Chapter 2:

The Return

Tempest and Temptation

“Now that concludes our tour, Sir Reynolds. I apologize that my husband could not personally allow you a proper tour and greeting, but I hope you found mine somewhat sufficient. I must be on my way. Miss Pedigree, our senior house maid, will finish getting you settled in. Take care until then."

She waved Reynolds off and went about her way.

Without delay, she took refuge and rest from all the walking, and found a seat in the lounging room on the ground floor.

“Wine, please,” she called out loud, seating herself with haste.

It took a few seconds, but eventually, a maid approached her, offering food and drink.

"Oh, Miria." She gave the maid a soft smile as the maid handed her a chalice filled with wine. “Thank you.”

She brought the drink to her lips, attempting to resolve the plagues at the forefront of her mind.

Everything was fine, she had to remind herself.

Reynolds was going to be settled in, and the manor would be taken care of in preparation for the Independence Celebration. Her husband and she were going to go the Tricapitial and they would settle their business.

In the meantime, all she had to do was sit and relax in her picture-perfect home.

After all, everything was fine and it was a good day at that.

The flowers in the east wing were blooming so lovely, despite the occasional waves of cool wind and weather. The imported drapes gifted from Lord Jergen were up and looking swell as she inspected them from her seat. And the scent bags she recently purchased? They were filling rooms with an assortment of lovely scents of cinnamon, lavender, and lemon.

Her mental checklist could go on, and her home would still be exactly as it should be. As for her? She would always be living the life she was supposed to; Anya Sutherton, once Anya Emerson of the renowned Emerson Household, was a happy wife with a beautiful daughter. Everything was how it should be for a lady of her standing and upbringing.

As it should be?” she whispered, inquisitively.

She cast her eyes down; her lowered gaze momentarily catching sight of the enormous diamond ring bound to her finger. It sparkled, so much she had to squint as it stung her eyes.

She stared at it for a few moments longer before looking away and guzzling down the wine.

“Miria.” She turned her attention to the maid standing next to her dressed in a modest black uniform topped with a laced white apron. The maid was a familiar face who was lean in stature and rounded in the figure, with brown hair and russet eyes.

She swirled her drink. "How’s your hand?” She looked at the cloth bandages wrapped in the girl’s right hand.

Miria unfolded her hands. Her gaze locked on the discolored and frayed bandage tightly bound on her entire palm.

“You know Erina she---.” She gripped her wine glass, unable to bring herself to finish. Instead, she simply finished with a shake of her head and another sip of wine. The sweet tangy taste coated her tongue, and she enjoyed the numbing tingling sensation traveling through her tense body.

They fell into silence as Lady Sutherton continued to enjoy her drink glass after glass until a few drops of red landed on her dress.

“Oh heaven!” Lady Sutherton exclaimed loudly, as she accidentally spilled some wine on her expensive dress. “I need water!” she shouted to the maid.

Quickly she shifted around in her seat and sat her glass on a nearby lounge table. She licked her thumb and worked her salvia into the stain blotched on the lacey fabric. “Miria!” she shouted again. “Water!”

Hurriedly, the maid offered her a glass of water and she snatched it so quickly the maid blinked and it was gone. Lady Sutherton had dumped the glass straight onto the fabric aggressively in her efforts to clean it before it was permanent.

“Come on!” She scratched her nails on the blotchy stain. “Come on! Come out!” She scratched and scrubbed, but realized rather quickly it wasn’t coming out.

"Lady Sutherton!" The lounge doors burst open as another maid burst into the room. "Lord Sutherton was busy. But there's something you two must know. It is an emergency." The maid darted to her.

"What is the matter?" She stopped her cleaning and directed her complete attention to the maid.

The maid tried to catch her breath as she offered a worn white envelope. “A letter from Madame Marigold it’s about your daught----.”

Lady Sutherton interrupted her as she bounced from her seat, snatching the envelope.

Taken by impatience, she skimmed the letter, reading each word out loud. "---' Dear Lord and Lady Sutherton, it is with a heavy heart that we inform you due to unforeseen circumstances, we can no longer board Lady Erina Sutherton. We have scheduled for her departure from Madame Marigold's Board and Correction for The Troubled to be effective immediately. Thank you most sincerely----.' "

She dropped the letter, horrified.

“Lady Sutherton?” The maid processed her lady’s horror. “There's still something else."


Lady Sutherton’s ears perked up.

Noise and commotion were starting in the house. She could hear it. The fumbling and stomping of feet, the sound of growing voices, and the rumbling in the walls and floors.

Noise and a distinct familiar voice echoed through the halls.

“What is all of that?” Lady Sutherton whispered in a broken hush.

"The storm.” The maid swallowed. "The rainstorm that hit a few days ago delayed the post. That letter was marked from about 2 weeks ago."

"Excuse me?"

"Your daughter, Lady Sutherton, she's already returned."

𝕾𝖍𝖆𝖑𝖑 𝖜𝖊 𝖈𝖔𝖓𝖙𝖎𝖓𝖚𝖊?

Hungry Sheep