The four of them walked quietly to the front door, which flew open as Karl’s hand touched it. A smiling child, who looked to be around six years old, greeted him by jumping into his arms, yelling loudly.
“Papa’s home! Everyone, he’s brought guests! Hello, Papa. I lost a tooth!”
Karl chuckled, putting the little boy down gently. “I see, it’s a magnificent gap. I’ll show you how to whistle through it later. Where’s Mama?”
The boy grabbed his father’s hand, dragging him toward the kitchen. A pretty, slight figured blonde woman moved toward them from the stove, pushing a stray lock of hair from her brow. Smiling, she greeted the men, but Fiddlestix was awarded a wary glance of a territorial female. Her mouth formed a prim line of disapproval.
“Hannah, how good to see you after all these years.”
She took Karl’s arm in a possessive grasp, dragging him to sit at the head of the table. The men sat near him, while Fiddlestix was squeezed between two of the older children, a boy and a girl who looked around fifteen and thirteen, respectively.
“Delighted to see you as well, Uta,” she snapped, obviously nothing of the kind. She looked daggers at Karl, who would not meet her gaze. Judging by the ages of the children, he certainly had not mourned her going for very long.
“Meet my little ones, Hannah. The smallest one is Alder. The strapping lad to your left is Karl the Sixth. Papa insisted. We call him Fritz. The lovely young lady to your right is Nixie and the baby is Lottie.”
“Lovely to make your acquaintance,” she remembered to use her best manners in front of Uta.
Even as children, they disliked one another. It had been Uta’s interference which had gotten Karl and Hannah in trouble, for she had told her parents that she had seen them together in the woods. Uta was a jealous, spiteful person, and here Karl was married to her! Had it not been Uta’s home, and table at which she sat, Fiddlestix would have risen, dashing from the room in tears. She wouldn’t give Uta the satisfaction. A glazed smile plastered itself on her face as she ate.
Breakfast was soon over, and a servant showed Buzzard, Blacksmith and Fiddlestix to their rooms. Baths were hot, steaming with fragrant herbs. Fiddlestix lowered herself into hers, hoping she would drown and save her from killing Karl.
“He couldn’t have waited more than a couple of months!” She muttered loudly. “I’ll bet he was in her pants before mine even got cold! The nerve of that man, the absolute, unmitigated gall of that man! Just goes to prove, all men think with their genitals!”
A soft tap sounded at her door.
“Who is it?” She snapped.
“It’s Nixie, Miss Braun. I’ve brought up some towels for you. Shall I leave them by the bathroom door?”
“Yes, thank you.”
Fiddlestix heard the door click shut and wondered how much of her tirade Nixie had overheard.
Drying off, she wrapped a towel around herself as she moved about the bathroom. A sound in the bedroom startled her. Had she not been in Karl’s house, she would have activated the pistol in her arm, but it could easily be one of his children.
Holding the towel tightly around her breasts, she peeked out the door, glancing around the room. The door was shut just as Nixie had left it, but there were cloths in a pile on the end of the bed and Karl was sitting beside them, staring at her. There was an odd expression in his eyes.
© 2018 Dellani Oakes