Peake did not take her arm when it was offered. An offering was charity, something that people gifted, a move to please one’s ego. Peake needed no charity, and instead of taking her arm, he took her with his arm, wrapping her behind the neck with his arm and pressing her closer to him while they walked, his black silk cloak including her into the warmth. It’s not like she could complain, not without calling out negative attention to herself. She was smart, after all. Much more than many other women he had met. “Pay collectors like me get much more than many others. The better a man is at the job, the less he has to do. I deal with wealthy individuals, reason why you’ve never seen me in your miserable shop, or your mothers. Whatever you want to call it.” Peake squeezed her against him, smiling widely at a bunch of peasants that must’ve recognized him, mostly doing so to spite them. They all died of envy, deep inside, seeing just how different their lives were in comparison. Peake didn’t consider himself as lucky as they believed he was.
The day was as beautiful as he believed, or perhaps it was this beautiful because he was in a good mood. The closer they walked towards the waters, the more the small stalls full of fresh fish and old sticking fish camouflaged with salt appeared, between them others selling shellfish, vegetables, supplies. There was a bit of everything, a last temptation towards those that were to embark on a ship for whatever amounts of time, the first sight for those that freshly arrived to land and looked for something to spend their coin in. Men were animals, rabid creatures that were moved by lust and greed. Peake was no different, although his mask was torn compared to everyone else’s. “My father knew it bits after I announced it. He surely knows you too by now, or it won’t be long before he does. Like you said, the word has spread everywhere.” As Peake and his fiancé walked in the path between the walls made of stalls filled with diverse stock, Peake directed his feet and his woman’s towards one of them, shiny red apples claiming his attention. “Wonderful stock, my friend. May I take an apple for my fiancé here?” Like a serpent, his voice had changed to a kind and friendly tone.
His eyes, however, did not. They fulminated the grown man with their intensity, the shopkeeper immediately witnessing both the fine materials of the man’s cloak, and beauty of the female and the color of her dress, and he knew that these were not customers. These were important people, far more important than himself in the eyes of the King. Intimidated by their clothing, by their beauty, by their noble presence and their wealth, he man merely gestured towards his stock with a shy smile, letting them take whatever they wanted. Peake chuckled as he captured an apple he liked, showing it to the keeper and nodding towards him with a smile before he kept walking. Just like every animal, men were also scared to their very core. It was that what made them put on their masks. Peake was, once again, no different. Rubbing the apple against his shirt, he gave it a big bite, which he enjoyed with a light moan. Afterwards, he’d hover the bit apple before the female’s mouth, offering her a bite as well.
After he swallowed the delicious fruit, Peake spoke at last. “Ever since I turned seventeen arcs, my father has tried to marry me. Here, there, offered to whoever he deemed fit. Just like this apple, I was a stock for him to profit from. I don’t want to marry, especially not to that hag from last night, which threatened to rape me by the way.” At least, not after his woman and the child she carried were sent off somewhere, be it on a distant land or into a grave. There wasn’t enough alcohol in his system to think about it. “And you’re going to help me. We’re going to drag these negotiations for cycles and cycles if needed be, until the day I decide to marry. Knowing you, you won’t complain.” He chuckled once again, before he bit the apple once more, with his hungry and powerful jaw. It violence against fruit was considered a crime, Peake would’ve been executed long ago. Especially if someone witnessed how he treated watermelons. Soon enough, the couple were witnessing how the ocean opened before them, blocked of course by the multiple ships, vessels and docks that separated the city from the nothingness of the ocean. Inhaling deeply, he enjoyed the clear scent brought by the sea breeze, not the smell of putrid fish or the excrement that decorated some parts of the way walked.
“The deal is simple. You play along, and you get to brag around town that you’re going to be a baroness in the future. You won’t have to show your cleavage to men like the one you pretended to enjoy talking to last night. Instead, you only need to show them a plain face, and they will be lusting for you – or your mother’s – stock. You get favors, gifts, and pretty much anything you want from anyone else in exchange of nothing. Well, not nothing…” Peake halted his steps, and leaned down to slowly try to kiss Syhera’s cheek, taking a good amount of time to do so. Either if she allowed him or not, he would rise again with a smile. “You pretend that this marriage is something for real, and not just a show. You won’t have to see me, salve perhaps for the occasional ceremony in which I have to drag you along. I didn’t chose you just because you were beside me – I chose you because you are smart enough to keep your mouth shut, especially when you profit from doing so. So that’s your task. To keep your mouth shut.”
Halting to admire the work others did around ships, loading, unloading, talking, or laughing, Peake looked down at his fiancé. “What do you think, my dearest?”