The nightmares came back again. After three months of blissful and dreamless nights, they had managed to find me once again, and its images were just the same. Houses on fire. People yelling for our blood. Lord Laudan’s eyes filled with hate and triumph. The fear on my brother’s face, as we ran for our lives. His promise by the fire. And then...the empty forest at sunrise. That was the queue for me to wake up, usually crying. I imagined that after many years, I would outgrow my nightmares, or at the very least, get used to them. Unfortunately, whenever I thought they were over, they would find a way into my mind once again and remind me of what I had lost.
Yet, that night was an exception, as I had somehow managed to barely make any noise when I woke up. Even though I didn’t do this consciously, there was a reason for my self-control, and it was called Lord James Turlington II – or, as I nicknamed him in my mind, Jay. He was sleeping right next to me, completely unaware of what had just happened – in fact, so unaware that he was snoring very lightly like nothing could disturb his sleep. I pulled the blankets away and sat on the bed, staring at the window right next to it. It was still dark outside, but I could already hear the birds singing, as if announcing that dawn was coming.
“What’s the matter?” Jay whispered. I jumped, not expecting that at all, since he had been just asleep a couple of seconds ago. I glared at him, a part of me still in that damn nightmare, and another part of me feeling angry for being disturbed.
“Don’t you do that ever again!” I hissed, regretting it immediately. Even though I wasn’t in a right state of mind, I could’ve been killed there and then, just by talking back like I was his equal – after all, I had seen with my own eyes what the “noble” Lords of Tharsic could do to people. However, he acted like it was nothing, and sat behind me, wrapping his arms around my waist and resting his head on my shoulder, which made me feel even tenser. He had never acted that way with me before – like he actually cared for my welfare, I mean – and I wasn’t used to this kind of treatment at all. For a moment, we just sat there in silence, each of us lost in our own thoughts, and gradually, I started to feel a bit more relaxed.
“I’m the one to blame here, Sara. I shouldn’t have scared you and I apologize.” That was something completely unexpected to hear from him, especially being who he was. I almost sighed with relief, but I didn’t want to show how nervous I really was and make him even more eager to ask more questions. “What happened?” Apparently, I was wrong.
I had never said anything about my nightmares to Jay. In fact, I had never told him anything about my life. What could he possibly want to know about me, anyway? Jay, I mean, Lord James Turlington II, was the son of the former Lord, James Turlington I, who had died two years ago, leaving his son a large amount of money and the task of taking care of the Green Islands, one of the most remote parts of Tharsic. I was just a servant at the Flying Ship, the town’s best inn, and I fulfilled his every need whenever he was around, from providing food and drinks to warming his bed at night. Not that the last part was included in the deal – in fact, it was an absolute rule that no servant should be involved with any of the guests –, but still, I was certain that his interest in me would never pass beyond the sheets. Yet, I was wrong.
Outside, the light was changing into the first rays of dawn, which meant it was time to get out of bed and start working– and most important, to stop this conversation once and for all.
“It was just a very disturbing nightmare...you should go back to sleep, my Lord, it’s still very early.” Softly, I tried to release myself from his embrace, but he started kissing my neck, as if inviting me back to the bed. Lying in bed with him once again would’ve been wonderful...but my rational side got ahead of my lust, like it always did, and I finally released myself from his embrace. I got up, reached for my clothes that were scattered all over the room after last night, and started dressing myself, starting to shift from the Governor’s lover into one the Flying Ship’s servants, while Jay’s eyes were on me.
“Duty before anything else, eh?” He chuckled, while I heard him changing his position on the bed. “Lady T must be proud of having such a dedicated worker. I certainly would.” He got up and held me from behind, kissing my neck once again. “I certainly am.” He whispered in my ear in a low, deep voice, and for a second, I lost all my sense of duty. I turned around and leaned in for a kiss, but just as I was about to do so, Tamara ’s voice on the other side of the door asking something to a guest brought me back to reality. Tamara was another servant at the inn, who was known for snooping around and being unable to keep her mouth shut about anything. If she found out about my affair, Lady T would certainly send me away, and that was not an option at all for me. I quickly dressed myself, looked at myself in the mirror and tried to brush my hair with my fingers, in an attempt to look proper, and grabbing Jay’s pile of dirty laundry, I reached for the door.
“I will see you again tonight, I hope?” His tone was amicable and it didn’t feel like an order at all, but I knew otherwise. I turned around and smiled, bowing like a proper servant would, as if last night had been anything but a pleasant dream.
“Yes, most certainly, my Lord.” And with that formal sentence, after carefully checking the corridor for any sign of Tamara, I got out and closed the door behind me.