The deep blue brocade drooped over the bed she shared with Líadan. They’d shared a bed since they were girls and had never kept secrets. Aislin turned her head and gazed at her sleeping sister. She slept so peacefully. It would be best not to wake her.
Carefully slipping from beneath the covers Aislin crossed to the window and peered from behind the curtains. The dawn was just beginning, gray light chasing away the dark of night. He’d said he would wait until the sun rose. Then he would sail for home. Aislin chewed her lip in thought. Her betrothal to an old lord had galvanized her but now, she hesitated. She would be throwing away everything she knew for a man she had seen and spoken to only a handful of weeks in the last years. True they’d sent many secret letters back and forth, but this was different.
She looked at the harbor, just visible from her bedroom window, and the sea beyond.
She had to hurry.
Aislin drew on her simplest under bodice and laced the front as tight as she could. Drawing on a pale green dress edged in brown embroidery she screwed her arms behind her to tighten the laces. It was so hard! She needed less frivolous clothing.
“Aislin. Let me.”
She swung around to see Líadan sitting up in bed. Her long brown hair fell in a messy plait over her shoulder and there was a soft smile on her face.
“Líadan you can go back to sleep. It isn’t even dawn.”
Her sister’s smile widened as she climbed from the bed and took charge of the laces.
“Will he make you happy?”
“Yes. He understands me. He is not who I expected to marry, but he is the right man for me. I cannot imagine any other Líadan.”
Líadan tied the laces and tucked them in the gap between bodice and skirt.
“I will miss you.”
Aislin turned and hugged her sister. She would miss them all, even papa and Jerad who where so stern and disapproving. Líadan especially though. She had always understood Aislin’s wandering spirit. She had perceived Aislin’s attraction to Wulfric before Aislin herself had noticed.
“You must visit if you are able.”
Líadan only nodded into her shoulder and squeezed her tightly.
“Go now. You’ll miss him if you don’t. I’ll tell them you aren’t feeling well and are still sleeping. It will give you time to get out to sea at least.”
“Thank you. I love you.”
“And I you. Be happy sister.”
Aislin took a last look at her lovely sister standing bravely in her linen shift, her feet bare on the cold stone. They shared a private smile, deep down Aislin knew she would never see Líadan again.
She hurried out the servant’s entrance and to the small postern gate. Pulling her hood forward she approached the guards. They nodded and let her pass. The gates were open for the day and she was going out so they had no reason to stop her. Once out of sight she broke into a trot. The small basket of clothing bounced against her side. The streets were mostly empty and no one paid any mind to a woman hurrying toward the docks with a basket.
The sun was rising too fast! He would leave soon. Aislin’s arms pinwheeled wildly as she hit some wet cobbles. She had to get to the docks. Her hood fell back, revealing her hastily braided hair but she did not bother pulling it back up. She couldn’t miss him! The fear that she had waited too long to decide coursed through her. She broke from a trot to a run.
The docks came into view and she searched for the ship. There were three ships flying the Lasdevan red, white and blue with the blood coronet embroidered in the middle. His was the Lady Bess.
First ship. No. That one was Parthan’s glory. She hurried on, out of breath and growing fearful that he’d already left.
The second ship was prepping its sails. The gang plank was still on the dock but they were preparing to sail. She could not make out the name.
Aislin began to pass the ship but a figure drew her gaze. A man stood at the bottom of the gang plank. He stared out to sea, his arms folded across his chest and his feet braced shoulder width apart. Her breath caught. Could that be Wulfric, was he waiting for her?
She hurried down the dock toward him. Her heart racing. This was crazy. She was abandoning her family, her wealth, every convenience she’d ever known for a ship captain from Lasdevan. Her father would be furious, her mother would never understand.
He turned around. His green eyes found her.
Aislin stopped, frozen by that look. There was such an intensity there, a possessiveness, a keen understanding and an intelligence that challenged her. Aislin forgot to breath as he started toward her. Only a single thought echoed in her mind.
He had waited.
“Yes.” She breathed the word. He cocked his head to one side and a slow smile spread over his face as he examined her. By the time he had finished his survey he was beaming.
“My lady, did you run here?”
Aislin frowned at him.
“What do you think Wulfric?”
“I think you love me.”
Well, she couldn’t very well deny that and she could think of no reply. So she did the only thing that came to mind. She leaned forward and pressed her lips to his.