A Dishonorable Knight - By Morrison, Michelle Page 0,2

the maids to him instead of the other way around!"

Bryant, slight of build and fair of skin but with inky black hair, burst out laughing at the image his friend evoked: that of the craggy faced Cynan wooing young women. Though the same coloring as Gareth, Cynan's face showed the evidence of too many boyhood brawls. On more than one occasion in their youth, Gareth had wooed a serving wench with his good looks into a dark corner where Cynan had taken over with whispered flattery, the woman never the wiser.

"If that be the case, he'd best be joining the monastery at Dolwyddelan!" said Bryant with a laugh as he nudged Gareth.

Jostled out of his reverie, Gareth shook his head in mock reproach at the ale-sodden wits of his friends. The three had been close since they were but young striplings in the mountains of Gwynedd in northern Wales. Their fathers were herdsmen and both Cynan and Bryant had been content to follow in their fathers' footsteps. But Gareth had always thirsted for adventure and grew up convinced that his destiny lay elsewhere. After much badgering, his father agreed to call upon an old family friend with some influence among England’s nobility who had placed him in the service of a lord for knightly training.

"Don't you even think of chasing a skirt while you're here, Cynan, or I'll be telling Enid and you'll have no peace!" he said, forcing a teasing tone to his voice.

"It's not peace I'm worried about losing should my wife think I was straying," said Cynan with a comic glance at his lap.

Laughing hard, Bryant gasped out, "The folk would definitely have a hard time believing you're as stalwart as you boast if they saw you running from your wife with your tail between your legs!"

Gareth chuckled at the thought as he raised his mug to his lips, but his hand froze in mid-air as his eyes swept over the crowd to the top of the broad stone staircase. Cynan followed his line of sight and let out a low whistle. "Now there's a woman who might even change the mind of such a determined bachelor as you, Gareth."

Bryant craned his neck to see at who they were looking. "I could definitely change my mind about red hair on a woman."

"It's not red, you oaf,” Cynan argued. It's more to copper, or--"

"Chestnut," Gareth broke in.

"Exactly," Cynan said expansively as he filled his mug from a large pitcher on the table. "Chestnut. The exact color of the horse I wanted when I was ten years old. Do you remember that?"

Bryant made a joking remark but Gareth did not hear it. Never before had he been struck by a woman as he was by this one who looked around the room from her high vantage point. Perhaps the troubadours knew something after all when they sang of love at a glance. As the woman slowly made her way down the steps, Gareth took in her creamy complexion and slender figure, both of which were complemented by the dark green gown she wore. Velvet, he thought. She's a lady of great standing to wear velvet. With a sigh, he watched her make her graceful descent. No lady of great standing would give a second glance at a mere knight from Wales. Still, he would give much for the chance to at least talk to her. Perhaps she was interested in more than a title and a position in court.


From the top of the flight of stairs leading into the great hall, Elena de Vignon surveyed the noisy gathering, her cinnamon-brown eyes searching for Lord Edgeford, sparkling with determination when they alighted on his tall figure. Pinching her cheeks to make sure they were enchantingly pink (had not Lord Edgeford used those very words himself?), Elena slowly descended the staircase, grateful, as the pungent smell of the hall reached her nose, that she had elected to eat in the privacy of her room.

Carefully lifting the embroidered hem of her forest-green cotehardie from the soiled rushes that covered the floor, she joined the group of young women who sat at the table to the right of the king’s seat. Not once did she allow her gaze to stray again to the table where she knew Edgeford sat.

Selecting a seat where she was sure he would have a clear view of her, she carefully arranged her heavy velvet skirts before turning her attention to the conversation at the table.

"...the fact remains that

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