The ride back to the manor house was uneventful. Leila explained that it was Jean-Marc’s home, and the other musicians each had a home of their own. It was curious to hear Layla refer to them as musicians, rather than noblemen or anything else. The other tidbit that I caught onto before any formal explanations began was that Jean-Marc was the newest of these musicians, and that had something to do with why they were gathering at his manor.
We rode into the stable together, Jean-Marc dismounting and giving his horse to the stable-master right away, and the centaur taking Evander out to the corral. Sleipnir followed him closely; understandably, he didn’t want to be cooped up in some stall. I dismounted first, then helped Leila down.
Evander thanked Argos for the ride, then looked to me. “I hope that you will allow me to be of assistance to you,” he said.
Leila grasped my hand tightly. “Please be kind to him, Stefan,” she all but begged me. “I’ll explain more about how fauns are different from satyrs later, but please give him a chance.”
I nodded, though I had to admit that my body was still stiff at the idea of communicating with him after the way Leila had been accosted the night at the club. “Leila is my first priority,” I informed him.
“As she is mine,” Evander said. “If you are at her service, then I am at yours.” He gave a slight bow as he spoke. He didn’t sound it all bothered about how upset I’d been earlier. “Do you have a preference, sir, in how I address you?”
“Stefan is fine,” I told him.
“Ah. Well then, Lord Stefan, shall I–“
“No,” I interjected. “Just Stefan, like I said.”
He froze froze and gave Leila a concerned look. I just about rolled my eyes.
“Argh okay, whatever. I don’t need you to add any kind of honorifics, but if that’s what you insist on, I have better things to argue about. I’m hoping you have a good explanation as to why you’re so formal, especially with Leila.”
“Thank you, sir,” Evander said. He looked kind of relieved. Gods he better be able to explain this! “Well then, shall I attempt to find you something better to wear? I have no qualms about what you’re wearing now, especially if you’re comfortable, but I understand that you had only expected to sleep and these clothes.”
“It’s not exactly high on my list of priorities,” I replied. “I’d rather go back to Leila’s house to get some of my own clothes. I don’t know if I’d like the style of this world.”
“Hey,” Leila said, “I thought you were going to give us more of a chance.”
“I am,” I reassured her. “I’m not insisting on going back right now am I? I don’t need to dress up like I’m going to stay here. The sooner we get an explanation as to what’s going on, the better.”
“Okay, Leila sighed, “breakfast in pajamas it is.”
Jean-Marc emerged from the doorway to the stable. “Are you ready to come in?” he called. “Brom came down to meet us. He says that your friends are awake now, and he’s taking them to the dining room so they can get started on breakfast.”
“Yes, Leila agreed. “Let’s meet there. Will you and he help gather everyone together there?”
“Certainly, milady,” Jean-Marc said, and he went back inside.
I held onto Leila’s hand as she led me into the manor house, too, and Evander followed us. It was a pretty fancy place, and Leila told me that it had a lot of rooms. I didn’t normally care for stuff like that, but it worked out, because it gave Leila a safe place to sleep, and some privacy for when she needed to change. It seemed that there were a lot more men here than women, and while they seemed to care about her safety, I didn’t know them at all.
Leila took us to a dining room with her famed favorite: a long wooden table, just like in all the fantasy movies. Killian and Larsa were already there, though they hadn’t gotten much food yet; mainly just tea and toast.
“Leila!” Larsa cheered. He got out of his seat and ran over to hug her. Then he grinned at me. “The beds here are really comfortable! It’s been a long time since I slept that good!”
“Tha’s because ye had fewer distractions here than ye have at home,” Killian pointed out. “Good mornin’ tae ye Leila, Stefan.”
Larsa went back to his seat, and Leila sat down next to him. I, of course, wasted no time in taking the chair next to Leila. It looked as though Evander had been trying to offer her a seat at the head of the table, but she wasn’t interested in taking it.
“I see you guys like it here,” Leila said.
A servant came in through another door, probably one that led to the kitchen, and offered us juice, tea, and coffee. She disappeared again as we went on talking.
“It’s so cool!” Larsa enthused; of course he would think that. “Remember how we saw a fairy man last night? Well, there’s also an elf! And he said there’s a dwarf too– and centaurs! And–“
His eyes widened when he looked over at Evander.
“Don’t worry,” Leila told him. “He’s a fun, not a satyr like the one that was rude to me back at the club.”
“Okay well, nice to meet you.”
Evander nodded to him, or maybe it was something more like a bow. “And you, young sir. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to make sure that everyone else is on their way down for breakfast.”
“That sounds wonderful, Evander,” Leila said. “I’m sure Larsa is starving, and he’ll be excited to properly meet everybody.”
And with that, the faun disappeared from the room, and it was just the four of us for a few minutes.