Title: Denying the Stars

Author: Jessica

Email: bftc2@hotmail.com


A/N: anything else is in the first post

PART 13:

Brooke's arm was linked through her wife's as they stepped out of the palace into the yard. Looking around at the waiting horses she counted one short. Turning to her wife, she asked, "Sam, how many of us are going to the ship headed for you holdings?"

The brunette continued walking them down the palace steps as she answered, "Twelve of us, and the six men your father is sending as escort."

Counting the animals one more time to make sure she was correct, Brooke frowned when she came up one short again. "If eighteen of us are leaving, how come there are only seventeen mounts here?" She asked as she followed the girl to the large black horse they'd gone for their ride on before.

"Because," Sam wrapped her hands around Brooke's waist and lifted the surprised girl into the saddle. Mounting up behind the blonde, she wrapped her arms around her wife and took hold of the reins. "You and I are riding double, and I had the horse your father gave you put on a ship headed for Perseus last night."

"Thank you Sam, I've had Blizzard since I was six years old, I would've hated to part with him." Laying her head on the brunette's chest, who was fast becoming her favorite pillow, she watched their escort along with the McPherson people hop into their saddles. Softly chuckling at the sly wink Lady Jane sent her way, she snuggled into Sam's body.

When her father looked over at her, Sam nodded and tapped her heals against the animal's sides, getting their journey underway. "I would never be separated form my Eridanus, he's seen me though too many battles to count, I could never leave him." Sam's heals gave the horse another tap to pick up the pace.

"Eridanus, what does it mean?" Brooke asked, looking up at the brunette as the girl concentrated on keeping control of the powerful animal beneath them.

"It means the River, I named him after the body of water he was born in." Sam answered simply. Frowning in thought, she asked, "Do you swim Lady Brooke?"

"There is no place to learn on Corona Australis, all the water is frozen or too cold." Brooke's tone took on a curious note when she asked, "Will you teach me how on Perseus? I've never been in water that wasn't drawn for a bath."

Looking down into sparkling hazel eyes, Sam nodded slightly. "I'll teach you to swim, and anything else you care to learn, provided I've the knowledge to do so." The two girls were in the center of the party beside Lady Jane, and Sam didn't miss the knowing smile on her mother's lips. [You go skinny dipping with a palace maid one time and no one will let you forget it. Though I must admit to being anxious to see Brooke dripping wet in the middle of the river. No, you have to gain control over yourself, you can't afford to leave yourself vulnerable to hurt and desire is one of the passage ways to it.]

PART 14:

The brunette waved to her parents after giving each of them a firm hug and planting a kiss on her mother's cheek. Lord Robert and his wife promised to visit Perseus sometime the following week to make sure their daughter and her new bride settled in alright. Now Sam and Brooke were once again in the vastness of space on their way to their spring and fall planet after dropping of the elder McPherson couple on Corona Borealis.

Turning to look at the sleeping blonde beside her, the girl's head resting on her shoulder, Sam sighed in contentment. Kissing Brooke's forehead softly, she turned to gaze out the window, watching for a glimpse of their new home. [I can't wait for Brooke to see Perseus, there are so many things that she hasn't seen living on her frozen planet. She's never seen the grass beneath the snow, the flowers of spring growing wild, she's never felt the warm sun upon her skin and the soft breeze floating about her, she's never been outside without the weight of layers of clothing to keep the chill at bay. I want to show her every thing, teach her every thing, and when fall comes, I want to show her every thing again.]

Brooke squirmed from the grasp sleep had over her, gradually coming into the land of the conscious. Looking up at the brunette's thoughtful expression, she studied her wife's profile. [She doesn't look upset, just thoughtful, but always those shadows. What happened to cause them Sam, what put such hidden grief in your eyes?] Sitting up, Brooke tucked a strand of dark hair behind the girl's ear, smiling when Sam turned to face her. "What are you thinking about Sammy?"

The brunette arched an eyebrow at the use of her childhood nickname. "I was thinking about the things I want to show you on our new home, and what your reactions might be to them."

Shifting in her seat, Brooke moved into a more comfortable position to look at her wife. "Would you tell me about our home, and it's people?"

Nodding slightly, Sam moved so that she was facing the blonde as completely as the ships seats would allow her. "Right now it's spring so just about every thing is green. The hills and valleys are sprinkled with hearty doses of wild flowers that are every color imaginable. The palace is some what bigger than your father's, and the gardens are filled with herbs, plants, trimmed hedges, and sculpted fountains rather than ice sculptures. There is a large stable off to the side in the palace yard. Your horse will be kept there along with my own, and a few others belonging to some of my men. Just over the hill in the back of the palace is a village, mostly farms and just about any kind of smith you need." Running her fingers through her long hair, she sighed softly. "The people are easy going and friendly, there are a few bad apples to watch for though. Your Lady's maid will be Tara, she's shy but kind hearted and gentle, a very fine girl."

"And who is your maid?" Brooke asked, surprised to hear a soft chuckle coming form Sam as her answer.

"I have no maid, I have a squire." The brunette explained patiently. Looking into Brooke's hazel eyes, she smiled at the confusion there. "I've been raised more as a Lord instead of a Lady, and as such I do not have a Lady's maid. My squire's name is Cole and he's a good young man, I believe he's courting Tara."

Brooke's cheeks were slightly red from embarrassment, but a huge grin was lighting up her features none the less. [I got her to smile, not a half smile or a smirk, but a full smile that even got the corners of her eyes to crinkle.] Resting back in her seat, she looked out the window as a planet of swirling white, blue, and green came into view. "Is that Perseus Sam?"

Turning around to the window, Sam nodded her head. "Yes, yes it is Brooke."

PART 15:

Brooke's jaw dropped at the sight of her new home, the breath she'd been taking in got caught in her throat. Her clear eyes traveled over every thing with a child like wonder, taking in the lush green hills dotted with purples, yellows, blues, and reds. Looking on further down the rode she saw the tops of the palace towers, red and platinum flags flapping gently on their peaks. Banners of the same colors displaying the family crest of a panther and phoenix battling hung down the light gray sides of the tow end towers.

Sam came walking up behind Brooke, gently wrapping her arms around the girl's waist, she leaned down to whisper in her wife's ear. "What do you think of your new home my Lady Brooke McPherson?" Sam asked, nuzzling the hair away from the blonde's neck so she could nibble at the exposed skin there.

"I think it's beautiful, more than beautiful, but suddenly all I want is to see our bedchamber." Brooke said in a breathy whisper, leaning back into Sam's strong arms. Tilting her head further back onto the brunette's shoulder, giving Sam's lips more access to her skin. Her hand came up to curve around the brunette's neck, holding her mouth in place.

Hearing a polite clearing of some one's throat, Sam gave her usual half smile as she looked up into the grinning face of her childhood friend. "Sir Simon, it is truly an honor to have you pull yourself away from your swarm of maids to escort my Lady and myself to the palace." The brunette said in a teasing tone as she placed a hand on the small of her wife's back and walked over to the dismounting man.

"Oh my Lord, I am but one humble escort." Bowing down almost to the point of his head touching the ground, he winked up at Sam as he straightened. "There were a few others unhindered by a such a mass of fawning women who agreed to give service as well."

Shaking her head and smirking, Sam clapped the tall man on the shoulder. Looking into his light brown eyes for a moment, she turned to face her wife. "Lady Brooke McPherson, my I present Sir Simon Tavis, my best friend since I was a little girl running around in nappies." Turning back to Simon, who bowed slightly in respect to Brooke's station, she asked, "So where are these others and our mount?"

"As we speak they're in the process of regaining control of you precious Eridanus. It seems your horse broke his lead line again and is leading Domonic and Cole on a spirited chase around your holdings." Simon answered, the smile on his face only getting bigger as he related the news to Sam.

Shaking her head with a soft sigh, Sam looked at Simon with raised eyebrows. "Where did you see them last?"

Frowning slightly, the man shrugged his broad shoulders. "Just over the next rise, why?" Looking back at Sam after gesturing over his shoulder, realization shone in his eyes. "Lady Brooke, you may want to plug your ears." As he suggested it to the blonde, he covered his own.

Sam waited until her wife took the good advice, and then let out a hair splitting whistle. Her eyes brightened when a beautiful palomino came trotting down the hill toward them, two very uneasy men at arms following behind the animal. When Eridanus came up to her and nuzzled her cheek, she took hold of the scrap of lead line still attached to the animal, and patted his neck. "Are you happy to see me boy?"

"That devil of a horse minds no one but you, next time you return from a trip you'll have to settle on a different mount." Sir Domonic said, sliding out of his saddle to properly greet the women. Taking Brooke's hand, he bowed over it slightly, saying, "I am Sir Domonic, the Lord's captain of the guards."

"It is a pleasure to meet you Sir Domonic, I'm Lady Brooke McPherson." The blonde responded politely to the older gentleman, dipping into a shallow curtsey.

Slipping Brooke's hand through the crook of her arm, Sam grasped hold of the man's forearm as he did like wise in the warriors greeting. "Sir Domonic Neville here is like a second father to me, I trained with him when my own was away." Seeing the medium built young man about a year or so younger than herself walking up tot he group, Sam gave another half smile. "And the young man under all those brown curls is my squire, Cole Graystone."

Smiling sheepishly, Cole's cheeks brightened at Sam's words. Bowing politely to each Lady, he said softly, "It is good to have you back on Perseus my Lord."

"It's good to be back, three weeks is too long to be gone, even if most of that time was spent on Corona Borealis." Sam said, leading Brooke over to Eridanus's side to help her mount up. "My mother has a few words for each of you, let me see if I can remember them..." Climbing up behind the blonde, Sam took hold of the animals reins. "Oh yes, to Domonic she says to take care of her little girl and try to enjoy your self a bit."

"The Lady Jane is a kind woman, but she must be going daft if she thinks that old coot is going to loosen up enough to have fun." Saying that, Simon received two sets of eyes glaring at him. Winking at Sam to show he was teasing, he gave a toothy smile to Sir Domonic.

"To you Simon, my mother says to try settling down with one woman instead of a dozen." Seeing her friend's cheeks color, the brunette let out a soft laugh. Turning to face the curly haired Cole, she said, "And to you she wishes good luck in winning young Tara's affections." Tapping her heals into Eridanus's sides, Sam rode off, calling out, "You better get moving guys, you're suppose to be the escorts."

PART 16:

Sam reached up and gently lowered Brooke to the ground, kissing her softly on the lips before turning to hand the reins over to the stable boy. Facing the gates to the palace yard, she crossed her arms and started tapping her foot as she waited for the three men who were her wife's and her own escorts.

Leaning closer to the brunette, Brooke asked softly, "You're not truly cross with them are you?" There was a slight frown puckering her brow as she looked at her wife's stance.

Smiling fully, Sam leaned in and stole a quick kiss before going back to looking angry. "No I'm not, I just have the urge to tease them a little." When her eyes spotted the first rider, she frowned in mock displeasure, waiting for all of them to ride in and dismount.

"Oh don't you even start in on us now," Domonic said, shaking a finger at Sam. "I've half a mind to take you over my knee for ridding off from your guards." Running a hand through his salt and pepper hair, he took the reins of his horse and walked off to the stables. Cole following quietly, the young man's face was a light red under a mop of curls.

"Being home might be the reason for your good humor and teasing mood, but I'm willing to bet it's the blonde pixie beside you that is the true cause." Simon said with a smug smirk as he winked over at Brooke before following the other two men to take care of his horse.

[Always with the winking, first Lady Jane and now Sir Simon.] Shaking her head and laughing softly, the blonde looked over at her wife. The smile on her face quickly faded and her eyes narrowed in barely leashed anger. Looking up into Sam's confused eyes, she gestured over the brunette's shoulder. "And who is this woman that looks so happy to see you've returned?"

When the brunette turned around, she reacted on instinct and caught the sandy haired woman who flung herself into her arms. [Oh shit, I'm in trouble.] Putting the young woman down, she tried to push her away from her body, but the girl kept pressing back into her. Finally stepping away from the woman altogether, she possessively place her arm around Brooke's waist. "Lady Brooke, this is one of the kitchen maids Cecile. Cecile this is my wife, and your Lady Brooke McPherson."

Pressing her body up against Sam's side, Cecile looked directly into Brooke's anger filled hazel eyes, saying, "Oh Samantha, just because you are wed, do not doubt that you will always be welcome in my bedchambers."

Feeling Brooke's body tense beneath her arm, Sam growled out a warning to the sandy haired maid. "Do not doubt that your presence will not be tolerated in my chambers." Leaning in closer to the maid to speak in a harsh whisper, she added, "I have not forgotten what you've done Cecile, it's best you stay away form me and my wife."

Brooke couldn't keep the triumphant smile from her face as she watched the woman stomp off in a huff. [Yeah you little twit, stay away from my Sammy and me. God she's sexy when she's angry, I wonder if I could get her to growl that low in bed?] Leaning up, she kissed her wife softly, running her tongue along the brunette's full bottom lip slowly before pulling away.

Looking at the blonde with desire filled eyes, Sam asked, "Would you like to see the place where we'll be sleeping?"

When Brooke simply nodded with a sensual smile, Sam turned to lead them into the palace. Passing Domonic on the way, she said, "You'll be in charge for the next week and three days after while my parents visit." Receiving a crisp nod from the older man, she continued on her way to find her wife and herself a bed. [I haven't felt this way in years, and I've only had Brooke with me a few days. At this rate the woman will kill me with happiness, I just hope I die in the throws of passion beside my ice princess.]

PART 17:

Sam sat in her study drumming her fingers on the cherry wood surface of her desk. Looking across the piece of furniture, her eyes met the almost obsidian orbs of Sir Domonic. Leaning forward, she rested her arms on the desk top, holding her mentors gaze. "My parents arrive in moments, I want you to send twelve men as their guards. We'll leave a garrison of thirty here, when the others return with my parents they are to join those thirty in guarding the palace. The rest of us ride out to meet Bio Glass's contingent of men."

Nodding his head in agreement, Sir Domonic slowly rose form his chair. "We are lucky the Dorcy family thought to report that campfire smoke." Watching Sam push herself out of her chair, he said, "I'll issue your orders to the men, you should go explain things to your wife." Bowing slightly, he straightened up and turned to carry out his duties.

"Damn." The brunette growled out, slamming her hand onto her desk in anger. [The past week has gone so well, and now this. Brooke and I've become comfortable around one another, we've talked some, gone out riding, picnicking, and we've made love every night.] Sighing out in frustration, she ran her fingers through her thick mane of dark hair. "Now I'm going to ruin the whole thing we've just started building, and Bio Glass will suffer for causing me to hurt Brooke like this." Walking out the door, she headed up stairs to find her wife.

PART 18:

"Oh Tara, I honestly don't know what I'd do without you to keep me company while Sam is working." Brooke smiled at the young maid sitting across from her. Looking down at the cards in her hand again, she was careful to school her expression so she didn't give her hand away.

"I'm always happy to spend time with you my Lady, and doing so has improved my poker skills immensely." The young auburn haired maid said with a shy smile, her emerald eyes never leaving her hand. [When I heard the news that our Lord was to marry the much sought after Lady Brooke McQueen, I was expecting a harsh, heartless, and spoiled woman. I'm so glad I was wrong, the Lady is sweet and gentle, every one knows she the cause for the changes in our Sam. Only Sir Domonic remains untrusting of the woman, we've all heard the stories, but spending time with the Lady has caused me to doubt them.]

"Alright, I call." Brooke said, watching intently as the young girl set down her cards. "Oooh, a pair of two's and a pair of queen's, that's a fine hand." Seeing Tara smile and shake her head, knowing already that she was beat, Brooke released a soft chuckle of her own. "Is it that easy to see I'm leading up to besting your hand with my own?"

"You do it every time my Lady, why don't you just lay the cards down and allow me to suffer my loss?" Tara answered with a smile.

Nodding her head, Brooke plopped her cards down with a triumphant gleam sparkling in her eyes. "Fair enough, a royal flush."

"It figures that royalty would stick together, even in card games." The young maid said with a mock grumble of anger that sent both woman into giggles.

At that moment Sam stepped through the door, her face falling a little more at seeing Brooke's happy state, knowing what she was going to say would put an end to it. Clearing her throat over the sound of the other two women's laughter, the brunette looked directly at Tara. "Would you please excuse us, I have a matter I must discuss with my wife."

"Of course my Lord." Tara answered quickly, hopping up from her chair and giving a curtsey before rushing out the door.

Looking up into the worried expression on the brunette's face, Brooke frowned in concern. "What is it Sammy, is some thing wrong?"

Clearing her throat, Sam walked over to where the blonde was now standing beside her chair. "Yes Brooke, there is. My parents are being escorted here where they will stay with you. I'm leaving a good number of men behind, but the rest of them and myself will ride out to meet a group of Bio Glass's men that have been spotted."

Stepping away from her wife to go look out the window on the other side of the chamber, Brooke took in a few deep breaths to calm her emotions. Turning around to face Sam, the blonde's eyes where misted over in the tears that she was trying to hold back. "You can stay here too, you can stay here with your parents and me while your soldiers go off and fight."

"No, that's unacceptable." Sam said, her tone unwavering and determined. "I will not sit here protected while my men go off and risk their lives." Her steady brown eyes came up to lock with the misted hazel orbs of her wife's. Shaking her head, she whispered, "I can't do that."

Walking back up to the brunette, she took the girl's hands in her own. "Sam, you are the heir to the McPherson holdings, you are the ruler here. It's your army's job to fight the battles for you, you don't have to as a ruler." Brooke desperately pleaded, the tears falling from her eyes unchecked. "You don't have to go Sammy."

Pulling her hands out of the blonde's to hold on gently to Brooke's shoulders, she sighed softly. "Yes I do, I'll not send men out there to confront Glass's forces if I'm not willing to do so myself." Pulling Brooke into her chest, she hugged the girl tightly to her, smoothing her hand over the glossy blonde hairs. "You'll be safe here with my mother and father, I promise you they won't reach the palace."

"I don't care if they reach the palace or not!" Brooke growled out in rising anger, pushing away from her dark haired wife. Regaining what composure she could, Brooke's voice turned into a soft whisper. " I care if you come back to the palace or not. I want you to promise me you'll come back, can you do that Sam?"

Leaning forward quickly, she captured Brooke's lips in a fiery kiss salted by the blonde's tears. Pulling back from the girl's mouth, Sam rested her forehead against her wife's and looked into her eyes. "I do not make promises I can't keep, but I will try." She whispered softly before straightening up and walking out the door without looking back. [If I turn around now and see her crystal tears one more time, she'll win and I'll stay, and I'll hate myself for it. I just can't leave my men, I simply can't. I love you Brooke McPherson with all that I am, and I promise to try and make it back to you. I promise to always be with you in life and the here after.]

PART 19:

Lady Jane rushed up the stair case followed by a worried Tara, each of them taking the stone ledges two at a time. Not bothering with the formality of knocking, Jane burst into the Lord's bedchamber to find a sobbing Brooke huddled into herself on the large four poster bed. Stopping Tara from running over to the upset woman, Lady Jane held the maid back to whisper in her ear. "Would you be so kind as to get a bowl of warm water and a cloth for the Lady to wash up?" When the young maid nodded, Jane smiled at the worried girl in reassurance. "She'll be fine Tara, she has the two of us to take care of her."

Presenting a hurried curtsey, Tara mumbled a soft, "Yes my Lady," before disappearing out the door to retrieve what was asked for. [Poor Lady Brooke, she's so distraught over this. I suppose the rumors about her father are true, though not ever ruler has ghosts haunting them like our Sam does.] In the kitchen she set a kettle on the hook hanging over the large fire to heat up the water, and dug around for a suitable cloth for the Lady Brooke to use.

"Well if it isn't little Tara, and how is our Lady Brooke today?" Cecile asked in an acidly sweet voice as she sauntered into the kitchen. "The Lady is not worried for her wife is she, every one knows our Lord is better at getting others killed then herself." The sandy haired woman flashed a humorless smirk Tara's way.

Letting her anger get the best of her, Tara walked up to the arrogant maid and slapped her across the face. When Cecile's eyes widened in shock at the actions of shy little Tara, her own emerald orbs narrowed with the anger still blazing through her. "Lady Samantha has done not but keep all of us safe, she cares deeply about all of her people. Though most of us don't understand why you're included in that, seeing as how people have hearts, and you have a piece of soulless black coal in your chest." Putting on a mitt, she grabbed the kettle and cloth she'd found, before turning back to face the still dumbfounded Cecile. "Our Lord is not without her faults, but the things you've done to her would cause the Gods of hell to turn there backs on you." Tara glared at the kitchen maid as she shoved her way past the girl on her way back upstairs.

PART 20:

Sam was in the head of her company, flanked by Sir Domonic and Sir Simon, with Cole on Simon's right side. Thirty other men on horse back followed behind them with fifty foot soldiers in their wake. When Eridanus crested a small hill, she held up her hand in the signal to halt. Looking down at the small valley, Sam said, "We'll face them here." Turning to face Domonic on her left, she nodded once to the older man.

At Sam's signal, Domonic turned to issue out his Lord's orders. "Archers line up in the back, swordsmen move up to the front here, let's move it men!" His deep voice ringing out over the noises of the men repositioning themselves.

Dismounting from Eridanus's back, Sam took her sword from the horse's saddle holder and placed the scabbard around her waist. Looking up at Simon, she said, "I'll lead the first wave in and you come in with the second." When the man nodded, she looked over his shoulder to a dismounting Cole. "You'll come in with the second wave of men," turning to face Domonic again, she continued. "You issue the orders to the archers until we reach our targets, then ride in with the other men on horse back."

"I don't like you going in there first." Sir Domonic said with a shake of his head.

"You've never liked it, but it hasn't changed anything. All of you be careful out there, we all make it home alive understand?" When the three men around her nodded, she looked at the ones behind them and got the same response. Hearing the sounds of hoof beats nearing their position, Sam looked across the valley where their enemy would appear. "Alright people, get ready."

When the first man appeared across the valley, Domonic raised his hand to signal the archers. He waited until Bio Glass's men were lined up and in range before dropping his hand in a swift arc. With that signal a rain of arrows tore up into the sky to come plummeting down, impaling the enemy army.

Walking to the front line of swordsmen, Sam raised her blade up into the air. Looking down at the row of faces turned to her, she nodded her head before lowering her arm and charging into the battle, her men right there with her. [We're all coming home alive, I will not loose any of my men, and I'll make it home to Brooke, my Brooke.] Those were her last thoughts before her warrior training kicked in as she met her first enemy on the field.

PART 21:

Pulling the young maid over to the side with her, Lady Jane whispered, "Tara would you stay with her, I want to go check on my Robert and the rest of the palace?" When the little maid nodded her head, she went on. "I'll have someone bring food up to the both of you, make sure she eats something." When Tara agreed again, she patted the girl's arm before quietly slipping out the door.

Watching Lady Jane leave, tucking a strand of auburn hair behind her ear, she looked over to the resting Brooke McQueen, now McPherson. Walking over to her Lady, she sat on the side of the bed studying the blonde woman. [She's so upset, I didn't think Lady Jane would ever calm her, thank the Gods that woman can work wonders. She's not use to seeing the those she cares for going off into battle, her father's never engaged in combat himself, or at least that's the rumor about the pompous Lord Mike McQueen. The poor Lady will have to become accustomed to our Lord riding off a the head of her army, our Sam would never leave the men go out there without her.]

Rolling from her side onto her back, Brooke slowly opened red rimmed hazel eyes. Looking up to the figure sitting beside her, she blinked a few times to bring the person into focus. "Tara, have they returned yet?" Her voice came out low and rough, her throat scratchy form her earlier sobbing.

Sighing softly, Tara's emerald eyes held sympathy in their depths as she shook her head. "No my Lady, they've not returned yet." Looking toward the window, the maid let out a shaky breath.

"Oh Tara," resting her hand on top of the girl's, Brooke squeezed it softly in reassurance. "I'm so sorry, in my worry over Sam, I gave no thought to your Cole."

Smiling gently at her Lady, Tara shook her head slightly. "I'm not too worried about Cole, our Lord would never let anything happen to him." Taking Brooke's hand in between her own two, the girl looked into deep hazel eyes, debating with herself on spilling Lady Samantha's secret or not.

Moving to sit up in the large bed, the blonde looked at her maid with a curious frown. When the young girl could no longer hold her gaze, she new something was up. "Tara, please just tell me what ever it is. It's obvious you want to say some thing, so do so." When Tara lifted her gaze back up to hers, Brooke gave a soft smile of encouragement.

Taking a deep breath, she released it slowly before speaking to Brooke. "When Lady Jane was here you asked why our Lord refuses to say behind, why she claimed she couldn't." When the blonde nodded her head to show that she was following, Tara bit her lower lip as she drew up the courage to go on. "My Lady, she can't stay behind because of the ghosts that chase her. I know you've seen the haunted look she carries, it's the reason she can not stay behind while her people go out to fight."

Sitting up straighter in the bed, her attention centered on the auburn haired girl, Brooke didn't release her emerald eyes from her gaze. "How did that haunted look get there Tara, who are the ghosts that chase her to battle?" She asked, desperate to understand the sorrow buried in her wife's chocolate brown eyes.

"When Lady Sam came back from schooling for the break during her fourteenth year, there was a terrible incident." Taking a deep breath, Tara looked down at Brooke's hand, still held between her own. "A band of thieves were going around harassing the farmers and local villagers. The Lady and her three closest friends went out ridding to celebrate her home coming for the short time." A tear slipped down her cheek, falling onto the deep crimson bed spread. "She rode out with Thomas Stone, a young Simon Tavis, and my older brother Daylan O'Brian." Lifting her gaze back to Brooke's, tears continuing to run softly and silently down her cheeks. "On their way back they ran into the thieves...Only Samantha and a wounded Simon made it back to the palace alive. Since she was fourteen she's blamed herself for the deaths of Thomas and Daylan. Now, she refuses to loose any more men."

"She rides into battle to protect her men." Brooke whispered out on an exhaled breath, her own eyes misting over. "I am sorry for you loss Tara, but it's not Sam's fault it happened."

The young maid's lips trembled in a watery smile. "You can not tell the Lady that, no one ever felt her responsible, only herself." Looking toward the window, Tara's tone dropped into a low tone as her thoughts carried her away. "Daylan, Thomas, and Simon where the brothers she never had, and she told me often enough that I was her sister. Simon told me that when the thieves set upon them, Sam charged in ahead of them, but there was no way she could fight them all. When Thomas and Daylan were struck down, he said that she became a blur of speed, cutting down one man after another to get to their sides." Looking to Brooke again, she took a deep breath as she finished. "She fought ten men off on her own to protect all three of them and brought them home, only Thomas and Daylan didn't survive the trip."

"Oh poor Sam. She was so young, it's no wonder she closed herself off to everyone." Brooke whispered, wiping away the tears that trickled down her cheeks.

"Yes my Lady, she did close herself off." Locking her eyes with the blonde's hazel orbs, Tara smiled softly. "But those walls are tumbling now, and it's because of you. What ever you are doing my Lady Brooke, it's causing our Lord to feel again. It's been nearly six years since anyone's heard her laugh or seen a real smile upon her face, and you're the only one who's been able to accomplish that."

As Tara finished her last words a dishevelled Cole burst into the bedchamber. Glancing at Tara for a moment, his usually shy demeanor fell as he looked into Brooke's worried eyes. "Lady Sam has been injured, Sir Simon and Domonic are on their way up here, I was sent ahead to get things prepared." His voice was a little shaky as he went about the room gathering things he might need. "She's lost a lot of blood and is unconscious, it was a stab wound and will need stitching, can you do it Lady Brooke?"

Snapping out of her shocked state, the blonde jumped off the bed quickly. "Yes, of course. Tara go get a needle and thread, have one of the other maids bring up warm water, a few cloths, and some soap." Brooke snapped out orders as she rolled up the sleeves of her gown. [Alright, you can do this, part of being taught to be a Lady includes nursing, you can do this.] Hearing the clomping of heavily booted feet, she watched as the two soldiers carried her unconscious wife in to the room and placed her on the bed. [By the Gods there's so much blood.]

PART 22:

Lady Jane was downstairs going from one wounded man to another, none were seriously hurt, for which she was grateful. Even as she cleaned out and bandaged lacerations on the men, her mind was on the daughter she'd sent upstairs to Brooke. [She was raised to be a Lady, she'll know what to do, she'll keep my Samantha with us. I was right to send her to Brooke, the girl has to learn about this, she has to learn about the hard times we face, there are more ahead. How Bio Glass managed to gain followers of any kind, I'll never know. I'd rather side with the Julian's, ruthless as they are, but Glass has gained herself the wrong enemy by coming after my daughter. Sam will not stand by and be attacked, and Brooke need to be strong to handle this.]

"All of the men are present and accounted for, any word on our Sam?" Lord Robert asked as he walked up to his wife. When Jane simply shook her head, he wrapped his arms around the brunette and kissed her forehead softly. "She's a strong girl, and one too stubborn to die without getting even. The Lady Brooke will keep her with us." His voice was a low whisper as he echoed his wife's earlier thoughts out loud.

"How did it happen, did you find out?" Lady Jane asked softly, resting her cheek on her husbands chest, wrapping her arms around his middle.

Running a hand over his wife's soft hair, Lord Robert nodded. "Yes, it happened after the battle. She and the men were gathering up those who were still on Glass's side, readying them to be put in the dungeon. While Cole, her squire, was chaining up one man, he broke free from his hold and pulled out a dagger. Cole told me that before he could react, Sam had pushed him out of the way and the dagger was buried to the hilt in her side."

"Our poor baby." She responded on a light breath, her arms tightening around her husband.

Kissing his wife's head once again, Robert rested his chin on her head. "She's not going anywhere Jane. Give it a few days and she'll be insisting that she can ride out again." Pulling back to look Jane in the eye, his hands rubbed up and down her shoulders. "I'm going to question the men who were brought into the dungeons, will you be alright?"

Leaning up to kiss her husband quickly, she gave a shaky smile. "I'll be fine, Sir Domonic has promised to keep me informed about Sam. I think I'll wait `till tomorrow to see her, I want to give Brooke her time alone with her." She kissed Robert once more before watching him walk away, then went off to give to check the men at arms again.

PART 23:

Brooke took a step back from the bed, inspecting the tiny row of neat stitches she'd put in Sam's side. Taking in a few deep quivering breaths, she ran her shaky hands down her sides and motioned Tara forward. "Did you get a cloth for her head and some bandages to put over the stitching?" When the little maid nodded, she gave the girl a week smile. "You can just leave them with me, I'm sure you want to go see Cole."

Presenting the blonde with a small curtsey, Tara smiled and walked toward the door. "Thank you my Lady, and you did very well with our Lord, there'll hardly be a scar."

Nodding her head to the comment, Brooke looked back at Sam's prone form on the bed. "Thank you Tara, and try to convince Cole that this wasn't his doing." Turning her gaze back to the auburn haired girl, she sighed softly. "You could see the guilt in his eyes, don't let his become haunted too."

"Yes my Lady." Tara whispered softly as she quietly ducked out the door.

Walking over to the small table, Brooke gathered up the extra bandages and bowl of warm water. Supplies in hand, she went back over to the brunette's bedside. Wrapping a bandage around Sam's middle, over the deep gash on the right side of the girl's lower torso. When she had finished with that she rang out the cloth under the warm water in the bowl, starting sponging the sweat from Sam's brow and neck. Leaning down she softly whispered, "Please Sammy, stay with me, please. You promised you'd try to come back, don't stop trying now, come out of this and back to me."

Sir Domonic slipped around in the shadows, watching the exchange between Brooke and an unconscious Sam. When the blonde leaned forward with tears in her eyes and whispered her pleas a sad smile could be found upon his face. [You finally have her love Samantha, I suspect you've had it all along. How could I've believed that such a gentle creature would only use and hurt Sam? Brooke is no Cecile, the love she feels for our Lord has been in every thing she's done. How can Sam be so blind to it still?] Domonic slid quietly out the door as Brooke placed a tender kiss on the brunette's forehead.

PART 24:

The fiery sharp tips of fever had clawed their way into the brunette's flesh, causing her skin to burn up and her mind to fall into the shifting fogs of delirium. Throughout the night Brooke stayed beside her wife, whispering reassurance when she got upset, sponging her brow to clear off the sweat and cool her down, and rocking her gently in her arms when the brunette became particularly distraught.

"Thomas.....no please....didn't mean....my ....my fault...." Sam mumbled out softly, tossing her head back and forth, squirming underneath the covers. "Cecile....yes....I'm....I'm sorry....no.....no...." Her breathing became shallow pants and her brow was scrunched up as if she were in pain. Her dark hair was matted to her forehead with the stickiness of her sweat, hanging limply about her on the damp pillows.

At the first sound of Sam's voice, Brooke bolted up out of the chair she'd been dozing in at the girl's bedside. Going over to sit on the side of the fluffy mattress, she pushed the hairs off her wife's face as she leaned in close to the brunette. "Shh, shh Sammy. It's alright Sam, you're home and you're safe. No one's going to hurt you, I promise you're safe now, every thing's alright Sammy." Leaning closer still, she gently kissed the woman's warm forehead as a tear slipped down her cheek.

"Brooke?" Sam whispered out in a scratchy voice, her brown eyes opened into glazed over slits. Looking up at the blonde beside her, but not really seeing her, still lost in the hazy realities of the fever. "My Brooke, my ice princess....why do you hate me?" Reaching up she took hold of the hand that was smoothing her hair back, bringing it down to her chest to hold over her heart. "It beats for you, why... why don't you want it... don't you want me?" Her eyes began to droop and her breathing became more regulated as she tried to stay focused on the blonde in her delirious state. "Mine, my Broo..." Her voice trailed off as the darkness reached up and pulled her back underneath it's blanket.

Brooke's bottom lip trembled as the hot tears created rivulets down her cheeks, falling to the bed spread covering Sam's chest. "Oh Sammy." Kissing the brunette's lips slowly, she pulled back to look at the girl's features. "I don't hate you Sammy, I never did, I love you. I love you, and I am you Brooke, I've always been you Brooke." Laying down beside the brunette, she lifted the girl's head to rest it on her chest, her hand going back to smoothing the hairs back. Sighing softly, she kissed Sam's temple tenderly. "I'm yours Sam, my heat beats for you too, just come back to me." Tightening her arms around her wife, she nuzzled her hot cheek lovingly. "Please come back to me Sam, my Sam." She whispered into the girl's ear before drifting into a light sleep, knowing she'd be woken again by Sam's fatigued muttering.

Section 3



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