The Baron’s Prize

Chapter 15: Rebellion

Notes:

There was an overwhelming group of opinions after the last chapter. I decided to go with what my characters tell me. I needed to be true to the story. This chapter is Jensen’s reaction to the event of the day before and follows through the next four days

Jensen woke after a bad dream, not remembering where he was. He felt a naked body near his own, and the nightmare became reality.

Jared had lied to him. The man used kind words and concern to try to break down his barriers, and he had managed to do it. Jensen felt betrayed; he remembered responding to the man’s sexual advances and felt nauseated.

The duke crept off the bed and dressed quietly. He would go through the gardens with his luggage and escape that way. It took several hours on foot before he finally reached Jared’s house. Going to the stables, he saddled his horse and mounted his luggage on a second.

He knew he had a few hours start on Jared, and the man would ride like the wind to catch him. Ackles turned off the main road and took back ways to avoid being caught. Jared did not know the lay of the land as well as he did.

+++++

The baron woke at the knock at the door and half asleep, he walked over and answered it to find the healer

Groaning, he allowed the man to come in, figuring it was better to get it over with.

The medical man walked over to the bed and asked, “Where is he?”

“What!!!!”

Jared looked around him and saw that the duke’s luggage was gone.

He sent the doctor on his way and dressed quickly, sending a servant to rouse his men. The baron headed towards the king’s quarters.

+++++

Jensen took a small ferry across the river, paying the man for his time. He headed cross country towards Avenleigh, knowing if he kept up his pace, he would beat Jared there.

He spent the next two and a half days, stopping only to rest the horses. He didn’t stop to eat or sleep. He reached the outskirts of the estate and almost sobbed in relief. He needed to hurry to prepare for the baron’s arrival.

+++++

After leaving Morgan, angry at the king’s response, Jared gathered his men and headed for Avenleigh.

“What makes you think he’ll go there,” his second asked.

“Because he gave himself to me without a fight to save that land.”

“You raped him?”

“No, he freely agreed.”

“Jared, what the hell did you do,” Christian asked.

The baron broke down and told his friend everything.

“If we weren’t on horses right now, I’d kick your ass.”

The hazel eyes stared at him.

“What did Morgan say?”

“He told me that if Jensen makes it to Avenleigh and demands an annulment, he’ll agree.”

Chris snorted and kept his horse’s pace even with the baron’s.

+++++

Jensen stopped at the top of the hill that looked down on the keep. He sighed in relief, knowing he would have about half a day to prepare.

He rode into the keep, and it was barely minutes before his people were surrounding him.

“I’ll explain everything later. Right now, we have to prepare. Jason, go into the village and purchase whatever food you can get. Tell them to be prepared.”

Jensen allowed Travis to take his bags inside and talked to his commander of the garrison to make sure their weapons were readied. He checked the armory and noted they were still well supplied.

Turning to the stone mason who was doing some work on the keep, he told him he needed the garden entrance sealed with something that would dry quickly.

After getting the people prepared, he walked into the house and looked at his household servants. He could see the questions in their eyes.

“It wasn’t good. We married four days ago, and the entire situation was forced on me.”

Zechariah asked, “By the king, your Grace?”

Jensen’s exhaustion was becoming overwhelming, and he lost control.

“The king ordered the marriage for four days ago, he ordered that it be..be consummated in the palace.”

“Oh no,” Ellen murmured.

Her comment made the duke shake uncontrollably. “He wanted proof. Only, I wasn’t there when the doctor came. I traveled the back roads and got here half a day ahead of Jared.”

“Have you eaten, Jensen.” the cook and housekeeper asked.

“No. I’m not hungry.”

The butler turned to the footman, “Travis, have a hot bath sent up. Ellen prepare a meal for the duke to be sent up to his rooms. Your Grace, your commander can handle things for now. You need to sleep.”

Jensen nodded and walked up the staircase to the second floor and entered his rooms. He could still smell Jared’s scent and sent for Father Kevin.

His bath was prepared, and he soaked in the warm water allowing not only the aches from two and half days of hard riding but also from the sex the night before he left to ease.

After drying, he put on undergarments and a nightshirt. There was a knock at his door and said, “Come.”

Father Kevin entered the room. “You needed to see me, Your Grace?”

“Yes,” Jensen spoke softly. He told the priest everything that had happened, and the man was furious.

“You had already agreed to what the king had said, so why did the baron do this to you?”

“Everything was lies, Father. Everything.”

“That night was rape, Your Grace.”

“It was in the palace where…” Jensen broke down crying, going to the floor on his knees. The young priest knelt with him and held the man. He said nothing, allowing the duke release the pain.

“Jensen?”

“Yes, Father?”
“I will prepare the papers for the Bishop to grant an annulment. I will wait to talk with Jason and have a formal plea sent to the king with a full explanation and the demand that the lands be freed.”

“Thank you,” the choked voice of the duke whispered as a knock was heard.

“Come,” the young lord croaked.

Steve entered with a large tray. Jensen stared at all the food.

Father Kevin smiled, “I think Miss Ellen believes you need feeding.”

“I think you’re right.”

+++++

Jason informed the Headman and received extra provisions which the man promised to have sent within the hour. The secretary decided to ride to the convent and warn the Reverend Mother.

He was welcomed and sat with the woman for a while, telling her what he knew.

“I am afraid the baron will have another weapon so I need to give you something.”

“What?”

“The baron convinced me not to send Jensen’s letter to his relative in the north. We still have Ben.”

“This is not good. I need to take him to the keep.”

“Yes, if the man has so little scruples he will use the boy.”

+++++

Jensen had eaten and laid down to take a small nap. Jason told the servants not to waken him. Jo took Ben to the nursery and entertained the three year old.

The sun was setting when Jared and his troops rode to the gate. He was furious to the find the gate locked and weapons aimed at him and at his men from the ramparts.

Jason walked out to the gate and asked the baron what he wanted.

“I want to see my husband…NOW!”

“That would not be feasible, my lord. The duke is not in any shape to deal with you at this time. Go back to Caerdon, and he will contact you to discuss his terms.”

“HIS terms? Let me in.”

“That will not occur, my lord. The duke is not capable of facing you right now.”

“He didn’t think that on our wedding night.”

“You coerced him with more threats to his land. He paid to protect it with his body,” Father Kevin stated as he walked up.

“What would you know, Priest?”

“He told me everything. How you made it seem perfect, but behind it was the threat to his lands and the memory of the rape by King Sebastian in the same building. Then you were going to allow a physician to examine him to make sure you had him good and proper.”

“How dare you judge me,” Jared raised his voice.

“I don’t judge you, but Jensen has. When he is ready to deal with this, he will contact you but not before.”

“Who’s going to protect him against Pelligrino and others who will try for him?”

“I am,” Christian answered. “Some of your men want to stay and help also. He won their respect, Jared. You lost it with what you did.”

Jared turned his horse around and about two-thirds of his men left with him.

Christian looked at the secretary and the priest. “He’s headed back to Caerdon, I can guarantee. We’ll wait until he’s gone and, if Jensen approves, we’d like to enter. I’ll train him an army.”

Jason nodded and suggested a good place to camp. He and the priest walked back to the house.

+++++

Jensen washed and dressed and headed downstairs for breakfast. Father Kevin joined him.

They ate in silence for a while; the priest spoke, “You need to join me in your office. Much has happened since you went to sleep.”

“Bad?”

“Not as much as you would think, Your Grace.”

+++++

The two men joined Jason in the office. The secretary stated, “I would like permission to ask Captain Kane into the keep and let him sit in on this chat.”

“Wa..wait? What?”

“Kane and one-third of the Baron’s army wish to join you, and he wants to train an army for you.”

“Why? He’s Jared’s best friend.”

Kevin answered, “I’d say was.”

Jensen got up and left the office; the two men followed him.

+++++

One of the men on guard let the captain know that some people were walking towards the gate. Christian saddled his horse and rode alone. He was not playing a psychological game with the duke because he only wanted to help.

Jensen watched the single horseman ride towards the gate and dismount. He stopped at the gate and stared at the young nobleman.

“Hi, Jensen.”

“Captain.”

“You know, I preferred it when you felt comfortable enough to call me Chris. I’d like that again.”

The green eyes glared into the captain’s. “What game is Jared playing? Where is he?”

“Oh, he’s very unhappy. He told me what he did and why it upset you. I would love to just beat him to a pulp, but he’s got a good seven or eight inches on me. He’s gone, Jensen. He’s headed back to Caerdon to try to change Morgan’s mind about giving you back the land.”

“Wait a minute. Morgan said what?”
“Morgan thought everything was going to be right between you and if Jared hadn’t said what he said, making you think you had to do this to keep and protect your land, it might have been. Maybe, at a much later date, you can talk and settle things because there were a lot of times when he was good for you. Somewhere inside of you, you know that.”

“I am preparing a writ of annulment to send to the Bishop,” Father Kevin stated.

“It won’t happen, Jensen. You two consummated the marriage. I know what he did could be thought of as rape. I think so, but according to the law, this is an arranged marriage that you agreed to. Even if you didn’t, you were under the King’s law and control. The Bishop won’t touch it.”

“We’ll try,” the priest responded.

“I don’t blame you,” the captain admitted.

Jensen finally spoke again, “Why are you here? Why didn’t you leave with him?”

“Because he’s stubborn and he’s wrong. I figure you need a friend and help. The men with me agree with that so we’ll train you an army, and I’ll lead it for you. You keep your garrison within the keep to guard it, and we’ll protect the land. I’ll send out couriers to the other estates and the villages, and we’ll train them well. Once you have full control of the estate, you can afford to pay them.”

The duke backed up and shouted, “Open the gate!” Looking at the captain, “You and your men are welcome.”

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