I'll be working on the story all day, so hopefully the next part should be up very soon. For now, here's the latest bit...
Guy hesitated at Owen’s door, knowing that if he were in such a mood, he would desire solitude. It had always been his way of easing his mind. But the moment of pause was brief. Lifting the door latch, he quietly stepped into the room, finding it dimly illuminated. Only a single candle burned at the bedside, and from Owen’s seat near the window, there came the expected grumble of displeasure.
“I want no company.”
Guy closed the door behind him. Knowing something of the turmoil Owen surely felt, he was not bothered by the use of such discourteous language. Still, he felt compelled to assert his position with a mild reminder.
“When you become the lord of the manor, you may issue such commands and see them followed. But for the moment, that is my right and privilege.” Folding his arms as he approached, he leaned a shoulder against the bedpost, and looking at Owen, he came instantly to his point. “What happened?”
Silence followed his question. Not an unexpected response, considering it was Owen. They shared a closeness as father and son, but it was a bond forged by constant struggle. Even as a boy, he had always fought against the expression of what he considered “Soft feelings,” and it was easy to see that same reluctance now. As Owen moved from his seat, seeking a goblet and a flagon of wine, Guy allowed him a few moments to drink, to perhaps collect himself and speak with ease.
“I was on my way to the chateau, fully intending to do as I had planned. But as I drew closer to my destination, I was suddenly besieged by thoughts of what I intended.”
“Your conscience made you give pause?”
Owen’s reply was a surprising one. “I thought of Sebastian.”
Such a thought had never crossed Guy’s mind. But hearing Sebastian’s name mentioned, it reminded him that Isabella’s son played a part of great significance in the entire matter. He let out a sigh, his eyes cast down for a moment as he weighed his own measure of guilt in not thinking of the boy.
“I must confess, I had entirely forgotten about him. He is an unfortunate youth, and I pity him.”
“As do I,” Owen replied. “He hardly knows his mother. He has no brothers and sisters. Now he is without a father.”
“Your intent was to be the instrument of that demise. Do you now lament his death?”
Tossing back a swallow of wine, Owen’s reply was firm. “No. I am glad he is dead. But I lament Sebastian’s loss. Devil though he may have been, Gilbert LaCroix was still his father and he did his part to provide for him. Sebastian is young yet, and unaware of his father’s true nature.”
“It was the thought of him that stayed your hand?”
“How could I look in his eyes, knowing it was I who saw his father’s life taken? I know now that had I acted on my first impulses, I would have come to regret it forever.”
Guy could feel a slight lessening of the worry pressing on him. For once, Owen was acting with some sense of reason. And yet, there were many questions to be asked. Judging from Owen’s manner, his decision to forgo the committing of a crime had done little to bring him to heel. A sense of foreboding came over him as he came to a realization. Owen’s mind was set upon some action, and Guy feared the revelation of it, for he knew it could only be some irrational act guided by dark passion and anger. With calm words and quietly spoken questions, he attempted to converse, hoping that it would gradually soothe him.
“A strange twist of fate, it seems. Your hands are clean of blood, and yet the baron is still dead. How came you to learn of his murder?”
Owen put down his goblet, and turning back, he folded his arms and began a slow walk as he answered. “I sought solace at a tavern. While there, I heard talk of his murder. According to gossip, his mistress desired better company and intended to leave. A fight ensued, and it ended with Gilbert’s death.”
“So now, you are free of your enemy and your mad intentions. Your mind should be at peace.”
“But I am without the woman I love.” Turning back towards Guy, Owen looked at him with a serious expression. “A problem I intend to rectify as soon as possible.”
That look, Guy thought. It struck him cold with fear, for that stern expression was as much his own as it was Owen’s. In those eyes, he saw a fierce determination that he knew too well.
“I will go to Spain,” Owen declared.
Guy’s stance instantly righted. His fears were being realized, right before his eyes. He was seeing himself all those years ago, set to the purpose of finding the woman he loved and vowing that neither heaven nor earth would keep him from it. But his own ambitions had not come with consequences. There had been no one who mattered – no one who would have been affected by his wild and reckless pursuit.
The time for reason and kindness was done. It was a decision he emphasized with a firm step forward and a hard set of his features.
“You will not go.”
The defiance in Owen’s eyes, the rebellion in his manner, was maddening. He would not be turned from his decision.
“You think to keep me from Isabella?”
Guy’s voice rose, his fear and fury mingling in a rush of fierce words.
“I will not allow you to embark on a quest that may end in your death. We will soon be at war, and you are expected to do your duty.”
“My duty is to my woman.”
The stubbornness in Owen’s words pushed Guy’s temper to greater heights. “Defiant, ignorant wretch! Your duty is to your king and your family!”
“I will do as I wish and you will not have a say in it!”
With the back of his hand, Guy struck a blow to Owen’s cheek, sending him back a step. It was enough to make Owen turn away and seek the chair, where Guy had first encountered him. Taking a slow step towards him, Guy was struck by a pang of guilt. But just as quickly as it came, the regret faded away – changing to a rising of paternal anger. Cassia was the one who was capable of kindness and understanding. He had done his best to follow her example, but he could go on with it no longer. His voice was a low rumble.
“I am your father, and so help me God I will get through to you.”
The tension in the room was thick, the silence sharp.
“I will not stand by and see you hunted down for high treason. I will not let your mother suffer the sight of her son hanging from a noose, or kneeling at the ax-man’s block.”
Owen was silent. Hoping his influence had somehow settled in, Guy spoke again, his voice softer – and yet, still firm.
“If you care only for Isabella, give thought to how she will endure without her only protector. You say you love her so. And yet you will risk abandoning her altogether. What will you say to your conscience then?”
Slowly turning away, he left Owen alone. Alone with his thoughts, just as he wished to be. Perhaps that was exactly what he needed, after all.