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March 5, 2011 / Bika

[RP] When Dilly Met Danny

[Cross-posted from Seven Deadly Divas]

So, this week I got away with posting some fiction over at Seven Deadly Divas. It’s very early Skulley background, from the days when she was actually an Adelaide. Or sometimes Dilly, but that’s more of a pet name. You’ll see.

PS. Don’t actually try to call her Dilly these days, or you’ll soon be intimate with the business end of a Big Fraggin’ Knife.

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“Oy.”

He was tall and as he rose to his feet, startled by the low call just behind him, he seemed to grow taller still. All that long muscle tanned and stretching up toward the sun, why, it was enough to give a girl a terminal case of the flutters. “Oy?”

When he turned (and it seemed to her that he did so very slowly, as though suspended in water instead of warm afternoon air), Adelaide’s dark eyes greeted him, dancing above a glossy red smirk. Mama didn’t like her to tart herself up, but a little rouge never hurt anybody. Besides, Mama wasn’t here. No sir. Her smirk widened.

“Packin’ up, are ye?”

“Aye, lass. Sales is slow of a Thursday, don’t you know.”

The slim girl swung her legs over a stack of goods and perched atop the rough-hewn pine crates stacked two high. ”So yer not comin’ back, then.”

Adelaide was almost close enough to touch his shin with her toe, but she didn’t dare try out in the open where nosy neighbors might see. They’d gossip amongst themselves, or worse, report her directly to Mama. It all boiled down to the same thing either way, so she sat primly on her seat of boxes, behaving, and stared solemnly up at the wanderer who’d whiled a week of afternoons on the tiny town common hawking oddities and playing his crude beast of a mandolin.

His skill in turning a song won him more tolerance than the average tonic-slinger to visit Hayfield, but the harvest festival was coming, and the grass was already half-covered with striped awnings, tents and great wooden kegs of fragrant cider and beer. Six competing locals had their greedy eyes set on the peddler’s wagon and the prime piece of common on which it sat. Danny didn’t need to be told it was time to move along.

He gave her a crooked smile and took a step closer. “Not likely. Don’t usually come this far south.”

She stopped him with a reproachful look and a question in her pretty voice. “Wouldn’t leave me without goodbye, now would ye.”

“Never in life, lass.”

His eyes were the sky, the enamel on her Mama’s teacups. They held hers for a heart-stopping moment, then he winked and the spell was broken. She hopped off his crates to watch him lift them into the wagon.

A cool breeze carried the wagon’s accumulated smells past her nose: years’ worth of medicine, tobacco, spice and hardwood. All the hand carved musical instruments that had hung from loops screwed into the canopy were now packed in cases to keep them from knocking together when he took to the bumpy roads.

The box that held her things was smaller than the others, raw boards like its fellows but clean and sharp with newness, one bright cube nestled among the gray. In it was all she needed to make a new life far away; she didn’t need much, so it was light. The music man hoisted it carefully into the wagon without looking at her. Adelaide stood a respectable distance away, inhaling the scent of crisp autumn leaves, ripe apples, and peddler goods.

“Sure ye’d not like to stop over an’ have a cup before ye set off?”

“I’d surely love to, Dilly, but I’ve got a bit of packing to do yet and Miz Leavey is over yonder givin’ me the evil eye.”

Adelaide followed his gaze to the apothecary’s shrew-faced wife, who was indeed staring, and stuck out her tongue. “That puffy old buzzard’s just circlin’ fer a place to plop her dreadful ugly doilies. Reckon she’s chafed ye’ve outsold her husband all week.”

“Aye, and Light save me from the caw of a puffy buzzard. I like her fine enough way over there, and not here squawkin’ in my ear.”

“S’pose ye ought to hurry, then, for she looks to be headed this way. Pardon me fer scatterin’, but she already hates me somethin’ fierce.”

“What about goodbye?” he called after her as she darted off, vaulting over tables and dodging townies, a blur of long limbs and bouncing black braids.

“G’bye, ye bugger! Give me love to Puckerface!”

With that, she was out of sight. Missus Leavey, looking even more pinched, cranky and offended than usual, glowered after Adelaide with her arms folded tightly over her chest. “Well I’d say I’m surprised at that vulgar little hellcat, but I’d be lyin’. She’s trouble, that one.”

Danny nodded solemnly in agreement. “Aye, that she is.”

“Are ye finished, then? I’ve got a table ye can help me lug over once ye’ve moved yer kit road-side, if ye don’t mind helpin’ an old woman what’s got a bad back.”

He latched the door shut and hung a padlock through the loops, then turned and bent low in an old-fashioned, courtly bow. Light help her, she blushed. “Aye, consider it my penance for makin’ you wait so long, milady. I’ll be back in two shakes with my team and on my way in no time ‘tall.”

 

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