Where in the world is Alastair? Giselle wondered as she shielded her eyes from the sun, scanning the stables and the track. She saw Lucien, leaning against a fence watching the horses fly past him but saw no sign of Alastair. She was sure he’d be in the library but it was empty. She was about to cross the yard to ask Lucien when she heard screaming from a barn on the other side of the stables. It was Alastair. Giselle felt a moment of panic as the sound of his pain and terror filled the air. She saw Lucien turn as she grabbed her skirts and ran towards the barn. Lucien met her at the opened door and they both rushed in.
They froze, both in shock and unsure as to what they should do next as a figure that they could only assume was Alastair continued to scream hysterically. The height and width was that of Alastair’s and it sounded like him but the rest of him was so obscured, it was impossible to be completely sure. Giselle could only blink as she looked to Lucien. He was no longer next to her. She turned to see him running across the yard, towards the house, so fast that she swore smoke was coming from his boots. She looked back at the scene inside the barn.
Mirabelle’s head appeared from the loft above and she giggled.
“What did you do?” Giselle gasped as she stared at Alastair.
“I repaid him for all the fish he caught and helped place in my bed.” She announced.
“Oh…” Giselle whispered as her eyes swept around the barn. A bucket hung from a rafter above Alastair and the remnants of a sticky substance dripped slowly onto his head. It appeared that half the hay in the loft had rained down upon him as well. She heard Alastair take a deep breath just before he sneezed violently, creating a cloud of hay.
“I’m going to kill her.” Alastair growled. Mirabelle’s smile became wider.
“A war! We haven’t had a good one in years!” She laughed as she climbed down the ladder. She got about half way before she jumped and turned to face them. Giselle heard Alastair curse before he stormed out of the barn. She smiled weakly at Mirabelle before she dashed after him.
Instead of heading straight for the house as Giselle expected, Alastair was storming towards the forest. She had to jog to catch up with his longer stride. Even if she hadn’t been able to, he was leaving a trail of hay in his wake. And even if he had managed to make it to the forest without shedding hay, all she would have had to do was follow the sound of his sneezes. Giselle could think of nothing helpful to say and was terrified she’d start laughing if she wasn’t careful.
“What happened? I mean, aside from this.” She gestured towards him wildly. He snorted.
“I received a message directing me to the barn and she ambushed me.” He shook his head in disbelief. Giselle stopped for a moment, confused.
“Mirabelle summoned you to the barn and you just went?” She couldn’t believe he’d make such a mistake. He laughed as they entered a clearing. Giselle saw light shimmering and realized it was water.
“No. It appeared to be a summons from you, that you were waiting for me in the barn.” He stated as he marched towards the lake. “I let my cock lead me straight into her trap.”
“Oh, my.” Giselle said softly as she watched Alastair walk straight into the water until it was up to his waist. He ducked and disappeared beneath the surface. She waited for several moments before he came up for air. Silently, she admired how far he’d gone on one breath and was relieved to see that much of the hay had washed away. He gasped before disappearing again. When Alastair reappeared, he was close to the shore. He stood and shook his head, flinging water in an ark around him before he trudged out of the lake.
Giselle had to take a steadying breath as he approached. His clothing clung to his lean, muscled form and she felt lightheaded. Alastair ran his hands through his hair, slicking it back as he walked past her. She felt her body sway as desire swirled within her. He looked so sleek, yet wild. She shook her wits into place and took off after him.
“What are you going to do?” Giselle asked as she stared at his rigid expression.
“Not a damned thing. Clearly, my sister is a savage.” He muttered. She couldn’t help but smile.
“Well… To be fair, it must have been very unpleasant for her to discover her bed full of dead fish.” Giselle offered, hoping to reason with him. He stopped and turned towards her.
“Are you taking her side? It was almost twenty years ago!” He was incredulous. She shook her head vigorously.
“Of course not!” She swayed towards him again. He was still furious and for some reason, she found the energy and tension that poured from him extremely arousing. Giselle licked her lips and tilted her head as she closed the distance between them. Alastair frowned as he lowered his head and let her lips brush his. He gave her only a moment before he straightened and stepped away.
“I’m quite miserable. I need a hot bath, soap and dry clothes.” He turned and continued back towards the house.
Once inside, Giselle followed Alastair up the stairs and down the hall. He stopped outside of his door.
“You’re not coming in.” He said as he turned to her. She tried pouting but he shook his head. “Far too many people would notice and I intend to soak in peace until the water turns cold while I imagine Mirabelle covered in boils or attacked by bees.” As soon as he said it, he doubled over and sneezed several times. The door across from Alastair’s opened and Lucien’s head popped out. He peeked down the hall in both directions before he stepped out.
“Are you alright?” He whispered as he kept his eyes turned towards the stairs. Giselle couldn’t help but smile. Alastair narrowed his eyes at Lucien.
“I’ll recover, I’m sure. No thanks to you, coward.” He hissed. Lucien grimaced.
“It was already done and there was nothing I could do to help. I did order you a bath though!” He smiled weakly. Alastair rolled his eyes.
“That makes up for everything.” He turned and opened his door. “I’ll see the two of you before dinner.” With that, he shut the door and left them both to stare at each other. Giselle bit her lip then looked around the hall awkwardly. Lucien groaned.
“I’m in terrible trouble, aren’t I?” He said softly. She nodded and looked at him with pity.
“It does look like it.” She replied as she patted him on the arm. He shrugged and flashed a charming smile.
“Perhaps I can change her mind, if I apologize enough and beg for mercy. I can be quite convincing.” Lucien said as he looked in the direction of the ducal chambers. Giselle pursed her lips for a moment.
“Good luck with that.” She smiled reassuringly before she left him alone to ponder his fate. She heard him curse as she opened the door to her room.