The golden limestone wall, so familiar, came into sight...and lying behind it was the Gisborne estate. Evelyn took in a deep breath, trying to undo the nervous knot that had formed in her belly. Pulling the reins, she brought her horse to a halt. She felt Simon's eyes upon her. He was examining her...probably wondering if she thought to bolt. For a moment, she closed her eyes.
God, give me strength, she silently prayed.
A sudden voice broke her thoughts. It came from somewhere high and near. Looking up and about, she saw a familiar figure at a distance, sitting atop the wall. Owen called out to her.
"Evie! Thank God. You return at last!" He jumped down from his perch. As he approached, Evelyn could see his stern expression. His tone was almost fatherly in its way...which was typical of him when he was concerned. Rather than expressing his worry for her, he was trying to play the dominant older brother.
Dear Owen, she thought. He has missed me. It gave her some comfort, but it did little to alleviate her tension.
"The entire household has been in turmoil," he declared. "Mama has sent me to watch for your arrival. I have been on this bloody wall half the day, waiting for you."
Simon, who had been quietly sitting by, leaned slightly forward. Evelyn watched the slight lift of his chin...and a strange thrill came over her at hearing him speak in his masterful way.
"Waste not a moment more, young Owen. Make haste, and tell them that we approach."
Evelyn watched Owen's expression as it softened into submission. If there was one thing that pleased him, it was being dutiful to his betters. Being a squire, he was eager to prove himself to those of higher rank, and he bowed in obedience. As he hurried away, Evelyn turned to look at Simon. He met her gaze, saying nothing. And yet, there was a telling gleam in his bright green eyes. He had guided her here. And now, she had to complete the journey on her own. Breathing deep, closing her eyes, she recited a phrase that was familiar to her...words she'd heard from Owen time and again. She spoke the words softly to herself, aloud.
"We must persevere to the end in any enterprise begun."
A moment of silence passed, followed by Simon's voice, giving her comfort.
"To live by the code is to live wisely, my lady."
She wished to reply. She longed to linger, if only to allow herself more time for preparation. But in her heart, she knew that to delay was to make her chore more difficult.
I will persevere in the enterprise, she said to herself. And determined to make good on her vow, she urged her horse forward, passing through the stone arch that led to the manor.
Simon rode at her side, and as they approached, they could see the members of the household hurrying from within. At the forefront was her mother, with Celeste and Thea both making attempts to slow her progression, for the sake her of her delicate condition.
The moment had come, and Evelyn prepared herself for it with a final deeply drawn breath. Simon dismounted beside her, coming to assist her. As he helped her down, she gave him a nervous smile. He had been so noble through all of this, and she wished so much to thank him. But there was little time for words of kindness. He had hardly set her to the ground before her mother was there, holding tightly to her.
"Evie! Oh, my darling!" Her hold was fierce, but Evelyn welcomed it...and she was not at all surprised to find herself suddenly grasped by the shoulders, pushed back slightly by her mother's hands. Cassia's words became scolding.
"Oh Evie, how could you be so foolish? Do you know what heartache you have caused me? I should punish you severely for scaring me so!"
For a moment, Evelyn feared it as a true threat...until she found herself in another close embrace. She felt her mother's kiss on her cheek.
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...