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Subject: Honor on the Field, 21

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Date Posted: Saturday, November 26, 12:05:40pm
In reply to: Nell 's message, "Honor on the Field, con't." on Wednesday, November 16, 09:49:08am

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ Chapter 21~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Samuelle stared at the empty doorway through which Nikita had vanished and allowed himself the brief indulgence of wondering if he had accidentally stepped into an enactment of a particularly overwrought ballad. Shaking his head to erase the foolish thought, he turned back into the room and saw Michelle Wirth sobbing helplessly into the shoulder of her unwilling groom, who was impatiently trying to get her to stop.

Samuelle snapped her name in his best command voice, and was rewarded by the sight of her tear stained face. "What just happened here?"

Michelle gulped and brought her clasped hands up to her chin. "I don't know."

"Yes, you do. The two of you were screaming like banshees and I want to know why."

Seeing Michelle's eyes dart in a telltale manner around the room, Samuelle went on, "and don't even think of lying, my girl, because I'll know if you do."

Michelle's glance slipped towards Barbant, then back to Samuelle's face. Before she could speak, he said, "and I’m certain that the Comte d’Albret has no patience for a lying wife, either."

"No. I don't. Tell us the truth, Michelle. Now." Barbant folded his arms across his chest and stared coldly at her.

Looking back and forth between the two men glaring at her with implacable determination in their hard, pale eyes, Michelle was trapped and she knew it. They were both of them easily six feet tall, with broad square shoulders and deceptively loose stances, both lean and fit from lifetimes of training and fighting, both with strong noses arching over long firm chins. She wondered somewhat hysterically who it was, exactly, that had once told her all the French were fops.

"Michelle," Hugh drawled, in a voice she had already learned brooked no good, for her or for anyone else. “We’re waiting."

So she dropped her hands, squared her shoulders, took a deep breath, and told them. "I confessed to Nikita that I stopped her marriage to Wellman, that I begged Papa not to let her go because I was afraid that none of you would ever come again if she wasn't here."

The men stared at her in shocked silence for a long, horrible moment. Then Hugh stepped towards her. Lifting his hand he skimmed gentle fingers down the side of her face and along her jaw, tucking a loose strand of hair behind her ear before letting his palm come to rest at the base of her neck, his long fingers wrapped loosely around her throat. Pinning her eyes with his own, he said, "Listen to me, Michelle. If you ever betray me like that, go behind my back to work at cross-purposes to me, I will snap your neck. Do you understand me?"

Terrified by the sincerity of Hugh's words, but determined not to show it, Michelle raised her chin and nodded once. "Yes. I do."

"Good girl." Hugh let go of her neck and brushed his thumb lightly across her cheekbone. "You better go find your nurse, have her see to that. You're going to have quite the bruise tomorrow."

He dropped his hand to her belly, spanning possessive fingers across the life she sheltered there. "Did she hit you here?"


"Good." He jerked his head to the door. "Go on, then."

The two men stood quietly for a long moment after Michelle's exit, for the first time taking each other's measure off the tourney field.

Samuelle broke the silence. "The sooner we wrap this up, the better."


"How much is Volker prepared to pay?"

Barbant named the same figure that Mick had given him.

"Fine. I'll match it."

"Just match it?" Barbant raised a sardonic eyebrow.

"It’s hardly a random figure.”


Samuelle blinked in surprise that Barbant should acknowledge Edward’s role so openly.

Barbant dropped his eyes and frowned. “Being used to threaten a woman in Nikita’s position with Volker’s crowd doesn’t appeal. Even to me.”

“What if I hadn’t come for her?"

Barbant smiled slightly and shrugged. "Well, everyone knows you're a man of honor."

"And everyone knows you're not."

"Oh, touché, Samuelle, touché."

Samuelle ignored the gibe. "Phillip’s not getting a single coin until after you're wed."

"Of course."


"Can't be too soon. I'm heartily tired of England."

"Then what possessed you to mess around with an English girl, man?"

"Boredom, I guess."

Samuelle said nothing.

"I'd assumed you knew all about it, having put your mark on the fair Nikita years ago."

Obviously irked that he was unable to get a rise out of Samuelle, Barbant continued, "just think, cuz, in buying Nikita, you’re getting what you wanted all along. Really, you could say I’ve done you a favor."

Samuelle stepped close enough to lean into Barbant's space, crowding him a bit as he clapped a familiar hand on his shoulder and putting his head beside Barbant's, he whispered, "I'm not buying Nikita, cuz. I'm buying you. I trust I will not have reason to regret my purchase."

Stepping back, Samuelle allowed the briefest of cold smiles to twist his lips. "Let's not keep our host waiting any longer, hmm? After you."

Barbant, knowing when the last word had been said, nodded and left the room.


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Hi Nell (r)KTSaturday, November 26, 06:54:32pm

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