When Love Awaits

When Love Awaits by Johanna Lindsey

Book: When Love Awaits by Johanna Lindsey Read Free Book Online
Authors: Johanna Lindsey
might have been staring at a speck of dust for all the interest they revealed. So it was to be that way, was it? Thorpe was never more annoying than when he was savoring a triumph. He did not brag or gloat, but forced comments by his silence.
    “I will assume from your silence that you had no trouble following my orders. She is here?”
    “She is.”
    Rolfe had not realized how tense he’d been until now. “You had no trouble at all?”
    “There was a moment when her vassal was ready to draw his sword on us, but—” Thorpe chuckled at Rolfe’s expression.
    “Did she—”
    “By no means,” Thorpe said quickly. “Her man took exception to the lack of respect we showed his lady. It was a natural mistake. We did not know who she was when she came to us—something I am sure you can appreciate.”
    There it was, a not-too-subtle chiding for Rolfe’s not warning them about what they would find. He imagined Thorpe’s surprise on first seeing Lady Leonie. No doubt it had been as great as his own.
    “What was her reaction?”
    “She did not smile or seem pleased to see us, if that is what you mean. She wanted only confirmation that it was by your order she was to come here. After that, she did not delay at all in readying herself.”
    “And here?”
    “Be more specific,” Thorpe replied innocently.
    “Why? You know my every thought, sometimes even before I have it,” Rolfe countered. “Do not make me hunt for what I wish to know.”
    Thorpe chuckled again. “There is very little to tell. I think she expected you to be here when she arrived. When she saw that you were not, she retired to your chamber and has not shown herself since. The two maids she brought with her are also there. So what of Damian? Is he to share your antechamber with her two maids?”
    “I left him at Wroth. And no,” Rolfe answered thoughtfully. “I think henceforth I will want no one sleeping so close. There are many places to sleep in this keep.”
    Thorpe grinned. “Of course.”
    After they had joked for half an hour more, Rolfe started up the narrow curving stairway to his chamber on the second floor. He did indeed find the two maidssleeping in the antechamber. One in fact had put her pallet directly in front of the door, and when he opened it she awoke with a shriek. That woke the other maid as well, and a moment later the inner door to his room was thrown open by his wife, who stood there clutching a hastily donned bedrobe.
    The dim light from a single candle did lovely things to the planes of Leonie’s face. Rolfe was held by her spell for several moments before he recollected himself and brusquely ordered the two maids out.
    “When I am away you may sleep here if that is my lady’s wish, but not when I am in residence. You may return here in the morning to assist her, but you will not enter here unless you are bid. I need no one to wake me. If I have not yet risen, no matter the hour, I do not wish to be disturbed. Is that understood?”
    Wilda and the older Mary both looked to Leonie first. At her nod, they nodded to her husband. His temper might have exploded over that, but in fact he was amused, although he kept his expression carefully blank.
    “Go below. Sir Thorpe will show you to the women’s quarters.”
    As he entered the inner chamber, he said, “It was good of you to return to Crewel so quickly.”
    “Did I have a choice, my lord?”
    “No, but you might have thought of a hundred things to delay your arrival. I am pleased you did not.” She had not moved from the door. “Close the door, Leonie, and come in.”
    She did not like his using her name so easily, nor did she trust his calm. She closed the door slowly and moved reluctantly back into the room, going directly to a chest by the bed where she found a belt for the robe.
    Rolfe sighed when she finished tying the belt but made no move toward him. “Is this to be the way of it?” he said as he unbelted his sword and laid it aside. “Must I always ask

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