Together, Kiley Rae and Wini traveled as much as they could. Wini learned to steal and con. Kiley Rae learned to fight and protect. Together they did what they needed to get by. They always had something to eat, and someplace to sleep, whether that was in an inn, in a field, or in an alley. Kiley Rae always tried to make sure that his sister was comfortable. For seven years, they worked together.
But then one day, Wini woke up, and her brother was gone. She waited there for the rest of the day, thinking that perhaps he had gone off on a job that she had forgotten about, or had gotten lost and needed some time to find his way back.
He never came back. She was on her own.
From that point on, the thirteen-year-old girl had to be an adult for herself, just so she could get by. For a couple of years, she never gave a name, and when she finally did start to socialize again, she dropped her first name entirely, and went simply by Brianna.
But now, Kiley Rae was standing in her home of the past two and a bit years, calling her Winifred like he still had that right, and pointing a knife at her. She wrapped her arms tightly around herself, ordered herself not to cry, and wondered just how long she would have to stand out here until her brother and his rich benefactor left.
She heard a soft cough behind her, and she turned around, fully expecting to have to face Davy and apologize for storming out the way she had. The last thing she expected to see was that rich pretty boy that Kiley Rae worked for, standing in the back alley of an Inn, looking only slightly less comfortable than he had inside. Brianna suppressed a squeak of surprise, and dipped into a quick bow.
“Miss Coney, I take it?”
“Er. Yes. I’m sorry for— “
“I am Lord Hutton Reignat, Miss Coney, and there is no need to be sorry. Apparently, tonight is just continuing to be very different than any of us imagined it would be.”
Brianna’s mind spun for a second, mentally searching through all the books she had read for why that named sounded so familiar. Finally, it hit her. Lord Hutton Reignat, the youngest son of the King Matten’s younger brother, Lord Barthew Reignat, and first cousin to Prince Leverson. Brianna bowed again, a little bit lower this time. “Still, I apologize for storming out on your Grace; I have had a bit of a shock.”
“Please, Miss Coney. I appreciate that you are trying to be respectful and formal and the like, but I would greatly appreciate it if you stopped bowing and spoke straight to me.”
“Alright. Then, I am not sorry I stormed out. I am annoyed that that man is in my home. I have considered him dead for just about nine years and it was much easier to think of him that way, so I’m probably going to continue to do so. To be honest, I am going to stand in this alley until you leave with him, or you all go to bed, in which case I will sneak up to my room and stay there until you leave with him.”
Lord Reignat smiled at me. “You certainly are speaking straight. I appreciate that. Now, Miss Coney, I am no stranger to inter-family conflicts. In some ways, my conflicts are much worse than this with your brother. In others, they pale in comparison. Mostly, if you will excuse me for speaking straight as well, I am just fascinated by you. Regardless, I am here to request an audience, on behalf of your brother, just so you can hear him out. Davy is setting up a private room as we speak. Just give him a candle’s worth of your time, as a favor to me.”
Brianna considered the offer. If you burned average sized candles day round, it would take twelve candles to get from sunrise to sunrise. So, what was a candles’ worth of being uncomfortable and angry be worth to her? Being a favor up on the King’s nephew? Yeah, that might just be worth it. She didn’t know what she would use that favor for, but it certainly couldn’t hurt.
“Very well, Lord Reignat. I will listen to him, but I will not promise any else. I fully expect to be equally as mad at him, if not more so, by the time the candle has burned out.”
“That’s your right, Miss Coney. And please, call me Hutton.” Hutton stepped out of the way to allow Brianna to enter the building first. Despite speaking straight with him, Brianna gave the lord one last bow before heading inside.