17 Chapter 17 - Saw It All
Joseph got up early that morning, so he could talk to his father. As he approached his carriage, he realized his father was already up.
"Father?" he called.
"Come in, Joseph," his father answered.
As he climbed into it, his father gently smiled and asked, "So, what did you want to discuss?"
"Tonight, is the night, father. I become a mage. I will complete the last needed requirements to cast my first spell. As it is test food, I kind of wanted to do it at dinner. Is that alright?"
"Excellent! Stella had mentioned something, so I have a big meal planned for you to test it out on. My head servant Gen said I have a meeting with Phenic today. He is my most trusted food supplier, and has been for almost a decade now."
"How did you meet Phenic?" he asked, sitting on a chair. He had a little time before he had to get back to work.
"Well, Phenic has always loved me. His wife was very sick with their first child and I offered to let my healer heal her magically for a very small fee. She and the baby were dying due to complications with the pregnancy. He always goes out of his way to get something special for the cooks to use whenever I come by, so look forward to dinner tonight."
"Thank you, father! I better get to work, I have a lot to do before dinner."
Joseph headed back to the carriage, thinking about the last hours he needed to finish his study. Grabbing the door to the carriage, he noticed it felt looser than normal, and when he pulled it open, Stella was bent over, completely naked, trying to dig her outfit out of the chest.
Jumping up, she whirled around with a cute little 'o' on her face, and they made eye contact. Joseph slammed the door shut. He stared at the door for a moment, hearing a flurry of activity inside. He saw everything. The handle had felt looser, because the latch was apparently broken.
He could almost hear both of his past lives calling him a lucky pervert. What was that all about? This wasn't the first time he had wondered about his previous selves. He knew they didn't have significant others, even if he hadn't gotten any specific personal details. The complete lack of memories with a feminine touch spoke volumes.
He saw everything. Crap. Come on, get it together.
"Stella, I'm going to get breakfast. I'll be right back."
Had he waited too long to say that? Crap.
He left quickly, and stopped by the slave, Richard, who was in charge of repairs, to report the latch in his carriage door was broken and he would need to add a lock. Then he grabbed breakfast.
This was the first time he questioned perfect memory. He had never been this conflicted before. Finally getting his mind out of the woozo, as one of his previous lives would have said, he arrived back at the carriage. Hesitating for a moment, he finally knocked.
"Stella? I have breakfast."
There was no answer. After a moment of debate, he finally opened the door and found it empty. Crap. His eyes wandered over to the empty chest. He saw…Stop it!
Shaking his head, he set the food down and sighed. This was going to get weird now. Grabbing his plate, he sat at his desk and began to study the rune. He was determined to be ready for the party. That wasn't a conversation he wanted to have with his dad. Both of them would have died from embarrassment.
Five minutes later, he still hadn't managed to get started. She returned, keeping her eyes down. She was still beet red.
Ah, shavist! Were her eyes puffy? That meant she had been crying, right? He didn't have a clue what to say. Maybe it would be best to just ignore it.
"Um, there's your breakfast," he said, looking up to see her already holding it. Well, crap. Glad to see he could make this even more awkward.
"Thank you," she replied, sitting down to eat.
He went back to looking at the rune. Five minutes later he was no closer than when he started. She was sitting there, not moving. Her food was untouched.
Crap, even the silence was awkward. This was like sitting next to a bomb about to go off at any minute.
"Um, you've been doing really well in etiquette classes. The teacher even told father about how well your progress was."
"Thank you for noti…cing…" her words faltered at the end, and Joseph felt like face palming. Somehow the standard polite thank you from the etiquette class meant so much more today. The conversation stalled again.
Sighing, he turned to her. Her eyes were trying to stare a hole in the floor.
"We are having a big supper tonight; would you like to help with the food? I'm sure the cooks in the kitchen would greatly appreciate the help."
"Thank you." She was out the door, before the words had finished passing her lips. It was almost as if the carriage was on fire.
"See you later," he said, turning back to his rune, then froze. She had frozen as well, on the step just outside the door.
Shavist!! See you later??? What was he thinking??
She darted off like a terrified rabbit; he banged his head down on his desk. Why couldn't he have said something like, 'go and come back safely', or 'until dinner', but 'see you later'?!
It was another thirty minutes before he was able to calm down and focus again. His mind finally on the rune, he didn't stop until he was done. There was only ten minutes before she came back to inform him that it was time for supper.
Neither of them could make eye contact. He really hoped this ended soon. Fortunately, the excitement about casting his first spell gave him something else to focus on. Making sure he had the paper with FOOD inscribed on it from Stu. It would be better if the modified TEST FOOD was inscribed, but the plain FOOD would work. He knew the difference, so, it would work, even if it was a little poor on efficiency.