Background: Brielle expects her step-son and her husband's niece to arrive with a caravan.
Crossing the empty hall at a trot, I reached the outer doors as the last of the wagons halted beyond them. Men jumped down, women scurried about, and a handful of soldiers moved among them. I saw no children.
Then the first wagon moved. I spotted two small figures, unnaturally still among the chaos of movement.
“Darnay?” The name fell from my mouth in my surprise.
They both turned my way. Two pairs of almost identical dark eyes sought my face while a sharp breeze stirred the dark curls framing the girl’s features. The boy regarded me impassively as I approached, but the girl stepped closer to her cousin. Darnay clutched at the wooden sword in his hand.
Darnay studied my face with an intensity so like his father my stomach tightened in a sudden desire to see Tomas’ face. “Grandma?”
A woman detached herself from the group carrying three bags stuffed so tight the leather strained at the seams. “What is the problem?”
“I am Brielle.” I met the woman’s curiosity with a smile. Darnay stepped back into her skirts, and Elise crowded behind him. “I am Lord Irvaine’s new wife.”
“Her hair is red.” The girl’s eyes locked on my wild hair.
“Hush, Elise, don’t be rude.” The woman settled a lithe hand on the mop of dark curls on the child’s head.
“But it is.”
“I know.” She smiled down at her charge. Then she turned her gaze to my face. “Tomas asked that I give you this.” She set down the sacks and pulled a piece of thrice folded parchment from her belt. She handed it to me with a warm smile.
I smoothed it flat.
Beloved, she is my mother. Make her welcome for me. Tomas.
Thank you for stopping by.
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