It was the end of another day. The end of another week. Heck, it was the end of another month as it tended to be every so often.
The sun was setting, and the inn was quiet. One of the few sounds was that of dishes and water as Elizabeth finished cleaning up from dinner.
“Oh, another great day, I can’t wait for tomorrow.” Emily released her blonde hair from it’s tight braid, allowing it to hang just above her shoulders. Her smile was the same as it had been that morning, ever present.
Elizabeth nodded, but didn’t share the same level excitement.
“I’m sure I must have said it before, but I will say it again, you are amazing Elizabeth,” she praised. “I don’t know how I managed without you.”
“Thanks,” she kept her gaze on her hands and the plates.
“Also, you look great in that top.” She smiled, taking the clean plates and drying them with a cloth before putting them away. “Not that you didn’t look amazing in your winter clothes. But this new style, it suits you as well as the weather.”
It was also the end of the season.
Elizabeth kept her eyes on the plates. Trying hard to hide her blush.
Emily was used to short answers, but no answer was different. She thought for a moment she had offended the woman by bringing up her attire. But as she looked at Elizabeth, she saw her red cheeks through the locks of black hair that fell and covered her face.
“So, um…” Emily continued to dry the plates, “just lunch tomorrow, evening off. Any plans?”
Elizabeth shook her head.
“Hey, I know you’re not big on the small talk but… how about a coffee after work?”
“S-Sure,” Elizabeth had never tripped over her words before.
Emily blushed, “has Charlotte ever taken you to Brewed Beans? They have the best coffee town.”
Elizabeth’s expression hardened, “of course not. Charlotte can’t have coffee, caffeine is bad for the baby.”
Emily turned away, “oh, of course. That’s why she has tea now.” She lied to keep Charlotte out of trouble.
Elizabeth nodded, “oh. Okay. No, Charlotte and I usually go for long walks. It’s good for the baby and her.”
Emily nodded, “you’re a good friend. Charlotte’s lucky to have you.”
The next day they left the inn mid afternoon after having served all the lunches and cleaned up the kitchen. It was a beautiful day. The walk through the city was enjoyable, well, other than the ridiculous amount of stairs.
“Don’t you ever get tired?” Emily asked as she gasped for breath after the equivalent of a four flight ascent.
Elizabeth smiled, “I had to go through rigorous physical training to earn my spot on the royal guard. This,” she gestured to the stairs, “this is nothing.”
Emily laughed, “you’ll have to tell me about you’re workout. Do you still workout?”
“Of course, I can’t afford to lose everything I worked so hard for. Just because I’m taking a bit of a break.”
Emily nodded, “so you plan to go back once Charlotte has her baby?”
Elizabeth hesitated, “I’m not sure. I lost my previous job, that was made clear. But I doubt they’d turn me away.”
Elizabeth smiled, “I’m not saying I’d get my rank back. But I’d get a job. There’s always a need for extra guards.”
They arrived at the café and sat outside, ordered coffees and some cake. Emily started her usual round of small talk. She asked Elizabeth pointless questions. Elizabeth offered up short and uninformative answers, like always.
But for once, at the end of one of her answers, she continued, “and what about you Emily, do you have any siblings?”
Emily smiled at the interest, “no, actually, I was an only child.”
“Oh, I’d of never have guessed. You’re so… social, I’d of though you have five or seven siblings.”
Emily laughed, “no. My parents would have loved to have five or seven children. For some reason they just never managed,” she looked thoughtful.
“They must have really loved you.”
“Of course, all parents love—” she stopped herself, “they did.” She looked towards the city, “they were amazing. They completely supported me when I decided to move here and buy the inn. They helped me loads with the reformation.”
“What did you’re parents do?”
“My father was a carpenter and my mother a painter,” she smiled.
“I can see how they could help with a reformation,” Elizabeth chuckled. “That explains the beautiful furniture.”
Emily had to sip at her coffee to stop Elizabeth seeing her wide smile at the sound of her laugh, “no, actually. I ordered a lot of the furniture from Charlotte’s father, he used to work a carpentry shop and his work is amazing.”
“Oh, used to?”
“Yeah, you don’t know…?” Emily gave a nervous look.
Elizabeth shook her head.
“He… his wife, Charlotte’s mother died a couple of years ago.”
“I know that much. Henry came with Charlotte to the funeral, right?”
Emily nodded, “yes. But since then… well, he isn’t the same. He’s been struggling. Charlotte’s tried to make him go to a doctor but… he refused.”
Elizabeth leaned back into her seat further, a thoughtful look, “Charlotte never mentioned it.”
“I think she’s embarrassed by it. Or guilty. I don’t know anymore…”
Elizabeth longed to ask more questions, but she instead changed the subject asking more about Emily’s past in an attempt to keep the topics light.
They ordered a couple more coffees, sitting and chatting for hours. The sun began to go down, and a dragon was lighting the streetlamps with beautiful flames.
“So…” Emily hesitated, “there’s something I’ve wanted to ask you for a while now.”
“You… I’m guessing you aren’t dating anybody, because you came here with Charlotte and all…?”
Elizabeth blushed, “that’s right.”
“And I was wondering if… if you were open, to dating somebody…”
Elizabeth took a deep breath, her heart was pulsing quickly, more than any workout could lead to and she didn’t want to show it, “that would depend on who… I mean… are you asking me out?”
Emily gave a small nod.
Elizabeth stared at Emily across the table, “yeah… I mean, yeah,” she nodded, “I’d be open to that.”
Emily smiled, releasing the breath she’d been holding, “really?”
Elizabeth nodded, releasing her own breath more slowly.
Emily leaned back, slumping in her seat, “oh thank goodness, that was nerve racking.”
Elizabeth smiled. “Sorry.”
“I’ve been wanting to ask you that for… far too long. But I wasn’t sure if you were—” she smiled, “you know?” she blushed and laughed, “okay this is awkward. I’m sorry. Can I take you out on a proper date tomorrow?”
“This wasn’t a date?”
Emily smiled, “yeah, I guess it was. But I’d still like to take you out for a nice supper if you’re interested?”
Elizabeth nodded, “yeah. I’d love that.”
A good hour later, Elizabeth walked Emily back to the inn, “so um, we’ll see each other tomorrow?”
“Yeah, it’s a date,” Emily smiled up at her.
Elizabeth laughed, “I meant work in the morning.”
“Oh,” Emily laughed too, “yeah, that first.”
Elizabeth stared at Emily, “you’re beautiful by the way, you too look really good in that top.”
Emily got on her tippy toes and gave Elizabeth a quick kiss, “wait till you see me tomorrow for our date.”
“I can’t wait.”