orbs locked with those of dark gold and he
could literally read the pain and sorrow within her shimmering eyes. Her
expression, so recently lined with warmth and excitement at the sight of him,
was drawn and taut and, he thought, bordering on tears.
He watched her retreat until she
disappeared from sight. When Summer had faded from view amongst the vendors and
crowd, he returned his attention to the rotund baron. From soft black one
moment to blazing embers the next, his gaze was anything but tolerant upon his
"My lord," he began,
his baritone voice as steady as he could manage for the fury and confusion
building in his heart. "I realize you do not know me; therefore, I do not
fault your protectiveness where your daughter is concerned. But I am a noble
knight with an established reputation, and believe me when I tell you that my
intentions toward your daughter are entirely chivalrous."
Edward, normally weak-willed and
fairly pliable to the desires of others, met his gaze with wavering courage.
"You must understand, my lord, that I find no fault with you at all. In fact,
your interest pleases me greatly. But Summer is... courting her is out of the
question. I sincerely wish I could elaborate, but I cannot. 'Tis a private
matter I prefer not to discuss with a stranger. Please obey my wishes and end
Bose emitted a harsh sigh,
leaning forward on his saddle in a gesture of exhaustion and disbelief.
"God's Beard, I did not say anything about courting her. I merely wanted
to speak with her."
He looked at the man a moment
before averting his gaze, staring off toward the rapidly approaching sunset.
After a moment of deliberation, he waved his hand in a careless gesture.
"I am without a lady to champion for this tournament. I merely wished to
ask her for a favor."
Edward stared at the knight, shaking
his head after a moment. "I am sorry," he said softly, moving away
from the dais and down the stairs before Bose could say another word.
Bose remained before the empty
lodges for quite some time afterward, wondering why on earth the House of du
Bonne had refused to allow him to speak with the fair Lady Summer. First
Stephan and now the father. Both of them reacting strangely toward the request,
as if Bose had somehow demanded the maiden be allowed to bear him a son out of
The problem, however, was clear;
he simply wasn't good enough for her. She was far too beautiful for him, an
aged widower with nothing by way of bloodlines or family ties to offer her. Of
course that was the true reason; she was well beyond his grasp.
With a heavy sigh, he turned his
charger toward the edge of the field where his men were already collecting
ransom from their humble prisoners. Once a ransom was paid, the man was free to
go and prepare for the coming joust. Though the thought of money to be had
usually pleased him, he realized that there was nothing to be pleased over this
Victory or not, he shouldn't have
"Stop dragging me about,
Genisa!" Summer snapped when the lodges were well out of sight. Yanking
her arm free, she glared irritably at her sister-in-law. "Let go of
Genisa appeared properly contrite
in the face of her husband's angry sister. "I do apologize, Summer, but
you are fully aware that I only have your best interests at heart. We had to
"B-Before I embarrassed
everyone with my stammering speech," Summer supplied harshly, humiliated
and furious. Sighing heavily, she turned away and allowed her pouting gaze to
rove the grounds. She wanted to be normal. She wanted to laugh as other maidens
laugh, to encounter the thrill of her first beau, and to know all else that
noble maidens usually experience. The fact that Genisa and her father had
chased Sir Bose away as if she carried the plague cut a path of anguish deep
into her heart; more than ever, the true reason behind their shielding actions
was obvious and Summer found herself wanting to be away