Tuesday, June 23, 2015

FREE Novella - Chapter Four, Part Two

The moment Viola was out of sight, Barengar pushed Melvin into the merlon, narrowly missing the gap between them that would have sent him plunging to the ground below. 
“Did I hear you say you were leaving?” his cousin angrily demanded.
“Yes,” Melvin replied, straightening his tunic.  “I have to tend to some business on my estate.”
          “That’s what a steward’s for!  He doesn’t need you messing about and interfering.  Not when I need you here.”
Melvin couldn’t be more surprised if Barengar had said he wanted Melvin to be king.  “What do you need me for?”
“You can put in a good word for me with Lord Percival and Lady Anne.  Tell them all my good qualities, how I’ll make their happy.”
“Will you?”
“As much as a husband can, I suppose.  Fortunately, Lady Viola seems a fairly independent sort, so I expect I won’t have to have much to do with her.  She won’t come running to me with every little problem.”
“Leaving you free?”
“Free to do what, exactly?”
Barengar’s frown deepened.  “God’s blood, Melvin!  Don’t be daft!  What noblemen do.”
Melvin knew pretty well what noblemen like Barengar did, whether married or not.  “If you really want to marry her, I suggest you start by not getting drunk again.”
Barengar waved a dismissive hand.  “That’s easy enough.  Now, come, coz.  Stay and help me.  After all, you owe me.  Out of the kindness of my heart I made certain you were invited here and admitted that you’re my cousin to anyone who’s asked, although it’s made some of those here question my wisdom.”
Melvin wasn’t fooled by that declaration.  Having Melvin nearby made Barengar look even better.
 Nevertheless, he would do what his cousin asked, although perhaps not exactly the way Barengar intended.  “All right, Barengar and have a chat with Lady Anne tomorrow.  I’ll tell her all about you.”
Barengar smoothed down his expensive, ornately embroidered tunic, a costly contrast to Melvin’s plain wool garment.  “Excellent!” 
“What about the lady herself?” Melvin asked.  “Do you want me to sing your praises to her, too?”
“No need for that,” Barengar said with a hearty laugh.  “I’m sure I can woo her without your help.”
“She doesn’t seem too keen at the moment.”
Doubt flashed in Barengar’s eyes for an instant, but any lack of certainty was swiftly erased by his usual confident expression.  “I like a challenge and I’m sure I’ll win in the end.  I always do.  Now I’d best see where my lady love has gone and make her understand it was my adoration of her and despair that she might refuse me that drove me to drink.”
“Good luck,” Melvin muttered as his cousin strode off in pursuit of Viola. 
Although he was sure Viola could never be his wife, he silently vowed she would never be Barengar’s.

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Note:  This novella is PG13.  With the exception of GWYNETH AND THE THIEF and THE WASTREL, my books are usually steamier. 

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