AVESTINE HAD FALLEN asleep at her table and awoke with a start. She raised her head and pain shot down her back. She rubbed her neck. She was alone. She heard nothing, not even the crackle of the fire in the center of the room. It was smoldering. The maid’s door was closed, and the half-dozen candles on the wall were stubs.
She rose to go to her bed when she heard again the noise that had awakened her. It had not been a dream. It had been a shout in her mind.
She threw on her robe and tossed her belt and scabbard over her shoulder. She raced out the door, and a guard followed as she wound through the corridor to the staff residences. The guards at Gerard’s door greeted her. One took the lead and opened the door, preceding her into the room.
“All of you out,” she told the guards. She pulled the door shut quickly and spun around. The room was nearly black, the fire long since extinguished and only two candles flickering.
She took the one from the wall near the door and walked to the bed. On the edge sat Gerard. He was staring at his lap, and Wald lay curled up on the bed behind him. Gerard looked up just as Rook entered the room.
“No guards!” snapped Avestine.
Rook slammed the door shut.
Avestine knelt before Gerard, who looked into her face. He appeared confused and unable to talk.
Rook checked on Wald. “His heartbeat is weak. He’s barely breathing.”
Avestine said, “You’re back from the dead, Gerard. I look forward to hearing about it.” She sat beside him so she could examine his back. The clothes were still torn and bloody, but the wound healed over with a ragged scar. She helped him to lie down on the bed. “Stay with Wald and sleep.”
She spent the rest of sunfall with Rook in her room, discussing plans for Wald.
“I don’t know what it means that he’s used his power before he’s bonded,” said Rook.
“It means you will train him. As soon as he’s awake, take him to your quarters.” When Rook frowned, Avestine slapped the table. “What is that? Since you met that boy, you seem afraid of him.”
“He needs you. Train him like any other.”
“He’s not like any other.”
“You’ve known Essanti of Mercy before.”
“I don’t mean that.”
Rook’s jaw tightened and Avestine understood something about Rook that had never occurred to her in all the years she had known him. “It bothers you that he prefers his own sex? So do I.”
“I prefer your sex, too.”
“Wait.” She looked him over curiously. “You knew what he was?” Rook’s cheeks flushed, and Avestine laughed, something she realized she hadn’t done in a while. “So, he made you an offer? Did you accept?”
“Of course not.”
“But you thought about it. You wondered.”
“So my Essanti has vanity I was not aware of. I thought I knew everything about you.”
Published in Darklaw |
Copyright © 2017 Teresa Wymore. All Rights Reserved. |