Good morning. Welcome to the Midweek tease. I’d hoped to begin posting from my revised thrillers this week, but due to technical issues, that’s still on hold. Instead, here’s another scene from The Price of Honor.
“Tell me something, Izzy,” Guy said, setting his cup aside, his voice still filled with skepticism. “If marriage wasn’t the only reason you left Caen, what was? You’ve gone to a lot of trouble for this. Disobeying the king’s edict is treason. Tell me it wasn’t just to get to the bottom of Pierre’s death because I did promise to do that for you.”
Isabelle hung her head. Where to begin?
“While I want to clear Pierre’s name, in the end, that didn’t really factor in my decision. Lives, real lives, did.”
She sipped her chocolate, gathering her thoughts. If Guy didn’t understand, he could still turn her over to the authorities in New France.
“As a woman of royal blood, I was the king’s to use as he saw fit, but I’m not convinced his majesty realized what he was doing. I’m sure the chevalier and my step-mother are in cahoots somehow. With my father’s death, she becomes a rich woman and gets to return to court as one of the queen’s ladies. The countess told me the marriage was the chevalier’s idea. He persuaded the king to give him my hand supposedly to separate my name from Pierre’s treason. That’s why Sophie became Pierre’s widow and got sent to New France, too. It’s not that the chevalier is besotted with me but because of my bloodline. He may lust after me, but what he really craves is the power I can give him. Allied through royal blood, my blood and the blood of our children, his family would become one of the most powerful in France, with the throne itself within reach. I believe he would happily make certain my claim or our children’s claim would advance more quickly than nature intended.”
“Of course,” Guy nodded, rubbing his forehead, his face grim.
“I should’ve realized you would have a valid reason. My apologies for questioning your actions. The chevalier’s always been a power-hungry, greedy old goat.”
Isabelle nodded, grateful he seemed inclined to hear her out now.
“In Solange’s words, everything is about power. D’Angrignon may be the Governor of Normandy, but it was marriage to me that would make him Count de Caen and d’Angrignon. Incidentally, Solange remains countess until a new one is in place. She won’t be happy about this either. She’s in Marseille on business for the chevalier, something my father should’ve handled.”
Guy whistled. “Your disappearance has snatched a precious prize from them both. When they can’t find you, they’ll be furious, and an enraged man, like an enraged animal, is dangerous. Is it possible to find another cousin to fill your shoes?”
Isabelle shook her head. “I do have female cousins, but they’re on Sophie’s side of the family, without royal blood. Since Sophie and I look alike, I suppose it’s possible another Navarre cousin could resemble us, but it wouldn’t do him any good. He couldn’t just say she was Isabelle de Caen.”
“People know me,” she shrugged and frowned.
“Do they? The chevalier mentioned that you and Sophie could easily pass for one another dressed alike. It was why he tore her chemise.” His face reddened.
Isabelle grew cold at the memory of how Sophie’s appearance had been manipulated. Even people who’d known her reasonably well, like the duchess, had been fooled.
“How many members of the court would recognize you?”
“None,” she admitted. “Papa didn’t take me to court, and once I married Pierre…”
“And how many at Caen?”
“Very few, now. Other than a few short visits, I’ve lived away from the lodge since my marriage. Papa’s dead, Sophie’s here, most of the servants I knew are gone. Even Murielle will leave as soon as she can. Pierre’s mother and Anne know me, as does Cedric, but she’s in isolation at her sister’s, and Cedric would do and say whatever was to his own advantage.”
“So, it could be done,” Guy stated.
Isabelle shivered. “I suppose it could, but such a thing would far outweigh my crime.”
“Only if it could be proven.”
Guy reached for her hand, its warmth infusing her with courage.
“I wouldn’t put anything beyond him.”
Isabelle shivered. Neither would she.
Don’t forget to check out the other great teases.