Rhys St. Maur, newly Lord Ashworth, was a broken man.
By the age of twenty, he’d fractured his left arm twice—once in a schoolboy brawl at Eton, and then again during an army training drill. Cracked ribs…he’d lost count of those. Fists driving through barroom haze to connect with his face had snapped the cartilage in his nose a few times, leaving him with a craggy profile—one that was not improved by his myriad scars. Since sometime around his thirtieth birthday, the little finger on his right hand just plain refused to bend. And in damp weather like this, his left knee throbbed with memories of marching through the Pyrenees and surviving the Battle of Nivelle unscathed, only to catch a Basque farmer’s hoe to the knee the next morning, when he left camp for a predawn piss.
That left knee was on fire tonight, sizzling with pain as Rhys trudged through the granite heart of Devonshire, leading his horse down the darkened road. The moisture in the air kept dithering between fog and rain, and the night was thick with its indecision. He couldn’t see but a few feet in front of him, which was why he’d decided to dismount and lead his horse on foot. Between the poor visibility and the surrounding terrain littered with chunks of stone and boot-sucking bogs, the risk of fatal injury was too great.
For the horse, that was. Rhys wasn’t in the least concerned for himself. In fact, if he thought … Read More »