Boiling Over ~sequel to Something Brewing fast fiction, requested by Muhlakai~
“What do I have to do to get his attention,” Anne shouted while stomping in the large but warm front room.
“You have mine,” a voice answered from a few rooms away.
“Lovely,” she said icily. “Sam, you are a dear, but back to my question. Why does Mike ignore me?”
“Because,” Sam said, his voice just a little closer than last time. “You’re noisy. He likes peace in his kitchen. You’ve been learning to cook with him for a few months now, ever since he won the contest and was named ‘Best in the City.’ He huddles himself away in his kitchen and cooks.” Sam’s voice was closer now, but when Anne looked around, she still couldn’t see him. “You storm in, shouting. He closes off even tighter.” Sam said, appearing behind her. His clothing was covered in metal shavings and grease, but like always he was wearing a big smile. “Me on the other hand,” he held up a strange looking tool. “I like it when you come over, it breaks the silence that Mike slips into. Plus,” he added a twinkle in his eye. “It…”
A large crash from the kitchen cut Sam off. His big grin disappeared just before he did, and Anne was left standing alone again in the front room. She waited for a moment longer before stalking back to the kitchen area. As she navigated through the maze like rooms and halls she wondered what today was going to bring, but she kept on walking. When she stepped through the doorway Mike was standing before her his arms crossed and his face dark with anger.
“Last time you were in here, did you perhaps cast a spell on the meringue so it would set faster,” Mike asked, biting each word off.
Anne stood, mouth open and stared at him for a moment. “Well,” she began. “You see, I…”
“ENOUGH,” Mike roared. “You come to me to learn to cook, but each time you cast a spell in this kitchen you break something. I’m tired of making Sam stop whatever it is he’s working on for the University to fix something that didn’t need fixing before you mucked about. You want to learn to cook, there are no shortcuts. You either cook, or you go cast magic and teach the oafish brutes from the watch.”
“Wait,” Anne stammered, her hand reached out for Mike as he walked away from her. She took a few more steps into the room and saw Sam leaning over one of Mike’s tools, carefully removing a few gears. “I’m sorry Mike,” she mumbled, averting her eyes and staring at the complex pattern on the floor.
“Sorry doesn’t cut it anymore,” Mike said while fishing in a drawer. “This is your last chance Anne. I’m not messing around anymore. I have three separate families asking me to mentor their children for large sums of money,” Mike turned to look at Anne, then lifted a small cloth bag from the drawer and handed it to Sam. “You not only pay me nothing for my time, patience, or even a pittance for the ingredients, but you break the things I’ve spent my own money and time on designing and Sam has spent building.”
“Mike,” Anne whispered as she looked up, but when she looked around he was already gone. Anne slumped to the floor and covered her face with her hands. She tried to stop crying, but she couldn’t, and she knew that Sam was still in the kitchen with her.
“Anne,” Sam said quietly. “Anne, are you okay?” Sam was kneeling beside her, a towel was in his hands and he scrubbed hard at them so he wouldn’t get grease on her dress.
“Yes,” she mumbled pulling her hands away from her face. “Get back to work Sam, you don’t need Mike fussing at you too.”
“He won’t,” Sam said, smiling and standing. He held his hand out to her to help her off the floor but she knocked it away and stood by herself. She then proceeded to brush down her skirts and rearrange her hair. Sam stood by watching her with bemusement.
“I’ll show him,” Anne said once she was adjusted and ready. She stomped over to the sink and turned the tap on.
Mike stood in his study, looking out the large window into the back garden. The vines of tomatoes were ripening well, and the other vegetables and fruits were growing strongly. The greenhouse glass was fogged up, and he was pretty sure that the few olive trees and other exotic plants he had growing in the large glass building were doing well. The door to the greenhouse opened and the gardener stepped out, wiping sweat from his brow. His hands and face were dirty, but he seemed so happy to be outside working with his hands and making things grow. Mike watched as he walked around inspecting the plants. After a moment, he walked to the back fence and grabbed a basket and picked the things that were ripe, and pulled up a few onions, carrots, and potatoes. Mike could hear the man whistling while he worked and the sound brought a smile to his face. After a moment longer in the weak sunlight, Mike turned around to leave his study when he heard a small knock on the door. He crossed the room and took a deep breath, then exhaled and smiled when he saw Sam leaning against the wall outside his door.
“Come in Sam,” Mike said, stepping back into the room and holding the door open. “I expect you’re here to tell me what transpired after I left.”
“She cried,” Sam said simply. “Not hard mind you, but she did cry, and then she stood up and went to the sink. She said ‘I’ll show him,’ and I left when she began washing her hands. I figured you needed to know.”
“Thank you for telling me Sam. I’ll handle things. I know you’re busy, so go ahead and get back to work on whatever it is you’re doing.”
Sam shrugged. “My heart isn’t really in it. I have come to enjoy the work you give me to do around here. Elle asked me to make her a few things, and I’ve considered it, but I wanted to talk to you about it first.”
“Elle,” Mike asked, tipping his head back, looking up, and tapping his chin.
“Elle,” Sam sighed. “The girl who cleans and helps out in the kitchen next door. Mrs. Fenderson’s maid. Mrs. Fenderson is thinking of letting her chef retire and having Elle do the work. Elle said she’d be happy to but she’d feel better with a little assistance.”
Mike stared at his friend for a moment. “When on earth do you have time to talk to them,” he asked, incredulously.
“When I go and work on Mrs. Fenderson’s new locking system, and when I take Elle to dinner.”
“When do you take Elle to dinner,” Mike asked, shock on his face. “Even more important, why don’t you bring her here for dinner?”
“Mike,” Sam started. “I don’t bring Elle here for dinner because by that time you’re plotting to get drunk, or you and Anne are fighting.”
“We don’t fight that much,” Mike mumbled.
“You drink so much you don’t remember it,” Sam accused. “You fight with her and then drink after you kick her out of the house. You don’t remember much. If I’m here I drag you to bed, and when I’m not, that task awaits me when I get home. Now that I have your attention, can you tell me what’s going on so we can fix it?”
Mike opened his mouth and closed it a few times, then turned around and stalked to the window again. He stood there for a long moment before turning back around to see Sam still standing where he was when Mike walked away. The expression on Sam’s face was hard to look at and Mike dropped his gaze quickly.
“I think I’m in love, Sam.”
Anne jumped when the Gardener opened the door. She could smell the rich earth on him and his quiet whistling made her smile. She turned her head to see him standing just inside the door.
“Got some veg for ya Ma’am,” he said, holding up a basket.
“Thank you Mr. Tate,” Anne said, smiling and taking the loaded basket from him. The smell of earth was almost heady and the smile on Mr. Tate’s face made Anne’s cheeks flush. She turned quickly and walked back to the sink. She carefully removed all the vegetables from the basket and then took the basket back to the gardener and handed it to him.
“Thank ye Ma’am,” the gardener said taking the basket, dipping his head and heading back out into the back garden.
Anne closed the door and walked back to the sink and began washing everything. She caught herself humming and smiling while she worked, and that realization made her pause for a moment. She looked around the kitchen and sighed. “What do I think I’m doing,” she said and her own voice in the quiet room startled her. From the direction of Mike’s study, she heard Sam talking in a loud and not too happy voice. Her eyes lingered on the doorway that lead to Mike’s study and she sighed. “What am I doing,” she asked herself again, turning back to the sink and vegetables. After a moment of washing and sorting she sighed to herself and headed toward Mike’s office. As she walked she took deep steadying breaths and planned out what she would say when she got to the door. She made it to the door and took yet another deep breath and raised her hand to knock when she heard Mike faintly confess.
Anne found herself in the kitchen, holding one of her larger knives and cutting up some of the fresh vegetables that the gardener brought in. She looked beside her and saw one of the largest pots on the stove full bubbling away. Taking the spoon setting beside it she stirred to see what was in the pot and noticed it contained large browned beef bones and vegetables boiling away. She looked at what she was cutting and saw onions and carrots, the potatoes were piled neatly. She went back to her work, and let herself ponder what she overheard. Mike was touchy and cranky because he was falling in love with someone. The woman in question probably didn’t even know how special she was, and that thought made Anne angry. She threw a handful of peppercorns into the boiling water and sighed. Now she would never have a chance to win him over, to tell him how she felt. Anne looked at the pile of carrots and sighed. She didn’t want to step on any toes, and why would a talented man like him want a pathetic elf girl like herself. She had nothing but her magic, and her heart wasn’t really in it. Yeah, it made her money, she didn’t have a big place like Mike, but she had all the clothes she wanted and she always had a good meal. She wasn’t starving like she was when her and her sister were learning what to do with the spark that their parents found.
“Anne,” Mike’s voice came from behind her, making her jump.
“Yes,” Anne said quietly, turning to face him and wiping her hands on a small towel. “Do you need me to go?”
“No, no, it’s fine,” he said, clearing his throat and walking toward her. He looked into the pot and stirred it. “Making a stock I see, looks and smells good. Did you brown the bones?”
“Oh, uhm,” Anne thought, recalling her past moments. “Yes, with some onion and carrot for about 30 minutes. The beef drippings are in that jar over there.”
Mike looked to where she was pointing and ran a hand through his hair. “Ah, great. I’m going to go out for a minute, Sam is here if you need anything. I’ll check the stock when I get back.”
Anne nodded and turned away from Mike as he walked from the room. She carefully lifted the piles of vegetables and put them in the large pot. A tear trickled down her cheek and she wiped it away with her wrist. She carried the bowls and cutting board over to the sink and began washing everything off. When that was done, she stirred the stock more and leaned on the counter, looking out at the empty kitchen.
“How could I have been such a fool,” Anne asked herself.
“Need something,” Sam asked peeking into the room from one of the many doors that lead to the kitchen.
“No, it’s fine, thanks Sam.”
“I see, well I’m trying to finish this… Uh.. if you need me, just call, Okay?”
Anne nodded mutely and turned away, stirring the pot again. Anne stared into the pot and sighed. She placed a heavy lid on the pot and walked to the chalkboard she took out her watch and wrote the time the stock would be finished by and put the chalk down. She looked at her chalk covered fingertips and sighed. She opened her hand wide and let electricity play over her fingers and sighed again. She walked out of the kitchen and moved toward the foyer. “I’m out Sam,” she called. “The time the stock will be done is written on the board.” She walked out the door and pulled it closed behind her. She heard Sam shouting from in the house, but she walked briskly away, and when she reached the front door of the next house, she was running.
Sam was sitting on the front stoop when Mike got back to the house. The look on his face said volumes and Mike became concerned.
“Something broken,” Mike asked.
“No,” Sam said. “Anne dashed out of here about 30 minutes ago. I don’t know if I’m right, but I think she’s really upset about something.”
“We had a fight earlier Sam. You said it bothered her a good bit. She’ll be back tomorrow, and then I’ll apologize and tell her what’s going on. We’ll talk about things, and maybe if she wants, I could formally begin courting her. That is if she wants that from me.” Mike shifted the packages in his hands and nodded his head. “Come now Sam, let’s go in.”
When Mike stepped into the doorway, the smell of cooking assaulted his nostrils and he took a deep breath. He smiled and placed the packages on the small table in the foyer. When he made it into the kitchen he saw the time written in Anne’s careful hand hanging by the bubbling pot. He lifted the lid and stirred, and the strong and pure smell of good cooking filtered out, making him smile even bigger. He dipped the spoon in and brought out a bit of the broth, blowing on it to cool it and sampled it carefully. “She did it Sam! Anne made a superb stock! This is the best she’s ever done, even when she was using magic she didn’t do this well!”
Sam leaned in and looked at Mike. “You serious,” Sam asked, wiping his nose and smearing grease on it at the same time.
“Perfectly serious my friend. I don’t know if I’ve ever made a stock so simple yet flavorful.”
“Wow. You really are serious,” Sam muttered.
“I can’t wait to see what she does next with it. This stock has some wonderful potential.”
“Ah… Back to work for me then,” Sam muttered, ducking away.
Mike drained the stock and put the scraps into a large dish that the gardener used to make his mulches and put the stock into a huge hermetically sealed jar. He opened his ice box and placed the jar in. Mike wandered back to the foyer and picked up the packages and brought them back to the kitchen. He carefully untied the twine and unwrapped the paper that covered the packages and set it aside. Smiling he looked at the various items spread out before him. His fingers drifted to a large box of confections decorated with silk ribbons and delicately painted roses. Mike knew food, but confections were beyond him. He had made some once when he was younger, but preferred not to muck about with chocolates and truffles and various other things. He opened the box and let the smell of fine imported chocolates wash over him. The shopkeeper said that it took over three weeks for the shipment of chocolate to make it from Brighton to London because the amount of unmentionables on the road. He had to promise the woman a basket of strawberries when his next batch came ripe to get the amount he got. On the other hand, the pawn shop broker told him that the necklace and earrings would cost him a pretty penny unless he promised to bring by one of his special loaves of bread. Mike looked at the glittering stones set in the finest of gold and smiled. He didn’t want to smother Anne, but instead to let her know she was precious to him, more precious than his money, or even his pride. He then sat himself down at his small table and with a small chalk board he worked out what he would write to her on one of the finest pieces of parchment he could find. He sat for hours writing and erasing, moving lines about. At one point Sam came into the room and watched him from a distance. It seemed like Sam wanted to say something, but Mike kept on plugging away at his work and Sam wandered back out. When Mike finally finished he had:
The Sun does not brighten a room as well as your smile.
My heart grows lighter from your laughter.
I want to be in your presence for more than just a while.
He looked at his small bit of poetry and sighed deeply but then took the time to use his best calligraphy pen and ink to put it on the fine parchment. He left the note sitting out on the table and cleaned his pen, looking at his work with a smile.
“Do you think that will work,” Sam asked from the doorway.
“I can only hope it does Sam. I can only hope,” Mike replied, carrying over the presents and laying them by the drying note.
Sam watched for a bit longer while Mike tidied things up. When Mike looked over to say something, he was gone again.
Mike slept fitfully that night, tossing and turning, waking at every small sound. When the sun rose, he dashed down the steps and brought the milk and eggs in. He set to work in the kitchen making breakfast for Sam and himself. Sam stumbled into the kitchen when Mike was setting the heaping dishes on the breakfast nook table.
“You’re up early,” Sam grumbled.
“Couldn’t sleep,” Mike said, yawning and smiling at his disheveled friend. “I find myself extremely nervous about Anne coming back this afternoon, and I might add a little excited.”
“Yeah,” Sam asked around a forkful of fried eggs and ham.
“Indeed my uncouth friend.”
Sam just stared at Mike for a moment, then turned his attention back to his breakfast and said nothing more.
The day passed slowly, Elle stopped by for lunch and saw the lavish gifts on the table and gushed about them. Mike shrugged and blushed when she complimented him on his bit of poetry and Sam remained quiet. Elle chatted through the entire meal, filling the silences that would have been otherwise awkward and cleaned the kitchen up before taking the extra food back to Mrs. Fenderson. The gardener had the day off so Sam excused himself to go check on the greenhouse and Mike decided to bake the bread to take over to the broker. He noticed however that he was short on both cheese and butter, so he went out to get some more from the dairy market. His groomsman was pleased when Mike walked into the stables with a spring in his step and asked for a ride to the dairy like a proper gentleman. The old man chattered on while driving his cart into the next quadrant over and Mike half listened as he dozed off.
Anne was heading back to Mike’s a bit early when his carriage passed her in the street. Mike was actually sitting in the back staring off dreamily and when she waved to him, he didn’t seem to notice her. Her previous optimism was crushed and she trudged back to the sprawling house that Mike called home. When she reached it, she punched in the code Sam had given her and walked in. The place was silent, she couldn’t even hear Sam’s usual banging from his few rooms on the right side of the house. She called out, but when she got no answer she headed back to the kitchen. She walked in and saw the gifts and poem. She peeked in the boxes and gasped at the lavishness of the gifts. Mike would spend money, but normally on practical things. Chocolates and jewelry were not something she could see him buying and she inwardly cursed herself for being envious of whoever this was intended for. She leaned over and read the bit of poetry and she smiled. A warm feeling washed through her and she blushed, imagining that she was its intended target, but when she reminded herself that there was no way she could be, her body went cold and a few tears leaked from her eyes. The thought of Mike going to fetch the woman who would be receiving his attentions and she shivered. She sucked in a deep breath and pulled her handkerchief from her sleeve and tapped at her face.
“I need to leave before they get back,” she muttered, and dashed from the kitchen, leaving her handkerchief on the table where she had been standing.
Sam was leaving the greenhouse and he noticed movement in the kitchen window. When he saw Anne’s small frame and delicate face he smiled and moved toward the door, but before he could catch her eye, she was running from the room. Sam ran to the kitchen door and heard the front door slam just as his foot crossed the threshold. He dashed through the house and yanked open the front door to see Anne in one of her finest dresses running as if the Devil himself was chasing her. He walked back into the kitchen to see what might have caused that reaction and noticed her handkerchief laying on the table with the gifts. Sam picked it up and felt the dampness in the corner and cursed quietly. He’d have to tell Mike what happened, but he didn’t know what he could say. He walked next door and knocked on Mrs. Fenderson’s door and it was swiftly answered by Elle.
“Sam,” Elle asked when she saw his face. “What’s wrong?”
“Anne was here just a moment ago.”
“How wonderful! Is she excited?”
“That’s one word for it,” Sam said, holding up Anne’s damp and forgotten kerchief.
“Didn’t Master Mike tell Anne how he felt,” Elle asked, confused.
“Mike was out apparently, and I was in the green house working on the heating system to protect the plants when winter comes. She saw the stuff by herself.”
Elle looked at Sam and seemed more curious by the second.
“Elle,” Sam began. “She probably has no clue that was for her. She has been known to think poorly of herself and Mike and she had a pretty vicious exchange of words yesterday.”
“Not Master Mike,” Elle began, then thought better of herself. “You’re telling me you think she saw that and thought it was for someone else?”
“It wouldn’t surprise me,” Sam said. “She was acting mighty curious last night, and left without a word to me.”
Elle screwed up her face and placed her hands on her hips. “Well then, what do we need to do,” she asked, a determined glint in her eyes.
“I don’t rightly know Elle.”Elle opened her mouth to say something else, but at that moment they heard Mrs. Fenderson calling from back in the house. Elle turned and shouted back, “gotta run, but I’ll think on this, okay Sam?”
When Mike got home, he found Sam sitting in the kitchen at the breakfast table fiddling with a small square of lacy fabric. Sam looked up and held up a monogrammed handkerchief and Mike saw Anne’s initials in the corner.
“Where did you find that Sam,” Mike asked, walking to where his friend sat.
“You were right,” Sam said. “She did come by, but you were gone and I was in the greenhouse. By the time I made it into the kitchen she was out the front door and the only thing left of her was her damp kerchief.”
“Did you say damp?”
“Yes, I said DAMP Mike,” Sam snapped, then placed his head in his free hand.
Mike slumped into the chair beside Sam and gingerly took the small and delicate handkerchief. He lifted it to look at it more closely and then put his face into both hands. “Sam, why do I keep messing things up?”
“I have no earthly clue,” Sam muttered. “How about lets go out and hunt some unmentionables, get our mind off of this so when we come back to it we’re fresh?”
Mike looked up at his friend and sighed. “Not today, I think I’ll finish the bread and check on the strawberries from the garden.”
“Mike,” Sam began, reaching to his friend, but when Mike turned to look at him, he pulled his hand back. Sam got up from the table and walked into the garden to the small corner devoted to just strawberries and looked at the ruby, heart shaped fruit.
Anne had changed clothes and had decided to take the coach back to Mike’s, the reason in her head was that she would retrieve the handkerchief she forgot, and so that she could show Mike what he was missing in her. Each bump in the road made her gasp, and she was intensely pleased that she was riding instead of walking because it would be a difficult challenge with her corset laced so tightly. As the street rolled by, she looked out at the people walking. Couples swarmed all over, women on the arms of their menfolk, smiling and twirling their parasols and chattering away. Her mood darkened when her imagination brought her the image of a similar lady on Mike’s arm wearing the jewelry she saw in his kitchen this morning, and she felt tears welling up again. Anne took a steadying breath and adjusted her hair as the coach pulled up beside Mike’s coach. Anne looked up at the hoary old man in the driver’s seat.
“Good afternoon Miss Anne,” he called out.
“Good afternoon to you too,” Anne replied. “Where are you off to this lovely afternoon?”
“Master Mike needs to run an errand,” he replied, grinning ear to ear. “Apparently he’s smitten with some Lady and is running some bread and strawberries… to.. somewhere. Best of all, he’s bein’ a proper Lord and lettin’ me drive him. Second time today Miss Anne, isn’t that amazing?”
“Yes,” Anne replied, heart aching painfully in her chest. “Truly amazing. Say, do you know who this Lady is?”
“Nary a clue Ma’am, but dare I say she’s got to be something special. Master Mike has gone not only to a broker, but a chocolatier. Neither of them folks are cheap, and you know how Master is tight with his money.”
“Yes… Yes I do know,” Anne said. “Well, it was good seeing you so happy, and talking to you. Have a good evening now.” Anne waved her driver on, and asked him to take her to the closest pub. He looked at her questioningly but did as she asked. When the coach pulled up, she got out, paid the man his dues with a hefty tip and walked right up to the large dark doors.
Mike settled into the coach, a large basket of strawberries set between his feet and three large loaves wrapped in rough cloth on his lap. The driver nudged the horses on and glanced back at Mike.
“So, who’s the lucky Lady Master,” the coachman asked.
“Anne,” Mike replied.
“Well I’ll be, I just saw her a few minutes ago. She was looking mighty fine and riding in a coach, twas odd seein’ her in a coach mind you. But she was sitting there, plain as day. We chatted some and then she headed on her way.”
“Did she say where she was going,” Mike asked, looking around.
“No sir, just waved her driver on, but they turned up on that street,” he said, pointing toward the less pleasant part of the quadrant.
“Change of plans Rupert, head down that way and after you drop me off, take the berries to the chocolatier and the bread to the broker. Would you be so kind to do that for me?”
“O’Course Master, be plenty happy to help. Why’re ya so worried though? Miss Anne is a tough lass, and can manage herself, don’t ya think?”
“I know she can Rupert,” Mike said softly. “But I’m worried because we seem to keep getting our lines crossed today. I don’t want her doing something foolish.”
“Point taken,” Rupert said, nodding and driving slowly, looking around. “There’s the driver what was driving Miss Anne,” he shouted, pointing at the coach just up the road from them.
“Quick man, catch up and get his attention. We might be lucky!”
The driver sped the horses up, and after a few bone jolting minutes they caught up to the other carriage and driver. There was a couple in the back seat, and the woman wasn’t Anne. Mike waved his hand when the driver stopped.
“Good sir,” Mike called. “Where did you drop off a lady wearing… Rupert, what was Anne wearing?”
“Baby blue and cream lace,” Rupert chimed in. “With a hat what had a small lace veil.”
The driver nodded after a moment. “Dropped that fine piece of work at McCullough’s, say about twenty minutes or so ago.”
“Thank you,” Mike called, flipping the man a coin and directing Rupert to head that way as quickly as possible.
Anne pushed open the heavy doors and walked into the smoky pub. She was greeted by a few catcalls as she made her way to the bar, but she held her head high and kept walking. The barkeep looked her up and down once and scoffed.
“What dragged you into here cupcake,” he jeered. “Boyfriend dump ya? Lookin’ to make some quick dough?”
“Neither, just the need for a stiff drink,” she answered icily. “Strongest and oldest whiskey you have, and the faster the bigger the tip.”
The barkeep laughed and sidled off to get her the drink she ordered when Anne felt a hand on her lower back and smelt bad breath heavily masked with alcohol.
“I’ll grant you your wildest wishes,” the man slurred into her ear, his hot stinking breath making her stomach churn.
“Thank you, but No. Now kindly remove your hand from my person,” Anne replied, looking at the man with disdain.
“No one tells me no,” he snarled, grabbing Anne by the chin and pressing his foul chapped lips against hers.
Anne drew her hand back and drove it hard into the mans gut, then brought her knee up in the fork of his legs. “I said no, and I actually mean it. Bugger off.”
The man knelt gasping on the floor when the barkeep returned with her drink. He set it before her and leaned over to look at the man beside her.
“He buggin ya,” the keep asked.
“Nope,” Anne replied, closing her hand around the pewter cup and casting a spell to freeze the container and its contents. The barkeep’s eyes widened and he moved away quickly as Anne lifted the metal cup to her lips. A noise came from the floor and the man pulled himself to his feet.
“You’re comin’ with me,” he whispered in her ear. “I’ll teach you how to behave,” he said as he grabbed Anne by the hair and pulled her off the stool she was perched on. Anne reached up and grabbed his wrist, screaming as her body hit the floor and she was dragged toward the door. The barkeep was lumbering to her aid, and the other patrons chose that time to be intensely interested in their own drinks.
The door burst open to reveal a sweaty and disheveled Mike. His eyes took in the scene in a second and before the man dragging Anne by the hair could react to Mike’s appearance, Mike’s fist was connecting hard with his throat. The man released Anne’s hair and toppled backward, narrowly missing landing on Anne herself.
“Anne,” Mike gasped. “You alright?”
“Just fine,” she replied, pulling herself to her feet and brushing at her now torn dress with a scowl.
“Anne, I need to talk to you,” Mike panted.
“I don’t need your help Mike, nor do I want your pity,” Anne said, pulling a coin from her purse, dropping it on the floor and brushing past Mike and out the door.
Mike sighed, and turned to follow her, but his arm was caught up in the beefy grasp of the barkeep. “You need to stay here and wait for the watch,” the barkeep rumbled.
“She’s on the watch, and if they need a statement, tell them to see Mike.”
“Mike huh,” the barkeep scoffed. “You think you’re so damned important that just your first name will do?”
“I don’t think I am, I know I am. If you tell them that Mike punched a guy helping Anne, they’ll not only know where to find me, but her as well. Aside from that fact, they’ll probably fine him for bothering her. Now let me go,” he said as he brushed the man’s hand from his sleeve. “I have more important things to do than to deal with you.”
When Mike freed himself from the barkeep, he dashed out the door to see Anne turning the corner and he ran after her, calling her name. She didn’t stop, but she seemed to be going slower than normal, so he hoped that he could catch up with her easily.
“Anne,” Mike called when he could see her just ahead. “Please listen to me Anne!”
Anne paused and turned around to look Mike in the eyes. “There is nothing I need to say to you, and I am NOT in the mood to hear how I messed something else up.”
“You have it,” Mike panted. “You have it wrong!”
“I have what wrong Mike,” she screamed. “You’re in love, I get it. I’ll get out of the way. All I do is mess things up and upset you anyway.”
Mike jogged the last few feet and doubled over at her side. “Anne,” he gasped.
“You’ve been yelling at me to scare me away so you could court your pretty lass,” she said, tears streaming down her cheeks. “You don’t need or want me, and I can’t ever seem to make you happy anyway.”
“Anne,” Mike said, straightening up. “Did you see the gifts and poem?”
“Of course I did you dolt!”
“Did you like them?”
“Why are you asking me, just teasing me and picking on me,” she screamed, her whole body trembling.
“Because Anne,” Mike said quietly. “It’s all for you.”
“Don’t be a fool Michael.. I… what?”
“You’re the lass I want to court. You are the one I fell in love with. YOU, Anne.”
“I hate you Mike,” Anne said, punching him in the chest, then collapsing into his arms, sobbing.
“You can hate me Anne, but I still love you.”
Anne looked up then, and stared deep into his eyes. The last few rays of sunlight made his skin glow and she saw he was telling the truth. Her knees buckled, but Mike caught her and lifted her in his arms gently.
“You know,” he said, his nose pressed against the side of her face. “I never realized how strongly I felt for you.”
“I know,” she whispered, relaxing into his arms. “Just never let me go.”
Ok, kinda cheesy ending, but i hope you all enjoy it!