Lyle tapped her shoulder.
Soon the far-away look in her eyes left and she focused on his face.
"Iris, are you okay?" He asked in concern. " You looked out of it for a moment there."
She smiled. "Brother, I think the cold is getting to me, I probably shouldn't be walking. I feel I may collapse otherwise."
He paused. "Really?" There was doubt in his words
"Really." She replied seriously.
"I see. Fine, let me carry you back to the tent. You can get some rest, I'll make something for you."
Lyle wasted no time in scooping her into his arms.
"Planning on taking her back? What, is she sick or something?" Lyle turned, catching Cecelia appear at his side.
"Yeah, she doesn't seem to be feeling all that well so I'm just going to have her rest and eat something healthy." He replied.
"Hm." Cecelia's eyes sparkled with a certain understanding and was merciless in cutting down the little girl's plan. "If you want to put some food into her then Melanie's almost done cooking."
A very pointed glare came her way from Iris, who then ignored the girl. Denying her existence.
"Sounds great." Lyle knew how careful and meticulous Melanie was when it came to cooking, everything was taken into consideration and her dishes were always very nutritious. Better than anything he could make for sure.
The three began the trek to Melanie's location, and Cecelia spoke up as they walked.
"So I talked to that Seraphina character." The girl started. "She's a bit sharper than you would expect."
Lyle raised a brow. "You talked to her? About what?" As far as he knew there should be no reason for Cecelia to approach her.
"You." Cecelia mentioned casually, as if it were no big matter. " Seeing how your relationship with Melanie has evolved I thought it best to warn her that any advances would be unwelcome. I know how it is when you save some poor girl, better I do this now before she gets any ideas about you."
Lyle stopped. "Cecelia." His voice was just a little mean. "I know I never got mad before when you did this--and yes, I always knew about your little antics--but I'm not with Sophia anymore."
"I know that, but--" Cecelia started, rising to her own defence.
"If you know, then why'd you interfere? No, forget it." He stopped her before she could answer. "Anyway, what do you mean about Lady Seraphina being sharp? Wait..."Lyle had a bad premonition coming on as he looked Cecelia up and down. The way she walked, talked, the clothes she wore...he took in everything. "Cecelia, don't tell me..."
"Yeah." She sighed. "Yeah, it's that. I'm sorry."
"Hm? What? Brother, what's going on?" Iris questioned.
Lyle ignored her for now. "How long did it take her to find out?"
Cecelia reluctantly told him. "Probably only a few minutes...she was fast. I was careless, I should have hid myself better. I didn't think we would meet another Noble, so..."
"Dammit, Cece." Lyle muttered. "How many times did I tell you not to wear anything out of the ordinary? We practiced. This shouldn't have happened."
"I know." She grumbled. "I messed up. I know that."
Truth be told, in the early daysm she messed up a lot. Made slips. But Lyle was always a better actor, had a better head for these kind of things. So he helped her. If she made a blunder he'd cover it up. If she did the wrong thing, said the wrong thing, even wore the wrong thing...he'd point it out.
But he'd stopped when she'd gotten the hang of it herself, which didn't take long. She was a fast learner. It's just that Cecelia never thought she'd meet another Noble. She didn't think she'd meet anyone who would notice the finer details.
"No, it's not all your fault. I should have warned you to be more on guard." Lyle was quick to assume partial responsibility. " What else does she know?" He didn't bother being too hung up on it and moved on.
"She knows I come from a more militarized family than most, but that's all."
"Haha...that's all?" There was a bitterness to him now. "How many Noble Ladies named Cecelia are there who come from a family like that? Even if she thinks you're using an alias if she just asks around about me and finds out about Sophia then those two names might allow her a flash of insight. She may find out who I am next." He shook his head wearily. " I knew I should have had you use a fake name too, now it's biting me in the ass. Great."
Cecelia felt a pang of guilt. She left something out. The last thing she said, about him almost being her brother-in-law, that was a mistake that she was sure would get him worked up even more.
Should she tell him? But he was already like this, what good would it do?
Also was there a reason to get herself into even more trouble with him than she already had? First allowing Iris to endanger herself, now this. Cecelia knew these two things weren't something that a simple sorry could atone for.
In the end she opted against telling him and instead tried something else. "I don't know, wouldn't it be a big leap from just those two names? She didn't seem to have any doubts about you at all, maybe..."
Yet they both knew it was unlikely.
And Lyle was about to break any belief Cecelia had in the idea.
"She knows who the Greysons are, Cece. I lied to her, and she believed it, but I doubt she's stupid. Those names, all of them, together? If she can discover what you are from just a few minutes alone with you then she won't be so thoughtless as to believe it's merely a coincidence names like that are all seen in the same place."
It's no secret Nobles sometimes are sent out to gain experience of the world, even if they aren't really the kind to travel with mercs. And it's also no secret that Lyle and Cecelia often disappeared from the spotlight for long periods of time.
Even though no other Noble would know who they are or what they are doing, exactly, they would be able to guess they were out training themselves.
In families like their's it wouldn't be odd at all.
Cecelia was quiet a moment. "What do we do?"
"We don't do anything." He told her. " All that can be done is to have the three of you stay clear of her until we get to Zeshar, then we can part ways with Jaime and the rest and just disappear into the crowd."
"Lyle, I don't think she'll leave you alone. " She voiced a worry of her's. "You should have heard the way she talked about you. The woman's--"
"A bit touched in the head, yeah, I know." He finished dryly. "That's why I said the three of you."
"The three of us?" Cecelia repeated in incomprehension. "I don't understand."
"It's simple, I'll just keep her occupied." He clarified.
Cecelia still didn't get it. "But how--"
"Don't worry about the how, just watch out for yourself."
"Okay, fine." She wanted to get more out of him but knew it'd be pointless to try. "Are you sure it'll all be alright? This one really isn't like the others, she might have people search for you if you just up and vanish." For a Noblewoman who has her eye on a man something like that wouldn't be too surprising
"You really think anyone could find me if I wanted to hide myself" He cocked a brow at her.
...Well, it was true he was hard to track down when he didn't want to be...
"Even if others can't I would always be able to find you, big brother." Iris chipped in happily.
"Yes, well, not everyone has the nose of a super-powered bloodhound." Lyle smiled down at her.
"Hmph, the nose has nothing to do with it. I have a sixth sense that tells me where big brother is at all times." She said proudly, supremely arrogant.
"Is that why I never won a game of hide and seek with you?"
"It is indeed."
"It's a good thing they aren't you then, eh?"
"But of course. I'm special. Since I'm your sister only I have such a godly power, big brother, you needn't worry about others being able to do the same."
"What a relief."
Cecelia couldn't help but feel frustrated "Are you two done? Lyle, this is serious."
"I know." He sobered. "But there isn't any point in getting down about it. Just remember what I said and we should be fine. We'll tell Melanie too."
"Tell me what?"
As the three came within her earshot the girl in question heard some of their talk.
Lyle briefly explained the situation.
"Oh...Oh...That's bad, right? Isn't that bad? That sounds really bad..." Melanie fussed, then grew pale. "Wait, she...she doesn't know about me, does she?"
Her fear rose. The girl liking Lyle wasn't very odd, and Melanie didn't care much about it, but what if she found out the person he was with....was her?
The spite of a Noblewoman was not something she could handle!
But Lyle eased her worries.
"No, don't fret. Cecelia didn't mess up quite that badly." It was a small yet well deserved barb. "Plus no one except us knows about it so you don't have anything to fear. "
Honestly he didn't know what, if anything, Sera might do if she knew.
Nobles had a lot of pride and if she discovered the object of her affection was together with a woman like Melanie, who was obviously not of "high birth" at all she might take offense in exactly the same way Sophia had that night.
He nodded. "Of course. And if she or any of her lackeys ever did hold malicious intent toward you of any kind I can promise they will live the rest of their lives regretting it."
Despite the lightness of his tone and brightness of his smile the sky seemed just a touch darker.
"What if they did something to me, big brother?" Iris batted her eyes and asked prettily.
"I'll directly torture them to death." An utterly flat monotone.
The two older girls felt a chill. They really didn't doubt him.
"So it looks like we're all caught up then? Good. "
With nothing left to say on that front Lyle sat Iris down gently and looked over what had been prepared.
"There's some blueberry oatmeal, cauliflour toast, a few peaches I found in the Icebox, eggs, bacon, hashbrowns..."Melanie began explaining the options to him. " I also noticed we had some leftover chicken from the other day and reheated that....oh, and I prepared some tea. Lemon ginger, all I could do right now. But I can get you milk if you'd rather have that instead." She offered. "I know you like to have that in the morning sometimes."
The other three looked at her weirdly.
"Melanie, how did you have time to do all this? Actually, how many people were you planning to feed?" Cecelia wondered aloud.
The girl despaired. "I-I overdid it, didn't I?" She scratched her cheek in embarrassment. "I'm sorry. I didn't know what he would like best so I just started with a few of the breakfast staples like the eggs and bacon, but that didn't seem good enough so I sorta just...got carried away..." She shrunk, her voice small.
"He?" Lyle repeated. "What, you made this for me? All of it?" He asked her incredulously
"Y-Yeah...." Melanie swallowed. She felt regret, great regret! Who was she trying to impress, huh? She should know her limits, now it seemed like she was trying too hard!
"I see." Lyle rubbed his chin thoughtfully, thinking that Melanie might be the overly excited type when it came to relationships.
Not that he blamed her, it was new ground for the girl after all.
"Well you didn't do anything wrong, don't worry about it. And at least there's enough for everyone, right?"
Everyone? Melanie felt a little rejection for that idea since she made everything with him in mind.
But she wasn't one to dwell on these kind of things for long, and indeed it was always best to have a meal they could all enjoy together.
"You know, Melanie, your best quality is your ability to cook." Iris suddenly cut in. "Such a thing is the bare minimun a wife should be able to do. I suppose you can at least be of use to big brother in that way, if nothing else." She smiled at the girl. " Good work. Though you lack refinement at the very least you have a bit more feminine charm than a certain other person I could mention." She cut a glance at Cecelia.
The entire thing, every words, every syllable, sounded full of barely masked thorns.
Both Melanie and Cecelia felt them poking into their skin painfully.
Meanwhile Iris started eating a peach, as if nothing had changed at all.
"Iris." Her brother said.
"...I'm sorry, big brother."
The rest of the time they spent eating in silence, each lost in their own thoughts.
It was near the end of their meal, as they were cleaning up and everyone was preparing to leave for the last stretch of their jouney, that she showed up again.
"Bell." Sera appeared behind him, beaming.
Melanie abruptly rose from her seat, nearly jumping up from fright. Since she was seated right beside him she wasn't sure the other woman would notice or not and feared she'd say something.
Although Lyle assured her she still had reservations. This was a Noble, Melanie was sure that the woman would dislike her just for being close to the person she took a fancy to...
But contrary to expectation, she was ignored. Not once did Sera even look her way. It was as if Melanie didn't even exist.
"I'm sorry I didn't come back." The girl began. "I... wasn't feeling too well." She finished lamely. "When I came to look for you I noticed you were already eating. I didn't want to disturb you, so..." She took note of the lack of response. "Anyway, I was thinking, and, well...would you care to ride with me? I don't have a carriage or anything of the like, sadly, but we could still ride together!" She finished excitedly.
But her face slowly fell as she saw that he still just busied himself with cleaning. He didn't bother to react to her at all. His continued indifference made her feel like she was drowning.
"Bell?" She reached out her hand, lightly pulling at his arm.
And finally he couldn't keep pretending.
Lyle turned to the girl, giving a small smile.
"That sounds like a fine idea." He surprised them all with a positive response. "I'd love to join you. That is, if you really don't think I'd be a bother...?"
Sera blinked, not expecting him to say yes after how distant he'd been lately.
But she bounced back quickly, stars litting up her eyes beautifully as she nodded. She radiated barely contained enthusiasm.
"Of course you wouldn't be! Since you said it, you can't go back on your word!" She told him.
He chuckled lightly. "Don't worry, I wouldn't do that. One shouldn't refuse good fortune when they come upon it, right? Having the luck to be asked by a beauty to accompany her for a ride is something I'd never refuse."
To all those present that smile seemed to become more dazzling by the second. Especially to Sera, who nearly thought this to just be a nice dream.
Melanie, on the other hand, wasn't sure how she felt when looking at the interaction. It was undoubtedly not a good feeling though.
" Also I have been thinking that my previous words were a bit much and wanted an opportunity to properly apologize. So this gives me a chance to make up for any distress I've caused you."
"No...No, that's alright. Please don't mind it." She assured him hurriedly. "I'm just..." She struggled for the words. "Happy that you aren't mad."
"I'm not at all. Why would I be?"
"It's okay, you don't have to say that. I know that I seem a little...clingy..." She bowed her head sorrowfully.
Seeing her do this Lyle unexpectedly took a step closer, coming into her personal space. Without pause he gently took her chin in his hand and lifted her head back up. "Please don't." He leaned down, whispering softly into her ear. "Your face is too pretty to be hidden away."
Sera froze, keenly feeling his warm breath brush against her neck. His lips nearly touched her skin, close enough to kiss.
Her heart thumped loudly in her chest.
"O-oh..." Sara babbled nonsensically for a while, her face heating up unbearably. "Um, t-thank you....I won't anymore...hm..." She had an incredibly happy expression just then, apparently oblivious to everything else at that moment.
"I-I should go." She said, obviously reluctant. "I...uh, no, we...can talk more in a bit." She laughed nervously. Then disappeared, as if scared he'd suddenly change his mind.
Lyle's previous charming look disappeared along with the girl's figure, instantly returning to normal. It was such a fast change that you'd never be able to tell it was ever there at all if you hadn't seen it yourself.
"So that's how you plan to deal with her." Cecelia's voice was as cool as ever. Even, without a ripple. "Whoring yourself. Again."
"I don't know what you can possibly mean by that." He looked at her coolly, then glanced at Iris' blank face.
"That...that..." Melanie, just seeing the scene from just now, felt her face heat up. A felt a small twinge in her heart. She was so irrationally confused and hurt and sad that she wasn't able to speak properly.
Luckily Iris voiced the question Melanie herself wanted to ask. "What the hell was that?"
"That," Cecelia said darkly, "Was how your brother usually gets his way."
Lyle rubbed the bridge of his nose, knowing he'd never be allowed to live this down.
Melanie was dying.
Or at least that's what it felt like.
Really though it was just extreme depression mixed with a healthy dose of self-loathing and cynicism.
For an hour now she'd watched as Lyle and Lady Seraphina rode together on their horses, despairing more and more every second.
She would sit in the front of the carriage and sneak furtive glances at the two on the far left of her.
She acted normal, casually appearing to look at the distant mountains, all while covertly checking on the two as they talked.
Each time she saw how much Lyle smiled and laughed with Lady Seraphina, Melanie couldn't help wanting to crawl in a hole and hide from all the negative thoughts running through her head.
Remembering the way he lifted the girl's head by her chin, such an intimate action, how he whispered something low into the girl's ears that made her go red and causing the calm composure of her Noble upbringing to come crumbling down, it was safe to say Melanie had a lot of grievances at the moment.
Because she was unable to stop that scene from replaying itself over and over in her mind, feeling sick whenever she recalled it.
She snuck another quick peek just then, her face falling after she saw the glitering, pink-colored atmosphere they had built up.
Melanie sighed heavily
"Melanie, can you please stop it already? You're starting to annoy me."
"Huh?" The woman asked, only half paying attention. "Stop what now?"
"Looking at them. You thought I couldn't tell?" The young woman shot the other a look of supreme irritation.
"Oh! Oh my gosh I'm so sorry Lady Cecelia! I-I'll quit right away!" Melanie rushed to apologize. She wrung her hands uneasily. "It's just..." She stopped, not knowing if it was alright to talk to her about this.
Cecelia was quiet for a moment, then slowly said, "I know the feeling."
Melanie blinked. "Really?"
" I've seen it before, so yes, I do." She nodded. "Watching it is hard, right? Like some sort of sickening bile you feel wanting to come out but never does. You won't get used to it either."
That was exactly it! She really did understand!
It didn't help her feel better thought. It just made Melanie get even more negative. " I know I'm being silly, but--"
"He's only doing what he has to do." Cecelia comforted. "That's all he ever does. Nothing more or less." She eyed her intently "You and Sophia really are alike, so full of doubt and not enough self-esteem. It's like you're the same person."
"Lady Sophia?" Melanie asked. "I know you said that before, but how can me and your sister be compared? She's a N--"
"Noble? Yeah, in name." Cecelia's sharp smile was almost belittling. "But don't be fooled by that alone. She's weak. A real Noble shouldn't be like that. Sophia, as much as I love her, never should have been born one. She's like so many others of our kind. Spoiled, naive, helpless. Carried on by their betters. Satisfied with entrusting everything to them instead of standing on their own. Lazy in every way conceivable. They do the bare minumum of their duties and think that's all they have to do."
Cecelia's voice was full of disgust as she spoke.
Melanie felt her mouth drop. Then she thought more about it...was she being insulted? ...Not that she could say it wasn't an accurate assessment...
"You seem to have some rather...strong views, Lady Cecelia." Melanie replied carefully.
To her all Nobles seemed like glamorous, powerful beings that stood apart from normal people. Hearing them being called things like 'lazy' was a very odd experience for her.
"Sorry." Cecelia cooled down. "I don't mean to say you're like that. As far as you're concerned, you aren't bad. But it's not something you would understand, Melanie. You're a common person, nothing's really expected out of you. "
Melanie felt an arrow stab into her but said nothing. She really didn't know how to react to that.
"It's not the same for Nobles. "
"How do you mean, my Lady?" Melanie asked, not quite getting it.
"I mean that we're judged differently." Cecelia explained. "If you make a mistake, it's fine. If I do it's always going to be held against me even If I'm forgiven for it. "
Melanie felt she had something specific in mind. "You mean...that is, like what happened with Lady Iris?"
She stiffened. "Maybe. Yes. That's one example, at least. People are harsher on those they expect more out of. Failing to meet those expectations are worse sins than anything else."
"And how does this relate to the other Nobles?" Melanie couldn't see the connection.
"How doesn't it?" Cecelia shot back. "I hate them. Because I work hard to meet the expectations given to me, and they just...don't. They have obligations but act like children." She told her bitterly. "Nobles who just play around aren't true Nobles. They do as they please, they're selfish. Whereas I can't be. I have resonsibilities to uphold because I'm the oldest while Sophia can be a child all she wants and everyone thinks it's fine. I can't be like that. Ever."
"Even though she's a Noble too, even though she has the same expectations from common people I do, our own kind doesn't mind letting her be the way she is because she won't be the one running the family in the future. And since Nobles' heirs rarely die the fear of losing them has diminished compared the past. Because of that they think it's okay to just be lax about it all."
"I hate that kind of thinking. Why should I have to be the good one? The responsible one? While others, like Sophia, are spoiled rotten and can do nearly anything they want just because they aren't the firstborn? Do I have to die to make her grow up? Do all elder siblings of Noble children have to die for their younger brothers and sisters to mature?"
Melanie felt something click in her mind, feeling enlightened. Honestly she'd never thought about any of that! It sounded so sad.
Even though not all Nobles went on to be Elemental Knights a vast majority still had other duties that they were required to perform once they were fully grown. Like taking care of the territories under their control, keeping people happy and protected and fed.
The firstborn would have to take care of things like that more often than not but the other siblings would usually be given tasks or territories to handle too. If not they were sent to other places as officers or soldiers.
At least that was how it should be. But was this how it really was? She didn't think Sophia or Iris would ever be doing this though?
"So, in your mind only people like you and Young--Um, that is, Lyle, are...the true Nobles?" Melanie frowned, trying to work through all that she said.
"I suppose. Although Lyle's different."
Melanie tilted her head. "Oh?" She felt like Lyle would be exactly the kind of "True Noble" Lady Cecelia was talking about.
"A bit, yes. " Another nod. "Lyle's different in that while he hates the feeling of expectations being forced upon him like I do, he himself also feels that it's just how things are. He's better than me who would complain to you like this, at least. Lyle, amongst his Noble compatriots, has always been charismatic. Attracted attention. And that's because he doesn't complain about his lot in life."
"He sees all this," She waved her hand vaguely, encompassingly. " As just something he has to do. Not a chore but just something that will always be a part of who he is. Rather than other people expecting more out of him than he can give, it's him who always seems to believe he should be better. He's never really satisfied with anything about himself even if he won't say it.
"That's the mindset every Noble should have." Cecelia said with conviction, eyes blazing. "I don't have it, Sophia doesn't have it, Iris doesn't have it. In fact not a single Noble of our generation I've met except him has it. Either they crumble under the pressure and fail to meet the goals placed in front of them, or they don't even try. He's the only one I know who can meet those goals but is never really content even then. Doing something you don't really want to, not feeling like it shouldn't have to be you doing it, and being harder on yourself than anyone else...that's what a Noble should be.
"He has many faults, but in all, Lyle is my idea of how Nobles should be like. Not just the ones in charge, who need to be competant, but all of them. And I'm just constantly disappointed when I meet one of my kind who isn't like that. Such as Sera, who looks like she cares only about some fantasy romance than anything else. Even though I understand how ridiculous it is to hold everyone to that standard....or even try to hold myself to it."
Cecelia, after what felt like a full five minutes, finally finished her speech.
And Melanie was a bit scared. "Lady Cecelia, do you...have a bit of a complex in regards to Young Master Lyle?"
Maybe obsession was a better word...
Melanie could feel that she admired him, but it seemed to go past that. She talked about him like he was...Melanie didn't know what.
Maybe that's how she herself used to be before she came on this trip. In the early days Nobles were like gods to her, not humans.
Especially Lyle since he came from a more powerful House than most, and was so much stronger and faster and smarter than even the ones Melanie had seen. Though it was rare, she had seen a few other Nobles in the time of her employment as his personal servant.
And on those fronts she hadn't seen Nobles who equalled him, least not of his own generation. Melanie herself knew how much responsibility rested on his shoulders.
It was because one time she saw Lord Greyborne have Lyle handle some sort of paperwork. She didn't know it then but he'd later admitted to her that it had to do with a new stretch of land that had come under their control.
Something about how much tax they'd collect the following year from the residents who would be making homes there, how much supplies they'd deliver, the number of soldiers that would be sent to protect them...there was a lot he had to look over and approve. A lot he had to change or deny.
It was only that one time as far as she'd seen but at that time he really took charge of who knew how many lives. The things he did might have seemed simple but they would have determined the livelihoods of everyone involved.
Higher taxes might have made a man unable to feed his children. Less supplies might have stopped houses from being built or roads from being made. The number of soldiers sent would influence the safety of everyone living there.
It was a new land, where a new town would be erected. And he had been in charge of managing it, even if only that once.
Knowing all this it couldn't be helped that she was a bit star-eyed when it came to him. Yet here was Cecelia, who shouldn't be so illusioned, seeming to also have that problem.
The girl jerked her head up, narrowing her eyes at Melanie. "Of course not." She said sternly. "Just because I respect him as a Noble, doesn't mean I have anything like a complex towards him. I'm not Iris. Nor am I this Sera woman."
The harsh way she spoke the words made Melanie regret she said anything.
"Right. Of course." She mumbled.
Cecelia settled down, shifting in her seat. "Now, getting back to the first topic...Sophia also feared he'd, go astray. When I think about it, dating a popular guy is worse than dating a popular woman. Men are usually more..." She considered. "...Lustful than women. Sophia knew that, and because she was so insecure it was very easy for her to become ridden with jealousy and depression--much like how you are now--whenever she saw him talking to other women. To believe he'd cheated on her with you that day."
Cecelia let out a dry laugh. "You should have seen her, she barely doubted it for a second. She didn't even want to go talk to him about it, let him explain. I told her she should, but she was too busy forming her own conclusions that condemned him as nothing but an traitorous dog and you as some evil seductress."
"You...were with her that day?" Melanie, shocked, stared at the woman with wide eyes.
"What? Of course not." Came the smooth denial. "I heard her talk about how she saw you two together, nothing more."
And yet something didn't quite sound right. "But you knew why we were there!" She exclaimed vehemently. "If you only--!"
Melanie stopped her words abruptly.
Wait... She thought. Now that I think of it, that day, at that time, why would Lady Sophia have even been at that place...? And apart from me and a few others, no one knew we'd be there....no one except...
"Lady Cecelia, you..." Melanie paled at the thought. "Did you..."
"What?" Melanie was hit by eyes that were exceptionally clear and bright. Two sharp, glittering blades. "Is there something you want to say?"
The pressure of that gaze made her voice go small. A spike of fear went down her spine, and instead of saying what she thought, she could only lamely try and finish her last sentence
"That is, If...if you just told her why we were there, then--" Then they'd probably... still be together... Melanie realized.
Cecelia folded one leg over ther other and leaned back, casually brushing a lock of hair behind her ear. "Those who benefit off the actions of others shouldn't be ungrateful." She said airily. " Don't you think...Melanie?"
And again, those eyes shone with an inner brilliance that made Melanie distinctly uncomfortable, made her want to run and hide.
"...Right..." What else could she say?
"It's good you understand."
Neither of them said another word, and Melanie sank into a profound silence.