My father was throwing dirt over his shoulder, leaning down on his good knee. He was trying to garden, it was the only thing he could do that wouldn't result in his bad knee swelling.
I stepped aside, missing the dirt flying past my head.
"Dad, what are you doing?" I asked crossing my arms. Since retiring from the military with a broken knee he didn't know what to do with himself.
I dodged some more dirt. He was digging a hole in the soft ground, his pants getting dirty from it. He must have finally lost it.
"Im planting those" he said pointing to an empty space. Okay yeah he had really lost it. I frowned, at the other side of the garden, in the shade under a tree was a dog. I held my hand towards the sun so I could see past the blazing sun. The Rottweiler sitting in the shade, like the smart animal he is, eating blue flowers… Blue flowers?
"You mean those?" I asked Dad pointing at the dog. Dad sat up and his eyes widened.
"God dammit dog!" Dad shouted jumping to his feet. Dirt covered his hands and white shirt, It was also through his grey hair. "I was going to plant those Buster!" He stomped over to the dog and stood over him trying to pry the dogs mouth open.
"Spit out!" Dad shouted. He looked older than he was, having a child that was half royalty had taken the life out of him.
"He can't understand you" I sighed crossing my arms. Dad looked up.
"You're not helping me Alexis, you're so good with animals you try!" He snapped shaking his hand at me.
I stood over Buster with my father panting by the tree, using it to hold his weight.
"Don't shit yourself" I said trying to sound concerned. He scowled at me.
"Just do it girl" Dad said shaking his hand at Buster. The big dog looked up at me with big brown eyes, he was so sweet natured but scared most new comers away. He was all bark but no bite.
I held my hand out in front of Buster and placed my hand over his nose, instantly Buster's jaw dropped open to breath. Eventually I managed to pull all the half eaten flowers out of his mouth, I stood up and threw them at Dad.
"There" I said as he shook them off in a grump, "I thought we discussed nothing that smells nice or he'll eat it" I was pointing at the dog. He had a sad look in his eyes.
"Not my fault that dog eats everything" Dad grumbled at me.
Someone cleared their throat and we both jumped. I turned to face the noise, squinting from the sun. In front of me stood a military officer, black uniform with two small blue stripes on the left side. Behind him were two people I didn't recognise.
"What do you want Cole?" My dad asked standing up straight. Cole wore the crest of Aeria in a blood red rock, it meant he was apart of the royal family.
"Good question" I grumbled crossing my arms, "what do you want uncle?" He was apart of my family that I didn't associate with anymore.
"I have an offer for you" Cole said looking at me. I wasn't interested in anything the royal family had to offer.
I smiled at Cole.
"Go fuck yourself" I said with a bright smile.
"Alexis" my father scolded me. I walked away towards the little cottage my father called home. "You need to get off our property now" my father threatened Cole, "or I'm going to show you my new gun collection."
"You're not permitted to have any form of a gun" Cole shot back.
I put my fingers to my mouth and blew out a high pitched whistle. All of a sudden Buster was up on his feet, heckles raised and teeth baring. His bark drowned out any car that drove past on the dusty road.
"Buster no!" My father shouted, "Alexis make him stop" my uncle was an asshole, Buster could eat him for all I cared. The barking was getting louder and more aggressive when the new comers didn't leave.
I stopped in front of the door and blew a whistle again, Buster quietened and sat back against the tree. The more he barked the more It looked like my fathers hair was getting whiter, stress was something my father couldn't handle.
"Next time ill let him eat you, now fuck off" I told Cole. I pushed open the door but I felt Cole come after me.
"You gotta listen to me" he sounded slightly pleading. He tried grabbing my hands affectionately but I pulled away in disgust. His blue eyes almost grey.
"You gotta go" my father said coming up beside him with a gun pressed against my uncles head, his eyes get bigger.
"I thought we got rid of all your guns" I sighed at dad, the military took all his firearms when he retired. My father had a trigger finger that came handy in combat but not in normal civilisation and the royal family, my mother didn't trust him with a gun.
"They didn't find this one" my father said with a shrug.
"Please put the gun down Mr Bradley" Cole said with his hands up. I looked at my father with raised eyebrows, there was nothing he could do with a gun but kill someone and he was not willing to deal with that sort of trouble.
"Fine" dad mumbled placing it on the table. Cole stood up straight.
"I have a message from your mother" Cole said trying to stand taller than my father, unfortunately my father was a beast of a man.
"The queen?" I gushed sarcastically.
"What does she want?" My father asked cornering Cole. My father looked like a rugged bear compared to flawless Cole.
"Dante" Cole said inching his way towards me, "its for Alexis not you" I really doubted I was this important. "Your mother has a promising job for you" I gave Cole a side long glance, "yes you will be paid generously." He guided me to the window, outside were the other two.
Both sitting on the ground playing thumb wrestling. One had a scare running across his forehead with shaggy brown hair and the other sat perfectly straight with short brown hair.
"She needs you to guide the Godfrey brothers" he pointed at the boys outside still thumb wrestling, "to Stonegate-"
"I think not" my dad had his gun again pointed at Cole.
"Oh my god dad, put the gun down" I sighed when Cole froze.
"I-I promise she doesn't have to enter Stonegate, just get them there and she can come back here with enough for you to start your butcher shop" Cole said looking at dad.
"No" dad growled.
"Dad" I said crossing my arms, he had always wanted to start a butcher shop. He was good with a knife but theres only so much satisfaction you can get with craving sticks to points.
"Dante" I growled. He looked at me and broke, he put the gun down.
"So she wants me out of the city?" I asked Cole, the only time she'd do something like this is if it benefited her. Cole nodded.
"We've got some important people arriving soon, so she would rather you not be here, in the city. Having her bastard still hanging around isn't a good look for the Queen or Aeria" Cole admittedly said. My father was ready to hit him but controlled himself.
"Who are these two?" I asked pointing at the boys, "and why do they want to go to Stonegate?" Stonegate was the only reason why my dad was having an issue with this.
"Not sure really" Cole admitted, "they just paid a huge amount for a guide and them being quite young, and you being cute and young-"
"Are you trying to prostitute my daughter?!" Dad had Cole up against the wall. I sighed rolling my eyes, Cole always got terrible nervous around my father.
"N-no sir" Cole bumbled, "we are just trying to kill two birds with one stone" I suppose get me out of the city from wondering eyes and getting these Godfrey brothers across to Stonegate was beneficial for my mother.
"Why should I honestly make my mothers life easier?" I asked as dad still held Cole against the wall. Cole gulped.
"We will give you enough money for it" he gasped.
"We don't want money" my father growled.
"Dad" I sighed, we so needed the money. With him eating for a whole family and me getting into a bit of trouble occasionally, we could use the extra cash.
"Alexis this is not happening" he said staring me down over his shoulder, unfortunately there was one person he couldn't say no to. Me.
"Not your choice" I said sternly. Dad knew ultimately this was my choice and he knew I hated this city, he was more concerned I wasn't going to come back to him. Dad let go of Cole roughly.
Cole straightened himself out and cleared his throat.
"Cassius and Theodore Godfrey" Cole said nodding at the window, "both from Stamford and look to me as farm boys." They were still thumb wrestling out side on the ground. "Thats all we know and all we need to know" Cole said, "we just gotta get them through the desert and you've been very restless lately" he said looking at me.
"I knew you had been up to something!" Dad bellowed at me, "you didn't trip and fall to get that black eye." My father was staring me down but I kept my face blank. "You've been fighting again" I raised my eyebrows, even if I had there was nothing he could do. He didn't have the right to tell me what to do after spending all my childhood in the war and leaving me with the rotten side of the family.
"I still don't like this" I heard Dad grumbled, he broke eye contact with me and stared out window at the two boys. I turned to Cole.
"Fine" I said holding hand out, "but you owe me a lot of money for this" Cole shook my hand.