Brianna took a moment to revel in the near silence. Her hand rested on the bottle of expensive wine that Davy had sent her down to get, but she shut her eyes and took a deep, calming breath. It was not impossible for Brianna to get time alone, but it was definitely difficult. Down here, in the third storage room in the basement, there was almost no sound from the crowded restaurant, or from the assorted guests and inhabitants of Davy’s Inn. For a moment, Brianna could almost imagine she was completely alone.
Much too soon, the door swung open behind her, and the noise from the floors above started to pour in, along with a petite blonde. “Brianna? Davy is really insistent about that wine.” Lilith, a perfectly bubbly sixteen-year-old who shared a room with Brianna, called out, not actually going any farther into the wine cellar than she had too.
Brianna’s eyes snapped open, and she lifted the bottle carefully out of its rack. “I’ve got it right here. Let’s go.”
“I don’t know who this guy is, but he certainly seems important.” Lilith told Brianna as they made their way back up the stairs. “I mean, Davy’s taken off his apron and is serving this guy directly.”
“Maybe it is Prince Leverson himself, here to whisk away one of us lowly waitresses to be his Queen.” Brianna teased, and Lilith ’s eyes lit up.
“Do you think?” But then she frowned, “No. It can’t be. The Prince would have more guards with him. Good guess though, Bree.”
Brianna could not help but chuckle to herself. She loved that girl to death, but Lilith was never very good at understanding when she was the butt of a joke. But still, Brianna had taken Lilith under her protection. Davy liked to joke that Brianna was the twenty-two-year-old mother of three teenage girls. Brianna had been an orphan since she was six, and she was abandoned by her older brother when she was thirteen years old. For a while, she grew bitter, managed to do just enough to get by, and worked in all sorts of unsavory jobs to get what little she needed. She was half starved and sleeping in an alley when she found then eight-year-old Charlotte, or rather, Charlotte found her. Charlotte had been orphaned the year before, and a couple months after that had decided to run away from the group children’s home that she had been placed in. Charlotte thought she was doing all right, because she was faring better than she ever had inside the children’s home. But she was so little, and so young, and Brianna knew that Charlotte could do so much better if she had someone looking out for her, so Brianna cleaned up and got on the top of her game. Brianna decided that she could not let Charlotte wander, and took the girl under her wing, to teach her the best ways to survive legally, and to try and protect her from some of the more awful things in the world. It didn’t take long for Brianna to begin to think of the young girl as her sister—and to start protecting her like family.
The next year, Brianna found thirteen-year-old Rika, a girl who had been abandoned almost since birth, and who needed no protecting, but longed for a family. Rika could fight well, having learned for survivals sake, but had never known anyone that she could trust, nor ever felt like she’d had a safe place to sleep. Rika came in already bargaining, ready to trade being muscle for a safe bed every night. Brianna had never even considered turning her away. And two years ago, not long after then twenty-year-old Brianna, twelve year old Charlotte, and sixteen year old Rika had settled into Davy’s Inn as permanent residents, fourteen year old Lilith had shown up at Davy’s door, looking for work and a place to stay, with absolutely no one to vouch for her. Davy promised her nothing, but introduced her to Brianna, and within the week, Lilith moved into the room with the other girls. Not long after that, Davy fired some of the less reputable members of his staff, and hired the four “sisters” to work together as his waitresses.
They all got along well, or as well as for drastically different girls could. But even when they bickered and fought, they still all came home and slept in the same room every night. Davy may like to joke that Brianna was the mother, but really, she was just the oldest of four sisters, left to fend completely for themselves.
Even though, legally speaking, Brianna had no obligation to care for these girls, she was the one who paid their rent, bought their clothes, and took care of their meals every day. Besides waitressing for Davy, Brianna was a well-practiced seamstress, and occasionally picked up odd jobs to do from travelers who either did not know where to go to get things done in Varch, or were too lazy to go out and do it for themselves. If she lived on her own, she could have built up a small fortune by now, but she preferred taking care of her girls to having all the money in the world.