in love with a certain girl... and nobody must know, not even her because it could ruin her...” he sighed.
“Well, what’s her name?” she asked. Dylan took a loud sigh then whispered the name in her ear.
“Really?” she asked a little surprised.
“Yeah, so I’m reading a little Romeo & Juliet, just hoping I could get some ideas,” he smiled and sat back on the cushions.
“Well, killin’ yourself ain’t a good option,” she said and walked away. Dylan shrugged it off, knowing that Gretel understood.
Two weeks blew past since Sophie’s incident. Sophie was now seeing Carter everyday, and of course bragging to Irene about how wonderful love was. She wasn’t really bragging, just being over-emotional about it, and Irene was a little jealous.
“Are we going to visit them today?” Sophie asked.
“Visit who?” Birdy got all excited.
“The kids,” Irene said and grabbed three long loaves of bread from the kitchen, “Shall we leave?”
“Sure thing,” Sophie said and went to go get the carriage ready.
“Ms?” Birdy asked, “Why do you do this?”
As Irene was putting her boots on, she thought for a moment, “Because I want to. They have nobody else, and because of Maroni, these kids are in a bad place, and nobody is there to help. That’s why.”
“Oh,” Birdy said, “well, I didn’t mean to get you upset.”
“I’m not that upset over it,” Irene grunted and headed outside.
They walked up to the abandoned village. What once was the start of Tomoha ended in a raid of men killing women and stealing the other men, leaving kids homeless, with no family or food. Irene immediately decided to take care of these kids, so every Sunday, the Holy day, she would come to give them food, a bath and love. There were only about six kids left, many had either got taken or died. Irene knew this had to stop.
Jacob, the oldest of the six at eighteen, was almost the leader, he took care of the kids, took watch most of the time, making sure no funny stuff were happenin’. Jacob approached Irene with a hug and a smile.
“We missed you Irene,” he smiled again.
“Why don’t you round up the kids for some food?” Irene asked. Jake nodded and ran off. Irene smiled and pulled out their food for the week: several loaves of bread, vegetables and fruit, and a lot of water. Sophie was helping pull the food from behind the carriage. Jack was here too, but he never could carry the food, it was a little too heavy for him and Irene was afraid he’d drop ‘em.
“Danny,” Irene saw coming, “Youngest gets the first meal.” Danny took the bread with pleasure and smiled. He was only four years old, and probably didn’t remember his parents at all. She found it sad if one never knew their parents, because they were deprived of nurturing love.
“Miss, this is double what you gave us last week,” Jake said with a little surprise on his face.
“Well, you guys are growing children, boys will be boys and eat as much as they can, girls just grow their appetite,” Irene smiled, “besides, I hope there’s enough for everyone.”
“There always is,” said Alice, the second oldest at sixteen, “without you, we’d be helpless.”
“I wouldn’t say that,” Irene shrugged.
“You’re too humble,” Alice smiled.
“Are you kidding?” Sophie asked, “Irene is the least humble ever!”
Irene elbowed her gently, “Not so true...”
“Jack!” Sophie yelled, “Get out of the water Jack! That’s for the baths!”
Jack looked up with embarrassment and a tomato face, he solemnly walked away to talk to his friends Billy, Aaron, and Penny. Jack wasn’t able to go to school like the normal boys, if anyone asked for his address or who his parents were... it could endanger others. Plus, Jack decided school was for losers (which is certainly not true), and Jack never felt like he belonged much anywhere, except here with his friends.
“Irene?” Sophie asked as she watched her mistress zone out of her mind.
“Huh?” Irene said, bringing her mind back to her head.
“I know you want to head to town... you haven’t been there in two weeks-”
“That’s ‘cause I been training lately,” Irene interrupted her.
“Irene,” Sophie sighed, “Go to town, you’re going stir crazy on me. Go. I’ll bathe the kids, they’ll understand.”
“I have no reason to go to town,” Irene smiled.
“Does Dylan know you’re Elizabeth the IV?” Sophie asked.
“Maybe,” Irene shrugged.
“That’s a yes... he asks about you everyday, why don’t you pay him a visit?”
Irene groaned, “Ugh... because he hurts me.”
“You just aren’t used to the feeling he gives you,” Sophie winked.
Irene gave her a stare.
“Just go! Before I make you,” Sophie groaned and pushed her friend to her horse and laughed. Irene jumped on and put her hat on.
“I hope I don’t regret this,” Irene sighed.
“You won’t,” Sophie winked.
Dylan put on his hat and walked down the main street, keeping one eye on the people walking by,just trying to deduct a villain from civilian, and another eye for Irene, knowing she was somewhere between. He stopped once in a while to stare at romantic couples, strollin’ down the street holding hands, and in love. He’d stare until he would be able to talk himself out of it and carry on with his patrol.
“Are you looking for someone or just death-staring all that pass by?” Irene asked, leaning against a wall as usual, with her hat covering her face.
“Oh well I was planning to find this certain person and death-stare them,” he grinned.
“Oh, well, I hope you find that person,” she grinned back.
“Hey listen, I was hoping I could ask you something?” he asked and pulled her off the street into an unoccupied alley.
“Ask away cowboy,” she sighed.
“Would you like to have dinner with me? At the French Quarter possibly?” he said really fast, but Irene understood.
“This isn’t a trap or some sort of uh, date?” she asked.
“What’s worse? A date or a trap?”
“Depends,” she shrugged.
“Well, how about eight o’clock sharp?”
“Fine, but if anyone shall recognize me?”
“They won’t,” he said, “It’s a very high and fancy restaurant and all they want is money, no matter who it comes from. They won’t recognize you anyway in a dress.”
Irene rose a brow, “Who said I’d be in a dress?”
“Well-I uh, just figured you would be... I mean they might not let you um in if you aren’t dressed properly...” he stammered.
“Fine I’ll wear a dress,” she said, “why are you stammering? Over-excitement? Pleasure? Because you ain’t getting any of that from me.”
“No, no. I’m just nervous now that I think of it,” he said.
“Because it’s Maroni’s favorite place to dine.”
Sophie saw Irene burst through the door, in a huge rush. Irene was not one to run in her own house and why would she ever be in a rush.
“Ms? What’s wrong? Did someone follow you?” Sophie ran quickly to her mistress and touched her arm.
“No, it’s worse than that!”
“What’s worse than that...?”
“I have a date with the Marshall...” Irene gulped.
“Oh boy, you are really giving yourself to the wolves ain’t you?” Sophie asked. Blackie looked up a little confused, like he understood what she said, but not what she meant.
“Well, it ain’t really a date... it’s just dinner... at a fancy place,” she said.
“But you said it was a date,” Sophie smiled, excited for her friend.
“Well, it’s just an... appointment, like a meeting. We are just going to discuss certain things and then leave. Nothing else,” Irene explained.
“Uh-huh, sure. Anyways, do you need any help with getting ready?”
“I was just about to ask that,” Irene smiled.
“Good, now, do you want to wear the pink, or the red dress?”
“Where’s my pink-purple one?” Irene asked.
“In my closet, I’ll get it for you,” Sophie ran up to get it. A bad thing about friends are, if they are the same size as you... they steal your dresses quite often. Not like Irene needed a dress anyways.
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