Home > Evermore (Darkyn #5)(17)

Evermore (Darkyn #5)(17)
Author: Lynn Viehl

"My thanks." Jayr thought of Harlech's fear. "You should talk to your husband before night's end. What happened to Cyprien's lady brought back some bad memories for him."

Viviana stared at her, visibly alarmed. "How so?"

"He fears Richard used his voice on her," Jayr said quietly. "I told him that it could not be so, but I don't think he believed me." She hesitated. "Would something like this—something that reminded him of that time in Scotland—cause Harlech to lose his temper?"

The other woman's shoulders slumped before she replied. "No. Unlike Richard, he can control his emotions." Viviana forced a friendly smile on her tight lips. "Do not worry over my husband, Jayr. I will see to him. Better you find out who is trying to honor what should remain in the ground."

Jayr nodded and thought of the lords who had sent word of attending. None had journeyed from Italy. "Where is this Italian now?"

"Gone to town, according to his man. Gildie, wait." Viviana went to the table and stopped one of the women from using her shears. "You must add a measure for the rod sleeve, like so."

Jayr eyed the closed door between the two chambers. Farlae would not welcome the interruption, but she needed more information about this new lord and whether he made flouting custom a regular practice. She picked up one of the completed standards, went to the door, and knocked twice before she slipped inside.

Farlae's machines stood still and silent; the only sound came from the cutting tables, where various widths and lengths of fabrics in violet and white, Byrne's colors, hung from suspended rollers. Silver blades snicked as they sliced across a shivering curtain of priceless amethyst Asian silk.

Jayr waited until the shears finished the cut before she spoke. "Lord Locksley looked with favor on my bronze leather jacket."

"Did he." The words, uttered by a voice so deep that it growled more than it spoke, made the thin silk dance. "That one covets too much."

Farlae stepped out from behind the fabric, folding the cloud of red between his thick hands. Snipped threads clung to his fitted black garments, forming barely perceptible, chaotic patterns. Harsh light from the recessed bulbs overhead whitened his jagged mane and pale flesh, turning him into a specter of himself.

All humans and most Kyn found it difficult to look into Farlae's eyes. The lightness of his right, sea green eye might have been unremarkable if not for the strange, irregular black stain that had eclipsed and paralyzed his left. He had been born thus, and had remained blind in the darkened eye until he had risen to walk the night. Becoming Kyn had given him full vision, but had not removed the hellish mote or allowed the eye to move.

Jayr did not mind the wardrobe keeper's uneven gaze. She knew only too well how it felt to be singled out because of a physical flaw.

Farlae did not order her from the room, but regarded her as he might a sudden infestation of moths. "What do you want?"

Six more hours to a night, the body of a woman grown, and Aedan mac Byrne's love. Disgusted with herself, Jayr held up the standard. "The name of the one who ordered this."

"A newcomer—one with appalling taste in silks and men. His diminutive seneschal did not give me his name." He reduced the bundle of silk to a flatter pile of folds and set it aside. "The little man was in too much of a hurry to perform the usual courtesies."

"Or make a more appropriate choice of colors."

"Not every Darkyn went to the field during the jardin wars, and you know what an odd, proud lot the Italians can be. Likely this one thinks he is entitled." Farlae's dark-cast eye narrowed as he consulted a list of figures. "His man did seem to hop with nerves."

"What made him nervous?"

"The prospect of displeasing his lord, delaying his lord, or whatever else terrorizes you seneschal." Farlae reached up and tugged on the edge of dawn-colored damask. "There is but a week left until the ball, and you've not put in a request for a gown. I have some time now to fit you."

"I've no need for one." They had this argument every winter. "When is the Italian's man to return for his order?"

"Tomorrow midnight. Viviana and the women will have the handwork completed by then. Are you sure you don't need a gown? I acquired a bolt of very fetching flame-colored velvet from Peking." His brutal hands moved with uncommon speed and grace as he measured out and marked lines on the damask with a bit of chalk. "I could make it up into something more impressive than those dismal leathers Locksley would filch for himself."

Jayr liked wearing leather for a number of reasons. Yet with all the newcomers expected at this year's tournament, her manner of dress would be more noticeable. "Not a gown."

"A tunic and trousers, then." Farlae's normal eye shifted to the ceiling. "Cut in the usual boring fashion."

She knew her preference for dressing like a male did not sit well with the wardrobe keeper. "It prevents confusion."

"Among other things." Farlae picked up his shears. "I could dress that scarecrow body of yours in something more fetching than squire's rags. With the right amount of boning and padding…" He snipped a shape out of the damask, creating an hourglass-shaped hole. "This could be you."

Jayr gestured toward his face. "While you can use the leftover scraps to fashion an eye patch."

A moment passed before Farlae released a rumbling quake of laughter. "May I never face you on the jousting field. More than my vanity and pride, I suspect, would suffer."

"As would mine." Jayr felt a familiar itch across the back of her neck. "I must go. When the Italian's man returns for his order, summon me at once."

Farlae nodded.

"One more thing." She knew that the women of the jardin often shared gossip as they worked, and Farlae heard most if not all of it. "Who do you know besides Beau who has a grievance with Rainer?"

"Our color-blind peacock?" The wardrobe keeper rolled his eyes. "Anyone with taste."

Nottingham watched as his seneschal climbed into the car. As soon as the door closed his driver drove away from the hotel.

"Well?"

"Our contact transferred the last of the money from the accounts in Geneva and London," Skald said. "The authorities have frozen the accounts in Rome and Paris. They are being held as evidence in an unnamed criminal investigation."

"What the Brethren cannot take, they bankrupt." Nottingham watched the humans walking alongside the street and tapped on the glass divider when he saw a lone, youthful-looking female. The driver slowed to park in front of the bus stop and the bench upon which the female sat, a large purse and a plastic bag of groceries beside her.

Skald lowered the window. "Good evening, miss." He held up a folded map and pointed to it. "Could you tell me how close we are to this street?"

The female rose, picked up her bags, and walked to the window, peering at the occupants instead of the map. "What's the name of the street you're looking for?"

Nottingham inspected her. Cheap garments, worn shoes, poorly tinted hair with several inches of dark roots pulled back into a thin tail. But her eyes were a soft sea green, and she had a rather lovely mouth. He nodded to his seneschal.

"It's here," Skald said, holding the map out to her. When she stepped close to take it, he asked, "Would you like a ride to your destination?"

A sudden burst of sharp scent, like spearmint, wafted out of the window into the human's face.

The young woman breathed in the strong, sharp scent, opened her mouth, and then frowned. "What is…" The purse and bag slipped from her limp hand and dropped to her feet. "A ride?"

Skald opened the door and helped the female in. She sat across from him, staring at him as if in a fog. "What is your name, miss?"

"Lydia." She swallowed. "I have to go home. My kids are waiting, and my husband will be… I have to… make…" She shook her head.

Nottingham looked into her eyes and saw the confusion fall away into seething, helpless lust. So it seemed that American females would be as easy to control as their Italian counterparts.

And suddenly he despised her for it. "You will do whatever I wish, human."

Lydia's mouth sagged open for a moment. "Whatever you wish."

Skald shifted over to the facing seat to sit beside her and patted her thigh with his hand. "Quiet, now, miss."

The young housewife opened her mouth to speak, frowned, and sat back against the leather cushions.

"Are you certain you wish to go on with this, my lord?" Skald unfastened the front of the girl's trousers and began working them down to her knees.

"I don't mind," Lydia said, as if he were addressing her. "Your breath is really, really fresh, isn't it?" She giggled.

"Your leman has not forgotten; nor has the jester," Skald continued. "They could have proofs that they kept. If they expose you, with him there—"

"They will do nothing." Nottingham was not worried about his former lover, and he had personally seen to the jester. He pulled the pliant human onto her knees before him. "As soon as we arrive, I want my colors hung through the place."

Aniseed blended with spearmint, thickening and heating the air.

Lydia gripped the seat on either side of his thighs and gazed up at Nottingham. "You smell like Halloween candy."

"I must again advise against this," Skald said, gathering the housewife's ponytail in his fist and using it to pull her head back into the proper position. "Seeing your colors will infuriate them."

"Precisely so." Nottingham pushed up the female's chin and put his mouth to the side of her throat. "Do it now."

Skald opened the front of his own trousers and jerked his h*ps up once, twice, three times. His small hands gripped Lydia's waist as he began a steady rhythm.

"Uh. Oh. Ah." She shuddered, eyes closed, fingernails gouging the leather of the seat. "So sweet. That's so sweet. Deeper. God, yes."

   
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