Chapter 4

Ren stood next to the door, her back stiff and her legs aching. She had been standing there since Rowen and Kuea had left the room ten minutes ago. When they had left, any lightness that the two servants had brought with them had been turned into a very tense awkwardness. Coud rarely looked at her, since every time he did, Partin scolded him. So, for the most part, e never tore his gaze away from his plate of food, which he had barely touched at all. Partin didn't try to talk to him, so the only sound was the clinking of their silverware.

Suddenly, Ren's stomach let out a loud growl that echoed throughout the mostly-empty dining room. She quickly shifted feet and put a hand over her stomach, willing it to stop. She still hadn't eaten dinner yet, she had only had a slice of stale bread for lunch, and the smells wafting over from the table was not helping. Luckily for her, Partin hadn't seemed to hear her complaining stomach; Ren only guessed this because she was not being glared at by the mistress.

But Coud finally looked up at her when Partin was busy focusing on her napkin, trying to fold it just right. His dark gray eyes held pity, but also a tinge of amusement. Ren turned away, partly because of Partin's earlier warnings, partly because she couldn't bear the emotion in his eyes. Emotions that were meant for her.

Even before her parents had died, Ren had lived her life showing no emotion, and getting none back. Since her family had been so poor, barely even putting food on the table, she couldn't afford to let the other children's taunts get to her; not for her own sake, but because it would have worried her parents even more than they already were. She would only show emotion around her mother and father, and even then she would hide the unhappy ones as best as she could.

Perhaps she should thank those kids who had mocked her now. Because of them, she was used to being like a statue, and she had a feeling that it would come in handy in her new life.

But then there was Rowen and Kuea. Always smiling, always happy, always joking. Ren could tell that they were like that no matter what the circumstances, even though she had only met them a few hours ago. They had been so nice to her, despite who, and what, she was.

And Coud. The son of her first master and mistress. Why did he look at her like... like she wasn't some object? Like she was a human? Like he actually cared about her feelings? And how could his eyes alone show so much of his emotion? So much worry and concern?

And for her, of all people. A slave. Someone, more like something, who had been bought with just a small pouch of coins, not even enough to pay for a month's worth of food for two people.

Coud looked away just as Partin glanced up at him. "Coud?" She chirped. "Aren't you hungry?"

"Not really," he muttered.

"Then I think it's time for you to go." She said, her tone making it quite clear that it wasn't a suggestion.

Coud stood up, his chair squeaking as it was pushed against the floor. "Okay." He walked over to the door where Ren was waiting. A second before he left,he looked her in the eye. "I'm sorry," he told her, his voice note loud enough to even qualify as a whisper. Then he was gone, the door closing as quietly behind him as it had opened for him.

"Okay, Dear," Partin called out a second later. "You can come out now."

Ren blinked, confused. What was she talking about? There wasn't anyone else in the room except for her, and there's now way Partin would ever call her 'dear', so what was going on?

Her question was answered a second later when a loud grating sound, like wood rubbing against wood, filled the room suddenly. Ren looked around, searching for the source of the almost deafening sound. Did anyone else outside those in the room hear it? How could they not? She quickly named the source as a panel of wood on the wall opposite the door sliding away steadily, revealing a stone staircase cloaked in shadows. Blinking a few times into the darkness, Ren could see shoes making their way down, then legs, and then an entire person.

He was huge, almost impossibly so. His green shirt, topped by a dark brown vest, was unbuttoned enough to show his chest muscles, covered in swirls of hair. The hair on his head spiked out in long brown curls, making it look like, from the right angle, that there was a brown star on the back of his head. Stepping out of the shadows and into the dining room, he stretched his arms and looked around before his dark eyes narrowed on Ren.

"This her?" He growled.

Partin smiled and, standing up, walked over to the man. "Yes, Beazon. The new slave girl."

He huffed. "Not much, is she?"

"She's only a child, after all."

"Child or not, she better work like heck." Ignoring his wife's hand reaching out for his, Beazon strode over to Ren, covering the large room in a dozen or so large steps. He only stopped when he was a foot away from Ren.

She looked up at him, green eyes wide. He towered over her like he was a mountain and she was a sapling standing next to him. How could anyone get so big without exploding?

"What's your name?" His voice, loud even from across the room, was now booming. Ren could've sworn she felt the room shake at the sound of it.

"Reverie," she said softly, casting her eyes towards the ground.

Beazon reached out and grabbed her chin roughly and tilted her head back, forcing her to look at him. "What did you say?" His eyes narrowed even more. "Don't mumble around your master, slave."

"Reverie," she repeated, louder this time. "My name is Reverie."

He stared at her for a minute longer before letting her go. "Partin, is this really the girl I asked for?"

"Yes, Beazon." Partin answered from across the room. "The very same."

"They made her sound much... more."

"Well, I guess they lied."

Beazon growled, low and deep. "What use do I have for a pathetic weakling like her?" With his words, he raised his hand and brought down across Ren's cheek. She fell back against the wall, her head slamming against it. A drop of blood fell out of the corner of her mouth.

"Beazon," Partin said quietly, quickly making her way over to him. "Don't."

"And why not?" He demanded. "She's mine, isn't she? Though I think we should give her back. Demand our money back."

"We made a deal, Beazon, remember?" Partin grabbed one of his hands with both of hers. "We already bought her; we can't go back on our deal, now can we?"

Beazon looked at her for a second, then stormed back towards his passage, grumbling all the way. "I'm busier than usual. Don't bother me." He shouted over his shoulder right before he slammed the panel shut, vanishing into the shadows.

Partin sighed, then turned to Ren, who was trying hard not to black out from the pain. "Go to your room," she said. "We're done for the night."

Okay, so there ain't much romance between Ren and Coud yet... but you see how there can be romance, right? How there will be romance, I should say.

And for those of you following this story... SO SORRY I HAZN'T UPDATED IN FOREVER! I REALLY AM! It's just... stuff... I actually had this chapter written down(well, most of it) in a notebook of mine, but I just never typed it up... ;_; so sowwy.

I hope you enjoyed this chapter! Please review!