Must Love Chainmail - Angela Quarles Page 0,1
to say, pay attention.
Katy rifled through the cards, but nothing else materialized.
She surveyed the headstone. A turtledove cocked its head, flicked its mottled brown feathers, and lifted into the air with a parting whistle-tweet. One of Mr. Podbury’s cards fluttered to the ground in its wake.
She whipped her head up. Traci waved from the church.
“You’re missing the tour.”
Drat. And she hadn’t texted the florist. Katy tucked the case into her coat pocket and climbed up the hill.
“And I see your phone.” Traci smiled, mischievousness lending it a sharp edge. “That’s one for me tomorrow night.”
“But I wasn’t using my—” She looked down. Dang. It was there, in her hand still.
Traci rubbed her hands, plotting already, no doubt.
Great. The penis piñata.
Katy tucked her phone into her purse and shuffled behind the rest of the dozen-odd members of the tour group into the church, kinda stunned she wasn’t babbling about the disappearing man. The cool air embraced her with its smell of dry stone and stillness.
She fell in with her bridesmaids in front of the elderly lady—their guide around St. Cefnogwr’s Church. Dammit. The colorful local legends had enticed her, but now her need to focus on all the wedding details overshadowed the charm. She wasn’t even going to think about Mr. Podbury right now. Could she sneak her phone out? No. Traci had magic eyes in the back of her head. Magic I-know-what-you’re-planning, witchy eyes.
Katy followed the others down the central aisle, probably no longer than a tennis court. “Come on, come on, come on.” Just one chance to sneak a text out.
The stretches in between uses felt like she was free floating…and not in a good way. Tethered. She needed to be tethered. Katy judged the distance to the side door—twenty some-odd steps—and the likelihood of escape. Yeah, none. She peeked at Traci, whose casual lean against a pew while twirling her dark hair, gaze locked on hers, didn’t fool Katy; her friend was wise to her plan, damn her.
They reached the east side, and the weak sunlight through the multicolored glass bathed the dark recess in an otherworldly glow. Everyone stilled. Their shuffling feet stilled. Even the air stilled.
A chill skittered down Katy’s spine. A church-going chick she was not, but it was moments like this when something unexplainable seeped in and tugged her.
The guide waved toward a white marble figure of a knight lying on a stone slab, the muted jewel tones from the stained glass windows shifting across the surface. “Here before you lies the memorial to St. Cefnogwr, though he is not buried here, of course.”
At her words, an uncanny knowing flushed through Katy and, crazy-of-crazy, transfixed her.
“Why? Where is he?” Traci stepped forward, hand on her hip.
A you’re-right-on-cue look crossed the guide’s face. She pointed to the ceiling.
Traci scoffed. “I meant, where’s the body?” Her American southern accent lent a strange contrast to her skepticism.
Again, the tour guide’s arthritic finger pointed upward, and a smile tugged at her lips, the smokers’ wrinkles on her upper lip smoothing out. “That’s the miracle that made him a saint, you see. Throughout the twelve hundreds, the Welsh struggled to maintain our independence from the English. During Madog’s Rebellion in 1294, St. Cefnogwr, a noble Norman-English knight, turned against his liege lord and sided with the Welsh—”
“Norman-English?” Katy frowned, her voice raspy in her dry throat. “Why would a Norman have a Welsh name and side with the Welsh?” She might be an American, but her years living in England had taught her that was unusual.
“The English nicknamed him. It means ‘sympathizer’ in Welsh. The knight was captured and, for his crime, sentenced to hang. As he swung, the rope creaking in the crowd’s silence, an angel of mercy swooped down and—” She clapped her hands in one decisive smack, and everyone jumped. “The rope dangled empty, free of its burden. Proof, we say, of his noble cause. He’s been venerated ever since as a Welsh hero.”
Another chill danced over Katy’s skin. A chill that flashed warm as the story seeped into her.
Familiar. Achingly familiar.
Unease followed—this existential stuff was so not her.
“His rescue by an angel was enough to make him a saint?” ever-practical Traci asked.
“Unofficially. The Welsh named him one, and eventually it became a fait accompli. Now, please follow me.” The tour guide stepped toward a side door.
Katy let the others pass and approached the knight covered in chainmail and other medieval-looking doodads. Only his face peeked out from a tight-fitting, chainmail hoodie-thing. One hand gripped a