Savenek faced Rema, his skin slightly flushed—whether from physical activity or embarrassment, Rema couldn’t be sure.
“Trust me,” Rema said, “I’d rather have someone else instructing me as well. I don’t particularly want to work with you either.”
“Do you even know anything?” Savenek practically growled.
“Plenty,” Rema seethed. “Probably more than you.” Maybe not with regards to fighting, but she was well educated.
Savenek raised his eyebrows in disbelief, the corners of his mouth turning up. “I sincerely doubt that.”
Rema’s hands went on her hips. “Are you always so arrogant and conceited? Because I’ve had enough with Prince Lennek, and I don’t need it from you too.”
“I’m nothing like him!” he yelled.
“Oh? And you’ve spent time with him like I have?” she yelled right back.
Savenek was at a loss for words. Well that certainly was something. Glancing around, Rema noticed several individuals staring at the two of them.
Lowering her voice, Rema asked, “I assume you have horses here?” Caught off guard by the change in topics, Savenek nodded. “Is there an area where you can ride them?”
“We have an exercise pen and a course we practice on,” Savenek answered.
“Can you race on the course?” Rema’s heart quickened.
Didn’t he know her uncle was Kar? And she was raised on a horse farm? She desperately wanted to put him in his place and was eager for the opportunity to do so.
“Why? Do you ride?” Savenek snidely asked.
“Do you?” she countered with a smile.
“Care to find out?” Confidence oozed from him.
“Let’s make a wager. That is, if you’re up for it?” Rema taunted. Her horse wasn’t here, but she’d never been beaten, and she had no intention of letting this smug man be the first.
Savenek turned toward Vesha and the young man she was practicing with. “Vesha, Audek,” Savenek called out to the pair. “We need witnesses.” He waved them over.
Audek rubbed his hands together, smiling. “This should be good.” Standing next to Savenek, Audek was almost as tall as him, but skinnier and all lean muscle. Both men towered over Vesha who was at least a foot shorter.
“I thought Mako told you boys to stop betting, especially after what happened last time,” Vesha said, shaking her head.
Audek laughed out loud, the sound echoing in the room. “Yeah, that was some fun!”
“It wasn’t my idea—it was hers,” Savenek pointed to Rema. “And the bet is between the two of us. Audek has nothing to do with it.”
Audek raised his hand to his heart. “Ah, you wound me. How could you make a bet with another?”
Savenek looked annoyed. “Cut it out, Audek.”
“Will you boys focus,” Rema said, exasperated. “We haven’t even set the terms.”
“Why are the two of you betting?” Vesha asked, fidgeting with the bottom of her tunic.
“Savenek here has been ordered to train me,” Rema said. “Neither of us particularly like the arrangement, but I need to learn to defend myself.” It was only a matter of time until Darmik found her and tried to drag her back to King’s City for execution.
Savenek snorted. “You actually think Prince Lennek would waste his time coming after you? It’s not like he actually loved you, like you were special. You were simply a tool. He was done with you—or hadn’t you gotten the message with your execution order?”
Rema took a step toward Savenek, wanting to tear him apart. She had to force herself to take deep breaths in order to calm down. Lennek wouldn’t be the one coming after her; that would require too much work. It was Darmik she feared would hunt her down. And he certainly had the capability to find her—hidden or not. The only hope she had was being able to defend herself, so she could get away when he came.
Audek whooped and slapped Savenek on the back. “Finally someone that isn’t afraid to challenge you. And it’s a girl! I love it!”
Rema turned to glare to Audek. “Do you want in on the bet?” she asked.
“No,” he laughed. “I’m just here for the entertainment.” Suddenly serious, Audek said, “But I suspect there’s more to you than meets the eye.”