by Pam Sears
When your sister always gets her way
|“Mary, seriously. Get. Off. My. Horse.” Cedric growled.
“No. It is my turn to ride him. Go away, brother.” Mary sniffed indignantly.
“He’s not for riding!” Cedric exclaimed.
“Of course he is. That’s why you have tack and a saddle on him. And it’s quite comfortable, too.” Mary giggled.
Cedric reached out and grabbed onto the animal’s chest strap before Mary could kick the horse into motion.
“Mary, I have training to do with Castillon. This is no longer amusing, now get down.”
“I shall train him. And that’s a horrid name. I like Percy much better.”
“Percy!” Cedric nearly shrieked. “He’s to be a war horse, not a lady’s palfrey! Get down.”
Mary looked horrified. “He is too beautiful to fall in some ridiculous battle. I shall not get down.”
“So you don’t care if *I* fall in battle but you care about a dumb animal? Oh, that’s just so sweet, dear sister.” He muttered, still gripping the chest strap tightly.
He tried to reach up for the reigns to control the animal but she gave a sharp tug and Castillon tossed his head several times, prancing in place. Cedric had to do a bit of a dance himself not to get stepped on. Castillon was a rather large battle horse and it would hurt, even through armor.
“Mary! I shall tell Father you are neglecting your duties if you do not get down this instant.” He declared firmly. His sister, of course, just laughed.
“Please, brother. You know Father believes I should be learning more about horses and estate management than painting or playing a silly instrument.” She tossed her head, red hair flying out behind her dramatically.
Scowling in a way that usually caused the men under his command to tremble Cedric forced his voice into his you’re-in-trouble-now-and-I-mean-it tone. Even officers had been known to hurry to do his bidding when he used it.
“Young lady, if you are not off my horse in the next five seconds I will tell Mother you have neglected your embroidery lessons and have not finished the slippers you promised to sew for Father’s birthday gift.”
Mary’s eyebrows rose, then her face turned a deep shade of red that clashed horribly with her hair and her own brow lowered in a scowl. She drew breath as if to berate him then paused. Cedric allowed a slightly superior smile to tilt his lips. It slowly faded as Mary began to smile in return. It was coy. And too, too knowing.
Bending forward until her face hovered over his she gave him her own superior smirk. “And then I shall tell Thomas that you are in love with Bethany.” She murmured for his ears alone.
Cedric felt sweat break out beneath his armor. “What…” he had to clear the break from his throat before he could continue. “What ever do you mean?”
Giving him her sweetest smile Mary cooed. “Oh, Bethany, your skin is softer than the petal of a rose. Your lips as sweet as a berry on a vine. Your hair shines as a beam of sunlight come to light my world.”
Cedric felt himself pale. Had she been *spying* on him? The little shrew! “You wouldn’t dare!” He croaked.
Mary merely raised one finely shaped eyebrow and slowly sat back up in the saddle, easily controlling the restive horse beneath her, waiting for her brother’s verdict.
Cedric carefully wet his lips. Thomas had *no* idea Cedric was enamored with his best friend’s sister. When had his *own* sister overheard… the garden! Last week! He’d been admiring the new roses the gardener had nourished to health, thinking they were the exact color of Lady Bethany’s blush when they’d danced at the last ball together.
He closed his eyes, a shudder running up his spine, then looked up at his sister. She simply waited, knowing she had won.
“My boy, I saw Mary out on Castillon this afternoon. I thought you had planned to work on his battle training?”
Cedric nearly choked on his spoonful of soup at his father’s question to him across the dinner table that night. He glanced at Mary but she continued to eat her own soup in a show of serene disinterest.
“Ah, uhm, Mary… ahh… fell in love with him. I… I could not, in good conscience, ignore her feelings and have gifted him to her. I will have to find another animal at the next Horse Market, Father.” He managed.
Their father raised his bushy grey brows, looking from one to the other. Mary smiled sweetly at both men. Cedric felt the sweat gathering along his brow as they waited for their father to speak again.
He shook his head with a grunt. “You always have spoiled your sister, boy. Never could say ‘no’ to her, could you? Well…” he paused. “Guess it’s good you know how to spoil a woman. Should make some woman a good husband one day. We’ll see what’s at the Market next month.” And he went back to his own soup.
Mary had the audacity to wink at her brother as she turned to speak to their mother. Cedric decided, whatever animal he and his father found, he’d stable it someplace Mary wouldn’t see it until it was too late. He didn’t intend to lose another animal to the obnoxious brat.
He glared at her for a long moment only to finally shake his head with an internal chuckle. Chances were, he’d have given Casti-, ah, Percy, to the termagant anyway. She had always had a soft spot for animals.
And he’d always had one for his only little sister.
As if knowing what was going through his mind Mary glanced at him again. When he mouthed “shrew” at her she simply grinned.