Word of Honor(3)

By: Alexa Aston

He placed his hands on her shoulders. “There is nothing that I wouldn’t do for you, Merryn. Nothing.”

Geoffrey longed to shower her with passionate kisses that would show her how much he desired her. Yet Merryn was only three and ten. He didn’t want to frighten her. He would complete his service to Sir Lovel and return to wed her. She would be a woman then and more ready to understand the ways of love between a man and a woman.

He led her from the stables. They walked hand in hand, no words necessary between them. They strolled through the gates of Kinwick and over to the meadow. Merryn loved being out in nature. He wanted to remember her this way—standing in a field of flowers, the sun setting her hair afire.

Geoffrey knelt and gathered a few wildflowers from the grass. Lifting her hand, he placed them in her palm.

“I know how much you enjoy picking flowers and herbs. Think of me when you do so. Until I return to you.”

Merryn stared at the flowers a long time and then placed them on the ground. She unclasped the delicate gold necklace she always wore. Standing on her toes so she could reach him, she fastened the chain around his neck.

“I know ’tis suited for a woman, but I hope you will wear this cross. Wherever you go, I shall be close to your heart.”

Her gesture touched him. He brought the cross to his lips and kissed it before tucking it under his gypon.

Geoffrey captured her hand and kissed her knuckles before lacing their fingers together.

“I promise I shall come home to be your husband, Merryn.”

“I’ll wait for you,” she promised. “As long as it takes.”

Chapter 1

North of Aquitaine, France—1356

“I have enjoyed our time together this eve, Sir Thomas. You are a great hero of the battle at Crecy. I’ve learned much from your explanation of this raiding strategy of chevauchée that the Black Prince has chosen to use. It makes sense to weaken our French enemies through burning and pillaging and destroying their livestock.”

Geoffrey raised his cup to acknowledge Felton, a warrior valued by the king and his son.

“You have a keen mind, Geoffrey de Montfort. It was time well spent. One can never be too prepared when facing the enemy. Discussing Crecy and our recent ventures north from Aquitaine helps me solidify what strategies we’ve used. And to plan for what’s to come.”

“Victory, of course!”

Both men laughed.

Geoffrey excused himself, exhausted from the day’s activities. As he made his way back to his gear at Sir Lovel’s tent, he spied a figure in dark clothing slinking along the edge of camp. Curious, he followed at a discreet distance.

As he came closer, he saw it was a woman. Nothing odd about that. French whores serviced the English and Gascons who’d come to fight in France at every stop along the way. As long as they received payment, it didn’t seem to matter which side offered them coin.

So why was this one doing her best to blend into the background?

Unless she happened to be a spy for the French.

He continued to track her movements. She scurried past the Black Prince’s tent, where Edward’s key advisers now met to firm up their tactics for when they reached the River Loire and the town of Tours. They’d seen little resistance in their campaign so far and had been able to live off the bounty of the countryside to conserve their supply lines. He had faith in England’s leaders and its young, daring prince.

But this woman’s odd behavior troubled him.

She paused and looked around before she entered a nearby tent. He knew it to be that of John de Vere, Earl of Oxford, one of Edward’s most trusted advisers. The earl would be at the meeting with the Black Prince—so why was this whore in his tent?

Mayhap, she’d been hired to greet Oxford when he returned, but it concerned Geoffrey enough to investigate further.

Geoffrey trusted his instincts and rushed to the enclosure. When he reached its opening, he heard the moans of lovemaking. He stopped. If the earl met with the Black Prince, then who dallied with the whore in Oxford’s tent?

He looked inside. A few candles were lit, allowing him to make out the silhouettes of a man and woman. The woman was bent over a table and whimpered as the man pumped inside her from behind. He started to leave when the man spoke.

Geoffrey recognized the voice of Barrett of Winterbourne, the son of Lord Berold, whose estate lay north of Kinwick. Geoffrey knew Barrett had fostered with Oxford, which gave him some reason to be inside the earl’s tent.

“Here’s coin for your effort,” Barrett said. “And remember, hide the map. No one must know you have it.”


What game did Barrett play? Why would he give the woman a map? And of what?

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