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AINA - Excerpt




688 AUC (66 BC), late summer
Bailenua, Free Gallia, Eastern part of the Aedui Nation

“I am sooo jealous Aina! Your groom is such a great warrior, and so… well built... Seeing him all the time on the sparring field makes one wonder, you know.” Brenna smacked her lips loudly before laughing out loud. “Can I make you a deal? If you ever feel like sharing, I’ll pay you off with some sheep, or maybe a nice dress or a sword?”
She batted her eyelids in sincere mockery. Rionach snorted loudly, blowing some of the wine in her mouth out through her nose, followed by a loud coughing fit.
Aina laughed hard as well, punching Brenna on the arm, before patting her other friend’s back.
“If I do ever feel like sharing, you can have him for free, Brenna. But I’m warning you, that might be a loooong wait. Better bat your eyes at Elsed instead.”
Brenna’s eyes regained some focus. “You know I’m interested in Elsed, but I don’t think he even notices me.” She let her shoulders sag before turning back to Aina. “Do you think I could get any help from you with that?”
“YES! And I sure hope it works out, because I’d love to have you as a sister!” Brenna smiled and gave her a brief hug before looking at Rionach. “I know you are not interested in men, but you should still marry one, at least to get the children part over with. Once you have a couple little ones, nobody will give you grief anymore, or care about what else you do,” Aina told her, grinning widely. “Or with whom you do it.”
“Do you know any boys that you would find tolerable?” Brenna added.
“Not really, you know I can’t think of men like you two. And it’s not like I don’t get plenty of invitations to get to know some better,” Rionach said, dramatically rolling her eyes upwards. Breanna and Aina both broke back into laughter. Rionach was quite pretty with her dark-brown hair and green-flecked brown eyes, though a full head shorter than her friends. There was no shortage of hopeful suitors.
The door opened and Aina’s brother Elsed entered. Brenna squealed at his sight. A head taller than his sister, he was broad and well-muscled. His light brown eyes seemed magnetic, framed by his wavy dark-brown hair.
“Speaking of your brother….” The alcohol had taken away all her natural inhibitions, and she shamelessly let her glance wander up and down Elsed’s body. After working hard outside splitting wood with an axe, he needed clean clothes and a wash. “Elsed, do you need any help...?”
Aina punched Brenna so hard that she fell off the bench. “Brenna! That’s disgusting!”
Brenna started giggling, followed first by Rionach and then Aina. Elsed walked off, but Aina caught him giving Brenna a long and thoughtful glance over his shoulder before he walked through the inner doorway. Aina had always thought of Brenna as very attractive with her bright orange-red hair, dark green eyes and a face full of freckles. Just maybe her brother thought so as well. She grinned at her friend.
“Goodbye Elsed!” Brenna shouted after him. “See you tomorrow at the wedding!”
Aina’s thoughts drifted to her own big day. The day after tomorrow, she would no longer live in her father’s house, but move in with Bradan instead. That was the result of Bradan’s family having no other surviving siblings left in a big house with room to share. She hoped that her marriage would turn out to be a lasting one. She abhorred the current fashion of year-long marriages without signed contracts, or the quick divorces happening for all kinds of silly-seeming reasons. Fortunately, her own parents had been a good example to follow. A hint of sadness about her mother Ganna overcame her before her friends’ antics made her laugh out loud again. I wish you could be here to share this happy time with me.

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