Chapter 16

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Evelyn jumped, startled by the sound of her father's fist slamming the table. He stood up. As he took to stalking back and forth, he fumed in a foreign tongue.

"Dio Dannazione!a me perché provengono questi problemi?Per quale motivo? Sto maledetto a soffrire per il resto dei miei giorni? Fottuto inferno! Se trovo che bastardo io personalmente romperà suo collo!"

Evelyn heard Simon's hushed question, spoken with a curious...almost an amused note, as he inclined his head to her. "I see Rome has influenced your father's speech."

She sighed, a despondent sound. "He rarely speaks the language. He talks so when he is particularly upset. When we were children, he spoke in such a way as to shelter our ears from unfit language. But clearly, some words cannot be disguised."

Her understanding of Italian was not very adept, but there was little need for translation. Anger was anger, in any language.

She and Simon had returned to the hall in a quiet manner, giving the pretense of a few stolen moments together. After the evening's entertainment was done, Simon had approached Guy and quietly requested an audience with only family members present. With a curious light in his eye, Guy had dismissed the servants and performers, as well as the members of his garrison who were ever present. The family had gathered together, listening as Simon broke the news.

Now Guy was in a rage. From what little Evelyn could understand, her father had a desire to see Rene's neck broken. She looked to Simon, who sat beside her. He seemed to be deep in thought, perhaps forming his own plan.

So much for a planned holiday, she thought, lamenting the next few days she had hoped to spend happily with Simon. Now, here they were, wrapped in yet another web of trouble.

As Guy walked the floor in anger, his fingers furiously rubbing his temples, Owen spoke up. His brow was furrowed, his mouth set in a serious and stern line.

"There should be no debate on the matter. The woman must be returned to the convent at once."

Thea, ever at odds with whatever Owen had to say, gave her own opinion.

 "Baroness LaCroix has been our friend and neighbor for many years. I think we should consider her circumstances before we make a hasty decision."

"She shamed her husband," said Owen, his eyes cast on Thea with a harsh light. "She dishonored her class and herself by committing adultery, and then she escaped from her confinement. Why should we harbor such an indecent woman in our house? We might all be excommunicated...possibly even imprisoned for lodging a convict."

The voice of their mother, always the calm in the center of a storm, was soothing to Evelyn's ear. Cassia spoke in her strong but steady way.

"No matter what she has done, it is not our place to judge her. God will see to that one day. For the moment, I agree with Thea. I believe we should consider being of aid to a woman we have all known as a friend."

Guy stopped in his march, coming to stand at the front end of the dining table. He crossed his arms. His tone was calmer now...his words spoken in English...but his anger had not diminished.

"I am the master of the house, and I say that Owen is correct. Why should we harbor her? She knew the consequences of her actions...the punishment they would bring if discovered. Why should we be of aid to her? Such indulgence may lead to our own ruin."

"Sir Guy, if I may say..." Simon stood, his presence taking command of the room. He spoke in a commanding voice. "I think perhaps you should meet with the baroness before making a decision to remove her from your house."

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