It all started with a simple question that a reader asked in the comments. She mentioned the scene I had written from Gavin’s POV and asked if I had plans to do the same for Rhys.
Boy, did that get the wheels in my head turning. Which scene could I do? There were so many great ones that I thought would be excellent from his perspective. How could I choose??
Then I realized I didn’t have to choose. There certainly wasn’t a limit on the number of scenes I could amuse myself by rewriting. And believe me, it WAS amusing. I was surprised at how much fun I had and how completely alive Rhys was in my head. You guys know I don’t write from men’s points of view. There is a reason for that, several in fact. But somehow I didn’t mind getting into Rhys’s head, maybe because I already knew what he was thinking. Regardless, the result is that I rewrote three scenes. Enjoy.
Caution: If you have not read Missing Lily, please don’t read these scenes! They will spoil the plot for you. Go read Missing Lily first, then come back and enjoy these extras.
I sat outside Lily’s door, waiting for her to come out. She’d flown to her room and locked herself in, refusing to let me in so that I could help her with whatever was wrong. She wouldn’t confide in me, just claimed to be ill. She wasn’t ill. She was frightened. I had seen it clearly on her face and in her frantic movements when she had stumbled up the stairs earlier. Why wouldn’t she let me help?
I had lost count of the number of times I had reached for the key to unlock her door, but I wouldn’t do it. I had to wait for her to open it.
I must have dozed off, because my eyes popped open and it took a moment for Lily’s open door to come into focus. The sound of movement brought my attention to the end of the corridor. She was swathed in a cloak, stepping with care, clearly sneaking away from me. I let my head fall back against the wall before asking, “Where are you going?”
She glanced back, giving me a glimpse of the fear pooling in her eyes. She turned back to the stairs. “I’m just going for a walk outside to clear my head.”
I pushed to my feet and went after her as she started down the stairs. “The sun is down.” Is wasn’t safe, and clear air wouldn’t solve whatever problem she was facing.
“I won’t be long.” Her voice shook as she continued down.
Enough. I reached for her, catching her arm to make her stop. “What has you so upset?”
She looked at me and I was shocked at the sadness, the fear and panic that marred her beautiful face. “I’m just…worried,” she lied.
“That’s not it. There’s something else.” I searched her eyes as she opened her mouth, no doubt to make up some excuse, but no words were forthcoming. I moved closer, drawn in by the vulnerability that I wanted to vanquish. “Won’t you tell me?”
She pinched her eyes closed. “I can’t.” The defeat in her whispered words made me wish for some way to comfort her, to let her know that whatever it was, she did not need to fight it alone.
She opened her eyes, her lips moving to try to form words that seemed stuck in her throat. I drew closer still, wanting to help her unlock the words to tell me what had frightened her, wanting to unlock her mouth.
I glanced back at her eyes, knowing I would kiss her and hoping that she would let me, because in that moment it felt like the only way that I could lend her comfort. I inched my mouth closer to hers, my body threatening to fly apart if I couldn’t feel the press of her lips to mine.
She turned her head.
My mind cleared as if doused with cold water and I stopped.
“You don’t know who I am,” she said in a whisper that carried the same pain her eyes had shown me. I stayed stock still, unwilling to move for fear that I would ruin what she and I had found together. I didn’t want the fragile cords that bound us to be snapped because of my own idiocy. She thought I didn’t know her, but looking down into her face, seeing her emotions churning beneath the surface, I felt that I knew her very well. Perhaps she simply didn’t want me to know her.
She stepped to the side and I let her go. I couldn’t bring myself to chase after her. She was my responsibility, and imposing myself on her would be unkind and uncouth, especially after such a clear rebuff.
Her footsteps rang in my head until the last stair and a moment later, the front door shut with a terrifying finality. She couldn’t just wander out in the night. There was nowhere for her to go.
I returned to the upper corridor and entered my room, crossing to the window that faced the front yard. Her cloak-covered figure was just reaching the outer wall. She stepped out onto the road and I held my breath to see if she would continue. I didn’t want to have to chase after her, to force her to stay, but I would if she did not come to her senses.
She stopped and stood still for several moments before beginning to pace back and forth. Good. I watched her for several minutes before concluding that she wasn’t going to go anywhere. I stepped away from the window to give her some privacy, and went in search of Giles and Rosamond. I wanted them to be ready to take care of her when she returned. I was determined to make myself scarce so that I would not frighten or overwhelm her. Her trust was something that I would not earn with a heavy-handed approach.
I heard the moment that the front door opened and heaved a sigh of relief. That sigh was cut short by Lily’s terrified scream. “Lord Fallon!”
I ran to the entry and found my brother with one hand locked around Lily’s arm and the other pawing at her face. Aw, hell.
She saw me and her eyes begged for escape from the barbarian holding her. I stalked toward Tobias, doing my best to keep my fury in check so that I would not hurt Lily as I forced his grip to loosen. The moment it did, Lily pulled away from him and moved behind me.
I shoved Tobias into the nearest wall. “That is no way to treat a lady, Tobias,” I spat at him.
He grinned and the stink of his breath made me want to throw a fist into his face. Instead I shoved away from him and told him to stay put. I would deal with Tobias, but first I had to get Lily away from him. I turned and took her arm, directing her toward the stairs.
“That was your brother?” she breathed in disbelief.
“What…” she didn’t finish her thoughts, though I could imagine what they were. Tobias was a disappointment, a thorn in my side. Lily scurried along beside me as I ran up the stairs. I left her outside my bedchamber so that I could grab my sword, then set my hand to her lower back to move her toward her own room. I opened the door, propelling her inside. “I need to deal with him. I need you to lock your door and do not open it for anyone but me. Do you understand?”
She grabbed onto my hand before I could pull away. “No, I don’t understand.”
Of course she didn’t, but I couldn’t explain, not now. “Please. Just do as I ask?”
She nodded, releasing my hand and allowing me to shut the door. I waited for the lock to be set in place before turning away from her door.
I made myself stop at the top of the stairs. I had learned over the years that losing my temper only fueled Tobias’s insolence. I had to be blunt and harsh, but screaming and throwing fists only exacerbated the problem. I took a few deep breaths before descending to the kitchens, where I found Tobias rummaging in the wine cabinet before coming out with a bottle in hand, waving it about in triumph. He spotted me and raised a hand as if greeting a good friend.
“Rhys!” He sat heavily in a chair. “Lovely night, isn’t it?” I wasn’t fooled by his friendly demeanor, knowing all too well that his mood could shift at the slightest provocation. “Aren’t you going to tell me how glad you are to see me?”
He shrugged. “Well, the feeling is mutual then.”
“You’re already drunk.” I crossed to him and pried the bottle from his hand. “You don’t need this.”
He stood and crossed back toward the cabinet. “So, who’s the peach you’ve just shut up in your room?”
“She’s in her own room, you wretch.” I grabbed him and hauled him to the kitchen door. “And until you are sober, you will go nowhere near her.” I shoved him outside, causing him to stumble and fall. A disgrace.
He pulled himself to his feet, not the least bit put out at my manhandling him. “I’m perfectly lucid,” he said as he brushed at his clothing.
“I doubt that.”
He chuckled and I clenched my teeth as he bent over, resting his hands on his knees as the sound of his laughter grew boisterous and overbearing. “I’m shocked, Rhys,” he said, straightening with a dramatic sweep of his hand that made him pitch to the side. “Here, all this time, you’ve been playing the noble hero, claiming no interest in any lady. Yet I return to find you with a young lady shut up in our home.”
I was so tired of him spouting poison. “Be silent, Tobias. Do not assume I am the kind of degenerate you are.”
“By all means, man. Have your fun.” His eyes were cutting and yet filled with amusement. “You certainly deserve a little diversion before fulfilling your marriage contract.”
“She’s not a diversion!” How dare he throw my betrothal in my face. Ever since he’d discovered it, he had delighted in needling me with the inevitability. And now he was using it to insult Lily.
Tobias’s grin widened in glee at my outburst. “You’re very protective, Rhys.”
“Leave her alone.” I swear, if he turned Lily into a tawdry piece of gossip, there would be hell to pay.
Tobias stepped back, his eyes laughing at me. “No need to worry. I won’t soil your pet.”
I pulled my sword and directed it at his throat. I had had enough of his vile insinuations. “Take a walk.”
He raised his hands in a gesture of innocence, but I could see the anger building. “Perhaps I’ll have a ride on that new stallion.” Several drops of spittle sprayed from his mouth as he said it.
“Take a walk, Tobias.” Or so help me, I would make it so he no longer had the ability to walk.
Tobias turned and staggered away. I couldn’t help uttering an oath before slamming the door and pulling the bar down.
I combed my hair back with my fingers and tried to shake the tension out of my shoulders before climbing back up the stairs. I would have to explain to Lily. I found her door and hesitated before knocking.
“Yes?” she asked with a tentative voice.
“You can open the door.”
She did so and I stepped inside, closing the door behind me. I looked up, ready to give her whatever explanation she asked for, but she stood stiff and wide-eyed, looking from me to the door and back again.
Of course. I sighed and pulled the door all the way open. I scrubbed my hand across my face and used my mother’s trunk as a seat, trying to decide where to start, but there was too much to say.
“Your brother has come home,” she said in a monotone.
I wanted to smile at her blunt beginning, but couldn’t. “Yes. I cannot apologize enough for his behavior. It’s inexcusable.”
“He’s very disconcerting.”
I laughed at her inadequate description. “He’s a disgrace. He’s angry and out of control.” And he had nearly lost control with Lily. He had put his hands on her, grabbed her face.
“Angry at whom?” she asked.
The list was lengthy. “Me. The elite. The royal family. The world. He’s rather indiscriminate in his rage.”
Her head lifted a little higher, and I could see her mind working. “The small library in the hall downstairs—the one close to the gallery—there is a desk there. Do you use that room?”
Did I use the downstairs library? What kind of question was that to ask at this moment? “No,” I answered and could see the palpable relief that swept through her, but I had no idea why. “Tobias uses that room when he is home.” Which, thankfully, wasn’t often.
She turned away from me, curling in on herself, and I wondered if she were going to cry. I went to her, wanting to undo whatever damage Tobias had done. My hands itched to reach out to her, to be sure she was alright, but I held back. “Did he hurt you?”
She let out a shaky breath. “No. He frightened me, but I’m well enough.”
“That’s a relief,” I murmured, distracted by the soft curve of her neck.
Her back stiffened. “You are getting married soon?”
I sucked in a breath through my teeth and shut my eyes. She must have heard Tobias’s accusations. How could I answer? How could I make her understand when I had not even met the bride I had committed myself to? “Relatively,” was the best answer I could give.
“Then why are you standing so close to me?”
The accusation in her voice was gentle, but it cut me because it was true. I had no business standing so close to her. She must have thought me the worst sort of person, and she was right. I stepped back, away from her warmth. “My apologies, Miss Lily.”
I took another step back and another, before turning and leaving her room, swinging the door closed behind me.