rough, unpolished. Merry Christmas.


The Shepherd

Chapter 9B

They Comfort Me

December 25th

3:24 AM

Genevieve rolled over, ear automatically tuned to the sound of her son’s breathing. Or crying. Automatically, she reached behind her, realization that Guy’s familiar body was not spooned against hers. If anything, his side of the bed was cold. Looking over her shoulder, she saw his familiar outline, shadowed against the back window.

He was hugging something, or someone, close to his bare chest.


She struggled from the bed. It was getting easier to move; the pain of childbirth, now three weeks past. She didn’t waddle as much, and the bleeding had slowed to a nasty discharge, but she still had occasional periods of discomfort. It was worth it.

She took her bathrobe from the post and made her way around the bed. “Guy?” Her husband turned her, his sharp profile carving shadow on the wall. “Is he hungry?”


What are you doing?” She tossed the robe about her, struggling to get the sleeves on before belting it.

Getting to know my son.” He kissed the crown of Roger’s head, a tiny head covered with black, inky curls. “Watching the snow.”

With that statement, Genevieve chuckled. “Guy. This is the South! We don’t get snow. We get leaves.”

Hmm mmm.”

Really, we get le-” she came alongside her husband and her son. “-aves… what the-” her voice trailed off.

In the small, meticulously landscaped (by Bradley, no less) backyard, thousands of brightly twinkling snowflakes danced about the wintering bushes. There was no accumulation, but the moon shone bright and reflected off tiny wings.

Fairies,” the Lord of Gisborne whispered. “The fairies of Nottingham.”

Genevieve’s hand slipped to her husband’s elbow. “That can’t be fairies. There are no such thing!”

Shh. They will hear. They’re quite sensitive.” He looked down at her. “Next you’ll tell me there are no such thing as angels.” With this, he tucked the baby under his chin. “They’ve come a long way to greet the next Earl of Huntington.” He nodded behind him. “Angels have come as well.”

Wide-eyed, Genevieve turned to glance over her own shoulder. “Val?”

Her office manager was dressed in officious long robes, wings tucked behind her, along with several others, before fading and winking out.

A familiar little blue-haired angel giggled, before waving her fingers and disappearing, leaving blue glitter swirling in the air, before flickering out. Without realizing it, Genevieve realized she was waggling back. She dropped her hand. “Uhm… Guy?”

Roger snorfled in a way only babies could. Guy repositioned him on his shoulder and inhaled sweet baby scent.

Leather. My children smell of leather.

For a moment, he thought of the merchant’s daughter Queen Elizabeth gave him to wive. The young woman brought a thriving business, money, and Ripleys into that marriage.

She was also a whore and attempted to pass off her third child as his, but the girl didn’t smell right. At least he did get a legitimate son and daughter out of that union. And with Elizabeth giving him the ruins of Ripleys, marrying the whore was worth it.

He shook his head. He’d not thought of her in at least two lifetimes.

Guy?” Roger, even though asleep, had grasped his mother’s finger. “He’s beautiful.”

Of course he is,” the man whispered jovially. “He looks like me.”

Even Genevieve snickered.

Go back to bed.” He nodded toward the the place she just rose from. “He’ll be hungry in an hour or two and our home will be busy and noisy soon after that.”

Our home is already full,” she retorted. This much was true. Her grandmother and Guy’s mother had been in residence for three weeks, since Roger’s birth. Archer was ensconced at Genevieve’s condo, but he and Frederick were due for dinner at noon, a meal she was told not to worry about. Their family room tree was over-burdened with Christmas gifts for Roger, gifts not only from his parents, his grandparents, but from family, Genevieve’s friends and employees and Guy’s relatives and fellow solicitors in England. There was even one from one Lamar Robencourt. Twice, Guy tried to ease it out and toss it, but Genevieve stopped him both times, wagging that finger he threatened to bite.

Personally, Guy thought it ridiculous to wrap so much under the tree for a three-week old baby.

But Genevieve insisted and she typically got her way.


He watched her shrug from her bathrobe, hang it on the post, and crawl into bed. As her breathing evened out, he turned back to the view in the back yard, fairies dancing and flitting like fireflies. He buried his nose into soft baby flesh again.