VIII

With a frown, Heddwyn tore down the notice and crumpled it in a small wade of paper. He should have realized, after refusing Lord Conward’s son entry into his squad for the seventh time, that the man would find some way to get his son close to him. The fact was Rok Conward had no military skill. AFter trying to get into his squad for the last three years, it was only this last time that Heddwyn might even have considered him. But after the proposal of Cynthia to him, followed by the threat during the dinner, Heddwyn did not trust any Conward near him.

Still, he should have realized that Lord Conward, if he wanted one of his family near him, would do everything he could. Assigning Rok as the main  delivery contact would do exactly that.

Quickening his pace, he walked into the courtyard. Already his men gathered with their horses. The wagons were loaded last night and waiting for the signal to begin. Family members waited, chatting both among themselves and their loved one, be it a son, husband or brother. Off to the side, Eva stood with her children, all of them pointing a different way for her to see something of interesting.

Heddwyn walked to her. “Where’s Jacey?”

Eva smiled at him. “It’s good to see you too.” She motioned with her head towards the building. “She went inside for a minute.”

Heddwyn nodded and scooped up his young nephew, putting him on his shoulders for a better view. “I needed to speak with you privately anyway.”

“About what?”

He paused and glanced at the flag waving lazily in the wind. “Jacey believes she’s with child.”

He heard the sudden intake of breath from Eva and turned. His sister’s pale face told him she worried as much as he had last night.

“She told me last night, because… she heard she might not be able to go.”

“You’re still letting her go?”

“If she is, we have six months together. I’m not wasting five of those months out there by myself. I’ll… I’ll see about sending her back when it is obvious.”

“What–does this have to do with me?”

“I’m not telling her what will happen. Chances are that she will want to do whatever new mothers want to do. So… you might need to find me some things.”

Eva nodded slowly and put a hand on his shoulder. “I’m sorry, Heddwyn.”

Heddwyn nodded. “Yeah.” He caught sight of Jacey leaving the building. “Just promise me you’ll tell no one but Philip.”

“I promise.”

“Thank you.” He turned towards Jacey and frowned. Her face looked like something had sucked all color from it, her lips pressed together in a tight line and her arms wrapped around her body. “Jacey?”

She looked up and swallowed, then leaned into him.

Automatically he wrapped his arms around her. “Jacey, what is it?”

She shook her head. “I’ll–I’ll tell you later.”

Heddwyn nodded and kissed the top of her head. “Let’s go. They’re almost ready.” Gently he took her arm and steered her towards the waiting horses.

–Next

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