The sunlight finally woke Rachel. She was snuggled next to Raven, with her hand draped over his ass. She smiled thinking about the pleasure of last night. She giggled when she thought of the lewd songs that had been sung, especially when they could tell it was Justin or Lord Fowler leading the chorus. She looked down Raven’s back and took inventory of all the pulls on the scars. She’d have to get some salve for him. Her hand caressed his back.
“Good morning,” he said sleepily.
“Good morning. How are you feeling?”
“Sleepy. I thought they’d never shut up,” he said rolling over.
“Nor did I. I swear that they just piled up against the door. I know I heard snoring once or twice and it wasn’t you,” Rachel said.
Raven laughed. “You do realize that we are expected to be up and attending some sort of grand breakfast feast today.”
“No. Won’t do it. I… I don’t have anything to wear.”
“I beg to differ. Take a look over by the window. We’ve had company at some point, as I know we didn’t leave those clothes there. Nor are our wedding clothes on the floor,” said Raven.
Rachel looked over and saw new clothes laying across a small padded bench. “Oh, and there’s bathwater too,” she said pointing to the tub next to the fire. She’d seen it when they’d entered the room, but now it was full, and steam rose from it.
“We must have slept like the dead,” said Raven.
“No, the servants were slippers. They also come in by a secret door.”
“Do you think we could sneak out that way?” asked Raven.
“No. I tried once. I wanted to get more hot water for you and there is a latch on the inside of the door. It isn’t like your hidyhole.”
“Ah. Well, I’m glad I had that hidden passage, even though I didn’t build it.”
Rachel nodded. That hidden passage had saved those living at Ravens Croft. She stretched, got out of bed and walked over to the bath. The water was still fairly hot. She climbed in and bathed quickly. Raven handed her a bath sheet as she stepped out. Then it was his turn.
“Ah,” he gasped in pain as the hot water hit some of his scars.
“Are you alright?” Rachel asked.
“Yes, just didn’t expect that searing pain. Water is a bit hot.”
“Sorry, I thought it felt wonderful,” Rachel said. She looked at her clothing. “I’ll need your help. There is a corset and a laced bodice. I’ll never get it all right.”
“In a minute. I want to soak my sorrows.”
“Soaking will not regenerate it,” Rachel teased.
Raven laughed and threw the sponge at Rachel, who dodged it with ease.
A half hour later, Raven and Rachel opened their bedroom door. The hall was empty of celebrants, and there was no signs of the revelry that had been held outside their door last night. They walked down the stairs and into the small dining room. The table off to one side held all sorts of delicacies. The dining table had a handful of guests sitting quietly.
“Good Morning,” said Rachel cheerfully to Justin, Lord Kress.
He winced. “Do you have to shout?” he hissed.
“I didn’t. Too much mead?”
“Yes. My head is pounding,” said Justin.
Raven smiled. Lord Hawkness and Lord Fowler were in the same state as Justin. Each man seemed to be wincing with each noise. He and Rachel filled their plates and sat down.
“I thought your lady wives would all be here this morning,” said Raven.
“No, they are sleeping, thank all the deities,” said Lord Hawkness in a whisper.
“We’d be dead if they were. They’d shout,” said Lord Fowler.
Everyone ate in relative quiet until the door from the kitchens opened up and in stormed Maggie. She had a tray of glasses and a pitcher of some sort of drink.
“Come on you sorry sops!” she said loudly.
The men groaned and tried to shush her.
“Oh you belly aching men! No better than small boys! To think that I dealt with most of you when you were in small britches!” She put a glass down in front of everyone except Raven and Rachel. Maggie then poured a mixture that smelled of lemons and something sweet. “Drink up! Come on! Said you ached, so drink up!”
Once again, the men winced and to a man, took their glass and drank it all down.
“Thank you Maggie,” said Lord Fowler with almost a whimper. The others nodded.
Maggie smiled, left the pitcher for any other sufferer who came in late and headed back to the kitchen. Curious, Rachel got up and sniffed the mixture.
“What’s in it?” Raven asked.
“Lemons, mint, and I think willow bark.”
“Ah, she use to make that for my father. Wicked stuff, but it works,” said Raven. He finished his breakfast and when Rachel was done, the two of them said their good days and headed up to their room.
“Is that everything?” Rachel asked. They’d been packing so they could return to Ravens Croft. The plan was to leave before lunch.
“I believe so,” said Rosie. She’d been helping Maggie at breakfast and then ran upstairs to help with the packing.
“This is like moving an army,” said Rachel.
Rosie nodded. “I want to be home. All the repairs should be done by now. Don’t you want to be home?”
“Yes! I want to get back into my vest and trews and ride. I’ve had enough of this ‘ladyship’ stuff for a lifetime. If I never see a corset again, it will be too soon!” said Rachel.
“Oh, but you will. Now that the slavers are put down, there will be more ladies traveling and visiting. Maybe I can make your clothes less uncomfortable,” suggested Rosie. She’d heard the maids talking about how the ladies all wanted to visit one another.
“Oh drat.” Rachel sat down on the bed. “I never did like being a lady. It’s why my father took me out to the stables. At least I don’t embarrass the horses by being a tomboy.”
“And a very nice tomboy at that,” said Raven as he walked in. “Are you ready to go?”
“I think so. Rosie, if we’ve left anything, I’m sure that there will be parcels forwarded to us,” said Rachel. She hugged Rosie and left with Raven. They walked down the staircase slowly. Stairs were still a bit of an issue for Raven. Outside, there was a carriage to carry them home in some comfort.
Lord Hawkness handed Rachel into the carriage first.
“I’m glad this all worked out well,” said Lord Hawkness. “I hear our new port doxie is doing a brisk business at his back door.”
Raven smiled. “Agreed.” The idea of the ex-slaver being a whore delighted him in a way he tried hard not to dwell upon. He climbed up into the carriage after saying his goodbyes. The driver clucked to the horses and they pulled away from the front of the house.
“It feels good to be going home,” said Rachel.
“Yes, it does. I have been trying not to fret over the damage. Hearing reports didn’t help either. I keep wondering if this book survived, or if that painting burned,” said Raven. “Worse yet, did they find all the animals?”
“Well, we will be home soon enough. Just promise me that you won’t try to inspect everything on the first day.”
“I’ll try,” he said and kissed Rachel on the lips.