16 The Coincidental Meetings*
Anna, despite all her talk, truly hoped she'd see Phillip again. He was one of the most charming young men she'd ever met. His words were normal perhaps, but the way his eyes sparkled with mischeif and promise had lured Anna in...though it helped the young man was exceptionally well-built as well.
His sun-kissed skin and defined muscles had drawn many eyes, though he had not seemed overly aware of it. He'd had eyes so blue Anna had been reminded of the sky above the orchards on a cloudless summer's day. And his jawline...carved from stone, for there was no other explanation for how well defined and smooth it was.
Anna had indeed been enchanted, until she'd seen his high quality cotton shirt, and his tailored trousers. And then when he walked away, this pure leather boots. That chocolate-haired, blue-eyed man was not a commoner. At least not your average commoner. The silver coin had also been a pretty obvious red flag.
Anna had pretty much written-off ever seeing him again, but that didn't stop her hoping he'd show up. Her, her father and the other merchants from Cordon spent the week in the markets, then, out of stock, returned to their village, all without the young gentleman Phillip showing his face again. Anna could only hold onto the Silver coin, and let it pay for their passage out of the city. They left Varkevia behind until the next harvest which was still some months away.
So Anna returned to her simple life. Her days full of chores and interactions with her childhood friends. It was a few months after their return that Carter, one of her closest friends when she was a child, returned from his training at the Knight Academy in Barday.
He was now a fully-fledged knight, and had sworn his allegiance to the local lord, Baron Peters. Carter bragged amongst this childhood friends, and many commended him for his efforts. But Anna was indifferent. Carter had always wanted to be a knight, and so he had become one. Coming from a family of Knights it was not unexpected. and yet, Carter tried several times to gain Anna's attention through stories of his time with the Knight Academy. He was unsuccessful, especially when some unexpected visitors arrived at the Baron's estate.
It had been six months since they had last seen each other, but Anna knew those eyes and that chisled jawline the moment she saw them, she'd nearly dropped the basket of plums she was bringing back to the village store rooms.
He led a procession of a dozen noblemen and knights into the town on horseback. Judging from the hunting equipment, clearly they were a hunting party. But a Hunting Party all the way from Varkevia? It seemed a stretch. As Anna watched him, Phillip turned, and spotted her in the crowd of onlookers. After the surprise washed over him, a charming smile appeared, and he held up two fingers. Anna knew exactly what he was thinking.
'This is the second coincidental meeting, next time I'll get your name'.
Anna blushed and hurried on her way. She denied hearing his chuckle echoing behind her.
It was indeed a hunting party. One that would be staying in the area for a month. Anna did her best to ignore the information, but it was hard when all of her friends were talking about the handsome noblemen that had arrived. Using her best efforts, she managed to avoid him for a full week. Finally, quite by accident, she bumped into him when she stayed late in the orchards one evening thinking the hunting party had already arrived back.
It had, but apparently Phillip was into long walks.
"And so it appears my prays have been answered," Phillip had stated simply. Ann had jumped in surprise and turned to find Phillip leaning against the trunk of one of the larger apple trees.
"You scared me," Anna said, her hand over her heart.
"My apologies, I thought you heard me".
Phillip knew she hadn't. He'd made an effort to be quiet so she couldn't avoid him like what she'd been doing for the past week.
"Do I get a name now? After all, we've met three times," Phillip smiled.
Anna sighed, looking down at the basket before her, "Anna".
"Anna," Phillip tested, "It suits you".
"You probably say that to all the girls," Anna replied.
"Not at all, I met one young woman some time ago whose face was quite resemblent of a rat, do you know what her name was?" asked Phillip.
Anna looked on expectantly.
Anna let out a short laugh before covering her mouth, "Sorry, that was rude".
Phillip grinned as he shook his head, "She's not here to hear about it".
"What are you doing here?" Anna asked.
"I'm taking a stroll," Phillip replied.
"No, here, in Cordon," Anna replied.
Phillip's expression dropped slightly, and his sparkling eyes became slightly guarded, "Oh, a hunting party. The others wanted a change of scenery and my brother encouraged me to go along with them".
"Well I hardly think that's enough of an excuse to-"
It was Carter, and he approached with a frown on his face.
"Anna come on back it's getting late," Carter insisted. He was practically glaring at Phillip. Anna frowned at him, then looked back at Phillip who smiled amusedly.
"Do you two know each other?" Anna asked.
"No? Goodness Carter I didn't think you're memory was that bad," Phillip then turned to Anna, "We were classmates at the Knight Academy".
Anna's eyebrows rose, "You went to the Knight Academy?"
Phillip nodded. Perhaps he wasn't as high in status as she had assumed.
"Then you must know some of Carter's achievements there," Anna stated, "Is it true he hasn't been defeated in one-on-one combat?"
Carter blushed and stepped forward to grab Anna.
"I'll see you around Anna".
anna was helpless to do much more than wave awkwardly.
"Carter? What's wrong with you?" Anna asked.
"You shouldn't talk with him, Anna. His family is bad news," Carter cautioned.
"Bad news, whatever do you mean?" asked Anna.
"Just...don't talk to him, okay?"
Anna could only nod.