In the ten years since Gavin had last seen him, Lord Aldred had aged considerably.
His eyes wandered to the woman seated to Aldred’s right. A gorgeous mass of auburn curls spilled down the back of Lady Elizabeth’s dark blue surcoat. ‘Twas almost a sinful display of great beauty, to have hair unbound in such a manner. She sat as royalty would, with a self-assurance and grace that made her all the more attractive.
She chatted easily with Lord Aldred. The camaraderie between them was obvious. Gavin listened as she rendered several judgments in a row and realized this woman had become the real power at Kentwood. Her quick and thoughtful decisions would make her a formidable opponent in war. He was glad she was a woman, for he would never willingly tangle with the likes of her on the battlefield.
“Have we reached all decisions needed on this day?” Her voice rang out clearly through the hall. He admired her presence and wondered who her sire was.
When no one stepped forward, she again called out, “Does any man or woman wish to speak to Lord Aldred or myself before we adjourn?”
A half-dozen stepped forward, most praising Lady Elizabeth in one way or another. It irritated Gavin by this point at how this lady seemed more revered than the very master of Kentwood. Finally, he moved toward the dais.
As he stepped up, the last remaining man to speak, he looked to Lord Aldred.
“I come to pay homage to—”
“Gavin!” Lord Aldred cried in delight. He stood and then staggered forward.
Gavin rushed toward him and caught the old man as he fell. He placed the nobleman’s still form on the ground. As he did, he felt the woman’s gaze burning into him.
“My lady,” he said, his tone even.
With fire in her green eyes, she almost growled at him, “If you’ve killed him, I’ll see you dead.”
*Excerpt coming soon!