Pray for Reign (an Anne Boleyn novel)

Pray for Reign (an Anne Boleyn novel) by Thea Atkinson

Book: Pray for Reign (an Anne Boleyn novel) by Thea Atkinson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Thea Atkinson
    "Pitiful, it is, I know," Mary agreed, her gaze
lingering sympathetically on Catherine. "But she suffers it well. And I
think England loves her all the more for it."
    "I wonder if she still harbors hope for a son,"
Anne mumbled, thinking aloud. "I know if it were me, I'd rather die than
acknowledge someone else's bastard." She lifted her chin so she could see
over the gentleman’s head who sat in front of her. His hair was matted in the
back, as if he’d had a fitful night.
    "Perhaps Catherine fears for the succession as well,
and has seen reason to the ceremony."
    "I can't imagine why. There's still hope that his
daughter will have children whilst they both live. I should think the
succession could be secured that way."
    From her spot, Anne could see Henry’s smug smile and
Catherine’s uneasy one. A brief clash of cymbals echoed throughout the garden,
and she started.
    "I suppose they must not hope only in that; I've heard
rumors that the marriage alliance they've arranged for young Mary bodes
    Anne grimaced emphatically. "Too bad. It would ease her
Grace’s worries." She fanned herself with her hand, taking care to hide
her baby finger beneath the ring finger. With all the spectators, she was wary
of who might see it.
    She had a brief memory of lonely days, and gusting drafty
winter nights with no company save her mother and servants. Dreariness was all
she remembered of Hever, and dust-laden, moth-eaten tapestries. She couldn’t
bear to think on it anymore, or that her mother stayed there still, content to
stagnate, happy her husband spent so much time in London.
    "At least all this ceremony does me a good turn. Father
has received agreement from the King that I may return to court. And it
couldn't have come at a better time. I was rotting in that isolation."
    "I can imagine. I’m pleased to be out of Father's
clutches. Will is a far kinder man." Mary sighed heavily and Anne thought
of Will, puppy of a man, who dared not even speak back to his wife.
    "Kind enough to ignore your relationship with the
King?" it was out before Anne could stop it.
    Mary gave her a grimace, meaning that it was none of Anne's
business. Anne grimaced back. She’d never let Mary forget that she didn't agree
with what she was doing, but Mary had her own mind, and since Anne couldn't
change it, she contented herself with annoying her sister.
    "Sorry. I know we called a truce. It just came
    "Umm. By habit, I suppose."
    "I suppose honesty forces me to say I understand your
attraction to him, he's very handsome." Anne threw the sentence out like
an apology, but meant it. Henry hadn't lost any of his looks in the three years
since she’d seen him last. He still retained his lithe, athletic physique,
though she could see he’d found a few pounds.
    "Yes." Mary's answer seemed preoccupied, then came
the change of subject, characteristic of her when troubled.
    "Our George is here, you know."
    "George? Why have I not seen him?"
    Anne quickly scanned the crowd, eagerly trying to pick out
her brother’s particular shade of sandy hair from the throngs of sandy-haired
attendants. Why did most Londoners have to have that annoyingly mousy colored
hair; no sparkle, no sheen. Just rat pelts, neither blonde nor brown nor black.
It made for frustrating scans of a crowd.
    "Oh, c’est impossible ." She hated
giving up. "I shan’t ever find him among all these people." She
turned instead to Mary. "Will he be at the dance later?"
    Mary's eyebrow rose and her head tilted a little forwards—a
sure signal of her rare displays of sarcasm.
    "Do you really need me to answer that question?"
    Anne grinned. Those rare displays always made her smile. It
was so out of character for Mary, and yet so natural on her features.
    "Ah, non . I suppose not."
    "Oh." Mary's hushed cry interrupted any further
comment. "Look, it’s father's turn."
    Anne turned her attention to the front where Thomas Boleyn
stood expectant, and a bit arrogantly, to accept

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