A.N.: This story may be read without reading Heart's Recovery first, but it probably won't make near as much sense if you do. Heart's Recovery tells the story of Talia Tabris after the Blight and the three men who love and care for her the most; her father, King Alistair, and Ser Perth. For this story, all you need to know is that Athdara Perth is Ser Perth's mother.
This story is a piece of fiction based on fictional characters, and I personally neither condone nor judge their actions.
Thanks to Blightsworn and Ladyamesindy for their wonderful input and beta reading.
Many, but not all, of the characters here are OCs that I've created, but the rest and the world structure itself belong to Bioware.
Nine months before the birth of Dane Perth, approximately Bloomingtide 9:04 Dragon Age
Athdara Perth ghosted in through the doorless entry to the old abandoned mill a short way out of Redcliffe Village proper, knowing this was a mistake and that she shouldn't have returned. Athdara told herself she wasn't even sure why she was here, but deep inside, if only she would admit it to herself, she knew exactly why.
Sixteen months before the birth of Ser Perth, approximately Kingsway 9:03 Dragon Age
Her husband, Durell had recently been given the position of seneschal of Redcliffe Castle by Arl Eamon. Athdara, as Durell's wife, didn't have an actual position in the castle, but she was kept busy taking care of their two children, Rendorn and baby Rowena, and their rooms that came with Durell's new position. Athdara was a social creature and liked to get out and about as often as possible. That day, shortly after lunch, Athdara had tied Rowena to a carrying board she then placed on her back and was holding Rendorn's hand as they crossed the courtyard of the castle and headed down the path to the village itself. Athdara liked to visit with Sister Hannah in the chantry. Sister Hannah was older than Athdara, but the two women had become fast friends shortly after Hannah's arrival in the village.
As they were heading down the path and drawing near one of the blind corners the path made in its twists and turns, Athdara heard the tramp of feet and the jingling of armor. Not thinking anything of it as the path was often traveled by those who lived in the castle, she drew Rendorn to one side so they walked along the side giving access to those she heard approaching. Three men, who were strangers to her and dressed in full armor and carrying swords on their back, came into view. Two of the men seemed to be out of breath from the climb up the hill, but the third man looked at her with an impudent grin before calling out to her, "Good afternoon, Mistress," and then sweeping into a full bow (not an easy feat as heavily armored as he was).
Athdara was not used to such flamboyance here in Redcliffe. "Good afternoon," she returned, pausing as the men stopped. The other two men seemed grateful for the break. The third man, the one who had spoken, was tall and broad through the chest, but it was the irresistible grin and head of auburn hair that caught her attention. He wore his hair long for a fighter well past his shoulders, but contained in braids that he had tied back at the nape of his neck. His eyes were hazel and he wore a short beard and mustache.
"I take it we are not far from the castle itself?" he inquired.
"The castle is just up the path," Athdara answered as Rendorn held tightly to her hand and quietly watched the men in armor from the safety of his mother's side
"We are advance party for Arl Bryland," the man informed her helpfully. "I'm Tristan Maddoc, captain of the arl's household guard."
"Greetings, ser," replied Athdara with a small dip of the knee. "My name is Athdara Perth. My husband is seneschal for Arl Eamon. I thought Arl Bryland wasn't to arrive until tomorrow?"
Tristan grinned at her. "We made excellent time on the road. Hopefully, it won't be a problem."
Athdara shrugged a shoulder. "I'm sure it will be fine. Durell will certainly have everything ready for the visit," she said with a lack of interest.
Tristan raised an eyebrow at Athdara's words, but didn't follow up on her comment.
Rendorn began tugging on her hand, "Mother, let's go," he whined as he began to pull her down the path.
Tristan walked over to her, took the hand Rendorn wasn't clutching, and bowed over it, "Well, Athdara it is always a pleasure to meet a beautiful woman, but unfortunately you have a young gent with a prior claim to your time right now. Perhaps I will be lucky enough to see you again while we are in Redcliffe," he stated as he looked earnestly into her eyes.
Athdara was flustered. With her flaming red hair, gray eyes, and slim figure she often drew admiring glances, but she wasn't used to what she was seeing in this man's eyes. She saw want and need, and the fact that her body responded to his gaze alarmed her. Athdara pulled her hand from his grasp and said coolly, "Perhaps, Ser Maddoc. That is in the Maker's hands." Athdara started down the path with Rendorn leading the way. She couldn't resist looking back over her shoulder; however, and she saw that Ser Maddoc stood watching her. Athdara could feel his eyes following her as she made her way down to the village.
Over the next few days, it seemed Athdara couldn't step outside of her and Durell's rooms without running into Arl Bryland's handsome guard captain. With each meeting, she was drawn to him more and more. Like a moth to a flame, she was unable to escape the fascination she was developing for him. Athdara knew it was wrong and she prayed to the Maker every time she went to the chantry asking him to remove these feelings from her. She was a married woman with two children; she should not be having these thoughts about a man not her husband. Athdara thought about Ser Maddoc at night as she laid beside Durell listening to him snore, and then when she would finally drop off into sleep, there the man would be in her dreams. Athdara was convinced she was driving herself mad.
The days of the arl's visit passed, and finally the time was drawing near for him and his party to return to South Reach. On the morning of the last full day of his visit, Athdara encountered Ser Maddoc in the village. With the knowledge of his imminent departure in both their minds, Ser Maddoc was even more blatant in his attention to her, and Athdara almost fled his presence. The urge to throw herself at the man was just too great.
Athdara made arrangements for one of the maids in the castle to watch Rendorn and Rowena for the afternoon. She had to get away from Redcliffe and away from Ser Maddoc. She knew she should just stay in her own rooms for the day, but she needed to escape to somewhere she could find some solitude and examine her runaway feelings and emotions without interruption. Durell liked to see her in proper dress as suited their position in the arl's household, but for this afternoon, Athdara dressed in tunic and breeches. Once the maid arrived to care for the children, Athdara threw her cloak on and hurried away from the castle, heading for the woods that surrounded the village and the solitude she so desired. Little did she know that she was observed leaving the castle, and a tall figure shadowed her journey away from the town.
It had been drizzling most of the day, but now a thunderstorm moved through sending rain lashing down and wind whistling through the trees. Athdara had been too caught up in her thoughts of Ser Maddoc to pay any attention to the sky, and the storm caught her by surprise. With an almost hunted feeling, she heard a voice she recognized as Ser Maddoc's calling for her. As he was between her and the village, Athdara turned and darted away. She knew these woods well having lived here the past few years, and the shelter of the old mill wasn't far away.
Tristan was surprised how fleet of foot Athdara was as she raced through the woods and finally came to the large stream that eventually flowed through Redcliffe. He caught a glimpse of her fiery red hair as a portion had escaped the hood of her cloak. She ducked down a trail that led to an abandoned building that looked like an old mill house. He followed calling for her, but she refused to stop or slow down. She raced into the building, the door long having been removed from its frame to be used in some other part of the village, but at least it was dry inside.
The inside of the building was dim in the low light of the day. Athdara moved to the far side of the large room that the entrance to the building revealed. She had to take care to pick her way through the debris that was left on the floor, but she finally made it to the far wall. She was breathing hard from her run, and her heart was beating so fast she thought it might jump right out of her chest. She couldn't believe Ser Maddoc, the very person she was trying to avoid, had followed her, and she was now stuck with him for the duration of the storm. She hugged herself as she began shaking from the cold rain that had penetrated her cloak. Athdara leaned against the stone wall praying he would keep his distance.
That was a foolish hope as he followed her across the littered floor. "Athdara," was all he said, but the tone of his voice sent a shiver down her spine almost as if he ran his hand along her back in a caress.
Athdara turned to him nearly at the end of her rope. She had tried so hard to stay away from him. She hadn't asked for him to come barrelling into her life. She hadn't asked to have him take over her thoughts and dreams. She certainly hadn't asked for him to follow her today. "Don't touch me," she hissed at him as she began to back away, honestly not knowing what she would do if he ignored her warning.
Tristan heard the edge of hysteria in her voice and could see her agitation. He held out both his hands so she could see them and said in as gentle a tone as he could, "Athdara, it's all right. You're freezing. You need to take off that cloak. It's soaked through." Tristan slowly removed his own allowing her to watch as he draped it across an abandoned chair missing two of its legs that was lying on the floor.
Athdara hated to give up the protection of the cloak, but she knew Ser Maddoc was right. It was heavy, sodden with the rain it had absorbed, and she was getting colder by the minute. Reluctantly, she removed it and allowed him to draw it away from her hands and drape it so it could begin to dry. She once again wrapped her arms around herself to try and conserve some of her body's heat.
"Athdara, this is foolish. You will make yourself ill. Let me warm you," Tristan said as he eased closer to her.
"No," she exclaimed in alarm. Athdara moved rapidly backwards, almost in a panic, but without looking where she was going. She tripped over a piece of debris lying in her path and almost landed on the floor of the mill.
Tristan seeing she was going to fall lunged for her, grabbing solidly onto her arm and jerking her to him. He took advantage of the fact that she was still off balance and quickly drew her into the warmth of his body, wrapping his arms around her and holding her as gently as he would a child. Her skin was cold against him, but he could feel the warmth of her breath as it puffed against the side of his neck.
At the touch of Ser Maddoc's hands against her skin, Athdara went completely still as feelings she had never felt and almost didn't understand went racing through her. He moved so quickly in saving her from her fall that Athdara wasn't entirely sure how she ended up cradled against him. The strong scent of man drifted over her. Durell always seemed to smell of ink as he worked the castle's accounts and directed the flow of the arl's household. Ser Maddoc's scent was entirely different and totally male. She caught the tangs of armor oil, sweat, and a woodsy scent that attracted her as much as the rumble of his voice or the solid lines of his body. It would only take a slight movement for her to turn her head and bury her face into the line of his shoulder and neck, but Athdara stilled that impulse as soon as it came. For long minutes neither moved nor spoke. Athdara could feel the heat from his body warming her, and she was oh so tempted to relax into the circle of his arms. What am I doing? He doesn't have the right to touch me like this, and I certainly shouldn't allow him to. However, she continued to stand in the shelter of his body unable to force herself away from him.
It was Tristan who broke first. "Athdara," he said half as a groan, half pleadingly as he brought one hand up to run down the side of her face.
Athdara shivered at the touch of his fingertips against her cheek. She was no blushing virgin. She gave her body to her husband whenever he wanted her, but she never really desired Durell. The feelings this man caused with just a simple touch confused her. She wanted to press her naked body against his while he filled her, and the force of that desire terrified her.
"No," Athdara said shakily as she tried to step away from him. "This is wrong, Ser Maddoc."
Tristan, not wanting to lose her now, wrapped his other arm back around her so Athdara was held and unable to move away from him. He dropped his head so his lips were right outside her ear. "My name is Tristan. I want to hear it from your lips," he whispered to her.
Athdara shook her head hard without answering, once again trying to move away from him, but Ser Maddoc's arms were like steel bands holding her trapped against him. The spurt of anger she felt at him using his superior strength to contain her caused her to lift her head, straighten her body, look him right in the eye, and challenge him by saying, "I didn't realize South Reach knights forced unwilling women to their embrace."
Tristan, already aroused, wanted her more than ever as the spirit under Athdara's beauty came alive. The fierce look in her gray eyes that balanced the flaming crown of her hair, the way she held herself, and the emotion he could hear in her voice all fanned the desire that this woman had created inside him. "Ah, but that is the question, isn't it 'Dara?' he asked in a soft, almost dangerous voice. "Just how unwilling are you?" Athdara's breath was taken away as he released his hold on her body, grasped both sides of her face in his hands, and claimed her mouth for his own.
Athdara knew she was lost the instant his lips touched hers. She tried so hard to resist him, but there was no denying the man who was kissing her now. She brought her arms up intending to push him away, but somehow they ended up wrapped around his neck as their bodies pressed together and they hungrily devoured each other. Athdara had never been kissed like this before in her life. With Durell, she had felt some mild pleasure, but the sensations sweeping through her now were totally beyond her experience or her control. Athdara had been betrothed and married to Durell by her father before her eighteenth birthday and had no other experience with men (besides a stolen kiss in a barn when she was sixteen).
Tristan was shocked by the desire and need he felt for the woman in his arms. Being an attractive man, he had garnered the attention of quite a few ladies in his time, but none had caused the immediate and continued need to possess that he felt from the first moment he had laid eyes on Athdara. The feel of her warm, pliable lips beneath his and the firmness of her body under his hands only made his need for her increase. As his tongue continued to explore her mouth, he sent one hand questing up under her tunic. He stroked the warm, soft skin of her belly with the tips of his fingers as he ran them higher seeking her breasts. Tristan heard 'Dara gasp as his hand pushed her breastband out of the way and then was filled with the softness of her flesh. He ran his thumb gently over the hardened tip of her nipple and was rewarded when her entire body bucked against him as she moaned deeply in her throat. Tristan allowed his fingers to play for a moment or two inflaming the desire she felt for him before removing his hand and guiding them both to the floor. Tristan pushed the debris out of his way so he could lay her below him. He had to have her and soon. His body was near exploding with the need to be inside her.
Athdara knew she should not be doing this, but she couldn't summon the will to stop. Her entire body was aflame and the only one who could quench that fire was Tristan. When Tristan untied the laces to her tunic and drew it off to lay it beneath her, she did the same to his. She was rewarded with the sight of his bare chest with its firm muscles and healed scars adorned by a chain with a Maker's amulet dangling from it. Her hands reached out of their own accord to run over him, learning the firmness of his flesh and the lines and curves of his body. She was amazed at the strength and solidness of the man beneath her fingertips, so different from Durell's clerk's body with its softness and extra fat. When Tristan's hands went to the ties of her breeches, all thoughts of resistance were gone. She eagerly lifted her hips from the floor as he pulled down both her breeches and the smallclothes beneath, removing them along with her boots.
A groan was drawn from Tristan as he looked at the naked woman lying on the floor in front of him. "By the Maker, 'Dara, you are a beautiful woman." He had meant to remove his own breeches next but was overtaken by the need to taste her sweetness. He pressed his lips first to her belly and then ran his lips down her skin to find the slick wetness at her center and proceeded to treat himself to the taste of her.
Athdara was startled when his lips and tongue had caressed the skin of her belly. When he moved between her legs, she started to rise up in protest. Durell had certainly never done anything like that before. When he wanted her, Durell rolled on top of her, took his pleasure, and then it was finished. Tristan calmed her with hands and voice before he ran his tongue up the slit of her body, and Athdara was shocked by the sensations that caused within her. When his tongue found her most sensitive area and began to lick her, Athdara was lost in feelings she hadn't even known existed. Her fingers grasped at the braids of his hair and her body writhed beneath his ministrations needing more. Athdara lost all concept of time as the waves of feeling crashed over her.
"Please," she begged, not sure if she was asking him to stop or do even more wicked things to her. When her body convulsed beneath his sure, insistent touch, Athdara clenched her teeth to keep from screaming. It felt to her as if the sensations would never stop, but afterward Tristan gave her no chance to regroup.
Tristan raised his head and moved up her body, raining kisses along her skin and taking one peaked nipple into his mouth. Finally, he continued up her neck and returned to her mouth. Athdara could taste herself on his lips, a new experience for her. He kissed her deeply and thoroughly before drawing back to look into her eyes. "I want you, 'Dara," he said with a catch in his voice. He had never in his life wanted a woman more than he wanted her.
"Yes," Athdara answered huskily. "I want you too." She was too far gone in sensation to worry now about right and wrong.
"My name," Tristan insisted, determined to wring this much from her. "Tell me who you want."
"Tristan," Athdara whispered against his lips and Tristan felt a flare of triumph. Why he needed her acknowledgment he wasn't sure, but it caused an answering response in him.
'Dara said his name over and over as if the first time had released something and now she couldn't stop. His hands quickly had his breeches undone as he hurriedly pushed them and his smallclothes out of his way and kicked off his boots. He moved into position above her as she lay open before him. Tristan had meant to take her gently and be a considerate lover, but he had held himself back too long. As he started to enter her, he could tell his tongue and lips had made the necessary preparations for her body to accept him. With a groan, he pushed forcefully inside and buried himself in her. 'Dara's answering moan was a spur that goaded him on, and Tristan began to ride her as hard and fast as he could. He was rewarded by her hips rising to meet every thrust of his and in the way her arms clung to him, as if he was her only stability in the storm that was erupting between them.
Tristan continued his thrusts until he felt her body tightening around him. With a wail, 'Dara called his name one final time as the shuddering sensations moved through her, and her entire body clenched against him. Tristan made a series of fast, short strokes that wrung a wordless cry from him as his release came right behind hers. When the waves of pleasure had finished, Tristan gathered her to him as he rolled to his side, drawing 'Dara into the shelter of his body offering his warmth to her.
Athdara laid passive in Tristan's arms, still recovering mentally and physically from what had just happened between them. She had never known such feelings could exist, and she was couldn't believe it was this stranger rather than her own husband who had made her feel them. It didn't take long before the cold and dampness forced her into movement. She pulled away from Tristan to begin dressing.
"'Dara," he said tenderly
Athdara raised a hand. "No," she said with a shake of her head. "Don't say anything." Athdara dressed as quickly as she could as the guilt for what she had done settled on her heart. She had not only broken vows she had taken in front of the Maker, but she had betrayed Durell and her children. By the time she was finished dressing, she was barely managing to keep the tears she could feel prickling at the corners of her eyes at bay.
Athdara looked outside. The storm had lightened significantly, but the rain still fell. At this point, Athdara didn't care. She had to get away from Tristan. She needed to be home with her children. Athdara turned back into the mill house and headed for where Tristan had laid out her cloak
Once Tristan finished dressing and pulling his boots back on, he just watched 'Dara. He could almost see the guilt and unhappiness settle over her. Tristan felt his own brand of guilt. He had certainly never meant to cause her hurt. "Athdara," Tristan tried again when he saw that she was preparing to leave.
Athdara ignored Tristan as she pulled her cloak on. "Don't follow me," she ordered before slipping out the door.
Tristan went through behind her. "Wait, don't go yet," he said. "I have to leave tomorrow. I won't have a chance to see you again."
Athdara answered him without turning around. "I think that is for the best," she said. "I wish you safe journey, Ser Maddoc," and then she was gone.
Now seven months later, Arl Bryland and his escort had ridden into Redcliffe a few days ago. Athdara had been dreading the visit ever since Durell had told her about it. It had taken her a long time to put what had happened that day with Tristan behind her. She had spent more time than she would ever admit thinking about him and how he had made her feel that day. Regardless, Athdara was determined to avoid the man as much as possible. It was two days after his arrival before she encountered him in the village. She had Rendorn and Rowena with her. Rowena was too large for the carry board anymore, and Athdara was carrying her in her arms as the little girl was now over one year old. She came out of the chantry (where Athdara had spent many hours praying to the Maker over what she had done) on her way back to the castle. Athdara climbed the first hill and was resting at the bridge before starting up the next rise. Her heart sank as she saw Tristan coming down the path toward her. She turned giving her attention to Rowena, hoping Tristan would pass her by without the need to speak.
"Good morning, Mistress Perth," came Tristan's voice, the familiar tones causing a tingle of excitement along her skin. For a moment, Athdara considered pretending she hadn't heard him, but she knew that was foolish and at least he was being discreet as the path was open and fairly heavily traveled.
Athdara took a deep breath and turned to face him. "Ser Maddoc, welcome back to Redcliffe," she replied coolly, although she felt as if her heart skipped a beat at the sight of him.
"Are you heading back to the castle?" he asked.
"Yes," she replied. "I must get my children home for lunch."
"Allow me to escort you up the path," he offered.
"No," Aldara replied sharply and then modulated her tone as Rendorn looked up quickly at her, catching her anxiety. "Thank you for the offer, Ser Maddoc, but that isn't necessary."
"Let me help you up the hill, Athdara. I'll carry your daughter," Tristan stated as he made a come-to-me gesture to Rowena.
Athdara was surprised when Rowena held out her arms and went to the man.
Tristan grinned at her. "Little girls love me," he said in response to Athdara's expression.
I bet it's not just little girls, Athdara thought as she could feel her resolve to avoid him start to melt away just standing beside him in the street. "Follow me then," she said determined to make it up the hill to the castle in record time. Holding firmly to Rendorn's hand, she started off. Tristan easily fell into step beside her, talking nonsense to Rowena and making faces that caused laughter to erupt from the toddler.
Tristan threw surreptitious glances around and when they were alone on the path, he said very quietly without looking at her, "Meet me at the mill this afternoon."
"No," she replied just as quietly and without looking at him.
"Please, 'Dara," he was surprised to find himself begging. Tristan needed to reassure himself that she was okay and that their unplanned tryst all those months ago hadn't adversely affected her. Or that's what he told himself anyway; it couldn't have anything to do with the fact that he had been unable to forget her and he wanted to see her again.
"No," she repeated and then was quiet until they reached the castle gate. She turned to her daughter. "Come to Mother now, Rowena. Thank you for your help up the hill, Ser Maddoc. Please don't let us keep you any longer. Good day." Athdara reclaimed Rowena and turned to stride off, heading for the servant's entrance.
"Good day, Mistress," Tristan answered unhappily as the guards at the castle's gate were close enough to overhear every word they said.
Athdara had seen him twice more, once in the castle itself and once again in the village, before she weakened and agreed to meet him at the mill that afternoon. Why she had agreed, she had no idea, especially since after his last visit Athdara had promised herself she would stay away from the man and avoid him at all costs. She knew with the way that Tristan still affected her senses that this was a very bad idea. She told herself she was doing it so he would stop pestering her and that his demand for her to meet him every time he saw her only increased the likelihood that someone would overhear and become curious as to the nature of the relationship between Arl Bryant's guard captain and the seneschal's wife. Ever since his return to Redcliffe, she had slept poorly and thought of hardly anything or anyone but Tristan. Underneath it all, Athdara just wasn't willing to admit that she desperately wanted to see him and spend what little bit of time in his company that she could.
After entering the large room, Athdara refused to look over by the wall where she had lain with Tristan the last time they were here. She should have suggested another location for their meeting, but she was fairly certain that here they would remain undetected by anyone from the village.
Tristan quietly slipped into the room behind her. "I was afraid you would change your mind and not show," he said softly.
At the sound of his voice, Athdara whirled around as she was caught off guard at the stealthiness of his approach. She crossed her arms over her chest in an unconscious movement to protect herself from him. "I said I would be here," she replied with a defensive tone in her voice. "Now, what do you want?"
Tristan had only meant to ensure that she was all right and that she had not suffered any consequences from what had occurred between them. With her standing in front of him, however, he once again felt the desire to hold her in his arms. Tristan had thought about her more than was good for him over the past six months, and he felt as if his stomach had been in knots ever since his lord had first discussed the return trip to Redcliffe with him. "I just needed to be sure you were all right, and there were no consequences to my actions from my last visit. I've thought about you a lot while I was in South Reach and…I wanted to make sure you were well."
Athdara just looked at the man. This was the last thing she had expected to hear from him. She had assumed he would have forgotten her ten minutes after he had finished with her. She spoke without thinking, "You thought about me?" She wanted to pull the words back as soon as they left her lips, but it was too late.
Tristan took the opportunity to glide closer to her as he answered her in a soft voice. "Of course I did, 'Dara. I hope you didn't think I was the type of man who engages in a series of meaningless tumbles always with an eye out to the next conquest."
Athdara flushed slightly as this was exactly what she had thought. She had figured she was just the latest in a long line of women.
Tristan reached out and gently ran one finger down the side of her face. Athdara thought about moving away from him, but she was entranced by the earnest look in his eye. "There is something about you, Athdara that calls so strongly to me. I have thought about you more than you could possibly imagine these last months in South Reach," Tristan admitted.
Athdara swallowed hard as she felt her body respond to his nearness. All she wanted to do was press herself against him and let him hold her again.
Tristan saw the conflict she was feeling and knew she was fighting a war inside herself. He dropped his head to capture her mouth. Tristan knew he should let her come to her own decision, but with their time together so limited, he was willing to use any tactics available to claim her once again.
Athdara saw Tristan's movement and knew he was going to kiss her. She quickly raised her hand so his lips encountered her fingers instead. "Tristan, this is still wrong,"
Tristan, not about to be dissuaded, kissed her fingers and drew them into his mouth as he let the desire he felt for her show in his eyes.
Heat spread through Athdara's body at the combined feel of Tristan's mouth sucking gently on her fingertips and the look he gave her, which left her no doubt that he wanted her.
Tristan released her fingers and moved even closer so he could whisper in her ear. "Let me love you properly, 'Dara, the way I should have the first time," he said. He then wrapped his arms around her as he pressed his lips to her temple.
"Tristan," Athdara moaned. The feel of his lips against her skin, his scent, her own desire, and the knowledge that she had already broken her marriage vows all overcame her initial resistance to him.
Tristan felt the tension in her body release when she gave in to the desire between them. He pulled her sharply to him, kissing her deeply before he gently lowered her to the floor…
About two months after Tristan left Redcliffe, Athdara knew she was pregnant. She had not had her monthly flow since well before his visit. As a mother of two, she knew what this heralded. Athdara ran a hand over her still flat belly, wondering whether the father of the child she now carried was her husband or her lover.