With his arms crossed, René stood by the window. By the light of a candle, he surveyed his domain...and he wondered if a man could be more fortunate than he.
A few noble couples were given their own quarters, but all others shared space.
He was the exception.
Sir Guy had given him a guest chamber of his own, and as he looked around at his fine accommodations, he was reminded of a time when such a space would have truly belonged to him.
He shook his head, dislodging old memories. If there was something to dwell on, the present was a much more agreeable matter. A little smile came to his lips.
If there was truly safety in numbers, there was no better place to be than here. In a few days, he would be forgotten by those wishing to see his neck stretched. And now, by some odd stroke of fortune, his identity was that of a hero...not a brigand. Attention would be lavished upon him. Already he resided in an opulent apartment. Other rewards were sure to follow. Fame. Perhaps a bit of fortune. Certainly companionship of the female kind. Isabella was already waiting at the head of the queue with her amorous intentions barely in check.
Isabella was a favorite of his, and she would have his attention when the time was right. But there were others more deserving of his time and devotion.
Sweet, feisty little Evelyn. He could not recall the last time he'd met someone like her. The corner of his mouth twitched in amusement as he recalled her stubborn stance. He had to admire her courage. She wanted to be more than she was. More than a green little maiden...one who feared for her virtue. But such fear was quite unfounded.
She had a father, two brothers, and a very large brother-in-law. René was no fool. He knew that if he was stupid enough to accost her, those men would surely make a hen out of a rooster. He shuddered at the thought of it.
But seduction was not his intention. Nor had it ever been...not with one so young. But perhaps, for the short time they would know one another, they could be companions. He'd never had a female friend that wasn't a lover, but there was something enticing about having a pretty little lady as his companion. The other ladies would so envy her, and he would delight in teasing them all by focusing his attention solely on her.
Gleefully he rubbed his hands together. His sojourn here was going to be very merry indeed. And when it was time to depart, he would do so with few regrets. One door might close, but another would open. Such was life. From somewhere in his memory came words of wisdom, though he could not recall where he'd heard them.
To regret is to hang oneself with his own noose.
He chuckled at those words. He'd escaped many a noose in his life, and he didn't intend that to change now.
The household broke fast over a leisurely meal of bouillabaisse, roasted mutton, white bread and ale. Most of the guests were sleepy-eyed from the night before, but René felt energetic...and his attention was drawn not to the meal, nor to the woman at his side, but to Evelyn, who sat only a few spaces down from him.
He and Isabella had been given a place of honor near the head of the table, where they would be close to Sir Guy and his family. When the Gisbornes and Sir Lucien made their entrance, René at once looked for Evelyn...and was stunned by the sight of her.
Maybe it was the color of her dress...a deep shade of burgundy that seemed quite regal. Perhaps it was the upsweep of her hair, pinned into a neat chignon of shining black curls. Or it might have been the way she carried herself with such an air of pride and determination...as if she intended to prove something to him or herself. Whatever the reason, she had a more womanly character about her this morning...and it was very pleasing.
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My Lady Gisborne - A Love Story (The Gisbornes, Book 2)Historical Fiction
*Set in Medieval France, from 1203 onward. This is the second in the Gisborne series, and a sequel to "The Tempest." * Lady Evelyn Gisborne desires to be a proper young noblewoman. But independence runs strong in her blood. She is torn between the d...