FOREVER KNIGHTS: #14 Broken Birds

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DERAGAN - Her Research In the Library

Rosewynn Manor, Outside Meadowbrook, Grier Country


Nora still rarely came downstairs.

Afraid I’ll find her. It was disappointing.

She usually wants around me every bit as much as I want around her.

He’d gradually been dropping his guise and now was almost entirely back to looking like himself. It’d been such a slow process that none of the siblings had noticed other than little Beth.

Deragan climbed the stairs. The usual tray in his hand. He set it at her door and returned down to the Dining Hall. He heard the door creak and the tray sliding. At least she’s eating.

“Deragan.” The soft word came from the doorway.

Making his heart leap and his blood pulse at the sound of his real name on her lips. “Yes, Nora?”

“I’m going to the Library tomorrow.”

“Be safe.”

“Please don’t follow me. I need to look into some things and I’d rather do it in private.”

He lowered his head in ascent. “As you wish. Might I send Bast to accompany you?”

“No.” She shook her head adamantly. “He draws far too much attention.”

“Please do not go alone.”

“I will pick up Anna as soon as I get into town.”

“The Widow Valentine?”

Whom was speaking in a hushed voice to Worthington behind your house, before the Hallow’s Eve Ball?

“Yes.” She confirmed his worries.

“You’re taking your carriage?”


“I must send someone. You may not recognize the danger.”

“I don’t want it to be you.”

Ouch. That was like a strike to the gut.

“I need to think about things.” She elaborated in a gentler tone.

He swallowed. “I’ll send my tracker. He’ll stay well away.”

She nodded hesitantly.

Not liking the idea.

But I don’t completely trust the Widow Valentine or Worthington. And Meadowbrook is swarming with Nonis. He drew a long breath.

“I’ll be okay.” She reassured before slowly leaving the room.

His blue eyes glowed briefly in his anxiety. But he said nothing further. Watching her exit.

Sebastian had left as well.

Time seemed excruciatingly slow until he heard her scurrying back downstairs and caught sight of her warn gray shawl.

Calling for the carriage to be brought around she was surprised when a driver brought it.

“Hired him yesterday!” Nick called. “Names Pete.”

By the time she was climbing in the carriage, Deragan had telepathically reached Bast who’d sent Rhyers down to meet her on the road to Meadowbrook.

“Be safe.” He whispered fearfully. Clutching the armrests of his chair so hard, one crunched in his grip.

The least of the damage I’ll wreak if I’m not careful.

Nora stared out the window. Watching the passing of trees as they took the dirt road toward Meadowbrook.

She noticed a wolf in the distance appear between two trees. Veering to lope parallel to them. This one was almost all brown but when his head whipped toward the carriage she saw he had a white cross over his face. Slashing over both eyes and down his snout.

Nora went first to the messengers office. This time noticing the wolf seating just beyond the first row of trees in Gunnison Forest.

“Hello, Tom. Any missives from Miss Carter?”

“Still none, Mum.”

She sighed. “Has she sent any lately?”

“No one has seen her, Mum. She’s not been about town.”

Nora chewed her bottom lip. Scribbling another short message for Meralee, she handed it and a coin over to the man. “Please send this one anyway.”

“Yes, Mum. Right away.”

Going to Meralee’s house yielded in no answer at the door. Not even one of her brothers.

“Odd…” She murmured.

She went to the Widow Anna Valentine’s grand mansion next. The door was answered by her butler and she was quick to come down. Red waves trailing her.

“Nora!” She greeted. Enveloping her in a warm hug.

“Anna! I’ve missed you.”

“You must tell me all about it? How is that old house?”

“It’s beautiful.” Nora sighed. “And getting more so as they clean it up.”

“They?” She lifted a red brow. “Don’t tell me you got that ghastly lot of brothers of yours to work?”

“Well, Derrick Black did.”

“Lord Black?” She reared back. Stepping sideways as she nearly retreated from Nora. “He’s been staying with you?”

“He’s a friend of Nicholas’.”

She eyed her askance a moment before slowly saying. “Well, that is an interesting turn of events…”

“It has been.” Nora paused. “Would you care to go to the Grier Library with me?”

“Indeed!” Anna clapped cheerfully as she bounced. “Creamed tea!”

“Of course, for the tea…”

“And you!” Anna gave her a reprimanding look.

Anna quickly dressed in a voluminous purple gown and hat. Stepping into Nora’s readied carriage they headed to the Library. The pungent scent of Anna’s floral perfumes assailed Nora.

Even the wolf following the carriage kept pausing to toss its head and to lean over and scrub its snout with its paws.

“Anna, I must do some research. Please don’t ask me for what!” Nora rushed as Anna opened her mouth.

“As you’d have it then…So why am I going if you don’t wish to confide in me?” There was a wounded note to her voice.

“I don’t want to go alone.”

Looking concerned Anna touched her arm and said. “Whatever you need.”

There was a long silence before Anna filled it with mindless chatter.

The carriage driver drew up outside the Library. Helping them down he walked them to the doors where the two footman swung open the double doors.

The scent of parchment, leather and warm tea greeted them.

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