Avondale V

Avondale V by Toby Neighbors Read Free Book Online

Book: Avondale V by Toby Neighbors Read Free Book Online
Authors: Toby Neighbors
Tags: Fiction, Fantasy
city was starving. He was going to make similar matches for Cassandra and Frezya.”
    “But not you,” Olyva said with a tearful smile.
    “He would have liked to let me marry for love,” Desyra said. “But I wouldn’t have let him.”
    “You are a strong person. And who knows? I’m marrying the man I love. Maybe you will, too.”
    Desyra smiled then, and as they came around the corner, they heard music coming from the gardens. Desyra was so excited she was almost jumping up and down.
    “It’s time, it’s time!” she cried.
    “Wait.” Olyva took a deep breath and steadied herself.
    She was ready to see Rafe, to be his wife. The future beyond the night before them was unfathomable, but she knew for certain that she would be Rafe’s wife soon, and that thought gave her great comfort.
    “After tonight, I want you to help me,” Olyva told Desyra. “The earl has asked me to prepare the city to evacuate. I’ll need a lot of help, and there is no one I would love to have by my side more than you.”
    “Really?” Desyra asked, her eyes wide with excitement. “You want me to help?”
    “Yes,” Olyva said. “You’ve already helped me so much. Now, stay close to me. I don’t think I can take another step without you.”
    “Are you afraid?” Desyra asked.
    “No,” Olyva said. “Part of me wants to run to Rafe, but part of me misses Father so much I feel like breaking down. Can you take his place?”
    “I’ll try,” Desyra said.
    “That’s all I ask,” Olyva said, smiling through fresh tears.
    Then they were walking again, stepping from the gloomy corridor of the palace into the soft, warm light of the gardens where Rafe was waiting for them.

Chapter 7
    Rafe
    He had been looking forward to the wedding but he had not expected so many people to be in attendance. The servants had set benches, which were crowded. The hedges were lined with people watching, and the palace balconies were overflowing. The city wall that overlooked the palace gardens were thronged with soldiers, and the earl’s personal guard were in their finest armor forming an honor guard for Rafe.
    On the one hand, Rafe felt honored that so many people would show their support of him. On the other hand, it hadn’t been that long ago that the entire city was celebrating his banishment and screaming their derision at him from the top of their lungs. It was all very confusing and more than a little intimidating. He would have preferred a smaller, more intimate gathering. He knew that many of the spectators were there just for the entertainment value of the event, not because they cared about him or Olyva, but he still felt much more pressure now that so many were present to observe the ceremony.
    It was also disturbing that none of Olyva’s family were present. He guessed that perhaps her mother and sisters might be with Olyva, but their absence from the crowd only made Rafe’s father’s absence that much more poignant. Grentz would have stood with his son. He would have been happy that Rafe and Olyva could be married. The pain of his father’s death was still so fresh, and he wanted to grieve, but there was simply no time. He had to tuck the loss away, pushing it down deep inside him. He knew it wasn’t a healthy option, but it was the only option he had. He didn’t want his father’s death to cast a shadow on the wedding. Rafe knew that this might be the last night of happiness he and Olyva would have.
    A trio of musicians began playing, and the crowd hushed. Rafe was standing in front of the rows of benches just beneath the long, supple boughs of the willow tree, which had been tied back, forming a small, intimate archway. The priest was in grand robes, just inside the canopy created by the willow, and there were small candles burning with brightly colored paper shades that gave the tree a magical luminosity. Rafe had expected a priest and perhaps Olyva’s family. He would have been happy to have been married by a superior

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