Chapter Seven – Continued
After two weeks of dressing in plain, cast off dresses from the servants, Camille was glad to be able to put on one of her own dresses. Unlike the monstrosities Muriel wore, her’s had a slim bodice in cream and a slightly flared ankle-length skirt in pale green, a wide cream ribbon secured around her waist. The white gauzy sleeves billowed slightly around her arms down to where they were secured at her wrists. There was, for once, no hiding her short hair, but it was thick enough for her to slide a light, ornamental comb into the remaining waves.
She peered at herself in the mirror. It had been a long time since she’d seen herself dressed as a lady. Even though Andalissa was her oldest friend, there was still propriety to maintain. Andalissa would be arriving by carriage and, since Murant Manor lay some distance away, would likely be seen, forcing her to dress to match her station. Camille only felt it fair she shared in the misery. Still, it was strange.
Hoping to avoid Abigail so she wouldn’t see Camille’s short hair, she quickly made her way to the Lavender Room, where she’d requested Geoffrey and Helene to set up tea. She was just glad Abigail’s lotions and salves had been doing their jobs so her hands were still soft and ladylike.
The Lavender Room was, as it’s name said, lavender. While the walls were a soft white, the rugs were decorated with lavender flowers and the furnishings were upholstered in soft lavender material with plush pillows in lavender and pale blue trimmings. The two large windows overlooking the back gardens were trimmed with gauzy lavender curtains with tiny white flowers embroidered onto them. In the center, between the two couches, was a low rosewood table already set with small sandwiches, soups, and cakes. A white teapot decorated with a bunch of lavender stalks sat with two matching tea cups.
A soft knock came at the door and Camille spun around just as the door opened.
A tall, slim figure swathed in a thick winter cloak whirled in, closed the door behind her, and leaned back on it, her eyes twinkling and a smile playing at her lips as the hood fell away from her face. As Camille anticipated, she wore a midnight blue gown, the bodice tightly fitted, and golden stars embroidered along the sleeves and hem. Her dark hair glinted in the light, a golden circlet around her head, crowning her own shortened hair.
“You cut your hair!” both women cried out at each other.
The other woman giggled while Camille smiled and held out her hands to her old friend.
“I hope Geoffrey won’t be too angry with me,” Andalissa said. “I think he’s forgotten how quick I am.” She wrinkled her nose. “But I did get a glimpse of your new stepmother. What in the world is she wearing?”
Camille grimaced as she led Andalissa over to the couches. “Fashion from ten years ago.” She shook her head. “I just hope she doesn’t embarrass us at the engagement ball.”
Andalissa waved her hand as she pulled off her cloak and gloves before settling onto one of the couches. “Forget the engagement ball. You and Abigail will be at my birthday soiree, won’t you? The whole household is madness right now.”
Camille grinned as she poured tea for both of them. “We wouldn’t miss it. I’m sure Abigail will be as delighted as I am to see an old friend.”
Andalissa’s eyes glimmered as she leaned forward, her familiar conspiratorial smile on her face. “I do hope so. I have a secret I’m not supposed to share, but I hope my parents will forgive me considering you and I have been plotting it for so long.”
Camille frowned. “Do you mean you just now cut your hair?”
“What, this?” Andalissa asked, startled, as she reached one hand to her head. “Oh, no. I did this a week ago. Mother screeched and yelled at me, but I assured her it’ll be quite popular soon. I hear the mermaid princess actually keeps her hair quite short so it doesn’t get caught in the coral. Everyone will want hair like hers as soon as she’s formally introduced to the kingdom. No, I mean about my brother.”
“It doesn’t sound like your brother to have secrets. I remember he never seemed to be quiet.”
Andalissa laughed. “He hasn’t changed. Which is really why I know this.”
Camille leaned forward. “You’ve piqued my interest, Anda. What is it?”
Catch up on Sisters of String and Glass
Check out Queen of the Garden of Girls