The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight by Tori Phillips Read Free Book Online

Book: The Dark Knight by Tori Phillips Read Free Book Online
Authors: Tori Phillips
back toward her cell. She stopped at the door.
    “In good Saint Michael’s name, Master Headsman, tell me now what you intend to do with me so that I may prepare myself.” Her shoulders shook a little.
    He blew out his cheeks. “Break my fast—and yours if you have an appetite for it,” he snapped more roughly than he had intended.
    Gazing up at him, her eyes moist with a film of unshed tears, she said, “Aye, sir, I would be grateful to share another meal with you.”
    Not trusting himself to say anything else, Sandor pointed to her stool. After she crossed the tiny room and took her seat, he strode quickly down to the guardroom at the end of the passageway, grabbed up his saddle bag and wineskin, and returned to the lady’s chamber before she had the sense to realize that he had left the door wide-open. Of course, there was no place she could go on foot unless she took it into her head to jump off the parapet, an idea that Sandor sincerely doubted. When he stepped though her doorway, he found her in silent prayer.
    Respecting her private devotions, he busied himself with unwrapping the food he had bought at the village at the bottom of the mountain pass. Despite his attraction to this lady, his deep-seated prejudice toward all gadje caused him to separate her food from his. If she did not finish the wedge of cheese he cut for her or the chunk of the brown bread that he pulled from his loaf for her, he could never eat the leftovers himself. While he poured wine into her cup and watered it, he marveled at his peculiar situation—he could kill this gadji but not eat the food that she had touched lest she pollute him. When their simple breakfast was ready, he cleared his throat to attract her attention.
    “Amen,” shesaid aloud, then made the sign of the cross—a popish ritual that even Sandor knew had been forbidden by the King’s religious laws. For this simple act, she had been condemned to death.
    She smiled when she saw the food on the small table before her. “’Tis a feast,” she murmured before biting into the hard cheddar.
    With approval in his heart, Sandor watched her enjoy their small meal. “My grandmother always said that a good woman was one who ate a poor dish and praised it for its richness.” Actually, old Towla Lalow had described this trait as belonging to a good wife, but Sandor saw no reason to mention that fact to his victim.
    The lady laughed. “Methinks I would like your grandmother, for she sounds like a very wise woman.”
    “She is,” he replied softly, remembering the puzzling fortune Towla had told him only a few days ago.
    They ate the rest of their breakfast in a silence that was more companionable than strained. The lady’s quietude impressed Sandor, for he knew that his wife, who had died in childbirth two years ago, would have chattered nonstop like a witless jay if she had faced the same fate that this lady faced. Remembering his loss, he again blessed God for taking his wife with quick, painless hands. For her sake, he would do the same for Lady Gastonia when the time came. He was relieved to see that the gadji left no scraps or crumbs.
    Slinging hisbag over his shoulder, he rose and beckoned to her. “Come, my lady, if you wish to watch me…work.” He could not bring himself to name his macabre task.
    With a heart-stopping smile she followed him out of her dark prison.
    Fortified by the food and buoyed by her reprieve, Tonia almost skipped along the uneven paving stones as the executioner led her into the sunshine. Crossing the bare courtyard, she glanced back at the place wherein she had spent the past week. The dilapidation of the mountain fortress surprised her. The wing that housed her cell was the only section of Hawksnest that still had four standing walls. The second and third levels of the fortification had long since tumbled down the sides of the ravine. Until now, Tonia had thought she had been kept in a more substantial building. From its air of

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