Category Archives: jester’s apprentice

Last Day of The Jester’s Apprentice Giveaway!

Today is it to win an ebook copy of The Jester’s Apprentice! Every day this week I’ve posted a simple trivia question related to the book with cheats. So for #SampleSunday, I’m posting the second chapter of Jester’s with an easy question (answer found in the chapter). To enter, follow the instructions right after the post! You can read the first chapter by clicking here.

The question: What precious item do the thieves take from Philippa?

And the sample:

Chapter 2

Edric kept a wary eye open and his hand on the hilt of his sword as they made their way along the dirt path, knowing they would make a good target for highwaymen. Philippa rode alongside him, unconcerned with that. She worried more about the household she had left behind after the previous night’s events.

“You’re unusually quiet,” Edric said, eyes still straight ahead. “Are you nervous?”

“Not for the road ahead.” Philippa turned, but the manor was well behind them. “I’m worried for my household. I overheard a couple of servants talking…what if the fire wasn’t an accident?”

“We surveyed the damage and found no evidence of arson, nor of a stranger poking around your barn. They’re safe.”

Philippa checked his violet eye and satisfied Edric was sincere, tried to relax and focus on something lighter.

A hawk called out above them, and as Philippa tipped her head up to admire it, an object zinged passed her. She whipped her head in the direction of the woods, two dark figures shadowed in the trees, one aiming an arrow at her forehead. The party halted, Edric’s witching eye locked on the archer who shifted uncomfortably under his gaze. The other man stood casually surveying the group.

“Not the wealthiest wedding party we’ve seen,” he remarked to his comrade, “but they’ll do.” He sauntered up to Philippa, his small frame coming into full view. He smiled, a goatee hiding his lips, and bowed regally. “Sorry for the intrusion, my lady. This won’t take long.”

Philippa’s eyes narrowed, irritated by his smile. First, a fire during her wedding feast and now a robbery! He held out a gloved hand and helped her dismount. Edric watched him, keeping the archer in the background, poised to push Philippa out of the way if necessary. Philippa wore nothing of major consequence for this very reason and so handed over the trifling few pieces of silver she carried with her. The thief smirked, bowing before moving on to her attendant, Sibbe. Philippa turned to see Edric’s reaction, his face set menacingly on the archer who managed to keep his arrow fixed anyway. After collecting the few trinkets they carried, the leader slung a leather satchel over his arm and came around near Philippa again.

“Thank you for your generosity,” he said, his eyes dipping from Philippa’s face down her neck. “You have no idea how this helps us.” He lifted Philippa’s hand, slipping her wedding ring off of her finger, raising his eyes to her glare as he kissed her fingertips. Philippa wrenched her hand away, her nostrils flaring. The man winked at Edric whose expression had turned to stone.

Philippa snorted as he took a final bow and they disappeared into the trees, the archer taking a final look behind him at Edric. Edric helped Philippa mount her pony again and the party moved ahead at a faster pace, going on almost as if nothing had happened.

“Why didn’t you stop them?” Philippa said, her face flushed from the heat. “You carry that sword as if you would use it and then you just stand there while that fool robs us!”

“Why would I risk harming us all to stop them from taking a few possessions?”

“They stole my wedding ring! Your mother’s ring.”

“I’m sure she would agree it’s not worth dying for.”

Philippa pursed her lips. Edric watched her from the corner of his eye. She would be even more upset once she realized the thieves had probably pillaged the cart carrying all of her precious possessions.

* * *

They arrived at Edric’s manor by the afternoon. Philippa’s undergarments clung to her wet skin and she couldn’t wait to jump off of her pony and straighten her legs. Edric dismounted, passing the reins to a servant who waited outside for them. While he spoke to the anxious looking attendant, Philippa rode away from the manor, surveying her new home. Edric had spoken of it, but she had not actually seen the building with her own eyes. It was as sad as he had described it. Blackened stones formed a box without much ornament, a conical dovecote and barn flanking the structure. It reminded her of the now dilapidated barn at Ainsley, which she would have to have rebuilt for the new tenants. Trees surrounded the edge of the manor property and Philippa could smell sheep wandering in a nearby field.

Edric held out his hands to help her dismount. “I’m afraid the inside is a bit shabby and lacking in comforts as well,” he said as if reading her mind.

Philippa followed him through the wooden doors into the main hall. “I didn’t think we needed much ceremony after yesterday,” he said, his long black hair blowing out behind him as he walked. “I figured we could do with having a quiet meal today.”

“Did my things arrive?” Philippa said, looking at a servant directly who immediately shifted her gaze to Edric.

“We’ll discuss that later,” he said, ignoring Philippa’s squeak of protest. “I have some business to attend to.” He kissed her forehead, but when he pulled away his eyes were hard and his face tight. “Hawis will help you settle in and feed you. We take dinner early. Do as you please until then.” Edric smiled, though Philippa thought it looked a tad forced. Something unhappy was on his mind and she doubted it had to do with her missing trunks.

Edric turned a moment to watch Philippa walk away. His heart pounded faster, eager to finish his business and get on with their life together.

He met his man, Sperling, in the backyard under an ash tree with sprawling boughs. Edric thought if trees could talk, this one would. The few spare moments he’d had since taking the manor he’d spent there.

Sperling grinned, planting his weight under its shade, his torso rivaling the tree’s trunk. “The Conqueror hath returned.”

Edric smiled and joined him. “Some conquest. There was no battle.” He involuntarily felt for his sword, which he’d removed already.

“How much better the reward, then. No scars, no losses. Just the enjoyment of living.”

“Do you have any news?”

Sperling shrugged. It seemed his master never had time or patience for his small talk. “Everything’s running just as beautifully as when you left.”

“No messages?”

Sperling rubbed his bald head. “None, sir.”

Edric frowned. “It’s been weeks now.”

“You always say patience-”

“It’s not a virtue if you’re waiting when you should act.” Edric rubbed his forehead, thinking of the strange message he’d found in his wife’s belongings. And the barn burning. Not that it had anything to do with his own business but it was odd timing.

“I think you should give it a little more time, sir. Taking off with a new wife in the wings might look odd.”

“I don’t care if I look odd.” Edric leaned his back against the tree and closed his weary eyes. “But you’re probably right. I’ll give him another fortnight.”

Sperling nodded. “Spend some time with your wife, sir. At least make things appear normal.”

Edric glanced at him with his violet eye. Sperling resisted looking away.

“Speaking of which,” Edric said, suppressing a smile. “I hear we have a situation regarding the cart carrying my wife’s belongings.”

Sperling frowned. “Dangerous business traveling these days.”

“More dangerous when my beloved loses her entire dowry and then some in one swift move.”

“Good thing you took robbery into consideration beforehand, sir.”

“Good thing, indeed. She’ll still be unhappy, but not quite so much when she starts unpacking.”

Sperling laughed, a deep, raspy sound buried in his lungs. “Good, sir. Now, if it pleases you, I’ve got some things to tend to before the day is up.” Sperling bowed and headed toward the stables, relieved to escape his master’s stare.

Edric looked up into the sky and smiled, guessing he’d frightened Sperling away. He hoped his man was right and a fortnight would not be too late.

After resting and eating, Philippa spent the afternoon exploring the house and grounds near the manor to distract herself from thoughts of her missing trunks. Edric owned quite a bit of land and she wished to survey her new domain. She’d lived in the same household for nine years and the jolt of switching to new territory both exhilarated and overwhelmed her. After a swift check of the interior, she realized she had a lot of work ahead of her. Edric had barely furnished the private chambers, and he did not seem to own any items for special occasions. Fortunately, her dowry traveled with her along with all the things she’d inherited and acquired before and after her first husband’s death. Or, at least, she hoped she still had those things. Hawis immediately deferred to Philippa. In fact, she seemed relieved to have a woman running the house.

They did eat early as Edric promised. He’d greeted Philippa but other than that didn’t seem to notice her while he stuffed boiled meat and cabbage into his mouth. She ate quietly, sweeping her eyes over and over the bare walls, imagining what they might talk about or what songs they might sing or tales they might tell if Edric ever stopped eating. She had a sinking feeling she’d be alone after they ate so she thought of activities she might do then.

“Did you tour the house and grounds?” Edric said, wiping his mouth on his sleeve.

“Just the house.” Philippa sighed. “I have a lot of work to do.” Inside, her heart danced at the thought of transforming the cold interior into a welcoming abode.

“What do you think of Wolf Manor?”

“Is that what you call it?”

“Do you think it suits?”

Philippa thought of the tall grass in back waving with the breeze, the large ash tree with its boughs reaching out with shade, and the wildflowers crawling around the manor. “Not at all.”

Edric sat back in his chair and examined her. “Why don’t you like it?”

“It’s too menacing. The environment is friendly, not foreboding as one would think with such a name.”

“You don’t see the charcoal exterior as forbidding?”

“Houses burn sometimes. It’s hardly an omen.”

The thin brow over Edric’s violet eye crooked up in an almost perfect ‘V.’ “I assume you say that knowing the stories surrounding this haunt?”

Philippa shrugged. “It was still just a fire.” She saw the flames consuming her barn in her mind’s eye. Just another fire.

Satisfied, Edric licked his lips. “Perhaps it’s called Wolf Manor on purpose then. To ward off intruders.”

“Or to sound masculine and heroic.”

Edric smirked. “What do you say to a proper tour of these masculine and heroic grounds tomorrow?”

“I’d like that very much.” Philippa’s eyes sparkled.

“Good. We can do that once you’ve had time to unpack.”

Philippa’s head shot up. Edric smiled, and scooped up the last of his meat. “You didn’t think I’d allow all of your personal effects to just vanish into thin air, did you?”

Philippa grinned, crossed the length of the table and fell into his lap. He looked surprised at first then tightened his arms around her waist. “How did you save our belongings?”

Edric shrugged. “Simple. The cart sent ahead of us carried some old trunks filled with rocks and dirt. The real cart stocked with your most valued possessions was carried a little later and by a different way. I’m afraid this doesn’t help with your trinkets.” His eyes glinted. “I suppose I could hunt the thieves down and hope they haven’t pawned them off yet.”

“I don’t even miss them – the jewels, I mean.”

“Ah…so you did fancy the charming outlaw. I thought as much.”

“No, you’re wrong. I preferred the archer.” She swung her head, gold tendrils falling around her neck. “The fact that he stood his ground with your witching stare impressed me.”

Edric followed the curve of her cheekbone with a finger, tapping the point of her chin. He pinched it between his fingers, sinking his lips into Philippa’s.

“I’m still keeping my bow beside the bed,” Philippa said, pressing her hand against his mouth. “I’m used to having it on hand. I feel safer that way.” She had started keeping it in her room after receiving threatening letters once her husband died.

Edric kissed her fingertips. “Then we’ll both be ready for attack. I keep a blade in arm’s reach at all times.” He pulled up his bunched tunic, exposing a dagger tucked into his belt.

“You’re always well-armed.”

“I’m cautious.”

Philippa narrowed her eyes. She got the feeling he was more well-prepared for the inevitable. She just didn’t know why he would be waiting for a fight. They locked foreheads, Philippa shifting her gaze from his green eye to his violet eye.

“I think I’ve bewitched you enough.” Edric pushed Philippa off his lap, grabbing her hands and dragging her to their chamber.

Philippa awoke in the middle of the night with a start. She held her breath listening, but all she heard was Edric’s breath in her ear. She glanced in the direction of her bow, not even able to make out the silhouette and shut her eyes again. The barn burning and the robbery had just set her on edge. She focused on Edric’s breathing, his body resting next to her. Then she thought of the dagger in his belt and the knife he’d slipped under his pillow. Maybe he wasn’t resting as comfortably as he sounded.

To enter and win your ebook copy of Jester’s, email me at or leave a comment with the following info:

  • Your answer
  • Name
  • Email
  • And preferred ebook format: Kindle, EPUB, or PDF

Everyone who answers correctly, wins!

Thanks to everyone who participated this week! It’s been fun and I hope you all enjoyed it too. Happy reading!

Day 5 of The Jester’s Apprentice Giveaway

So for this beautiful Friday afternoon (and I mean gorgeous after the nasty weather we had earlier this week!), I have a picture and a question so you can win an ebook copy of my newest medieval mystery novel, The Jester’s Apprentice. Quick rundown: every day this week I’ve posted a simple trivia question related to the book. All you have to do is email me or comment with your answer (full instructions at the end of the post). If you get it right, you win! The giveaway ends this Sunday.

Before you enter, you can read the first chapter by clicking here.

Today’s question: What is the instrument shown below?

A. A lute

B. A dulcimer

C. A hurdy-gurdy

(Click here for help!)

To enter and win your copy of The Jester’s Apprentice, email me at or leave a comment with the following info:

  • Your answer
  • Name
  • Email
  • Preferred ebook format: Kindle, EPUB (Nook, Sony, Stanza etc.), or PDF

And that’s it! As I mentioned before, everyone who answers the question correctly, wins! Have a lovely Friday!

Answer a Question, Win an Ebook Copy of The Jester’s Apprentice

This is day four of The Jester’s Apprentice ebook giveaway – just three more days to enter! Each day, I’m posting a simple question related to the book. Everyone who answers the question correctly, wins. How simple is that? Before you get started, you can read the first chapter of Jester’s here.

To enter today’s challenge, read the multiple-choice question below and then follow the instructions afterward to enter and win!

What was King Richard I of England called?

A. the Great

B. the Conqueror

C. the Lionheart

(Hint: this is the King Richard from the Robin Hood legends.)

To enter the challenge, just email me at or leave a comment with the following info:

  • Your answer
  • Name
  • Email address
  • Preferred ebook format: Kindle, EPUB, or PDF

And that’s it! Again, if you get the answer right, you win. Simple as pie.

The Jester’s Apprentice Ebook Giveaway & Snippet

Well, we’re just about half-way through this giveaway, and for today we have a simple question and a snippet from my new mystery novel, The Jester’s Apprentice (where you’ll find the answer).

All you have to do is answer the question correctly to win your own ebook copy of The Jester’s Apprentice. After the question/snippet, you’ll find instructions on how to enter! If you’d like to read the first chapter of Jester’s, click here.

First, the question: What is a squire?

Now for the snippet – and the answer:

Like a ghost floating through the halls, Philippa wandered the rooms and out buildings and gardens early in the morning. She smiled to herself, forced to admit not all the memories were worth forgetting. She and Edric had spent hours talking as they ambled around the estate in the time before and after her marriage to Osbert when Edric was only Osbert’s squire, a knight-in-training. Edric’s company had cushioned the realities of her new life. She was sixteen at the time, a sort of gift to Osbert, her father’s old comrade from the crusade. Nearly ten years had passed since then, but it felt much longer.

Servants acknowledged her silently, the previous night’s fire squashing the merry mood of the wedding. She felt their eyes watch her curiously, perhaps imagining what she thought on her last morning there. She felt oddly solemn for a day she never thought would come. She would no longer flit about that manor, overseeing and directing its goings-on. At least, not as personally as only its owner, but no longer its tenant. She hoped the new mistress of Ainsley would leave with happier feelings.

Enter to win your copy by either emailing me at or leave a comment with the following:

  • Your answer
  • Name
  • Email address
  • Your preferred ebook format: Kindle, EPUB, or PDF

Everyone who answers correctly, wins! See you tomorrow!

The Jester’s Apprentice Giveaway Day 3 & Book Trailer Debut!

I finished and uploaded the book trailer for The Jester’s Apprentice so I’m making it a part of the giveaway trivia this week! The answer to today’s question is in the trailer. And the question is: What does the Jester rise out of?

To win your ebook copy of Jester’s, either shoot me an email at or leave a comment with the following info:

  • Your answer
  • Your name
  • Email address
  • Which ebook format you prefer: Kindle, EPUB, or PDF

And there you have it! Look forward to hearing from you!

The Jester’s Apprentice Ebook Giveaway: Day 2

So for day two of The Jester’s Apprentice giveaway, I have a simple multiple-choice question for you. (For details about the giveaway, read this post.) As is the case all week long (until the 14th), everyone who answers correctly, wins. Simple. 🙂 If you’d like to read the first chapter of Jester’s, click here.

What are the knights in this illustration doing?

A. Steeple chasing

B. Jousting

C. Dueling

To enter, email me at or leave a comment with the following:

  • Your answer
  • Your name
  • Your email address
  • Whether you want your ebook in Kindle (.mobi), EPUB, or PDF format

You can also let me know if you’d like to be on my distro list for upcoming novels.

‘Til tomorrow!

The Jester’s Apprentice Giveaway Kicks Off With #SampleSunday!

I’m starting off The Jester’s Apprentice week-long giveaway with a look at the first chapter. If you missed Friday’s post, here’s how the giveaway works.

Each day this week, I’ll post a simple trivia question with cheats. Everyone who gets the answer right, wins. The only stipulation is that you can only win once. You have a choice between formats: Kindle (.mobi), EPUB (for Nook, Sony, and most other e-readers and apps), or PDF. So pick your poison and away you go!

Today’s answer is found in the first chapter below. Before and after the chapter, I’ll post a super easy question about something in it. To win, all you have to do is fill out the little form at the end of the post, including the correct answer. Bam. You have your copy of Jester’s. You can enter this challenge until 11:59 PM Eastern time. If you miss this one, just check back tomorrow!

Ready? Here’s today’s question:

What burns down at Philippa’s wedding feast?

Chapter 1

The night before her wedding, Philippa dreamt that she married a skeleton. He wrapped his cold fingers around hers and led her, her parents, and other wedding guests in a circle dance, moving faster and faster until she dropped from dizziness. He leaned over her and laughed as fire engulfed his empty frame, shooting out of his eye sockets. She awoke in a sweat, peering around the room until sure the skeleton wasn’t there. The world seemed very empty, and as Philippa’s eyes closed against her will, she fancied the skeleton’s face did resemble her future husband a little. She told herself as she drifted back to sleep that she would leave Ainsley Hall and all its unpleasant memories behind the next day – and never look back.

Philippa awoke again in her chamber on the morning of August 10, 1197, for the last time. The image of the skeleton staring at her still lingered. She lay there almost relishing the chill she still had from the dream until she remembered the wedding part of that vision was entirely real. Philippa turned and snuggled down into the crevasse of the feather mattress. She felt nervous despite wanting the marriage. Nervous because of everything that had happened previously and the memories still branded in her mind. Philippa prayed the skeleton was no foregleam of the future.

She wandered out of her private chambers and into the main hall, the scent of roasting boar luring her out of bed. The creature roasted on a spit, the smoke hanging in the air as the day grew warmer. Servants swatted at flies as open fires scorched the fowl and boiled the vegetables freshly picked from the garden. They curtsied and bowed as Philippa wandered through the main hall, a cramped room compared to what she had grown up with, and passed the wooden planks used for tables. White linens billowed and snapped as two young girls spread them on top. Philippa surveyed the work and smiled. Her preparations had gone a long way in smoothing out what work was left.

After making sure the wedding preparations were going well, Philippa retreated back into her chamber where her sister, Clare, helped her dress. Though her dress and arrangements were more modest than her first wedding, Philippa felt all the excitement and nervousness she missed before. She sat while one of the servants combed her hair, weaving flowers into the fair strands. Clare paced the room with her baby, cooing and stroking his head.

“I suppose in a year from now, I’ll be doing the same thing you are,” Philippa said.

Clare laughed. “We already had this conversation several years ago. And what you said never came true. Gratefully, I have to say.”

Philippa smiled. “I say it with joy and not terror this time.”

Clare sat on the edge of the bed near Philippa. “Things are now the way they should have been the first time,” she said, her dark blue eyes shimmering. “You will have years to get back the happiness you’ve lacked. I know Edric will see to that.”

Philippa closed her eyes. In her heart, she knew it too. Philippa fiddled with the hem of her burgundy dress, tracing the gold embroidery with her fingers.

“Still nervous?” Clare said.

“I know we’ve only waited mere months for this day,” she said. “But we both know we’ve actually waited longer.”

Clare placed a hand on Philippa’s knee. “You’re done waiting, Philippa. I promise.”

* * *

Philippa and Edric stood outside on the church steps as the priest blessed them. Edric placed a gold ring with a round ruby in the center on Philippa’s shaky hand and they walked to Ainsley Hall on the outskirts of the village. Philippa laughed as villagers tossed heads of wheat as they passed, the nightmare of her previous life vanishing for a moment.

Ainsley resonated with the sound of incoming guests. Philippa and her new husband and her father and siblings sat at the head table in the main hall of what would soon be her former home. Philippa and Edric shared the bread trencher topped with grilled quail and the goblet brimming with spiced wine. Her brother Simon threw pieces of boar to the dogs who sat patiently near the table. Below the hum of conversation, Philippa could hear a recorder playing. She longed to dance.

Edric turned to her, smiling as he lifted the goblet to his lips. Philippa gazed into his bronze face, the candlelight only illuminating his violet eye. Edric returned her pondering expression, keeping quiet while she thought. Her eyes always darted from his green eye to his violet eye and back, and she wondered if she would ever learn to look into them both at the same time. Edric suppressed a smile while she focused on his violet eye.

“Don’t look too long or I’ll bewitch you,” he said, his voice low and violet eye twinkling.

Philippa smiled mischievously. “Perhaps you’re saying that because you already have and want to divert me from the truth.”

“Some people would believe me.” Edric ripped a piece of the bread, drenched with broth. “In fact, some people have.” He grinned.

“Some people will believe anything. And you’re terrible to feed them such nonsense.”

“Do you like the ring?” Edric said, nodding toward the jewel on Philippa’s finger.

She started to protest his change of topics, but held out her hand to gaze at the ring instead. “It’s beautiful.” Philippa fanned out her fingers, admiring how the ruby’s facets lit up in the flickering light.

“It belonged to my mother.”

Philippa met Edric’s eyes and stroked his high brow with the tips of her fingers. He snatched them firmly and yanked Philippa out of her seat, leading her to the open floor in front of the white-clad tables. The musicians’ eyes lit up and they quickly changed their pace. Her older sister Clare dragged her husband behind them and soon the tables emptied onto the floor.

They skipped in a circle, round and round. Philippa closed her eyes as her chest pounded in time with the drum, sweat trickling down her spine beneath the layers of linen and silk. She lost herself to the rhythm, images of what the future held spinning through her mind. The music halted mid-step, and Philippa tripped and crashed into Edric. When she opened her eyes, servants ran into the hall and her father leapt from his seat. She broke from the circle as her cook jogged toward her, panting and sweating.

“The barn is on fire!” the woman screeched, grabbing Philippa’s arms.

Edric ran from her side on the heels of another servant. Philippa ripped away from her cook, the shrieks of several ladies fading as she toppled out through the kitchen entrance and dashed across the herb garden. Flames licked the night sky, her former hiding place an orange blaze. Several servants formed a line, hauling water from one end to the other. Edric and other male guests joined them, but Philippa watched the puddles they threw and knew it would never do.

She clambered between the two lines of water bearers, sparks flying out toward her. This was not how she expected the evening to end. Torn between fear and annoyance, she stood there letting the heat waves wash over her skin, mesmerized by how the air became visible in the heat.

“Get back inside!” Edric heaved water onto the fire, steam replacing the heat waves. His eyes pierced hers, some thought or knowledge etched into them.

Philippa tore her eyes from the blaze, blinking as she felt her way in the darkness. She rested a cheek against the cool stone of her house and watched them try to put out the fire in vain. She could hear the cook whispering in the kitchen behind her.

“Look what’s happened!” she said. “My cousin said he was on the rise, and here’s the proof.”

“You don’t know that,” another servant hissed. “Homes catch on fire all the time.”

“Doubt if you like, but I know the Jester’s work when I see it. I was there you know, when he burned down the master’s old home. I saw his grinning face disappear into the woods. And now this and our mistress going her way to where it all started.”

“Hush before someone hears your nonsense and takes you seriously. It’s just a fire, nothing more.”

“Are you all right?” Philippa jumped, riveted by the servants’ conversation. Clare stood behind her, her eyes feverish. “It’s mass chaos inside.”

“It’s nothing to worry about,” Philippa said blankly, leaning her back against the house. “The fire’s contained.”

Clare leaned next to her. “Are you worried about the repairs? The animals?”

Philippa half-smiled. “I have more than enough to replace both. That’s not the problem.”

Clare tipped her head to the side. “If this catastrophe isn’t on your mind, what is?”

“Osbert. It’s silly, but this just reminded me of him.”

Clare followed Philippa’s line of sight back to the barn, steam mixing with the smoke as another bucket of water hit the fire. “He’s gone now. And all of his brutality with him.”

“I know. But I still remember though I’ve tried my best not to.” Philippa looked away, her heart racing in her chest. She did remember. Remember the day her husband Osbert died only too well. Even a year later, it was as clear as if it had happened yesterday.

Clare placed a hand on Philippa’s shoulder. “Fire or no fire, the memories will fade once you leave here.”

Philippa smiled, but somewhere in the back of her mind she knew this was only the start.

* * *

Like a ghost floating through the halls, Philippa wandered the rooms and out buildings and gardens early in the morning. She smiled to herself, forced to admit not all the memories were worth forgetting. She and Edric had spent hours talking as they ambled around the estate in the time before and after her marriage to Osbert when Edric was only Osbert’s squire, a knight-in-training. Edric’s company had cushioned the realities of her new life. She was sixteen at the time, a sort of gift to Osbert, her father’s old comrade from the crusade. Nearly ten years had passed since then, but it felt much longer.

Servants acknowledged her silently, the previous night’s fire squashing the merry mood of the wedding. She felt their eyes watch her curiously, perhaps imagining what she thought on her last morning there. She felt oddly solemn for a day she never thought would come. She would no longer flit about that manor, overseeing and directing its goings-on. At least, not as personally as only its owner, but no longer its tenant. She hoped the new mistress of Ainsley would leave with happier feelings.

She felt drawn to the barn, examining the soot coated stones, the smoky smell still clinging to the air. She walked around to the side, her father apparently doing the same as she. He smiled, the bags under his eyes practically enveloping them. He looked as if he’d slept even less than she did. Philippa curtsied, reluctant to stay. She was too deep in her own thoughts for conversation.

“At least it was the barn and not the house,” he said, glancing behind him at the manor. Though she’d said something similar to Clare the night before, it didn’t comfort her at all coming from someone else.

“It seems I’m leaving none too soon regardless.” Philippa caught his eyes. She didn’t direct that at him, but from his expression, that’s how he took it.

“I know what Clare thinks of me for all of this,” he cocked his head in the manor’s direction, “but you’ve never said a word.”

Philippa took a deep breath and faced him squarely. “What’s done is done,” she said. “Osbert is gone and I’m now married to another man. I’m putting it all behind me.”

“That’s magnanimous.”

Philippa pursed her lips, quelling a shiver of anger that rose from her gut. “I’m curious to know what you think of Edric.” She swallowed, trying to focus her attention on better thoughts. “You’ve never said a word either.”

Her father shrugged. “You’re a wealthy widow now and I’m happy to stay out of the way and let you do as you please. Edric seems a nice enough fellow. A brave knight certainly from what I’ve heard of his crusading days. If he suits you, I’m sure he suits the rest of us as well.”

Philippa noted he didn’t say ‘me’ in that sentence. She drew away, anxious to put it all behind her literally.

Edric and Philippa stood in front of the household later. Clare smiled and squeezed her hands, and Simon bear hugged her. Her father offered a tight smile, kissing her forehead. She stood back, wondering what he truly thought of the new circumstances. They had stood in that position before, but this time Philippa had made her own choices. Whatever he felt, she doubted she would ever know.

She hugged Ralph, Ainsley’s devoted steward, her eyes suddenly tearing at leaving him behind. A new master was coming in, a young knight and his wife, but she would miss his doting terribly. Ralph bowed his tall, slender form, his wrinkled face stoic except for his eyes, glazed over with unshed tears.

Philippa gazed at the modest stone manor with its tower and fenced-in garden, beautiful but wrapped up in too many bad memories. They mounted the ponies and rode away, Philippa looking behind her as long as she could see the peak of the manor roof.

* * *

Here’s today’s question again: What burns down at Philippa’s wedding feast?

Now, I was supposed to have a nice, easy form to fill out at this point, but I am having massive technical difficulties with everything this weekend! So I apologize for making this more difficult, but for today, email me your answer at Make sure to include your name, email address (to send you your book!), and your preferred ebook format: Kindle (.mobi), EPUB (Nook, Sony, Kobo, Stanza, and most other e-readers and apps), or PDF.  If you’d like to know about upcoming releases and giveaways, let me know to add you my distro list too. Remember to enter today’s challenge by 11:59 PM Eastern time.

(Hopefully I’ll have the stupid form working tomorrow!)