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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Mortal Goddess - Chapter 8

Chapter 8

My goodness Devius! You have been so unhappy since you returned from our stay with the Hamiltons. This is very unlike you. What happened seven months ago to upset you like this?” Emmaline asked her son. Devius shrugged; he didn’t want to talk about it.
Well, I hope that you’ll cheer up once you marry your fiancée. I can’t believe that the wedding is only a month away.” Emmaline chattered on, hoping to bring her son out of his gloom.
She still couldn’t believe that Devius had allowed her to arrange a marriage for him. It had been too easy for her. She had merely entertained the Duchess – who had a beautiful but spoiled daughter who had apparently set her cap for Devius. Hence the reason that the Duchess had deigned to have tea with her.
The Duchess advised Emmaline of her daughter’s desire to marry Devius and had asked for her help in arranging the match. Emmaline informed the Duchess that Devius had already given permission to her to arrange his engagement, and they immediately began planning the wedding.
Emmaline then informed Devius of his pending nuptials and he had merely nodded his acquiesce. He had even ordered his valet to buy an engagement ring and deliver it to the Duchess’ daughter, Anne. Devius had been extremely kind and patient with Anne, never treating her with anything less than courtesy and respect. He never let her realize how miserable he really was.
Emmaline, as concerned as she was for her son, was ecstatic! She was already planning how to spoil the grandchildren that she would be seeing in – if everything went according to plan – less than a year.
Mother, I have to pay a visit to a friend in the country, I should be back in a week,” Devius announced suddenly, his brooding finally getting to him.
Emmaline frowned, maybe I should pay a visit to Olivia. Olivia always gave such good advice and Emmaline had a feeling that she could use some advice right about now.

Gia, this is your fault, isn’t it?” A moody Aira asked. Aira was about two weeks away from her expected due date. She’d had a relatively easy pregnancy, but she still got nauseous whenever she ate or drank anything that wasn’t utterly bland, and none of her herbs helped much.
That’s because you aren’t taking them regularly like you should be,” Gia’s spirit said, reading Aira’s thoughts. “Also, you have done nothing but mope about the house for the last month.”
That’s because my brothers won’t let me go anywhere,” Aira retorted. She was working in her mother’s garden, but her belly was so big that it was getting in the way. She sat up in frustration.
Imagine what they would do if they knew I was carrying twins!” Aira giggled, pressing her hands into her belly. Being a midwife had certainly helped her make her pregnancy as comfortable as possible. Even though she still got nauseous at the drop of a hat. Which was what she had just accused Gia of being at fault for.
That is not my fault,” Gia reiterated.
How could he stay away so long?” Aira whined. It had occurred to her to leave her people and go to him, but she had decided against it. Her people meant more to her than almost anything!
Why haven’t you gone to him?” Gia pressed for clarification.
I don’t know where he lives.” Aira used the first excuse she could think of. “Besides, he would see my condition and immediately offer to marry me. Then how would I ever know for certain if he married me for me or because he got me pregnant?”
Gia’s spirit sighed in frustration and mild aggravation.

Officer, I’d like to offer the information that I have about the death of the midwife Gia,” Devius said to the head of the police department closest to the Hamilton property. After he had introduced himself, of course.
And what information do you have?” The officer asked brusquely. He shuffled papers around on his desk to illustrate just how busy he was and how little he'd appreciate Devius wasting his time.
I believe I know who killed her,” Devius answered, feeling unbelievably relieved to finally get this weight off his mind. His conscious would not let him rest until he came forward with his evidence.
The officer straightened up and stopped fiddling with his paperwork. Gia had helped his wife with the births of his three sons and any information about her death would be greatly appreciated. He had talked to Aira and the tenants living on the Hamilton lands, but he had come up with nothing conclusive.
I believe Thomas Smith is directly responsible for Gia’s death,” Devius said.
Thomas Smith! His family is among the most influential in the area. Do you have any proof of what you accuse?” The officer asked suspiciously, secretly believing that the man was actually capable of such treachery.
Not anything concrete, but I had visited him the morning of the murder. We had chatted about various things, during which I mentioned that I was staying with the Hamiltons and he had displayed a distaste for them. Which really has nothing to do with anything, but he boldly said that he heard that there was a witch on the property.
I carelessly replied that whomever had said that might have been talking about Gia. I’d heard how eccentric she was, but I didn’t have any evidence that she practiced witchcraft,” Devius explained.
You accused Gia of such a horrible deed without any cause, and then blame Thomas for her murder?” The officer asked angrily.
I have thought endlessly about that day, and I have concluded that Gia would most definitely be alive today if I had not said what I had, but I do believe that it was Thomas who actually killed her. For one thing, the killer had written a message on the ground, so that limits the suspects to those who can read and write. Also, every member of the Hamilton household was home at the time, so they can all vouch for each other.
Except for Aira and myself. I believe she was in the village, and I was sleeping on a rock by a pond. Aira must have been riding her horse nearby, for I heard her scream and quickly followed it to Gia’s house,” Devius embellished slightly, for he had no desire to explain his affair with Aira to the officer and ruin her reputation.
I believe I saw another rider quickly leaving the area, but I paid no attention to him as I had seen that was Aira bent on rescuing Gia and was intent on stopping her from harming herself. The house was engulfed in flames, and Aira would not have survived if I had not stopped her,” Devius continued.
I believe you, except for the fact that you didn’t come forward right away, but I need concrete proof, and you haven’t any,” the officer said.
Wasn’t there any evidence at the murder site?”
No, the only thing left after the fire were a bunch of liquor bottles, and we can’t prove that Gia didn’t already have them herself,” the officer answered.
Gia didn’t drink from what Aira has told me about her. What brand of liquor was it?” Devius asked.
Come to think of it, they were bottles from the Smith family distillery,” the officer mused as he remembered viewing the evidence, his hope beginning to rise.
So, we have some proof,” Devius stated hopefully.
Yes, but very little, and they were left at the site, so we’d need to go get them anyway. I have talked with Aira, and you have confirmed much of what she said, but without a solid witness or a confession, we have no case. I highly doubt Thomas’ll confess.”
Have you questioned Thomas?”
No. You’re the first person to accuse him, and frankly we can’t question him without more proof,” the officer informed him.
Thank you anyway,” Devius said, standing up to leave.
Mr. Mansfield, I can’t say anything official, but if anybody knows anything about what happened, I’d bet my life that it’s his sister,” the officer said as he shook Devius’ hand. Devius nodded in understanding, then left.
Once on his horse, Devius was drawn in the direction of the Hamilton estate; more specifically to Aira’s pond. He didn’t want to see her ever again, but no matter how hard he tried, he just could not make himself go anywhere else.
Unbeknownst to him, his guardian spirit was teaming up with Gia – who was tired of Aira mooning over him – and together they were physically dragging him to the pond. Well, at least as physically as two spirits can get. They knew that Aira had snuck away from her brothers – when they weren’t looking – and had made her way to the pond to relax.
Devius was finally able to stop himself when he was able to see the pond. Tears came to his eyes as he watched the woman he loved bathe. He could only see her head, neck, and the very top of her shoulders. It was as if the rest of her was jealously being guarded by the pond. Feeling his presence, she looked up.
How long have you been there?” She asked, though she had only sensed him for a moment. She prayed that it wasn’t any longer.
Just a moment,” he confirmed her senses.
What do you want?” She asked, surreptitiously looking to see if he could see her pregnant belly.
I miss you,” he blurted out honestly. “My life has not been the same without my Goddess by my side.”
Then why have you waited so long to come back?”
At first, it was because you told me to leave you alone, and I was in too much pain to face you. Then, I became engaged,” Devius replied solemnly.
Oh… Well... congratulations on your marriage,” Aira murmured, trying her best not to cry. “I hope she makes you happy. I just want to tell you that I missed you too, but I… I… I meant it when I said that I never want to see you again… Pl-pl-please, just go.”
No Aira. I’m not married yet, and I know you don’t mean what you said. I love you. I think I’ve loved you since I was born, and I will continue to love you until I die. Longer than that even.”
What about your fiancée? Does she love you? Are you willing to break her heart? I have never said that I love you, never once. What makes you think that you can break the heart of a woman that loves you to be with one who doesn’t?” Aira asked.
Aira, she can’t possibly love me; our marriage was arranged by our mothers. She can have any man she wants, and she only chose me because I would make the best decoration on her arm. She is the only daughter of a Duke and she was bred to fill his position. I have talked at length with her and she has made it clear that she does not want me to interfere with her handling of the business. She will not make me happy, nor I her, I suspect. Please, don’t push me away,” Devius pleaded.
You think you can abandon me all this time, and then expect me to welcome you back with open arms? What if I don’t want you?”
If you can honestly tell me that you never want to see me again, I will walk away. What choice do I have? I still half believe that you could turn me into a puppy, but even if you don’t want a relationship with me, please, let us remain friends. In either case, I’m going to break off my engagement. I’ve decided that you are the other half of my soul and I cannot marry anyone but you! If you won’t marry me, then I’ll settle for just your friendship,” Devius confessed, bared his soul, hoping to impress upon her his deep emotional need. Praying that she didn't want to be nothing more than friends, but unable to be parted from her any longer.
Aira sighed, her pain and anger melting. “I love you... and I’ve missed you, but I’ve changed since you left. I’ve learned that I don’t have to be kind and sweet every second of the day. I’ve become moody and I let people know exactly how moody I am at any given moment. I’ve gained weight and I talk to myself. Are you sure you still want me?” She asked.
Always,” he promised.
Slowly, Aira walked out of the pond, watching Devius’ expression as he took in the new shape of her body.
By God! You’re pregnant! Why didn’t you tell me? I would have dropped everything to be here with you!” Devius said, taking her into his arms.
I didn’t want to trap you. If you were going to come back to me, it was going to be of your own free will,” Aira responded.
I have a few things to take care of, but I will be back. You won’t be too disappointed if I leave for just a few more days, will you?” He asked, hugging her as if he never wanted to let her go.
Yes, but I’ll understand. I’ve moved back in with my family, you’ll find me there, and hurry! The baby’s due in less than two weeks.”
Does your family know that I am the father?”
No... I never did feel like talking about it,” she replied.
Do you think that you can wait for me so that we can tell them together?” He wanted to be on hand to apologize to her family for letting her bear this burden alone for so long.
Yes,” she promised mischievously.
He kissed her deeply, trying to leave but unable to let her go. She pushed him away.
I thought you had to go.”
I do. I’ll be back soon. I love you.” He kissed her again.
I love you too,” she assured him, kissing him in return.
Slowly, he backed away until he bumped into his horse. Then, he mounted and forced himself to ride away as quickly as his horse could run so that he could be back as soon as possible.
That went rather well,” Gia congratulated herself out loud.
Aira grinned. “Yes, it did!”

Go To Chapter 9 

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