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Pears & Rogues

by A. Yvonne Magnuson 10 months ago in Short Story
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Early Morning in the Orchard

Morning came quickly in the summer. The sky was already turning pink. The night mists fading before the rising sun, burning up and adding to what was shaping up to be an already extremely humid day.

That just left Lilly, frantically plucking the ripe pears from the top of the orchard trees. The lady of the manor believed that pears tasted sweeter when picked in the early morning and Lord help the servant who failed to get them for her.

That chore usually fell to Lilly because she was the youngest and the most nimble of the servants along with her uncanny ability to see perfectly in the dark. Lilly liked it since it was the one time she was allowed to wear men’s breeches instead of her cumbersome lady servant uniform. The uniform was perfectly fine if she was doing chores in the house or shopping in town, but absolutely terrible for climbing trees.

She dropped another pear down, aiming for the bucket hanging from a branch below her. The pear must have had other ideas, because it struck the edge of the bucket and fell towards the ground.

Lilly didn’t even have time to curse her bad luck before she saw the ripe fruit strike a passerby on the top of the head.

The blond haired man stumbled and glared down at the offending fruit before glancing up, locking his golden eyes with her own cat like blue ones.

“Sorry Percy. I was aiming for the bucket.” Lilly shot him a grimacing smile.

Percy was the young master of the manor. He was tall, broad shouldered, and handsome with short wavy hair the color of honey with eyes to match. His only fault was that he always had a fierce expression on his face which made other people avoid him if possible.

Except for Lilly.

“What on earth are you doing?” he asked.

“Getting your mother’s pears. What else would I be doing this early in the morning?”

“No, I mean what are you doing dressed like that?” he gestured towards her legs.

Lilly gave an unladylike snort, “You can ask me that after I see you try to climb up one of these trees in the dark wearing a skirt. Besides, I could say the same about you.”

She was right. Percy was dressed without his waistcoat, jacket, hat, or gloves. Just his breeches, boots, and long shirt, which was halfway undone exposing his chest, not that Lilly would notice such things. Certainly it was not the dress of a proper gentleman.

“Touché, Miss Lilly.” He said flashing her a rare smile. “I just got back from riding.”

Lilly smiled knowingly, “You can’t fool me Percy. I’m not your mother. The horse stable is on the other side of the manor, so either you came all the way out here just to steal something from your mother’s orchard or, more likely, Rogue threw you again and you had to walk back.”

Percy rubbed the back of his neck and sighed, “What gave me away?”

“Dirt on your knees, hip, and shoulder” her smile turning into a smug smirk.

She heard him swear under his breath, “There’s barely any light out. How could you possibly see any of that?”

“It is a gift from God.”

“More like my curse. Honestly, nothing I do gets by you.”

“Then you should stop trying,” Lilly laughed, stopping as a voice called out from the kitchen.

“Lilly! Hurry up with those pears! The lady will be up any minute now!”

“Coming!” She called back. “Sorry Percy, Cook gets antsy in the morning if I start running late.”

He gave a nod of understanding as Lilly collected her bucket and began climbing down, only to be plucked off the last branch by Percy before being set on the ground.

“Thanks for the help, but you know I can do it myself.”

“I know,” he said turning away to pick up the pear that had fallen on his head and putting it back in her bucket, “I just wanted to.”

He looked at her in a way even her all seeing eyes couldn’t figure out. They stood there, unmoving for several moments before the tension was broken by Cook, yelling from the kitchen again.

“I need to go,” Lilly mumbled striding for the kitchen door.

“I will go and distract my mother so Cook has more time!” Percy called out after her.

Lilly shot him a smile over her shoulder as she broke into a run, telling herself that the pounding of her heart was only from her haste.

Short Story

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A. Yvonne Magnuson

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