Pushing back the material, his hand caught upon something. A gold chain. Pulling it up to his vision, he saw a medallion attached. His eye caught the gleam in the morning light. Suddenly, he pulled back up with the necklace in hand. He stared in disbelief. He couldn’t take his eyes off the medallion.
At first he took no notice of Alyce recoiling back from him, but she reached up and jerked her necklace from his hand. Pulling her gown back over her shoulders, she stared wide-eyed at him.
"It is mine!”
He would have none of that. He knew that necklace. His hand gripped her arm tightly, demanding loudly, “Where the hell did you get that medallion?”
“It is mine,” she repeated in a small voice. Her fingers clutched fervently to the chain.
He could see she was shaking: from fear of his actions or fear of his discovering the medallion, he wasn’t certain. He backed away off the bed to the fireside. The fire had dwindled down to embers. The whole of his intent would not be served if he could not collect himself. Regaining a semblance of control, he turned back to her.
To his dismay, she had left the bed and huddled in the corner. Her hands trembled so that she couldn’t retie her gown ribbon. Good Gawd! What had he almost done? Running his fingers through his hair, he bent over to her, stilling the scream on her lips.
“I’m not going to harm you, Alyce. It is only the medallion.” He grimaced. He moved too fast and the wound pained him. “It was my brother’s. I know well the medallion. It has our coat of arms. Where did you get it? I have to know.”
She tried to turn away from him, but his hand reached under her chin, lifting it upward. Suddenly she seemed impervious to his closeness and met his eyes.
“Lieutenant Roland gave it to me so his grandfather would know he had sent me. When he delivered me to Colonel Tolworthy, the colonel wasn’t at Evermonde. The lieutenant had no time to wait. He said he had to take care of a situation. He had promised my father he would make sure of my safety.”
“I don’t understand, Alyce. Your father, your safety?”
Tears streamed down her face. “Lieutenant Roland woke me in the middle of the night saying my father needed me to leave immediately. He took me to Evermonde. I never saw my father again.”
“Lieutenant Roland? Lieutenant Roland Casvelyn, you mean. You knew my brother, Alyce,” his voice trailed off. Comprehension dawned. “Alyce, who was your father?”
She shook her head and pushed away his hand on her chin while she scrambled back against the wall. Her eyes alit when a slight knock upon the door disturbed their conversation. Not waiting for an answer, the door swung open. Alyce rushed by him and into the arms of the newcomer.
“Charles!” she cried.
Julian recognized the man immediately. Dressed in a yellow-striped waistcoat with a row of huge silver buttons and a hunter green coat, the man appeared to have taken time to preen to look as he did at this moment. Julian’s first thought was of a peacock with his tail feathers all plumed out. The man stood as tall as Julian, but slender, far slighter in frame, far less intimidating.
“What could be so bad, moppet? I’m here now.”
Julian watched as Alyce’s face warmed to the endearment. She buried her face in his shoulder. The man looked up from their embrace.
“Lord Casvelyn. I understand thanks are in order for protecting my girl. I had only received the message late last night. Of course, I came as soon as I could.”
Message? Of course, the message he had sent from Alyce to her friend. She must have conveyed the message to this man, Lord Charles Tregilgas, Marquess of Rotheward, heir to the Duke of Arungdon.
“Lord Tregilgas,” Julian replied. “Obviously it has been a long night. It is good to see Alyce has a friend, but I’m afraid we are waiting for the magistrate to relay our tale about last night’s adventure. Then I’m escorting Miss Rufford to my grandfather, Colonel Tolworthy.”
“Obviously,” Lord Tregilgas smiled a broad, knowing smile. He tilted his head a tad. “I believe there may be a slight adjustment. I will take Alyce back with me to London. I’m sure you will understand it is for the best.”
“From what I understand Grandfather is her guardian…”
“I take it you do not know all, Lord Casvelyn.” He pointed his finger to a man behind him. “Leopold, pray take Alyce down to the room where we found dear sweet Aunt Emma, who seemed so distressed at having lost Alyce in the night.”
“Oh, Charles, I don’t want to leave you. It has been truly awful these last few weeks. The cottage…tonight…” She glanced over at Julian. Her face flamed red. “In truth, I owe Lord Casvelyn. He saved me. Charles, did you know…”
“I’m certain I can ascertain what his actions were.” Charles bent down and kissed the top of her head. “Now, do be good if you want to go with me. I have brought you a couple of travel gowns that are exquisite. Change and I will be down. I have all set to leave.”
“Lord Tregilgas, I must object!” Julian interjected. His patience had worn thin by the night's adventure and the scene in front of him.
“Go and be a good girl, Alyce,” Lord Tregilgas said, pushing her out the door. He held up his hand as if to give pause to Julian. Watching her leave with reluctance, Lord Tregilgas closed the door and turned to Julian. “I do not want you to think that I’m not deeply appreciative of your efforts to protect Alyce, but I want you to be aware of the circumstances. It is evident to me that you may not have been informed.”
“Then quickly explain yourself.”
“Lord Casvelyn, the fact that you need to be aware of is Alyce’s heritage. Her name isn’t Rufford, but Hythe. Her name is Mary Alyce Hythe, George Hythe’s daughter. Now do you understand?” Lord Tregilgas stepped back toward the door. With his hand on the door knob, he said, “I assume you will not have any issue with me taking her into London now.”
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