It’s William de Wolfe’s (The Wolfe) eldest grandchild and namesake, William “Will” de Wolfe in an unconventional romance that is going to break your heart… and then put the pieces back together again. Welcome to the greatest de Wolfe Pack generation!
William “Will” de Wolfe has the weight of the entire de Wolfe empire weighing on him. Perfection is key. Living up to the grandfather he was named for has been something he’s had to deal with his entire life. But Will is strong, noble, true, and powerful… everything a man named William de Wolfe should be. Except he’s living through a personal tragedy no man should have to live through.
Will was very young when he married his wife, Lily de Lohr. As the great-granddaughter of Christopher de Lohr, the marriage forever linked the Houses of de Wolfe and de Lohr. The children born of the marriage are considered to have some of the finest bloodlines in England. But tragedy strikes when pregnant Lily is diagnosed with a terminal illness. And she wants to pick her husband’s next wife.
More than that, she wants him to fall in love with her.
When his dying wife plays matchmaker, how successful can the relationship be between Will and Adria de Geld, the daughter of a de Lohr ally? Lily is determined that Adria should replace her in Will’s heart and in his bed, something Adria is reluctant to do but she cannot help but feel the attraction to the handsome, tortured knight. She soon finds out that his torment is not only because of his dying wife, but because of a terrible secret that Lily hides. Will only found out by accident and it is that, more than anything, tearing him to pieces. A terrible secret that could tear apart two of England’s greatest families.
Can Adria and Will’s love take flight in spite of the dire circumstances? Or will Will’s torment overshadow a truly gifted, intelligent, and beautiful woman who has managed to fall in love with him?
De Wolfe Pack Generations/ Grandsons of de Wolfe series:
WolfeHeart (Markus de Wolfe)
WolfeStrike (Thomas “Tor” de Wolfe)
WolfeSword (Cassius de Wolfe)
WolfeBlade (Andreas de Wolfe)
WolfeLord (William “Will” de Wolfe)
WolfeShield (Ronan de Wolfe)
Release date: September 16, 2021
Publisher: Dragonblade Publishing, Inc.
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Kathryn Le Veque
“Keep your shield up, lad. If you lower it, an enemy will take advantage.”
A little boy of six years was trying desperately to listen to his father as an older boy, with more skill, cracked a wooden sword over the younger boy’s shield. The little boy swung his dull, wooden sword so hard at his opponent that the shield ended up in the dirt. He then launched himself at the older boy, trying to bring him down.
William de Wolfe, known as Will since the day he was born, grinned at his aggressive youngest son.
“Atticus,” he said firmly, moving to pull him off of the other lad. “Enough. You cannot attack a man because he makes you angry. You must always keep your wits about you, else your opponent will take advantage of that and kill you.”
Atticus de Wolfe was so angry that he was starting to cry, but not wanting his father to see tears, he simply wiped at his face furiously, smearing dirt all over his cheeks.
“He does not play fair,” he said, sniffling. “He is taller and he tries to hit me in the head.”
Will put his hands on his hips as he faced the boy. “And you do not think you’ll face taller men in battle?” he asked. “You must learn patience, lad. You must also learn to fight with your mind more than your muscles. I have told you that before.”
Atticus knew that, but he was still eyeing his opponent angrily. His adversary’s family was an old friend of the House of de Wolfe, bred from a long line of knights, and he was fostering with Will at the powerful and prestigious compound of Carlisle Castle. When Will wasn’t looking, Bradford Payton-Forrester stuck his tongue out at Atticus. The boy lashed out a foot and caught Bradford in the shin, sending him howling.
The lesson was over for the day.
Taking Atticus by the hand, Will pulled him away from his nemesis.
“Truly, Atticus,” he scolded softly. “I am ashamed of you. What will Bo and Poppy and Bonny think of your actions?”
He was referring to his own father, Scott de Wolfe, known as Bo, short for Bodach, to his grandchildren. It meant Old Man in Gaelic, something Scott’s Scottish mother had called him upon the birth of his first grandchild, and it had stuck. Will’s three children had Bo and Dearest as their grandparents on their father’s side, a doting grandfather and grandmother if there ever were such a pair. Bonny, of course, was Will’s grandfather on his mother’s side, and Poppy and Matha were his grandparents on his father’s side. They were all still alive and well, so Will’s children – Athena, Andrew, and Atticus – were well-supplied with grandparents and great-grandparents who spoiled them lavishly.
And that was part of the problem.
Atticus, being the youngest of his children, was so incredibly spoiled that the boy had difficulty not having his way in all things.
Like a wooden sword fight.
“Poppy gave me my sword,” Atticus said, holding up the weapon. “He has been teaching me to use it. Why can I not go to foster with Andrew, Papa? I will learn much more if I can foster with him.”
It was a question Will had heard before but he was distracted by shouting on the walls. At Carlisle Castle, perhaps the largest and most fought-over castle on the English-Scottish border, the soldiers on the walls were always vigilant, all night and all day. There was never one moment when they were not stationed atop the red-stoned walls, watching the magnificent greet landscape for any signs that the Scots were back to try and regain the castle.
It was an extraordinarily active castle, but Will had been the garrison commander long enough to know when his men were worried and when they were not. The castle sat right on the edge of the town of Carlisle and the soldiers had evidently sighted a merchant caravan moving along the main road through town, something that had their interest. The castle itself was a mass of concentric walls, berms, moats, gatehouses, and drawbridges, nearly impossible to penetrate. It had become that way because every time the Scots held it, they fortified it, and when the English took it, they fortified it a little more.
There was probably no safer castle in all of England.
Which was why Will kept his family here – at least, his youngest son and his wife, Lily. So far, they had one daughter and two sons, and Lily was current pregnant with their fourth child. Life was good, Will was content, and the truth was that he didn’t want to send Atticus away just yet. Athena and Andrew, his older children, were fostering quite far to the south at Ramsbury Castle, seat of the Duke of Savernake, but he wanted them back in the north where their family was in power, so soon, they would be heading to Bamburgh Castle.
And little Atticus might just go with them.
But not yet.
Will put an enormous hand on Atticus’ head.
“You will go to foster soon enough,” he said. “Don’t you like living here with me and Mama?”
Atticus nodded his little red head. Then, he shook it. “I want to go with Andrew.”
Will shrugged, realizing the lure of a brother was greater than the lure of a father. At least, at the moment. He was about to reply, but Atticus caught sight of a knight coming through the inner gatehouse and he took off running.
“Marcellus!” the boy called. “Marcellus, will you fight me?”
Marcellus de Shera grinned at the eager little boy. Tall and handsome, with auburn hair and flashing green eyes, quiet and obedient Marcellus was a favorite of the women in Carlisle.
“Alas, Master Atticus, I cannot,” he said regretfully.
“Why not?” the child demanded.
Marcellus pointed to Will. “Because your father has entrusted me with duties that I must fulfill,” he said. “Mayhap I will fight you later, before sup.”
Atticus wasn’t too terribly pleased, but he didn’t argue. He saw his nemesis again, walking towards the stable yard because as a page, he also had duties to attend to, and he ran after him.
Will watched him go.
“I am either going to have to send him to foster with his brother so he has someone to play with or I shall have to bring some more children to Carlisle,” he said. “He cannot keep commandeering my knights for playmates.”
Marcellus smiled. “He’s a good lad,” he said. “I really don’t mind. Except when he insists that he win and I must fall to the ground and die a dramatic death.”
Will snorted. “The more dramatic, the better.”
“Your son has bloodlust when it comes to a fallen enemy.”
Will continued to laugh softly. “He gets it honestly,” he said. “All of the de Wolfes have that particular trait.”
“Speaking of de Wolfe,” Marcellus said. “When are you planning on departing for Castle Questing and will any of us be going with you for your grandfather’s celebration?”
He meant him or the other two knights who served at Carlisle, Sir Hermes de Norville and Sir Ronan de Wolfe. Ronan was Will’s younger cousin, a young man with unearthly brilliance as a warrior. At eighteen years of age, he had already been knighted earlier in the year by his grandfather, the Earl of Warenton, because he was just that good. His first assignment had been Carlisle Castle, stationed with his older cousin in command. Somewhat quiet and introspective, but an utterly fearless warrior, Will considered himself fortunate to have young Ronan in his stable of knights.
And then, there was Hermes.
Hermes de Norville was about eight years older than Ronan, so still a young man in the grand scheme of things, but a more aggressive, cunning, wily, and intelligent warrior had never existed. Hermes and his older brother, Atreus, were very close in age and legends within the family for their fight-first-ask-questions-later behavior. The two of them together were like kindling and a spark, so their grandfathers, who were also Will’s grandfathers, thought it best to separate the pair when they were knighted lest they kill each other at some point.
Therefore, Will had been saddled with Hermes, whom he was actually quite glad to have even if the man did make him want to tear his hair out at times. But he knew there was no way he was going to keep Ronan or Hermes from the celebratory feast at Castle Questing.
“I assumed that all three of my knights would want to go with me,” he said after a moment, a knowing twinkle in his eyes. “Besides – my grandfather is their grandfather, too, and it is William de Wolfe’s celebration of the day of his day of birth and nearly every household on the border has been invited, including those with eligible young women.”
“Excellent, my lord.”
Will cocked an eyebrow. “Are you hearing me, Marcellus? I said eligible women. Something we do not seem to have enough of around here.”
Marcellus grinned, holding up a hand. “You know I already have someone who occupies my heart and my mind,” he said. “But Ronan and Hermes do not. They need eligible women more than I do.”
“Sure they do.”
Marcellus started to laugh. “Truly, my lord, I am not looking for a bride,” he said. “But Hermes, in particular, says he must marry soon or his father will disown him.”
Will’s eyes glimmered with mirth. “That is probably true,” he said. “Uncle Hector thinks that marriage will settle him down, but the rest of us have our doubts.”
“As do I.”
Will chuckled. “But let us speak of you,” he said. “You speak of this lady who has your heart, but when can we expect you to bring her to Carlisle and marry her? My wife would like another companion.”
Marcellus’ smile faded a little. “Who can say?” he said evasively. “Now, may I tell your cousins that they are indeed going to Castle Questing?”
He was deliberately changing the subject, as he always did when it came to the enigmatic lady he spoke of on rare occasions. Will was well aware of the woman that Marcellus professed to have a fondness for and he had been for years, only Marcellus had never divulged her name and no one had ever seen her.
It was a big mystery, much as Marcellus himself was.
Marcellus was a de Lohr knight who had come north with Will when he and Lily had taken possession of Carlisle a few years ago, gifted to Will from Chris de Lohr, the Earl of Hereford and Worcester and Lily’s father. Marcellus’ grandfather, Leeton, had served the House of de Lohr many years ago, so he was a legacy knight and a very good one. Will considered him a friend, even if the man did keep to himself. He was a private man. Even so, Will had come to the conclusion that the phantom bride was a figment of the Marcellus’ imagination.
But he’d never tell him to his face.
“Tell them we leave the day after tomorrow,” he said. “We’ll travel with a heavily armed escort and leave most of the army here at Carlisle. We’ll leave one of the senior sergeants in command – I think Woodrow Decker is a good choice.”
“He would be mine, as well.”
“Then see to it,” Will said. “And you will have the big carriage prepared for my wife and son. Atticus will want to ride with the knights, but he will not, so make sure the carriage is prepared for a six-year-old lad who will be bored to tears for the duration of the journey.”
With a smirk, Marcellus headed off.
Will watched him go, looking forward to seeing his father and grandfather in the next few days. It had been a while since he’d seen them both, or the rest of his extended family for that matter, so he was happy to be going. But he knew someone who wouldn’t be.
Taking a deep breath, he headed towards the keep.
“What do you think of this? Do you think the earl will like it?”
A young woman with gorgeous auburn hair held a piece of blue fabric against her body, showing it off to the woman seated in a cushioned chair.
But the woman in the chair waved her hand.
“It glistens too much,” she said. “We must have fabric that is as masculine and strong as Warenton himself.”
“But it’s quite lovely.”
“It’s better suited for a lady,” the woman in the chair stressed. “In fact, I may have you make a dress for me from it. Where did we get that piece of cloth again?”
The woman with the auburn hair held it up in front of her, looking at it. “Gretna, I think,” she said. “Remember? From the man who pays pirates to bring him goods from the sea?”
The woman in the chair snorted. “Aye, I remember him,” she said. “The man from Athens? What does he call himself? Kronos or something like it?”
“Karoly, my lady.”
Lily de Lohr de Wolfe nodded in remembrance. “The man is a bloody thief,” she said. “He has the pirates steal from the other merchant ships. At least, that is what Will tells me. I don’t care. I like the fabric, so I bought it.”
The woman with the auburn hair grinned as she carefully set the fabric aside, draping it over the back of a chair. She pulled forth another piece of cloth, a woolen fabric that had been greatly softened by using urine. It made the wool quite lovely to the touch, but she hated touching it. It had been dyed to a beautiful shade of green and she held it up for Lily to inspect.
“This one?” she asked.
Lily eyed the wool, leaning forward to finger it but realizing as soon as she touched it that it hadn’t been washed yet. She made a face and wiped her fingers off on a kerchief.
“It’s lovely, Adie,” she said. “Do you think you can sew a tunic in the next two days? I realize that is very short notice, but I could not decide on a gift until now.”
Lady Adria de Geld smiled. “I can,” she said. “You know there is no one faster than I at sewing a garment.”
Lily nodded gratefully. “Even when we were growing up, you were faster than anyone else at Kenilworth,” she said. Then she paused, sitting back in the chair and putting her feet on a small stool that had a pillow upon it. Her hands went to her blossoming belly. “Lady Lancaster liked to take credit for your skill, you know.”
Adria grinned as she laid out the chosen fabric. “I know.”
Lily watched the woman fuss with the fabric as her mind traveled back to the glory days of Kenilworth Castle when she and Adria and many other well-bred young women fostered there amongst royalty. The days before she was summoned back to Lioncross Abbey Castle, her father’s seat on the Welsh Marches, and consigned to a much slower life than she would have liked.
Back in the days when she had first met Will.
She didn’t consider those particularly joyful days.
“Do you remember the time we went to Coventry and one of the de Nerra sons got into that terrible fight when another knight tried to speak to me?” she asked. “Lady Lancaster used to laugh at the men who would throw themselves at us. Do you recall?”
Adria nodded. “I do, indeed,” she said. “Victor de Nerra had a nasty cut on his face as a result. Surely he still bears the scar.”
“He was a nice lad.”
“I wonder what became of him.”
Adria shrugged. “He’s probably serving the sheriffs of Hampshire,” she said. “I think that is the de Nerra lot in life. At least the ones from Selbourne Castle, where he was born.”
Lily sighed as she continued to rub her belly. “I think of those days often,” she said. “Days of pageantry and excitement. Do you?”
Adria could hear the longing in her tone. She had known the lovely Lady Lily for many years, ever since she had gone to foster at Kenilworth Castle at around eleven years of age and fourteen-year-old Lily took her under her wing. Lily was sweet and kind, but ambitious. She had spirit and wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, but coming from one of the greatest warring dynasties in England, that wasn’t surprising. She had the de Lohr boldness, something that people attributed to her great-grandmother, a very lovely but bold woman who had turned the English court on its ear back in the day.
Or, so the stories went.
But Adria knew something a little different when it came to Lily. They were still the best of friends and always would be, but Lily was the kind of woman who should have been entrenched in court life. She should have married a courtier and spent her time in London. Instead, she’d taken a brief fancy to the young and very handsome Will de Wolfe and before she knew it, she was married to the man and pregnant with her first child. And that had ended Lily’s quest to be both political and powerful.
Adria was quite certain that Lily had never gotten over it.
“I would not say that I think of them often,” she said after a moment. “I do from time to time. I suppose I remember our friends more than I do anyone else, the girls we became close to. But… nothing more.”
Lily looked at her, then. “I am sorry,” she said softly. “How careless of me. I did not mean to bring back such things as you would probably rather forget.”
Adria knew what she meant. She glanced at her, smiling weakly. “There is nothing to forgive and there is nothing to forget,” she said. “I do not think of Gerard any longer, at least not in that way.”
“Then the pain has gone?”
Adria didn’t really want so speak of the knight she’d been so fond of, the young man she had planned to spend her life with. A freak accident had ended her dreams and his life. It had happened in one of the many tournaments that the Earl of Lancaster had hosted. The day itself had been such a normal day and a normal circumstance, and Gerard de Gil had performed well in his very first tournament since being knighted. But shards from a broken lance had pierced his neck brutally, even through the mail he wore, and it had taken him three days to die.
Three long, horrific days.
Adria had spent every moment by his side, tending to the man who had slowly died, his life trickling away like sands through the hourglass. After that, she couldn’t bear even thinking of becoming romantic with someone. At twenty years and five, she was something of a spinster.
But it was better than having her heart crushed again.
“The pain is never gone, I suppose,” she said upon reflection. “But it has dulled. Sometimes, I cannot even remember his face clearly and that saddens me. Do you remember him?”
Lily shrugged. “I remember that he had curly blond hair and a loud laugh,” she said. Then, she smiled. “I remember he liked to tell ridiculous jokes.”
That brought a soft giggle from Adria. “They were ridiculous, weren’t they?”
Lily laughed softly. “Awful,” she agreed. “I do not mean to push you, sweetling, but do you think time enough has passed that you should want to marry now? You know that Hermes has had his eye on you for some time. He comes from a fine family.”
Adria cast her a long look. “Hermes de Norville is about as ready for marriage as a wild stallion is ready to be tamed,” she said. “Even if he was ready, I would not consider him.”
“Because he is rash and reckless,” she said. “I do not think we would make a good match, for we have nothing in common to share. Shall I go on?”
Lily shook her head as she lay her head back against the chair. “Nay,” she said. “He is quite rash and reckless. You could tame the wild stallion, you know.”
“I don’t have a big enough whip.”
Lily burst out laughing just as there came a knock at the chamber door. She turned to the panel in time to see Will stepping into the chamber. He looked at his wife curiously.
“What are you laughing about?” he asked.
Lily pointed to Adria. “I am trying to convince Adie to marry Hermes,” she said. “She says that her whip isn’t big enough.”
Will grinned, looking at his wife’s lady-in-waiting, a woman he’d known almost as long as he’d known Lily. Adria de Geld was a perfect woman if there ever was one, at least in Will’s estimation. Petite, with a glorious cascade of auburn hair that tumbled in curls down her back, she had eyes the color of a spring meadow – a brilliant green that always looked tremulous and dewy. She had a pert nose and a mouth shaped like a cupid’s bow, a rare beauty indeed. Many a man at Carlisle had commented on the glorious appearance of Lady Adria, and a few had even made advances on her, but she had politely but firmly rejected them.
Hermes de Norville included.
“Hermes is not nearly good enough for her, so stop trying to make a match,” he said. “In fact, I came to tell you that I am bringing Hermes and Ronan with us to Castle Questing.”
“What of Marcellus?” Lily asked. “Is he remaining here?”
Will shook his head. “All three of them are coming,” he said. “Things are quiet at the moment, so I feel confident enough leaving the majority of the army under the command of the senior sergeants. It will do the knights good to get away and feast with their friends for a few days.”
Lily sighed. “I do not suppose I could not go, could I?”
“I did not think so.”
Will’s gaze lingered on her. “You feel well enough, don’t you?”
She nodded. “I do,” she said. “Just tired. Quite tired. And I’ve been having the same odd pains that I had with Atticus.”
She shrugged. “Little stabbing pains that are quickly gone,” she said. “Sometimes my back aches. But I had the same thing with Atticus, so I am not concerned.”
“What does the midwife say?”
“That it is simply the body adjusting to the child.”
Will nodded, though he wasn’t terribly comfortable with her aches and pains. Even though this was their fourth child, pregnancy and childbirth still scared him. “I wonder if it has anything to do with the fall you suffered a few weeks ago,” he said. “When you slipped in the kitchen yard? You fell right on your backside in the mud.”
She was growing irritated with him. “It has nothing to do with that,” she said. “I told you – I had the same pains with Atticus. It is perfectly normal.”
He wasn’t so sure. “Mayhap I should send for the physic,” he said. “Just to make sure all is well.”
Lily shook her head, exasperated. “If you are speaking of Tarraby, then I doubt he knows more than the midwife does,” she said. “The man is a surgeon, Will. He tends the soldiers, removes arrows, sews up wounds. Childbirth is not something he does often and I do not want him poking around.”
Will held up a hand to back off before it turned into an argument, which it did fairly easily between them. “He is the most competent physic I’ve ever seen,” he said. “But if you do not wish to see him, that is your decision. It was merely a suggestion. I came to tell you that I’m having Marcellus bring out the heavy carriage and prepare it properly so that you and Atticus will have something comfortable to ride in. I will try to make this journey as easy as possible for you.”
Lily wasn’t thrilled about the carriage because she didn’t want to go, but she didn’t fight about it. She simply waved him off.
“I hope Poppy appreciates that I am doing this for him,” she said, disgruntled. Then she pointed to the bed where Adria was standing over neat piles of fabric. “Adie is going to make him a tunic as a gift. He will like that, don’t you think?”
Will wasn’t entirely sure that clothing was appropriate for a man’s gift, but he didn’t say anything. He just nodded his head.
“That is kind of you, Adria,” he said politely. “Thank you.”
Adria smiled in return. She genuinely liked Will, a kind and compassionate man. He had always been nice to her.
“I am honored to do it,” she said. “I thought I might make a sash for your grandmother out of the leftover fabric. That way, they can match one another.”
“Good idea,” Lily said, answering for him. “Use Will as a dummy. He is bigger than his grandfather, but you can adjust accordingly.”
Adria looked at Will, who rolled his eyes because Lily wasn’t looking at him. He hated being pulled into female schemes. She bit off a grin and turned back to the material.
“At your convenience, my lord, but I must get started soon if I am to have it done in time,” she said. “Mayhap I can measure you before sup?”
“Of course you can,” Lily answered again. “Come back before we eat, Will.”
He sighed faintly, with no way to get out of it. “As you wish.”
“Thank you,” Lily said. “Now, where’s Atticus? Wasn’t he with you earlier?”
Will nodded. “He was heading for the kitchen yard last I saw him,” he said. “He is playing with Bradford, I assume. Do you want me to fetch him for you?”
With his marching orders, Will left without another word and shut the door softly behind him. As they heard his footsteps fade down the steps, Lily looked at Adria.
“We’ll be lucky if he returns,” she muttered. “He thinks the tunic is a foolish gift for a man of the earl’s stature. I can just see it in his face. He hates the idea.”
Adria’s eyes glimmered. “Shall I run after him and beg him?”
Lily nodded, grinning. “Go,” she said. “You know he cannot resist you. When he becomes angry with me, he tells me he is going to sell me to the pirates and marry you instead.”
Adria laughed softly. That was an old theme with them and she was used to it. It was purely a jest because everyone knew how dedicated Will was to Lily, although most thought it was simply out of honor. They got along for the most part, but those close to them – like Adria – had seen the love go out of the marriage a long time ago and that was simply the way it was. Two people, married quite young, who had outgrown one another.
It was a little sad, in that sense, but Adria knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that Will really wouldn’t sell Lily to the pirates and marry her instead. More than likely, Lily would run off with the pirates and leave Will behind.
But that was only private speculation.
“He has been saying that for years,” Adria said after a moment. “I have yet to see him try. Besides – who says I will marry him, anyway?”
“What is wrong with him?”
“Nothing except that he is your husband. I do not want your leavings.”
Lily burst out laughing. “He’s not so bad as far as husbands go,” she said. “Well, sometimes. In any case, you will run after him and make sure he comes to you before sup so you can fit the tunic. If he does not, there will be consequences. Tell him I said so.”
Chuckling, Adria did as she was told. Setting aside the fabric, she slipped from the chamber.
They were on the top floor of Carlisle’s heavily fortified keep and Adria took the narrow spiral stairs quickly, finally catching up with Will about the time he came off the stairs and into the great hall.
“My lord?” she called after him softly. “My lord, please wait.”
Will came to a halt, turning to face her. His hazel eyes settled on her dubiously. “What does my wife want now?”
She cocked a well-shaped eyebrow. “How do you know she wants something?”
He fought off a grin. “Because she always sends you to beg for her,” he said. “She still has to come to Castle Questing, so if she’s sent you to plead on her behalf, you can go back and tell her I’ll not change my mind. My parents and grandparents would be disappointed not to see her.”
“It’s not that,” she said. “She wants to make sure you will come to us before sup so that I may measure you for your grandfather’s gift.”
“I told you I would.”
“I beg your pardon, my lord, but you may forget.”
He scowled. “Did she say that?”
Adria shook her head. “Not in so many words, but she sent me to make sure you were going to come. If you do not, there will be consequences. That is a direct quote.”
Will made a face. He was a master at making faces to suit his mood or his reaction – long faces, pursed lips, rolling eyes – anything that got his point across. It was really quite comical at times and Adria tried not to smile as the man stuck his jaw out, baring his teeth in a gesture of frustration.
“May I take that as a confirmation you will come?” she asked.
He shook his head, defeated. “Aye, I will come.”
“Thank you,” she said. But her pleasant expression soon faded. “I also wanted to tell you that I believe it is a good idea for your surgeon to see to her.”
Will’s expression grew serious. “Why?” he asked. “Is there something the matter that she is not telling me?”
Adria grunted in hesitation. “I do not want to betray a trust, you understand, but her pains are not the only symptom,” she said quietly. “You were correct when you said it had something to do with her fall. I believe that is true. I do not wish to be too graphic in my description, but suffice it to say that there has been some blood and there has been since she fell. Not much, but there has been some. The midwife also seems concerned, but Lily is convinced nothing is wrong because she has the same pains with Atticus. This is her fourth child, my lord, and she feels as if she knows her body well enough to know that there is nothing to be concerned with.”
Will stared at her for a moment before quickly nodding his head. “You were right to tell me,” he said. “I will not betray your confidence, but I will find my surgeon and ask him to examine her. In spite of what Lily says, Tarraby is quite competent. He has studied with the finest physics in London and I am quite fortunate that my grandfather sent him to me when I was injured in the skirmish last year. He has a miraculous touch.”
“I agree, my lord,” Adria said. “We are fortunate he has remained.”
“Indeed,” Will said, trying not to feel apprehensive. “I appreciate you telling me about Lady de Wolfe. I will send him to her right away.”
“You had better come with him or she may not let him in.”
Will sighed heavily. “I will bring him before sup when I come for the fitting,” he said. “He can examine her while I am there to make sure she obeys him.”
Adria gave him a knowing look before heading back up the stairs and Will stood there for a moment, trying to fight down his concern. Lily had given birth to three children without much trouble, so naturally, she didn’t see anything wrong with this pregnancy even though she’d taken a heavy fall last month. She was about two months away from delivering the child, so naturally, he was concerned. Perhaps there wasn’t anything wrong, but he wanted a second opinion.
Like it or not, with his surgeon.
Heading out of Carlisle’s big keep, he was heading down the stairs leading to the bailey when he heard his sentries taking up the cry. He paused, listening to them shout at one another before a soldier came on the run to deliver a message to him. This time, there was a reason for their chatter.
A visitor had arrived.
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