“Good day to ye, yon buxom wench!” the voice boomed above the entrance gate. I laughed, shielding my eyes against the bright glare of the sun to see the guards in the tower grinning down at me. “Welcome to the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire!”
“You do look rather buxom today, Lexi,” TJ said to me as we passed under the gate. The sun caught the auburn bits of his curly dark hair and created a halo around him. My secret angel.
I adjusted the tie of my bodice, hoping to hide my blush. “Anyone wearing one of these things would look buxom. Even you.”
TJ laughed and flung his arm around my shoulders in a friendly gesture, guiding me through the throngs of performers gathered at the faire’s entrance. Even his smallest touch sent a thrill through me and my heart reaching for wings, but I couldn’t tell him. Instead, I stayed silent and focused on some belly dancers, bells jingling at their hips as they swayed in time to the drummer. It was my first time at the medieval faire, and TJ had been determined I not miss it.
Knights in blue lined up to welcome us, telling us when King Arthur would be at the chessboard. Several women wearing bodices so snug they could rest a drink on their… uh… goods made googly eyes at TJ. Dust swirling in the air mixed with the strains of violins, flutes, and drums, and voices of vendors hawking their wares carried over the excited chatter of the people taking in the world set around them.
“Where to first, Lexi?” TJ asked as he looked at the entertainment schedule.
There were too many choices for me to make a decision. “You tell me. You’re the expert.”
“Then let’s go see the Singing Wenches,” he said, guiding me in the direction of the show. We hadn’t gotten far before a woman in blue plaid stepped into our path, and we stopped to listen to her street performance.
“Could ye help me with a wee bit of a problem, good gentles?” asked the woman. She held a feather pen above some leather-bound papers.
“Sure,” TJ said.
“My name is Killian, and I am in love,” she said with a hint of a Scottish brogue. “But the man with whom I am in love dinna know. I’m hoping to recite some verse to tell him, only I’m at a loss for words. Perhaps ye could help me fill them in?”
“Of course,” I said, eager to listen to this sage woman. She spoke to me; how had she known I had wanted to tell TJ what was in my heart, but never had the courage or strength to do it?
“I need a noun,” Killian said.
We supplied Killian with the words she needed, and listened as she recited the medieval love “poem” back to us. With each word, my skin tingled and a fire burned within me. I had been waiting for a sign, and Killian was it. I didn’t think I could win TJ’s heart by telling him he was dearer to me than any radish, like in Killian’s made-up verse, but I knew I needed to tell him something.
Done with her act, Killian set her brown eyes on me as TJ took a few steps away. He paused when he noticed I wasn’t walking with him. “You alright, Lex?”
Killian raised her brows as if giving me a mental nudge. I opened my mouth. I love you, my mind told him. When I’m with you, my world sings. I want to be with you. “I’m fine,” I said, hushing the voice that longed to show TJ my true feelings and fighting the physical pain of my wretched emotions.
“The Singing Wenches show starts in five minutes.”
I swallowed the lump forming in my throat and put on a smile as Killian frowned at me. I looked around desperately for a reason to stay and talk with her and latched on to the booth next to me selling wooden swords and shields. “I’ll catch up. I want to look at these for my nephew.”
“I’ll save you a seat,” he said and followed a hip-swaying, tightly bodiced brunette to a performance tent.
“Tell him,” the soft Scottish burr said. Killian stood next to me as TJ walked away. “The man must be blind if he dinna know how much ye love him. I could tell within ten seconds of talking to ye.”
“But what if he doesn’t feel the same way?” My voice pleaded for Killian to understand. I didn’t care that I had just met this woman. She was now my lifeline.
“But what if he does?”
She was right. I knew she was right.
“Tell him,” she urged. “Okay. I will.” I gave her a brave smile before I metaphorically squared my shoulders and set off to make myself a vulnerable mess.
The wenches were loud and bawdy, and TJ laughed at the silly songs they sang. I laughed, too, but my mind wasn’t on the show. When it was over, I didn’t stand up as the rest of the crowd left the tent.
“TJ,” I gulped.
“Alexandra,” he returned, caressing my full name across his tongue and I had to look away before I spoke again.
“There’s something I need to tell you.”
He straddled the bench next to me and took my hand, his finger caressing my palm. Shots of warmth spread through my entire being. A knowing smile played on his lips and in that moment, I knew that he knew. My feelings no longer terrified me.
“Then tell me,” he whispered.
About the Author: Gayle Sharpe is a displaced Yankee living in North Central Florida. She’s worked as a computer lab operator, a hostess for birthday parties at an arcade, as a lingerie saleslady, in a costume shop for Halloween, and as a technical writer. Gayle has participated in the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire for several years. She’s thrilled that The Long and the Short Review is publishing "My Faire Love Story" and hopes the woman who provided the inspiration for Lexi recognizes herself and has the courage to take a chance on love.