Dark Lord of Kismera (cont’d)


Chapter Eight

Estelle bustled into Drace’s room at dawn the next morning. He was on his stomach asleep with one arm under his pillow, the other by his side, palm up. His dark hair covered most of his face.

Estelle watched him sleep for a moment and thought of her sons. She had seen them sleep that boneless sleep of the young that made them seem so innocent…more the boy, than the man they had become. She felt a tug of regret that it was time to wake him, and fought the urge to pull the sheet from his hips up to his shoulders, smooth the hair from his face, and leave him sleeping.

She pulled open the curtains and opened the two large windows, letting in the early light. A cool breeze flowed into the room. When she turned around, he had pushed his hair off his face and had pulled both arms up and under
his pillow.

“I’m up, Mom. Now go away,” he grumbled, voice muffled by the pillow.

“You have five minutes and then I will be back. Lady Ki has asked me to braid your hair proper, and then down to breakfast with you, lad. Move
it now.”

Eyes still closed, he pleaded, “Give me ten, okay?”

“I will give you ten then, but not a moment more young man,” she
said firmly.

He heard her leave and roused himself. With a jaw-popping yawn he rose and went behind a screen to use the chamber pot. With a moments’ reminiscing of modern plumbing, he finished and hurried to dress.

He started to shave with the straight razor Estelle had provided, standing at the mirror, soft leather breeches riding low over his lean hips. Estelle entered the room at the same time he nicked himself for the third time.

“Would you like me to do that for you, my Lord?” she asked.

“Ouch! Damn,” he swore softly. “No, I got it. I need to figure it out sometime, I guess; might as well be now.”

“I cannot believe a lad your age never shaved himself,” she said, hands on hips and head cocked like a small bird.

He looked at her quizzically, raising one brow. “What?” It dawned on him what she was thinking. “Oh. I’ve shaved myself since I was a teenager but the razors I used were different.”

“Well, after you get through carving yourself, come sit down so I can do your hair,” she ordered. “Lady Ki has asked me to be your maid and will have my eldest son’s mate be maid to her now. I am thinking she does not trust the other young maids with your virtue. The way those little hussies talk sometimes. Humph!”

Drace finished without much more damage and toweled his face dry. He came and sat for her. “I heard mention of that ‘talk’ myself,” he added. He gave her a comically lewd wiggle of his eyebrows. “Maybe I like older women.”

Estelle snorted with laughter. “Come now boy, I do not have the stamina anymore for the young bloods.” She returned his comical look with her own. “Now if I were several summers younger, that would be different story.” She began brushing his hair.

“I remember my mother doing this for me before school every morning when I was little,” Drace remarked to her, looking at her in the mirror, “Of course she always kept my hair cut short. She said no son of hers was going to look wooly.”

Estelle said nothing at the brief look of loss that crossed his face as she gently worked through a sleep tangle. She ran a hand over his hair without the brush to let him know she understood.

Read more from Tamara Hartl!

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