My jaw drops as the rest of the men begin eyeing me up. “Griff,” I say anxiously.
“Sorry gents.” Griff wraps his arm around me and pulls me back out the way we came. “Just remembered we have an important meeting to get off to.”
“Now hold up then,” Roul says as Tenney blocks our path. The rest of the men surround us in a very imposing manner.
“You’ve got it all wrong,” Griff says anxiously. “You ever read The Prince and The Pauper? How old is Mark Twain?”
“I’m beginning to think there might be some use in keeping the two of you around,” Tenney says with a malicious smirk on his face. “What do you think, fellas?”
“You think there’d be a reward for returning the king’s mistress?” Roul asks.
“I’d think that would be the least they would do for us. I’d guess saving the wife of the king from getting kidnapped would be equal to a life debt.”
“I promise you, guys, I’m not the queen,” I say, knowing nothing I say will sway them from their current plan.
“Noll,” Tenney says, taking charge of the situation, “can you find some place to keep these two held until I can get audience with the king? We’ll want to see what we can get before we show all our cards.”
The man who offered Griff a deer-skin jacket earlier appears behind us and grabs me by the wrist.
“Oh ho, what’s dis den?” Noll says. “Would appear dese two have already escaped capture.”
“What?” Tenney asks.
Noll lifts my wrist into view and shows my iron bracelet.
“Can’t say I’ve ever seen that kind a metal work around here before,” Tenney frowns. “Musta been something the king brought along with him. What’d you do, missy? Did you make your husband angry? Maybe it’s because of your choice in boyfriend?”
“He’s not my boyfriend!” I shout.
“I highly doubt that’s something we need to debate right now,” Griff says to me.
“Alright, Noll, you put them in the big tent. I’ll go see what I can find out about this whole thing and see what we might be able to get for a reward. If the king’s not willing to pay, perhaps someone else is.”
“Okay, Tenney,” Noll says and pulls us both into the largest of the tents. Within the tent is nothing but open ground and several stumps which look like the one Roul had been using in front of the fire. “You two stay in here, awright. It’d be a pity t’ haves t’ bashes in yourses heads.”
“Anything you say, Noll,” Griff says, looking up into the eyes of the man who easily stands over seven feet tall with the biceps to match.
“Awright, den.” Noll leaves without another word.
“What the hell, Chelle?” Griff screams at me. “What have you gotten us into now?”
“Me?” I yell in response. “You’re the one who had to go all Toucan Sam and bring us here for some sock soup.”
“And you’re the one who has to look like some queen when we go back in time thousands of years or whatever.”
“Yeah, what are the chances of that?” I ask. “How many black people were actually in power in the Middle Ages in Europe?”
“How the hell should I know?” Griff asks as he grumpily sits down on one of the stumps. “I had thought you were all slaves until the Civil War.”
“I don’t know, okay? I’m just saying I don’t know your cultural history, or whatever.”
“But don’t you think it’s weird there would be someone looking exactly like me whose husband just happens to be the king in the very town we can’t seem to get out of?”
“Can you just get to the point already?”
“What if it’s us? What if we’re the ones in power right now?”
“I feel my headache coming back.”
“Come on, Griff, just hear me out for a minute. What if we decided to use this stupid pendant again and were taken back in time once more, deciding finally to just settle down and somehow become rulers of York?”
“I already told you, Chelle, I have no interest in using that stupid thing ever again. And I already said I don’t think of you that way.”
“I don’t think it matters what you want. I think we already did it.”
“What do we do to get out of here?” Griff asks. “I really don’t want to deal with meeting the king, even if it turns out that he’s me. Maybe especially if it’s me.”
“You mean without using the pendant?”
“Yes, without using the pendant.”
“I don’t know. Maybe we come back in time and save ourselves from this moment when we least—“
“Nevermind. Why don’t we just sit around and see how this plays out?” I ask.
“The last time we did that, we ended up tied to a stick with the barbecue being lit below us.”
“And we got out of that okay, didn’t we?”
“How hard can it be to knock one of these tents over, do you think?”
“I don’t know. They look pretty sturdy.”
“They do, don’t they. Could we climb out one of the sides? It’s not like the walls are solid or anything and I can’t imagine that Noll brute has eyes on every side of the tent.”
“You might be right,” I answer, “but are you willing to risk what he might do to us if you’re wrong.”
“Not after looking at the size of those hams he calls fists.”
“Hmm,” I say, sitting on a stump next to Griff.
“How long has it been since we’ve slept?”
“Centuries, at least.”
“Yeah, me too.”
“Wanna sleep on it? Maybe we’ll have some good ideas after a little cat nap.”
“Sounds like a plan to me.”
Go to Chapter Forty-One