Colliding Edges

Gypsy Passion and Celtic Soul



J.W. Heart


For disclaimers see Part 1

As always comments, questions and queries can be directed to...




Chapter 16



As Erin had predicted dinner was a complete bore and to her horror it didn’t end there. After dinner they were to adjourn to the ballroom for dancing. Erin wanted nothing more than to plead a headache and leave. ‘Maybe I could still ‘ave some time with Mika.’ A plan formulated in her mind and she grinned.

Shea had been watching her niece and knew the look that had come over the beautiful face. ‘Oh no ya don’t! You’ll na be sneakin off tonight lass.’ Shea quickly made her way to Erin in hopes of heading off the girl’s foolishness.

"Ya would’na be thinking o’ leavin this wonderful company now would ya lass?" Shea whispered, taking Erin by the arm.

Damn! ‘‘Ow does she do that?’ "O’ course na Shea," Erin smiled sweetly at her Aunt.

"Right, ya do’na lie well lass," the redhead chuckled." It will’na kill ya ta spend one evening away from the handsome Gypsy."

Erin smiled when she thought of which gypsy Shea was referring to. ‘So ya think ‘e’s handsome do ya Shea? O’ course ya would spin in yer grave if ya knew which gypsy I wanted ta spend the evening with.’ Sensual images of what she would rather be doing and with whom filtered through her mind and caused her to blush.

Shea noticed the reddening of the woman’s complexion and laughed. "Erin yer blush is givin away yer thoughts, now stop that."

Neither of them noticed a pair of steel blue eyes filled with fury watching them intently from across the room. ‘Oh you have a good time tonight Lady Erin; soon you won’t be near as free and outspoken.’ A small hand laid across his arm interrupted the menacing thoughts.

"Lord Hunt I see you staring at our lovely Irish Ladies, would care to make their acquaintance?" Duchess Walster teased.

Hunt tore his gaze from the pair and peered down at the older woman, "That would be most acceptable," he smiled.

"You’re going to love them, they are so …quaint."

"I’m sure I will," he offered his arm, "Shall we?"




"I see young Hunt has found his way to Lady McGorry."

"You did order him to do so Sire although I’m still unsure as to why you wish this alliance, I thought McGorry was already under your control."

King Edward turned to his advisor, "Don’t be fooled by Irish words Langstrom, McGorry is loyal to his own, in this case O’Neill."

"But O’Neill is loyal to the English crown as well Sire."

"You call yourself an advisor," Edward sighed. "What O’Neill says to my face and does behind my back are separate things. I’ve received disturbing reports of late and it leads me to believe that all is not as it should be in Ireland. Best to strengthen my ties there now and ensure support for any uprising that may need to be handled in the future."

"And the marriage of Erin McGorry will lend you that support?" the little man questioned.

"I’ve promised Hunt a Baronage upon his wedding to Lady McGorry, that coupled with McGorry’s own lands and vassals would indeed give me more strength, yes," Edward explained.

"Are you sure Lady McGorry is going to accept his proposal? Seems a might risky to me."

"Hunt will get the job done, he’s to ambitious and greedy to let Erin McGorry’s wishes stop him in this matter."

"I see," the small man shuddered at the cold, heartless demeanor of his King and suddenly felt sorry for the young Irish woman.




"They do make a lovely couple don’t they?" the Duchess grinned up at Shea.

Shea watched the pair now on the dance floor. Lord Hunt was almost as tall as Erin and nearly as dark. Yet there was something about the man that set her on edge. ‘‘E’s defiantly na as handsome as that gypsy.’ She shook the thought from her head. ‘Damn man pops up everywhere!’ "They do seem suitable," she finally answered.

Erin was at a loss as to how she managed to be pushed into this situation. ‘I was na planning ta dance with ‘im although ‘e ‘as been nothing but charming.’ She forced a smile at the man who held her in his arms.

"Lady McGorry..." he started.


He smiled brilliantly at her. "Very well, Erin I thank you for taking the time with me, it seemed as though the Duchess wasn’t about to take no for an answer about this," he laughed and Erin felt herself lighten a bit.

"She did seem …adamant."

"An understatement but a polite one," Hunt said again smiling at the Irish Lady. "In any case I do apologize, I’m sure you have many other suitors you would rather spend your time with."

"Nay I do’na and this is fine Lord Hunt, ya are’na a bad dancer after all, my toes are still intact," she giggled.

"Well thank you and please, it’s Chester if you would."

The pair continued to dance several times throughout the evening and by the end of the night Erin thought she had made a friend at least.




"I see ya didn’t ‘ave such a terrible time tonight after all," Shea teased as they made their way back to the rooms.

"Nay, Chester was a charming companion."

"On a first name basis are we lass?"

"Ya know I hate titles so it seemed fitting," Erin sighed.

They arrived at their rooms and both fell into chairs exhausted from the evening. Erin stared out the window ignoring Shea for the most part. Her thoughts filled with Mika’s gentle smile and quick laugher. ‘I miss my little rogue. Maybe I can still get out o’ ‘ere and see ‘er.’

Shea caught the forlorn look and sighed. ‘All the attention tonight and ya still sit ‘ere pinin fer that gypsy.’ "Come on lass, let’s head off ta bed," she stood and headed for her own chambers. "And Erin, it’s to late ta be out runnin about the square so ya best get yer arse in that bed and stop thinking about it."

Erin turned looking wide-eyed at her Aunt, who just laughed at the expression. ‘‘Ow does she do that?’




"I see by your smile things went well with Lady McGorry," Edward laughed.

"Yes Sire everything went as I had planned," Hunt assured.

"Good, then with any luck we can have this mattered settled before the festival is over. I don’t have to tell you what’s riding on this Hunt, make it happen," the King ordered.

"It will be done Sire." ‘One way or another I’ll marry the bitch.’





Mika paced in front of the stages until Luca couldn’t stand it any more. "Go look for her! Damn, you’re making me nervous just watching you."

"We were supposed to meet here, what if she comes looking and I’m gone?"

"Love has your brain scrambled hasn’t it? If she comes here then I’ll tell her to wait, now go," he ordered.

"I’m not in love," she huffed but took his advice and ran off to find Erin.

She wandered about the square until full dark set in lost in her thoughts. ‘Why does he think I’m in love?’

‘You’re nervous, jumpy, and cranky and you’ve looked in this same spot three times, that could be the reason.’ The voice offered

Mika looked up to find she had indeed been to this same area several times. ‘Maybe I missed her and she’s at the stages waiting.’ She left back the way she came, keeping a sharp eye out for the tall woman. Feeling her heart grow more and more heavy with each passing minute. Maybe she’s had time to think about all this and decided not to let it continue. Maybe she regrets what happened today. Maybe she…

‘Maybe you need to relax and find out from her what happened.’ The annoying little voice suggested.

‘I know what happened, she promised to be here and then didn’t show up, that’s what happened.’ Mika’s heartache gave way to anger.

When she didn’t find Erin waiting for her at the stages she left and headed back to camp, her pain and anger raging, bringing tears to her eyes. If she wasn’t sure before what her feelings for the Lady were she was now, never had she shed tears over another woman. She resigned herself to the fact that somewhere along the way she had started to fall in love with Erin McGorry and now she was sure her heart was going to be broken.


Chapter 17

"Pippa can ya get a letter sent out fer me?" Shea inquired.

The small blonde maid turned from her work, "Of course Shea, I can take it to a runner right now," she reached out taking the letter from the Irish woman.

"Thank ya lass." ‘I hope Aidan knows what ta do with this information.’


"Mika, come on girl time to get these beasts to the palace, rise and shine," Luca called through the window of the wagon.

Mika had lain awake most of the night and with dawn approaching she still lay on her small bunk fully dressed. Her mind was filled with doubts about her ongoing relationship with Erin, yes, somewhere in the night she had admitted that it was a relationship. She had even gone so far as to admit, at least to herself, that she was falling in love with the raven-hair Irish beauty. Erin’s failure to meet her the night before tore at her heart. She had convinced herself that the Lady had decided against continuing this affair. "I’m not feeling well Nano, take Walther with you, he needs the experience anyway," it was a lie but she didn’t think she could face Erin right now, her feelings were just to new and raw.

Luca had seen his niece’s unshed tears the night before when Erin hadn’t shown and it broke his own heart. ‘You better have a good excuse for hurting her Lady McGorry.’ "Come on Mika, I’ll let you torment the nobles," he teased hoping that humor would lighten her mood.

Mika closed her eyes but all she saw was Erin smiling face and it confused her even further. She wanted nothing more than to see her dark huntress, to take the woman in her arms and never let go but her doubts and stubborn pride stood in the way. "I told you I don’t feel well Luca, go away."

‘Damn stubborn ass!’ "Fine! Just what am I supposed to tell Erin when she sees you aren’t there?"

"If she even shows up this morning," Mika mumbled. Her anger over the situation had taken firmly a hold of her thoughts. "She won’t even notice," she called out. ‘Let her see what it’s like to wait for someone who’s not coming.’

‘You’re pouting.’ The ever-constant voice observed.

‘I am not! I just don’t like being made a fool of.’

‘When did she make a fool of you? You’re doing that all on your own, you don’t even know why she didn’t come.’ The voice growled.

"You know what Mika? You’re one pitiful little jackass," Luca yelled before turning to leave.

‘He’s right.’ The voice agreed.

Mika rolled over and buried her face in her pillow to muffle the sobs she couldn’t stop. ‘Love sucks.’




Luca dragged Walther from his bed and the two of them managed to get the horses to the courtyard before the royal gentry finished their morning meal. He lined them up as he and Mika had done the day before and waited. As he had thought, he didn’t have to wait for long and just as he predicted the first one into the yard was Erin. He could see her bright blue eyes searching for his missing niece. ‘Damn you Mika, don’t you know how much this girl cares for you?’

Erin spotted the huge dark man and smiled but her happiness was short lived when she couldn’t find her fair-haired gypsy. ‘Where is she?’ She quickly approached the man she called friend, hoping to get a few words with him before the others arrived. "Good morning Luca," she smiled.

Luca winked at the woman causing her to blush. "Good morning Lady Erin, a fine day wouldn’t you say?"

"It would be if ya could tell me where yer partner might be?"

Luca knew the question was coming and he really didn’t want to lie to the sweet woman. ‘I should tell her the truth and then she can go beat some sense into a certain blonde head.’ The vision of Erin berating a very surprised Mika brought a wicked grin to his face but rather than give into the temptation he chose the excuse Mika had offered. "She wasn’t feeling well today."

"Nothin serious I hope," Erin’s concern was clearly evident.

‘Not if you don’t count the love bug that jumped up and bit her in the ass.’ "No, she’ll be fine," Luca assured.

His words didn’t calm her very much however and she was at that moment trying to figure a way to sneak off and attend the little gypsy. ‘I could make sure she stays in bed and gets plenty o’ rest.’ Thoughts of how she wanted to keep her rogue in bed filtered through her mind and again she blushed. ‘O’ course if that were ta ‘appen she would’na be getting much rest.’

Shea had come into the courtyard not long after Erin and had been observing the pair. The wicked grin on Luca’s handsome face and Erin’s blush did not go unnoticed and she seethed. ‘Damn ‘im, already startin in with ‘is lyin charm.’ She moved out among the others heading straight for the couple.

Luca couldn’t help but smile at Erin when he saw the delicate blush come over her, he was certain he knew the thoughts that had brought it on. ‘Now if you would go over to the wagon and make good on those thoughts , all would be well.’ He looked up and scanned the crowd and cringed when he saw Shea heading in their direction and the look on her face was not at all sweet. ‘Or maybe not.’

"Erin ya get the thought o’ riding today right out o’ yer pretty head. Ya will’na be galavatin off like ya did yesterday," Shea figured she would put down any ideas either of them had about that right from the start.

Erin turned to her fiery Aunt and frowned, she had wanted to go but without Mika it didn’t seem as appealing. However the idea of being free, even for a time, still pulled at her soul. "I’ll take Luca with me Shea, I would’na come ta harm."

‘That’s exactly the harm I’m tryin ta avoid ‘ere!’ "Nay! Ridin with young Mika was one thing but ya can’na be goin about unescorted with a male, it’s na proper Erin," she scolded, all the while glaring at Luca.

For his part the tall gypsy remained silent and watched the exchanged with a bemused grin. ‘Oh I can be a very bad man right now. I shouldn’t test the woman further but where is the fun in that.’ "I would be happy to …escort the Lady," he purred and flashed the older woman a disarming grin.

"What part o’ no did ya na understand? Yer the last man I’d allow ta escort ‘er anywhere," Shea hissed.

"And what if I were to escort the Lady?" a deep voice questioned from behind them.

They all turned to find Lord Hunt standing there wearing a smug grin and his plain face.

"Chester," Erin called brightly. "I didn’t expect ya ta be wantin ta ride today."

Luca hadn’t missed the happy sound of Erin’s voice. ‘Perhaps Mika wasn’t just being her usual prideful self and Erin really did stand her up last night.’ He knew Mika had been hurt last night and the thought of his golden niece finally giving her heart away only to have it broken tugged at him he and felt the pain deep in his soul.

Shea quietly observed the trio and was unexpectedly moved by the hurt look that flashed over Luca’s dark features. ‘Damn! I feel almost sorry fer ‘im.’ She hadn’t thought she would feel any compassion for the man yet she did and while she didn’t want him to be running around with her niece she didn’t want to cause him any pain either. "Makes no matter, ya can’na be out without a proper escort," she hoped that would end the whole discussion.

Hunt stepped forward and took Shea’s hand, placing a light kiss to the back and bowed politely. "Lady Shea I would never be so presumptuous, I do have an escort for us if you would give your permission," he gave her a thin smile and then called to his man. A tall, slim man approached them and gave a quick bow to the Ladies. "This is Norman Carstairs, I assure you that he can act as a proper chaperone, he’s been in the King’s service a great many years. Oh and of course Mrs. Carstairs will be coming along," Hunt explained smoothly knowing he had left the lady no room to disagree with the arrangement.

Shea was still not impressed but she had been outmaneuvered in this situation. She smiled tightly at Hunt, feeling distinctly like she had been set up. ‘I do’na like ‘im,’ she sighed, ‘but ‘e’s got a right ta make the offer and it would be a sure bet that if I do’na allow it I’ll again be called before the Queen.’ She glanced at Hunt’s smug grin again, ‘the smarmy, little toad.’ "All right, I’ll allow it but ya best na be long," Shea finally relented.

Erin had been shocked to see her new friend but not unhappy. ‘At least now I’ll be able ta get out o’ ‘ere for a time.’ She was lost in her own thoughts and failed to see Luca’s deep frown or the barely suppressed hostility in Hunt’s cold blue eyes. She took Hunt’s offered arm and left Shea and Luca staring after them.

Luca couldn’t believe Shea just let her leave with that man. He didn’t like the looks of Chester Hunt at all and planned on telling the woman that. He opened his mouth to speak but was stopped by a gentle hand.

"I’m sorry, I could’na think o’ a way out o’ that without give ‘im cause ta complain and Erin doesn’t need another against ‘er ‘ere," Shea whispered, her tone truly remorseful.

Luca was torn, he surely hadn’t wanted Erin to go off with this man, be it because of Mika or not, he didn’t trust him. The other revelation had been that Shea was actually apologizing to him. ‘Of course she thinks seeing them together just broke my heart but it’s not my heart I’m worried about. But then again, she doesn’t know that.’ He decided the tackle the Hunt issue first. "I can’t believe you let her go with him, he’s…a…"

"A toad," Shea finished.


"And ya think yer any better?" Shea knew it was low and that he was reacting out of some sense of pain but she couldn’t help but taunt him. ‘Are ya just hurt because ya seem ta ‘ave lost yer meal ticket or do ya actually care fer the lass?’

Luca gazed deep into Shea’s bright blue eyes and read the challenge there. "Better? Oh wait I see, of course I’m not better, how could I presume to be? I am after all a Gypsy," sarcasm dripping from his words as his anger over the entire situation had finally come to a head. "One of the people they tell terrible stories about just to frighten children. One of the lost people who live on the edge of society with no real home and belonging to no one," his handsome face now burned red as his humiliation and rage flared.

Shea was taken aback by his outburst, his temper set off a chain reaction and she couldn’t help her blistering tirade. "Ya think ya are the only people who live on the edges? So ya think the people here give a damn about Erin and I? Do ya think they accept us as their own?" she stepped closer to him, her eyes burning into his as she continued. "Do’na tell me about na belonging and do’na try and sway me with guilt. If ya ‘ad been honest in yer attempt ta win Erin’s heart I would’na ‘ave cared if ya were a King or a pauper," she hissed.

"Oh right! You would have given your blessing, a nice Irish Lady and a common gypsy," he snorted indignantly.

"It would’na ‘ave mattered if ya ‘ad wanted ‘er ta love and ‘ad gained that love honorably," Shea sighed. She felt a tightening in her stomach at the thought of Erin and this man together, it wasn’t the first time the thought had bothered her but it was the first time idea had tugged at her heart.

Luca saw a sudden softening in those mesmerizing blue eyes, an underlying sadness that made him want to comfort the beautiful woman. ‘Bloody hell! She’s infuriating and I still want to hold her, damn you Shea McGorry.’ "And this man Hunt, you think he’s honorable?"

"I do’na know what ta think o’ ‘im," she cast Luca an almost teasing grin, "As much as I do’na trust ya, I trust ‘im even less, if ya can believe that," she gave a humorless laugh.

Luca gave the woman a tender smile and again felt himself grow warm. She inflamed his passions and despite the fact that she had threatened his family and thought him to be the despoiler of young women he truly wanted to know her, in every sense. "You will be meeting me tonight? Mala is quite anxious to talk to you," he said, changing the subject.



Erin and Chester rode side by side with the Carstairs following at reasonable distance. Even though Erin was still distracted and distant they had managed a pleasant conversation but Erin missed the company of her little rogue.

Hunt was doing his best to be charming and witty, even eliciting a laugh from the dark Irish Lady now and again. None of the riders were aware of the emerald eyes filled with unshed tears that watched them as they passed.


Hunt sat atop his mount watching Erin as she walked along the shore of the lake. His steel blue eyes followed her every move, filled with both lust and loathing. He hated that his future was reduced to the whims of a woman. He would have hated any woman for having that kind of power over him but his abhorrence of Erin McGorry went far deeper.

She was nothing a proper woman should be in his opinion. She was an uncouth heathen and far to outspoken, a trait he would rid her of once they were wed. Women were property and should be kept silent, good for nothing but breeding and raising children. He had learned long ago how to put a woman in her proper place and he almost relished the idea of breaking Erin’s spirited ways. A wicked gleam came to his eyes as he thought about the ways he would make her pay for all he had to go through just for the chance to secure his future. You will pay dearly Erin make no mistake.

Hunt had been humiliated by the King’s order to woo and wed the Irish woman. He had agreed to do so only because of his lust for power; he didn’t care that the King would expect him to be a staunch supporter in the future. Hunt knew that with the Baronage and McGorry’s own lands and title he would be one of the most powerful men in Ireland, he could not back away from the temptation. Should have just demanded the bitch marry me instead of this foolishness. He would play this game for only so long. You will give me what I want, one way or another.

"You should walk with her Chester, at least give the impression you are interested," Carstairs suggested.

"I just want this charade over and done with," he snarled.

"I realize that but it would go a long way to improving your relationship with the Lady if you at least acted the part of a smitten suitor."

He knew that for the time being he had to play his part so Hunt slipped from his horse and slowly made his way over to the raven-haired beauty.

Carstairs watched as the angry, brash young man attempted to charm the young woman. "I truly feel sorry for that girl," he whispered shaking his head sadly.


Chapter 18

Erin had returned from her outing by the late afternoon and while it had been a pleasant day she was more than a little anxious to see Mika. Walking along the shore of the lake had done nothing to cool her rising ardor. Flashes of the time she and the small, bold gypsy had spent in that very spot had renewed her passion and right then she wanted nothing more than to further explore those feelings. The familiar warmth that had begun the day before was quickly turning into a raging inferno and her body craved Mika’s touch.

Unfortunately her discomfort would have to be put aside until she could escape without Shea noticing. She had begged off a dinner invitation from Chester, pleading that she was tired from their day and only wished to rest that evening. She hadn’t counted on Shea sticking so closely to her throughout the evening. It was beginning to wear on her already thin patience.

"Shea are ya na goin ta dinner this evening?" Erin hoped to hurry her Aunt along.

"I’m na goin ta dinner," Shea replied quietly lowering her face so Erin couldn’t see the smirk forming.

"Oh," Erin was in a panic. ‘‘Ow am I goin ta get out o’ ‘ere if she’s going ta be watchin me all night?’ She racked her brain to come up with a new plan, growing more and more agitated with each passing moment.

Shea sat back watching her niece from beneath hooded eyes. ‘The lass is goin out o’ ‘er skin.’ She would have laughed had it not been so pathetic to watch. "Erin take a walk, yer making me nervous with all yer pacin," the redhead suggested knowing that the young woman would take the opportunity sneak to off. She just hoped she could make it to Luca before Erin found him.

Erin grinned at her Aunt and after placing a quick kiss to her cheek she hurried out of the room. She slipped quietly down the servant’s stairs and moved into the hall, checking to make sure she wasn’t seen.

Harold stood back in a shadowed corner of the foyer watching as the Irish Lady opened the door and carefully retreated into the darkening night. He smiled and shook his head at the young woman’s antics and thought it best if he prepared for the outburst her Aunt was going to have at the girl’s disappearance.

Just as he was going to head out himself he heard another set of footsteps coming down the steps and ducked back into the shadows. His eyes grew wide with shock when he saw the other Lady McGorry quietly slip out the same door as her wayward niece. "What is it with the women of that family?" he shook his head and left the hall not bothering to ponder that question any further.

Harold wasn’t the only set of eyes watching the ladies slip away, Chester Hunt stood beside the stairs in a dark nook and waited for the old steward to take his leave. When the older man was gone he crept out the door and into the square, intent on following Erin on her not so secret outing.




Luca paced in front of the stages waiting for Shea to make her appearance. It had been a stressful day to say the least. First his disappointment of finding Erin had indeed abandon Mika for her new friend and then his altercation with Shea. After returning to the camp he found Mika had disappeared, telling no one where she was going to be and he still hadn’t seen her. ‘I hope you don’t do anything stupid golden one.’ To top off his miserable day, he was now waiting to meet the woman who threatened his family. ‘I do hope Mala can tell this woman something that will call her off.’

He was pulled from his misery by a gentle nudge against his hip. Looking down he found Taimo, his playful bear, seeking out his attention. "You want a treat don’t you my friend?" he ran a hand over the huge black head and reached into his pack for a honey cake.

"Good God! What is that?" Shea wailed. She had come through the crowds drawn to the Romany stages by the exotic music. She was not ready for the sight of Luca kneeling before this massive creature, petting its head and feeding it from his own hand.

Luca looked up at the stunned woman and grinned. "This is Taimo, don’t worry he’s completely tame I assure you."


Shea was not convinced, her heart was still thundering in her chest but if it were from the shock of seeing a bear up close or the man who stood beside it, she didn’t know. "As tame as ya are?" sarcasm tainted her retort.

Luca walked to her side moving closer until he could feel the heat from her body permeate his skin and then leaned in, "Tamer," he whispered.

Shea struggled to control her reaction to having him so close but still a slight shutter ran through her when she felt his hot breath against her ear. ‘Damn ‘im!’ She quickly stepped away from the man and drew a calming breath. "I didn’t come out ‘ere ta watch ya play with a living carpet, I would like ta meet the woman ya claim is Mika’s Mother," she demanded.

"I’ve told you that Mika was born a Romany and you will not disrespect my sister with your lies. I agreed to this only so you can see what a fool you’ve been," he hissed.

"We’ll see about that."

Luca was done arguing with the woman, he just didn’t have the heart for it this evening. Taking her small hand in his, he all but dragged her through the square.

Shea was trying not to notice the warmth and strength of his hand as she followed behind the determined man. They moved quickly through the gatherings of people as he led her further and further away from the square. She was beginning to get a little nervous, not understanding why she had agreed to meet with him in the first place and not trusting him even a little bit. ‘But that’s na true or I would’na be following ‘im now.’ For the first time she had to admit that while she may not trust him with Erin’s heart she knew that he wouldn’t physically hurt anyone.

They had gone to the outer edges of the square and Shea noticed the differences. There were a great many wagons and tents all set in tight clusters. The small campfires set a warm glow about the encampments and the delicious aromas of a variety of foods drifted on the wind. She could hear a gentle music playing as they neared the last set of wagons, it was a soft, sweet sound not like the driving rhythms on the stages.

Luca came to a stop in the shadow of one of the wagons and turned to Shea. "Listen to me, Mala agreed to meet with you but I don’t want you upsetting her so you better leave your attitude back here," he warned.

Shea wanted to be angry at his tone but found she couldn’t, she was touched by his concern for his family and it tugged at her heart. Instead of defying him she merely nodded.

Receiving her agreement, he led her into the circle of wagons to the little fire where his sister sat with his Daj.

Nadja was the first to notice the arrival of her younger son; her warm brown eyes twinkled with mischief upon seeing the lady he dragged behind him. "Luca I think you would have far better luck if you didn’t manhandle the ladies," she laughed.

"Don’t worry Daj this one isn’t a lady," the comment earned him a sharp jab from Shea’s elbow. "Ouch! See what I mean?"

Mala calmly stood and strolled over to the pair. "You deserved that little brother," she admonished giving a wink to Shea. "I’m Mala, Mika’s Mother," offering her hand, "I hear you wish to speak with me."

Shea was torn; this was not at all what she had hoped for. The woman before her was as dark as Luca, nothing of Mika’s fairness shown in her pretty features. ‘Damn! I didn’t want ta be right about this.’ "Shea," she said taking the proffered hand, "and yes I do wish ta speak with ya."

Mala smiled upon hearing the lilting accent that tinged Shea’s speech, she hadn’t realized how much she missed hearing it over the years. "Come with me Lady Shea."

"Just Shea if ya do’na mind," the redhead couldn’t understand why, for all she knew these people were kidnappers and thieves yet she found herself strangely comfortable in their presence. Without another thought she followed the Romany woman into the little wagon leaving Luca with his Mother.

His dark eyes followed the graceful sway of her hips as Shea entered the wagon. A sharp laugh made him turn and he saw his small Mother looking up at him.

"I like her."

Luca sighed and sat heavily on the ground beside her. "So do I," he whispered.


Erin had wandered all over the square in search of her little rogue and had yet to find her. The men at the Romany stages had told her they hadn’t seen her either and Erin was becoming more worried with each step. ‘Maybe she’s ta sick ta be about tonight?’ With that thought firmly in mind she headed to where she knew the gypsies were camped, hoping to find the young woman and perhaps offer some comfort. ‘So it’s comfort we’re callin it now.’

She had just come around the south end of the square intent on finding the Romany wagons when she saw a small blonde form heading the opposite direction. Turning, she took off after the familiar figure. "Mika!" she called hoping to get the young woman’s attention.

Mika heard her name and knew immediately who was calling her. Panic and pain gripped her heart and she closed her eyes tight against the tears that again threatened to fall. ‘Bloody Hell! What is she doing here?’

‘Maybe she came to explain.’ The voice offered.

‘Explain what? That she found someone more to her liking and that it was fun but she needed someone better?’

‘You don’t know that for certain.’ It reminded.

‘I’m not blind! I saw them together, laughing and …’

‘Yes laughter is a sure sign that she’s decided not to continue a relationship with you. Of course she doesn’t know she had a relationship with you.’ It told her with annoyed sarcasm.

‘She didn’t come the other night she was with him.’

‘Now you’re pouting and you don’t know if she was with him or not and face it Sparky the only way to find anything out is to talk to the woman.’ The voice huffed.

Mika shoved the annoying voice of reason from her head. She felt anything but reasonable at the moment. Her heart hurt and her stubborn nature wouldn’t allow for any thought that she might be misplacing blame. ‘Besides the truth is…she does deserve better.’ That was the deciding factor and she stopped, waiting for Erin to catch up with her.

Erin ran to her friend and without paying any mind to the people around them, threw her arms around the smaller woman. "I’ve missed ya rogue," she whispered.

Mika’s mind derailed for a moment, all her anger and pain were washed away with the feeling of Erin’s body pressed to hers. Unable to resist she pulled the woman closer, reveling in the feeling, in her own need and desire.

Before the young gypsy could recover Erin pulled away, she was swept up in her own emotions and desires. Grabbing Mika’s hand she practically dragged the woman into the shadows behind one of the pubs. Lost in a haze of innocent passion she pushed Mika against the wall and roughly pressed her lips to the gypsy’s.


Furious eyes peered out from the shadows, Hunt had spotted Erin early in the evening and had been following at an inconspicuous distance ever since. At first he thought this to be nothing more than a foray out among the lesser people but when he saw the Irish woman throw herself into the arms of the little blonde he knew it was more, much more.

He watched as they disappeared behind the pub and he ducked into the shadows. He wasn’t close enough to hear what was said but he didn’t have to be. The kiss the women shared was damning enough and it gave him everything he’d hoped to find on this night, power over Erin. He knew for the moment he still had to play this game of wooing her but if she were to refuse him later he had all he needed. Hunt grinned evilly. ‘Oh yes sweet Erin refuse me and I’ll make you and your little friend so miserable you’ll wish you were dead.’ With his gaze still riveted on the passionate embrace he felt his arousal stir. ‘Have your fun tonight Lady McGorry it’s going to be the last you have for some time.’ He turned from the women and headed out into the night.


Mika was stunned by the bold display, she had never guessed Erin to be an aggressor and could not help her body’s reaction. Her passion for the woman flared and she felt herself respond to the kiss, a small moan escaped her when she felt Erin’s tongue begging entrance. She was completely helpless against the Irish beauty’s charms and sank further into her own impassioned haze until she felt a delicate hand slip under her shirt. "No!" she shouted stepping away from the woman.

Erin looked at the little blonde, confusion and desire echoed in her hooded gaze. "Why rogue?"

"Because this is wrong," Mika explained as she dragged a nervous hand through her short hair.

Erin reached out to touch the woman but Mika jumped away. "I know this is na the place ta be doin this rogue, let’s find somewhere away from ‘ere," she said laughing as she tried to move into the street.

Mika grabbed her arm and pulled her back. "No, I mean yes this isn’t the place but no it’s not going to happen anyway," she explained. The look on Erin’s face was enough to break her heart all over again. ‘But she’s already done that; she’s broken my heart and I’ll be damned if I play this little game with her. I’m not going to be her little toy, something she can play with whenever she feels like it.’ Finally in control of her senses again, her previous anger returned with a vengeance,

Before she could continue, Erin stepped closer. " Please, I want us Mika. I ‘ave never felt the things I feel fer ya. I know that we are right fer each other," she pleaded.

"What things are those Erin? Curiosity? Lust? I’m a new plaything for you and I don’t want to play princess," Mika snarled. "Besides, this wouldn’t last. It would be fun for a time sure, but then I’d get bored and where would we be?" the words were meant to hurt, she wanted to lash out and strike Erin in the heart, to make her feel the pain she was experiencing. "Erin you would be a fun diversion for me for awhile. But princess, as beautiful as you are, I know I would soon get bored. You have no experience. Hell woman! You had to sneak out of the castle instead of walking out like you had the right to. You would cave the first time someone told you it was wrong to be with me. We both know it. You need to go back and do whatever it is people expect you to do. That’s what you were bred for. I can’t pamper you or coddle you and I won’t be tied to someone who can’t stand on their own." Mika finish harshly.

Erin was stunned; Mika couldn’t have hurt her worse if she had actually struck her. Tears threatened to fall but she forced them back refusing to give in. Her heart lay broken at her feet and her Irish temper flared. "How dare you!" Erin bellowed. "I was willin ta give ya my heart and ya tossed it ta the side like a plaything," her tirade building. "Bored! Ya think ya would get bored with me do ya? Well I’ll tell ya something ya arrogant, selfish, ignorant pig, ya aren’t all that special. Ya ‘ave no manners, no breeding, not one trace o’ refinement." She stopped pacing and stood directly in front of the smaller woman her eyes blazing and no trace of the loving devotion that had been there only a moment before they now only harbored anger and pain. "Ya should ‘ave never let me make a fool out o’ myself. Ya should’na ‘ave led me ta believe ya were interested in me but ya did and I let myself come ta think I loved ya," she sobbed. "Ya win rogue, I’ll na bother ya again," she could no longer hold back her tears and they fell unbidden down her cheeks. Unable to face the little gypsy Erin turned and ran from the square.

Chapter 19

It had been days since Erin had argued with Mika and in that time her pain had turn to anger. The first day she cried, and then cried some more until she thought there were no more tears left. She had lain curled on her bed refusing to eat and allowing no one to enter. She could still hear Mika’s cruel words echoing in her mind and each time she felt her heart break all over again.

By the second day Milly decided Erin’s grieving period was over, she’d had enough of the sobbing and moping about and told the young Irish woman so. "Get up, get dressed, go for a walk, find the Princess and punch her in the nose. I don’t care what you do but I will not have you spend one more minute in this room sobbing over some heartless rogue who didn’t deserve your love in the first place," the older maid ordered as she tore through the room opening curtains and yanking Erin from the bed.

Erin wanted to protest but then it dawned on her. ‘She’s right, I will’na sit in this room and give that little gypsy the pleasure of thinking she hurt me.’ So fueled by her burgeoning anger she rose from the bed and with a renewed determination set out to make the most of her days. She appeared to others as though she had never been fazed by the rejection, she radiated strength and held her head high. All the while on the inside she felt dead; like a piece of her had been ripped away leaving a gaping hole where her heart had once been.

The following days were spent in the company of Lord Chester Hunt who seemed more than delighted to have Erin at his side. He was attentive and charming, fully playing his role as a proper suitor. He didn’t even seem to mind that Erin rarely participated in the conversations he would strike up, content to just hear himself talk. If the truth were known Erin didn’t engage in conversation because she found the man to be a total bore. ‘Good Lord does he never tire o’ talkin about ‘imself?’ She thought as they sat together watching a tournament. She gave the man an indulgent smile as he launched into another account of his accomplishments.

"Erin are you listening?" Hunt asked slightly annoyed by the woman’s far off look.

"I’m sorry Chester, guess I drifted off there," She quickly countered.

"It’s all right I realize that the topic of finance is a bit above you, after all what do you need to worry about that for besides making sure the household budget is properly dispensed," he replied absently.

"’Tis na above me Chester, I understand perfectly well the ways o’ finance be it in property or investment. I just do’na believe yer plan will work," Erin explained, her anger burning in her eyes. "By doin what ya propose ya take away the meager living o’ a small group o’ farmers ta richen yer own coffers by a few pieces o’ gold. It’s poor planning if ya ask me. Ya would be better served if ya aided the farmers now and collected a higher share o’ their profit later."

Hunt was furious. ‘How dare she question me? The simple little bitch knows nothing, a woman should know her place and it’s obvious that Erin McGorry needs a lesson in that…soon.’ He hated her condemning his plan and even more for doing it in front of the others seated around them. He smiled tightly at the woman trying to hold himself in check. ‘In time, you Irish wench, I’ll show you the way a proper lady acts, in time I’ll make you pay for all this.’ For now though he had to play his part. "You may be right," he choked out and turned away from her, his eyes still lit with the fires of rage.


Having Erin out with Lord Hunt gave Milly the opportunity to have a discussion with Shea. The elder McGorry had been distant the past few days and like with Erin, Milly thought it was time to give the woman a dose of reality.

Milly came into the McGorry rooms and sat across from Shea at the table. The Irish woman was staring at the wood grain of the table lost in her own thoughts.

"Want to tell me what you find so fascinating about this table?"

"’Ello ta ya Milly, I din’na ‘ear ya come in," Shea replied absently.

"Well that’s obvious, you’ve been lost in your thoughts for days now, care to tell me why?"

Shea couldn’t argue with the woman she had been preoccupied since her meeting with Mala. The information she received while clearing Luca’s family of any wrongdoing had also confirmed her suspicions about Mika’s parentage. She was pleased about the first and unsure of her next course of action for the last. "I met with Luca’s family," she confirmed.

"Luca? The gypsy who broke Erin’s heart? Are you the reason he finally gave up his pursuit of her?"

Shea stared at Milly totally confused by her questions. ‘What the "Ell ‘ave I missed?’ "Luca broke Erin’s heart? When?"

"Where have you been woman? The girl was locked in her room crying her eyes out for days over that little heartbreak. I finally had to force her out into the world again and she’s been spending a fair amount of time with Lord Hunt ever since," the older maid smiled triumphantly. She watched Shea’s face waiting for some sign of understanding and saw none. "Shea, the other night both you and Erin left the palace, from what you said I take it that you met with the man and his family. It’s the same night that Erin returned and locked herself in her room."

Understanding dawned in Shea’s blue eyes and she sat across from her maid and related most of the details of her night with Luca and his family. She left out details about the walk they had taken back to the palace and the short stop along the way they made to listen to the music.

"So you never saw Erin that night?" Milly asked.

"Nay, and ya say Erin returned before I did?"

"A couple of hours before you did yes. You don’t suppose she saw the two of you together and that’s what …?" Milly left the question hanging.

"No! No Milly I was with ‘is family until very late."


"I do’na know."


Hunt had taken Erin back to her rooms after the first event of the tournament and then headed to his meeting with King Edward. Which is where he was now watching the thin man pace back and forth.

"You have a week Hunt, I need that alliance in place within the month and I want McGorry tied down," Edward demanded.

"I’ve made excellent progress Sire."

"I don’t give a damn about your courting practices Hunt. Take rides, go to the tournaments, bed her, threaten her if you have to but do it. One week, I want the bans posted and you on your way to the alter. If you don’t get it done I will make sure you never receive title, do I make myself clear?"

Hunt swallowed nervously, the King’s thinly veiled threat had brought home the point, Erin McGorry stood between him and everything he wanted, and he wouldn’t fail. "I understand Sire," He bowed and left the chamber.

With his hands clenched tight he walked slowly down the corridor hoping to calm himself before meeting with the others. His anger was palpable and focused. Erin was the only thing that could cause his plan to fail. ‘But I wont fail, she’ll marry me willingly or …’ He grinned evilly.


Mika was miserable, she tried to ignore the pain in her heart by throwing herself into her work but only became distracted. She gave up working for other pursuits and had spent most of her days running one con or another. She was gaining a considerable amount of coin for her efforts. "Not doing to badly here,’ she said to no one in particular.

‘But if you’re not more careful you’re going to get caught.’ The voice warned.

‘I’ve been careful.’

‘That last mark almost caught you with your hand in his pocket, that’s not careful.’ It continued its reprimand.

‘Almost doesn’t count.’ She shot back.

‘So this is going to be the new attitude?’ It questioned.

‘What do you mean attitude? I’m just getting back to the old Mika.’

‘The old Mika wouldn’t be so reckless and she wouldn’t think that almost didn’t count. You’re losing control.’ The voice chided.

‘I’m completely in control.’ She snarled.

‘Until you see a tall woman with dark hair. Tell me, do you still see her every time you close your eyes?’ It sniped.

‘Shut up!’

Mika refused to admit that she had been sloppy with her cons; she marked it up to just being tired. She hadn’t been sleeping much, the voice was right. Every time she closed her eyes she saw Erin’s face. Her dreams started out sweet and sensual filled with images of sparkling blue eyes laughing and then later turning dark with desire. But the beautiful eyes turned cold and haunted by pain and anger pulling Mika from her sleep feeling the heart break all over again. It was something she relived every night.

She felt the tears trying to come again even though she fought to control them and decided to stop her games for the day. On the way back to the camp she stopped by one of the pubs and spent some of her ill-gotten gains on a few pints. Which is where Corwin found her several hours later, drunk and about passed out on a corner table.

A large hand grabbed her by the collar and dragged her from her chair. "What the Hell?" she slurred.

"Time to come home chey," Corwin growled.

"Let go a me," she demanded while struggling in his strong embrace.

"Don’t think so," he chuckled hoisting her body over his shoulder and carrying her from the pub.

Mika fought her Uncle all the way back to the camp, begging and pleading for him to let her down but he refused. He carried her past the old men around the campfire and walked right by her Mother who sat back watching. Corwin marched right back to the water trough for the animals and without ceremony, tossed her in.

Mika popped up from the cold murky water, "You rotten…" she sputtered.

"Try again," he said as he pushed her under again.

She tried to stand but his large hands pushed her under for a third time and he sat back on his heels and waited.

She came up coughing and spitting out the fetid water. "Damn you!"

"Do you want to go under again?"

"Nnno," she answered shivering.

He stood up offering her a hand out of the cold water when she took it he pulled her up and went to the stall and retrieved a blanket. "Come on little one it’s time to talk," he told her throwing the blanket around her shoulders.

Mika sighed, "You ever been in love Nano?"

So that’s what all this is about. "A time or two chey, a time or two," he wrapped his arm around her holding her chilled body against his.

"It sucks."

"Can’t argue with that."


Chapter 20

Aidan watched, slightly bemused as the large form of Sean O’Flanagan paced the room. When he had receive the letter from his sister he knew it would be of great importance to his friend but he hadn’t expected the man to rush to his home and demand answers.

"What does that letter say again Aidan?"

"Na much I’m afraid Sean, just that Shea is certain she spotted someone who might ‘ave been kin ta ya."

Sean came to a stop in front of the large desk, his green eyes pinning Aidan. "I ‘ave no kin Aidan, we all know that. Na blood kin any case, when Padraig was killed in that bastards war ‘e was the last," Sean sat down in the chair before the desk.

"I do’na know what ta say Sean, Shea seemed quite certain this one could be a member o’ yer clan. She even says she can prove it, seems she met a woman who ‘ad a rather interesting story ta tell but she didn’t elaborate," Aidan sighed.

"Shea would make this more difficult then need be," the stocky blonde laughed.

"She swears ta me she’ll write again about this but right now we ‘ave ta discuss what ya found out from O’Neill," Aidan hoped to change the subject.

"Well my friend yer na goin ta like this news any better than I liked yers," Sean chuckled. "Seems we’re ta ‘ave a new Baron take o’er for MacGreeve. That rat bastard Edward chucked that clan ta the side and is bringin in one o’ ‘is own. A Lord Chester Hunt ‘as been offered the Baronage just as soon as ‘e’s wed."

"Oh that’s just grand so ‘e’s offering Irish land and title as weddin gifts now," Aidan chuckled. "What makes them think an English dandy and ‘is bride would be able ta control a Baronage that size?"

"Oh I think ‘e’s probably looking to the bride’s father fer help with that."

"And who’s the poor father of this woman?"

"Ya are Aidan, the rumor is that Hunt is settin himself ta marry Erin," Sean leaned back and watched as his long time friend paled with the shock. "I told ya would’na like it."


Hunt had stepped up his pursuit of the Irish Lady, the King’s threat loomed over him and after a week of serious courting he felt it was time to act. They sat together listening to one of the other noblemen telling an amusing story during the Queen’s tea. If anyone was surprised to see the English Lord in the company of the young Irish woman they kept it to themselves. To most it seemed a likely pairing since Hunt was only a second son and would never inherit through his own Father.

"A very amusing tale Lord Welch," Erin chuckled.

Hunt nodded his agreement, "A truly charming narrative."

"Not as charming as this sweet lady you have with you Hunt," Lord Welch winked at the younger man and flashed Erin a genuine smile.

"I am quite lucky," Hunt replied with a sincerity he didn’t feel. ‘I’ll be lucky when this charade is over with.’

The comments of both men caused Erin to blush slightly. She was flattered by the acceptance she had gained by becoming Chester’s companion even though the hints of there being a deeper relationship between the two bothered her. He’s like ‘avin a brother, a very attentive and charming brother. Her feelings for Hunt did not go beyond a warm affection; they were nothing like what she felt for a certain blonde gypsy.

The thought of Mika sent pain lancing through her heart. ‘Damn her!’ While Erin’s days had been filled with Chester and his friends whenever Erin found herself alone the pain would return. At night her dreams were filled with the small blonde and their time together. No matter what Erin tried and no matter how much she tried to deny it she knew…She was still in love with the little rogue.

The afternoon wore on and before long dusk had come to the palace with the nobles leaving the tea to make ready for the evening’s festivities. Erin took Chester’s arm as he led her from the gardens, she noticed his pensive look but was in no mood to question it.

Finally Hunt broke the silence, "Erin you and I have come to know each other rather well these past weeks, I think we get along quite well and I wanted to ask you if you would…" he was interrupted by the hurried form of Milly rushing towards them calling out for Erin.

The older maid all but ran to the couple her face was flush and her trek had left her breathless. "Lady Erin," she huffed.

Erin grew concerned at seeing the woman in this state, "Easy Milly what ‘as ya so flustered?"

Milly cast a nervous glance at Hunt. "I need to speak with you for a moment …alone," she requested.

Hunt was furious, "How dare you demand that a member of the court take the time to speak with you!" He roared at the old woman. She had come up at a critical moment for him and this only further enraged him. His proposal would have to wait now and he wasn’t happy about having to find the time to make it again. ‘I have better things to do!’

Erin didn’t care for the tone Hunt took with her friend but was more concerned with why Milly would need to speak with her. "I’ll be just a moment Chester," she told him taking Milly by the arm and leading her away from the angry man.

Once they were out of hearing range Erin turned to the woman in tow, "Now what’s going on? It isn’t Shea is it?" the idea that something might be wrong with her Aunt sat like a lead ball in her gut.

"No! No child it’s nothing like that and I’m sorry for disturbing you at all with this but…"

"With what Milly, yer makin me nervous ‘ere," Erin threw up an exasperated hand.

"One of them gypsies got caught tryin to take a man’s purse and was tossed in the jail," Milly finally told the young woman. She didn’t know why Shea had sent her to Erin with this information but she had a sneaking suspicion that it had something to do with Erin’s recent heart ache.

Erin felt a lump rise in her throat and her heart started pounding in her chest. ‘Oh God! They got ‘er!’ Her first thought was of the little blonde rogue all alone in a jail cell. ‘I ‘ave ta get ‘er out o’ there.’ "Come on Milly let’s see what we can do," she told the older woman taking her hand again and pulling her past a disgruntled Hunt.

"Erin where are you going?" the man demanded.

"I ‘ave something I need ta see ta, I’ll meet with ya later Chester," she threw back at him as she stormed past.

Hunt stood watching her his anger all but palpable. ‘You bitch! Walk off and leave me here like I’m nothing!’ He turned on his heel and marched into the palace planning his vengeance for Erin’s behavior.


Mika wandered the square, her mind filled with the conversation she had the night before with her Nano. Corwin had sympathized with her current heart break but refused to allow her to wallow in self pity and before he let her find her bed had extracted a promise that she wouldn’t drown her misery in ale.

She passed by the row of pubs ignoring the calls of the "ladies" who stood outside but after her third time past she stopped and without hesitation grabbed one of the women and headed into the pub.

‘You promised not to drink.’ The voice reminded.

‘I’m a grown woman I can drink if I want to. Besides I’m not planning on drinking.’

‘Just what do you think you’re doing then?’ It questioned.

‘It’s time to forget and this young lady right here is just the one to help me do that.’ Mika gave a wicked grin to the pretty young girl beside her.

‘It won’t work.’ The voice sighed.


Erin and Milly raced to the guardhouse to find out about their newest prisoner.

"It’s just one of them gypsies M’Lady you shouldn’t concern yourself," the grizzled old soldier told her.

"My good man, it would’na be charitable if I stood by and a soul be lost never liftin a ‘and ta ‘elp," Erin replied sweetly. ‘Just let me see ‘er ya daft ole fool!’

The soldier looked into her blue eyes and then glanced at Milly who gave him a discreet nod. "You’re the young woman who stopped the Princess from slapping that maid aren’t you?"

Erin blushed slightly thinking back on the event, "Yes sir, I am," she held her head up with pride.

He grinned at the young woman before him, "Thank you, that was my grand daughter you saved young lady."

Erin breathed a sigh of relief. "Yer welcome but it was na thing ta be thanked fer. I just did what was right. Now can I see yer prisoner?"

"Of course M’Lady," he said taking the large ring of keys from the wall. Turning back to the women he indicated that they should follow. "It’s not like we wanted to take the child into custody but the merchant just wouldn’t let it go."

‘Child? Well she can act like a child but she’s far from that young.’ Erin’s body heated as she thought of all the charms that made Mika less then a child. The firm body and strong hands that had held her so tight, lost in her thoughts she didn’t notice when they had stopped.

"Here we are M’Lady," the man pointed to a cell.

Erin peeked into the darkened cell and could barely make out a small form huddled in the corner. "Mika?"

"Nnno," answered a tiny voice.

"That’s a child," Erin whispered.

"Yes, that’s what I told you. We didn’t like taking him like that, he’s to young to be in here but what can we do?"

"Open the door," Erin demanded. The guard shook his head and did what she asked.

Erin walked into the cell and knelt before the frightened gypsy child. "What’s yer name?"

"B…Bera," the little boy stuttered.

Erin recognized the child immediately as the boy who had been with Mika the first night they had met. "What were you doing out by yerself Bera?"

"Mika didn’t come. She was supposed to. I thought I could do it myself," he explained with tears in his voice.

"Hush now, it’s goin ta be alright," Erin soothed the child and then stood. "Let me take ‘im out o’ ‘ere."

"I don’t know M’Lady," the old guard hesitated.

"I’ll take ‘im back ta ‘is family and promise ‘e’ll na be doin this again. Ya will’na do this again will ya Bera?" Erin shot over her shoulder at the small boy.

"No ma’am I promise," he answered sincerely.


"Well, I guess if you’re going to take the responsibility then I can over look this. But just this time lad, don’t let me catch you again," he warned.

Erin took the child’s hand and led him from the cell. Milly watched completely awed by the young woman’s compassion.

"Erin it’s full dark outside now you can’t just walk back to the camps."

"Do’na worry Milly I ‘ave protection, isn’t that right Bera," she said grinning down at the boy.

Bera looked up at his beautiful savior and smiled, "Yes ma’am."

"See there Milly," Erin threw her arm around the boy and walked him from the jailhouse leaving Milly staring after her.

"She’s something else," the old soldier whispered.

"Yes she is."


The walk back to the Romany camp didn’t take to long but Erin felt herself become apprehensive when they approached. Bera had kept a tight grip on her hand the whole way there until they entered the ring of wagons, only then did he let go and went running to his Mother. She watched as the boy told his story to the people gathering around. To Erin it seemed rude to intrude on the little gathering so she turned to leave but was stopped by a small hand on her arm.

"It’s a good thing you did," a sweet voice told her.

Erin looked down and found herself caught by twinkling brown eyes filled with kindness. "‘E’s a child, ‘e should’na ‘ave been out alone," Erin didn’t mean to sound harsh but being in the camp had made her edgy.

"I know, Mika was supposed to be with him tonight but that damn girl has her head up her ass these days. Sometimes I wonder if she’s my child at all," Mala sighed.

Erin froze when she heard Mika’s name. ‘Oh Lord I’m talkin ta ‘er Mother.’ Inside she was panicked and wanted nothing more than to get away before she broke down. The emotions of the past few days coupled with meeting the Mother of the woman she loved had come crashing down. "Excuse me I ‘ave ta be getting back before I’m missed," she gave Mala the quick excuse and ran off into the square.

Mala stood watching as the young woman ran from the camp. She had a long talk with Corwin that morning and had gotten a bit of the story from him. The rest she had gathered from rumors about her child spending time with a beautiful foreign woman. Mala added everything together and drew her conclusion. ‘So that’s the young woman who supposedly broke my daughter’s heart. Funny, she didn’t seem the type.’


Mika stumbled from the pub with the young barmaid hanging on her arm. She hadn’t really drunk that much but the girl’s persistent hands made it hard to walk. She dragged the buxom blonde behind the building, intent on ridding herself of Erin’s memory. The woman in her arms was more than willing and Mika took full advantage of the situation. She pushed the woman against the wall just as Erin had done to her and took the girl’s lips in a brutal kiss. She forced her tongue between slightly parted lips and plunged deep into the woman’s mouth.

The little barmaid wasn’t idle in this time; she had pulled Mika’s shirt from the waist of her trousers and was working her hand down the front. Mika moaned when she felt the small fingers teasing her sex and pushed her thigh against the woman’ own center.


Erin passed by the pub and heard a commotion coming from the shadows. She glanced up in time to see a familiar form push against another in the dark. She heard the moan and knew the voice. Pain ripped through her again and hot angry tears fell down her cheeks. She tore her gaze from the pair and ran through the square.


Mika felt the woman in her arms push further into her heated sex and tore her mouth away when she felt the talented hands dip into her.

"Oh God Erin," she hissed.

The woman in her arms stilled and Mika froze to the spot when she realized that she had forgotten this woman was not the Irish Lady. In her attempt to push Erin from her mind she had only succeeded in reliving their passion and was using this girl to do it. Mika was suddenly ashamed of her behavior and quickly stepped back from the young girl. "I’m…sorry," Mika muttered as she cast her gaze to the ground.

The young woman had been stunned to say the least but seeing the little gypsy standing before her now she couldn’t even be angry. "If you love her why don’t you tell her?"

Mika looked up into the woman’s hazel eyes, "She has someone better," she sighed.

Still staring at Mika the barmaid seemed to come to some decision and stepped closer to the gypsy helping the woman straighten her clothing. "Is she a tall woman, dark hair and very pretty?"

"Beautiful, yes."

"She ran that way," the barmaid said pointing down the alleyway. "If you hurry you might catch her."

"What do you mean she ran that way?" Mika implored. ‘Oh God No! Please say she didn’t see this.’

"I mean she saw us and ran."

"Oh I’m so fucked," the little gypsy groaned.

"Maybe…" the young woman agreed.


Continued in Part 5

Return to the Academy