1617: xx

“Gilles!” Jacques burst through the door. “Finally, I have caught up to you at last!” Aimée recognized him as one of the men that traded horses with them during their flight. He came towards their table with a wave to the host to bring more wine.

“So this is she?” Jacques took of his hat as he bowed. She allowed him to take her hand and kiss it. Aimée hoped that her blush was masked by the firelight. “Monsieur Jacques de ____ at your service, Mademoiselle.” He took a seat next to Gilles.

“I thought you were heading back to Paris with the others,” Gilles murmured. He did not welcome the presence of Jacques.

“Are you not on the way to see my dear cousin? I thought I would come along and pay her a visit myself,” Jacques explained. The host appeared with the wine and Jacques quickly helped himself.

“Your cousin?” Aimée inquired.

“Yes, you do not know yet? Gilles, you scoundrel!” Jacques slugged his friend in the arm, “I can’t believe you haven’t said anything.”

“I was getting around to it. We had other matters to discuss beforehand,” the Count explained. Jacques shook his head with disapproval.

“My cousin, Sister Teresa, has arranged asylum for you. Usually that costs money, Gilles, I hope you consider a generous donation.”

“Another convent?” Aimée exclaimed. She looked at Gilles for confirmation. He nodded with resignation. “How long?”

“I am not sure, but hopefully less than a year,” he replied.

“A year? Shall I take my vows while I’m in residence?” Aimée spat. Jacques burst out laughing.

“She has fire. I like it!” he exclaimed. Gilles kept frowning. “I wish I knew the whole story, someday you will tell me your secrets, Gilles.” He smiled into his cup. He knew Gilles was unlikely to share all of his thoughts. He dug in his pocket and pulled out a set of dice. “For now let’s amuse ourselves. Do you know how to play?” Aimée stared at the dice and shook her head. Gilles’ warning glance was ignored by Jacques.

“It’s easy, you will learn quick enough,” the other man said.

i        xix        xxi

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