Read Coins and Daggers Online

Authors: Patrice Hannah

Tags: #romance, #love, #historical romance, #medieval romance

Coins and Daggers (6 page)

BOOK: Coins and Daggers
11.66Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

And if her
memory served to be correct, she was still locked away in a gaol,
and far away from daylight. Perhaps the guv had managed to hang her
in her sleep and that would then make her
very much
dead.

But apparently, she was very much alive.
Audelia hadn’t pinched herself or closed her eyes and then counted
to ten. What convinced her was the presence of the barbaric looking
guard, the one she knew to stand at her cell door, and a petite
servant girl both hovering near her. The guard spoke first in a
brisk tone.

“Go get Lord St. Rosso,” he said to the
girl, who did as she was told. Audelia watched the man move closer
until his knees were touching the side of the bed. “Have any rocks
under those sheets with you, wench?”

She glared up at the man. “I hardly think
I’d confess such a thing even if did.”

Her gaze swept past the giant and towards a
small table, where a water-jug sat next to a quite tempting
preparation of loaf and meat. Her mouth watered just knowing that
she was within its direct vicinity. The guard seemed to have picked
up on her gaze because he shifted to block her view.

“Lord Ulric had it brought in for you to eat
whenever you were to wake.”

She eyed the guard carefully. “He’s feeding
me?”

“Exactly that.”

Now she was
just downright baffled. “And you expect me to believe that it isn’t
poisoned or something of the sort? Why should I expect your
precious
lord
to care now for my well-being when in
the last day he hasn’t offered me much as a drop of
water?”

“I’ve asked myself the same question
countless times.” He turned from her and went to position himself
nearer to the door. “I am only doing my duty.”

A soft knock came on the door and Audelia
swallowed tightly. It must be the Lord St. Rosso, himself. Easing
quickly out of the bed, despite her fatigued limbs, she moved to
stand in the far corner of the exquisite room. As much as she found
the bed comfortable and far from anything she could remember, the
last thing she wanted was for the guv to see her enjoying his
luxurious hospitality.

But instead of the formidable dark-haired
guv she’d remembered, in walked a god with rich golden hair and a
pleasing countenance. Audelia somehow expected civility from this
one.

“Ah, she’s awaken,” the man said, nodding to
the guard and then at her. “My name is Edwin Montagu, your
voluntary companion for the time being.”

Oh, so
he
was Edwin
. “What do
you want?”

“Just a word with you.” He turned to say
something softly to the guard, who left the room momentarily.
“Shall we?”

Eyes trained on the man, Audelia remained
where she was, watching intently as he surveyed the room with a
reflective light in his eyes. If she would allow herself just a
moment’s observation, she might have found it stunning too. But she
had to remain alert lest she get caught up in this farce. There was
no way she could trust these men. What she must consider is finding
a way to escape the place at the soonest opportunity.

“And where is your Lord St. Rosso?”

“Running errands, I believe.” He paused to
look at the food tray. “I suppose you’d be terribly hungry after
such a spell.”

“I am in no need of your hospitality.”
Audelia dragged her gaze from the tray and glared. “Am I to be
hanged now?”

Edwin chuckled but his brows were knitted
with slight concern. “You are quite eager to die, aren’t you?”


I’m quite
eager to leave and if death is the only way,
sir
, then so
be it.”

“You know...” Edwin walked slowly across the
room, stopped at the window near the bed and stared out a moment
before facing her again. “For some reason, you strike me as the
type of wench who knows how to make a good bargain.”

What was he
saying?
Audelia took one
careful step backwards. “I might be a thief but I’m no
whore.”

His brow arched only a moment, slight
surprise crossing his features. “Of course not. The bargain I speak
of is far closer along the lines of morality, I assure you. And I
have a great feeling that you will be interested.”

A tingling sensation at the back of her head
told Audelia that she was in for quite a treat. A treat that might
come back to nip her in the arse.

 

* * *

 


T
he town air is quite
refreshing.” Lady Ryia spoke between slow sips of her tea. Tucking
a bite-sized piece of loaf in her mouth, she chewed slowly. “Am I
correct to doubt you would know anything of that,
Bryce?”

Ulric
straightened from where he was leaning against the closed door. He
had fully intended on returning to his study to address the
dealings of his journal when his sister had accosted him and
dragged him to
this
room
.

“I must admit that I don’t visit the town
regularly.”

Glancing occasionally around the room, he
was almost surprised at how unfamiliar it all seemed. It was the
very same sitting room that their dear mother, Lady Katarin, had
often used to entertain her many guests. It was also in this
sitting room that the Baron Hyslop had declared his intentions
towards Ryia and made their betrothal official. It was a room of
many memories.

Lady Ryia smoothed her teal skirts over her
knees and took another sip. “Whyever not?”

“Why does this surprise you when you,
yourself, has declared how much of a recluse I am?”

“Hope, dear brother. It has much to do with
hope.”

Ulric marched past her and took a seat
across the room much nearer to the fireplace. The last thing he
wanted was to sit here and have a spar with his little sister. He
needed to get back to the Odessa Room and see about that girl
keeping her mouth shut and enforcing her cooperation. At least,
until Ryia was to return home.

“Do not waste your time hoping for me, Ryia.
You have a family with whom to occupy your thoughts now.”

This somehow brought a smile to his sister’s
face. A smile that he hadn’t seen since the day he had resigned to
accept the baron’s offer for her hand. It was a pleasing feeling
that he was quite content with embracing silently.

“My Merek is a good man, Bryce,” she was
saying. “He’s fully retired from service now, if you must
know.”

“I believe the baron is but seven and
twenty?”

“Yes. Only a year your junior but a very
good man, you see.” Ryia carefully placed her mug down and smiled
again, this time a staying one that fully transformed her stunning
features with radiance. “He’s already acquired all the land he’s
ever needed and we live quite comfortably over there in
Harlbrook.”

Ulric nodded. “I can see you’re quite
content with the life you have secured.”

Rising from her seat, his sister took a few
paces around the room and pausing occasionally to behold some
portraits on the walls. Their mother had been a lover of fine
paintings.


Not
just
quite
content, Bryce. Very much so.” She turned on the
tiny heels of her slippers and walked towards him. “And how are
you?”

“Me?” Ulric frowned, not sure he liked where
the conversation was suddenly heading. “I am content myself.”

Ryia
laughed.
Actually
, laughed and
reclined her head, eyes narrowing as she studied him. “Mother had
always envisioned you happily wed to a beautiful
maiden.”

“Mother had always been an optimist.”

“Father, too.”

Now feeling
uncomfortable with such form of dialogue, Ulric jumped to his feet
and walked to the other side of the room. “Are we to discuss
something else but my
very
slim prospects of
marrying?”

“Speaking of that, I did run into some
interesting maidens in town,” she continued regardless. “Agnete
Galtran; do you remember her? She’s the daughter of Vicar
Galtran.”

Ulric gritted his teeth. “I do remember the
wench rather clearly,” he confessed. “She’s as boring as a rock and
knows little of anything other than her father’s dreaded sermons.
Let us both agree, Ryia, that if I am to ever take a bride, she
would not be the daughter of a vicar.”

Ryia chuckled. “Is the daughter of a vicar
too...virtuous for you, brother?”

“Am I to believe that you find irritating
me, amusing?”

“Believe whatever you wish but one day I
shall enjoy seeing you trapped in the wonderful spasms of love and
devotion.”

The deep rumbles of a chortle escaped its
way pass his lips. “The day that happens, I give you full
permission to run me through with a blade. And I am sure you would
find great joy in doing so.”

“Whatever you may think, Bryce, I do not
dislike you.” Moving quickly, she reached out and touched him
tentatively on the shoulder. “You are my brother, my only sibling,
and I love you dearly. My wish is only to see you happy.”

He glanced at her through the corner of his
eye and frowned. “I am content, Ryia, so will you cease with the
subject of this conversation? I do have other matters to attend
to.”

His sister retreated just a step, the
shudder in her sigh pulling at the iron strings of his heart. Ryia
might be truly concerned about his welfare but in all honesty,
Ulric needed her not to be. He was a man entirely at ease with his
lifestyle and needed no interference, not from her and certainly
not from a pesky wife either. He enjoyed his freedom and space, and
was intent on keeping it that way for a very long time to come.

“I suppose I shall be seeing you in the
dining hall later then?” Her voice was laced with disappointment
and just the faintest of confidence.

“It’s best you not to keep your hopes up
tonight, Ryia. I usually dine privately.”

Seven

 

C
hastelle Manor
naturally was a quiet place, and that was not due to its small
number of occupants but for the very little social engagement ever
occurring within its walls over the past few years. Such walls were
well-known to be fences of silence and witnesses of the rarest
degrees of solitude.

But today... A day of no extraordinary
prospects, laughter drifted from the library and down the hall. It
was such a surprising distraction that Ulric found himself striding
in the direction of the chatter. The guard, Gilgallon, stood erect
by the door, a flask in his hand. Ulric cleared his throat and the
man immediately hid it behind him, and bowed.

“Gilgallon. Tell me, since when did I
require a guard for my library?”

“Sir Montagu requested it, sir.”

Frowning, Ulric reached for the knob on the
door and shoved it open. Why on earth would Edwin request such a
thing? Stepping inside the coolness of the well-stocked room, he
was immediately assaulted by the scent of lavender water and his
best friend’s voice.

“It is nothing at all, Ryia. I am a man of
my word, as you can see.”

“I’ve never doubted you, Edwin. Who would
have thought, though?”

“Who would have thought what?” Ulric
interjected, glancing between Edwin and his sister. “It seems you
two have forgotten to invite me to whatever you are
celebrating.”

Lady Ryia
scoffed and chuckled. “Of course,
I
haven’t forgotten.
Edwin, here, was quite hell-bent on fetching you from whatever hole
you’ve been in all morning but we all know of how much of a
party-spoiler you can be.”

“And you, dear sister, never cease to wound
me.” He placed a mock hand over his heart and gave her his best
affronted expression. “How can I make it up to you?”

Edwin laughed and shook his head. “You can
start by listening in on your sister’s rants of gratitude. She’s
very happy this morning.”

Lady Ryia giggled. “And you are far too
modest, Edwin. You know exactly what I’m so grateful for. If it
weren’t for you, I probably would have never found such an
outstanding lady’s maid. Least of all one that is of such good
company.”

Ulric eyed Edwin and moved to take his seat
facing them. “Ah. A lady’s maid?”

“Yes. I don’t know where he found her but
I’d have never thought to find one so very well-versed and
accomplished. And at so young a age. But she comes with remarkable
recommendations.”

Edwin chuckled and sipped on a tankard, all
the while maintaining Ulric’s eye contact. “She’s an accomplished
lady’s maid. Her last employer also admired her greatly as a
companion, as I’d been informed.”

“And where did you find this girl, Edwin?”
Ulric asked, ignoring the tick that was forming in his left eye. A
part of him dreaded the answer he knew he’d be given.

“Not far from here, actually. I found her in
an inn near the outskirts.”

Ulric glanced at his friend for a good
couple seconds, masking his disapproval entirely. “Then I hope all
goes well.” He brushed an invisible lint from his coat and smiled.
“Uh, Edwin... I’d almost forgotten. There’s a matter in my study
that I would love your assistance with.”

“Now?”

“Perhaps later. Around noon?”

* *

 

B
oredom was not a
befitting pastime for someone who, often out of necessity, had
allowed herself not be plagued by such a privilege.

Eyeing the slim volumes of literature
chronologically arranged on one plank of the tall shelving, Audelia
did allow herself a few glances around the room. She’d been told
that this was the lord’s library. A room only himself and relatives
ever used on occasion, and that was so only because no one else
ventured there. Either that or no one else appreciated fine
literature, science and philosophy. It was a room that much
reminded her of another room--one she had dearly tried to
forget.

BOOK: Coins and Daggers
11.66Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Skin I'm in, The by Flake, Sharon
A Proper Charlie by Wise, Louise
Into the Fire by Amanda Usen
Whitechapel Gods by S. M. Peters
A Win-Win Proposition by Cat Schield
Making the Cut by SD Hildreth
The Barn-Dance by Camryn Rhys
The Forgotten War by Howard Sargent
The Devil's Dwelling by Jean Avery Brown
Wicked Intentions 1 by Elizabeth Hoyt