The evening’s dinner goes just as Olivia planned, there being enough food and drink to celebrate the joyous news while leaving enough in reserve in preparation for the true feasting which will happen when the other banners return. They make an early night of it. Jack wants to make certain that his bride is getting enough rest.
As Olivia comes into her sitting room, she finds Edward there awaiting her with a smile and a cup in his hands. “You’re in early this evening. Good, good.”
She’s not really surprised to see him there. She uses this area of her chambers as a general congregation area for all of the Westfall people. “Edward,” she says with a smile. “Did you enjoy the feast?”
“I did, though I couldn’t stay for too long. Have to make preparations for our future.”
“Preparations? What sort of preparations?” she asks as her maids help her remove her jewelry and brush out her hair.
“Preparations for the child you’ll be carrying. But first,” he walks over to her and hands her the cup he’s holding, “drink this.”
He can see her brows furrow as she looks down at the cup and then back up at him. Dismissing her maids with a wave of her hand, Olivia waits for the door to close behind him before returning her attention to Edward. “Drink what? What is it?”
Her eyes widen in both surprise and anger. “Moon tea? Are you mad?”
“Of course not. I’m perfectly sane. Now hurry up. The sooner it’s done, the sooner we can begin.”
Somehow Olivia manages to gain control of her temper, but her eyes are glittering dangerously as she arches a brow. “I am eager to hear your explanation for this.”
Edward gives a sigh. “The sooner we get this Byhaven child out of you, the sooner we can place a Westfall child in its place.”
She gives a small chuckle of disbelief. “You are mad, Edward.” Olivia walks past him with a dismissive wave similar to the one she gave to her maids a few moments ago.
As she attempts to walk past, Edward reaches out to take her arm. “Have you forgotten who you are, Olivia? Where your loyalties lie?” he asks with an accusational tone. “Your duty is to do what’s in the best interest of Westfall.”
Almost trembling with outrage as he dares to touch her, but her tone remains cool and even. “It appears that I am not the one who has forgotten his place, my lord.” She yanks her arm free then turns to face him. “I will not defend myself to an underling. I am well aware of what is in the best interest of Westfall. Peace.”
“Yes, peace. Do you really think a child with Byhaven blood will truly be able to keep this peace? Our only hope is to give this child a true connection to Westfall.”
“I am a Warren of Westfall. I am this child’s true connection to Westfall,” she replies with an indignant air. “It is not your place to make these decisions, Edward. You are an advisor. Leave ruling to your betters.”
“This was decided from the moment this union was agreed upon. You would appear to carry Braydon’s child when the child is of full Westfall blood.”
“By whose command?”
“By command of Lord Arthur Warren, of course.”
She turns her back on him for a moment as she struggles to compose herself. By then time he sees her face again her countenance is hard as steel. “You will tell me this plan, Edward. You will tell me every detail.” Taking a seat, Olivia waves a hand at him to begin.
“You have Lord Braydon believing you’re carrying his child. After you drink the moon tea, we will have one of your guards impregnate you. As you may have noticed, each one is a second or third son of one of your banners so he is still high born by blood, as your child will be.”
“Are my guards aware of this plan? Are my maids?”
“They are not. Fewer who know, the less chance of it getting out.”
“And this is my lord father’s plan?”
“Yes. To make certain that this peace doesn’t die with him.”
Olivia is silent for long moments, but he can see that she’s gripping the arms of her chair so tightly that her knuckles have turned white. “I will not be sipping any tea tonight,” she says finally. “I need time to consider this plan.”
“It would be best to act quickly. If this is to succeed, the timing of the conception needs to be as close as possible.”
“You will leave me now, Edward.”
He sees that she’s in a precarious state of mind so he nods, gives a bow, and backs out of the room. “Good night, my lady. May you dream of Westfall.” Edward returns to his chamber to consider his next move. If Olivia says no, he may have to use drastic measures. He must not forget that despite the girl’s air of innocence, Olivia is still a Warren. She cut off a man’s ball and fed it to him for dinner; she is every bit as dangerous as her lord father.
As soon as he’s gone she is on her feet and pacing. Could it be true? Could her father truly have plotted to marry her to his enemy and then have her murder her own child? She needs time to think, but she knows that if she waits too long, Edward will slip something into her food or drink. Her mind is already plotting ways to protect herself from tainted food or drink. She is a methodical thinker, just like her father. She won’t be able to sleep until she’s satisfied that she’s considered every possible way that Edward might come at her.
Olivia is still finding it difficult to comprehend that her father is behind this plan. If it’s true, Jack might very well renew the war. For now she will stall Edward for as long as she can. She’ll challenge him to prove to her that Lord Arthur is behind this plot, while she uses the time to put her own defenses in place.
Olivia’s wise to worry. Her father always made sure all of his children knew the various talents of the Warren household. Not only is Edward capable of slipping something into her food to kill the baby, but also give her something to make her more pliable for the second part of his plan. In his time learning from the maesters, he learned all kinds of things to be done with plants and herbs.