KIND EYES AND A LION’S HEART
“Why, yes, yes, I do,” Melvin stammered. “A good harpist or singer is always welcome, as long as the ballads don’t go on forever so you lose all track of who it’s about or what happened at the start. Sometimes by the end I can’t remember who’s who so I don’t know if the lovers get married or die or go off with somebody else.”
He winced and wished he’d stopped talking until he noticed Lady Viola regarding him with what looked like genuine appreciation. “I know exactly what you mean. I much prefer a lively sort of song, whether for singing or dancing.”
“Me, too! God save me some of those dirge-like ballads! I swear it sometimes seems a miracle anybody survives being in love.”
“You prefer to think that people can be happy in love?”
“I like to believe so, yes,” he admitted, “although I suppose that’s not a very manly attitude. I daresay I should say something like it’s a noble thing to die of a broken heart or fight to the death for passion, but I don’t really believe it. I mean, what good does dying do in such a situation? I rather think it’s more noble to live and carry on doing one’s best and hope for another chance to love again.”
“Have you ever been in love, Sir Melvin?”
He flushed. “Well, my lady, you’ve caught me there. Not really. I mean, I had a few youthful infatuations. That’s to be expected, isn’t it? Mooning about and staring off into the distance at nothing in particular and writing bad verse and worse songs. But true, lasing love like the minstrels sing about? No, I don’t think so.”
“I think you’d know it if you had,” she gravely replied.
Of course he would. What a stupid thing to say! “No, I’ve never been in love,” he said firmly. “Have you?”
He winced again. He shouldn’t have blurted out such a question, even if he was desperate to hear the answer.
She shook her head and looked away. “No, not like the minstrels sing about.”
“I shouldn’t have asked,” he said with sheepish remorse. “It’s not any of my business whether you’ve ever been in love or not or who he was or when or what happened and why.”
That brought the smile back to her face. “I asked you first, at least if you’ve been in love. That wasn’t any of my business, either.”
“Didn’t bother me a bit,” he hastened to assure her. “Not that I generally discuss such things with women. Or anybody. I mean, love shouldn’t be bandied about like any old subject, should it?”
Be quiet, Melvin!
This time, he obeyed that inner order, especially when he saw her frown. God help him, he’d insulted her.
He was even more upset when she murmured something he didn’t catch and drifted away.
His evening’s enjoyment utterly ruined, he headed for the door until Barengar stepped in front of him and blocked his way.
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Note: This novella is PG13. With the exception of GWYNETH ANDTHE THIEF and THE WASTREL, my books are usually steamier.