Chapter 8 ~ Wedding Bliss
Despite protests, Dabria was in bed for the next three days. Kiliki had taken one look at her and ordered her up to her room at the Javale estate. Justin had carried her upstairs, and then immediately left, promising only to be back in time for the wedding. Salena and Tadi did their best to keep her well entertained with news of the wedding preparations and Adem’s three year old attempts to help. Their recollections were highly amusing, but not quite the same as being there herself.
The Brentlyn estate had been turned into a huge wedding palace. The wedding itself would take place out on the back lawn. The Jakon orchard would provide the backdrop to the sunset wedding. Flowers from Aunt Jada’s garden were displayed everywhere. Aradon and Brena, Tommy’s housekeeper for the Brentlyn estate, led the servants as their own private army.
The moment Dabria was allowed out of bed, she requested a trip to give the ‘wedding palace’ her own approval. With a promise from Evyn to keep an eye on her, she and Salena gleefully took off in the carriage. The girls’ eyes widened in surprise at the activity around the Brentlyn estate.
“Wow, Salena, I thought Javale was busy. This is amazing.” Dabria’s voice held wonder and awe.
Salena only nodded, keeping her eyes on the activities outside the carriage window. Evyn’s face appeared in the window, blocking their view.
“I have to see to things about the estate. All this wedding stuff and I still have to keep everything running. I don’t see what the big deal is.”
Dabria’s mouth dropped open. “It’s your wedding! It’s really important!”
“Sure, that part after the wedding. Everything else is just a pain,” Evyn reported.
The girls looked at each other and shook their heads.
“You are such a boy!” Dabria exclaimed.
Evyn laughed. “Yes, and Emalia likes me that way. Now, can you two stay out of trouble for a bit?”
The girls nodded solemnly.
Evyn grinned and pointed at Dabria. “Don’t overdo it or our sister will have my head!”
“I won’t,” Dabria said in her best innocent voice.
Evyn didn’t look completely convinced, but he left the girls and hurried inside.
Dabria grinned at Salena. “Let’s get a good look around!”
“Oh yes! I want to see everything!” Salena agreed quickly.
Within seconds the girls were out of the carriage and bounding all over. Everywhere they looked there were things to do and see. Gardeners were trimming and watering each bush and tree all across the estate. People came and went constantly with all manner of different shaped packages. Servant’s carried things in from the store rooms and furniture and rugs out of the house to get some fresh air in them. Others carted tables and chairs and set them up all over the backyard for the guests. Many of the most important people around all of Zerlinda were expected if Tadi was to be believed. Some kids chased a dog and three cats between it all. On top of the stairs, Brena directed everything, looking much like Captain Justin directing his crew, Dabria thought.
She hurried up the steps to Brena’s side. The older woman glanced at her and then swooped down to give her a large hug.
“My dear little, Dabria. How are you feeling?”
“I’m better now. I came to help.”
The older woman’s face turned slightly stern. “Help or watch? I believe you are still restricted are you not?”
“Well…” Dabria hedged.
“She doesn’t know what that means,” Salena put in helpfully.
Dabria glared at her friend, while Brena laughed.
“Oh, she knows. She just wishes she didn’t. You may watch, Dabria, but you are not to do anything that will overtax you. Like it or not, you are recovering still.”
Dabria stuck out her tongue, making Brena laugh again.
“Go on with you. We have lots to do before the wedding in two days. Why don’t you see what the twins are doing?”
Dabria grinned. “Yeah! Are they in the orchard?”
“More than likely they are helping Natili in the kitchen. I believe that was where my daughter sent them after they attempted to get little Cuini to eat some freshly dug up worms.”
“Did she?” Dabria asked, eyes wide.
Brena laughed. “Cuini is five, but she is not dumb. Sometimes I think she is smarter than my grandchildren.” She glanced up. “Henri! You put that down right this second! You can’t bring that type of wood outside! It’s been finished! They are watering things out here! In! Inside! Right now!”
With that, Brena was off directing again. Dabria laughed and she and Salena headed straight for the kitchen. Inside, it was just as active as outside. The entire house smelled of fresh air, cleaning supplies, and something really good coming from the kitchen. The girls followed the scent into the world of foods.
Natili was a captain of her own in this room and though there was someone or something in every inch of space, everyone flowed to a timing all Natili’s. The cook didn’t shout once, but a single look was enough to send anyone off in the opposite direction. At the middle table, the nine year old twins were chopping vegetables rather furiously.
“Hi!” Dabria said, stepping up to them.
“Dabria! Salena!” The twins cried simultaneously. “When’d cha get here?”
“Now,” Dabria responded causally.
“Aren’t cha sick?” Keshi asked, his noise wrinkling.
“Not anymore,” Dabria answered importantly. “Besides, you can’t catch it.”
“Oh,” Keshi replied, going back to his chopping, apparently not concerned anymore.
“Are you staying here now?” Kiran asked, keeping a close eye on her brother’s motions.
“I wish,” Dabria said sadly.
“She’s still on restriction,” Salena put in.
Dabria turned to glare at her friend and the twins laughed.
“Dabria!” A strong voice called out.
Dabria turned to find the rotund cook smiling at her.
“When did you get here, small one?”
“Just now. I wanted to come look.”
Natili nodded. “I’m sure you did. There is lots of excitement here. A little too much, sometimes.” She added, with a glance at the twins, who started chopping faster.
“How is Cuini?” Salena asked.
“My daughter is just fine. Thank you for asking, Salena,” Cammy reported from the brick oven she was placing bread into. “The excitement is a bit much though, so she went down for a nap.”
Dabria nodded importantly. “She probably needed it.”
“Yes,” Cammy smiled. “She did.”
“Natili!” Brena entered. “Did you figure out what cake to make yet?”
Natili frowned. “You can’t rush art!”
Brena smiled. “I thought I was rushing a cake.”
“Same thing!” Natili threw her hands in the air.
Cammy closed the oven door and turned around with a grin. “It’s no use, Brena. She has two days. She’ll have it ready in time.”
“I was just checking. You have a lot of guests to feed too, Natili.”
“I know! I even have your grandchildren working!”
“I’m sure their mother is pleased,” Brena covered a smile as the twins gave a loud groan.
“Mom!” The twins’ mother, Patience, entered the crowed kitchen. “Someone put… I don’t even know what into the linen. It’s turned all the table clothes bright orange!”
“They’re supposed to be white!” Brena exclaimed.
“I’d suggest you inform the linen,” Patience said practically.
“And how should I do that?” Brena asked, crossing her arms.
“Ask Ferryll if there is money to buy more?” Patience suggested.
Before Brena could come up with a response to that, the back door burst open and Heath raced in. He glanced around quickly. “Hi, Honey,” he said in Cammy’s direction, before turning to Brena. “There is someone here who insists he was hired to paint the wedding portrait of the Knight and Maid before they marry, and Rallo wants to know if it was every decided exactly how many guests were coming so he can set out more chairs if they are needed, and I need to borrow the twins for a moment. Someone let the cat out again and she managed to knock over every flower vase in the backyard. How I’m not sure, but Rallo said either the twins get her or he’s getting letting the dogs have a snack.”
“No!” The twins shrieked together, before both dropping their knives and dashing out the door.
“Heath!” Patience exclaimed.
Heath looked at Rallo’s wife and shrugged. “They moved, didn’t they?”
Brena shook her head. “The wedding is in two days! Could we at least pretend to have some order around here?”
“There you are!” Evyn’s voice preceded him into the kitchen. “We need to get you back. Kiliki will have a fit if you are late for your final dress fitting.”
“Our dresses!” Dabria clapped her hands together. “We are going to be the Children of Blossoms.” She explained proudly to the room at large.
“Then you must look your very best,” Brena confirmed sweetly. “Go with your brother and I will straighten out everything here. Now, Heath, there will be no dogs! And of course they Knight and Lady will be painted after the marriage and not before of all the ideas! As for chairs and guests…”
Dabria missed whatever was said next as Evyn hustled her and Salena back into the carriage. They pulled up to the front steps of the Javale estate, just as Kiliki exited the house, hands on hips, and with a lecture for Evyn. The girls ducked quickly inside. Wedding preparations made for many active and uptight adults, Dabria decided, just as Aunt Jada stuffed her into a new dress.
The day before the wedding, Dabria and Salena closed themselves off in Dabria’s room for an emergency meeting.
“It’s not very good, Dabria. I mean, I’ve done better.” Salena spoke in a concerned voice as she analyzed the paper in her hand.
“Let me see it.” Dabria sat next to her friend on the bed and held out her hand.
Reluctantly, Salena handed over the paper. Dabria smiled at her before looking down to read the poem.
Through troubled times you kept me safe
Guarding my heart and mind always
It is you alone who lets my heart soar
It is you who loves me more and more
When I was lost to all and no one saw
You understood as no one else could
It is you alone who lets my heart soar
It is you who loves me more and more
Together we live and love, we remember
Together we will remain forever
“What’s wrong with it?” Dabria asked.
“I don’t know. I can’t put my finger on it, but it doesn’t feel right.”
“Well, I think it’s great. Now, let me think. Hmm….” Dabria stood and paced the room with the paper in her hand. “The first part is Emalia’s point of view, right?”
“Right!” Salena said with relief. “And Evyn’s is the second stanza.”
“And the rest is them together?” Dabria asked.
Salena nodded and Dabria kept pacing. Finally, she swung around to look at her friend.
“I’ve got it. I’ll draw Emalia on the left side up high, and in the middle Evyn will be on the right. Then, on the bottom, I’ll put the two together. I think a sunset over water for the background. After all, they are getting married at sunset and they met on the water!”
“That’s really good!” Salena exclaimed.
Dabria smiled. “I know. Sometimes I surprise even myself.”
The girls laughed.
“What is the name of the poem?” Dabria questioned, when they had regained their breath.
“I don’t know. I was thinking something simple. Like their names or just ‘Together.’ What do you think?”
“I like both ideas. But you’re the writer. I just draw.”
“Well, what would you title the drawing?”
Dabria thought about it for a moment. “Their names.”
Salena nodded. “Then it’s settled.”
“Good.” Dabria went to her desk and removed her pencils from the drawer. “I’ll start on the drawing right away and when I’m done, you can put in the words.”
Salena smiled. “It’s a perfect wedding present.”
“Yes. I can’t wait until tomorrow,” Dabria said, already drawing.
“It will be fun. There were a lot of chairs,” Salena commented, looking over her poem again.
“Are you nervous about walking to the front?” Dabria asked, picking up a different pencil.
“No, not really,” Salena answered, but her voice was quite.
“Just look at our family and friends.”
“We go down first!” Salena exclaimed looking up.
“Oh,” that caused her to pause for a moment. “Captain Justin will be up front before anyone! He’s the one marrying them. Look at him.”
“Dabria, Captain Justin isn’t here yet.”
The girls stared at each other for a moment.
“Kiliki!” Dabria yelled as she and Salena raced out of the room.
“Tommy, I cannot do everything at once no matter what you think!” Kiliki’s voice called out from her and Tommy’s bedroom.
“I didn’t say everything,” Tommy’s voice protested.
“You most certainly did!” Kiliki yelled, just as Dabria and Salena slid to a stop in the doorway.
Kiliki and Tommy stood facing each other with Adem on the floor between them. The just turned three year old looked from his father to his mother and back again, trying to figure out what had them upset. Dabria watched with interest for a moment, before stepping further into the room.
“Sissy!” She called more loudly.
The three occupants turned to look at her.
“Captain Justin hasn’t arrived yet!” Dabria pronounced.
“I know, Bree. I’m sure he’s on his way.” Kiliki said quite calmly for having been yelling a minute ago.
“But he’s not here yet! And it’s tomorrow!”
“He promised he’d be here.” Kiliki responded again, her eyes returning to her husband.
“But what if he’s not? Who will we look at?” Dabria exclaimed again.
That got her sister’s attention. “What?” Kiliki asked, shock and amusement in her voice.
Dabria looked at Salena. “What did I say?”
“Helpful,” Dabria muttered and turned back to her sister. “Salena is scared to walk down to the front, so I told her we could watch Captain Justin because he’d already be down there. But if he’s not, then we can’t!” She explained importantly.
That caused Tommy to laugh and Kiliki to smile and say, ‘oh.’
“Well, Captain Justin is on his way right now. You have to trust that he will do his best to keep his promise and be here on time,” Kiliki managed to clarify, while hiding a smile.
Dabria sighed heavily. “I guess so.”
“Bee!” Adem called out from the floor.
“Hi, Adem!” Dabria stepped between her sister and brother to plop down on the floor and play with him. “So, what’s going on?” She asked, looking up at the two adults.
“Tommy was just remembering he is a father,” Kiliki said firmly.
“I never forgot!” Tommy protested.
A mischievous smile crossed Kiliki’s face. “Prove it. Take care of him today so I can take care of the wedding.” With that, Kiliki was out of the room, despite Tommy’s soundless protests.
“That sounds like fun,” Dabria said grinning.
“I thought you were working on Evyn and Emalia’s wedding present?” Tommy questioned, obviously thinking fast.
“Oh yeah!” Dabria jumped up. “We’ll be back!”
The two girls scurried back to their room, but only worked for a little bit before heading back to see how Tommy was faring with his son. They walked in to see Tommy trying to persuade Adem to hold still. Dabria burst out laughing.
Tommy shot her a look that quieted her immediately, but her smile stayed in place.
“What are you doing?” Dabria asked quickly.
“Changing Adem. Can’t you tell?” Tommy asked, a little bit of frustration in his voice.
Dabria cocked her head and watched Adem for a moment. The naked baby’s old diaper lay beside him and Adem’s arms and legs moved in every direction as he giggled joyfully. Tommy stood above him holding the new diaper and trying to move around the waving arms and legs.
“Adem. Hold still.” Tommy commanded, but the little one just giggled.
Without warning, a stream of yellow launched for Tommy’s face.
“Ach!” Tommy yelled, holding up the diaper before his face. “Adem!”
“Ew! Gross!” Dabria and Salena managed, laughing hard enough to double them over.
The toddler rolled over on the bed and plopped onto the ground.
Tommy glared at his son. “Stay.” He ordered as he went to the pitcher and poured a lot of water into the bowl.
Adem put both hands on the ground and pushed his back up so that he could stand. Glancing at his father, he made his way to the door. Dabria and Salena stopped laughing long enough to watch in surprise as he toddled right on out.
“Um, Tommy?” Dabria called, but Tommy didn’t turn from the wash basin.
Salena looked at her and shrugged. The two girls hurried out to find Adem at the top of the stairs looking down.
“Adem, no!” Dabria hurried to his side. She grabbed a pudgy hand. “Those are dangerous.”
Adem looked up at his aunt. “Mommy!” He wailed.
“Mommy! Want Mommy now!” It was louder this time and Salena clapped her hands over her ears.
“What should I do?” Dabria asked.
“Take him back to Tommy?” The girl suggested.
“He’s busy washing everything.”
“Then take him to his mom! Just make him stop yelling!” Salena cried as Adem started howling at the top of his lungs.
Dabria picked the boy up and hurried down the steps. Downstairs, servants rushed everywhere. Although the wedding was at the other estate, much of the preparations were taking place at this one. Naturally, this meant that there was not a single calm person on the floor and everyone rushed somewhere with a job that had to be done right then. Organized chaos reigned on the Brentlyn estate and Kiliki was nowhere to be seen. The girls looked around frantically as Adem continued to howl and wiggle non stop.
“Eak!” Dabria exclaimed. “Salena, he’s slipping!” The girl bent down to put the toddler closer to the floor.
“Well, don’t let go! I don’t see his mom,” Salena replied looking craning her neck to see in every direction.
“Adem, hold still!” Dabria repeated Tommy’s earlier command. She had no better success than he did as the three year old kicked her hard in her thigh. She yelped loudly and the boy slipped out of her hands and into the chaos of the wedding preparations. “Adem! Salena, stop him!”
But the Adem was already out of reach.
Salena gapped at Dabria. “How can a three year old be so fast?”
“I don’t know, but we have to catch him! He’s not even dressed!”
The two girls took off into the crowd of servants, pushing anyone who got in their way. Outraged cries rose up from everywhere, but the girls didn’t pay attention, intent on their mission to catch the little naked run away.
Suddenly, a strong hand grabbed Dabria’s shoulder and pulled her up short. She turned to see Tommy’s stern face looking down at her.
“Where is Adem?”
“Um, he got away…” Dabria’s voice trailed off quickly.
“How did he get downstairs?” Tommy’s voice was clipped.
“He wanted his mom and you were busy, so…”
“Dabria! It’s a natural disaster down here!” Tommy couldn’t keep the worry from seeping into his voice as he scanned the crowded rooms. “We need to find him.”
“Yeah! Before Kiliki does,” Salena put in.
Tommy winced. “Way before that. Split up. He’s down here somewhere.”
A cry from the direction of the kitchen stopped the splitting up process and everyone ran to the area. Servants were holding trays high above their heads as Adem toddled rather quickly around them. Tommy made a dash for his son, as others scurried out of the father’s way, but just before Tommy could put his hands on his little runway, Adem was lifted up into someone’s arms. Tommy looked up and took a step back.
Kiliki stood with one hand on her hip and Adem secured on the other. Servants scurried for the door quickly and soon only the three and the girls were left.
“I suppose you have a very good explanation for this,” Kiliki spouted sternly.
“I was changing him,” Tommy offered.
“By letting him run naked through a house full of servants?” Kiliki was obviously not impressed.
“No. He did that by himself,” Tommy answered calmly, causing the girls to snicker behind him.
Kiliki swung her accusing gaze in their direction. Dabria swallowed hard.
“He wanted to see you, and Tommy was getting the peepee up, so we tried to get him down here, but he’s too active!” Dabria exclaimed.
Kiliki’s eyebrows rose and she turned back to her husband. “Peepee?”
“He’s a good shot with that diaper off,” Tommy commented and Dabria wasn’t sure if Tommy was proud or not.
Kiliki frowned and handed Adem to Tommy. “Take your son upstairs, put him in some clothes, clean up that mess, and keep a very good eye on him. I don’t have the time or desire to babysit you both!”
“My son! So, now you’ll let me claim him?” Tommy exclaimed.
Kiliki smiled tightly. “When he’s good he’s mine, when he’s bad he’s all yours. Now, move!” With that she turned and reentered the kitchen, calling over her shoulder, “Girls, there is plenty for you to do too!”
Dabria and Salena glanced at each other then at Tommy, before moving quickly to follow Kiliki. Right before the door closed behind them, Dabria heard Tommy talking to Adem.
“It was never this hard on the ship!”
“The wedding is supposed to be in an hour!” Dabria shouted at the top of her lungs.
The entire room turned to face her. Tommy, Kiliki, Aunt Jada, Sahen, Evyn, Emalia, and Salena had all gathered before the ceremony to go over last minute details. But the action stopped when Dabria’s voice rose above them all.
“We are aware of that, Bree. What’s the matter?” Kiliki asked her sister.
“Captain Justin isn’t here!” Dabria stated what to her was perfectly obvious.
The adults’ faces turned slightly worried.
“We are aware of it, child. But there is nothing we can do,” Sahen replied gently.
“But he’s not here! You act like it doesn’t matter!” Dabria was almost in tears.
Kiliki went to her sister’s side immediately. “We know, Bree. But Sahen is right. We can’t do anything about it. If he can make it on time, Justin will be here.”
“But what if he’s not?” Dabria sniffed. “You can’t do it without him!”
Emalia came to stand next to her. “We don’t want to, Bree. But we can only wait so long.”
“Who’s going to marry you?” Dabria questioned, not at all happy that the adults were not more concerned about Captain Justin’s absence.
“The local minister is among the guests,” Aunt Jada replied. “Reverend Cassel can do it in a pinch if we ask. He’s not all that boring. I guess.”
“You guess?” Evyn looked at her amused.
Aunt Jada shrugged. “Well, I have to be honest some of the time, especially about the minister!”
“Aunt Jada, you are always brutally honest!” Emalia shook her head, quite amused.
Aunt Jada affected an innocent look. “I have no idea what you could possibly mean, my dear.”
Dabria frowned at them all. “But Captain Justin was supposed to do it! You promised he could! You can’t let someone else do it! You just can’t!” Her breathing was very rapid now.
“Sit down, Dabria,” Salena commanded, rushing out of the room. “I’m getting water!” She called over her shoulder.
Kiliki already had her sister halfway to the closest chair. “Count, Dabria. Slowly.”
Dabria shook her head and tried to breath, so Kiliki started the count. Salena was back in the room with a glass of water before Dabria’s breath matched the timing of Kiliki’s counting.
“Drink, Dabria. Please,” Salena pleaded, her brown eyes filled with concern.
Obediently, the girl took the glass and sipped slowly.
“We will wait as long as we can for Justin, Bree. I want him here just as much as you do. But we can’t wait forever,” Emalia tried to sooth the distraught girl.
“He promised he’d be here.” The girl hiccupped. “What if something happened? He could be in trouble.”
Kiliki looked back at Tommy. He glanced around the room and then spoke calmly. “You forget he is the Black Panther now, Dabria. And he has a good crew behind him. He’s fine, just delayed.”
Dabria nodded, still hiccupping and attempted to drink her water. Suddenly, she dropped the cup to the floor where it miraculously refused to shatter and ran to the open doorway. She flung herself into the arms of newly arrived Justin. Maath and Namid stood behind him.
Justin looked around the room, eyes wide, and barely managed to catch the girl on time. He gave her a quick squeeze and lifted her face to look at him. He frowned quickly. “Pixie, you’ve been crying.”
“You weren’t here,” the girl managed, burying her face back into his coat.
“Um… I’m here now,” Justin replied, looking to the room at large for help.
“She thought something might have happened to you and you wouldn’t make it in time for the wedding. She didn’t want us to replace you,” Evyn explained.
“Ah,” Justin said, comprehension dawning.
“Reverend Cassel will be so disappointed he won’t be able to perform the ceremony,” Aunt Jada inserted, obviously not the least bit displeased.
Justin gave Dabria another quick hug, the girl still had her arms wrapped around him, and then led her back to the seat. He glanced at the water and Kiliki’s position still on the floor.
Crouching down in front of her, he asked, “Pixie, did you almost have another attack?”
The girl ducked her head, but nodded.
“Pixie! I dropped you off with a promise you’d get well.”
“I know,” she whispered. “But I did.”
“And then you have a second attack because of me? Didn’t we just go through this?”
Tears appeared in Dabria’s eyes. “I’m sorry, Captain Justin.”
Justin shook his head and wiped her tears away. “Shh. Don’t cry. That’s not going to help. Everything’s fine. See, I’m here now.”
“Yes. We can walk down to you now,” Dabria breathed heavily.
“What?” Justin asked, confused.
“We walk down to you, remember?” Dabria asked.
Justin looked surprised for a moment and then smiled. “Oh, you’re the Children of the Blossom, right? Yep, I’ll be there waiting for you. Okay?”
Dabria nodded and smiled for the first time. Justin grinned at her and stood.
“I’m sorry. We were attacked and had to captured the ship,” Justin explained to everyone.
“Everything went smoothly?” Tommy asked.
“For us anyway,” Justin replied.
Evyn laughed. “Well, done Black Panther, but do you think you could slow down enough to marry me and my bride to be?”
“I don’t want to be accused of making the Lady wait any longer. I think the Knight already did that!”
Everyone laughed, except Evyn.
“Ha, ha, ha. Come on, we have a ceremony to perform!”
For all the frantic preparations before, the wedding went off without a hitch. Justin waited just as he promised in front of the guests and Salena and Dabria made their way down to him, throwing their petal blossoms without a hitch. Tommy and Kiliki stood as First Knight and First Matron respectively. Evyn waited at Justin’s side and Emalia looked like a white angel as she floated down to him. It was a rather long ceremony in Dabria’s opinion, so when the Seal of Love, or first kiss, was officially given, she cheered louder than most. Justin sent a grin her way and then it was back up the aisle again. In her opinion, the best part came next: the food.