Defiant

Defiant by Jessica Trapp Read Free Book Online

Book: Defiant by Jessica Trapp Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jessica Trapp
been able to talk her father into allowing her to manage the properties herself.
    So much had happened, her father had been exiled to Italy and her sister’s husband, Montgomery, set up as overlord. More frustration! Montgomery disliked her, so there was no possibility of him giving her leave for her own properties and she had overheard talk of yet another marriage plan.
    Elizabeth’s large green eyes haunted Gwyneth as she walked out into the cold, foggy morning and headed down the cobbled streets of the city with the two women following her.
    She should feel good for those she had saved, but a sickness settled in her stomach. For certes, the child would be next on the ship unless she could come up with the means to release her.
    Of all things, she needed to solve the dilemma of her dower lands and gain control of them in her own right. She could not leave the child here alone with no hope of a future.

Chapter 6
    “Getting married tomorrow is unthinkable!” Gwyneth yelled at her sister Brenna later that night as they sat across from each other at the chess table. Fire burned in the hearth, but a chill hung in the air.
    “'Tis a noblewoman’s duty to marry.”
    Gwyneth threw the white rook across the board, knocking over a pawn. “What has happened to you since meeting Montgomery?” Their relationship, which had gotten better for a time, had soured again.
    “I have come to understand the importance of the duty of marriage,” Brenna said.
    Gwyneth snatched another pawn from the chessboard. She definitely had no time for silliness such as marriage. Not when women were daily being raped and killed in the prisons.
    A husband would take her away. Far away from her work here and the wrongly imprisoned ladies who needed her.
    “Tell that ogre you call husband to release my dower lands so that I can have full control of them myself! There is no need for me to be wed to any man!” And indeed every reason she should not.
    Gwyneth stood so quickly that the chess table tipped, then righted itself. Pawns, knights, and rooks scattered into the rushes, but the two queens remained.
    “That
ogre
is my husband and our new overlord,” answered Brenna, taking hold of the black queen and turning it over and over in her fingers.
    “He could be the devil’s pet pig for all I care,” Gwyneth hurled, punctuating her words by pointing and glaring down at her sister. Her mother’s sapphire ring—a token of authority—encircled her index finger, but the bauble mattered little ever since Brenna had married James Vaughn of Montgomery a season ago.
    Since that time, her freedom had been taken from her bit by bit. Her father had been sent to exile, and her sister Brenna had been established as lady of the keep. Now, worst of all, Montgomery was insisting that she marry—that her lands, the lands she wanted to use as a school for rescued women, be used as a prize.
    Brenna’s back was against the hearth and the fire cast a shadow that made the scar on her cheek dark and prominent. “You will obey his orders,” she said sharply, taking hold of the black queen. She tapped the piece against the blue silk of her sleeve.
    “I will marry no man! The lands were given to me by Mother for me alone to control.”
    There was an awkward silence. Brenna and she had only recently discovered that the two of them had different mothers. Another issue their father had inflicted upon them.
    “'Tis unnatural for a woman not to marry,” Brenna said. “The banns have been posted.”
    Gwyneth looked intensely at her sister, sudden understanding piercing her as sharp as any double-edged dagger. “This is
your
doing, not your husband’s at all!”
    Brenna at least had the grace to blush. The scar on her cheek darkened.
    Pain lanced her chest at how quickly her sister had used her place as the overlord’s wife to do such.
    “Of all the spiteful things!” This development took things too far. “You envious little bitch! ”
    “Nay, sister, ‘tis not

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