This bonus scene is narrated from Augustin Genevieve’s (Jeeves) point of view.
This scene takes place over two decades before the start of the Ondine Quartet series, a time when Naida Irisavie was still a teenager, Marcella a newborn, and many key players had yet to come to prominence.
Haverleau’s dapper and enigmatic Chief Counsel has long been a favorite among series readers. Narrated from a young Jeeves’ point of view, this scene captures a pivotal moment in his life and contains inevitable spoilers for BILLOW (Book 2) and CREST (Book 3).
It had been her mother. Rupert, perhaps.
That was why she was late.
He leaned back. The weight of the duffel bag against his foot comforted him. So did the cold press of Haverleau’s wrought-iron gate against his arm.
They represented his future, signs that his life was moving forward.
He glanced at the main road. It was possible her mother caught her trying to flee the house before the ceremony. Maybe she thought she could reason with her parents before leaving.
Yes, that would be like Patrice. Worried about hurting her mother, disappointing her parents. She may even have decided to tell them the truth which meant a long, drawn out argument.
Part of him was tempted to return in case she needed his help.
But what if she came to the gate and he wasn’t here? His chest tightened at the thought. She would believe he’d left. He would not risk hurting her in that way.
Whatever currently delaying her was something she’d want to handle herself. She’d always kept him away from that part of her life. Unwilling to bring him into her unhappy circumstances, she’d insisted on protecting him from the claws of her power-hungry family.
Perhaps that was why he’d fallen in love with her. Or maybe it had been her reaction when he’d first shown her his strange Virtue, the magic that alienated him from everyone.
Her eyes had lit up with elation, not fear. She’d wrapped her arms around him, rich laughter dancing across his skin, vibrating with warmth and life and acceptance.
It was difficult to pinpoint a precise moment in time when you realized a person was meant for you.
All he knew was that it was her. Soon, they would escape the confines of Redavi life and forge a new life, a better one, together.
He watched the bright blue of the afternoon sky transform to the pink-orange of sunset. Witnessed the inky dark of night spread like a stain across a canvas.
And still, he waited.
The shift change for the gardinel station took place. He pretended to study his shoes while the outgoing selkie explained matters to the incoming gardinel.
He felt the selkie’s gaze on him and for a brief instant, humiliation simmered, threatening to boil through his veins. But he suppressed it.
She would come.
He decided it must’ve been Rupert. The simpering idiot had discovered her intentions. He’d probably cried and thrown a tantrum, begging her not to leave him.
Satisfied at the image, he crossed his arms and listened to the night’s continual hum.
He could wait.
He closed his eyes, calling up his last memory of her. She’d been in his arms, her body warming his bed only twelve hours ago. Those mesmerizing indigo eyes had gazed up at him through half-closed lids, her face radiant with satisfaction.
“I’ll be at the gates at two o’clock. I won’t go through with it, Augustin. I’m going with you.”
Such strength, such conviction in her voice. It was the same strength that protected him, that found delight rather than fear in his magic.
The minutes continued to tick by. Foreboding twisted his stomach and a numbness settled over his heart.
No. She was coming.
He would wait.
“It’s getting cold,” a voice said.
An elegantly dressed ondine stepped through the gate. Raven hair was neatly pulled up, the style highlighting noble, patrician features. Sharp, hazel eyes lasered on to him.
The gardinel at the station straightened. “Governor.”
Rhian Irisavie waved her hand. “Bowen, please take a break.”
“I’d like to speak to Chevalier Genevieve privately.” She paused. “Security is obviously not an issue.”
“As you wish.” In the next moment, the selkie retreated into the night.
Augustin faced the street. “You can’t stop me, Governor.”
“I would never presume to have any control over your actions.” Rhian moved beside him and took a deep breath. “Winter seems to be arriving early this year.”
“How did you know I was here?”
“Ansel informed me of your resignation. He was concerned.”
“Concerned I wouldn’t leave fast enough,” he muttered.
The Head Chevalier had always disliked him. He wasn’t sure if it was because of his Virtue or because he’d once been his main competition for the position.
“Is that what you think?” She sounded genuinely surprised. “Ansel respects you. Just as Bernard did.”
Her mate had been killed in an attack the previous year, leaving the Governor with a young baby and a headstrong teenager to raise alone.
As one of his trainers, Bernard had deciphered how best to utilize his magic within the chevalier corps.
“I miss him.”
“So do I.” Rhian tilted her head. “He wanted to appoint you Head Chevalier.”
“But he didn’t,” he replied stiffly.
“Because he knew you’d be bored.”
Surprised, he looked at her.
“Augustin, you’re an excellent chevalier and you thrive on challenges. You enjoy taking risks that push you further. You should be in the field as much as possible.”
He caught the insinuation threaded through her carefully worded statement.
A trace of bitterness entered his voice. “He didn’t select me because of my magic.”
A pause. “Among other reasons.”
Once again, his Virtue had exacted a price. It had cost him the opportunity to assume a position of power, one that included a seat on the Council.
A sudden thought occurred to him. Would Patrice have felt differently about leaving Haverleau if he’d been Head Chevalier?
“Bernard recommended Ansel for the position because he knew how well he’d handle the training program.” Rhian’s voice quieted. “The future grows more important by the day.”
Ansel’s abilities lay in education rather than field experience. His appointment stunned Haverleau and provided Redavi society with yet another strike against Augustin.
He was already dismissed as an oddity, much like his grandmother. A Redavi who’d dared stoop so low as to become a chevalier.
After being passed over for the Head Chevalier position, he’d become someone who not only failed to uphold the family name, but who also failed at his chosen profession.
His pride cracked. He had to know.
“Did…” He cleared his throat and kept his gaze on the ground. “Did she go through with it?”
“Yes.” The gentleness in her voice was unbearable. “Patrice completed the binding ceremony an hour ago.”
It was over.
Anguish carved a hole through his heart. It hurt more than any injury he’d received on the job, more than any broken bone or knife wound.
This was a pain gouged deep in his soul and no Healing Virtue could ever fix it.
Bindings were completed and enforced through magic. There was no way to undo or sever the bonds between Patrice and Rupert.
In an instant, everything she’d said and done during their year together turned meaningless.
Her declarations of love, the way she’d touched him, kissed him, made love to him.
She’d made her choice. And it hadn’t been him.
“Come back, Augustin. Chevaliers need you. Haverleau needs you.”
“I cannot,” he said hoarsely.
Every time he stepped into the Training Center, every time he worked a mission, cloaked in disguise and covered in sweat, dirt, and blood, he would know the truth.
Patrice had been ashamed of him, too embarrassed to introduce the dirty Redavi chevalier, the abnormal demillir with a Virtue, to her family and friends.
Instead, she chose Rupert. Ridiculous, maudlin Rupert with his suits and manicured nails.
Rhian stepped closer. “Patrice is ruled by fear. You know this. You’ve always known this.”
Anger erupted. “You cannot make me be a chevalier!”
“You, however, are not,” Rhian continued as if he hadn’t spoken. The iron will of authority strengthened her voice. “Patrice may not need you, but Haverleau does. If you will not return as a chevalier, then I’d like to offer you a role in my office.”
He shot her an incredulous look. “What?”
“You are clever, resourceful, and have the ability to see what others cannot.” She pressed. “You are a rarity, someone who does not belong among us.”
Hurt lanced through him at her blunt acknowledgement. But the Governor continued.
“That places you in a highly advantageous position. Whether you recognize it or not, your outsider status is a tremendous asset as is your magic. I need someone like you, Augustin. I need your ability to see what I cannot. Vittorio will eventually retire and I’d like you to take on the Chief Counsel position. You can train under him until then.”
Patrice never had any intention of being with him. He was a Redavi she could not – would not – acknowledge. Being with him had simply been an act of surreptitious rebellion, a brief fling with a demillir everyone disapproved of, before properly mating into the LeVeq family.
Her absence spoke volumes. She hadn’t believed him worthy enough for the truth.
Rhian’s hand rested on his arm. “Will you work for me?”
The temptation to run was overwhelming.
All he had to do was grab his duffel bag and walk away from Haverleau, magic, and Redavi, away from this pain ripping his chest open.
He could leave behind the shame and the ondine who’d used and discarded him as if he were disposable.
But that initial sentiment was quickly replaced by another.
He thought of how surprised she’d be to face him in the Council Chamber. How she’d sit beside Rupert and see him. How she’d remember the long nights when nothing else would satiate them but the body of the other, how easily the lies of love had slipped through her lips.
She’d wanted a smooth politician, someone in designer suits without any rough edges. No sweat or calloused hands; just the silky words of the Redavi elite.
She didn’t believe he could be that.
Perhaps Rhian was right. The pull of challenge was irresistible.
He would prove Patrice wrong.
Augustin Genevieve picked up his duffel bag, straightened, and walked through the gates into Haverleau beside the Governor.