Introduction

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Author's Note:

This is the edited version of this story. The unedited version, which contains adult content, can be accessed through my Gisborne page on my website. You can find it here...

http://www.fromthequilltip.blogspot.com/

Happy Reading!

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Marseilles, France

May, 1203

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The smell of the sea.

It was a pungent but invigorating scent...one that fired his nerves with anticipation. Leaning out of the carriage window, Sir Guy inhaled the ocean breeze deep into his lungs.

Home, he thought. I am home.

With eagerness he watched as they passed the village. Only a few miles more, and his journey from court would at last be done. A squire had ridden ahead to announce the arrival. All of the household would be assembled in greeting, and he could hardly wait to be there. He smiled to himself, impatient but joyful...until the carriage began to slow. When it stopped altogether, he called out in confusion...almost in anger.

"Why have we stopped?"

His driver answered. "A traveler beckons, my lord."

A traveler? he thought. What nonsense is this?

For a moment, he feared a disguised bandit might be upon them. It was not unheard of for thieves to act as beggars in need, only to steal all that a traveler possessed. Gripping the handle of his dagger, he peered out the window with a cautious eye...and his wary frown turned to a smile. This was no beggar. No thief. It was a dark-haired little figure, coming down the road as fast as she could. A moment later she leapt into the carriage, throwing her little arms around his neck. She squealed with joy.

"Papa, I missed you so!"

He winced at the force of her hold, which was strong for a girl of five. But his joy at seeing her, at feeling her loving enthusiasm, eclipsed the small discomfort.

"Evelyn Elizabeth Gisborne, what have you been doing during my absence? And what mischief is this, coming to meet me? You should be waiting for me at home, properly assembled with the rest of the household."

Her blue eyes lowered, her expression sheepish. "I am sorry, Papa. I lost my patience."

He smiled, kissing her forehead. "You are forgiven. Let us go home together." He tapped the roof to signal the driver. As they moved on, Evelyn chattered away, having all manner of things to tell him about, particularly her siblings. But in her clever way, she inquired first, rather than making a bold report.

"Do you wish to know what they've been doing?"

He could not help but be amused. Though she was very young, she was aware that he disapproved of gossip, even the innocent telling that went on among youngsters. But being a child, she found it difficult to hold her tongue. He nodded, giving her silent permission to speak.

"Thea and Owen have quarreled all the time. Mama has punished them, but they soon begin again."

"What of William? Is he ailing still?"

"He is much better, Papa."

"And your mother...how does she fare?"

"She has been very sad. She misses you terribly."

He sighed, but smiled. "Well we shall remedy that soon enough."

At last they came upon the drive. Seeing it, Guy had the urge to mimic his daughter...to go rushing ahead without thought for appearances. But as the lord of the manor, he knew he needed to maintain an air of control. Though it was a difficult role to play, he managed to do it, remaining in his seat until the carriage slowed. When at last it came to a stop, he could be still no longer. Stepping out, reaching in to lift Evelyn, he carried her with him as he came forward to greet everyone. But before he could speak a word, eight-year old Thea came rushing forward. As she marched with an angry stride, her black curls bounced. Her bottom lip protruded in a furious pout.

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