KIND EYES AND A LION’S HEART
Lord Percival raised his goblet. Time for the announcement of the tournament champion, Melvin thought with a sigh and another drink of wine. At least that would also mean it was nearly time for the entertainment.
“My lords and ladies, noble knights and gentlemen!” Lord Percival began, his voice loud and harsh, rather like a bear growling. “I give you the champion of the day, Lord Barengar de Morraine!”
Like everyone else, Melvin dutifully clapped. Many of the ladies were all smiles, while some of the men who’d lost to Barengar were obviously less than pleased, and Lady Viola looked...bored?
Suppressing a smile, Melvin took another drink. But a woman who wasn’t impressed by Barengar.
In the next few moments, after Barengar had acknowledged the applause and received his prize – a bag full of coins and a dagger – the servants began removing the trestle tables from the middle of the hall. Melvin rose and made his way to the side of the hall, close to a pillar, where he could see the entertainers better.
A kerfuffle at the far end of the hall among the squires momentarily took his attention, until he saw that Alphonse wasn’t among them. His squire was at the other side of the hall, engaged in discussing what looked like finer points of swordplay with a tall, dark–haired and rather fierce-looking fellow. He wondered who he was, then noticed two noblewomen looking in the same direction and sidled closer.
“Oh, my dear, don’t you know who that is?” the youthful Lady Sylvia said to Lady Fishly, an elderly noblewoman slightly hard of hearing. “His name’s Rheged, or something Welsh like that. He hasn’t been in many tournaments yet, but he rarely loses. Actually, I heard he didn’t lose today, either, but Lord Barengar protested the count and Lord Percival concurred.”
Gave in, more likely, Melvin thought with a frown. Barengar had always been a poor loser, even when he was a boy. He had a vicious temper and usually got what he demanded.
A harpist came and sat at the edge of the dais and began to tune his instrument. Melvin glanced around, looking for a place to sit and realized with a start that Lady Viola was standing right beside him.
Melvin opened his mouth to say something, couldn’t think of a thing, and closed it.
He was even more shocked when Lady Viola turned to him with a smile and said, “Do you enjoy music, Sir Melvin?”
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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.