Justin Beaufort, a royal bastard and spy for King Richard, comes to Norburnshire to ruin William Grifon, but when Elisa and Margarida save his life, he decides his debt to them would be best honored by no longer pursuing William’s demise.
Here, Justin’s thoughts as he arrives at Grifon’s Nest.
Excerpt from The Luck of Two Magpies, copyright 2012, all rights reserved.
No distribution or reproduction without the author’s express permission
The muffled scrape of hooves on cobblestones drifted his way as his soldiers led their mounts away. Within moments, there was silence, and he was struck by the luxury—the gracious house, the well-appointed apartments, the coziness of the fire, the excellence of the grounds—the idyllic peacefulness of it all.
An old demon arose to tempt him. Ah, to be the legitimate son of a nobleman, the rightful inheritor of his father’s name and title. But it would be sin to covet what Grifon had. He stamped the upstart demon beneath his boot heel.
He had no real vocation, nor had his brother Henry Beaufort, but their father had done his best for them in paying for the best educations, the best advancements. Henry had taken a place in the Church hierarchy. Justin’s love was the unraveling of political labyrinths, power, and aye, silver. It intrigued him to know how one could affect good or evil, could raise up or destroy men. And if his kingly cousin must see Justin made a priest, banished to Durham and buried in account ledgers to feel safe upon his throne, then so be it.
Certainly there were times he bridled against the routine of his life. Of a time, he wished he could know what it was like to be his father’s heir, even though, at the moment, his quick-tempered half-brother had gotten himself exiled to France. Careless ofHerefordto squander such opportunity.
He stared at the distant park, hands locked behind his back, letting his mind ramble down familiar roads that drew him: power and rule, his kingly cousin, Richard Angevin, his half-brother Hereford, Henry Plantagenet. What exactly were Henry and others willing to do to cast off a rightful king? If he found out his father were backing Henry, would he denounce Lancasteror support him? That would mean supporting Henry. No matter which direction he chose, he would have to tread lightly to remain clear of any implication of impropriety. He would not be exiled.
For now, he was King Richard’s man, Archdeacon of Northumbria, spy, administrator for the Bishop of Durham when His Excellency Bishop Skirlaw was not in situ, but otherwise, Justin had not too much to do. Which suited his kingly cousin, for his position made Justin very accessible to Richard. After all, who better to serve the king as spy than a loyal priest and blood cousin who, by calling and now by law, could not usurp his crown?