Chapter Twenty-six

The next day, flanked by two guards, CC managed to stay unavailable to Andras through a hasty breakfast in the kitchen, and a midday meal, even though it took her only a few crowning polishes to complete her work in the chapel. To avoid the knight, she kept herself busy weeding the herb garden and harvesting a long list of fresh plants for Isabel. She was pleasantly surprised when, from time to time, a passing monk would stop to compliment her on the beauty of Mary's restoration. She had just returned to her room to scrub something sticky from her hands and change her soiled robe for a new one when a knock sounded against her door.

She cracked the door. The knight was dressed as he had been the evening before, and his expression was strained.

"Good afternoon, Sir Andras," CC said formally, feeling especially uncomfortable without Isabel at her side.

Andras inclined his head. "Princess Undine, I trust today you are recovered and able to walk with me."

"I would be happy to, but as you can see I'm really not dressed for it." She pointed at her dirty robe.

"I will send for the servant, Isabel, to aid you. I await you in the courtyard," he said firmly, then executed an abrupt military about-face and strode away.

CC sighed and closed the door. She didn't have to wait long for Isabel to arrive.

"Come, let me help you into your beautiful gown," she said, lifting the shining material from where it was draped across the bed.

"I don't want to walk with him," CC said.

"You must, or you chance being locked away."

At that reminder, CC shivered in fear.

"Smile at Sir Andras. Stroke his ego," Isabel said.

"I'm worried about what Sarpedon could make him do." CC chewed her bottom lip.

Isabel frowned. "You must take care not to arouse the knight's anger, then perhaps the evil spirit's influence will sleep. Think of Andras as the dashing knight who rushed to rescue you from the seas. And remember, this is the last night you will spend as a human. Tomorrow you return to the water. Can you not play the pretty princess for such a short time?" Isabel finished lacing her outer garment and began clasping the long strands of jewels around CC's neck. "Perhaps you can persuade the knight to walk with you by the sea. Could you not tolerate him in exchange for the chance at a glimpse of your Dylan?"

"I hadn't even thought of that!" CC said, her heart racing.

As had become her habit during the time that she could not spend with him, CC had tried to stay busy and not think too much of Dylan. She had found that if she dwelled on how much she missed him, the ache of her longing for him and for the sea merged into one painful force, which came dangerously close to overwhelming her. Now she felt herself tremble with suppressed desire as thoughts of her lover filled her mind.

"Hurry!" she told Isabel.

"Child,"—the old woman took CC's shoulders in her hands, forcing her to look into her eyes—"you may catch sight of him, but you must control your reaction to his nearness. Do not display your emotions and reveal yourself to the knight. Remember, you must wait on the timing of the Holy Mother. Promise me you will use caution."

"Yes, yes! I promise," she said quickly, wanting to reassure Isabel and bolt from the room. But the old woman wouldn't release her.

"Remember Sarpedon. Do not put yourself or your lover in danger because you mistakenly allow passion to rule your actions."

At the mention of Sarpedon, CC felt her head clear. "You're right. I promise to be careful."

"Go, child. And luck be with you as well as the blessings of the Holy Virgin."

CC turned in the doorway. "Thank you, my wise friend." Then she hurried to the courtyard.

Andras was pacing restlessly back and forth in front of the arched entryway that led from the hall. His two squires were flanking him a little way inside the courtyard.

"I'm ready for our walk," CC said.

The three men looked at her, and the heat of their stares was a tangible force against CC's body. Their eyes seemed to bore into her, and she felt the exposed skin on her chest, neck, face and arms burn with an electric shock of discomfort.

Her hand went automatically to her neck. "Is something wrong?" she asked.

Andras blinked and pulled his gaze from her body to meet her eyes. He approached her with a feral glide that reminded CC of an animal stalking its prey. When he reached her side he took her unresponsive hand and raised it to his lips. CC wanted to pull her hand from his possessive grasp and bolt back down the hallway.

"I had forgotten how lovely you are in your gown. It is unfortunate that you have been spending so much time in the coarse robes of the Brothers." He slid her hand through his arm proprietarily and together they moved across the courtyard. "A woman of your beauty and breeding should spend all of her time in glittering gowns surrounded by luxurious things."

With an effort, CC didn't sigh. "Then I would be no more than a pretty doll or a piece of art. Those things are nice to look at, but they have no real purpose."

The knight's laugh was condescending. "Is not a woman's purpose in life to be a thing of grace and beauty, a true asset to her husband and family?"

"As I am not yet a wife, I believe I am being an asset to my family by working to restore the area of the chapel that is devoted to Mary. Do you not agree that my work for the Great Mother is important?"

Andras nodded quickly. "Of course—piety is always important, especially in a woman."

CC ground her teeth together to keep her retort inside her mouth.

Just then they passed the well, and CC felt her attention and her gaze drawn to it. During the past few days, she had successfully avoided coming near this area of the courtyard. Until now. At the sight of the well her stomach fluttered nervously. The stone structure stood silently in the middle of the courtyard, looking perfectly normal. There was no vapor escaping from it, no ghostly shape hovering above it. CC didn't even detect any of the feelings of dread she had experienced around the time Sarpedon began manifesting.

CC wasn't sure why, but her lack of any reaction to the well made her feel very uneasy.

"How have you been feeling lately?" she asked abruptly.

"Much improved," Andras said.

"No more"—she struggled for an appropriate word—"dizziness, or falling or anything?"

"None. During the midday meal Abbot William even mentioned how pleased he is that I have recovered and returned to myself. His prayers on my behalf were obviously successful."

"And no one else has been acting, um, strangely?" CC asked.

"No." His voice had a suspicious edge to it. "Why do you ask?"

She shrugged nonchalantly. "No reason in particular." She could feel that the knight was still studying her, so she added what she thought he wanted to hear. "The whole thing scared me. It's a relief to know that you are well."

Andras patted her hand indulgently. "Of course it would frighten you, but you may rest easy. I am fully recovered, and you must know that under my protection you have nothing to fear."

CC gave him a tight grimace masquerading as a smile, and he patted her hand again. At least he seemed to be acting like himself.

They exited through the monastery gates, and it was then that CC noticed that the squires were following them. And they, like Andras, were well armed.

Raising her eyebrows at the knight she asked, "Is there something out here that you're afraid of?"

"Of course not," Andras said, drawing himself up to his full, imposing height, blond mane shimmering in the early afternoon sunlight.

He really was incredibly handsome, the perfect knight in shining armor.

"Oh, then those guards must be for me." She fluttered her eyelashes at him coquettishly. "Silly me, I thought I just heard you say that I didn't need to be afraid of anything while I was under your protection. Or is that just while we're within the walls of the monastery?"

The knight's jaw tightened. "Marten! Gilbert! Remain here. I will escort the princess alone."

The two squires sent hot looks in CC's direction, but they did as they were ordered.

"Come," Andras said, his voice gentled from the tone of command he used with his men. "We shall walk down the road. It branches not far from here and the eastern fork winds through a rather nice meadow. I thought that you should visit some of the inland parts of Caldei," he said, putting an emphasis on the word.

CC wanted to tell him that she could care less about what was inland—she just wanted to go to the seashore! Instead she swallowed her frustration and strolled casually beside him, careful to keep her expression neutral.

"Anywhere you would like to go is fine with me. You were right; I do enjoy the exercise."

Andras smiled at her compliment, and CC couldn't help returning his smile. He did seem to have shaken Sarpedon's influence and was his usual, macho self again. The thought made her smile turn into a grin, and even though they weren't near the water, CC found that she was actually enjoying the walk. Soon they came to what CC recognized as the little path that branched from the road and meandered down to the shore. CC pointed to the trail.

"Isn't that the path that we took before?" she asked.


CC sighed dramatically.

"Are you well, Undine? Perhaps you would like to rest before we continue?" Andras asked.

"No, I'm fine. I was just remembering what a wonderful lunch you had packed for us and what a nice time we had that day."

Andras's eyes widened. "I am pleased to hear you say so, Undine."

CC took a deep breath, steeling herself. Then she turned to face the knight. "Andras, I have been thinking about us." She paused, letting the word us linger in the air between them. "We have had some unfortunate misunderstandings, and I am sorry for that. After all, you did save me, and I should be more appreciative than I have been." Purposefully she looked down at her feet, pretending maidenly shyness. Then, glancing up at him through thick lashes she said, "Maybe we could start over."

CC watched a fierce look of triumph pass quickly over the knight's face.

"Yes, let us begin anew," he said passionately.

CC plastered a wide smile on her face. When the knight began to lean toward her as if he wanted to kiss her, she pulled her hand from his arm and clapped girlishly.

"Oh, good!" CC chirped, waggling her fingers in the direction of the trail and brightening her face, as if an idea had just occurred to her. "And what better way to start over than for us to follow the same path we did before all of our misunderstandings started!"

The knight hesitated only a moment before responding. "If it would make you happy, Undine."

CC sighed in relief as they stepped off the road and began following the twisting trail. It took very little time for them to break through the trees and come to the sandy shoreline. CC breathed deeply, washing herself in the aroma of the salt breeze. Her spirit, dressed in her human body, quivered and strained with its desire to rejoin the waters. The ocean was sweet-laughter blue, and the whimsical waves played tag with the shore, calling to her in a voice that echoed through her blood.

"You always become even more beautiful when you are near the sea." Andras's voice was raw with lust. "I wonder why that is."

CC wrenched her thoughts from the water to focus on the knight. His features were tight, locked in the intense expression of a man determined to possess a woman. CC felt a shiver of apprehension. She had been a fool to believe that Sarpedon's influence could be so easily shaken. She realized that she had to distract him. Struggling to calm the fear within her, she formed her lips into a friendly smile.

"Well, it must be because I love the sea so much. Being near it makes me feel like I'm home." She took another deep breath, schooling her face into an aspect of polite interest. "But enough about me. You've hardly told me anything about your childhood. I would love to hear about Caer Llion."

The mention of his home seemed to break through his fog of lust, and Andras blinked like a man surfacing after a long dive.

"Caer Llion is a place of great beauty," he said solemnly. "It is not wild, as is this coastline. It is well-ordered and civilized." Andras stepped closer to her. "You could find there everything your heart desires."

CC summoned up a delighted laugh and skipped a step away from him, as if she could hardly contain her glee at the thought of learning more about his home.

"Oh, it sounds wonderful! Please, tell me more," she said as she wandered girlishly down the shoreline, picking up an occasional seashell or piece of discarded coral, while she moved ever closer to the water.

"Well," Andras said thoughtfully as he followed CC. 'The first thing you should know about Caer Llion is that it is a well-ordered castle…"

Andras loved his home, and his voice was warm and animated as he enumerated the wonders of Caer Llion. All CC had to do was to make an occasional, interested noise and smile encouragingly. He was so intent on his description of Caer Llion's stables that he didn't even notice when CC slipped off her shoes. It was only when she hiked up her skirts and actually stepped into the water that he paused in his recitation.

"You should have care. The water can cause a chill."

CC noticed that his gaze was riveted on the glimpse of knee and calf she was exposing.

"I'll be careful," she said, cheerfully ignoring the heat in his eyes. "Go on, you haven't described the main hall of the castle yet."

CC breathed a sigh of relief as he continued his dissertation. Nodding and smiling, she half turned away from him and continued walking down the shoreline. Hungrily, her eyes scanned the water. There was no flash of orange and gold, no sign of Dylan's sleek body.

She wanted to call to Dylan. She had planned to—until she had stepped onto the beach. What would Dylan think when he saw her with Andras? Would he trust her, or would he be angry and jealous? Or worse, would he feel hurt and betrayed? Questions filled her mind as she made polite noises at the knight to keep him talking.

The shoreline bent to the east, then it curved back abruptly to the west. In the middle of the bend was formed a shallow cove that was littered with large, smooth rocks. The water there was more tamed than the wild waves that jarred the shore beneath the monastery. CC pulled her skirts up a little higher and walked out into the cove, climbing easily up on the rounded top of the nearest rock.

"Undine, those rocks are slick with sea water," Andras said.

"Oh, they're really not very slick. See?" She tapped the sand-colored rock with her toe. "The tide is out and the top is dry." She smiled at him. "Andras, would you say that the stones from which Caer Llion was constructed are the same color as this rock, or do they look more like the gray stones of the monastery?"

Andras rubbed his chin, pondering rock colors and shades of his beloved Caer Llion. CC stepped to the next rock. By skipping from rock to rock she had traveled well out into the cove and was four stony mounds away from the knight before he finished the description of the wall surrounding Caer Llion.

"Undine, perhaps you should return to shore now."

CC glanced over her shoulder at him. He had walked closer to the waves and was nervously watching the water. This time CC didn't stifle her grin.

"Andras, can't you swim?" she asked.

The knight stuck out his well-defined chin. "No. I cannot."

CC's laughter danced across the water. "You really should learn—it's a lot of fun, not to mention excellent exercise."

"I have no desire to engage in such barbaric behavior." He took one step closer to the water. "You should return now, Undine."

Before she could answer him, a flash of brilliance caught the corner of her gaze. Her heart thumped wildly as she saw a familiar golden shadow just below the surface of the water. It was gliding toward her rock.

"I think I'll sit out here a little while," CC said quickly. Gathering her skirts she sat on the smooth, cool surface of the rock. Her legs dangled down into the water, which covered her feet and calves. "I think I am a little tired. I should rest before I try to climb back to shore." She gave him an apologetic look. "I guess you were right, again."

"I will come to you." Andras's voice was curt as he put one booted foot into the edge of the waterline.

"No!" she shouted. The knight paused, and CC continued in a more controlled voice. "I'll be fine in a few minutes, and I wouldn't want you to fall into the water. I'm pretty sure that it's well over your head out here."

Andras gave the waves a distasteful look.

A few yards from her rock the water flashed golden.

"I'll just sit here," she said. Then she looked down at her legs. Widening her eyes, as if noticing for the first time that she was showing so much skin, she squeaked a little gasp of shock. With what she hoped was maidenly modesty, CC shifted her seat until her legs were facing seaward, their partial nudity hidden by the bulk of the rock. She twisted at the waist to look back at the knight. "How foolish of me to get into this situation. And I certainly didn't realize I was being so immodest."

"It is just the two of us, Undine." Andras's voice deepened suggestively.

"And what a relief that is to me!" CC said, filling her voice with naivete. "I'd be mortified if anyone else knew. I hope I can trust you not to mention this to my father."

"Your honor is safe with me, Undine." The look Andras sent her was long and intimate.

"Thank you. Now, I'm going to sit here and rest for a little while. Why don't you continue with your description of Caer Llion? You haven't told me yet about your personal chambers."

"I would rather that you visited those chambers yourself someday, Undine," Andras said.

"Why don't you whet my curiosity with a description?" she said quickly.

As Andras launched into another lengthy description, Dylan's head broke the surface of the water near her feet. His body was shadowed by the rock, and as long as he remained on the seaward side of it he would be shielded from the knight's vision.

"Is all well, Christine?" The merman's whisper was strained and his eyes were dark with worry.

"Yes. But don't let him know you're here." CC glanced nervously over her shoulder and nodded attentively at the knight's description of the tapestries that covered the walls of his bedchamber.

He holds you prisoner? Even inside her head the words sounded fierce.

Not really. He is just escorting me on a walk. CC sent her thoughts to him, pouring all the love she felt for him through her eyes. Lir has sent word to Gaea that he will be in these waters tomorrow night. She is sure that he will bless our union and tell Sarpedon to back off. Tomorrow night I can return to the water and to you. Forever.

Dylan reached out and with one strong hand he stroked her right calf with a slow, sensuous touch. CC shivered at the current of desire that traveled up her leg to nestle, pulsing with heat, deep within her.

It seems an eternity from now till then. Within her mind his voice was a seductive lure.

You did say you would wait for me for an eternity, she teased.

And I shall, Christine. I shall, my love.

"Undine, have you recovered your strength enough yet?" Andras's voice cut into their thoughts.

Dylan's jaw clenched.

He is nothing to us. CC sent the thought to Dylan before calling over her shoulder to the knight.

"Almost. Just another few minutes. Your chamber sounds lovely. Why don't you tell me what a normal day is like at Caer Llion."

"For whom? Caer Llion and its grounds are home for hundreds of people," he said with easy arrogance.

When CC turned her head and answered the knight her face was a mask of innocent curiosity. "Start by telling me what you do. Then I would love to hear what the ladies of the castle do to keep themselves busy during the day."

Andras's chest swelled. "Being the eldest son, my duties are extensive and they begin at daybreak…"

"The warrior wants you to belong to him." The softness of Dylan's voice did nothing to disguise his anger.

"It doesn't matter what he wants. I could never belong to him," she whispered urgently. "Please believe me, Dylan. I want no one except you."

"Did you say something, Undine?" Andras shouted.

CC swiveled at the waist. "I was just commenting on how interesting all this is becoming to me. I'm sorry to interrupt, please continue." She turned back to Dylan as Andras resumed his description of castle life.

I hate that you must endure him. Dylan's thought entered her mind.

He's really not that bad; he's just not the man for me. And anyway, it won't be much longer now.

One moment without you is too long, my love. The mer-man pulled her leg to him and gently kissed her calf. Your legs are such soft, wonderful things. With light kisses his mouth moved down the shapely swell of her calf, burning a trail of erotic heat. I admit that I shall miss them.

His lips found the delicate arch of her instep. While his mouth possessed her, his hands caressed the sensitive area behind her knees, then moved down to her ankle and back. When he moved to her other leg CC couldn't hold back the moan of pleasure that escaped her parted lips.

"Undine! What is it?" CC could hear the splash of the knight's boots as he plodded awkwardly into the water.

"Nothing! Nothing!" she yelled, looking back in time to see him floundering up to his knees in the surf. "No need to come out. I'm rested and ready to leave. Just let me make sure that I am presentable," she said, fussing with her skirt.

She turned back to Dylan, sending her thoughts to him. Tomorrow night, my love. Wait for me tomorrow night.

Reluctantly, the merman took his hands from her leg and began to sink beneath the shimmering surface.

For an eternity, Christine. I will wait for you for an eternity.

Then he was gone. CC swallowed hard, fighting against an almost overwhelming desire to leap into the water and swim after him.

No, she told herself firmly. I have to wait on the timing of the goddess. I've come too far to mess it up now. It's just one more day.

But as she stood and began her rock-skipping trip back to the restlessly waiting knight she felt empty, like her soul had followed Dylan out to sea, and she had been left with only the shell of her body.

Reacting to the bereft expression on her face, and her sad, lethargic movements, Andras began his lecture as soon as he had helped her down from the last rock.

"Perhaps next time you will remember that it is wise to listen to me, especially in matters of your safety."

Dylan's absence filled her with sadness, and her shoulders slumped as she muttered a quick, "You're right, next time I'll be more careful."

Andras gave her a self-satisfied smile. "I am pleased to hear you say so, Undine. I understand that you are a princess, but even a princess must take counsel from those who are wiser and more experienced. But please, there is no need for you to look so sad. I am here for you."

Andras took a step closer to her. Before she could protest, he took her hand in his and raised it to his lips. Thankfully, the kiss was short, but he didn't let go of her hand when he had finished. Instead he stepped even closer to her and placed his hands on her shoulders. They were rough and heavy, and CC felt their weight as if they were shackles. A tremor of fear mixed with loathing traveled through her, and she tried to pull away from him.

"Do not be frightened." His voice was husky. "You must know my intentions are honorable. I plan on speaking to your father as soon as he arrives."

"About my ransom?" she asked, still trying to pull away.

"It is little wonder you tremble if that is what you believe!" Andras said heatedly. "You may be assured, Undine, that I am not the type of man who would use a maiden lady and then send her back to her father soiled. Your honor is safe with me."

"So are you saying you'd only use a woman who you didn't consider a lady?"

Andras's brow furrowed as if he couldn't decide if her question was naive or impertinent. Remembering her reaction to discovering she was displaying an immodest glimpse of her legs, the knight realized that Undine must have meant the question in simple naivete. He smiled indulgently at her, and his voice took on a fatherly tone.

"What I am saying, my beautiful one, is that I intend to ask your father for your hand in marriage."

"But I thought you said that beauty needs to be guarded against," she blurted, scanning his face for the telltale signs of Sarpedon.

Believing her breathlessness was a result of joy at his announced intentions, Andras freed one of her shoulders so that he could cup her chin within his hand.

"Not if the beauty has proper guidance. As your husband, I will provide you with that guidance." His voice deepened and his eyes gleamed with a light that caused her stomach to clench. "Consider us betrothed, my beauty. You belong to me."

The knight's grip on her tightened, and he bent his head down to her. CC couldn't breath. She was trapped, overwhelmed by his size and strength. What would happen if he kissed her lips? Intuition told her Sarpedon's influence would flare to an uncontrollable level. She had to do something that would break his desire for her without making him angry. Fighting panic, she forced herself to think rationally. And a single idea came to her, ironically born from something Andras had said. Suddenly she wanted to laugh aloud in glee.

Instead she drew in a deep breath, as if she was readying herself for an underwater dive, and the instant before An-dras's lips touched hers, CC sneezed. Violently.

The knight jerked back from her.

"Oh, my goodness!" CC covered her nose with her hands and sniffed. "I'm so sorry."

When she lowered her hands from her face, Andras took her forcefully back into his arms.

"It is of no matter, my beauty," he murmured, bending again to her lips.

"A, chew!" This time CC opened her mouth and managed to actually rain spittle onto the knight's face.

He let loose of her so quickly that she staggered forward, causing him to back away from her.

"A, a . . ." CC gasped, waving her hands in front of her face. "Chew!"

CC rubbed at her nose. She was pleased to feel it getting hot and red under her rough handling. Andras was looking at her as if he was afraid she might begin to indiscriminately release any number of bodily functions. All traces of glowing silver had left his eyes.

"It looks like you were right, again," she said, giving her voice a nasally twinge. "I must have caught a chill out there on that wet rock."

"We should return," Andras said.

"You are so wise," CC said, ending her sentence in a barking cough.

As she followed the knight up the path that led from the beach, CC was sure she heard Dylan's deep, male laughter mixed with the rhythmic music of the surf. She disguised her answering giggle in a phlegmy cough.

Reentering the monastery grounds, CC was relieved to see Isabel's silhouette in a nearby hall, obviously keeping watch for CC's return.

CC coughed and sneezed almost simultaneously.

"You, there!" Andras yelled at Isabel. "The princess has taken a chill. What herbal remedies have you?"

Isabel hurried over to the knight, clucking her tongue like a ruffled hen.

"It seems I should have listened to Sir Andras's advice. He warned that I could catch a chill from the water, and I think I—ha… ha… ha… chew!—have," CC said wetly.

Isabel took the shawl from her shoulders and wrapped it around CC while she muttered under her breath about foolish young women and ushered her toward the hall that led to her bedchamber. Andras began to follow them, then he stopped, looking as if he wasn't sure what he should do.

"Sir Andras, I will care for the princess. It would be wise if you had one of the servants pour you a strong draft of the Brothers' special vintage. We certainly would not want you to become ill, too." She lowered her voice ominously, then said, "The princess may be contagious."

The knight's eyes widened, and he automatically backed a step farther away from CC.

"I will be in the dining hall if you have need of me, Undine." Andras gave her a neat little bow. Then he told Isabel, "Care for my betrothed well. I hold you personally responsible for her health." The knight turned and retreated quickly across the courtyard.

"Betrothed?" Isabel whispered as they hurried down the hall to CC's room.

CC grimaced and whispered back. "Somehow Andras managed to get engaged to me today without me saying yes." CC paused to add a sneeze and a couple of loud coughs, just in case any of the Brothers were lurking around.

The door to her room looked like a sanctuary. As soon as it was firmly closed behind them CC nodded to the window and asked in a low voice. "Is the guard still out there?"

"No," Isabel answered in a normal voice. "The squires are busy scanning the coast for any sign of Vikings." Isabel looked closely at her. 'This illness is only a pretense?"

CC nodded and grinned. "Absolutely. Do you honestly believe that water could make me sick?"

As her laughter joined Isabel's, CC felt her spirits lift, and she sent a silent thank-you to the goddess for the gift of the old woman's friendship.

"It is a ruse to keep the knight away from you?" Isabel asked.

CC nodded. "He scared me out there. It's like Sarpedon is with him all the time, even when Andras appears perfectly himself, but any little thing I do or say can cause him to surface."

"Little wonder you looked ill," Isabel said.

"I'm glad this will be over soon. I don't know how much longer I can avoid Andras."

"The chapel is certainly clean, and the kitchen has become a forest of drying herbs," Isabel said.

"I can promise you that there are no weeds in the herb garden."

"Then it is best if an illness renders you indisposed," Isabel said thoughtfully.

CC grinned mischievously. "So what kind of remedies do you have in mind for me?"

"Oh, I think we should begin with mulled wine laced with healing herbs, and perhaps a mustard poultice for your chest to relieve that raking cough."

CC wrinkled her nose, and Isabel laughed.

"I'm fine with the wine, but the poultice sounds kind of scary. What are you going to put in it? Frog poop and lizard tongues?"

"Would you rather have Andras or a poultice on your chest?"

"I'll take the frog poop," CC assured her.

Isabel cackled cheerfully as she gathered up the pitcher and cup from CC's dresser. "It will be necessary to make you as aromatic as possible to ensure that the knight will want to stay well away from you."

"I suppose that means that I'll have to stay confined to my room tonight and tomorrow," CC sighed.

"I imagine that if you appear well enough to walk about, Andras will devote himself to personally overseeing his be-trothed's recovery."

"Ugh" CC groaned.

"Exactly," Isabel said, walking to the door. "I shall prepare your remedies and return shortly."

"Don't be gone too long."

"Only as long as it takes to gather the frogs and lizards." The door closed on Isabel's cackling laughter.

P/S: Copyright -->www_novelfreereadonline_Com