Susan Spencer Paul

Free Susan Spencer Paul by The Heiress Bride

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stiffly.
    “My lady.” He nodded at her. “If we have you to thank for bringing my brother home, then not only I, but my entire family, will be most grateful.”
    “You don’t seem grateful to see your brother, my lord. Indeed, from your manner and speech I should think you’d rather string me up than thank me.” The words came out of her with surprising tartness.
    Instead of being angry, as he had every right to be, Rosaleen knew, the monk surprised her by lowering his eyes. Slipping his hands into the sleeves of his plain tunic, he looked suddenly meek and defenseless. “I think, then, my lady, that you know nothing about twins. You are wrong when you say that I am not glad to see my brother. His return is the answer to a prayer I have prayed every night since the night I saw him last.”
    “Hugo,” Hugh pleaded, reaching out to his brother once more. Hugo quickly sidestepped him and started for the door.
    “I shall see to your lodgings.” His voice was stern again. “The evening meal will be served in two hours’ time.”
    Their dinner passed more easily. Hugh and Hugo had silently agreed to at least be polite to each other, if not friendly. The three of them ate together in a small private chamber off the main dining area, so that they could converse without the restriction of the silence imposed upon the monks during their meals.
    It was strange for Rosaleen to sit between two men who were exact copies, save for their hair and clothing. Even their voices sounded alike, so that she didn’t think she would be able to tell them apart in the dark.
    “You’ve turned into something of a firebrand, Hugh,” Hugo commented. “We often get word of your adventures, even here at the monastery, though I generally hear of them from Alex whenever I visit at Gyer.”
    Pushing his soup aside, Hugh chuckled. “I’ve turned into something of a firebrand? You’re one to speak, brother. Do you not remember all the mischief we got into when we were boys? Being a monk has affected your memory.”
    Hugo laughed in turn. “I remember, Hugh. The brothers here won’t let me forget the time we loosed our dogs in the monastery’s hen yard. Father Bartholomew still becomes angered over it whenever we have chicken at table. And Alex won’t let me forget the time we kidnapped Lillis and brought her to Gyer as a prisoner. If he hadn’t fallen in love with her I think we might still be suffering punishment for that particular deed.”
    “Trumpery!” Hugh replied, hefting a tankard of ale. “If we hadn’t kidnapped Lillis, Gyer would have ended up at war with Wellewyn. We saved the lives of hundreds of people.”
    “You kidnapped your sister-in-law?” Rosaleen asked in disbelief.
    “Well, she wasn’t our sister-in-law at the time,” Hugo explained somewhat shamefully. “She was the daughter of Gyer’s enemy, Jaward of Wellewyn. Truthfully, however, we didn’t know who she was when we first kidnapped her. We were playing highway thieves, you see, and were out to get any wayside traveler we could. If we hadn’t ended up capturing the daughter of our brother’s enemy, Alex probably would have strangled us.”
    “Your brother is Alexander of Gyer, then?” she asked quietly, keeping her eyes on Hugh, who wouldn’t look at her.
    Hugo gave her a strange look. “Of course he is. Did Hugh not tell you?”
    Both Rosaleen and Hugh were silent.
    “Ah,” Hugo said with understanding. “He didn’t tell you. Well, yes, Alex is our brother, just as Lillis is our sister. Did he tell you that?”
    “Hugo!” Hugh growled.
    “No, Father Baldwin, Hugh Caldwell has been very secretive regarding his true identity,” she replied tartly.
    “I’ve been more forthcoming than you, Rosaleen no-name,” Hugh returned.
    “Hardly,” Rosaleen scoffed. “I may not have given you my full name, Hugh Baldwin-Caldwell-whoever, but at least I didn’t lie to you.”
    “I did not lie to you,” Hugh insisted. “My name is Hugh Caldwell

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