KIND EYES AND A LION’S HEART
Barengar grabbed Melvin’s arm and shoved him hard against the wall, knocking the air from his lungs. “Do you really believe Lady Viola’s taken ill when she gave no sign of sickness before?”
“Lady Sylvia told me she was sick,” Melvin gasped.
“Sick my eye! She’s no more ill than I am,” Barengar snarled as he took hold of Melvin’s shirt and shook him like a dog with a rabbit. “I tell you, something’s gone wrong and I know it’s all your fault, you ungrateful little worm! I had Lady Anne eating out of my hand! Viola was as good as mine!”
Melvin’s hands balled into fists. “You aren’t fit to even look at her,” he muttered.
“What? How dare you? Who do you think you are?”
“Who do you think you are?” Melvin retorted, his fury and disgust building. “Some great prize, no doubt, although I don’t doubt you’ll make any poor woman who marries you miserable. You’re a braggart and a bully and you whore and gamble, yet you think any woman in the kingdom would be blessed to be your wife and ought to swoon with gratitude if you so much as look her way!”
“Better me than you, you chattering dolt!” Barengar retorted, swinging at him.
Melvin might not have been the most slender of men, but he was fast on his feet and he easily dodged the blow.
“Think you’re clever, do you?” Barengar charged, moving to block the door. “Can’t run away now, you fat fool.” He raised his hands. “Come on and fight me, if you dare. Or are you too much of a coward to defend that little bitch Viola --”
“Get out of my chamber, Barengar,” Melvin grimly interrupted, “and leave this castle before I hurt you.”
His handsome face ugly with anger, Barengar drew the dagger he’d won as a prize from his belt. “You hurt me? Never! And now I’m going to shut that stupid mouth of yours once and for all.”
He ran at Melvin, who darted first one way, then another, avoiding the slashing knife, before he dashed to the wooden dummy holding his mail, helmet and shield and tried to pull the shield from its arm.
It fell to the floor with a crash. His shield broke and his dented helmet rolled across the floor. He whirled around. Dagger raised, Barenger was almost upon him. Melvin grabbed the dummy, hoisted it over his head and threw it at his cousin.
The dummy knocked Barengar over and landed on him, so that his body lay prone beneath it, his arms outstretched as if begging for forgiveness.
“Oh dear God, I’ve killed him!” Melvin gasped as he stared in horror at what he’d done.
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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.