The second book in the Friarsgate Inheritance series, 2003
For Pat of SeaAire Limo and Car Service in
Mattituck, N.Y., a longtime reader who gets me
where I need to go on time. Thanks, Pat!
“Why?” she demanded. “Because for once in my life I would do the unthinkable and dare to be the one to choose? I am tired of being told who I shall marry, and ’tis always for someone else’s benefit, not necessarily mine. I was fortunate in Hugh, and again in Owein, but next time? I dare not take the chance. I want to make my own decisions from now on, and I intend to, dear Tom. Besides, I am not particularly interested in being someone’s wife again. I have been a wife one way or another since I was three years of age. I am yet young, and I want to visit King James’ court quite unencumbered by a husband. Perhaps I shall take a lover.”
“You are surely planning some mischief, dear girl, and if you are, you simply must share it with me,” he told her with a wicked grin.
“Oh, Tom,” she laughed. “Please don’t ever leave me! I do not know what I should do without you. You are my best friend in all of this world!”
“Now, wench, don’t go getting sentimental on me,” he replied, but he was smiling, for he loved his young cousin every bit as much as she loved him. His much younger sister had been like Rosamund. And how lonely he had been when she died in childbirth, and her child with her. And then, thanks to the queen, he had found Rosamund, the heiress to the major branch of his family. She could never take his sister’s place, but she had made her own place in his heart.
“Do you think Logan Hepburn will be too upset when he discovers I am not at Friarsgate?” Rosamund wondered aloud.
“You still question his sincerity, then?” her companion said.
Rosamund sighed. “I probably should not, but aye, I yet do, at least in part. I have never before been sought after just because I am me. If he really wants me, he will take my sensibilities into account and be patient. Besides, when Edmund tells him where we have gone, he will certainly come hotfooting it to Edinburgh, or wherever the court is located at the time. But by then I should be well into the round of Christmas revels, and there will be other men to pay me court. Logan Hepburn will have to do more than tell me that he has loved me since I was a child and it is now his turn to be my husband. He does not really love me. He lusts after me, that is all,” she concluded.
Sir Thomas Bolton chuckled. “I can foresee that the next few months with you are going to be most interesting, dear girl.”
“Until now, dear Tom, I have lived a most circumspect life,” Rosamund replied. “I have done what was expected of me, what I was told to do, what I knew was right, what I knew I had to do. Now, however, I mean to do what I want to do, and I want to do something different, something exciting, something that would never be expected of me!”
“Oh my,” her cousin said softly, looking at Rosamund with new eyes. “You are, I fear, in a dangerous mood, sweet coz. You are obviously ready to kick over the traces that have constrained you for your whole life. Just be cautious, I beg of you.”
“Caution, dear Tom, was for the old Rosamund. The new Rosamund wants more out of life now. And when I have had it, I shall return to Friarsgate, to my daughters, and aye, probably even to Logan Hepburn if he will still have me.”
Tom shook his head, but then he looked up and smiled at her. “I shall be by your side if you wish it, dear cousin, no matter the danger you will probably get us into. I understand these Scots lords are very different from we English. More savage and reckless, I have heard.”
“So Meg has written me, and in doing so she has quite piqued my interest,” Rosamund responded with a little grin.
“Has she, indeed?” he answered, and then he grinned back at her. “Well, dear girl, it sounds as if we just might have a little bit of fun, eh? If,” he noted dryly, seeing the first few flakes of snow beginning to fall, “we don’t freeze to death before we get to Edinburgh.” Shivering, he pulled up the collar of his cape.
“It should not be much farther to Lord Grey’s home,” Rosamund said, and then she pointed. “Look! On the next hill! That is our destination for tonight.”
“Then, for pity’s sake, let us ride faster,” Tom said. He turned to the captain of their escort. “Is it possible, dear sir, to move more quickly lest I turn into a block of ice?”
“Aye,” the captain said slowly, his tone clearly scornful of this English milord. But then he raised his gloved hand and signaled their troop forward at a much quicker pace, rather surprised that his two charges kept up with them quite well.
“Come, dear girl,” Sir Thomas called to his cousin Rosamund. “We are in Scotland, and adventure awaits us!”
“Who is who?”
“The woman who sits on the footstool at the queen’s right side,” the earl answered his friend.
“Ahh,” Lord Grey said, understanding at last. “The lady with the auburn hair in the green gown. She is the queen’s childhood friend, the lady of Friarsgate, come from England at the queen’s invitation. She is lovely, isn’t she? She spent a night at my home on her way to court, but I was not there, of course.”
“I would meet her,” the earl said.
“What?” Lord Grey chuckled. “You have shown no interest in a respectable woman in over twenty years, Patrick. And you could be her father,” he teased.
“Fortunately I am not her father,” the earl replied, a faint smile touching his lips. “Can you introduce us, Andrew?”
“I have not yet myself been introduced,” Lord Grey said.
It was the Christmas season. The two men stood among the crush of King James IV’s court in the Great Hall of