There Your Heart Will Be Also

BOOK: There Your Heart Will Be Also
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There Your Heart Will Be Also

b
y Felicia Rogers

Published by Astraea Press

www.astraeapress.com

This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and events are fictitious in every regard. Any similarities to actual events and persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental. Any trademarks, service marks, product names, or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if any of these terms are used. Except for review purposes, the reproduction of this book in whole or part, electronically or mechanically, constitutes a copyright violation.

THERE YOUR HEART WILL BE ALSO

Copyright © 2011 FELICIA ROGERS

ISBN
978-1-936852-62-8

Cover Art Designed b
y Elaina Lee

Edited b
y
Audrey Jamison

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Matthew 6:21 or Luke 12:34

Prologue

Wilt
Hotham
stood behind the chair,
fingers drumming upon the wood.
“Do you have news to report?”

“I'm afraid so, my lord
,

answered
the messenger
, eyes shifting
.

“What is th
is
news?”

“Remember
,
I am but the messenger.”

“Of course, I understand.
Now get on with it. G
ive me
the
news of my brother.
Was he successful?”

T
he mess
en
ge
r
trembled as he
answered,
“Nay
.

“Nay?” Wilt widened
his eyes
.
Anger
caused sweat to bead
up
on his brow.
H
ands
clenched
by
his sides
,
he waited for more.

“Nay, sir.
U
nsuccessful
,
I'm afraid
.
The mistress of Greenbriar wasn't to his
…
liking.”

Wilt
flung his
arms into the air
, stomping his feet
.
His h
ands flipped t
he table
,
sending
decanters full of whiskey against the wall.
Amber
-
colored
i
n
k trailed down
ward
,
pooling
silently on the white
rug
.
Wilt's e
yes narrowed in
to
tiny slits as he saw t
he servant
shy away
.

Good.
At least someone recognized
his
power.

After
the
tirade passed, Wilt jerked his
waistcoat
down, placed thumbs
against
his ribcage and asked the servant to continue with
the
news.

Straightening from
a
cowering position
,
the servant began again
with a trembling
voice
.
“Your brother returned home and, well, he…”

“Aye?
What
happened
?
Let me g
uess.
S
pent the whole week in
the bed
room weeping like a child!
Our family is in ruins.
Our wealth completely disappeared because of his ‘habits
.
'
O
ur one chance to rectify the situation and he finds the bride unsatisfactory.”
Taking a deep breath
to calm his wildly beating heart
,
Wilt
stared at the servant.
“You will travel to see my brother.
You will tell him he
must
go back and marry the mistress, claim the land
for his own, and
sell it.
I don't care whether the woman is to his liking or not!
I will not lose everything because my brother is unwilling to experience the least amount of discomfort!”

The servant shuffled his feet.

“Do stop your fidgeting
,
and do as I say!”

“But
,
my lord—

“What is it now?”

“I am afraid—

“Aye?
What is it?
Come out with it then?”

“I'm afraid your brother is dead
.”

Chapter One

England 1551

Cedric
knelt awaiting the announcement of
the English king
.
Some would say this was an unusual position for a Scot, but others would take th
e
opportunity to remind the uninformed
that
the man
wasn't truly a Scot.
In his experience
,
educat
ing
those people on his heritage
and
explaining the situation
did little good.
It was best to stay focused on the here and now, like
the
shin
iness of
the floor
,
not the sounds of a crowd snickering at
his
back
.
These wayward thoughts ended when the sound of the young
K
ing
Edward's
voice
boomed
.

“Cedric MacNeil of Scotland, it is an honor to have you in my court
.”

Cedric
's h
e
ad
raised
a fraction.
His eyes shifted
,
look
ing
around and notic
ing
how the King's minions
were
nodd
ing
their heads in agreement.

“You came to this court and offered your sword as a service to the English crown.
In the beginning, it was
our
opinion perhaps you should be denied this privilege.
But, after much thought and consideration the opportunity was extended to you
.
N
ot because of you, of course, but because of your mother, Elinor.
Father was fond of her.
She was a
member
of his court and held a prominent position in our English society.”

Heads around the room nod
ded
once again
, as the King
gleefully
added,
“I can also say
,
agreeing to send you
to compete in the tourney
on behalf of my crown has brought me much reward.”

Here
,
the King paused and beckoned a
man
forward.
He whispered
unintelligible words, causing
the servant
to
nod
. The
K
ing continue
d
his speech.
“In order to reward you
,
as you have rewarded this court with your service, I wish to offer you not only the gold you
've
earned, but also a worthy piece of land.”

At the word

land,

Cedric's head popped up.
The faces around the room
were
wide
with
peculiar
smiles.

The King motioned his secretary forward.
In a businesslike fashion, the
man
spoke.
Th
e
information concern
ed
the location
and
the dimensions of the land
.
A
t the end,
t
he
king's assistant
added one more detail. “
I
n order to secure the
property
as your own
, there is
one
stipulation.”

Cedric stared at
the
shiny floor, which reflected back to him his expressions of honest interest.
With renewed
focus
, Cedric
listened to
the
attendant
's
continuing speech
.

In order to a
c
quire this piece of property permanent
ly,
y
ou must marry the previous land owner's daughter.”

At
the
pronouncement
,
the whole court burst out in
riotous
laughter.
In a
flourish
, t
he
K
ing dismissed everyone in the room,
leaving in a flurry of robes
himself
.
On bended knee
,
Cedric
was left
alone in the vast room wondering about his future.
What could have been so amusing to the crowd?

****

A
month
after his experiences in the King's court
, 
Cedric
stood atop
a
rock
-
covered hill with the wind sweeping behind him, star
ing
with longing
at the castle
nestled in the valley below.
This was to be home?
It was not the Scottish highlands with purple fields of heather
, which
he
envisioned at night.
But it was close enough.

So close
, 
in fact, nearby Scottish clans had been known to kidnap local village wenches, as well as plunder the sheep from the surrounding hillsides.
This
was
no doubt
one of the reasons the King had graced a Scot with a chance at claiming this particular parcel.

Cedric surveyed all before him
.
The
desire of
his
heart was coming to pass.
Soon
this would be
home.
Land to call his own.
Land to grow crops.
Land to raise sheep.
Land to raise a family.

After the King's pronouncement,
Cedric
discovered he
'
d not been the first choice for Lord of Greenbriar.
In truth, he
'
d not been the second or third choice either.
From rumors passed in the King's court
,
Cedric
learned many individuals of noble quality and birth had been chosen as potential
lords
of this fair
land
.

Many had traveled far and wide to claim their prize, but none had succeeded.
It was said some had taken one look at the main hall falling in on itself
,
and
spoken with the mistress of the keep
,
who
would become
his
wife
,
and high
-
tailed it back to the city with
out elaborating on an
excuse
for their return
.
O
thers returned
posthaste
,
refusing the land offered. Some came with
legitimate
reasons. They
claim
ed
the repairs needed required funds beyond their means. Others returned with
peculiar
reasons such as
mythical
malad
ies
that denied them the ability to
maintain
this specific parcel and its inhabitants.
Rumors abounded as to the “real” reason these nobles had departed the grounds.
But no facts seemed to be had.

Cedric
assumed some of the English
Lords
who
had come north to the border castle were
no doubt
terrified of the local Scots liv
ing
nearby.
As
he investigated the rumors
further, Cedric
heard such tidbits of information
like,
“the castle was in complete disarray
,

with mention of everything
from sagging walls to crumbing village homes. He
'
d also heard spirits frequented the castle even in the daylight hours, and anyone
who
stayed longer than a fortnight was struck with a disease of the bowels.
One of the most interesting rumors overheard was
about
the mistress of the keep
.
She
was
said to be
an ugly, witchy character
who
wielded a tongue of fire.

In his opinion
,
t
he
nearby
Scots would be easy enough to control once they learned of
the new Lord's
lineage.
A
s soon as Cedric took control
,
the rowdy neighboring Scots would step back
.
A
t least that was
his theory
.
The castle walls and sagging village huts could easily be repaired
with hard work and time
.
The
ghosts
were not a concern, since they didn't exist
.
And h
e would
prepare his own food
or keep a close eye on
what
was to be
consumed
to keep his bowels in check.
Which
left only one concern
—
the mistress.
A
nagging wife
was
worse than constant dripping, or so he
'
d heard.

Although
Cedric
worried about his future
spouse
,
nothing would
deter his goal.
After
his
mother
's passing
,
F
ather only lived a short time.
His father's
death
had caused
the
MacNeil
clan to erupt.
They refused to have a
half-breed
and an Englishman rule.
Rather than fight to hold only a tenuous grasp on his land
,
and perhaps destroy
h
is own family from within,
Cedric
voluntarily handed control to his uncle and headed to court to serve the English King.
This was
his
chance at redemption.
T
here was no way he would give up
a
n
opportunity
to have
land; and no ugly, witchy woman would stand in
the
way.

Scanning the road, Cedric thought he saw what he was looking for.
Indeed, he had.
W
armth filled his hea
r
t
as
Cedric approached the castle.
Stopping in the nearby
woods
,
he
noticed
t
he drawbridge was down
. This
allow
ed
villagers to come and go freely.

W
ith just his sporran, claymore, and the
sparse
cloth
ing
in
his
sack,
he felt exposed
.
The few gold pieces sewn into his kilt were the only other items carried
.
All else had been left behind.
He preferred to live off the land
.
What else did
one
need?

Cedric had
not purchased a horse
for
the
journey
because
there was
no reason to hasten his arrival, nor did he wish to feed the beast.
Besides
,
Cedric
needed the extra time foot travel provided
to consider
a strategy for conquering this foe.

Without knowing her name or what she looked like, how was Cedric to find the woman he sought? The King's court said the mistress was young but old. Beautiful, yet wrinkled and witchy. No two descriptions ever matched.

On the long walk from court to Greenbriar land, Cedric rolled many options about in his mind. Of course he'd considered the direct approach. Introduce himself as a suitor and attempt to gain the lady of Greenbriar's favor in a forthright manner.

The idea of taking the castle by force had also crossed Cedric's mind. The act of doing this would make him no better off than if
he'd
stayed on MacNeil land.

No, he needed a plan. Something sneaky and well thought out. The
idea
of asking the villagers where to find the mistress was another option. Perhaps he would see this lady of Greenbriar without revealing himself and then decide whether pursuing her favor was worth the effort.

As Cedric waited
,
there was a sound of movement behind him. Within seconds Cedric held the intruder against the tree
,
a dagger to his throat.

“Calm yeself me Lord, it is I.”

Cedric released the servant and backed away. They grasped hands in greeting and Cedric said, “Thank ye
,
Barney
,
for coming.”

Barney nodded. “I left Duncan and the others in town just like ye said and I'm here to do yer bidding.”

“Good. Now let's discuss what I need ye to do.”

As much as he tried to convince himself this would be an easy task, he knew otherwise.
Others had attempted to conquer this
rival
and failed.
F
ailure
w
as
not
an option
.

****

Sarra
woke
early and
took
time
to
languidly stretch in bed.
Looking around the unadorned room,
she
felt
happy and content
.
The
huge
four-poster
bed filled most of the room.
Up against the wal
l
s
a
t
a
prized possession
,
a
writing desk
which once
belonged to
her mother.
Its wood shone bright as the sunshine peeped through the wooden
shutter
.
Sadness threatened to engulf
her
.
M
other's passing when Sarra was a wee child had been a major factor in who she'd become.
She should be grateful.
I
ndeed
,
there was
a lot to be thankful for.

To
lift
her spirits
,
a review of blessings was
in order
.
The
ground
had been tilled and planted.
Her
wardrobe was filled with
dresses
to
wear
,
if there was ever an occasion to
adorn herself in
such finery.
Everyone in the
keep
was
in relativ
ely
good health.
Sarra
was certain
beyond a shadow of a doubt
this was the most
comfortable mattress in all of England.
Oh, there were other things to be thankful for
.
B
ut th
o
se few
topped
the list.

With spirits lift
ed
,
Sarra
threw back the coverlet, hesitating a moment before placing her feet on the cold
,
stone floor.
The maid had yet to stoke the fire and the room had grown cold during the night.
Although spring was ending and summer was well on its way, the nights in the keep continued to remain cool.

After
shrugg
ing
into
a
wrinkled shift
and dressing gown
,
she
stoked the fire.
She used the water left
over from the night before to wash the sleep from
her
tired
eyes.
Bristling when the cold water touched
her
flushed
skin
, s
he dressed hurriedly, eager to start another day as Lord – no, Lady of the castle.

B
ound
ing
down the stairs in a childlike manner,
Sarra
surveyed the castle in her charge
.
A
t least
it remained so
for now.
A smile spread wide across her face at
all she saw.
The rushes along the floor were fresh and clean.
The s
mell
of fresh baked bread
emanating from the kitchen
caused her mouth to
salivate
. This was home.

Sarra
took a moment to reflect.
F
ather had passed two years ago
,
leaving no sons to replace him.
G
ladly
she had acc
e
p
ted the challenge of running the keep.
In the beginning
,
the
respect of those in her care
had not come easily
.

Proof of Sarra's abilities was
required
in every area.
The knights respected her only after seeing her ability with a blade
,
which admittedly was limited.
C
ook gave respect only after
he understood Sarra was
leaving him
in charge
of
the kitchen.
The parson ignored her
because of the issue of gender
.
As a woman, she held no sway in religious matters.
Since she took no time to change his mind in this area and
read
il
y accept
ed
his a
uthority
,
he
showed
respect
to her
in public
. From him, this was enough.

Each individual in the castle required a different or unique approach to convince him or her
Sarra
was capable of taking care of most situations, either on her own or with the help of others.
In the end, each person just wanted to know their place was secure, and she wouldn't attempt to usurp what little authority they had.

Of course, Sarra's
unassuming
ways had helped immensely.
She
'
d never been one to put on airs or to succumb to behaving better than the others.
Wearing
the
same
clothes
as
the villagers most days
,
she refrained
from adorning herself as royalty.
E
ach day
she woke early
, commanded the household as need be, and let those with more knowledge put it to use
. She worked alongside everyone in the keep
.
Everyone was on a
n
equal level.
They were family.

Taking over the castle, while not easy, had given her a purpose
.
It had been something
Sarra
desperately needed.
H
er father's sudden death had
dealt a crushing blow to
her
well
-
organized life.
But as she settled into
a
new routine, the precariousness of
her
position
came to light
.
She was in truth not the “heir” to the castle.
Since her father had no sons
,
the king could pick a new lord for the castle
at any time.
A
nd with
her
father dead
,
Sarra would be expected to marry this Lord with
no
say in the matter.

After the passing
,
Sarra
had
to inform the king
that
Father
was no longer around to show fealty to him.
But she
had
procrastinate
d
.
After several months passed and visitors and passer
s
by arrive
d
looking to visit with the
always indisposed
lord
,
Sarra
knew time
had grown
short.
Rather than
allow
the
secret
to
be discovered and thought to be a hidden plot of a nefarious nature, she
had
sent a letter with a trusted servant to the King.
Sarra
had an idea what response the King would inflict.
Her estimation had
been correct.

Now that
the King knew of her father's demise,
Sarra
would never be left alone as the new
lord
over the castle
.
B
ut she had a plan.
T
his plan
had been
carried out successfully
for
almost a year
,
and currently it
kept
all potential lords away from the castle
and the lady within
.
But how much longer
c
ould
it
work
?

Sighing to herself,
Sarra
continued on to the garden.
With Charism's help she
'
d been learning more about herbs
,
but not enough to use them alone without killing someone.
In truth
,
she knew just enough to make a few annoying people very, very sick.
Even without the healing knowledge of Charism,
a
servant and trusted friend, the garden brought solace when none was to be had.
Weed
pulling made the time she spent in the garden practical as well as comforting.
Sarra
discovered
she was quite adept at finding weeds.

But today
,
b
efore
Sarra
could
reach
the
sweet solitude
of the garden
,
she was waylaid by one of the castle's knights.

“Mistress, I have news.”

The knight
, Gavin,
shift
ed
from side-to-side
as he stood before her
.
The young man
was short with brown
,
beady eyes level with Sarra's own.
Currently his helm was pressed under
neath
his arm as he addressed her
with a frown
on
his brow.

Sarra waited.

T
he knight
didn't speak further but
continued to shift from side to side
in
obvious agitation
.
She was fast becoming exasperated with the
lad
,
but remained silent and pretended patien
ce
while waiting for Gavin to continue with his urgent news.
When he failed to
speak
,
Sarra
began to wonder if there was
an
unknown knightly code where the lady had to respond before a knight could continue with speech
.
V
ery well
,
she would comply
.

“Aye?”

At her voice
,
Gavin opened his mouth.

M
y Lady, Sir Henry requests your presence on the battlements.”

“Indeed.”
Sarra was
perplexed by the request
.
Of course, at various times during her twenty years of life, she
'
d
stolen
away and walked the battlements
secretly.
As the
Lord
of Greenbriar's daughter
,
she
was always
removed from the area for fear of danger and told never to return.
A
woman did not belong
in such places
.
But never in memory had she been “requested” to come to the area.

Again Gavin resumed
his fidgeting motion
,
making Sarra wonder if
the lad
had gotten into some itching potion belonging to Charism.
“Aye, my lady.
Sir Henry requires—that is requests
—
your presence.
It seems to be of some urgency.”

“Oh, very well.”
Gathering up
her skirts
,
Sarra
headed to the stairs leading to the small walkway around the castle walls.

As
Sarra
approached the top step
,
she spotted Sir Henry
staring fixedly
toward one of the distant hills beyond the wall.
Sarra
hesitated
to look
in
the direction
Sir Henry's
eyes indicated for fear of losing her footing on the stairs and plunging to an untimely death.

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