The Blacksmith’s First Order
A short story request inspired by fan, K. Pennington
Steam rose from the hearth where the water met coal. The smell of soot calming to her until the rise of smoke-filled her nose, causing her eyes to water slightly. Black dust clung to her dampened garments while she listened to the familiar sounds of iron and metal being hammered. Over and over again, its little melody playing a symphony around her. Arms becoming tired after a long day of nonstop orders from Sir Lawrence and Lady BecCome. Katerina laid down the long tongs to give herself a break.
“Katerina, is the order for Lady BecCome finished yet?”
The low baritone of Master Chambers always had her heartbeat picking up its pace. Dark brown eyes met hers when she tilted her head to the side. “Not yet Master.”, Her breath huffed out in mild annoyance, “I have all the utensils and pots completed. I am working on the hinges for her music box.”
Pride followed at the look of amazement from him. In reality, she should be more grateful that he was allowing her to learn this trade. Memories of her mother reminding her what a lady should and shouldn’t be doing gave her more resolve that she would have to complete this task.
He looked away, his eyes turning to the pillory he had been working on. He smiled, something played on his mind one second to have him clenching his jaw the next. Frowning, she was unsure what played in his mind. His apron, once an off-white, now a mix of deep grey and black, pulled against his hard frame. Her mouth going dry at the bulge she found when her eyes traveled down the length of him.
“One more piece to finish this for the shire reeve and then we can work on the stocks.”
Her eyes snapped up; hopeful she hadn’t been caught staring. The soot on her face hiding the flame in her cheeks when his eyes did travel to hers. He frowned and she was unsure why, but only for a moment.
“Oh, umm… do we have to finish that today? It isn’t due till a fortnight and I have to finish this order for My Lady.” His jaw clicked and her insides quivered. She lowered her eyes to his chest, avoiding his gaze, but the quivering only got worse at the mere sight of his body. Working with him had gotten harder this last week.
He was her fourth cousin, she wasn’t sure from whom, but that is what she was told. However, when his arm brushed against hers that one day, she felt heat creep throughout her. Unable to ignore it, it only became worse when he leaned over her shoulder to check her molding three days ago. His body is so close to hers that she felt the heat from him over the soaring temperatures in the workshop.
“I would like to,” his words cut through her wandering thoughts, “but we may get to it tomorrow. My Lady is sending her page before we close tonight and I want to make sure this is all complete.”
“What about Sir Lawrence?”
“His squire picked up the new reins while you were out earlier.”
She bit the inside of her lip, trying to distract herself from more invading thoughts. His big palms gripped the tools Infront of him. The tools, made for a man’s hands, were always bulking her own, but fit perfectly in his.
“Katerina, look at me.” Her eyes bulging a little as they snapped up to his. Could he hear my thoughts, she wondered? “We will get this done, right?”
She swallowed the lump in her throat, “Yes.”
“That’s my good cowfyne.”
She heated up at the term. The messages laying beneath the surface are not lost on her as she slowly nods, his eyes watching her face, before turning back to her task. Another hour passed as she sweated over her task. Carbonizing took the longest time for her, simply because it took the longest time to form what she needed to before molding. Sweat was sliding down her, her gown clinging to every part. Finally, her pieces finished, she laid them down to cool and grabbed a ladle from the bucket of water to quench her thirst.
The liquid, cool by no means, still felt good going down her throat. She had refilled the bucket earlier but being in this heat always made the water evaporate faster. She never realized what heat could do to someone until she started her apprenticeship in the workshop.
The hand holding the ladle fell to her side as her other picked up a piece of discarded cloth to wipe at her forehead. Her breath puffing out as she tried to catch her breath from drinking. Eyes closing as she stood there, gaining her balance again.
“Here.” she jumped and her eyes popped open at the surprise of the familiar voice right next to her side. “Let me help you with that.”
Their heads almost smacked together when she turned, wide-eyed, to look at him. Master Chambers stood next to her side, tugging the ladle out of her hand. Her fingers reluctantly releasing it.
“You are covered in dust.” The silly observation had her rolling her eyes. “I can help you get some of it off.” He dipped the ladle and she watched his arms flexing as he moved. Years of being a blacksmith showed on him.
“Ok.”, she responded biting her lip.
He stood and stretched out his hand. Her brows furred in question but he blew out a breath and reached to take the cloth from her hand. Her eyes fell at her incompetence to understand what he wanted.
The strict tone of his words left no argument and she nodded, doing as he said. Tampering the cloth with the water, he sat the ladle back into the bucket. Twisting the cloth, releasing any excess water before lifting his hand.
“Now turn to face me.”
“Now, stay still and close your eyes.”
Blood rushed to her ears, clouding out all the noise from the crowds of merchants beyond the shop doors. Doing as she was told, Katerina stood there, feeling self-conscious of her thoughts of anticipation at his touch. The mixture of metal and sweat entangled in her nose as the first swipe of the cloth brushed against her skin.
“Mmmmm…” she mumbled in her throat. The wet cloth starving off her perched skin. He made sure but slow strokes down her face. Starting from the top to around her cheeks. Twice he stopped and she heard more water being pulled out of the bucket. Seconds passed in those moments where she could swear, she felt his eyes upon her. The way her body would heat in certain areas bewildered her senses and caused her to catch her breath more than once. She went to open her eyes as he paused again from his task.
“I didn’t say to open them yet”, he stated. His words curbed with unbridled passion she almost felt like a sow on display. The lump in her throat returning as her eyes remained closed. “Good.” He breathed out. Hot air fanned her hair. The difference in height making her shiver like a mouse beneath his bulk; even though she wasn’t truly scared like one.
“Are you alm- “
“Shhh.” He spoke. A finger pressed against her lips effectively set off tingles beneath where his skin laid against hers. “Silence. You are almost clean.”
Not so much what he said, as to how he said it, made her insides melt. Was this attraction or merely my body playing tricks? Surely, she had never felt this strongly towards another, other than her first love Erlic, and that ended when he married another. She wished she could say she was still pure but sadly, she couldn’t.
A rough callused pad brushed against her bottom lip and a hard palm cradled her jaw. Deep breathing filled her ears and instinctively, she leaned into his palm. She had to know if he was doing this on purpose or simply clueless as to the reactions, he set off inside of her.
Opening her eyes, a slit, she prayed he would not notice. Her heart pounded in her chest at being caught disobeying him, but it raced even more at the look on his face. His eyes were not on hers, rather staring at her mouth. His jaw ticked, sending a pulsing to the sweet spot between her legs. His finger began to rub at her mouth in slow steady circles and his eyes narrowed. Dipping his head, his mouth inches from her own, she closed her eyes once again.
She stood there waiting, expecting him to kiss her, for what may have felt like hours. The air in the room went dry and she almost tipped over when he released her jaw and backed away. Dazed, she caught herself and blinked to regain herself. Confusion and disappointment filled her.
“What is –“
“Dull down the pit.”
He said turning his back to her. She flushed from embarrassment at her feelings once again. Did I do something wrong? Is something wrong with me?
“Oh,” she responded dumbfounded and at a loss for what to say.
“The sooner you get it done; the sooner we can go get some supper.” He moved to the wooden pillory in the far corner of the shop. “I still have leftover stew.”
“OK.” She replied. Her stomach growled at the mention of food but the ache in her chest at his lack of attention had her feeling less inclined to eat.
He did not give her one glance the whole time they both completed their tasks. He finished putting the iron clasps on the pillory and she cleaned up the pit and had Lady BecComb’s order ready. Tension filled the small space and she wasn’t sure by the way he behaved if he felt it at all.
When the Lady’s Page showed up to pick up the items, she politely completed the exchange and shut the door behind him. Placing the coins in the money box, she took off her apron and started wiping down everything.
The noise from the peasants and by standards mingling around in the market died down. Everyone going somewhere for their supper and she knew she would be joining them soon. She heard a few clicks and mumbles of approval when she placed the broom back in its spot against the wall.
“I am all done for today.”
The baritone sending butterflies into her chest once again, she had to remind herself of the disappointment she still felt from earlier.
“Yes.” She blew out a breath and crossed her arms, bracing herself. “Do you need anything else Master before I go?”
He wiped his hands and stood. Walking around the pillory and nodding to himself. She assumed he was ignoring her again and took that as a sign to go. She straightened her hair as best as she could and started walking towards the shop door. Her hand brushed the wooden handle when he spoke.
“Do you mind helping me test this?’
She paused. Her fingers just touching the handle and looked over her shoulder. “Test it?”
Her eyes fell onto his from across the room. Silently weighing her options. She could say no and leave but then might get in trouble tomorrow. On the other hand, she could say yes and spend more time with him. Her body competing within herself.
He smiled. Shoulders flexing, he must have sensed her resolve waning. Goosebumps broke out across her flesh and heat pooled low in her belly.
“Now,” he said opening the pillory.
—– To be Continued —–
I hope you enjoyed The Blacksmith’s First Order. Look for the second installment, The Blacksmith’s Final Say, next.
As always, you can find me on Facebook www.facebook.com/sinful.grace.romance or at (Sinful Grace Romance Author), on Twitter and Instagram (@Sinful_Grace), on www.gt-publishing.com, www.writersespresso.com, and on Chapters Interactive Application. I have book signings coming up, if you haven’t already, please order your copy for me to sign today! I anticipate and look forward to meeting all of you at the signings. I will be the author in the mask.
And remember, “You can’t have History, without a Story in it.”