Chapter 18, Part One

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Poetry in motion.

Evelyn could not think of another way to describe her husband-to-be.

She sat in the family box, along with Thea and Isabella, watching the soldiers at practice. After breakfast, they had coaxed Isabella from her room, urging her to come out and enjoy the sunshine. She had, at first, refused. It would not do, she said, to be seen in their company in her physical state. Both sisters had declared such a statement to be nonsense. If she was concerned about her bruises, they could be easily be disguised by a head scarf. After much persuasion, she had reluctantly joined them on a stroll through the garden and across the grounds. Eventually they all found their way to the fields where the soldiers were training. Evelyn took to the viewing box, and the other ladies soon followed. Isabella sat quietly, lowering her eyes occasionally and having small interest in the men. But Evelyn and Thea watched their mates with great delight.

She marveled at how splendidly Simon moved, with power and confidence. It was thrilling to watch his muscular figure in motion, moving with animal-like power as he charged his opponent. It was incredible to think that this man before her, who wielded his broadsword with such strength and ferocity, was the same man who could overwhelm her with his gentleness and passion. She sighed, a pleasurable sound...heard by Thea, who gave her a knowing smile.

“You openly admire your fiancé,” she said. “Who would have thought you would be so taken with him?”

Evelyn shrugged, a careless gesture. “Time changes many things, you know.” 

“And some things,” said Thea, “Remain the same, no matter the passage of time.” She has turned to attention back to the field, and Evelyn wondered what her sister’s eye was fixed on. She asked, curiously, “Do you speak of something particular?”

Thea’s amused tone took on a familiar sound of dislike. “Owen,” she replied. She gestured her chin towards their brother, who stood waiting to rush in Lucien require him. “Look at him, how he frowns so. I do believe he is incapable of being pleasant. And today he seems darker than usual, which is a difficult task to accomplish.”

Looking at Owen, she could see what Thea meant. Some of the men were taking a rest now. Owen stood to the side, drinking water from a gourd. Occasionally, he raised his eyes to where the ladies were sitting. What was there to cause so sour and expression?

And then it dawned on her. She recalled the scene of yesterday morning, between Owen and their mother...about Isabella. He had made his feelings clear about her. Now he was bitter because he was being forced to accept her in their household. And it seemed that, if he could not be rid of her, he would make her feel as unwelcome as possible by way of his hateful demeanor. His motives had their desired effect, Evelyn realized, when Isabella suddenly rose to her feet.

“Forgive me, Lady Evelyn...Lady Theodora. But I must return to the house.”

Evelyn attempted to sway her. “Isabella, please stay. Do not let our brother concern you.”

“Quite right,” said Thea. “Owen is a boar and a cur.”

Isabella tried to smile, but it was a sad expression. “I am tired,” she said. “I think I shall lie down for a time.”

She turned away, heading for the house...and Thea huffed in anger. She came to her feet, stepping down from the box. Evelyn watched her with a curious eye, seeing the familiar set of her sister’s shoulders.

“Where are you going?” she asked.

Thea replied, most firmly. “I will speak to Mama. Isabella is no innocent, ‘tis true. But she has endured enough cruelty.”

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