Karissa stood in the middle of her new apartment above the tavern and looked around. “Yes, this will do nicely,” she thought. It was a new home and a new start. The books that Sister Agatha gave her to study were on the table, waiting for her to open them.
She still found it difficult to believe that she was out of the brothel. She wanted to make a new life for herself, but there would be some things she would miss from her old life. She enjoyed the attention the men gave her. Attention was something she lacked as a child, and that lack of parental love left a huge emptiness in her heart. She had tried to fill it with love from all the wrong men, and many of them.
Bryantt was happy to move her out of the brothel and into her new position as Tavern Keeper. She wondered what Bryantt would say if he knew the real reason she asked to leave the brothel. She stared out the window at the town below, “So much has happened in this sleepy little town.”
Bryantt had agreed to let the search for Barnard die down, but he had went to see the warden of South March to make arrangements for a Truce Day. Warrants would be sworn out and sent. She was not sure what would happen now.
Deep in her heart, she knew she loved Bryantt. This was not, however, the life she thought she would have, the life she had dreamed of. “Those were a child’s dreams,” she scolded herself.
She pulled the necklace from her pocket, the one that Bryantt had asked her to take off. He had asked her to marry him. He had wanted her, but that had all changed now.
She ran her fingers over the cross on the chain in her hand, saying a prayer for Barnard’s safety as she did so. She made herself a cup of tea and sat on the couch. She thought that life in the tavern would be interesting and would have its benefits. She would be able to keep a closer eye on the Countess, but it would be difficult to control her tongue around her when Bryantt was within earshot. The Countess had her vices, and Karissa thought if she could just stay quiet and in the shadows long enough, the Countess was sure to self-destruct. She set her empty tea cup down on the table and leaned back, resting her head and rubbing her eyes. “What a mess my life has become,” she thought.
She had slipped into the castle earlier, searching for warrants. She was startled to stumble across Barnard there. The sight of him tore at her heart, but his words were like cold steel, cutting through her. He had thought that she would alert the guards on him. How could he think that of her? She continued her search for the warrants, but did not find them. She wondered if there were no warrants, or if Bryantt had hidden them, or worse yet, delivered them already to Maverick.
She tried not to think about Barnard. Her mind turned to the new man who had come to town, Charles. She thought about his story and his wounds that she had tended. He had been through some major battles, both physically and emotionally. She wanted to do something to erase the pain in his eyes, the hurt on his face.
She washed out her cup and hung it in its place over the sink. She dressed for bed and crawled in between the crisp, cool sheets. The tears rolled down her cheeks making her pillow damp as she cried herself to sleep in the lonely darkness of her room.