Monday, March 18, 2013

Lost in Time: His Lady in Green 12

Eve stretched out her hand, but even as she touched the dagger the ground opened beneath her and she was falling, falling into darkness. She screamed, tensing herself ready for the jolt when she hit the ground.
But there was no jolt. She was slumped on the floor, leaning against a solid wall. Opening her eyes, she saw she was back in the bedroom corridor. She looked at the dim wall lights. Electric lights. She closed her eyes. She was back. Had she ever been away?  Maybe she had been hallucinating. She had immersed herself in other people's history for so long, it was perfectly possible that she had imagined everything. Then she realised that she was clutching a dagger in her hand. That couldn't be imagination. Her free hand crept to her neck. The emeralds had gone.
'Eve! Thank God, I have been looking everywhere for you.' Sebastian's voice cut through the fog of fear that was enveloping her and she struggled to her feet, turning to him thankfully. 'What the hell has happened to you, your dress is filthy. Have you been outside…' His voice trailed off as he spotted the dagger in her hand. 'Where did you get that?' When he raised his eyes again they were hard, and he was frowning. 'I'd rather you asked before you start removing artefacts.'
'I – I didn't.'
He took the dagger from her, saying quietly, 'Let's put it back, shall we?'
What could she say? How could she explain what had happened to her? Miserably she followed him through the corridors, away from the party and into a much older part of the castle. He opened the door of the muniments room.  When the lights flickered on she could see that the walls were covered with shields and weapons, pikes, swords and halberds fixed high up out of harm's way.  Suits of armour stood to attention between glass cases displaying the evidence of the Daubenays' bloody past.  Duelling pistols and flintlock rifles jostled for position with wheel-lock guns in one cabinet while in another a huge broadsword was flanked by sabres, rapiers and even a claymore.  Sebastian was heading for a large cabinet that held nothing but wicked looking knives.
'That's funny.' He stopped, his eyes moving from the dagger in his hand to the cabinet, where an identical weapon lay peacefully on its mount. 'So you didn't take it from here.'
'No. He – he gave it to me.' Eve's voice was strained. 'Richard Daubenay.'
Sebastian turned to her, a look she could not interpret in his blue eyes. She knew it sounded crazy and she had no idea if he would believe her. But there was worse to come. She had to tell him.
'And I have…lost…the emeralds.'
Sebastian stared at her, his face pale. Tears burned her throat when he turned away from her.
'You'd better go. I wish I'd never brought you here.'
His quiet words sliced into her heart. He might as well have pushed that dagger between her ribs. She looked at his broad back in its immaculate evening jacket, a solid, immoveable wall of black. She swallowed.
'Y-you want me to leave?'
He swung round.
'No, I don't want you to leave, but you must. It isn't safe for you to be mixed up in this.'
'In what?'
'I – I don't know.' He raked his fingers through his hair. 'I have grown up with all the family legends, so of course I've heard about the Lady in Green but I never believed any of it.  Until tonight, when I couldn't find you, then you reappear, looking as if you've been –' He broke off, his jaw working as if he was struggling for control.  'The legend says the lady must make the ultimate sacrifice to secure the fortunes of the Daubenays.' He looked at the dagger in his hand. 'This is too dangerous for you, Eve. You should go. Now, while you still can.  I'll get one of the staff to drive you back to London.'
'But what about you?'
'I can't leave. This is my home, my heritage.  I must face whatever is coming.'
What she saw in his eyes made her breath catch in her throat.  A thousand years of responsibility. The Daubenays had fought and struggled through the centuries to reach this point and Sebastian would not turn away from what he saw as his duty.
Eve had drawn up family trees, traced forgotten ancestors, pieced together other people's history but always as an observer.  This was different. It was very real – and very frightening.
'Sebastian.' She took his hand. 'We must find those emeralds – '
'Damn the emeralds. Your safety is far more precious than any stones. You have to get away from here.'
He pulled her close, cupping her chin with one hand and tilting it up so that he could kiss her.
A long, lingering, never-to-be-forgotten kiss that reached into her very soul. He was saying goodbye, sacrificing his own happiness and possibly his inheritance to keep her safe.
Eve felt bereft when at last he released her. This was the end. He would walk her to the outer door and hand her over to a servant, who would drive her away from Meryngham forever. She would be safe, but she would never see Sebastian again.
She squared her shoulders and looked him in the eye.
'I'm not leaving you. If I am the Lady in Green then I am as much a part of this as any Daubenay.'
'Eve – '
'I 've made up my mind. I am going to find those emeralds.' She reached out and took the dagger from his hand, saying with a grim little smile, 'Your ancestors are a rough lot, Sebastian. I might need this before I've finished!'

Sarah Mallory
author of historical romantic adventures!
winner of the RoNA Rose Award 2012 & 2013
Beneath the Major's Scars (RoNA Rose winner 2013) - Harlequin Mills & Boon Dec 2012
Behind the Rake's Wicked Wager Harlequin Mills & Boon Jan 2013

1 comment:

Barbara Monajem said...

I just love Sebastian in this chapter!!