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by Belladonna Bordeaux
Category: Erotica/Paranormal Erotica
Description: He saved her life, but can she accept what he is? Born Agnes of Berwick, beautiful young Nessa has experienced all the horrors of war. She's alone and nearly destitute when William the Conqueror orders the harrying of the North. The massacre of her people and the razing of her land lies in her future, until she meets a Norman knight who stirs her passion and rescues her from the living nightmare closing in on Berwick. Infected with were-blood two score and ten years ago, Sir Guy FitzHugh never expected to find his life-mate living in a drafty tower or standing proudly against his order to escort her to court, as his immortal enemy encroached on her land. His hands itched to touch her. An edict from the king will wed them. Their passion blazes but as he teaches her to relinquish control to him in bed, something far more dangerous looms on the horizon.
eBook Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press, 2012
eBookwise Release Date: April 2012
2 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [126 KB]
Reading time: 73-103 min.
Unlikely Friends and Allies
Outside Durham, Northumbria Englan
February 4th, 1069
"It appears William's message has been burnt not only into the ground, but the minds of Durham's people," Thomas de Burgh muttered.
"Aye," Guy FitzHugh agreed. Glancing at the knight riding beside him, Thomas' cowl pulled low to protect his face from the sun, Guy sighed. He steered his gaze to the carnage. A foul taste filled his mouth. Naught was left whole. "This stinks of Montgomerie's handiwork."
"Guy, be careful what you say."
Thomas' whisper was barely audible above the steady plodding of his horse's hooves and the clank of armor.
"Montgomerie has the King's ear, and none, not you or me, are safe from his influence over His Majesty."
"I'm aware, Thomas." Guy steered his horse around the rotting corpse of a goat left in the road. Overhead, crows cawed as they waited to return to their scavenging.
Out of his peripheral vision, Guy spied the bloated body of a woman who'd obviously found herself trapped in the melee. Quelling the urge to sign the cross, Guy gripped the reins hard. Pinpricks of pain shot across his chainmail-covered fingers. Bile rose in his throat, and 'twasn't due to the destruction of Durham but the memory of Montgomerie's bride, Mabil of Belesme, chomping down on his neck and changing his life forever.
A low growl rumbled in his chest. Hate flowed through his veins for the woman. What I wouldn't do...
You'd do well to let off yesteryear, Thomas counseled silently.
The vampire's voice sounded in Guy's head.
Naught good comes from revenge, loup garou. One day, Mabil of Belesme will pay for her crimes and serve heavy penance in Hell.
You should talk. Is it not you who has a heart full of vengeance for Roger de Montgomerie?
Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord.
So says a priest bitten by a vampire.
Many would call them unlikely friends and never allies. A werewolf and a vampire; the stuff of folktales meant to keep children in their beds rode side-by-side for coin and companionship.
Their common connection to one family had brought them together after Guy's infection nigh on fifty years ago. Thomas had found Guy where Mabil of Belesme ordered his mutilated body dumped outside the castle walls. He'd harbored the newly-altered loup garou in his cave and treated his wounds as best he could. There was naught the former priest could do to change the truth. Guy was a werewolf. He'd suffer the exquisite pain of his shift upon the full moon.
Forever, he'd turn into hideousness.
Which, in Thomas' opinion, was true for both of them.
They were that from which true nightmares were wrought.
Though, with Thomas' firm guidance, Guy had learned to control aspects of the beastly infection. Nay longer did he kill without conscience during the full moon's glow. He had learned to control his shift to a certain degree. The guilt that had plagued him for the first decade of his 'new' life no longer beat him like the Devil did his internees.
You are thinking awfully hard, my friend.
I know, leave off yesteryear. Guy sucked in a sharp breath and released it slowly. As much as he hated to admit it, Thomas was right. Eventually, both Roger de Montgomerie and Mabil of Belesme would get their just due. A comeuppance Guy prayed he'd witness firsthand.
"What think you of our duty?" A smirk hung in Thomas' tone.
Guy's chuckle was ripe with sarcasm. "Collect Agnes of Berwick?" He shook his helmed head. "We should always be put to such trying duties for the King."
"The few earls who've survived from the old kingdom say she is a rare beauty."
If the rumors from court were to be believed then rare was an understatement when it came to Lady Agnes. "The Saxons say all their women are rare beauties, Thomas. I have seen nay such evidence of their exquisiteness." Nay, all I've seen is harping women who demand their men hand them their balls on a trencher.
"Tsk. Tsk." Thomas clucked his tongue. "Cynicism doesn't become you."
Bristling at the laughter in his friend and mentor's voice, Guy sent a sideways glare to Thomas. Irritated that the man kept his eyes on the road, Guy didn't know what to make of a woman who'd avoided the inevitable for nigh on two winters. "She is a woman. Nay more. Nay less." Guy gritted his teeth. "She will do as she is told."
"Really? And that is the reason all the others sent before us have failed to bring the lady to heel and deliver her to William's court?" Thomas laughed. "I think she is made of stronger stuff than you give her credit for."
"With this," Guy waved his hand at the scene, "surrounding her and Roger de Montgomerie's forces encroaching on Berwick, you think she'd prefer to stay in Northumbria?" Shaking his head, Guy narrowed his eyes on the curl of smoke rising on the horizon. His heart beat a hard thump in his chest. The razing of Durham continues. "Methinks she will run to us and beg for safe passage to Hell if 'twould save her from Montgomerie."
"Let us pray you are right," Thomas said, sobering. "The good Lord only knows what Roger will do to her should he discover her hiding place first."
Recollections of his time in the company of Roger and Mabil shook through Guy. The memories of blood feasts and harems filled with unwilling concubines rose to remind Guy of Roger's power.
The man was the Devil's disciple. His wife was Satan's whore.
Roger's mistreatment of common folk and the few nobles he'd managed to gather in his clutches was almost as renowned as his wife's debauchery. But only amongst their tenant farmers and the unlucky souls the unholy duo had captured.
They were ruthlessly secretive. Roger's vampiric power informing him of aught who'd betray him to France's King or England's new ruler.
An inherent protective instinct flooded Guy. The smoke began to billow with the pungent scent of death.
"Then let us be about our duty." Lifting his arm in the air, he waited for his men to rein in. He slashed his hand downward. Guy kicked his horse into a run. The contingent of eight men in his entourage and Thomas followed suit.
The clank of armor echoed across the scourged earth. "To Berwick and a reluctant lady," he whispered under his breath. A jolt of pain shot down his shoulder as his mind conjured up an image of Mabil clamping her teeth on him. Her malicious laughter rang in his head. "God's bones, let us not be too late."
The shout from the Captain of the Guard brought Lady Nessa of Berwickshire upon Tweed around. A small smile lit across her features.
"Thanks be to God. My uncle has answered our call for help." She wanted to cry with joy. Finally. For the first time in days, she drew a full breath.
"Nay, milady." Reginald shook his head. "They approach from the south. 'Tis not the reinforcements we'd hoped for. 'Tis the bloody Normans."
As fast as her joy had come 'twas dashed upon the rocks. Tears of exhaustion stung at the corners of her eyes. The thought of her beloved home being overtaken and the few stores they had left being ransacked by the greedy Normans nearly doubled her over. "Hush, Alfread," Nessa said. If only my uncle had responded to my call for assistance.
She hurried from her place at the high table to stand before him.
He immediately bowed.
"You are certain?" Her heart pounded and gooseflesh rose on her arms. Laying her hand on his mail-clad shoulder, she silently implored him to tell her the truth.
A truth that would spell an end to Berwickshire upon Tweed as she knew it.
For two years she'd managed to dodge the Norman dogs who'd conquered the South. Granted, she'd held her father's land in accordance with the settlement that had kept Northumbria partially free as was her sire's dying wish. But her men, like her armory, were taxed to their limit from the constant raids by the rebels. Her food stores depleted as the village took in many of the destitute from the surrounding areas. We cannot bear more.
She knew deep in her soul that her time was at its end.
She could hold the land nay longer.
Rubbing her tear-aching eyes, she sighed. I tried.
Aye. And, I failed.
The mere idea of standing before King William and pledging fealty to him made her stomach pitch and roil. Her heart screamed nay. Her head told her to cry defeat with grace. To finally end the long battle for her beloved village and rescue what was left of her father's legacy. "Alfread, please. Tell me true."
"They ride beneath the bastard's banner," Alfread commented gravely.
"How many?" Nibbling on her lower lip, she stared at her loyal man while more tears gathered in her eyes. Her gaze flew to the narrow arrow slit. Beyond the wall created by trees lashed together she pictured the village.
"Ten, milady." Alfread bowed his head. "The larger contingent continues to raze the land outside Durham. The dogs are still slaughtering all in their path."
He laid his hand on her shoulder with a familiarity he should never give to her.
"I'm sorry, milady."
Part of her, a big part of her, ordered her to fight to her last breath, that death by the sword was better than being raped then killed by the filthy invaders. Cool logic warned her that the only way to save her people was surrender.
But they are slaughtering all in their path.
What would Papa do?
She didn't have a guess how her sire would approach this situation.
The mere thought of how he'd governed the village for a score of years and more brought the truth home. He'd known when to bow to the winds of change.
I've waited too long. Guilt swallowed her whole. "What do you suggest?"
"We run, milady." His hand slid from her shoulder to grip her fingers gently. "Through the kitchen doors, and then we make our way with all haste to the Scots' land."
"Go into exile," she muttered. The option held nay merit. Like my coward of a husband. Ripping her thoughts back to the present and the danger at hand, she sighed. "Open the doors to the leader only when they arrive on the drawbridge."
"Do as you are told." The thought of dying after being violated made her all the more ill. The notion of running like a scared rabbit nearly undid her. Think of your people. "I will speak to the leader here." Waving at the Great Hall, she felt her blood pressure rise. "That will give those who wish to...run...time to do so."
"As you wish, milady." Alfread bowed and turned on the heel of his boot. He glanced over his shoulder at her. "It has been my honor to serve you, Lady Agnes of Berwickshire upon Tweed."
"Don't put me in a grave yet, Alfread." She'd meant to tease her Captain of the Guard, but her words shivered. "Mayhaps I can negotiate a proper surrender with this knight." Instinctively, her hand dropped to her eating dagger tucked into its sheath suspended from her braided belt.
He cocked an eyebrow at her boast. "Mayhaps," he allowed.
"And, Alfread, thank you for your years of service to me and my sire before me."
"Milady," he said tightly on a small bow.
She watched him stride away. Spinning around, she gathered a handful of her kirtle in her grip and raced for the kitchens. "Margaret," she began but couldn't find the words to tell her friend and surrogate mother to flee for her life. "A small repast and wine for our--guest." Her throat worked. "Once you've put together a tray, I order you to go North." There, I've said it.
"Milady, I will not leave you." Margaret shook her head. "My place is here as it has always been."
"Do not argue with me." Plucking a jug of sweet wine from the shelf, Nessa grabbed two pewter cups next. "I couldn't live with myself if aught happened to you."
"I made a solemn promise to Lord Aethlefird that I would stay with you until death takes me from this earth. My conscience allows for nay less than I keep my pledge to the old Lord."
Margaret's faded blue eyes met Nessa's gaze and locked.
"Don't order me to sin, milady."
Missing her sire more and more each day, desiring not only his sweet fatherly hugs and kind heart but his steadying counsel, Nessa nodded. Too terrified to verbally spar with the woman, she closed her eyes and sent a quick, silent prayer to God almighty for a miracle. Her eyelids lifted to the haggard elder. "Fine."
She wanted to sob. Please, God, help me.
Setting the jug and goblets on the top of the work table, Nessa fought for control of her teeming and seething emotions. She propped her weight on a straight arm and drank in deep gulps of air. Please, God, have mercy on me and my people.
Even as her stomach rumbled with hunger and she grew faint, she straightened her spine. She returned the jug and goblets to her arms then carried them to the Great Hall, such as it was. The quickly erected motte-and-bailey style castle was pathetic protection from the ten men quickly approaching Berwickshire upon Tweed let alone the seven hundred razing the land south of hers.
"Milady Agnes, Sir Guy FitzHugh, leader of the contingent from the court of His Majesty, William," Alfread announced from the great doors.
Forcing her feet to move, Nessa waited for Sir Guy to bow. She raised her hand after he'd genuflected. "Sir FitzHugh." She acknowledged his presence with only a hint of worry tinging her greeting. "Welcome to Berwickshire upon Tweed."
"Milady," he said and kissed the back of her hand. "Thank you for your warm welcome. 'Twas not what I expected."
What did you expect? Quelling the urge to jerk her fingers from his grasp, she gasped as tiny jolts raced up her arm to tingle in her chest. "Your English is very good, Sir Guy."
"Thank you, milady."
A small smile lifted the corners of his lips. He rose to his impressive height and released her fingers.
"I've spent a great deal of time studying your language."
"That's a good thing for I speak naught a word of French," she informed him. "If you would." Rather than ponder the handsome man with his incredibly intoxicating accent, she strode for the high table. "I've had a small repast prepared for you."
"Thank you, but nay," Sir Guy responded. He followed after her, his spurs clinking against the rough-hewn wood floor. "Milady, I come on the King's business."
"I suspected as much." What would Papa do? What would he say? She nodded to Margaret who'd set a trencher of crusty black bread, yellow cheese and apples on the table. Get right to the point. "I..."
"If I might speak to the Lord of the castle," he interrupted.
'Twas the worst thing he could say to her. Lifting her chin in a haughty effect, belying her anger at her cowardly husband, she sniffed daintily. "My father is dead, and my husband fled. You will have to converse with me, Sir Guy."
A frown skittered across his brow. "I see."
"Do you?" Keeping her bravado in place by sheer force of will, she skimmed her fingertips along the table's lip. "Tell me, what do you see?"
Sir Guy took her in. His inspection started at the top of her veil-shrouded head and didn't cease until he'd reached the hem of her kirtle. His gaze reversed direction.
Of all the impertinent behavior. She returned the favor. Her steady stare began with the chiseled planes of his face, and then took in the breadth of his shoulders. Unable to go further, her gently bred sensibilities coming to the fore, she snapped her gaze back to his face. Her pulse throbbed in her ears as a new, decadent emotion seeped over her. "Tell me, kind sir, what do you see?" she reiterated.
He didn't answer. "His Highness, King William, requests you appear at court." Sir Guy's smile disintegrated. "I am to escort you there without delay."
"As you have surely passed the contingent currently laying Durham to waste, Sir Guy, you can see why I must humbly reject the King's gracious offer."
"'Tis not an offer, milady. 'Tis an order."
"Still, I cannot leave Berwickshire upon Tweed in such a precarious situation. Someone must remain behind and rally my troops should the carnage reach our doorstep."
"Milady, the carnage is most assuredly coming to your doorstep," Sir Guy announced. "Robert de Montgomerie has been ordered to lay all of Northumbria to waste for the massacre of Earl Robert of Clamone and his forces."
"I had heard news that something despicable had occurred in Durham. I just didn't know how terrible it had been," she lied. The news of the bloodbath had filtered into the keep not long after the battle was won by the Saxon rebels.
She'd condemned the rebels' actions and the massacre as a whole, but that carried little weight with the freedom fighters. All they recognized was William had gone against his promise to leave Northumbria alone. Even if he hadn't, the rebellion had stewed across the breadth and width of Northumbria since the deal was struck with the old earls. 'Twas unlikely the Saxon villagers would tolerate a foreign sovereign King for long.
"I've heard tell that your father was a loyal and honest man."
"Aye," she muttered. Rejecting her heart's desire to sit and have a good cry, she nodded. "He was."
"Lies do not become you, milady." He glared at her. "'Tis general knowledge you condemned the attack."
"Forgive me, Sir Guy." She swallowed against the knot of emotion clogging her breath. "Wouldn't that serve us best then? Montgomerie would surely pass through with little incident if he knows I despised the massacre."
"His bloodlust has no end." Guy exhaled. "Milady, you can't stay here. Montgomerie will destroy this..." his gaze swept over the inside of the hall, "...tower with little effort."
She was well aware the keep was barely lashed together. What was I supposed to do? I'm nay architect. "Aye, and he'll kill all who dare cross his path. What would you have of me? That I abandon the good people of Berwickshire upon Tweed? The same people who have followed the agreement set forth by King William and pledged by the Bishop of Durham and Earl of Northumbria." She shook. "I am to abandon them?"
"Aye, milady. That is exactly what you will do." He took an intimidating step forward.
She held her ground. "I refuse," she whispered. Grasping the last of her bravado with both hands, she met his gaze. "If William wishes me to come to court then he can have his good knights protect this keep or save Berwick from the murderous horde encroaching on this land."
His frustration was palpable. "'Tis not that simple."
She winced when he raised his hand. He lowered his arm. Closing her eyes for the briefest of moments, she returned her stare to his face but did not meet his eyes. Her heart thundered when he strode closer. Licking her suddenly dry lips, she took a deep, steeling breath. "Aye, 'tis."
A sigh, ripe with frustration wafted her hair. "I will do all I can to protect your land." He fisted his hands at his sides. "Be aware, milady, if the battle is lost we will all die."
"You are one of the King's men."
"Aye, but Robert de Montgomerie is in the King's favor. If he should happen to strike down one of William's knights he can always lay blame at the rebellion's feet."
"Oh," she said because she couldn't think of aught better to say.
"Aye, milady--oh." Sarcasm dripped from his simple sentence.
"How long do you think before Lord Montgomerie reaches us?"
"Three days at most, milady."
"If you would but give me a moment to consult my Captain of the Guard," she muttered. There is naught I can do.
He didn't say a word, but bowed and took a step back. "Milady, 'tis in the best interest of your 'good people' that they race as fast and as far from here as possible before they do find themselves caught up in the melee."
"Thank you for your counsel, Sir Guy." She'd barely made it two paces before the stress overcame her. She reached for an anchor, and her fingers connected with a chainmail-covered hand. All she recalled was a swirling black mist entering her field of vision, and then strong arms catching her as her legs gave way.
"Allow my men inside," Guy commanded. He hoisted Lady Agnes into his arms. "They cannot protect you if they are outside the pikewall nor can I have my friend treat her."
"Open the gates for Sir Guy's men," a man he assumed was the Captain of the Guard called. "Hurry. Hurry. Be about it."
"Lay her down in here," a kindly looking elderly woman told him. "She's had a go of it, she has."
Guy followed the woman to a small shed attached to the back of the wooden tower. "This is your room?" he asked. 'Twas the humblest of quarters he'd ever seen. Even his quarters back at court had more amenities. This room held a distinct draft, with cold air seeping in through the rough-hewn planks, and was furnished with naught more than a cot and a washstand. Even those appeared less than comfortable. He'd prefer to sleep on the ground first.
"Nay, 'tis Milady's room. She is nay architect," the woman responded. "We flung this sad excuse for a tower together for her, but the construction--" She shrugged. "It leaves a lot to be desired."
"Don't fear, ma'am." Guy laid Lady Agnes on the cot. Removing his gloves, he felt her forehead. Praise be to God. He didn't detect a fever. Still, Lady Agnes appeared close to death.
"Margaret." She bobbed a curtsey. "I'm cook to milady and the few warriors who've remained loyal to Berwickshire upon Tweed. When her sweet mother passed into God's hands I was her wet nurse, and then took care of her as Lord Aethelfrid conducted business for the land." Margaret pressed her fist to her lips. "She's like my own daughter."
"Calm thyself." Noting a short stool slid beneath the cot, Guy kicked the seat from its place. "What of her household?" Planting his arse on the seat, he settled his hand on Lady Agnes' chest. A steady heartbeat assuaged his fears more.
"They ran away quite some time ago, sir. Went with her good-for-naught husband across the Sea of Brittany to France." She spit on the floor. "I curse the lot of them for leaving milady to this horror."
"Margaret, shh." The last thing they needed would be for one of the few loyal people to Lady Agnes to be accused of dabbling in the black arts. "Bring me a draft and see my friend, Sir Thomas, is brought here as soon as he arrives."
"Sir, I cannot leave you alone with her. The commoners already talk of how she tainted her husband with an affliction that left him a coward."
Guy severely doubted Lady Agnes' husband's cowardice had aught to do with her. Once born weak of spine, ye be destined for the church or to die weak of spine. Save where Thomas was concerned. "Call to him. He'll hear you."
"As you wish, Sir Guy," Margaret mumbled.
He listened to the cook shout Thomas' name as he waited for Lady Agnes to come out of her swoon. "Come forth, milady." Beneath his hand he sensed her disparagement. Personally, he couldn't blame her.
"By Gor," Margaret whispered.
"Thomas, she's fainted."
"Aye, I can see that, Guy," Thomas reported. "We best hurry. The forward men in Robert's troop are in sight of the village proper." He knelt beside the cot. With his normal fluency, he checked Agnes for a pulse, and then went into the satchel of medicinal herbs he carried with him wherever he went. "I daresay that we've quite nearly run out of time. 'Twill take the scouts a day to return to Robert and report, but if they discover this new tower, there will be Hell to pay and the people of Berwickshire upon Tweed will be serving penance. Montgomerie will beat a fast path for this village."
"Tell me aught I don't already know." Guy shoved his helm from his head and caught it before it crashed against the ground. Pulling the chainmail coif away, he stared at Agnes. The rumors of her beauty were understated--drastically.
She wasn't just a rare creature, oh no, she was exquisite. Petite in stature, she carried herself with all the grace of Queen Mathilda. Her long dark hair fanned out across the pillow in wild disarray. Her pixie features caught in a moment of peaceful slumber. "Can you wake her?" A gust of winter wind rattled against the clapboard walls of the room. Removing his mantel from around his shoulders, Guy covered her with the ermine-lined cloak.
"She is malnourished. The lady should weigh a full stone more." Thomas checked her eyes and then moved to listen to her heart. "The lack of wholesome foods has taken a toll on her body."
"This season has not been easy on her. Raiders from across the border and rebels keep pilfering from our stores, sir," Margaret informed them.
"You didn't think to protect your layaway foods?" Guy couldn't help sounding incensed, he was. "What were you thinking, woman?"
"She ordered us to eat first. We've been on half rations since the massacre, but the thieves--they find ways of getting into the pantry stuffs."
Thomas sent him a sharp glare. From underneath his cowl and behind the sheer cloth shroud he wore to protect his skin from the sun, Guy watched him frown.
"I take care of what is mine," Guy charged in return.
"Are you insinuating she is..." Is she your lifemate?
"Aye." Propping his fisted hands on his hips, Guy waited for the news to sink into the stunned dumb Thomas. He didn't have to wait long. Thomas rose to his full height.
"She is mine," Guy admitted frankly. Her lush scent of roses and womanhood teased his nostrils and hardened his cock.
"My God, this is foolishness," Thomas said on a gasp. He began speaking German, the language of Thomas' birth country, as was his want whenever he needed to reprimand the much younger loup garou. "She is not of your station, Guy Fitz Hugh. The King will never permit such a union."
"You need not remind me that I am a mere knight, Thomas." Having received his spurs after the Battle of Hastings, Guy was at a disadvantage in accordance to the new laws of chivalry. The other aspect that had always put him under suspicion by not only his sovereign lord and master but other knights at court was he'd been baseborn in England.
His loyalty to William was above reproach.
There was naught he could do about his illegitimate birth or the country he'd come from.
"Aye, a knight who howls at the full moon." Thomas snorted in disdain.
Reaching above his station was one thing. He had coin and was in good favor with the King. Not as good as Montgomerie, but he could persuade William to his side and allow him to marry Agnes given time.
Being a loup garou was a completely different issue. Parts of his life he could keep secret from Agnes, such as shifting when the full moon rose by staying away from their home. 'Twas the same way he'd keep his secret love of raw, preferably fresh killed, meat. He couldn't hide that he didn't age.
"Mayhaps you are mistaken," Thomas muttered.
"Nay," Guy retorted hotly. "Every instinct I hold dear is shouting at me to protect her." Also to fuck her, but admitting the wanton, primal desire flowing through his system wouldn't convince the once pinnacle of piety, Thomas, to accept Agnes as his lifemate. "Will you stand with me?"
"I have little choice," Thomas finally agreed. "Step cautiously, Guy. I have a bad feeling about this."
"I don't like it much, but I will not reject my instincts."
"Aye, but you don't want to lose your head to the executioner's axe over a woman either." Thomas waved at the drafty wall. "You see his desire to bring all his subjects to heel. Don't think for one moment you are above incurring the King's wrath or reaping the full measure of his heavy-handed punishments."
Guy had already concluded he was about to make the first move in a very dangerous game. A proverbial chess match that would pit him against a King willing to do anything to bring stability to his conquered lands.
The inherent instinct to conquer Agnes reared its ugly head. To have her beneath him--moaning. To own her body and soul.
A growl rumbled in his chest.
Raking his hand through his hair, Guy ground his teeth together until a muscle twitched in his jaw. "We will make this work."
Thomas chuckled humorlessly. "Let us also pray God is in a giving mood once we reach court for we shall need more than a miracle to see you through this tangle."
"Aye, but before that we must avoid Montgomerie's troops and see Lady Agnes safely to London."