Samera

A chance meeting between a prince and a peasant results in consequences that will not only change their lives, but also the kingdom.

Cover by Zillah Designs.

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13. Chapter Thirteen: Samera

 

      I woke up gasping for breath and drenched in sweat. The clanging of metal on metal and my mother’s dying screams, remnants of my nightmare, resounded in my ears. It had been a while since I had had that particular bad dream. Forcing myself not to cry, I concentrated instead on the wall beside me. There were deep cracks running through it. My father had given me a bag of money the day before that had contained the amount of taeckla he would normally earn in a month, maybe I could use that money to fix the cracks? I didn’t like using the money he gave me though, because I knew that the things he did to earn it were not good.

      The days seemed to be flying by and I couldn’t wait until the start of spring when the weather would improve. Getting out of bed I shook from the cold as I dressed. I could see my breath hanging in the air above me, and when I drew back my thin curtains there was fog covering the fields. Menul hadn’t returned home the night before, and I hoped that he hadn’t gotten into trouble. I made my father breakfast which he ate in silence before leaving for the mine. There was no water left so I wrapped myself up in my old cloak before going outside. The well was situated at the end of the street and I hurried there, carrying my bucket. There was a queue of people which was unusual.

      “What’s taking so long?” I asked the woman in front of me.

      Turning to face me she sighed. “The water is frozen. The men are trying to break it.”

      I stood there shivering in the cold for fifteen minutes. My hands had turned blue and my lips were numb by the time a loud crack was heard.

      “Samera?”

      Looking up I saw a pale Omer. He must have been one of the first people in the queue.

      “Good morning, Omer.” I said, rubbing my chilled arms. “Aren’t you late for work?”

      “I had to get some water for my mother. I got two buckets of water, you can have one.” his brown eyes were full of worry as they regarded me.

      “Thank you very much.”    

      We walked back together and Omer came inside my house. “Here you go.” he said, placing a bucket beside the empty hearth. “Why don’t you light a fire? You’re turning blue.”

      Shaking my head I replied. “I won’t be here for long, there’s no point.”

      He put the other bucket down and pulled me into his arms. Rubbing my back as he tried to warm me up, Omer told me. “You need to look after yourself. I can’t marry an ice cube, can I?”

      I smiled saying. “Shouldn’t you be getting to work?”

      Once he was gone I washed the dirty clothing in the water. My hands were sore by the time I had finished and I hung the wet clothes in front of the fire. I would dry them later when I cooked dinner.

      Not long after that I went next door to see if Myra needed any help. She was already busy brewing something in a pot.

      “Ah Samera, I was hoping that you would visit. How would you like to go to the public baths?” she asked smiling.

      I had never been to the public baths. The poor rarely went there because they needed tickets, unlike the rich who could use the baths as they wished.

      “I would love to. How did you get tickets?”  

      Myra answered. “That woman whose child we helped, she gave them to me. As soon as I’ve finished this we can go.”

 

      First the chocolate and then the public baths. I wondered if I would try anything else new that winter.

      I was apprehensive as Myra and I went inside the steamy baths to the female only section. The tattoo on my arm felt extremely obvious and I covered it with a hand after we had undressed. Naked, we proceeded through to the baths themselves. I felt very self-conscious of my pale, thin body, but Myra strode forwards confidently until we found a free space in the water and slipped in. The hot water was heaven compared to the bitter air outside. My fingers and toes prickled at the heat and I leaned back, resting my head.

      “Glorious, isn’t it?” Myra asked me.

      Smiling I said. “It’s amazing.”

      The bath at home was small and metal. The hot water soon lost its heat, so I only had quick baths. This was incredible compared to what I was used to.

      Myra started gossiping with the nearby women, one of who I recognised from our neighbourhood. I closed my eyes savouring the warmth of the water, knowing that might be my only visit to the baths.

   

      Dinner was ready to be served when my father and Menul returned home that evening. Torrance and Omer came inside as well.

      “Good day?” I asked, still in high spirits from my visit to the baths.

      Out of all of them, only Omer spared me a glance. I knew straight away from the smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes that something was wrong. “You might need to cook some more food.” he told me, sounding apologetic.

      I was about to ask why when the front door opened again and more miners trailed into the room. There were twenty of them, one of which was Remy, and they were grumbling among themselves. I hurried to start cooking more food as the men gathered around the slanted table. My father and Remy seemed to be the ones in charge because they were doing most of the talking. From what I overheard it appeared that the owner of the mine had told them all that fifty men would be losing their jobs. The coal was running out and the owner couldn’t afford to give them all wages.

      Rushing around the kitchen I put drinks and food on the table, glad that I had gone shopping the day before. I wondered why they hadn’t all gone to a pub like they usually did. Were they planning something?

      I was preparing some meat when someone pressed themselves against me from behind. I knew straight away that it wasn’t Omer.

      “Rasun keeps ya hidden away, doesn’t he? I can see why.”

      Fear ran down my spine. It was Remy.

      “Leave me alone.” I tried to sound unafraid, but my words came out weak and pathetic.

      Remy chuckled and wrapped an arm around me, cupping my breast with a huge hand. Hadn’t someone noticed that he had disappeared from the table? I prayed that somebody would come to my rescue because I wouldn’t be strong enough to overpower Remy.

      Gripping the knife tightly in my hand, I growled. “Let me go.” I was angry at Remy for what he was doing, and angry with my father for not even asking if I would mind cooking for all the miners.

      Remy saw the knife in my hand and squeezed my wrist until I dropped it, making me yelp in pain. “That was not a good idea, sweetheart.” picking up the knife, he held it over my palm which he pinned to the kitchen counter with his other hand.

      “What do you think you’re doing, Remy?” relief flooded me at the sound of Omer’s voice. “Leave Samera alone.” his tone was threatening.

      Remy slowly put the knife down before looping an arm around my waist. Turning us both around to face a furious looking Omer, he said. “I was just talking to ya little wife to be, Omer. There’s no need to be like that.”

      Even though Omer was a good head shorter then Remy, he puffed out his chest and took a step forwards so that they were barely inches apart. “Touch her again and you will have me to deal with. Do you understand?”

      Smirking, Remy slowly removed his arm from me, his hand brushing my bum as he did so. “Do ya really think it’s a good idea to threaten me, Omer?”

      I didn’t like his tone and glanced anxiously between him and Omer. Omer didn’t say anything, and growing bored, Remy returned to the table.

      “He didn’t hurt you, did he?” Omer asked frantically as he stroked my cheek, his brown eyes searching my face for any signs of abuse.

      “No,” I whispered, feeling shaken from the whole experience. “Thank you, Omer.”

      He gathered me into his arms, burying his nose into my hair. “I will never let anything happen to you, Samera.”

      Fighting back tears I nodded in reply.

      The front door suddenly slammed open making us jump apart, and three men strode in. Two of them were mean looking with shaven heads, but it was third one that made me send a silent prayer to the Goddess. It was Kale. I had never seen him in the flesh before, but I had heard all the stories. He was tall, with wide shoulders and huge muscles. Tattoos covered his bald head and his black eyes glinted dangerously as they scanned the room. Beside me Omer tensed, and I took his hand in mine.

      For the first time since he had come home, my father glanced over at me. “Go to your room, Samera.”

      Kale’s dark eyes fell on me and I felt bile rise in my throat. There was nothing good in those eyes, only darkness.

      “Goodnight, Omer.” I murmured, kissing him on the cheek.

      I had to refrain from the urge to run up the stairs and once in my room I broke down into tears. 

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