Octavian laughed as he remembered that morning.
He had gotten up and ready for the meeting with the captain. He was focused on the content of their meeting and double checking his uniform to be sure he hadn’t forgotten anything important.
After assuring himself that he was ready for the hundredth time, he had realized how silly he was being. He was nervous.
He had gone through this routine daily for the past couple of years, with very little down time; he knew his uniform better than he knew his own skin.
He had reminded himself that this was practice and they weren’t in battle, they were at his captain’s home. If he erred it would merely be pointed out; no one would die.
He was grateful that the captain had suggested this week to get back in the swing of things and he was sure the other men were feeling the same right about now.
He had taken a deep breath, nodded once in self approval and walked out of his room. As he made his way to the stairs he saw the most beautiful woman he had ever seen; and she was walking right toward him.
He had frozen at the sight of her.
He didn’t miss the catch of her breath before she corrected herself and continued past him down the hall; deliberately not looking at him.
He was staring stupidly after her when the captain suddenly appeared with her luggage. “That is my daughter Elizabeth.” He said sternly.
Octavian had taken a moment to register what that statement meant. When it finally came to him, he looked into the captain’s face in awe. THAT was his daughter? She was not the child Octavian had been expecting.
The captain maintained a stern look but there was a glint in his eyes now as he said, “Well, don’t just stand there soldier. Take this luggage and put it where she tells you; and remember what I said last night about interacting with her.” He had then shoved the luggage into Octavian’s hands and turned to go back downstairs.
As soon as the captain said it, Octavian remembered; he was not supposed to have any contact with her. His heart fell at the realization.
Back in the present, he laughed. That ole captain already knew exactly what had just happened; and damn him, he got a good bit of entertainment out of it before he let Octavian in on the secret.
Octavian had taken Elizabeth’s luggage and walked on shaky legs to the room she had just entered.
He froze again as she turned and made eye contact with him. Her breath caught again but she was quick to dismiss it. He wasn’t nearly as smooth.
“Just place them there, next to the door.” She said.
He tried to say “yes ma’am” but all that came out of his mouth was unintelligible garble. He had shaken his head at himself and deliberately turned his face away from her as he sat her bags where she had indicated.
He was wondering what had happened to his voice and the words that he had meant to say when he heard her stifle a giggle behind him.
He looked back at her and smiled; the embarrassment evident on his reddened face. He wanted to introduce himself but didn’t trust his words.
Apparently, she had been waiting for him to do just that because when he didn’t she asked him his name.
He took a deep breath and tried to tell her but more of that garble came out again instead. It was as if her presence made him forget how to formulate real words.
Completely humiliated now, Octavian nodded curtly and took his leave. Once he was in the hall, he heard her giggle again. He had gone back into his own room to compose himself before going downstairs to meet with the other men.
He had paced in his room, replaying what had just happened. His heart was racing and pounding as though it was trying to escape his chest and run back to her. Heat flashed under his skin and he felt simultaneously nauseous and better than he ever had in his life.
Before leaving his room, he had decided that he must be coming down with something; and as he hadn’t been sick since childhood, he was unfamiliar with the symptoms. He would just have to tough it out until the meeting was over.
And stay away from the captain’s daughter. Maybe she had brought some illness home with her from school…
Back in the present, he laughed again. He hadn’t known what had hit him back then. He had been young, arrogant and thought himself immune to women’s charms; after all, he was accustomed to them flirting shamelessly with him and having fainting spells when he gave them a wink.
He laughed out loud again before resuming his memories.
All throughout the meeting the captain had kept giving him knowing looks and crooked grins. He hadn’t known what it meant and he was worried.
After the meeting, they had been dismissed to change for breakfast. As Octavian finished dressing, there came a knock at his door.
When he opened it, the captain walked in and leaned against the wall. He crossed his arms and looked Octavian up and down before laughing and leaving the room again.
As Octavian watched the captain disappear down the hall, he worried he may be hallucinating now too.
He had made his way to the dining room using caution. He was unsure of what was happening to him and didn’t want it to be obvious to the others that anything was amiss. Though, the captain already seemed to know, he knew the man would keep it to himself.
He took a deep breath before entering the room, but when he saw her sitting at the table, that breath left in a rush. Then he realized, the other men weren’t present and the captain and his daughter were staring at him expectantly.
He froze in place, wondering if he’d missed something important. Was he supposed to be here? The captain had said to come to breakfast, right?
The captain assessed Octavian again before motioning for him to take the seat to his right; directly across the table from Elizabeth.
He suddenly felt like he had been hit in the stomach with a cannon ball.
She had changed out of her gray traveling gown and into one of a light golden honey color that made her look like an angel.
Octavian’s eyes swept from her to the captain, who was watching him intently and wearing an indiscernible expression.
He took his seat, half wondering if this would be his last meal. He knew the captain would expect him to talk and behave in some normal fashion and he was concerned he wouldn’t be able to in her presence.
A quick glance at Elizabeth confirmed his suspicions.
He would absolutely fail any and all attempts to behave in any way that even resembled normal.
*Thank You for reading!*
End of Story 6-Part 2
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