The stone vestibule was dimly lit. A single torch about ten feet away cast shadows on the great wooden door that vibrated before him.
The banging continued until he wrenched open the door.
Standing in the dark, in the pouring rain of the bailey was a woman, a cloak covering her from head to toe. Only the tip of her pink pointed nose and the rosy glisten of her lips shone in the torchlight from the vestibule. Her figure was slight, her shoulders trembling. She was soaked through to the bone.
What in bloody hell? Beiste swiped a hand over his face, frowning fiercely. Perhaps his quest for numbness had affected his eyes. He was seeing things now. Mayhap it was best if Gunnar did deal with this. ’Twas a certainty now that the ale he’d imbibed had the ability to make him feel less drunk than he was, or at least to make him think he was less intoxicated.
For certes the sopping wet lass was a figment of his tormented mind.
Beiste closed the door and turned around to go upstairs. He needed to sleep. ’Twas one thing to get drunk from grief and pass out in his cup at the trestle table, another thing entirely to find himself talking to ghosts.
But the banging returned, pounding through his head with incessant urgency.
Och, bloody hell! Beiste whirled on his feet, a growl on his lips, and prepared to tell his demons to take a hike down a long and winding path.
When he opened the door this time, the woman glared up at him with wide, green eyes that seemed to glow from the torch flames. Intense. So vivid. He fisted his left hand, and gripped the door hard enough with his right, that he feared he’d splinter the wood to keep from reaching out to touch her—if only to make certain she was truly there.
“Are ye real?” he asked, realizing his question was odd and gave away his inebriated state. But all the same, he needed to be certain.
“As real as ye are,” she hissed. “Will ye let me in or force me to catch my death?”