My Heart Tells No Tales
6. Chapter 6
A/n: Whoaaa. I published this in '07? Man, that's absolutely awful that it's taken me this long. Lol. Some stories just fall to the wayside, I guess. Anyways, I've updated! After a year, but I did it! Lol.
Disclaimer: I do not own!
Senel opened his eyes wide as the sunlight filtered in through his window. He heard Shirley moving around their house, humming softly as she did whatever she was doing. Normally, her lovely voice wouldn't irritate him, but after the dream he had just had, of Chloe no less, something about the girl's innocent voice irked him today.
In his dream, Chloe had fallen on him again, but as he stared up at her, she had caught his gaze and then kissed him. It was the softest of kisses and the lightest of touches, but Senel had felt his entire heart explode in his chest.
He only kissed Shirley every now again, on days when he truly felt his love for her, but it was nothing like he had felt in his dream.
He briefly wondered why that was. He loved Shirley, didn't he? His mind told him absolutely almost instantly, but his heart was a little slower to respond. Maybe he didn't love her as much as he thought he did or maybe, just maybe, he didn't love her at all.
"Senel! We've been invited to eat breakfast with Chloe, Moses and Norma. Are you ready to go?"
"In a minute."
Senel rolled out of bed and went about getting ready to have breakfast with his make-shift family. He wondered where Will, their resident father figure, was this morning and thought better of it quickly.
His and Grune's relationship would take some getting used to but, hey, if Will liked it, Senel loved it and was genuinely happy for the man. Now that he thought about it, there was something definitely happening between Moses and Norma too; mainly because the two had become almost inseparable lately. He figured Moses, a man he cared for like the brother he never had, would spill the beans eventually, but for now Senel would play along.
He ran a brush through his snow white hair and stared back at the green-eyed reflection in the mirror. He was satisfied since it had only taken him about twenty minutes to do all he needed to get ready.
"Okay, we can go now." Senel told Shirley, holding the door open for her. She giggled and ruffled his hair a little as she stepped out of the front door, causing a smile to light Senel's face.
Maybe he just woke up on the wrong side of the bed.
At The Restaurant
The cafe was one of the best around. Chloe loved how they changed the menu every week, and tried to give the guests a taste of whatever happened to be fresh or in season. There were of course, the town favorites, the most popular being the Mermaid's Melodious breakfast and the Taskforce apple turnover.
Norma, however, hated the names of the different menu items, muttering something about how corny it was and asking out loud if the BB's had any say in the matter. Chloe laughed and drank her coffee, noticing the way Moses kept glancing at Norma out of the corner of his eye.
Chloe decided it was time to ask about it.
"So how are you guys this morning?"
"Oh fine! I was so happy when you asked us to eat with you!" Norma said, sipping her apple juice with a wide smile. Moses nodded and drank his coffee after he dumped about six packets of sugar in it, followed by a lot of cream and some half and half.
Chloe resisted the urge to turn up her nose at how sweet that coffee must be.
"I was just in the mood for breakfast. And Moses, how are your men doing today?"
"I left 'em doin' stretches cause they're gettin' lazy. Those boys are actin' like we're on vacation or somethin'."
"Oh don't I know it! The Task Force soldiers are so lazy, when we got back Senel about killed them with training."
" 'Ow are your men holdin' up?"
"They'll be fine, I'm sure." Chloe smiled, and looked between the two, feeling that now was the time to deliver her inquiry, "And how long have you two been seeing each other again?"
"Since we went to Gador-! Hey! That's no fair! You can't just slip that in like that!" Norma was blushing furiously and Moses was about as red as his hair.
"Well, I don't mean to pry, but it didn't seem like you would never tell me. I'm happy for you two, really."
" E're happy for you too, Chloe, seein' as 'ow you're gonna marry Mr. Big Shot."
"Oh, there are hardly any congratulations due, Moses, since I'm not-"
Chloe gave a start as "Mr. Big Shot" walked right through the front door of the restaurant. She wondered who told him about their family breakfast. Alec sat down next to Chloe and kissed her cheek gingerly, grinning wide at her.
"Good morning, my lovely bride-to-be. Shirley told me you guys were having breakfast here and invited me, I hope no one mind's." Alec's calm grey-eyed gaze looked over the three sitting at the table and they all nodded. No one minded that Alec was there.
Well, not seriously minded anyway. Moses was a bit miffed but only because Alec was so show-offy in his affection for Chloe. It wasn't so much that it bothered him that the man showed how much he cared for his sister, it was the fact that he did all of this when Chloe wasn't that type of person. Chloe was a very private woman, and thus all these public displays were unnecessary to her.
Moses knew that even if Chloe never said anything.
"I'm sorry I didn't ask you when you came by the hospital this morning. I thought you'd be busy planning the party tonight." Chloe said softly, as if she really did feel bad.
"Oh, all of that was finished a while ago." Alec assured her, hailing a waitress. She was young and pretty, and as soon as she saw Alec, her eyelashes went to fluttering like butterfly wings. It looked pretty painful from Norma's perspective.
"What a little hussy!" Norma fumed, glaring at the girl's back when she walked away. She couldn't believe she was flirting with Chloe's fiancée so shamelessly!
"Norma, that's not nice!" Chloe told her, trying to calm the girl down. Really, Chloe didn't see any need to be jealous at all. Alec may claim her, but Chloe wasn't going to say anything unless asked directly.
"She's right, I wasn't paying any attention to her anyways. I have Chloe. I don't need anyone else." Alec told Norma, putting his arm around Chloe and hugging her to him.
It appeared the girl had heard him because from Chloe's position at the table, the girl's hair had deflated a little bit. It made a small smile touch Chloe's face.
"So what are your plans for your party, Alec?" Norma looked excitedly curious as she spoke, always happy to talk about a party.
"It's a secret. You haven't seen the house yet, have you?"
"Are you kidding? You have that place locked up like Fort Knox!"
Everyone at the table looked at Norma quizzically, all asking the same question: What the heck was Fort Knox? Norma just shook her head, "Haha, never mind guys, never mind. Hey look, its Senny and Shirl!"
Sure enough, Senel and Shirley walked through the door and made their way over to the table. The second Senel saw Alec, he bristled up immediately, not wanting to see the cause of his fight with Chloe.
"Hey you two." Alec said, waving at the two of them. Senel gave him a cool nod while Shirley gave a cheerful hello and the two sat down.
"So Teach and G-Girl won't be coming today?"
"No, they were busy helping Grune find something to wear to the party today. I was a little surprised, but Harriet insisted that she wear something wonderful." Chloe answered, looking at Senel over the rim of her cup when he sat down at the table across from her.
Senel's mind reeled as he met her gaze: Chloe's fruity smell was all around him once again and it was as if the two of them were back on that hill. Senel returned her gaze steadily, but not a word was spoken between them.
There was no need, really. The apology was there.
"That won't be hard for G-Girl, she looks amazing already!" Norma said happily.
"Is everyone here now? Are you guys ready to order?" A new waitress had come to the table and everyone nodded eagerly.
"Chloe, be still! Geez, why do you fight me so much when I do your hair and make-up? We only have five hours to be ready and you aren't helping it go any faster!"
Norma was getting irritated with Chloe and Chloe had to say the same about her boisterous friend. They were getting ready for Alec's party and since Chloe was engaged to the host, Norma decided she needed to look absolutely fantastic.
"I just don't see what the fuss is. I could just go in my normal clothes. All this pomp and circumstance really isn't necessary."
Norma saw this as a chance to test her new theory. She didn't want Chloe to marry Alec if she didn't like him, but Chloe was too nice; she'd never tell him no.
"Chloe, if you marry Alec, you're going to have to get used to this. You're marrying a noble from Gadoria. He's going to be throwing parties year-round, either here on the Legacy or back in Gadoria." Norma said her words quietly, but the silence told her everything she needed to know. Chloe's mind was churning her words over and over like butter.
"But look at it this way, you get beautiful dresses and outfits and you get to have lavish dinners and parties! You'll live like a total princess!"
Chloe's silence was teetering on the line of deafening.
"Anyways, face me so we can do your make-up and the front of your hair. And stop that stoic face, your fiancée is super-popular and rich!"
Chloe tried to force a small smile on her face but Norma couldn't be fooled. She knew Chloe was unhappy about this turn of events.
At Will's House
"I don't see what all the pomp is, Will. So what if he's a noble? If he was only coming here to party, he should've stayed in Gadoria!"
Will chuckled, hoping Senel didn't hear him over his rant. Will had noticed Senel's foul temper lately and knew it could only be one thing.
Senel was green with a jealousy that rivaled his lively, sapphire colored eyes.
Of course Senel didn't know that and really, he had no right to be jealous in the first place. It wasn't fair for poor Chloe, who wasn't already with someone (like Senel was) and it wasn't fair to Shirley either.
"He's only throwing this party to smooth relations with Gadoria and the Legacy. Think of the politics behind his move here. I think you're being a bit petty, Senel."
"And you shouldn't talk about Chloe's fiancée either. He didn't do anything to you, you know," Harriet added, walking into the living room with a book in hand. She too knew the reason why Senel was getting so angry, but knew he had no idea himself.
It was stupid, really.
"He's not her fiancé! He just came over here and bought his way into the Task Force and then he-"
Will held his hand up, cutting Senel off, "No, he didn't buy his way in, he suggested it since it would increase the trust of the people on the Legacy and also in Gadoria. It's simple politics, Senel."
"And then he kissed Chloe right there in front of-!"
Harriet cleared her throat suddenly, causing Senel to cut himself off as he looked at her. She pointed in the direction of her bedroom, where Grune and Shirley were stepping into the living room in their dresses for the evening. Grune's dress was a lovely, forest green color and trailed almost to the floor in a shimmery material. Shirley sported a red and white polka dotted dress with a fluffy petticoat underneath and short, white gloves covering her hands. Her hair was done up in a sweeping up-do, and she wore a little make-up.
The best word to describe her was adorable.
"Wow, Shirley, you look great!" Senel said, smiling at her as she walked over and took his arm.
"Well thank you, Senel. You look well too!" Shirley said with a giggle. Grune smiled in her dazed, slightly out-of-it way and took Will's arm too.
Harriet waved at the group as they stepped toward the door, "I won't wait up!"
At The Party
As Chloe rode up to Alec's new home in a carriage he had built (yes, built) specifically for her, along with Norma and Moses, she couldn't help but gasp at the sight as they neared the park where Moses and his men camped.
Chloe turned to look at Norma, curiously, who was pointing at the elegant building they were heading towards.
"What's gone?" Chloe asked, wondering what Norma was talking about.
"There was an enclosure all around here, the walls were about ten feet high! He made sure that no one could see what he was building. All you could see was that clock tower on top. See? That one there."
Chloe turned her gaze onto a huge clock, facing the newly built road towards Alec's house. The clock was attached to what could only be described as a tower and it poked out of the building as if it didn't want to be attached to the house but was forced to.
The place was huge. Beyond huge, almost. The castle (this was the only word Chloe could think to use), had about twenty windows facing the street and several more winding around the building. There were patios on the first and third floor, with three or four of the windows on each floor creating balconies.
As the carriage pulled closer towards the building, a circular driveway with a Legacy shaped fountain smack-dab in the middle ushered the group through huge, iron gates. The flags of the Legacy and the country of Gadoria flew freely from the top of the gate and the pale yellow brick of the castle glittered in the moonlight. There were lights, several spotlights, moving from left to right along the castle walls as if searching for a runaway criminal.
The roof was simple and flat, as if built for another purpose. The whole town and then some was walking on foot into the huge, oaken front doors, reminding Chloe of a cathedral.
For once, Chloe had more words to say than Norma. She and Moses sat speechless as they slowly got out of the carriage and saw the thing up close.
"Somebody went all out," Will said loudly as he stepped up behind Chloe and the others. Norma shook her head swiftly, shaking the stupefied look off her face and grinned widely at Will and Grune.
"This is your second date isn't it, Teach?"
"I dare say, it's only your first, isn't it Norma?"
Norma blushed beet red and Moses just laughed loudly, thinking it was just what she got.
"Where's Jay?" Senel asked, looking over their group. He knew Jay wasn't the earliest riser, which was why he had excused his presence at breakfast. But to miss Alec's "engagement" party-? What was his "little brother" thinking? Chloe would probably be upset that he had missed.
As Senel turned to look at her, he noticed that she didn't look sad at all. Or maybe she did, but he was too busy staring at her clothes to even notice her facial expression at the moment.
"Oh, he went back to his village for the day. He should be back by tomorrow." Chloe said, a thoughtful look on her face as she tried to repeat Jay's words exactly as he had told her.
Senel nodded, still staring at Chloe without even realizing. Chloe's dress was a slate grey color and stopped right at her knees. The top of the dress was all criss-crossed straps, revealing an oval-shaped opening in the back of the dress. At the bottom hem, a split came up to reveal the back of Chloe's lower thigh. She held a matching clutch purse in her hand and the heels she wore matched the dress.
The only word ringing in Senel's head was drop-dead gorgeous.
"Oh, you're here!"
The group turned to see Alec coming forward in a coal-colored form fitting suit. He spread his hands wide and spoke loudly, including everyone in his sentence, "Welcome to my home, everyone! I'm so glad you could come! The party just started!"
As Alec ushered his fiancée and her friends into his party, he clapped Senel on the back eagerly, "I think someone will feel like a very lucky man by the end of the night."
Senel seethed. What the hell was Alec talking about? It sounded like Alec was implying something...dirty.
"You don't know anything." Senel glowered darkly at Alec and stalked off angrily, grabbing Shirley on his way off. The others watched him go, no one knowing what to say to him.
Alec clearly looked confused at Senel's response and turned to Chloe, "Was it something I said?"
Norma was a little pissed too, since she had heard Alec and took it the exact same way as Senel. Even Moses had heard but he definitely didn't get what had made Senel mad.
"Well, I don't know maybe it's because you suggested Senny would do something bad?" Norma fought the urge to glare at Alec, who looked even more confused.
"I said something...dishonorable? That wasn't my intention, I promise you. I-I'm sorry, I didn't even realize-" Alec flushed, as he looked down at his feet. His grey eyes took on a very embarrassed look.
"You aren't the only one who didn't realize." Will stated calmly, grabbing a hold of Norma's ear. He tugged her towards him, hearing her protest as he did so. "Stop putting ideas into people's heads."
"OUCH! Hey! It was Senny's idea first! Go hit him!"
Moses laughed at Norma's plight once again and the awkwardness between the group melted away again.
"Anyways, come, let's enjoy ourselves!" Alec took hold of Chloe's hand and lead her around the room, greeting his guests individually. The rest of the group made their way over to the refreshment table, getting some punch and "checking the scene".
"C looks like she's getting her teeth pulled," Norma commented, after a while. Moses nodded as Will and Grune looked over in the direction of the couple.
"She looks like she's not having any fun at all!" Grune added, almost woefully.
"But Alec, on the other hand, is thriving." Will replied, watching the couple move through the crowd.
"No keaddin'! Look at him gow!" Moses was surprised to see how depressed Chloe was looking as each minute passed. She looked like all the energy was slowly being drained from her.
"What should we do, Teach?" Norma was looking down into her glass of punch, but the worry was clear in her voice to all those around her.
"Chloe's a grown woman, Norma. We shouldn't do anything. Or say anything."
Will delivered a gentle tap to Norma's noggin, "She has to make that choice on her own. Chloe can stand up for herself if she wants to. The question is...is that what she wants?"
"It should be." No one turned as Senel stepped up to them and no one asked where Shirley had run off to. She was probably dancing with someone, since Senel didn't care to dance that much.
"Who are we to decide what she wants, Senel?" Will asked, knowing Senel had no answer. His extended silence only proved it further.
"We are...She's my best friend." Senel said finally, watching as Chloe walked around with Alec. She was just allowing him to pull her along, speaking to her soldiers and their families when she saw them.
The only time Senel could see a genuine smile on her face was when she spoke with the Task Force members.
"Are you sure that's all she is to you, Senny?" Norma asked softly. She talked so quietly, for a second, Senel thought he was simply hearing things.
"Norma, what're you talking about?"
"I mean, it's obvious-!" Norma was cut off by Moses' hand, as he covered her mouth and abruptly shut her up.
Will sighed, but it was a sigh of relief, "What Norma means, is that we've all noticed you've been really angry lately. We just hope that it's merely out of fear for Chloe's safety."
"Well, of course. What else would it be?"
The entire group - Grune included - heaved a loud sigh as if they were one body breathing as one. Norma shook her head and took Moses' hand, walking away from their gathering with a flustered look on her face.
Will and Grune remained, sipping punch and talking softly to one another. Senel stood, still watching Chloe and Alec, feeling the anger itch at the back of his heart.
"I wish I knew why I hated him so much..." Senel whispered to himself, as he turned to find out where Shirley had run off to.
An Hour Later
"Attention everyone! The best part of the party is about to begin!" Alec bellowed out, leading himself and Chloe up to the wide staircase, leading to the other floors of the castle. Everyone began to quiet down until the room was silent, waiting for Alec to begin.
"First off, I want to thank you all for coming. It warms my heart to receive such a reception during my first week on the Legacy. I want to introduce you all to someone you know and love, my fiancée, Chloe Valens!"
Thunderous applause erupted throughout the large room, causing Chloe to smile slightly as a bit of red flushed her cheeks.
"I wanted you all to be here to see Chloe get her official engagement ring from me. So, here, Chloe," Alec leaned down on one knee and slipped the ring on her finger. It was a Princess-cut 50-carat amethyst jewel, sitting between two 25-carat topaz gems. The ring was huge and left several women in the room drooling after it.
"W-wow. I don't know what to say." Chloe stuttered, as she looked down at the huge ring weighing down her finger. She definitely couldn't fight with this thing on.
"Oh, darling, you're response was great enough for me!" Alec told her, though loudly, as he leaned over and kissed her cheek. The crowd "Awwwed" as Alec pulled Chloe flush against him.
"Next, I want to call Task Force Commander Senel Coolidge up here. Senel?"
The crowd was searching everywhere for the pale haired commander, who was very shocked to hear his name called. He had been sitting in a chair against the wall, sipping more punch and watching Alec make a fool of himself. But upon hearing his name called, he got up and made his way through the crowd, up to the stairs were Chloe and Alec were standing.
"Earlier, I told you that you would be a really lucky man by the end of tonight. I meant what I said," before Senel could open his mouth to protest Alec continued, "I am giving this entire estate to the Task Force to assist in the deployment and training of our members. I think that the Task Force should spread to protect other cities too, not just the one we live in. I've spoken with some very prominent people on the Legacy and they all agree with me."
Alec's smile grew wide as Senel's eyes widened to the size of saucers, "No one could recommend a better commander for this growing army than you, Senel Coolidge. Congratulations. You just became the leader of the Legacy's entire military."
Even Chloe was shocked. Alec hadn't mentioned any of this to her, at all. She watched Senel carefully, wondering if he wanted all this responsibility. She was sure that he didn't mind it all that much, because he wouldn't have to deal with very many things since he was at the top already.
But the Task Force becoming the Legacy's military force? There was so much work to be done and they didn't even know this change was being made until today!
Will stood among the crowd, his mind going eighty miles a minute. Something was super fishy with this. Sure, he knew about the talks with the Legacy's higher-ups. He had attended a handful of them, with all parties pleased with the results. He just had no idea that it would happen so soon and with Alec fueling the fire.
How could a noble from Gadoria get so much done on the Legacy in just a week?
And Will wasn't the only one asking questions. As soon as the "honor" was given to Senel, he was even more iffy about Alec than anything else. Why was he doing all of this? Why did he want Senel at the head of a fledgling military force?
After Alec thanked his guests and offered tours for anyone who wanted to see, the crowd was all abuzz with the news. Chloe bowed out from having to stay with Alec anymore and headed towards the outer deck. As she stepped towards the glass doors, she looked pointedly at Senel who nodded and followed her out.
The cool night air felt good against Chloe's face. That room had been so hot with all of those people packed in there. Once they made this place the new Task Force HQ, she was sure there wouldn't ever be this many people in the building at once. The moonlight was just as bright as it had been last night at the hill with Senel. Chloe shivered as the thought came to her mind, from embarrassment, the wind or something else, she wasn't sure.
"Chloe, did Alec tell you any of this?" Senel asked as soon as he had shut the glass doors behind him. He gave a pause as his gaze landed on Chloe. Tonight, the moonlight shone down on Chloe as if it were her own personal spotlight.
She was even more beautiful as she leaned against the stone railing, the wind playing in her hair gently and wafting her strawberry scent into Senel's nose. He stood silent for a moment, wondering why his heart was beginning to pound exactly like it did yesterday.
"No, Coolidge, I swear. He hadn't told me any of this at all. I found out when you did."
Senel nodded, finally moving to stand beside Chloe and lean against the railing. He had an odd sense of déjà-vu, liked he had stood against a railing with Chloe before.
"But why? Why give all of this to me, when he could have it himself? The Marines know they can't control me, why not let this noble do it all?"
"Because Alec is from Gadoria." Chloe stated this as if she was completely and utterly sure of the fact.
"What's that have to do with anything?"
"Coolidge, with this new military power we have, what keeps us from waging war with other countries? If we go to war with... perhaps Gadoria, then a head commander from Gadoria isn't who they want controlling their army."
"But why me?"
"Senel, I wish I knew." There she went again. Senel shivered as Chloe said his name. It felt so weird to hear it coming from her rose-petal lips, but the fact she had used his name told him how worried she was.
"Do you trust Alec?"
The answer came slowly, softly and in almost a whisper, "I hope I can."
Senel didn't like that answer at all. The anger he felt earlier flared up and grew into an undeniable hatred towards Alec. Not only was he doing things that obviously made Chloe uncomfortable; now, he was making her worry!
"Damn him! I have half a mind to go in there right now and-!"
"Be still, Coolidge." Senel resisted the urge to sigh. Apparently she had realized the name slip-up and returned to her normal address, "We are groping in the dark here. And I'm sure Will and the others...Well, at least Will, anyways, has the same mind frame as we do."
"But how can I be still when it's obvious that something is up?"
"Because, Senel," Chloe's face lit-up in what Senel could only describe as a very knowing grin, "The early bird always catches a worm, right?"
Senel laughed, but shook his head at the phrase, "What does that even mean? Geez!" Still, he couldn't help but laughing. For now, Senel decided not to get too angry. Hell, he had just gotten the best promotion he could ever wish for!
End Chapter 6