Evelyn felt a breathless sense of déjà vu. Only this sense of bewilderment was different. It was more potent than her meeting with Rene. She'd been dazzled by him, to be sure. He'd stolen her senses. But Simon...
She grappled for the words to describe what she now felt. When Simon's fingertips had touched hers, heat had spiraled up her arm. The warmth had spread through all of her limbs, and even now, as she stood within the circle of her family, her entire being seemed aflame.
Good Lord, she thought. What I would give at this moment for a cool breath of air.
Her thinking was muddled, but she tried to focus on the company around her...particularly Thea. Since the tourney, she had made her feelings about Simon abundantly clear. Evelyn heard her give a sigh of displeasure as she spoke, yet again, about her future brother-in-law.
"What a rotter you have been paired with, sister."
With her mind still awhirl, Evelyn could not decide on a reply. But her mother seemed quite taken with Simon. She had said so at the tourney, and she expressed her approval now, wearing a little smile.
"Oh Thea, how can you say such a thing? He is all that one could hope for in a match."
Thea scoffed. "He strides like the cock-o-the-walk. No doubt he sees in Evie a child bride, fit to be molded into a subservient creature who will follow his every command."
Owen, who stood between Guy and Thea, shrugged as he sipped a goblet of ale.
"For what other purpose does one acquire a wife?"
Evelyn saw her father crack a slight grin. Cassia sighed, though her expression remained light. But Thea, ever at odds with her brother, snorted in disgust.
"Owen, you were born a swine and grew only larger."
His expression grew serious. "A wife has no say in matters of finance or business. She cannot go to war, nor can she debate on political matters, so what purpose can she have except to serve her husband?"
Thea narrowed her eyes at him, her voice becoming cross. "God intended woman to be a helpmate...not a servant."
Owen, being slightly taller, leaned in as he spoke...using his height to pose his challenge. "And what a benefit she proved to be. Because of woman, mankind was banished from Eden."
"Temper, temper," Guy interrupted, his tone calm but firm. "This banter is amusing in its childishness, but I think our guests may find it distasteful in tone and subject."
Owen and Thea both apologized, though that did not keep them from exchanging looks of disdain. Guy departed, with Owen following, to join a discussion among a group of guests. Thea departed as well. She had managed to part briefly with Gabriel, leaving him in the hands of their old nurse, Claudia. No one else was to be trusted, and even she was not to be left with him for long.
Evelyn watched them go, noting that Simon and the Duke were among the men that her father and brother joined in conversation. Her gaze fixed on her betrothed for a moment, and instantly she felt her face grow warm. She drew closer to her mother...and Cassia instantly sensed her daughter's discomfort.
"Darling, what is it?"
Knowing that other ears were listening...even private conversations had a way of being heard among the nobility...Evelyn lowered her voice to a whisper.
"Simon troubles me, Mama."
Cassia smiled, speaking softly and gently. "Does he?"
Evelyn gave a little nod. She lowered her eyes. It felt shameful to be so cowardly, but she could not help her feelings. And she knew her mother would not scorn her for it.
YOU ARE READING
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...