Excerpt: Stardust of Yesterday

Excerpt: Stardust of Yesterday


Seakirk Keep, England, 1260


“Damn you, man!” Kendrick of Artane exclaimed. “Have you no idea who I am?”

Matilda’s lover looked at him blandly. “I know perfectly well who you are. It hardly matters, as your illustrious father is not here to save you.”

“He will have your head for this,” Kendrick spat, his pale green eyes blazing. “You won’t live out the year once he discovers what you’ve done.” He jerked against the chains that bound his wrists and ankles to the cold, damp wall.

Richard shrugged. “Perhaps he’ll think wolves found you, or ruffians. The possibilities are numerous.”

“You’ll rue this day, Richard. I’ll see to it myself.”

Richard smiled and raised his crossbow. “I appreciate the gold you brought so discreetly to give Matilda a dowry. You’ve made me quite a wealthy man.”

“Wait,” Kendrick said. “I want Matilda to witness this. I want to be looking at her when your arrow finds my heart.”

Richard laughed. “Of course. She is eager to be here.” A motion of his hand sent his squire scurrying up the cellar stairs.

Kendrick continued to look at Richard, unable to believe the events of the past few hours. Was it only yestereve that he had ridden through Seakirk’s gates with such a light heart, pleased the king had awarded him Seakirk and Seakirk’s lady as a bride? Was it merely yestereve that he had gazed upon Matilda, bewitched by her beauty, only to watch her expression turn to one of hatred and satisfaction once Richard of York had entered the great hall with his guards? Even though Kendrick had killed many of his attackers, he and his few companions had been hopelessly outnumbered. Now he stood, chained to the wall, awaiting certain death.

Kendrick met Matilda’s eyes as she came down the steps, and cursed himself for his foolishness. Why had he been so blind? Surely her treacherous manner should have been plain to him: the coy way she batted her lashes, the sly way she had of twisting words and avoiding plain speech. And that smile. A shudder went through him. Her smile chilled him more fully than the stone at his back.

He shook his head, cursing himself again. Aye, he had been a fool indeed and perhaps deserved what was coming.

He swung his gaze back to Richard. He looked his murderer full in the face and waited, daring him to release the arrow.

Richard did.