Lady Thief Page 41

“Godfrey,” I snapped, glaring at Rob.

Rob strode forward anyway. “I’m coming with you,” he said. “Godfrey, stay with Much.”

Godfrey looked at both of us and didn’t move forward.

Which made me miss John again.

The stables were on the same bailey, right near the barracks. While they weren’t so much guarded, they were lousy with armor and the men what wore it. We went the long way to the back, peeking round the building to see three men drinking and laughing. I pushed Rob back from the corner.

“We have to wait,” I told him.

“There. You spoke to me.”

I glared at him. “You want me to speak? How the hell could you be so cruel, to deny him his happiness? What are you thinking? You know what a family would mean to John after his whole family were taken from him. John, more than any of us.”

“You think me cruel?” he asked, angry and sad both, stepping from the wall to look at me full. “I can’t stand this. He runs around dishonoring as many women as he can get his goddamn hands on, doing whatever the hell he wishes, and he gets a child, a wife, a reason to stop fighting and think of himself for once. Whereas I—”

He stopped sharp, looking away from me.

My heart cracked. “Oh, Rob.”

He looked at me. “I’ve been playing by all the rules, Scar, and I don’t think I’ll ever have any of that. Maybe he deserves it more than I do. Maybe he does. Because even if you were to get an annulment, even if”—his throat worked—“even if I get to marry you, I’ll never be able to stop fighting. I will never be free of this burden, and I hate him that he can lay it down.”

I stared at him, drinking him in till I felt tipsy with the sight of him, and pulled him closer to me, wanting to touch him. His arms came round me and I pressed my face to the crook of his neck. “We’d never be happy without adventure,” I murmured to him. “But we’ll be happy with each other. We will have that chance. I promise.”

His arms shifted, wrapping round my shoulders and head, and it felt like he were shielding me from the world. “I hope so, Scar,” he said in my ear.

Sighing, I pressed closer to him. “We should look…” I reminded him.

He moved over a bit, tugging me with him, to peek. “They’re gone.”

His arms began to loosen, but I fast whispered, “Kiss me, Rob.”

Like any good gentleman, he didn’t deny me. He picked me up a bit and held me against the wall, kissing me and making heat and courage flow from my toes to my hair.

He let me down and his mouth left mine. His forehead touched mine, and I couldn’t bring my eyes to open just yet.

“These schemes may benefit the people, Scarlet, but I fight for you.” His hands squeezed my waist a little bit, and it made my blood run fast. “I will always fight for you.”

I opened my eyes, pressing my hand to his face, making him look me in the eye. “Rob,” I murmured. “I will do everything I can so that you don’t have to fight anymore. For me or anyone else.”

He pressed his lips to my forehead. “Come on, my love.”

It were short work to get the cart over to the food store. It were terrible hard work to load the thing up, especially where only one of my hands worked and I got shouted at when I tried to use the bad one, and Much had a stump for only a bit more use than me.

We couldn’t close the doors, neither, so it were a fair messy business, and it weren’t long before a guard came over, shouting at Rob and Godfrey.

“Stop! What are you two doing? Guards!” he roared.

I heard quite a clatter and put the cheese wheel wedged under one arm on the cart.

I just hoped that being a noblewoman had as many nice bits as it were meant to.

“What is taking you so very long?” I asked, stepping out of the food store. “Guard. Perfect. Where are the rest of your men, you were meant to be here ages ago.”

“M-my lady?” he asked, looking at my coat that Rob had given me, made of peasant’s felt.

I raised my chin. “Lady Leaford,” I snapped. “Perhaps I should send one of these men to tell the prince his orders are being ignored.”

“The prince didn’t give no orders,” he said.

“He most certainly did. Were you aware that the food dispensed earlier to the people was rotten?” I asked.

“No, my—”

“Well, the prince caught wind of that in more ways than one, sir. And he isn’t pleased. His Highness has ordered this food to be brought to the people at once.”

“It’s the dead of night—”

I fought to draw myself up higher. “The same time of night that our Lord Jesus Christ overcame death, sir.” I sniffed. “Now will you and your men do as you’re told or must I wake the prince?”

The man grumbled but turned his back and shouted to several guards for help, and I watched, breathless, as they looked to me for instruction on what to take. They wheeled the cart to the gates and called to their fellows to open it while I followed behind with my friends.

There were still some of the rioters outside the gates who rallied when they saw them open, and some people ran fast from the square, though I weren’t sure if it were for fear or to spread word. I saw Allan doing tricks for some children, and he turned to me with a solemn nod. The guards hung back, and I walked forward, looking back to Rob and the others. Rob nodded me forward.

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