FOREVER KNIGHTS: #14 Broken Birds

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They were barely in the door of Farthington Hall, when Rhyers pulled Ebony around to slam into him.

“Her friend is wearing it.” He whispered into her ear.

Making her shiver.

Ebony looked over her shoulder to see the dark haired woman with Lady Farthington.

On her bicep, was a rough metal band. Beautifully inlaid with colorful gems and intricate carvings.

“Who is she?” Ebony asked.

He leaned down so his forehead was almost to her. Stroking a loving hand down her shoulder and toward the bustline of her dress. In a highly intimate caress. “I’m trying to recall. I’ve seen her before. Stand here a moment and let me think.”

Knowing who she is lets us know how much danger she may pose to us.

Ebony swallowed nervously. “What are you doing, Bodin.”

“Thinking.”

“No, with your hand.”

“Making it look like we’re lovers rather than spies rallying to steal from a lady.”

She’s not a lady. It came to Rhyers suddenly.

The night in the Driter’s Den. By the time Rhyers had got there to help get Mardichi out of the burning structure he’d seen a barmaid rushing by him.

Mardichi had limply pointed from over Deragan’s shoulder. “Tha’s the wench tha’ wanted ta take me ta Radix!”

Betty. Rhyers remembered the name because Mardichi had been cursing at her.

How did she go from barmaid to lady?

The answer to that was simple.

Radix.

And now she’s wearing one of our treasures.

“Who keeps bringing them to Lady Farthington?” He asked thoughtfully.

Ebony was turning molten in his arms, Rhyers realized. Looking at her and noticing she was blinking slowly as he mindlessly caressed her collar and exposed neck and shoulder. Swaying as he moved and folded against him. Warming him everywhere her body touched his.

When did this happen?

“Bodin?” She said a bit roughly before swallowing a lump in her throat.

“Yes?” He frowned at his own hand still following its warm path.

I don’t want to stop now.

“Could you quit doing that so I can think too?”

“Why? You can’t while I’m doing this?” He lifted a black brown and gave her a roguish grin.

She stepped back and shook herself before rounding to stand next to him. “You’ve made your point.” She gestured across the ballroom where Rebecca Parson stood in a purple gown. Nearly florid with envy.

Probably gratifying for Ebony.

“She looks cheerful.” He remarked.

“Doesn’t she, though?” Ebony gave him a bold wink. “So how are we going to get that little armband of yours?”

Stall. Until I figure out how to tell her.

“It’s technically a crown.”

“Looks like an armband tonight.”

Valid.

“So, it does.” He acknowledged. Taking her hand and leading her onto the dancefloor. “We need to separate them.”

I need you to get Lady Farthington to go with you.

“No.”

“No, what?”

“I am not distracting Lady Farthington.”

Yes, you are.

“Ebony…”

“Don’t use your chastising voice on me.”

Too late.

“If you don’t help me now, I’m leaving you at the Manse to embroider whilst I go on my next mission.” He warned.

“You wouldn’t?” She blinked betrayed eyes at him.

Wrong!

“Oh, I would…”

“Bodin!”

“Ebony!” He mimicked her high agitated voice.

“Don’t!” She gave him a warning look. “Oh, you’re awful!” She tossed her arms.

“Beyond. I know. Please, Ebs?”

“I hate, when you ‘please Ebs.’” She huffed. Even as she moved smoothly in step to the dance.

Because it always works.

“I know.”

“Ugh.” She groaned. Rounding from him, to walk over to Lady Farthington and Betty the barmaid.

Rhyers was watching her still, empty armed on the dancefloor but grinning from having won the argument. When Rebecca Parson’s appeared in his arms.

No! Why?

“Bodin!” She squealed.

Even her voice is annoying.

“I have to go.” He moved to leave the floor, but she caught his wrists. Landing one on her lower back and the other on her hip as she began stepping with him.

I need to get over to Betty the Barmaid. He peered over Rebecca’s shoulder and saw Ebony watching him through narrowed eyes.

No. Nope. Not what she’s thinking.

“I truly must go!” He bowed to Rebecca and smoothly walked from her.

Making her the one empty armed.

Awful girl. He shook his head as though he’d eaten something distasteful just from her having touched him.

Her hands were greased as though she’d used something to smooth her hair that still lingered on her palms.

He opened his overcoat to smear it off on the inside. It didn’t want to come off. What is this?

He shook his hand but couldn’t seem to get the slimy sensation to release. Shoulders drooping, he looked back over and saw Ebony had lured Lady Farthington away from the barmaid.

My turn. He quickly moved in. Careful grin in place as he rounded and pretended he’d just spotted her.

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