“What does this mean for me?” Helena dared to ask. The house had been in quite a buzz since the news of Gabriel’s somewhat shock betrothal.
“It doesn’t change anything” he soothed, kissing her neck and running his hand down her side and onto her waist. “You’ll stay… Maegan is a convenience, you understand. I need her here but it won’t change my feeling for you”
“Will you move me?” she asked, “into the village”
“No.. of course not why should i?”
“I thought perhaps …. Perhaps your wife will not like me being here?”
“My wife will have to get used to it” he reasoned “Besides she said herself this is a convenient arrangement and nothing more”
“And what am i?” she asked. She expected this of course but not quite so soon. Ever since she’d gotten rid of the baby she’d been squirreling money away whenever so got chance preparing for the day he decided he needed a noble wife after all.
“My love… my mistress …. “ he smiled, pulling her around to face him. “Don’t fear the little princess… she’ll provide an heir but nothing more”
“And what will I provide?”
“You will provide everything that is important”
“I… though you said you’d marry me” she dared, “You wanted children of our own?”
“I know and im sorry, I was naive but the King won’t allow it, but it doesn’t change anything. I love you and I will take care of you”
“Oh” she nodded, she no longer believed it. He was indeed desperate for an hier but apparently he could no longer stand to wait for hers.
It wasn’t until later that evening, that she realised just how desperate. Sitting quietly in her room she was using the time to think when Gayle came half tumbling crying into it.
“Mam is it true?!” she wailed.
“Is what true?” she asked, standing from her seat.
“Gabriel… I mean lord Hamdun, he’s to marry a Princess?”
“Yes im afraid it is” she agreed as a sinking feeling passed over her. “Why?”
“But …. Mam … what’s to happen to me… I mean us?”
“He says he wants us to stay? Why?”
“Oh mam” Gayle sobbed throwing herself into her mothers arms.
Helena was not naive nor stupid as sometimes Gabriel thought and though she cursed herself for not seeing it before she suddenly understood. Taking hold of her daughter she pried herself from her arms. “Gayle what have you done?” she demanded.
“Mam… he said he loved me…” the young girl wept.
Helena felt cold, she didn’t understand she had not seen it, not for an instant. Gayle was barely more than a child so she hadn’t thought it possible for a second. “Gayle pleast tell me you didn’t do anything foolish”
“He said he loved me” she sobbed, “He said he’d marry me… take care of me”
“Yes … but … you’re not old enough” she reasoned, it simply wasn’t possible Gayle was not even twelve yet. She’d not bled… and yet it made such perfect sense. “but Gayle you …. Haven’t bled” she murmured.
“I did” the young girl sobbed, “just before Christmas… I didn’t want to bother you with pa and all, so I asked Tara to help”
He got to her on her very first bleed she realised. What sort of man did that to a girl. “Have you…. Bled since?” she asked as the pieced began to fit together. Helena’s own body had not yet recovered from losing a child, He was desperate with a marriage planned, he needed to test out his witch and had sought out another.
“And… did he bring…. “ the words stuck in her throat. “Did he bring… the dark haired girl to see you afterward?”
“He said he loved me”
“Answer the question” she demanded.
“yes” she nodded, solemnly “he said he wanted her to make sure I was alright”
“I bet he did” she growled.
“He doesn’t love me does he?” Gayle asked.
“I’m afraid not” Helena agreed.
“I’m sorry mam, he said he was going to tell you”