Myles de Lohr is about to find out.
Welcome to another epic Medieval Romance with the sons of Christopher de Lohr!
As the humorless, sometimes taciturn middle de Lohr brother, Myles is all-knight, all-the-time. The man couldn’t crack a smile to save his life and something like romance is completely out of his wheelhouse. Love has never crossed his mind until he meets a woman who sweeps him off his feet.
Or, so he thinks.
Unfamiliar with the difference between love and lust, Myles is convinced he is in love with Lady Aviara, an epic flirt. Enter Myles’ cousin, Oliver de Grey. As the Earl of Ilchester, Oliver views Aviara as a prize and steals her out from under Myles’ nose. As Aviara becomes Lady Ilchester, Myles is convinced his life is over and he has lost everything.
Until he meets Veronica de Wolviston.
Veronica’s father was a much-sought-after cartographer and a vassal of Myles’ father, Christopher de Lohr. When Edgar de Wolviston passes away, he leaves a note asking Christopher to escort his daughter to her betrothed. With Myles in turmoil after losing the lady he lusted after, Christopher orders his muddled son to take Veronica north and deliver her to her betrothed, hoping the trip will clear his son’s head.
Surely no two people in this history of the world have ever made more miserable traveling companions.
And that is the start of an unexpected – but eye-opening – revelation for Myles when it comes to the bookish, brilliant Veronica. Join the star-crossed couple on a journey for the ages, where the understanding of friendship and love are something both of them must learn from one another, where loyalty and honor mean more than lust and instant gratification, and where the growth of true and deep love is something that comes from the very soul. None of that is more evident when Myles is unexpectedly presented with the choice between the woman he lusted after and Veronica. Then, he has an epiphany.
It’s a decision that only his heart can make... when the heart of a lion is the biggest heart of all.
Read for FREE in Kindle Unlimited!
Sons of de Lohr series:
Lion of Twilight
Lion of War
Lion of Hearts
Lion of Thunder (2024)
Lion of Steel (2024)
Release date: February 8, 2024
Publisher: Kathryn Le Veque Novels, Inc.
Print pages: 317
* BingeBooks earns revenue from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate as well as from other retail partners.
Lion of Hearts
Kathryn Le Veque
Year of Our Lord 1235
She’d been flirting with him all night.
Myles de Lohr was convinced that he was the only one she’d been flirting with, a
beautiful and alluring vixen with a golden cap on her head and golden tassels that brushed
against her shoulders when she moved. She had dark hair curling out from underneath the
cap and pale, flashing eyes that had been sending him titillating glances from the moment
he walked into the great hall of Tidworth.
And why not? Myles was what his brothers referred to as a beauteous lad. With flowing
blond hair, a square jaw, and eyes the color of the sky, he was a prime male specimen. Most
of his brothers had the blond good looks and their father’s soaring height, too, but with
Myles, it was taken a step further.
He was a god.
Gods had their pick of women, and tonight would be no different for Myles—although in
his case, the pick of women had nothing to do with romance or even wooing. It had
everything to do with conquest. Cold, unfeeling conquest.
Myles was a conqueror.
He was also on a mission.
As one of the senior operatives of a covert group of agents known as the Executioner
Knights, he was at Tidworth Castle for a purpose, and that purpose wasn’t to flirt with the
lady in the golden cap, although he knew her well and had for some time. Lady Aviara de
Serreaux was the daughter of a friend of his father’s, a lass who lived at Aldsworth Castle in
Gloucestershire and who had fostered with Myles’ youngest sister. She’d probably been in
love with Myles for that long, or at least in lust with him, so seeing her at this feast given by
a de Lohr ally wasn’t unusual.
But it was… unwanted.
Myles didn’t need the distraction.
“Stay away from her.” The voice in his ear was soft, deep. “I know she’s been eyeing you
all night, Myles, but stay away from her. I need you on task.”
Myles recognized the voice of his eldest brother, Peter de Lohr. Also known as the Earl of
Farringdon, he was in command of the Executioner Knights. Control of England’s most elite
group of spies had been passed down to Peter when the Earl of Pembroke, Ansel Marshal,
passed away. Ansel was the son of the man that many referred to as England’s greatest
knight, William Marshal, who had formed the Executioner Knights during the days of King
Richard’s reign, using some of the greatest warriors in the world. These days, the
Executioner Knights were formed of legacy members, meaning their fathers—or
mothers—had once been part of the contingent. There was a mighty group of spies in the
hall as a result.
And they were on the hunt.
“I am on task,” Myles said after a moment, his eyes on the hall. “Why would you think I
Peter stood next to his brother, his gaze on the same people that Myles was looking at. “I
will say this only once,” he said with quiet authority. “We are in a brittle situation, Myles,
and I need your focus. I realize your young woman is seated near the dais, in conversation
with her giddy friends, and I further realize she is quite aware of your presence. She is also
aware of Oliver’s presence.”
That was the magic name, as far as Myles was concerned, and not in a good way. He
knew very well that his brother was referring to a distant de Lohr cousin, Oliver de Grey,
who was also in attendance at the feast—and when Peter mentioned the name, it was like
throwing water on a fire.
Myles struggled not to feel doused.
“That makes no difference,” he insisted. “Oliver is immaterial to my life or pursuits.”
Peter looked at him. “Then you are the only one in England who does not know that Lady
Aviara de Serreaux has been pitting you against Oliver for months,” he hissed. “Hell, she’s
been doing it for at least two years that I can recall, and possibly longer than that. Are you
truly so dense, Myles? Your aloof and apathetic behavior is believable only so far. Do you
really not know what she is doing?”
“Clearly, I am not as stupid as you think I am.”
“I never said you were stupid. I asked if you were dense when it came to a woman.”
“I’m offended that you would even ask that question.”
He meant it. Myles was not a good-natured man. Taciturn was where he began. Where he
ended, no one knew, because he wasn’t congenial or jovial or even particularly
likable—until one got him drunk, and then all of that suppressed personality came out. But
in fairness, he had his good qualities—he was loyal to the bone, brave as few men were, and
morally just in all situations. Myles was a man of honor, a man of good character, but the
warmth that his brothers had, including Peter, was sorely lacking in him. Simply put, Myles
was indeed cold and aloof and, at times, quite emotionless, although no one could figure out
why. It wasn’t as if he’d had a brutal childhood or been raised by barbarians. He’d been
raised by loving parents in a loving family. But one would have never known it based solely
on his behavior.
Myles de Lohr was as cold as ice.
An attribute that made him one of the better Executioner Knights, however, if not the
best. If there was something down, dirty, and deep that needed to be done, Myles would do
it without question. He wasn’t swayed by tears or begging, nor pleading. He would
complete his task no matter what. Peter knew that, but he also knew that Aviara had been
taunting his cold brother for months now, drawing him in with her flirting and giggling and
then playing him against his rival, Oliver de Grey.
That distant cousin he’d spoken of.
Truth be told, Oliver wasn’t a terrible person. Quite the opposite. He was cousin to the
House of de Lohr on their paternal grandfather’s side, and Myles considered him a friend.
At least, he had at one time. But that was before Lady Aviara began her campaign of
flirtatious bombardment, pitting the beauteous but cold Myles against the charming but
Peter didn’t want any part of that woman’s plans to interfere with his own.
“Then I am sorry if you are offended, but I have a job to do,” Peter muttered after a
moment. “So do you. I must make sure that you are on task and not falling for that woman’s
Myles’ patience finally left him, and he looked at his brother, scowling. “Be plain, Peter,”
he growled. “What has you harping on me like an old fishwife?”
Peter cocked an eyebrow. “If I was harping on you, I would be much more obvious than
this,” he said. “All I know is that more than a year ago, Lady Aviara and her father stopped
at Lioncross Abbey to break their journey from Liverpool. Bertrand de Serreaux is a friend
of Papa’s, that is true, and Olivia fostered with Aviara, so they knew her. It was, by all
accounts, an innocuous visit, until Aviara decided that she had to have your attention. All of
it. Worse still, Oliver was visiting because Papa had some business with his father, and Lady
Aviara discovered that she had two knights to pit against one another for her affections.
This is the story I got from Papa, so if it is a lie, then you can tell him to his face. Is it a lie,
Myles was unhappy with the turn the conversation had taken. “That is Papa’s opinion,”
he said. “It was not mine. Peter, I can focus on my task with or without Lady Aviara. Do you
really think I would fail? I’ve not failed you yet.”
Peter backed down a little. “Nay, you’ve never failed me,” he said. “But this is an
important gathering. We have a courtier who is sending information to the French king on
Henry’s movements. Every time the king makes a decision to move men, or he devises
political plans, Louis finds out. With the tension between Henry and Louis right now, that
puts Louis at an advantage, but more than that, it is dangerous. Louis is planning on going
on crusade, and the pope himself has promised to protect the man’s lands while he is away.
That puts Henry in peril should he move against France, because he and Louis are verging
on war. Henry would be fighting the pope.”
Myles sighed softly. “I know.”
“Then you also know that Henry would call upon Papa and you and me, and we would all
be fighting the church.”
“That would be a disaster for us, Myles.”
Myles was well aware. This situation was more than the need to support the king,
because this situation, in particular, had far-reaching implications for Henry’s allies and
their relationship with the Catholic Church. If Henry went to war against France, which
would be under the pope’s protection, it would be a mess that the English warlords would
likely not soon recover from.
God may be forgiving, but the pope wasn’t.
“Papa sent word to the man we know who is passing secrets to Louis,” Myles said in a
low voice. “He summoned him to Tidworth’s gathering under the pretext of meeting with
him. No one refuses a summons from the great Christopher de Lohr.”
Peter nodded. “Indeed not,” he said, looking around the hall. His gaze fell on a tall, young
nobleman near the dais in conversation with a few men. “But the truth is that there is a spy
from Louis here tonight who is preparing to connect with the courtier. In fact, I see that
courtier now. Seabourne St. Albans has always been a congenial man, and well liked by
Henry. A pity he is a traitor.”
Myles’ gaze moved to St. Albans, who was taller than most of the men in the hall, with
receding blond hair that hardly covered his scalp as it reflected the candles from the
chandeliers overhead. He had an impeccable pedigree hiding a mountain of debt,
something Louis was more than happy to pay for in exchange for a little information.
That was the crux of the situation.
“And the French spy?” Myles asked softly.
Peter turned away, looking at his brother again. “We have paid a good deal of money to
discover that he is posing as a servant and will be serving Lord Tidworth personally. He
will make contact with Henry’s courtier at that time, and when the courier excuses himself
from Tidworth’s table, we will follow him. We must intercept him and the spy before the
exchange can be made. You, Myles, will be charged with watching St. Albans. Never let the
man out of your sight. If he moves, you move.”
Myles nodded firmly. “Aye, my lord.”
“The other agents will move when you do. You are our lead.”
Again, Myles nodded. He was usually the man to make the first move in situations like
this because he was so infallible. He knew the operation rested on him.
He preferred it that way.
“Who else is in the hall?” he asked. “I’ve only seen Broden.”
He was referring to another cousin, Broden du Reims, a man to whom he was close.
Unlike Oliver, Broden and Myles had been close since childhood, and Broden was a likeable
man. Son of the Earl of East Anglia, he was auburn-haired and quick-tempered, and he and
Myles had bonded over their mutually cold temperament.
But he wasn’t the only one in the hall.
Peter gestured toward the entry.
“Andrew and Madoc are over by the door,” he said. “They are dressed in the regalia of a
Tidworth knight. Do you recognize them?”
Myles had to look hard, something he didn’t really want to do, because anyone watching
him would want to see what he was looking at, but it was necessary. He spied his nephew,
Andrew, son of his older sister, Christin, a tall and muscular lad who looked just like his
black-haired, black-eyed father, Alexander. But it took him a moment to identify Madoc of
Loxbeare, son of one of the original Executioner Knights. Madoc had more the look of his
mother, with pale hair and brown eyes, but he was built like a bull, as his father was. When
a knight near the entry shoved back some revelers who had come to crash the party, Myles
immediately realized it was the heavy-handed Madoc.
“Aye,” he finally said. “I see them. Peter, if you put Madoc of Loxbeare in charge of
admitting guests, he is going to kill people who are not to his liking.”
Peter fought off a grin. “Or start a war.”
Myles rolled his eyes. “He’s just like Maxton,” he mumbled. “Just like his father. Maxton
was a brute.”
Peter smirked. “That is Papa talking.”
“Papa was right.”
That comment had Peter breaking down into soft laughter. “Papa and Maxton were
never what you would call friends,” he said. “I think they were just far too similar. But they
would have died, or killed, for one another. They were the true heart of what an ally should
Myles couldn’t dispute that. The dislike between Christopher de Lohr and Maxton of
Loxbeare was legendary in the annals of the Executioner Knights, but Peter was
right—either one of them would have killed, or died, for the other. Such were allies at
times, knowing they needed one another in spite of their personal opinions of one another.
Some wondered if, deep down, they really did like each other.
“Mayhap,” Myles said after a moment. “Papa and Maxton aside, however, I’m still not
sure I agree with your putting Madoc at that post. But he is there and we must make the
best of it. Who else is in the hall?”
Peter dipped his head toward the eastern side of the hall, where many were gathered
around a table that had been laid out with elaborate food creations for the guests to
admire. There were also never-ending pitchers of wine and boiled fruit juice for those who
couldn’t tolerate the strong drink. Dozens of people were picking over the table, with
hovering servants nearby, and it took Myles a moment to recognize Corey MacRohan and
Bowie Forbes, finely dressed as guests.
Corey was the son of Bric MacRohan, England’s greatest Irish legacy knight, while Bowie
was the son of the great Gart Forbes. In battle, no man had been Gart’s equal, and he’d
served the House of de Lohr flawlessly for many years. Both families were allied with
Tidworth, so their disguises as guests were completely appropriate. No one would think it
odd to see them. But as Myles watched, Bowie reached for something on the table, and a
serving wench standing nearby slapped him on the hand. He withdrew the appendage
sharply and wandered away.
Myles struggled not to react.
“Did I just see Alis de Dere slap her husband?” he said incredulously.
Peter had been watching the same thing. “You did,” he said. “Alis is posing as a servant to
glean what information she can from those who serve Tidworth. It also gives her an
opportunity to keep an eye on St. Albans. But she is clearly trying to keep Bowie from the
wine. The man needs to be clearheaded tonight.”
Myles couldn’t help but grin at Alis, tough as nails and a Blackchurch-trained warrior
just like her mother, married to Bowie Forbes, who was quite possibly one of the most
congenial and likable men in England. But he had his father’s vicious temperament when
provoked, making him one of the deadlier men as well. When Alis slapped, Bowie
obediently slinked away, properly rebuked by his lovely but formidable wife. Myles always
thought Bowie and Alis’ marriage was one of the better matches he’d encountered.
And he was glad to have the pair here in the hall.
The Executioner Knights had come prepared.
“What will you do now?” Myles asked his brother. “And where do you want me?”
Peter gestured toward the dais. “I will attach myself to Tidworth,” he said. “You find
MacRohan, and the two of you will watch St. Albans like a hawk. And I’ll be watching you in
case you move.”
“Aye, my lord,” Myles said. But then he seemed to look around as if searching for
something. “I see everyone else, but where is Broden?”
“I’ve put him outside in the bailey,” Peter said. “If St. Albans or the spy escapes us, he is
the net. They will not get past him.”
“Go forth, brother.”
With that, they separated, heading into the smoky, fragrant hall and mingling with the
crowd that was growing by the moment. It seemed that several houses arrived at the same
time, so Madoc and Andrew were admitting people, though holding off those who were
heavily armed. Tidworth had requested that arms be left outside the hall, which didn’t go
over well with some of the attendees, so Madoc found himself frequently posturing in a
threatening manner until those protesting were forced to bend.
Much like his father, he’d always enjoyed that part of his profession.
Making others bend.
But Myles had missed most of it because he was fixed on Corey, who was over by the
table laden with food. As he walked up, the big knight was shoving stuffed eggs into his
face, and, with his mouth so full he could hardly chew, he caught sight of Myles. He tried to
grin, but that revealed the big, white side of the hardboiled egg only. It looked like the man
had egg for teeth.
Myles shook his head reproachfully.
“God’s Bones, MacRohan,” he said. “You are going to choke if you continue to eat like
Corey, big and blond and quite handsome, struggled to chew and managed to swallow
some of it before speaking. “I grew up with brothers who would steal food out from
underneath me,” he said. “My father would encourage us to take what we wanted, when we
wanted, but my mother admonished us to show manners and thoughtfulness. Quite
confusing for a gang of half-Irish lads who all possessed that wild streak.”
Myles fought off a smile. “I adore your father,” he said. “How is Bric these days?”
“Just as he always is,” Corey said. “He is big and powerful and beloved by all.”
“Still at Narborough Castle?”
“Still. He’ll never leave.”
“And your mother?”
“She has my father falling at her feet, as usual.”
“And her children, too, I would imagine.”
“Of course. Eiselle MacRohan is our rock.”
Myles understood that because he had a mother who was much the same. Formidable
and greatly loved, Dustin de Lohr was the beating heart of their family. He reached down
and collected one of those eggs Corey seemed to be so fond of, realizing they were stuffed
with meat and quite delicious. He took a couple.
“You have your orders, do you not?” he asked Corey, his mouth full.
Corey took another egg because he didn’t want Myles getting all of them. “I am to
“And so you shall.”
With that, they pretended to be just like any other guest, eating everything they could
get their hands on. The stuffed eggs were only the beginning. But when it came to the wine,
they took the boiled juice instead. As Corey found a braided loaf of bread to tear apart,
Myles was caught off guard by a vision in silk in his periphery. Before he could turn around,
a soft voice arose.
“I should be very angry with you, Myles de Lohr.”
Lady Aviara had snuck up on him, and Myles silently cursed himself for being stupid
enough to have let her. He caught a faint whiff of perfume—undoubtedly very
expensive—that assaulted his nose to the point of his having to shake off a sneeze. His eyes
were watering as he focused on the beautiful young woman in the gold cap.
“Good eve, my lady,” he said evenly. “What dastardly thing have I done to cause you such
She batted her eyelashes at him in a practiced gesture. “You did not greet me when you
entered,” she said. “You went to the other side of the hall, and I saw you speaking to your
brother. He does not like me, you know. He never has. He must have poisoned you against
Myles lifted a blond eyebrow. “What a thing to say,” he said. “No one could poison me
against you. And I did not come to you directly because I had a message for Peter from our
mother. That is something I could not delay.”
It was a lie, but she had no reason to believe otherwise. Her features relaxed and she
“Then I forgive you,” she said, looping her hands through the crook of his elbow
affectionately. “And how is Lady de Lohr getting on?”
“Remarkably, as always. I shall tell her you asked after her health.”
“Please do,” Aviara said. “And Olivia?”
“She is very well.”
“I am glad to hear it.” Aviara still had him with one hand as she turned to the table and
pointed. “Would you fetch me some wine? I am parched.”
Myles dutifully grasped the pitcher with the wine, made difficult by the fact that Aviara
was clinging to his left arm. But he managed to pour her a cup, handing it to her. She let go
of him long enough to grasp the drink, but their fingers brushed during the hand-off, and
she smiled alluringly at him as she sipped the tart, strong wine.
“It has been a few weeks since we last saw one another,” she said.
Myles smiled faintly. “Six weeks, three days, and about twelve hours,” he said. “Had I not
made the journey into Gloucester for my father back in the spring, we would not have seen
one another at all. It was quite fortuitous.”
Her smile faded. “I know,” she said. “Myles… I hope I can speak freely.”
“I cannot go the rest of my life hoping we will see one another from time to time.”
“What do you mean?”
She sighed sharply. “Must I explain myself?”
Myles was at a loss. “I suppose you must. Am I being dense?”
She frowned. “You are,” she said. “Terribly dense. You have been terribly dense for the
past two years, and I cannot depend on good fortune or God or whatever winds of fate you
believe in to put us in the right place at the right time so that we may see one another. I
have done everything I can to ensure we were at the same place at the same time, the same
feasts, the same gatherings, but I cannot continue that indefinitely.”
He was waiting for her to continue, but she stopped, so he looked at her, eyes narrowed,
trying to figure out what she was attempting to say.
“Are you asking to know my plans?” he said. “Things I am to do during the course of my
duties so that you can be where I am? Because I do not know everything, my lady. I—”
She cut him off with a frustrated grunt. “God, you truly are dense,” she said. “It is a good
thing you are handsome, Myles de Lohr, because you are as dumb as a sack of rocks. I am
trying to tell you that I wish for there to be something more between us, but since you’ve
not brought it up, it appears I must be the one to finally present the subject, and I refuse to
wait any longer.”
“I want you to court me.”
Myles’ eyebrows shot up. “Court you?” he said, suddenly feeling uneasy and, frankly, a
little nervous. “I… Is that what this is about? You want to… to be married?”
His clear reluctance wasn’t what Aviara wanted to hear. Her mouth popped open in
outrage. “You’ve not even considered it?” she nearly shouted. “How, in God’s name, can you
say that? You mean all of the sweet words we’ve spoken between us have meant nothing to
Faced with an angry woman, Myles struggled to come up with an answer. “In fairness,
you spoke the sweet words,” he said. “I merely let you.”
Aviara slammed the cup down, splashing wine onto the table. “Is that so?” she said
angrily. “And what about the kisses at Lioncross back in January when my father and I
visited? I seem to recall that you kissed me.”
“And you let me.”
“I am coming to see that I should not have!”
Myles wasn’t quite sure why she was so angry, but deep down, he suspected he knew.
He’d indeed been dense, and he’d let a pretty woman flatter him. But she wanted something
in return. Truth be told, she was pretty enough to marry, and would more than likely give
him strong sons. That was reason enough to marry, wasn’t it? Good breeding? And he liked
her fire—it was a great contrast to his coldness. Aye, he liked her well enough.
However, he was in no position for a romantic conversation.
He had a task to complete this night, and he was dangerously close to losing his focus. He
didn’t want Aviara angry at him, but the truth was that he wasn’t very good with women.
He never seemed to say the right thing. He knew what she wanted—he’d always
known—and perhaps someday he would court her, but not now. He wasn’t in any hurry. He
was frankly astonished that she would be so bold about it, so unless he wanted to lose her
attention, he would have to make amends.
Truth be told, he had no idea how, but he had to try.
“Aviara, you know I am not very good when it comes to flattery,” he said. “You must
forgive me for being… dense. Of course I would like to speak to you further, but not now.
Not in a hall full of people. I would rather do it when we are alone, with no distractions. I… I
do not wish to share your attention with anyone.”
The flame of anger in Aviara’s eyes dimmed, but it didn’t go out completely. “That is
what I want to hear,” she said. “You do not have to behave so evasively, Myles.”
“I am not deliberately trying to be evasive.”
She softened further. Finally, she grinned because she knew Myles very well. “I know,”
she said. “You are simply being what you always are—a rock. A cold, immovable, dense
He smiled weakly. “I suppose it is my nature.”
“It is,” she said, her eyes twinkling. “But you are one rock I wish to warm. We’ve had this
He was glad that she didn’t seem so angry. He may not have wanted to marry her
tomorrow, but that didn’t mean he wanted her angry with him. “I know,” he said, shrugging.
“What more can I say? It is simply the way I am.”
Aviara’s smile grew. “And it is maddening,” she said. “But will you at least try to behave
as if you like me? It would make me feel as if this is not such a one-sided venture.”
His smile grew. “I do like you,” he said softly. “Better than any other lady I know. But you
must give me time to show it.”
“I will be old and gray before that happens,” she said, rolling her eyes. “And next time I
bring up the subject of courtship and romance, you do not have to pretend not to know
what I am speaking of. That is insulting.”
“I did not mean to insult you, truly.”
“Whom did you insult, Myles?”
The question came from behind, and Myles turned to see Oliver coming up alongside
him, smiling directly at Aviara. Charming, amiable Oliver with hair the color of dirty straw
and a big gap between his front teeth. Before Myles could reply, Oliver spoke in that smooth
way he was so capable of.
“Well?” he said to Aviara. “What did my cousin say to you that was so terribly insulting?”
Aviara wasn’t in a particularly forgiving mood. Besides, she’d become quite practiced at
pitting Myles against Oliver to stroke her feminine ego.
“Myles does not seem to want to court me at the moment,” she said. “What do you think,
Ollie? Am I worth courting?”
Oliver didn’t hesitate. He reached out and took her hand in a genteel manner. “Of course
you are, my lady,” he said sweetly. “In fact, I should ask to court you this very moment if I
thought you would accept. Myles may not appreciate you, but I certainly do.”
Myles watched with growing displeasure as Oliver kissed Aviara’s hand. She turned her
charm to Oliver, smiling at him, clearly intent on making Myles jealous, but he hadn’t the
time to react because someone was hissing in his ear.
“Myles,” came the voice. “Myles!”
It was Corey. Myles was forced to turn away from Aviara and Oliver, snapping his head
around as Corey indicated St. Albans, now moving up beside Tidworth at the same time
several servants approached the dais with food in their hands. Immediately, Myles moved
away from Aviara and Oliver, his hawklike focus on St. Albans as the man stood next to
Tidworth, engaging him in conversation. As Myles and Corey watched, a small man with
dark hair, bearing a Tidworth tunic, brought a trencher and a knife to Tidworth. He set the
trencher down, but St. Albans reached out to politely take the knife by the hilt, and then
carefully set it down next to Tidworth’s trencher.
But he had something in his hand.
Something had been attached to the hilt of the knife, but neither Myles nor Corey could
see what it was. They simply knew it was there by the way St. Albans was clutching a fist.
The servant quickly left the dais, only to be followed by Alis, in her servant’s garb, and then
eventually by Bowie, who followed his wife casually from the hall. Myles and Corey were
focused on St. Albans, however, and they continued to watch him as he spoke amiably to
Tidworth and another lord at the table, before glancing at his hand, pausing, and then
casually moving away from the dais.
Myles and Corey went in pursuit.
Aviara was following. Myles ignored her, moving after St. Albans as the man headed for
the main entry of the hall, but Aviara ran up behind him and grabbed him by the arm.
“Myles de Lohr!” she said furiously. “Where are you going?”
Corey was still following St. Albans, but Myles had been forced to come to a halt. Having
no patience for interference, even from Aviara, he yanked his hand away from her.
“Out,” he said. “I will find you later.”
He turned to move away again, but she charged after him. “Don’t you dare leave,” she
said. “We are not finished with our conversation!”
Myles didn’t have time for her tantrums. In fact, he could see Peter closing in quickly on
them, and he hastened to get rid of Aviara. “We are finished for the moment,” he said to the
woman, fearful of what his brother might say to her. “I will seek you later and we will
continue our conversation, but for now, I must go.”
“You,” Peter spat at Aviara, pulling her away by the arm. “Go back to your father and
leave my brother alone.”
Seeing that it was Peter, a man who had historically been impervious to her charms,
Aviara turned on him viciously. “You cannot order me about,” she said angrily. “I do not
care if you are the Earl of Farringdon. My business is with Myles and not you!”
Peter’s eyes narrowed at her as his patience vanished. He didn’t much like her as it was,
and her insolence displeased him greatly. “You’ve been teasing and taunting my brother for
some time now,” he said. “You pit him against de Grey in the competition for your
affections, and do not deny it. We’ve all seen you do it. You use the tricks of a harlot, so if
you do not want me to think of you as one, I would suggest you return to your father and
stop tormenting my brother. Your games are unbecoming a lady of your breeding.”
Aviara’s mouth popped open in utter rage, but before she could reply, Peter was moving
away from her, blowing past his brother as he headed for the door. Myles knew that he had
no choice but to follow, and he did, leaving Aviara standing where they’d left her, insulted
But he couldn’t think about that now.
He had a job to do.
Once outside the hall, Myles rushed past his brother, pursuing Corey to the bailey
outside, where St. Albans seemed to be heading for the outbuildings that housed the smithy
and wheelwright, among others. St. Albans didn’t seem to be aware of his surroundings
because he wasn’t looking around to see if he was being followed or observed, but even so,
Myles caught up with Corey and pulled the man into the shadows. As they stood in the
darkness of the gateway that led into the smithy yard, Peter came up on the other side of
the gate, watching St. Albans as well.
For several long and tense moments, they simply watched.
But they didn’t have to wait long.
This part of the yard was connected to the stables, which was a large, L-shaped block.
Part of it contained a corral with a roof over it. The smell of horses and hay was heavy in
the air as St. Albans came to a halt in the middle of the yard, clearly waiting for something.
Or someone. He kept looking to the stable, and as Myles and the others watched, they saw
the man flinch as if he’d heard something. Then he flinched again as a pair of men came
barreling through the stable door, spilling out into the smithy yard. Fists were flying as
Bowie, in combat with the French spy, landed in the midst of the yard.
But that wasn’t the only fight going on.
Chaos was instant.
Inside the stable, Alis was in a fight of her own against two more men, but neither Myles
nor Peter nor Corey could see it. They could hear it, however, and realizing there was
mortal danger to two of the Executioner Knights, they came out of the shadows. Myles
bolted for the stables along with Corey, and Peter headed for Bowie. While Bowie’s
opponent was subdued quickly once Peter entered the fight, the battle in the stables was
It was bloody from the onset.
Alis had done her best against two opponents. She’d held them admirably, which both
confused and infuriated them. No one had known that the French spy had other men with
him, spies that had come along for support, so Alis had been attacked from behind by one of
them and ended up with a dagger in her shoulder. But she wore a broadsword underneath
her peasant skirts, and even with the injured shoulder, she was still managing to hold off
two men. However, her wound was bleeding and she was quickly tiring as a vicious fight
ensued. As Myles rushed into the stable, he pulled the sword from her grip and assumed
her fight. Normally, Alis would have slugged him for such a thing, but she was in pain and
She let Myles take charge.
As Alis moved aside, heading out into the smithy yard to see how her husband fared,
Myles and Corey went after the two French opponents with a vengeance. No one survived
against a de Lohr and a MacRohan for long, and in little time, the Frenchmen realized they
were in trouble. Both Myles and Corey were fresh and in full health, and they managed to
quickly beat back the Frenchmen, who weren’t giving up without a fight. But that changed
when Broden rushed in through the main stable entry, coming up behind the Frenchmen
and lifting his broadsword, taking off the head of one of them right away.
The dynamics instantly changed.
The man who was left realized he would be killed if he didn’t surrender, so he
immediately dropped his sword and fell to his knees, holding up his hands in supplication.
“Ne me tue pas!” he cried. “Montrer de la pitié!”
Myles bent over the man and grabbed him around the neck with a hand the size of a
trencher. “I will consider it,” he growled. “Tell me if there are any more French bastards
here. Did you bring more men with you?”
The Frenchman was clearly terrified. “I do not know what you mean,” he said. “The lady
attacked us. We were fighting for our lives!”
Myles cocked an eyebrow. “Lie to me again and I will ensure your death is as painful as
possible,” he said. “I will ask again. Did you bring more men with you?”
The Frenchman faltered, and when he did, Myles squeezed so that the man’s face turned
purple. He was struggling to breathe, finally fighting back against Myles’ iron grip. Myles
responded by balling a fist and hitting the man squarely in the face. Bones cracked and
teeth broke as the man ended up on the ground of the stable, bleeding profusely.
“I will ask once more,” Myles said unemotionally. “Did you bring more men with you?”
The Frenchman was bleeding all over the place. He sat up unsteadily, spitting out blood
and trying to wipe it from his mouth. “Non,” he finally said, muffled by his pummeled
mouth. “No more men.”
Myles considered him for a moment before turning to Corey. “Take him to the gatehouse
and release him,” he said, quietly enough that the Frenchman couldn’t hear him. “Follow
him and see if he leads you to more French spies.”
Corey looked at him with suspicion. “You do not believe him?”
“I do not.”
“Nor do I.”
“Then go forth.”
Corey nodded, reaching down to pull the man to his feet. As he dragged the injured
Frenchman from the stable, Broden came to stand with Myles, watching MacRohan with his
“What do you think?” Broden asked quietly. “Do you think there are more?”
Myles shrugged. “If there are, surely he will lead us to them,” he said. “Mayhap he is
more valuable alive.”
“Who is more valuable?”
Peter came up behind them, a streak of blood across his face that wasn’t his. He saw the
headless body on the ground and pointed.
“Who is this?” he asked.
Myles didn’t answer. He was looking at the body, so Broden spoke up. “One of the men
fighting Myles and Corey,” he said.
Peter looked at him. “Where is the other one?”
Broden gestured toward the gatehouse. “Corey is releasing the man,” he said, wondering
why Myles wasn’t speaking up. “Myles thought it would be better not to kill him, but to
release him and then have Corey follow him to see if he joins up with other Frenchmen.”
Peter looked at his brother. “There are others,” he said. “The spy just confessed that
there are others waiting in the village. If the spy you just released gets to them and tells
them what he knows, then they will scatter back to France.”
Myles wouldn’t look at him. “I doubt he knows anything,” he said. “The meeting between
St. Albans and the spy was never made. Words were never exchanged.”
“That you know of,” Peter said, increasingly frustrated. “Do not let that man leave, Myles.
Go and get him now.”
It was a command, not meant to be disobeyed. Myles didn’t say a word as he headed out
of the stable, eventually breaking into a run to catch Corey and the Frenchman just as they
reached the gatehouse. He managed to grab the Frenchman by the hair and drag the man
all the way back to the stable where Peter was waiting. He practically threw him at his
brother’s feet and then stood there while Peter interrogated the man.
It was a nasty business.
It was also a long activity that went well into the night. When Peter was finally certain
that the Frenchman didn’t know anything at all about St. Albans or the exchange of
information, he sent him off with Broden to be imprisoned in Tidworth’s vault until they
could decide what to do with him. Two out of the three French spies were dead, St. Albans
was imprisoned for transport back to London to face Henry’s wrath, and the Executioner
Knights had prevented yet another potentially catastrophic happening against Henry’s
But something else catastrophic had happened that night.
When Myles returned to the hall later that night to find Aviara and apologize for Peter’s
harsh words, he was told in no uncertain terms that the lady didn’t wish to speak to
him—by Aviara’s father, no less. Bertrand de Serreaux was a kind man with a good deal of
wealth and a daughter who would make someone very rich through marriage. He had been
hoping that man would be Myles de Lohr, but Aviara had tales of being horribly insulted by
the Earl of Farringdon, and that brought her father’s wrath.
It was something that could affect the alliance with Christopher de Lohr, too.
Unfortunately, Myles had never been a good negotiator. He was all business, all the time,
and in battle, there was no one finer. In an interrogation, Myles could extract information
when no one else could. He was a man of few words, but those few words were important.
Therefore, he was at a loss as to how to soothe Bertrand, a valuable ally, so all he could do
was apologize for his brother’s boorish behavior. He couldn’t even explain it away because
he couldn’t think of a lie that would be convincing enough. But when Peter entered the hall
some time later, Myles had a few choice words for his brother.
For the alliance with Christopher, Peter tried. But for anything to do with Aviara, he
And Myles knew it. ...
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