He had spoken to Maverick Schism, the southern Warden, who had grudgingly given Dom and Baylee permission to search for the fugitives; but without a warrant Father Bernard, Drago and Karissa were free to stay in the south – if they had indeed taken refuge there.
The Countess was shocked by the revelations about Fr Bernard, seemingly more concerned about the renegade priest than her own fiancé’s wounds. The warden was shocked at Dom’s mention of his work for the priest in the crypt, which they quickly searched but found only graves.
After his report, each one had gone to rest. With only a fitful sleep in his room above the smithy, Dom was awakened to the jingly sounds of a horse being harnessed. He crept down the stairs, barefoot but wearing the clothes he had slept in and a knife strapped to his thigh. In the glimmer of dawn light he saw the baker mount a horse from the stable; he promptly greeted Desire by taking hold of the reins at the bit to control the animal.
She instantly proffered him a basket of bread from under her cloak, and Dom’s curiosity changed to suspicion – was she feeding the fugitives? Helpfully pulling her off the horse he forced her to sit, looming over her as he plied her with questions about starting – let alone funding – a second business across the border. She stammered through her answers and even offered to hire him to finally fix the creaking floorboards in the bakery; in short, she nervously deflected every question as his suspicion turned to alarm.
She tried to leave but he gripped her wrist with enough force for a whimper to escape her lips, though not much more. He noticed her determination; the set of her mouth gave her a look more handsome than pretty, tougher than expected. Perhaps it wasn’t surprising that he’d seen no man in her life.
He was considering how much greater the persuasion would have to be for her to answer more honestly when a nun from the abbey came into the square to collect water from the well.
With a stern lecture on the importance of the town merchants working together to find the miscreants, thieves and fugitives, he released his grip. As Desire mounted the horse to take her leave, Dom prompted Sr Morgaine to give an eloquent description of the pains of burning fire – both in hell and here on earth – for not speaking the truth. And with that, Desire spurred her horse like a guilty conscience.
Dom watched her ride away until the the dust settled, then turned his attention to the squeaking floorboards in the bakery.