Chapter 8 Part 8 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

A whisper ran through the Hearth that night, carried from one sympathetic mouth in the Healer's House dispensary to various sympathetic ears until it reached a young Sister who worked in the kitchens; she nodded, setting her stubborn black cowlick bobbing. When she returned to her work, she picked up a dinner tray and walked the long stairs into the basement to Sister Ibbit's chilly cell. She gave the renegade her evening meal and murmured, "She is with child, Blessed Ibbit," before she turned away.

Ibbit tore her bread into hunks, the hunks into chunks, the chunks into shreds, the shreds into crumbs. She threw them into her soup and ate with deliberate intensity until the same black-haired Sister came back for the tray. "Tell our friend in the dispensary I have a task for her. Carry it out, the both of you, and then flee," said Ibbit.

Chapter 3 Part 1 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Ansella lay cuddled beside her lover before her private drawing room fire, Ibbit's arm heavy around her. "You're spending a great deal of time here lately, love. Shouldn't you be more at the Hearth?"

Ibbit squeezed her waist. "I have others helping my cause there. For now, I think it best I should be known to be with you as often as possible."

Ansella frowned, absently running her fingers along the woolen weave of Ibbit's green robes. "Why is it so important that your being here be known?"

"I saw your son today," said Ibbit, playing with a curl escaped from Ansella's hair. "He was paying a mourning call with his senior clergy--and I use the term 'clergy' lightly. When I'm Eldest Sister, there will be an end to visits from the likes of them, I assure you."


Chapter 1 Part 3 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Temmin twirled his mother through the dobla, the simple traditional dance that began all Tremontine balls. As they turned, he took in the room from the corners of his eyes, as he'd been trained. Issak was making the reserved Sedra blush; Ellika was treating the surprisingly graceful Litta as if he were in doddering need of her guidance, luckily to his amusement; and Harsin was entirely too close to Allis. His father wore the intimate, hooded expression that meant far more than polite interest.

Temmin buried his anger and brought his full attention back to his mother, to catch her scanning the balconies; she returned searching eyes to his face. "You look so very well! You've grown, my dear! Are you happy? Did you make the right decision?"

"Oh, yes." His mother quirked a brow; no training could hide his heart from his mother. "Mostly," he amended. "It's not quite what I thought it would be. But I'm learning a great deal, and not all what…what most people think goes on there." He blushed; he still couldn't control his blushing reliably.

Chapter 8 Part 7 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One

Ansella did not wish to be found. She sat in the pear orchard beneath a tree; her head rested against a knee covered in dark green linen, smooth beneath her cheek. Pear blossoms scented the air, and bees murmured among them. It would be a good year for pears, she thought drowsily. She closed her heavy eyes.

"Annie, don't go to sleep," whispered her lover.

"If you keep playing with my hair, I will." The hand stroking her golden locks stopped, and she sighed in disappointment. It had been so pleasant, dozing in the orchard's dappled sunlight. Lovemaking always made her sleepy afterwards. "Don't stop," she said aloud.

"I won't, if you tell me how goes your foolish son's pursuit of Allis Obby," answered Ibbit.


Chapter 3 Part 3 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One

"Gods, I hope he gets his drinking phase out of the way soon," groaned Jenks at tea. "I swear, Annie, I'll thrash him otherwise."

"I seem to recall another young man whose 'drinking phase' lasted well into his twenties," said Ansella.

"That's different. I was an officer--"

"--And you had to keep up with my brother. I know." Ansella considered her reflection in the silver tea service. "How did it go, Standfast? How did you manage to explain things to her?"

"I didn't," said Jenks. "I talked to Tellis, instead--her name is Dunley now. I gave her a thousand gold, with a guarantee of two thousand more as Mattie's portion, told her to bring her daughter home and why, thanked her for her discretion and left it to her to explain the money away, though I made some suggestions--including a very strong one about leaving Whithorse and moving where no one knew them."

Chapter 1 Part 7 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One

Temmin pulled her closer by degrees. She smelled of hay and tea, and he wanted to bury his nose in her neck. Her quick pulse beat at her wrist beneath his fingers, her corset bones stiff beneath his hand at her back; he wondered how soft her breasts were, whether her nipples were the same sweet, rosy color as those of the girl in the hedge, and he grew impossibly, uncomfortably hard.

Chapter 1 Part 4 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One

To Temmin's dismay, his mother's religious advisor joined the royal party at dinner. At Whithorse, Sister Ibbit lived at the Temple of Venna in Reggiston and never dined with them, but tonight Ansella seated the priestess to her left and Temmin to her right. Looking up from the soup, he caught Ibbit staring at him in contempt, and wondered if he'd have to endure her half-hearted religious instruction at the Keep. He'd managed to out-and-out skip most of it, with Ibbit's approval; her open hostility led him to avoid her as much from personal dislike as boredom, and she seemed to share his feeling.

Chapter 1 Part 3 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One

The next day hurt. "It's called a 'hangover,'" said Jenks as he bustled around the room packing Temmin's last things. "The first one's the hardest. Come on, Your Highness, ass out of bed. Serves you out for drinking in the first place."

"Go away, Jenks. I'm not going," said Temmin.

"Balls to that, and up you go, young sir. I've only got two hours to get you into a state fit to be seen by your mother, let alone smelled. Drink this," he ordered, thrusting a glass filled with a viscous, malodorous liquid in Temmin's direction.

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