FOREVER KNIGHTS: #14 Broken Birds

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Iron Crown of Lombardy

“My, my.” He leaned over her gloved hand and kissed the back. Knowing well that the hand beneath was likely callused from carrying tankard trays. “I didn’t anticipate seeing such a lovely…”

Barmaid.

Beth’s shoulders went up and she hunkered her head on her shoulders, revealing multiple chins as she attempted to feign a delicate giggle which sounded more like she was choking on a dry biscuit. When her lips parted enough to see her teeth, he realized only about half of them were there.

Suppressing a shudder, he murmured sweet nothings to her. Speaking of her beauty. She is lovely…For a barmaid.

Rebecca Parson walked to the side of them to stomp in annoyance. “Lord Rhyers!”

Oh, no. Not you too. His eyes skid sideways to her boredly.

“How could you humiliate me as you just did, for this-this?” She looked at Betty the barmaid from head to toe. “What is this!”

A nightmare.

“A lovely, gorgeous creature which has nearly stolen my heart.”

“Ohh!” Betty stepped closer to him and put a hand to his chest. Pressing a bountiful bosom against him as she rested her head against his shoulder. Brushing his chin with hair so oily it was akin to whatever Rebecca had gotten on his hands.

Disgusting.

This woman is positively repugnant. He lightly patted her back. Trying to pretend attentiveness. But over her head he was eyeing Ebony who had Lady Farthington laughing.

I should’ve drugged the Lady before sending her with Ebony. He noticed the adoring looks the older woman was tossing Ebony.

I know that look.

Ebony will kill me. He stroked Beth’s arms warmly while she gazed adoringly up at him.

She rubbed her body against him in an overly vigorous imitation of intercourse.

Rhyers wanted nothing so much as to shove a plank between their bodies and pry her off him. “Pardon me, My Dear. I must go check on my ward.”

“Do come back…” She took his hand and clung to it as he tried to step away.

“Oh, I shall…” He reassured.

Absolutely never. He offered her a broad grin so hollow it barely reached his cheeks.

“Rhyers!” Rebecca stomped again.

Rhyers pretended he didn’t hear her. Nope. Not acknowledging that.

“How’d that go?” Ebony stepped over to meet him.

Vilely.

“Like having a tooth ripped from my skull. I feel ill.” He shifted uncomfortably. “I now need a bath hot enough to sear away the top layer of my flesh.”

“She is rather attractive.”

He peered sideways to see Beth the Barmaid watching them avidly. She grinned. Revealing her few teeth. The rest were black or missing.

She offered a little wave.

Not even slightly! Rhyers spun to give her his back and faced Ebony as though he’d not seen it.

“We should surely wave.” Ebony reached around his shoulder to wave back. Despite him pushing her arm down twice.

Beth’s smile died upon seeing Ebony’s greeting.

“Stop it.” He gave her a withering look.

And she says I’m the terrible one.

Rebecca was staring at them standing together, hatefully. A fist crushing her purple dress in a death grip.

Let her stew.

“Rebecca looks happy.” Ebony commented.

“I left her on the dance floor as you left me.”

Sordid justice, I suppose.

Ebony’s mouth parted in an ‘o’. Knowing Rebecca Parson wouldn’t have taken that nearly as gracefully as Rhyers did.

“Yes…I know.” He nodded vigorously.

“Did you get it?”

The crown. He smoothly pulled his hand from beneath his overcoat and held it aloft between their close bodies. So only Ebony could see what he held. The Iron Crown of Lombardy.

“Good job.” Ebony whispered.

“Thank you.” He tucked it back into an inner pocket in his dark overcoat. “Shall we dance?”


Ebony took his proffered hand and he led her out.

Their bodies moved as one as they twirled circles over the smooth floor.

“Are we to enjoy the evening now?” She questioned.

Hopefully soon.

“Not just yet.” He said disappointedly.

“Why?”

“I need to find out how Lady Farthington keeps getting things stolen from my friends.”

What Firoque is delivering to her?

“And how do you intend that?” She asked archly.

Scouting.

“I need to go back out to the carriage for a moment…”

She leaned forward to whisper. “You’re going to go out and look around?”

He nodded. “Keep people indoors for me?”

She rolled her eyes and groaned exaggeratedly. “If I must. But if she,” She nodded toward Lady Farthington. “tries to take me upstairs I may run out, myself.”

It’s very possible she may.

“Good Plan.” He whispered.

She glowered at his unappreciation for being put in a compromising position with the lascivious woman. “I don’t think you fully appreciate my misery.”

I do after your jests about Beth the barmaid at my expense.

“Oh, I do.” His brows danced playfully. “But perhaps you enjoy it more than you’re willing to admit.”

Ebony swatted his arm. Glaring heatedly.

Likely not. He laughed.

He leaned over her, so their noses brushed as he whispered two words to her. “Good luck.”

“You’re a wretch.” She hissed at his retreating back.

“Love you too, Ebs.” He waved dismissively over his shoulder as he walked away.

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