“Apple butter!” a little voice exclaimed. Belle looked up to see a small boy in the doorway. He ran to her side and grabbed her sleeve. “Did you bring any with you?”
Rab was hunting. Belle watched him creeping under the ivy by the stone wall fence. Then his body poised motionless, nothing acknowledging his mistress’ presence except the flick of his tail.
Annie stood up from the table and carried her empty bowl to the dish basin, scrubbing the remnants of oatmeal from her bowl. She looked over her shoulder at Belle. “Were you much frightened, miss?” she asked. “Last night, I mean.”
Belle’s heart squeezed uncomfortably at the memory. “Yes,” she said, simply. She still felt a little terrified.
In all honesty, there were few flash-backs of his life that brought the duke any comfort. He turned his eyes away from his brother’s gaze and ducked behind a small group of nobility who were discussing the follies of neighboring kingdoms. Intolerable small talk, thought the duke. He only attended parties for two reasons: to keep up proper appearances and to keep an eye on his brother. He suspected his brother had similar reasons for inviting him.
The Duke pointed a commanding finger at her. “You stay where you are,” he ordered in a low threatening tone. “I will not have you risking the life of my unborn son.”
“But the doctor said it would be healthier to spend some time out of doors,” his wife pleaded.
“Doctor? Which doctor? He will pay for filling your head with foolish ideas!” the Duke snapped.
“Newel, please…don’t,” cried his wife, but the Duke was already striding out of sight, swinging his cane in retaliation against anything that stood in his way.~BB