October 30, 2013

In Which Alsina Finds Where the Fault Lies

September 1, 1183

"Oh, good!" Perhaps not as mindful of her suspicious lack of course as she ought to have been, Alsina launched herself into her husband's arms and squeezed him tightly. He'd had to work late the past few days, and by the time he'd come home each night he'd been too tired to be decent company. But even on an ordinary day, after a stream of other ordinary days, she would not have expected to see him for an hour or so yet. "You're home!"

"Glad to know I didn't wander into the wrong house again."

Alsina laughed. Aldhein wasn't old--certainly not old enough to forget which house was his!--but he was older than she was, and while that hadn't always been easy, they could joke about the difference now.

And it was a relief to have that. Much of their shared past was not the stuff of jokes. "It's about time the duke let you off early."

"Yes, well... I need to talk to you about something." He pulled back and looked her in the eye, his face forcedly neutral. Alsina frowned. People in general did not preface good news with 'something'. "Maybe we should sit down."

"All right..." She let him go and took a seat on the couch, expecting him to go for the one beside her.

Instead, he went for the empty chair. "Um. Well, you should probably know that I didn't actually have to work late the past few days. I just needed to figure out how to tell you this."

"Oh." If he was so concerned about the manner of deliver, then it really couldn't have been anything good. "Did it help?"

"Honestly? No. But you deserve the truth." Yes. Really not good. "You know Aydelle Ildaras, right?"

"The duchess's maid?" He nodded. "What about her?"

"She's with child."

"Really?" It was polite to sound surprised, given that her husband worked with this woman--though from what Alsina knew about Mistress Ildaras, it had just been a matter of time. "Isn't she a widow?"

"She was married to the king's old steward, but she left him before he died. He's been dead too long to be the father anyway.

"Anyway, he didn't have much and he didn't leave her and the girls anything, and they'll be starting at the school in January, so..." He swallowed. Was this the part she didn't want to hear? Given the more immediate lead-in, it wasn't the worst thing one's husband could want to discuss about another woman's baby... "...I've decided to lend her some money."

Eh?

"Aldhein... Fenrick will be starting in January. And Riala will be starting mid-year." And it has been a while since I've bled, she had to remind herself, though she'd yet to see Arydath to confirm. "We aren't exactly without our own expenses right now."

"I know. But--"

"But what? It's a nice thing to do for someone, sure, but it's hardly your fault that--" Her husband flinched. Alsina's spine snapped to an arrow-straight stiffness as she shot to her feet and with her approximation of her sister's evil eye. Aldhein scuffed his boot in a nervous tell, but otherwise did nothing. "Oh, don't tell me."

Sighing, Aldhein took to his feet. "Alsina--"

"Shut up!" He did--not that he had any right to refuse. "How long has this been going on? Do you love her?"

"No!" Damn it. She wouldn't have been happy, but she might have understood it if he did. "She's a friend, and yes, we've occasionally had sex, but--"

"But what? But you aren't in love, so it doesn't count?"

"Alsina, I'm sorry--"

"You damn well better be!"

Aldhein Denvus was not a man of perfect repute. He'd arrived in Naroni up to his eyeballs in debt, hiding from creditors under any skirt lifted for him. He was the son of notorious drunkard. He had a bastard daughter with a dead queen. He'd been fired by the old king, even banished from his shire for a time. His marriage to Alsina had not helped, and perhaps some tiny part of him resented her for it.

But she'd never thought that he would do this to her.

"I'm going to my room. Don't think about joining me any time soon."

NEXT CHAPTER:

5 comments:

Van said...

Florian will announce the winner of the contest in the next post, so if anyone wants to vote and hasn't yet, you still have until the post goes up some time Friday night!

morgaine2005 said...

Ye-up. Aldhein deserved that. All of it. I was cringing throughout. Just ... Aldhein, of all the ways to break to your wife that you cheated on her and you've fathered an illegitimate kid, this is not the way.

I mean, really, starting by saying you want to loan Aydelle money? Lulling Alsina into a false sense of security? That's just not right.

And Alsina herself having a (probable) baby on the way isn't going to make things better ...

*sigh* At least next time's post ought to be more cheerful, I hope!

Van said...

To be fair, I don't think there's a good way to tell your wife that you've impregnated someone else, but yeah, he probably could have done better than this.

Whether Alsina is pregnant or not, things won't be fun times in this household for quite a while. :S

But yes, the next post should be a welcome drama break! :)

Penelope said...

Poor, poor Alsina. She really does not deserve the crap that life throws at her. :(

Van said...

The poor woman does seem to live in the universe's personal toilet. :(