Chapter 8 : The Lover's Knot
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The next night, Dezzy could barely eat, and pushed her food around on her plate just for something to do. Aunt Rowena was eating slowly, and Dezzy found it unbearable. This had been going on for the last few courses, and finally, after desert, they were finished.
"I am going back to my chamber," Rowena said, standing. "I would highly appreciate not being disturbed."
"Yes, of course, Aunt Rowena. Thank you for dining with us," Addie said, and she and her sisters stood to say goodbye as their aunt left the room.
They curtsied, and after a servant closed the door behind Rowena, Dezzy silently counted to ten in her head, and waited for the noise of her aunt's footsteps to fade. She quietly sat down, folding her hands in her lap, and after what seemed like hours, Addie addressed them all.
"Alright, girls," she said quietly. "We can go up now. But please try not to make any noise. We don't want to disturb Aunt Rowena's rest. She must be tired from her journey."
"But she got here yesterday! She's had a whole day to be tired!" Ettie cried, a bit too loudly.
"Shhh!" Gertie put a finger to her lips, silencing her sister.
"We have to be quiet, remember?" Flora whispered.
"Sorry," Ettie said, not looking sorry at all.
"Come quietly, girls," Addie said, leading the way back to their bedroom.
Dezzy tried to keep her footsteps quiet as she and her sisters walked back to their room in silence. Dezzy thought that Aunt Rowena should be back to her bedroom by now, but she didn't want to chance it, and stayed quiet. Instead of talking, her thoughts wandered to the pavilion for what seemed like the thousandth time that day.
She would get to dance again! Finally, they could be free. And Salazar would be waiting for her. Her heart drummed against her chest and she blushed. She thought it was silly that she did this when she thought of him. He wasn't a suitor of hers, not that she had any, and her sisters saw him just as often as she did, and none of them reacted like this. But there was also something special between them. After all, it was Dezzy who waltzed with him, as he led her through graceful turns, flowing steps, with his hand ever-present on the small of her back.
And she could never forget his eyes. The captivating yellow-green that flashed in the golden light that surrounded the pavilion. She would find herself staring into them, entranced, unable to tear her gaze away. And each time she saw him, it grew harder and harder for her not to train her eyes on his, and keep them there for hours, while they danced. The hours melted into what felt like seconds, and much too quickly, Addie would be ushering them back to the castle, and away from him.
So Dezzy had learned to cherish every minute she got to spend at the pavilion.
"And with Salazar," Dezzy thought, despite herself.
"Dez, come on!" Bea said, shaking Dezzy from her thoughts as she pulled her younger sister through the door to their bedroom and shut it behind her.
Dezzy saw that her bed and been pushed aside, and that her sisters were already descending the staircase to the silver wood and golden pavilion that waited for them. Dezzy grinned and followed them, quickening her pace as she came closer and closer to the sparkling silver trees that beckoned them forward. Her smile grew wider as the pavilion came into view and she crossed the bridge that led to it.
"Hello Salazar," she said, curtsying as her greeted her at the entrance.
"Hello, Princess," he said, kissing the back of her hand. "You all have been away for so long, I was beginning to think you wouldn't come back to me."
"Of course we would come back," Dezzy found herself saying, as she looked into his enthralling eyes. "We've just been a bit busy is all."
"Ah. Business is not something I am able to forgive. But there is something you can do to help with that."
"What is it?"
"Dance with me," he said, leading her to the center of the floor while her sisters leaped, and twirled, and giggled around them.
"Alright. Would you like to waltz again?"
"Oh no," he said. "I have a different dance in mind."
"What dance would that be?"
"Princess, have you ever dance the Lover's Knot?"
"No," Dezzy answered. She remembered seeing the dance when she was very young, but had never had a chance to learn it. It was the one dance her mother could not teach her, because she had to be partnered by a gentleman to learn.
"It is a beautiful dance, but is also very intricate. One has to focus and move with their partner to dance it correctly. Shall we give it a whirl?"
The stepped together, into position, with Dezzy's left hand on Salazar's shoulder, and her right hand entwined with his. His other hand was on her back, pulling her closer than they had been for the waltz. He slowly stepped back with his left foot, and Dezzy stepped forward with her right, carefully following his lead. Next, he crossed her right foot behind him, while she crossed her left foot in front of her right. As Salazar stepped forward on his left foot, Dezzy stepped back with her right, and watched as he circled his right foot so he was standing back in their starting position. She followed him, circling her left foot back to end how she had started.
"Good," he said.
"Salazar?" she asked, as they moved into a simpler box step.
"Why is this dance called the Lover's Knot?"
For a moment he didn't answer, instead removing his hand from her back, turning her under his arm, and then catching her other hand in his, so they were facing the same way and her arms were crossed in front of her chest.
"This is why it's called the Lover's Knot," he said quietly. And then he continued, louder now. "Theoretically, you would try to keep from getting caught, and we would do this."
He released her hand, and guided her back through the underarm turn, and then she continued out so the arm that was holding Salazar's was outstretched, and she look in to where he stood, still holding her hand.
"And now I turn in, don't I?" she asked. He nodded. "I remember seeing this dance," she told him as she turned.
"You dance it very well for having just learned," he told her, gently pulling her back to their starting position, so they could move through the dance again.
"Thank you," she answered.
"Do your sisters enjoy it as much as you do?" he asked.
"Bea loves it, and the little girls like it, but I was the one who always wanted to learn and practice new dances."
"Well, your practice has certainly paid off," he said.
"Thank you," she said quietly, blushing.
"Dezzy, stop hogging the only partner we have! Don't you think someone else should have a turn?" Ettie asked, bounding up to them.
"Certainly. Would you care to partner me, Princess?" Salazar asked, stepping back from Dezzy and offering his hand to Ettie.
"Of course, dear sir," she said, taking his hand and beaming around to her sisters.
"Shall we waltz?"
"Oh, please!" she said, with a curtsy and a grin.
Salazar bowed and stepped together with Ettie. Dezzy smiled as the moved across the floor, somewhat less smoothly than when Salazar had been her partner. Ettie enjoyed dancing, but had never had the patience to practice. Dezzy saw Salazar wince as Ettie stepped on his toes, and she laughed to herself. Her sister could most definitely be a handful!
After Salazar partner Ettie, Bea, and the girls had even coaxed Clara into a dance with him, Addie announced that they had to go home. Dezzy's face fell, but when she caught Salazar looking, she made herself smile. The girls bid him goodbye, Dezzy lingering behind so she could soak in as much of the pavilion as possible before returning to the castle and Aunt Rowena.
"Goodbye, Princess. I do hope you'll not stay away as long this time," Salazar said, bowing and kissing her hand once more.
"I hope we can return soon," she said, her face heating up.
"Come on, Dez!" Bea called.
"Goodbye, Salazar," Dezzy said, pulling her hand from his grasp and hurrying after her sisters.
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