Yesterday was our 25th wedding anniversary. We had big plans for it in January, but COVID happened and we ended up spending it at home. We threw caution to the wind and ordered fried chicken. It was yummy. Worth the calories.
A little snippet for you, as promised.
Derek grabbed my reins. I gripped his wrist, digging my fingers into a pressure point.
“Come with me.” He pulled the reins and my hand to the right, toward a side street crisscrossed with bright tarps to shield it from the sun. “There’s no time.”
He released the reins and I followed him into the side street. We passed a stall selling leather goods, and he turned around and guided his horse behind it, using the bulk of the stall to shield him from view. I tucked Tulip next to him
“Don’t touch my horse. Never touch my horse.”
He didn’t answer. I couldn’t see his face deep within his hood, but his posture told me he was focused on Basilisk and the flow of traffic through it.
A woman rode into view. We saw her in profile. Athletic and muscular, she sat on a bay horse. Her dark hair snaked down in a long braid that fell over the sheath on her back. The sun caught the pommel of the sword protruding from it and it shone slightly with a familiar bone-white.
A man walked next to the horse, blond and built with power and speed in mind. He didn’t just walk, he prowled. Dad.
We sat perfectly still, as if petrified, while the world moved around us.
Dad said something. They stopped.
Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.
He turned toward us, and she did too. They looked exactly the same, as if I saw them yesterday. My heart squeezed itself into a tiny hard rock. They were right there. I could just walk out and hug them.
They were looking at the side street.
Don’t see us.
An imperceptible change came over Derek. He just sort of stopped being there. He blended in with the stall, the wall, and the street, becoming part of it. His horse had a larger presence than he did. I knew this trick from when I was a street kid and I used it now. Don’t think, don’t tense, don’t anticipate. Empty your head and just be.
Dad crouched. He did it in a feral, animal way. Around him people parted, giving him a wide berth.
Tulip snorted. Next to us a couple argued with the stall keeper over the price of boots.
Dad stared down the side street, almost straight at us. Behind him, Mom squinted.
She said something. He said something back. She said something again.
I wished I could read their lips, but we were too far.
He rose, reached out, and squeezed her hand. They turned back and continued on their way.
I waited. A minute crawled by. Another.
Finally, Derek moved.
“Friends of yours?” I asked. I waited for the earth beneath my feet to open up and swallow me and Tulip whole from the sheer audacity, but nothing happened.
“So why are you hiding? They’re not that far. We could still catch up to them.” Poke, poke, poke.
“Not today. Let’s take a different route.”
Great idea. The best idea he’d had all day.
We turned our horses and rode deeper into the side street.