In the kitchen, Kiara tried to think of a reason why that boy was acting as he did.
His name was Garret. By day, he was a kind and charming man. He helped her, and spoke to her, and tried to get his friends to do the same.
But every night, he snuck down to her room. He didn't seem intent on forcing his way into her room, but he was always watching her.
It was very eerie.
But Kiara couldn't do anything about it. After all, she wasn't the innkeeper, and Mara would never turn away customers.
So she stayed away from him as much as possible. She had never fully trusted men, and this just made it worse.
But she also had customers to serve at this time, so she took breakfast out to them. The inn wasn't as full as usual, so she was done faster, and Mara sent her out to chop and haul wood. This was pointless, as the woodpile was near to full already, and winter had several months to come.
Now was the time in which the people who were staying at the inn went off and did whatever they had come into Cadence to do. She watched enviously as the people all went about their business, and noticed a figure coming towards her. It was Garret.
Oh, no, not again, she thought.
"Hello Kiarana," he said, smiling.
She smiled vaguely back.
"Do you need any help?" he asked, as usual. She replied with her own usual response, which was "no, thanks," and tried to get back to work moving the wood she currently had in her arms, but Garret blocked her. She immediately grew angry.
"Are you sure?" he asked. "You look like you could use the help. After all, everybody knows that girls aren't that strong, and that looks like a heavy load to me.?"
Was this supposed to be friendly? It made her want to hit him instead.
"I said, thank you, but no. I am perfectly capable of hauling wood by myself. Now, would you please leave me alone?"
Garret smiled broadly, as if she had revealed something. "Of course, sweetheart," he said and walked away.
Kiara stared after him, fuming. Angrily, she finished her work. She was still mad when she put lunch on the fire.
As if I couldn't pull a little wood, she fumed. As if I were a little girl to be played with. "Sweetheart this," and "Sweetheart that." She started boiling water for tea. He probably thinks I can't even brew tea! He probably gets his way with any girl he wants. Well, I won't let hi m!
She threw the packets of herbs into the pot over the hearth. The fragrant tea calmed her a little.
When she started serving lunch, she noticed that Garret wasn't with his usual group. That was odd. She looked all over for him, worried that he would try some trick or another. His family was all sitting in their usual groups. They were eating their lunch as if nothing were wrong.
So where was Garret?
At first, she was worried. She hoped she hadn't lost his custom. But then she realized that if he left, his family would be gone as well. Then she was annoyed. Did he think she was still out working and had decided to go try to "help" her again?
But she had no time for further thought. Suddenly, a bolt of pure terror struck home, and she froze. There was no room for a single coherent thought.
There, on the wall in front of her, was a giant, hairy black spider with evil red eyes. It just sat there, watching her. Then, with a cruel smile, it vanished.
No one else seemed to have noticed the creature. They all sat there, talking or reading, just as usual.
Had she imagined it? It was obvious that she was the only one who had seen it. Was she going mad?
Kiara finished serving lunch, pondering this very disturbing thought.