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   Chapter 4 You shouldn't be out after dark

A Royal Ryde By LadyRosabella Characters: 18599

Updated: 2017-12-20 15:49


Mary Belle frowned at her niece who was busy peeling potatoes for their supper. Belle had been trying to talk to her since she came home from the 'dress' shop, but the girl didn't seem to even know of her Aunt's presence. Belle studied her niece's expression carefully. Bliss didn't seem angry or even sad. She seemed... she seemed curious? Like maybe she had stumbled on a mystery that she couldn't figure out. Belle chuckled, what mystery Bliss could've found in this small town, she didn't know. Still that girl seemed to be thinking deeply about something.

Belle probably should've been irritated that her niece had basically ignored her all day. Instead, she was fascinated. What could've boughten this behavior to her young niece? Belle grinned in a way that only a lady with elegant white hair can grin. She was just going to find out. "Bliss." Belle waited exactly five seconds before calling her niece's name again. Still nothing. The girl continued to peel potatoes as if she was completely alone in the house. "Bliss!" Still nothing. Belle's smile grew as she limped her way into the parlor. Retrieving the object she wanted, she returned to the kitchen. "Bliss?" She tried again.

Bliss had thought that going for a walk last night would help her to sleep. It hadn't. If anything it caused her sleeplessness. Since she had returned her mind had been plaguing her with all sorts of questions, each one about that mystery man. Who was he? Did he live in the mountains? Why had he followed her? He spoke two sentences and left. Why? What was the point in following her if he barely said anything to her? Why was he out at night anyways? Bliss wished that she could have seen his face. His form and pale skin was all that she had been able to make out last night. Maybe he didn't even live in town. He seemed rather reclusive. Maybe he was an outlaw of some sort. Yes, that could be it! Bliss cheered silently. He was an outlaw hiding out in the wilderness near the small undeveloped town. The only reason he had taken to following her was because she had probably gotten too close to where he had hidden the the stuff he stole. Of course, she mused, that would completely explain his two statements.

"You shouldn't be out after dark. It's dangerous."

"Who are you?"

"Someone you don't want to know in the daylight."

Bliss shivered in delight at the remberance of the deep intonation of his voice. She had never heard a man's voice sound so rich. It had come from his hidden spot, but his voice had blended so perfectly with the night nature that Bliss knew he was a man who belonged where he was. Outdoors... stalking people. At this thought, she frowned again. What if he wasn't an outlaw? If he wasn't then she was back to all of her orginal ques- "Ouch!" she cried out, her right hand jumping to cover her left arm. A small dot of blood appeared. She turned in shock and stared at her blue -eyed, white -haired aunt. "You stabbed me with your needle!" she accused.

"Yes." Her aunt's blue eyes twinkled merrily.

"Why?" Bliss was getting slightly more then irritated. What would possess her dear aunt to do such a thing?

Belle sighed. "If I answer you, will you actually listen to me?"

Bliss stared at her aunt for several seconds in silence. What was that supposed to mean? Had she not listened to something her aunt had said earlier? She couldn't remember. They only thing she could think of was her midnight walk and mysterious follower. Bliss sighed and sat down. She looked up at her aunt. "Have a been distracted today?" She asked though she was sure she knew the answer.

Her aunt snorted in a most unlady-like fashion. Bliss' mama would have been horrified. " Dear, I could've shot my gun from right beside you and you would've never flinched! Now, I've been trying to talk to you and this time I want you to pay attention, ya hear?"

Bliss felt bad that she had ignored her aunt all day. She truly hadn't meant to. She was just obsessed with the mystery of last night. Her aunt didn't deserve such ill treatment. "Of course, I'll listen, Auntie! I apologize for being so lost today. I don't know where my mind went."

Belle snorted again as she shook her head. Call her a fool, but she didn't belive Bliss. Something had caught the girls interest and Belle was determined she would find out what it was.

"Bliss, I've been feeling much better. I can hobble around quite well now. I want you to know that I appreciate everything that you've done for me this past week."

"Oh, Auntie!" Bliss reached out, clasping her aunt's tough wrinkled hand, she squeezed it gently. "You know I love you."

" 'Course you do." Her aunt replied. "Dear, since I've been doing so much better, I've decided that I don't need you to help me quite so much."

Bliss' brow furrowed in confusion. Was her aunt sending her away? She had just arrived! Bliss didn't want to leave this place. She had only been here for a week but she already loved it. Bliss was certain that her future lay in this countryside. "Auntie... I - I don't understand." She stammered. Please let it be a mistake! She didn't want to leave yet!

"Dear, have you noticed how few women this town has?"

"Yes." Bliss answered slowly, unsure where her aunt was heading with this line of questioning.

"Well, I think this town would be the perfect place for you to stay. We have great hunting grounds! I don't think you'll have much trouble at all. Of course, there is a fella in particular that I would like you to-"

"Wait. Wait. "Bliss removed her hand from her aunt's and stood so she could meet her eye to eye. Surely her aunt was not implying what she thought she was. "Hunting grounds? Are you saying that I should track a man down for myself?"

Her aunt eyed her closely before answering. Belle was trying to determined if Bliss was horrified by the idea or just surprised. She just couldn't tell. Bliss did seem to be rather surprised. " Of course! As I already mentioned we have many to chose from, but there is one in particular that I think would be perfect for you. Jude Rydir his name is. I think Mr. Rydir would be just the th-"

"Auntie!" Bliss' mind was spinning in circles as she tried to take in everything her aunt was saying. She never would have imagined that her sweet little aunt would try to get her married off. Bliss came to help her aunt! Belle's husband had died not long ago, she had an accident, and there surely weren't many women her aunt could call friends. Bliss thought her aunt was lonely and would welcome her companionship and help. Why was she trying to marry her off?

"Because." Belle reached out and clasped her niece's hand with both of hers. "I want you to be happy."

Bliss' eyes widened in surprise. She didn't realize she had spoken her question aloud.

"I want you to be happy." Her aunt repeated emphasizing the word 'happy'. "Bliss, I was so happy for forty-seven years with my dear Walt. He was the sun in my mornings and my moon at nights. I don't know how life would have turned out for me if I hadn't met him. But I am so glad that I did! I wouldn't change anything that I did." Her aunt's soft blue eyes misted over as she thought about her recently departed husband. "I loved him like the devil. Even when I was spittin' mad at him I couldn't help but love him!"

A tear slid down Bliss' cheek as she thought about the pain her aunt must feel at not having her love with her.

"He used to make me so mad." Belle openly cried now, though as soft smile was on her lips. "He loved to tease me, loved to ruffle my feathers as he called it." She swiped at her tears as she turned again to Bliss. "I want you to find a man who loves you unconditionally. Someone that you can freely give your complete heart and soul to. Someone you will gladly live forever with. I want you to find the other half of your heart, Bliss. He's looking for you."

"He is?" Bliss softly wondered. Could her aunt be right? Is their really a man out there somewhere, the other half of my heart, who is searching for me?

"He is." Belle confidently confirmed. "He is miserable without you, Bliss. He is searching for something to give his life purpose. He is searching for happiness and contentment. He's looking for you. You belong with him. You can save him.You need him as much as he needs you."

Tears where streaming steadily down my face as I pictured a man, an unhappy man with no general purpose. He was in a forest searching- searching for something. He was ill-kept, hungry, and tired yet he kept searching. It was so important for him to find what he searched for. It was his mission. And yet, the longer he searched and found nothing the more depressed and disheartened he got. The weaker he got. I couldn't stand the sight of the pain and misery that was written on his strong features. "Who is he?" I asked turning my tearstained face to my aunt.

My aunt clasped my face between both of my hands. "Child, " She whispered. "That is something only you and he will know."

My vision of the man lost and searching in the forest depressed me and my aunt's reply to my question saddened me even more. "What if I never find him? People can remain alone their whole life." I reminded her tearfully. After my vision of the sad searc

hing man, I was determined that my Aunt was right. Someone was searching for me somewhere. The other half of my heart, it ached without me.

"I could be wrong, my sweet child, but there is a man here. A sad, quiet man. I've always thought you could make him happy."

My heart gave a gentle leap. Could it be? Could he really be right here? And my aunt knew him. Was he searching for me? My mind drifted back to the faceless man who followed me last night. Was he searching for something - rather, someone? "Who is he?"

"Jude S. Rydir."

-----

The man stood in the dark shadows that the tree overhead cast, he didn't move as he severely studied the house before him. The house was a sweet, whimsical affair. Exactly as would befit an older lady. The house's beauty was not his concern, however. It was a certain young occupant. She had arrived several days ago and since he had seen her climb down from the coach he had felt an undeniable, unexplainable pull to her. He shouldn't. He knew better then most that attachment to any living form brought only weakness and pain. Still he couldn't stop watching her. Couldn't stop following her. He knew he shouldn't. Tried to talk himself out of it. Yet, every time he saw her he couldn't seem to let go. He couldn't convince himself that leaving her alone was for the best.

The girl obviously had no idea that he was stalking her with religious abandon. She never seemed to notice. So he followed her. Watched as she hung the laundry humming to herself. Watched as she took measurements of men she didn't want to be close to. He could tell from her expressions which men she absolutely did not want to make clothing for. Yet, she turned no one away. He watched as she brought smiles and joy to her widow aunt's life. And so, when he watched the house door slowly ease open and a slender form in a white nightgown appear, he couldn't help but follow her as she turned walked down the dusty walk and head toward the mountains.

He tried to maintain his distance, but so badly he wanted to see her. He wanted to get close enough to see the different shades of brown in her long hair that hung loose down her back. He wanted to be close enough to see the twinkle in her sweet eyes. He wanted to compare her dainty height to his own. The girl herself was making it even harder. She didn't rush towards the mountains. She walked slowly, brushing at her face every few seconds. Was she crying? What made her cry?

He wished he could speak to her, wish he could know her. He had never been so entranced with watching somebody just carry out their everyday life. But she... she had such love, such passion for life. How did she get that? How did she maintain it? He knew he had never felt that way about life before. Well... perhaps he did once, once when he was a small boy living with his parents and siblings. Back before everything changed, before the people closest to him betrayed him, back when his parents and sister were still alive. Cursing himself, he froze when his left foot stepped on a twig causing it to snap. The sound seemed to echo in the small silent grove of trees. He should have been paying more attention to his surroundings. Now, the girl thought someone was following her. She had stopped and was now scanning the area.

"Hello?" She called softly. She almost sounded as if she were afraid someone might answer her. Thankfully, she needn't worry. He had no intentions of revealing himself to her. He had been following her and watching her for a week without her notice. Why would he give himself away now?

"Hello?" She called a little bolder since no one had answered her last call. "I've heard you following me. Come out and show yourself."

Not a chance, the man thought as he remained stubbornly where he was. After several long minutes the girl finally turned and continued her journey towards the river. The man breathed a sigh a relief and trailed after her, trying to be a bit more discreet.

He had noticed that since her arrival, the girl had fallen in love with the mountain that she could see outside her window. He would watch her watching that mountain for hours. He couldn't help but wonder what she thought about when she watched that mountain. Just today, she had been weeding her aunt's little garden. After a while she had taken a rest, and there she sat in all her glory: old faded house dress, bonnet hanging down her back, fingers crusted in dirt, perspiration trailing down her fine feature and there she sat watching that beautiful mountain.

When she reached the river, the man wondered if she were going to cross it and continue towards the mountain she was so obsessed with. He crept forward quietly as he watched her unlace her black boots and take them off. Then came the stockings. Holding her nightgown up to keep it from getting wet she stepped into the river and closed her eyes. The man took another step closer, he wanted to see the expression on her beautiful heart-shaped face. His left arm hit a overgrown bush, quickly he reached out to steady it when he stepped on yet another branch. This stupid grove had more branches on the ground then it did on the trees, he thought irritably. He took a step forward then froze. The girl had been alerted to his presence yet again. She was staring in his direction. The man prayed for the shadows of the trees to swallow him so she wouldn't see him.

"If you're there then come out." She called.

The man held his breath and didn't move. Several seconds elapsed.

"I've heard you following me. Hiding will do you no good. Come out so we can talk."

The man almost groaned at her words. He wanted to talk to her. He wanted to hear her sweet voice direct words to him. He couldn't though. He had to stay away from her. Why had he even followed her?

After several long seconds, he watched as she turned, obviously giving up, and walked deeper into the water. Just as the wind started to tease her long chocolate curls, she began to sing in a voice that could have only came from an angel of God. The man couldn't help himself. Yet, again he made a stupid decision as he walked closer to hear the sweet melodious voice bringing Stephen Foster's parlor tune to life. Such emotion, such passion.

"Beautiful dreamer out on the sea

Mermaids are chanting the wild lorelie

Over the streamlet vapors are born

Waiting to fade at the bright coming morn"

The man had to get closer, staying as close to the trees as he could he steadily moved closer to the woman.

"Beautiful dreamer beam on --" No! His eyes focused on the beautiful girl, he didn't even see the tree root raised up just enough to be a trip hazard. The man quickly righted himself and tried to fade into the tree he was near. The girl's beautiful singing had stopped. She was now turned toward the grove of trees. The man held his breath...then... something began to move on his arm. Just a light spine-shivering sensation. He glanced down to see a rather large spider making its way happily up his arm. Spiders don't scare him. They never had, they never will. But that spider was not going to find its way into his shirt! Briefly forgetting about his need to be still, the man quickly flicked the spider off of his arm. He just relaxed when a soft voice whispered to him.

"Come out."

No! He hoped the girl hadn't seen him. Fate just was not with him tonight! He had never had such a hard time trailing her before. He remained still praying she would give up and go back to her hauntingly sweet melody. No such luck.

"I can see your face."

What? How was that- the man's thought broke off as he saw the moon shining lightly on his face. Butterscotch and biscuits, this was bad.

"Come out." The girl gently ordered.

What should he do? Should he reveal himself or run? If he revealed himself he would have to speak to her. He would get to speak with her. No! He couldn't! This would only bring trouble, he had to run...

Before he could stop himself or think better of it, he was speaking to her. He just had to hear her voice again. Had to hear her say something to him.

"You shouldn't be out after dark." He said. "It's dangerous." Yes, he thought. If you hadn't come out I would have never followed you here and spoken to you.

"Please, who are you?"

The man frowned at her words. She didn't sound scared, only curious. This was a bad idea, a very bad idea. He needed to leave before this turned into a conversation and she began asking questions about him. "Someone you don't want to know in the daylight." Turning quickly, he disappeared between the trees and waited. It didn't take very long before the girl walked out of the river. She gathered her boots and stockings and headed back to her aunt's house. The man quietly followed her back to ensure she got there safely. This time, however, she had no idea she was being followed.

----

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