Before there was the novel, there were the stories...
by Nan Hawthorne, who also writes under Christopher Hawthorne Moss, Books and Stories b ChristopherHawthorne Moss at http://authorchristophermoss.vlogspot.com
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Juliana Series: Juliana's Plot, Part I (outtakes)
Juliana had had an odd experience just a few nights before. She had had trouble sleeping, worried as she was that Shannon would expose her fraudulent pregnancy to Lawrence. As she had risen to take a sip of water from a cup she had set on the windowsill to cool she had thought she heard someone at her chamber door. She slipped silently to the door to listen. She heard what she thought was the King, breathing hard and irregularly. She waited with her heart in her throat a moment to see if he would enter. Then she realized that as she was in her night clothes the fold of cloth she used to make herself look as if she was with child was not in place. She rushed as quickly as she could to correct the error. When she returned to the door, the King had gone. She carefully opened the door and peered out. No one was there.
When Lady Jocelyn brought little Jolie for a visit Juliana had pressed her for information. Jocelyn was ready to gossip but clearly knew no more than did Juliana.
Juliana decided it was time to go forward with her plan. That is, if Shannon would go along with it. He had kept his word as far as she could tell. Other than the unease that had struck the royal family she could detect no change in demeanor towards her personally, whether good or ill. Perhaps he could be trusted after all. She felt she had a certain power over Shannon, much as she had had with Lawrence and with many other men. She was, after all, a professional.
Shannon smiled to himself when he heard the young servant tell him the Lady Juliana needed to speak to him on a matter most personal. He gathered up his lute and strolled to her door. She opened it the moment he knocked and ushered him in. She seemed tense, oddly elated.
With the court in upheaval with the message from Elerde that Shannon knew about from his contacts among the Celtic servants he had wondered if Juliana would drop her plan. He hoped so. He had no intention of helping her with a "miscarriage" act. He thought if things stayed as they were and she waited, her current deception would be exposed and he need not conspire with the bawd any more. Perhaps too Rory would come back and he could turn to his own most trusted counsel.
Shannon adopted a lascivious demeanor as he followed the dark eyed woman into her room. He made one of his habitual clumsy grabs for her, but this time she let him catch her up. She laughed a bit and wriggled against him. Then she made a pout and pulled away.
"Dubhín, have I not yet won ye'r trust. It has been that long since we uncovered ye'r wee deception and I have not said a word to the Sassenachs." He smiled a little wickedly. He reached for her again and she danced away and to the other side of the bed. Shannon looked at her with a smirk on his face. He moved as if to go around the bed to grab her, then jumped on the bed on his knees and started to kneel-walk across to her. She darted away. He let himself fall on the bed and lay on his side looking at her with his head propped up on the hand of one bended arm.
"Sure and I thought by now ye wouldst let me have a taste," he grinned.
She cast down her eyes and played the coquette. "Shannon, dost thou love me?" she cooed.
"Nay," he said simply. She looked up in unguarded surprise. "I do not love ye, save as I love all colleens everywhere. Ye do not want me to love ye. There is but one man for that purpose. But I do want ye. I starve for ye. I am ready to die for ye. Come here and we shall die together." He patted the bed next to where he lay.
She was satisfied with what he said. This was what Shannon would say. He must mean what he said. She could use him to her ends.
"I shall need thee soon to help me carry out the loss of the child," she said.
He nodded at her from the bed.
"But first I needs must have thy pledge to grant me a boon."
He made a lewd gesture and jested, "Ye already have me boon, dubhín." She made a face. He asked, "If I do this mysterious boon for ye, will ye come to me bed?"
"Nay, thou shalt com to mine."
He sat up and looked at her, head cocked to one side, "Och, aye? And will ye be after comin' with me to Ireland?"
She came to him and sat on his lap, "Aye, ma croidhe." She blushed prettily. She let him pull her face to his and kiss her. All the while she thought to herself, "After Lawrence, this is like unto a lad's kiss." But the sounds she made told the Irishman another story. One he did not believe.
"Then, my little harlot, what is it ye crave of me?" He let her pull away from him and stand. She turned and bent to whisper huskily into his ear. "Doth thou hate the King?"
Shannon concealed the skipped heartbeat that this question prompted in his chest. He looked at her questioningly, appraisingly and thought how to reply. "Aye," he said slowly. "For what he has done to my darlin' lass."
"Wouldst thou do whatever it took to make him pay for what he has done to me and for the beatin' he gave ye?" she asked slipping into the mimicry of his brogue that grated on his nerves.
"Aye, that I would." He went on, "And for puttin' me friend Rory into mortal danger in search of the lady he could not keep himself."
She twirled around and stepped lightly to the mantel. She toyed with some ribbon around her neck which held a tiny silver medallion with no marking. "What wouldst hurt the King more than anything else that e'er could transpire?" She looked to see if he had caught her meaning.
Shannon stared back at Juliana, hardly able to hide the horror and disgust. Seeing the King as he had been the past days it was hard to imagine anything could hurt him as completely as the Queen's elopement with the Breton. But one thing would be worse.
"Ye want me to kill the Queen." He said it as a statement of fact, as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
She came to him and pulled him to stand before her. She gazed candidly into his eyes and asked, "Will ye do that for me, ma croidhe?" she lilted.
He gazed back, his insides frozen and his heart standing still.
"Aye, Juliana. I will."
Her look of pleasure and triumph made him fight to repress an urge to strangle her where she stood, pressing her breasts and false belly against him.
To be continued.