So - here's the new Master Class assignment. We were given the 10th line on page 100 of Anne McCaffery's Dragonflight. We had to either begin or end the story with this line "She rubbed her palms against her thighs in anticipation of the challenge."
As I said, my response is the end of the story. The beginning can be found here. The part in the middle. Well, that you'll have to wait for my short story collection to get. Here's the ending:
She rubbed her palms against her thighs in anticipation of the challenge. So much had happened to lead her to this point. She knew, beyond any inkling of a doubt, that this moment would define the rest of her life. The rest of her rule.
“Highness, you’ll wrinkle your dress if you keep doing that,” Jaylen’s maid nodded to where Jaylen’s hands were wrapped into fists in the delicate silk fabric.
“You’re right, Noella.”
Noella reached down to smooth the silk. When she brushed against Jaylen’s hands she jerked back. Small red marks appeared on Noella’s fingertips.
“Oh! Noella, are you alright?”
“I was burned. How?”
“I was fixing my dress.”
The blank look on Noella’s face screamed incomprehension.
“I manipulate fire now, remember? I was warming my hands enough to smooth out any wrinkles.”
“I guess you’ll have no need of me ironing any of your clothes again, will you?”
“Don’t be silly, Noella. You’ve cared for me right from the start. I will always need you. Irons and all. Besides, I think the court will keep me plenty busy to worry much about ironing my own clothes.”
“Aye. They will at that. Is Lord Maroshek going to be here today?”
Jaylen’s face pinked a little at the mention of his name, “He is. He refused my request to stand with me.”
“He’s a smart man.”
“I know. I just feel better when he’s there.”
“Lord Maroshek has been your protector since shortly after your birth. If you didn’t feel better I’d be worried.”
“I hate the political necessity of having to distance myself from him right now.”
“Is it just his protection you miss, or is there something more?”
Jaylen’s face reddened even more. She turned away from her maid to stare out the window. Parts of the city still burned. Ash blew on the wind like snowflakes. Most of the prophecy had come true. Now it was up to her to rule. She felt like the hard part had just begun.
“I don’t know, Noella. The House of the Lion has always served and protected the House of the Phoenix. Never anything more. Yet, there is a part of me that wants more from Maroshek.”
“Never? That’s a strong word.”
Jaylen whipped around. Her mouth hung open, “What do you mean?”
“Come, child. You know that the official histories are only that which was chosen to be preserved. There is always more to the story than the official histories.”
“Then there have been times the Lion House was more than protectors to the Phoenix House.”
Noella’s lack of reply told Jaylen all she needed to know. Her task to rule suddenly didn’t seem so heavy. The trumpets sounded outside interrupting the conversation. Noella placed the crown on Jaylen’s head and adjusted her auburn curls.
Jaylen drew herself up, assumed the long familiar regal bearing expected and nodded at the guards. They threw open the heavy oak doors still singed around the edges. Walking through, Jaylen made a note to herself to have someone fix them. As she stepped into the throne room, she changed her mind. The blackened marks throughout the palace would serve as a good reminder for the ruling Houses that she, Jaylen Amayana, was the rightful Empress. And that anyone who wanted to challenge her would have to deal with a Phoenix Reborn.
Please be sure to click on the Master Class badge above to check out other great authors' responses to the prompt as well.