When Evadna made it to the stables she was in her “rough gear” which consisted of pants and a shirt of tough material. She found Lord Albin and his friends there waiting for her. Donovan, the tallest of them, smirked at Evadna as she approached. She tried to give him a blank, unnerving stare in return. She might have managed it for his smirk was soon replaced by a grimace. Fred smiled at her in his carefree manner, his freckled face beaming. Then there was Jaxon, Lord Albin’s closest crony. His dark hair almost rivaled her own, but his skin was pale where hers was brown, and his eyes were not as large. Jaxon watched her warily.
Lord Albin smiled in greeting, handing her an apple someone had taken a bite out of. Seeing this, she raised her eyebrows at him.
He shrugged and said, “I was hungry and you were taking forever.”
“I was not,” she retorted, realizing too late by his look of amusement that he’d been baiting her.
Mustering her dignity, she said, “Where do you want me?”
“We’re taking the horses to the seeping pool. That’s a safe enough spot. Too close to the manor and people will interfere. Might think I’m trying to harm you.”
Jaxon put a hand on Lord Albin’s arm, his face reading stern disapproval. Lord Albin pulled his arm free with an irritated, “It’s fine.”
Evadna, her excitement for adventure stirring, said, “I get to ride Mavis!”
“You can’t. I’m going to ride her,” countered Donovan.
Fred intervened. “It’s the rules, Don. First call. She has the right.”
“But she’s a girl,” Donovan complained.
Lord Albin gave Donovan a hard stare. “She’s my witch. She’s more than male or female, man or woman. She has every right.”
Donovan mumbled an incoherent reply.
“I’ll ride Price,” Jaxon said quietly.
Fred and Donovan quickly followed with their own choices in mounts. Lord Albin had no need to call which horse he’d ride. His steed was ridden by no one but him.
Once they were settled onto their horses, they left for the seeping pool, cantering and galloping in turns as they jostled about in friendly banter and spontaneous competitions.