The ride to the city of Meela was fairly short but the awkward silence made it seem much longer. Noah sat stiffly on the seat across from her, his arms crossed over his chest and his jaw set tightly. She wasn't completely certain why, his parents had handled the situation very well, but neither had Noah. She had a feeling there was far more to it.
"Why didn't you explain things to your family?" the question finally burst out.
"I didn't the time was right to tell them." His words were short and clipped.
"How did you think you would hide such a thing? You come home with a foreign bride, from the very country you attacked, and you don't think your family is going to be just a little curious?" She was getting frustrated now and she was not going to let him get out of giving her some sort of explanation just by being sullen.
"You don't understand, my parents-"
"No, you're right I don't understand, I don't even know who my family is or what they're like, or if I even had one at all. But if I did I certainly hope I appreciated them more than you do. I would do just about anything to know that I have a family out there who cared enough to get angry with me. Can't you see how much your parent's love you?"
She leaned forward, looking deeply into his eyes, hoping she would get through to him. Noah opened his mouth then clamped it shut and turned to the window, definitively ending conversation. Verava sighed and sat back in her seat, turning to look out the other window.
After a few awkward and silent minutes they had entered the city. Though smaller than the port of Anadra the city of Meela was large and full of life. People hurried down the walkways, heading to unknown places, merchants shouted their wares to passersby, and wagons flooded the streets.
For some reason the whole thing sent a rush of excitement through Verava and brought a smile to her face. She leaned forward and pushed the curtain farther back. However, as they went along the crowded city with its redbrick buildings faded into quiet neighborhoods of wooden cottages and manicured lawns, the farther they went the more impressive the homes became until they were passing magnificent mansions. It was one of these that they finally pulled up to.
It was a moderate sized home, when compared with some of the ones surrounding, but the elegant white trim, brilliant against the deep red walls, gave it a rich look.
Noah didn't wait for the footman but opened the door himself then turned to assist Verava. She walked with him to the door, one hand on his arm and the other holding her dress out of the dust. Just as at the Madras home it swung open before they reached it. A short, even for Adavian standards, young girl with dark blond hair stood behind it.
"Master Noah! Welcome home!" she squealed like a little girl. "You said you would be away for a few months but its only been one! Did you bring back anything interesting?"
Suddenly she took notice of Verava, "Oh my, it seems you've brought back something very interesting."
Verava feared Noah would be angry, or at the least sullen, again but instead he laughed, "Yes Leila, something very interesting. Now if you don't mind its getting late and we've yet to have dinner."
Leila stepped back immediately, "Of course, how silly of me, standing here chattering away, I'm terribly sorry. Come right in, you get freshened up while I have cook make something. Would you like to eat in the dining room or do you want it sent up to your room?"
"If you wouldn't mind sending it to our room I think that would be preferable."
"Master Noah, what I do and don't mind doesn't matter, I'll bring something up to your room directly. I understand completely." She gave them both a knowing smile that sent heat rushing up Verava's cheeks, and if she wasn't mistaken Noah's face had reddened too. Yet something about the woman's inference made her wonder, the woman didn't even know they were married and she hadn't acted very surprised. Did that mean that Noah- Verava cut off the thought, not willing to complete it for some reason.
Suddenly something hit her, nearly winding her, Noah had said 'our room'. That meant... Verava stifled a shudder. She couldn't deny an attraction to Noah, he was certainly handsome, with his broad shoulders, chiseled jaw, and rogueishly long blond hair, but she hardly knew him. Goodness she hardly even knew herself.
She followed Noah up the stairs and down the hall but the farther they go the weaker her knees seemed to be. After the longest few minutes of her life, well that she knew of at least, they stopped at a door, the biggest, scariest door she'd ever seen.
Noah must have noticed her hesitation for he turned to her and took both hands gently, "Verava, its alright, I won't hurt you."
She smiled as best she could and nodded, following him through the door. Noah closed the door behind her, sealing her fear despite his reassurances. She took a deep breath and tried to push back her fears.
Noah sat down in an oversized, plush leather chair then motioned to the other one next to it. "Have a seat."
"I'd rather not."
Noah laughed, apparently coming home had put him in a good mood. "Its alright Verava, I promise I won't hurt you. That's what I want to talk about. Do you see that door there?" he motioned to a door off to their right. "That leads to another bedroom, your bedroom. Most of the time you can just go there, but occasionally you'll have to come in here first and go back in after you've dismissed your maid. Just so we can keep up appearances."
He leaned towards her and took her hand, "I promise you Verava, I won't touch you. I'm sure when this war is over they'll let us end this whole charade and you can return to your own people."
Verava nodded her agreement, her heart far lighter at his promise. Yet the talk of after the war had just sent it plunging again. What kind of life would she be going back to? Would she even be able to find her family? Whoever they were.
After eating the dinner brought up by Leila Varava went into the adjoining room where Leila had helped her prepare for bed. She hadn't wanted to return to Noah's room, especially not in the flimsy nightgown but Leila was watching carefully so she'd had no choice. Noah was sitting in the same leather chair where she'd left him, but now he was in night clothes and his hair was damp, and he was intent on the book in his hands.
Crossing her arms over her chest self consciously Verava took a seat in the other chair. "What are you reading?"
"Just a book on navigation. I've never been much of one for reading but if I'm going to make it in the Navy I need to learn all I can. Do you like reading?"
"I'm not sure really, but somehow I don't really think so."
Noah looked back down to his book for a moment then looked up again, "Have you, have you remembered anything yet?"
Verava sighed and shook her head, "No not really. I still have no memory of my family or my home. I don't get it, I remember how to step out of a carriage properly but I have no idea who I am." Unbidden tears stung the edges of her eyes and one trickled down her cheek.
Noah brushed it aside gently, her cheek burning where his finger had touched it, "Its alright Verava, it will come eventually, I'm sure these things just take time. Its only been about two weeks after all." He folded down the edge of his page and closed the book, leaving it on the end table. Then went to the door, cracked it open, and peered down the hall.
"Alright, I think you can go to your bed now, it would appear everyone else has gone to bed."
Verava nodded and got to her feet, she had just stepped through the door when she turned back. "Wait, won't someone notice that both of our beds have been used?"
Noah bit his lip, "I hadn't thought of that. Well, I don't think it will be a problem. If anyone asks just say you woke up early and decided to go to your own bed so you wouldn't wake me. Alright?"
"Alright. Well goodnight then." She smiled gently.
"Goodnight Verava. Sleep well."
Verava closed the door behind her, then turned to look at it, imagining the young man on the other side, "Good night, Noah."