Marcus was up and comfortably saddled before dawn the next day. When his wife appeared from out of the bathhouse, the sun had not yet appeared, but a soft yellow light had spread across the sky.
“Not a word from you.” He eyed Charles with suspicion. The stable lad responded with a wide-eyed nod, just as she ran across the green and into the church.
“I’ll be right back. Keep Midnight in readiness.” He dismounted and gave his disappointed horse a pat on the rump. Entering the stone abbey by the back door, he was surprised to land in the monk’s quarters. The sparse room held a table, a clay lamp, two pallets, a hearth, and some furs. James, kneeling quietly in prayer, stood slowly, frowned, and regarded him with a furrowed brow.
“I’m sorry to disturb you, but I’d like to join the mass unseen.” Marcus held palms open and up.
“What’re you up to, Blackwell? I’m not sure we’re on the same side. Lady Ann has been like a daughter to me and the manner of your wedding pleased me not.”
“Truly?” He raised his eyebrows. “I’ve yet to even enter relations with her. I’m the one who should be affronted. She’s the one who’s dressed as a lad, running about like a wild hellcat. I’m merely watching out for her safety. How does the church allow it?”
James regarded him for a moment more and gave a quick nod. He led him down a narrow stone hallway to a pew set up behind the altar and out of view of the congregation. “Blessings upon you, my son. And good luck.”