The unconscious man spanning across Landon’s lap was growing bothersome to him. He looked down at the lifeless body and clenched his teeth. I cannot wait until you regain your wits about you because I will surely enjoy knocking them back out of you once more.
By the position of the moon he figured he had maybe three hours before the sun started to rise. Landon nudged his steed. I have to return before the house awakes. I lost too much time chasing him through the woods. The image of Brook in his arms flashed in his mind. Damn it! I should’ve left her a note but there was no time. I pray she wasn’t waiting long.
Landon sat down in a chair and gazed out the window at the sun beginning to peek over the horizon. His heavy lids gave into the need for sleep.
Two Hours Later
A warm spray of sunshine tickled Brook’s face. Reaching up she rubbed her nose and opened one eye shielding it with her hand from the bright light. It could not be any later than 6:30. I didn’t even get three hours rest. Mercy my eyes will be so puffy. Damn him for asking me to wait!
The thought of last night’s near kiss flashed in her mind. She let out a long sigh. I can’t believe I waited that long for him. Her arm found her forehead and it rest there. “He never returned,” she whispered. Closing her eyes she tried so hard to drown out his smile. All the words he had whispered to her. His touch. The way he smelled. All of it.
Brook threw back the covers and sat up. Loud chirping from the birds outside her window sang their morning songs. “Glad they have something to be joyful about, “Brook mumble as she walked to her closet.
There was no maid to aid her at her own request. Coming from a humble background she wouldn’t know what to do with one. Emerging from the closet she had removed all her night wear and had a pale blue dress in hand. She was not in the habit of walking around naked but she was never in a situation of having her own private chamber either.
The sun was now basking in through the French doors. Brook turned gazing at her bare reflection in the mirror. Perhaps I am too light. I resemble a ghost with a hint of freckles. Oh yuck. She examined her shoulders. I swear every morning I awake there are a few more of them.
Brook paused and gazed at her neck. She touched the spot where Landon’s lips had last touched her skin. Her eyes slowly shut as she could almost feel his warm breath upon her. “I wish you would have returned,” she said softly.
Her eyes opened and she stepped back as she shook her head. No more. Not another thought about him. Sleepy blue eyes glistened back at her in the mirror. She quickly wiped away a stray tear. That will be the only one I shed for him. You are not some foolish young girl anymore. His words carry no meaning and his desires are nothing more than just that…desires. A man’s need to concur and use. Brook paused for a moment gazing at the woman in the mirror she had no become. Although I wish it were different. I wish his words were not so empty. I…I wish he felt them the way he speaks them. So full of passion and romantic hidden wanton.
A white blur off to her left caught her eye. She let out a loud gasp at the sight of him and immediately covered her mouth with both hands. Staring at him she leaned forward slightly. Landon sat fast asleep in a chair in the corner of her room. Slowly she inched closer and noticed blood droplets down his shirt. Her hand reached out towards his swollen lower lip. Landon stirred a little and Brook yanked her arm back.
As she stood upright she caught her own reflection in the mirror. I’m naked! Oh dear lord I am really naked. Taking up her dress in her hand she ran into her closet and dressed without haste all the while peeping out the door for any sign of him moving about.
“What the devil is he doing in here?” she mumbled. “This is highly inappropriate. Especial given the fact I am naked!” With trembling hands she buttoned her dress up as far as she could then left the room.
“Sarah, are you awake?” Brook asked as she softly knocked on the door. Oh please be here.
The door opened and she met with Devon’s smile. “Good morning Brook,” he said. Her wide eyes caused him to chuckle. He pushed the door open further. “Please do come in.”
“Brook, good morning,” Sarah said from her dressing table.
She stepped into the room as she nodded at Devon. Ever so careful not to turn her half exposed back to him.
“I will meet you two lovely ladies downstairs.”
Sarah turned to Brook after seeing her reflection in the mirror. “Are you feeling well?”
“No I am not.” She sat on Sarah’s bed. “I…I found Landon in my room this morning.”
“What?” Sarah asked as she joined her on the bed. “Where?”
“He is sleeping in a chair in the corner.” She glanced at Sarah who was biting up her bottom lip. “Will you please button my dress?” She turned towards her.
“Did you wake him and say anything?” Sarah asked as she tended to Brook’s attire.
“No I couldn’t I was naked when I found him,” Brook said as she covered her face with her hands. She heard Sarah gasp. “I know don’t say anything, Sarah. I just pray he was really asleep because I was exposed for a while before I saw him.”
Sarah started to laugh. She couldn’t help it. Brook dropped her hands and just shook her head at the thought of it all.
“If I had been clothed I would have kicked the chair over,” she said.
“Oh you would not have,” Sarah said as she stood up. Gazing down at her she took her hand. “Let’s talk more over coffee and pastries.”
Brook sat in the large picture window waiting for Sarah. Between last night and this morning her head was both spinning and pounding.
“Brook.” She gazed up to see Devon standing before her. “Did you happen to see Landon this morning?”
Her heart skipped. “No,” she answered. Devon’s body language seemed odd to her.
“Alright thank you,” he said and turned.
“Wait,” Brook said a little louder than she intended to. “Why do you ask?”
Devon sat down next to her and leaned in close. “It is important I speak with him.”
Brook suddenly realized that when she had seen him he was bruised and his clothes were torn. She looked up to Devon seeing the concern in his eyes. “He is in my room.”
Devon’s gazed on her did not change. “Thank you. I will slip in and talk with him.”
“He wasn’t supposed to be there, Devon.”
He smiled slightly. “It’s quite alright Brook.”
“No, no it is not. I awoke and he was there,” Brook said softly. “He was not in my room by my invite and I need you to know that.”
Devon patted her hand. “Even if he was it is not my business to say different.”
Brook’s gazed fell to her coffee she held. “Thank you.” She watched Devon disappear around the corner. Why didn’t I remember Landon’s state before this moment? Now that I think about it I had not even mentioned it to Sarah. I should’ve sought out help for him. What is wrong with me?
“I have a buffet of pastries for us,” Sarah said.
Grams followed close behind her. “Good morning my dears. Quentin’s staff sets out a beautiful spread would you not say?”
“Are waist lines won’t be if we keep indulging,” Sarah said.
“Oh mosh posh to hell with that. I lost mine years ago.” She nudged Sarah’s side. “It hasn’t stopped any suitors from inquiring though.” She said than winked.
Brook let out a laugh as she watched Grams bite into a strawberry filled pastry. “If all women had you confidence, Grams.”
“We’d all be plump,” Grams stated with a mouth full of heaven.
“And happy,” Sarah added. She looked to Brook. “I’ve already put on weight since.” Sarah paused for a moment.
“Sarah,” Brook said.
Her dearest friend gazed up to her with confusion in her eyes. “Yes.”
Brook stared at her than glance to Grams. “Ah, I was just wondering if you would like to take a walk later this morning.”
“Yes I would love that,” Sarah said and then smiled.
Grams was looking to Brook with an expression as if she would explain later.
“There they are,” Grams said.
Brook followed her line of sight through the doorway into the entry. Her eyes locked with Landon’s. She didn’t hold it, she couldn’t and looked away. Devon approached the women.
“Good morning Lord Price,” Sarah said.
Devon stilled for a moment. “Good morning Lady McMay.”
Brook just stared at him with questioning eyes. What the hell is going on with her? “Devon, do you care for some tea?”
“I am riding with Landon this morning but thank you,” he said. Devon crouched down next to Grams and spoke with her privately.
“Brook, since when did you start using Lord Price’s christen name?” Sarah whispered to her over her shoulder.
Her head whipped in Sarah’s direction. “I do not know.” She stared at Grams and Devon who both heard Sarah and were watching them as they talked. “Pardon me for a moment.” Brook stood and picked up her coffee cup. “My coffee has cooled.” This morning is going stranger by the minute.
She walked across the entry to the breakfast room. It has to be from the attack. I wish Devon or Grams would have told me. She seems to be getting worse.
Her body froze upon hearing his voice. Turning her head slightly out of the corner of her eye she saw him leaning against the wall next to her. His casual posture was bothering her. I bet he has a smug devilish smile plastered about his face.
“Lord Fields.” Her tone was pointed and flat.
Landon’s smile fell as he pinched his lips together. He could tell she was upset with him. “I want to explain why I nev-
Brook cut him off. “No need to offer me anything. I beg you not to enter my room again.” She finished making her coffee than turned and without eye contact said, “And do not call me that anymore.” She walked past him not waiting for a reaction.
His initial instinct was to reach out for her as she passed by but restrained from doing so. He knew Devon would be ready to set off any minute and now was not the time to explain in detail the way she deserved for him to. He watched her walk away to join the others.
Devon waited for him at the front doors. Landon joined him and they walked to the stables together.
Devon could hear Landon’s muted mumbling to himself. He chose to let it go for the moment. “You didn’t put anything on your eye did you?” he asked.
“No. I arrived just as the sun was rising. I didn’t want to cause suspicion.”
They entered the stable and met with Quentin who had three horses ready to go.
“He is not far. I have to say I’m curious to know what you think we are going to do with him.” Landon asked Quentin.
He raised his brow at the two of them. “We are just going to have a little chat.” He turned from them and shrugged his shoulders. “And if that does not work we’ll play a fun game with him I like to call, what body part to you revere the most.”
Devon gazed over Quentin’s should to Landon. His mouth formed a straight line and his questioning eyes told Landon he might be serious.
“Um, do we all have to play this game or is it only a two person type thing?” Landon asked as he watched Quentin mount his stead.
“No, I will not subject you to participating but I am expecting both of you to help me interrogate him,” Quentin answered.
As they rode away from the estate Landon could not help but wonder exactly what it was Quentin did for the king. Perhaps this was an ordinary day for him or more to the point a common activity for him. He seems so normal otherwise. If I am honest, I guess I really do not know his dark half and I’m glad for it. The idea of severing body parts scares the shit out of me. He glanced over to Devon riding along the side of him. If aid is needed in finding out information I will not allow Devon to take part. After what happened to Sarah not too long ago he won’t be able to handle it. Bloody hell he already is looking green.
Arriving at the small hunting cabin where Landon had tied the man up, his blood began to rush slightly faster. Mostly at wondering what Quentin had planned. The odds of this thug giving up McMay is ludicrous.
Dismounting his stead he looked to Devon. He seems not even here with us. Something is wrong. “How about you keep watch. There are still two others lurking about somewhere in these woods,” Landon suggested.
Devon gave him a nod and remained on his horse for added views of the landscape.
Quentin stopped right outside the door. “I need you to just follow my lead and if anything needs to be done I will send you out.”
“Quent, I can handle this with you,” Landon said having no idea what he was saying.
Quentin chuckled at him and shook his head. “Alright Landon than let the games begin.”
He opened the door to see the man roped and bound in a chair. Quentin observed Landon had nailed it to the floor. “My name is Quentin Alexander.” He walked over and pushed open a window shinning the sunlight directly in the man’s eyes. “Can I offer you some water?”
After looking Quentin up and down he answered, “Yes,” in a low muttered.
Landon handed Quentin a ladle. I did a bang up job on him last night. Bloody bastard ruined my evening. I was so close to kissing her too.
Quentin took a chair and placed it in front of him. He glanced quickly at Landon before he sat down. “Lord Fields behind me is going to ask you a few simple questions. It is my sincere hope you chose to reply with honesty.” He pulled from his side a long narrow blade and laid it on his lap before the man. “If you refuse to give him any information or false talk, well, I shall be forced to use this and I really am not dressed for it today.” Quentin slapped the man’s knee and chuckled in a deep sinister tone. And as quickly as he started he suddenly stopped. His face fell stone like as he sat straight up.
Landon was staring at Quent with fascination. He heard him clear his throat and took this as his cue to start. “We know you were sent here by McMay. How many are with you?”
He paced the floor with slow steps waiting for him to answer.
The man’s chair juddered with brutality by Quentin’s foot even though it was fastened to the floor. “Speak,” Quentin hissed.
A wide gray yellow grin substituted for his words.
Landon shook his head at him. “Foolish,” he said. He placed a hand on Quentin’s should and asked one more time.
The man’s mouth moved for what Landon assumed were words until he saw the spit flying from his nasty lips landing square on Quentin’s face.
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