Gods Save the Princess (Grace of Gods Book 2)

BOOK: Gods Save the Princess (Grace of Gods Book 2)
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Chapter One

A shrill shriek echoed through the room, I barely had the time to move out of the way as my two toddler-aged nieces ran past crossing the threshold into the next room. Smiling gently to myself I shook my head and set down the teapot I was holding for Mum next to her knitting chair.

“Anything else I can get you?” I smiled at her, watching her deft hands move the wool so effortlessly. She didn’t look up and didn’t acknowledge me so I took a deep breath and walked away. She was getting worse; I worried I was the only one who saw it.

Another scream made me flinch this time and I held out my arms, catching Melody and scooping her up.

“C’mon you. Nana’s trying to work and she can’t concentrate on that with you screaming.” I blew a raspberry into her tummy and carried her into the kitchen to my older brother. “August, I have a present for you.” I held the giggling toddler out to him and he grinned, taking her and distracting her with tickles. He didn’t say anything to me, occupying his daughter instead.

Leaving them to their amusement, I walked out of the kitchen and to the back door. Slipping my feet in the boots that waited for me there, I hauled the coat off the hook and shrugged it on. It swallowed me in its massive girth but it would keep me warm. Pushing the door open I padded through the snow toward the barn. To my right, my two other brothers were furiously trying to get the snowplow to cooperate. They were fighting with it and each time it rumbled encouragingly before spluttering back to its death. They didn’t see me as I walked into the barn, stamping my feet on the mat to shake off some of the excess snow.

I’d left a second pair of shoes there to switch into so I didn’t have to fight with heavy boots, also so I didn’t leave wet puddles around to encourage rot. I hoped I would be alone in the barn but from the sounds of it Theresa and Mary had both escaped here as well, gossiping about... Whatever it was the girls shared with each other and not me.

Grabbing the tack box from the shelf as quietly as I could, I made my way over to Constantine’s stall, greeting him with a treat and a smile.

“Hey boy.” I ran my hand up the length of his nose, receiving a nudge in reply. He whinnied as I opened the door, closing it behind me like I could physically block out my world from his. Grabbing the brush from the box I set to work, losing myself in the task at hand. It was peaceful, relaxing work. It took my mind off my crazy household, and especially my sick mother. These days it seemed the only thing she remembered how to do was knit; every other task was left for me to manage. Most of my siblings had never moved out of our massive farmhouse but none of them seemed willing to help with her.

It bothered me when few things normally did. I tried not to dwell too much on it; their lack of willingness to help was not a reflection of their love for her. Or for me. They were busy. It was a large farm to contend with, there was a lot of work to be done. My father wouldn’t be able to manage it all without their help.

“Valentina?”

I poked my head out of the stall watching as Edwin approached Constantine’s stall, stopping a few feet away.

“Dad needs you.”

“Oh, alright.” I smiled as I set the brush back down in the tack box and gathered it, letting myself out of the stall. “Where is he?”

“Out front with Uncle Adam.” I nodded, replacing the tack box and quickly switching my shoes. I didn’t want to keep anyone waiting, half tripping as I walked out of the barn in my haste.

Both men seemed caught up in a heated discussion as I approached them, smiling sweetly as I came up alongside Father.

“Edwin said you needed me?”

“Valentina, you remember Uncle Adam?”

I looked at the man I knew by name but couldn’t remember having ever met him. He was my dad’s youngest brother; he was in the army. He had been deployed in the East somewhere, busy defending our freedom and helping those who couldn’t help themselves. That’s what Dad had always said at least.

I could tell he was younger than my father. Where my father’s hair had long ago turned a speckled grey and white, his was still brown with natural sun bleached highlights. He was tanned; he must’ve been somewhere hot and sunny. You could tell he took care of himself, his physique in perfect condition compared to my father’s whose had lessened in the years since my brothers had taken over the brunt of the work.

“Vaguely, it’s really nice to finally meet you.” I held out my hand politely and smiled. He laughed in amusement, eyeing me with thoughtfulness before holding his arms out.

“C’mon, give Uncle Adam a hug.” I glanced sidelong at my father before stepping forward and allowing myself to be wrapped up in his arms tightly. My stomach knotted slightly but I wasn’t sure why before stepping away.

“Goodness, you’ve gotten old. I remember Zeke sending me photos of you as a baby... Well, you’re certainly no baby anymore.”

“Valentina recently turned 17; almost a woman.” I flushed, embarrassed by the topic of conversation as my father clapped a hand on my shoulder. “But age doesn’t change the fact that she is amazing around the house. She’s been wonderful with Joan, takes care of her, and still manages to do all the cooking and cleaning. She’s a God-sent.”

I smiled, grateful for the praise. But I didn’t do it for that: this was my family. I was supposed to do whatever was necessary to help them.

“That’s why I think she’ll be perfect in helping you settle in.”

“Huh?” I turned to look at my father in surprise, he was... sending me away?

“Uncle Adam has recently come home, obviously, but he’s already got a job with the army. He’ll be working some odd shifts so he asked if I could spare someone to help him set up house, do the cleaning and cooking until he settles in.”

Really? But he was a grown man; he could do it himself. And I was needed here, if I didn’t help Mother – who would?

“Of course.” I smiled at him, knowing better than to argue or make a fuss. If this was what my father wanted, then he would have his own good reasons for it.

“Perfect! I knew you would be only too happy to help.”

“Anything you need Uncle Adam...” I said almost wearily, though my smile didn’t show it as I turned to face him.

“We’ll have lots of fun kiddo. You’ll wish you didn’t have to go home by the time it comes.”

“I’m sure you’re right.” I said as encouragingly as I could before looking at my father again, “when am I leaving?”

“Adam is going to stay for dinner but you’ll go with him tonight. Obviously you’ll need to take your school work with you, so talk to your sister and find out what your lessons will be for the next two weeks. That way you can arrange the right lessons to be brought with you.”

“Yes sir.” I smiled again and excused myself as I trudged back to the house. Two weeks playing house for my uncle. It seemed like a strange request, I just couldn’t shake the fact that I felt it was unnecessary for a grown man to need someone to cook and clean for him. Especially a man as disciplined as someone in the military would be.

I kicked my foot up against the house to knock the snow off before entering, another bout of shrieks welcomed me as I pushed the door open. Now I just needed to find Juliana.

My sister had been homeschooling me since being passed the torch by my mother two years earlier at the onset of her disease. Mother had taught all my other siblings; I was the last one to finish and the only one who had ever hoped to perhaps go to university afterwards. As much as I loved the farm I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life on it. I couldn’t imagine myself marrying any of the farm boys on the neighbouring properties either who would prefer to keep me at home as a vessel for their hordes of children. While I wanted kids - 12 like my parents had - was excessive.

“Val, can you help with dinner?” Godric spoke as though I hadn’t any intention of helping, as though I didn’t help every single day.

“Of course,” I smiled, packing and schoolwork would have to wait until later.

A lot later as it turned out. Helping with dinner had proved to translate into “make dinner” while everyone pretended to set the table, and mostly stand around talking and drinking wine. Uncle Adam led the charge with the latter action, breaking out my father’s Vidal from several years ago. I wasn’t allowed to drink, the only time being when I took the sacrament at Christmas. Otherwise I sat back and watched everyone get rosy cheeked and loud.

“Alright dinner’s ready!” I shouted as loud as I could over the noise, carrying the roast into the dining room with effort. I set it down in front of my father’s seat before returning to the kitchen on several trips to bring out all the food for everyone.

I couldn’t help but wonder, darkly, what they would do if my mother hadn’t taught me to cook. Would they starve or would the next in line be the family slave.

That was an ungrateful though.


Oh my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell. But most of all: because I have offended you, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my life. Amen.” I pulled the cross out from under my shirt and kissed it before sitting down between my brother Michael and Uncle Adam.

“Ah, there’s my little helper. It smells good; I can see why Zeke wanted you to come feed me. I could never cook this good.”

He grinned at me and I smiled back, “thanks. My mother taught me.”

“Well there’s no doubt Joan was an amazing cook. I’m sure you’ve inherited all of her better traits.” His hand fell onto my knee, forcing my eyes to cast down and look at it.

“Godric, please say grace.” Everyone around the table shuffled for a second to take each others hands but Uncle Adam didn’t take his hand from my leg. So, taking a deep breath, I reached out and set my hand on his so the circle wouldn’t be broken as my brother spoke.

“Bless, O 
Lord
 this food that it may be an effective and salutary remedy for mankind. For Thy name's sake, grant that all who partakes of it may obtain health of body and safety of soul. Through 
Christ
 our Lord. Amen.”

Uncle Adam had moved his hand, consequentially taking mine with it and set it inappropriately on his lap. He pressed my palm into it and as my family prayed I felt him massaging my hand against himself. My stomach knotted tightly and I felt sick and scared. I didn’t want to look up and seem disrespectful. But I didn’t know what to do. So I just let it happen, unsure what other option I had.

When Godric was finished he let go of my hand and I quickly pulled it back to my own lap, mentally begging for forgiveness before trying to distract myself with the food. Everyone was cheerful as they spoke, my siblings all seemed excited for Uncle Adam’s returned. They told stories about things he had done last time he was here, they made him sound like a fun-loving, amusing man. But I couldn’t stop thinking about what he’d just done.

I also couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that I was supposed to live with this man for two weeks all alone. What if he did something worse? My stomach coiled again and I looked over at my father, wondering how I was supposed to explain to him what Uncle Adam had made me do.

When dinner was finished most of the men went off to continue drinking and exchanging stories while I was left with dishes as my sisters disappeared. My hands were submerged in the soap water of the sink when I heard the soft creak of someone entering the kitchen. I turned quickly to see who it was; feeling my heart sink when I saw Uncle Adam.

“Are you looking for something I could help you find?” I’d help with anything to get him out of here faster.

“I found it actually.” He stepped up behind me, his hands running along my hips as he pressed his body flush against mine.

“Uncle... Adam... This...”

“Shh, it’s alright. You’re safe.”

“I need to finish the dishes.” I said tensely, praying one of my brothers might enter the kitchen now and see for themselves the true nature of this so-called beloved Uncle.

“That’s fine, we have all night... later.” He whispered in my ear, making me shudder with fear. He misinterpreted the action, his hands roaming once more making me cringe and feel dirty.

BOOK: Gods Save the Princess (Grace of Gods Book 2)
4.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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