IX

Jacey stood watching the soldiers set up the camp. Though she had ridden with Heddwyn nearly every day, her body still ached from being in the saddle all day. Worse, they would just be setting up a basic camp, so they could sleep and then move on in the morning. No reason to waste any more time than necessary near Targo.

With a sigh, Jacey leaned against the tree and closed her eyes. All she wished to do was sleep right now, though that was most certainly impossible. First of all, she had no place to sleep quiet yet. And worse, there was no reason why she should need to sleep. At least she had not stayed up that late last night.

A stick snapping made her turn and look. Heddwyn lowered himself next to her and leaned against the tree. For a moment, he just sat there. Jacey smiled and leaned against him.

“Well?”

“Well what?”

“What scared you this morning?”

Jacey paused and swallowed.

“You said you’d tell me later.”

She sighed. “I saw Lord Conward.”

“Oh?”

“Well, more correctly, he spoke with me.” Jacey began drawing with a stick in the dirt. “He said that he would do everything he could to make sure that I didn’t ruin you.”

“Ruin me… how?”

Jacey swallowed again. “Ruin you… as in… well, I got the distinct impression that if he felt that if I distracted you from… doing this, that he… would rather me dead.”

Heddwyn shifted next to her. “Are you sure that was what he said?”

Jacey shook her head. “No… But… that’s what it seemed that he wanted to say.”

Gently Heddwyn pulled her close, wrapping his arms around her and sheltering her. Jacey shuddered and leaned into him. All day she had worried about this, unsure how to say it. Nothing sounded worse than her saying that a prestigious lord just threatened to kill her.

But Heddwyn believed her. At least, he acted like he did.

“Shhhh.” He kissed her. “Don’t worry about it. YOu’ll stay here with me where it’s safe.”

“But what about–”

“If there is a baby, we’ll break the rule. You’re strong. You can handle it. But let’s not go there yet. Everything will be fine.”

Jacey nodded and leaned against him  His beard tickled her neck playfully. She smiled faintly and closed her eyes.  They would break the rule. She needn’t leave him at all. Relief filled her completely. She never wanted to leave Heddwyn, in part because she did not know how he would react if she did.

–Next

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