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Subject: Honor on the Field, 22

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Date Posted: Saturday, November 26, 08:51:48pm
In reply to: Nell 's message, "Honor on the Field, con't." on Wednesday, November 16, 09:49:08am

~*~*~*~*~* Chapter 22 ~*~*~*~*~*~

Samuelle followed Barbant down into the main hall, where they found one of the manor’s menservants waiting to escort them to Phillip’s private chamber. After sharing a quick wry glance over Phillip’s awareness of Samuelle’s arrival in the midst of the Michelle and Nikita’s quarrel, he and Barbant allowed themselves to be ushered into their host’s presence without any further delay.

To Samuelle’s slight surprise, Nikita was already in her father’s room. She was standing by the fire, looking amazingly calm and collected for a woman not long before scrabbling along the floor trying to violently shake the truth from her treacherous younger sister. Her hair was smooth under a simple headscarf, her cheeks were dry, her green and blue gown straight and clean, her hands folded carefully before her. That her skin was the color of parchment only emphasized the startling blue of her large eyes, eyes now fixed carefully on her father.

Despite her outward calm, Samuelle was certain he could feel almost as though it was his own her distress, her shame, and her furious pride. Her composure had to be brittle from all she had endured these last months, and he knew a brief worry that her control would shatter and she would scorch them all before this meeting was over.

Helmut Volker was also present, draped artistically against the wall by the window, through which the thin, late-afternoon sunshine of early spring lit his profile with flattering sharpness. The little self-satisfied smirk on his lips instantly set Samuelle’s back up and he longed to challenge him merely for the pleasure of beating him into the ground.

Phillip spoke as soon as the door closed after their escort’s departure. “Gentlemen. I assume we all know why we are here.”

The other three men nodded, then Samuelle, anxious to get the business over with, said, “I’ll meet Volker’s offer.”

Volker straightened, his eyes taking on an avaricious gleam. “Only meet? Well then, I’ll raise.”

Samuelle waved his hand to stop Volker, his determination to have Nikita, whose heat he could feel even across the room, only growing every second he found himself in the other man’s company. “I also undertake to continue to offer the Count and Countess of Albret my backing and support,” he glanced coldly at Barbant, “as I see fit.”

“That’s it?” Volker made a show of looking shocked. “I spend all this time courting the fair Nikita, only to be told my offer will be rejected?”

Samuelle flicked his eyes dismissively over Volker, “Yes. Whatever your employer owes you for your time, you’ll have to get from him.” He looked back at Phillip, trying to gauge the other man’s reaction to the negotiations. “I assume for my money, I’ll get Nikita’s personal belongings and her horse, as well.”

Phillip nodded and allowed the tinniest of smiles to flicker across his lips, though it did not touch his eyes. “Of course, my Lord.” Phillip looked at Barbant. “Well, if you two gentlemen are in accord, my task is to bless the arrangement and see that it is carried off promptly.”

Barbant spoke for the first time. “Tomorrow, sir? If it’s not too soon?”

Phillip eyed his future son-in-law with cool consideration. “No, my Lord Albret. None too soon.” Turning back to Samuelle, he continued, “and when will you be taking Nikita, Lord Rouen?”

Realization dawning on him that he had not yet spoken with the one person whose interests were most centrally at stake as far as he was concerned, Samuelle turned and spoke directly to her. “Nikita? This arrangement is agreeable to you?”

Nikita kept her glance locked on her father, her voice low and rough as she answered. “Yes, my lord.”

The screams he’d heard on his arrival echoing through his memory, Samuelle asked curiously, “You are willing to do this for your sister?”

For the first time, Nikita looked directly at him, her voice strong and sure. “I do it for the child, my Lord. I do it so that the child will not be a bastard.”

Even as he winced at her rebuke, Samuelle felt a surge of pride in her that even in such extremis and without losing her composure, she should be able to shame all the men in the room for what they were about to do to her. Phillip and Volker both shifted uncomfortably, and even Barbant dropped his eyes to the floor.

Phillip cleared his throat then gazed slowly around the room. “So it is settled. The wedding will be tomorrow in the forenoon.”

“Thank you sir.” Barbant bowed gracefully. "Michelle and I will leave for Albret within the week.”

Phillip looked inquiringly at Samuelle. “And you, my Lord?”

Samuelle looked at Nikita hoping for some hint as to how she wanted him to respond, but she kept her eyes rooted on the floor. “I’ll be leaving for France the following dawn. As for when Nikita joins me, I’d like to consult with her, privately, about that.” Looking back at Phillip, he continued, “May I assume that until I can take her, her home remains with you, sir?”

“Of course.” Phillip bowed his head and then started for the door.


Author's note: I have a busy RL week coming up, so I plan to get the final chapters of this story up in the next two days. Thank you all very, very much for reading along,


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Subject Author Date
Enjoying it! (NT)SisSaturday, November 26, 11:12:20pm
chapter 22skSunday, November 27, 01:24:54am
Great story, Nell. (NT)DeenaSunday, November 27, 11:46:05am
Spellbound...GayleSunday, November 27, 04:59:53pm

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