Sisters of String and Glass, Part 33

Chapter Nine – continued

“Anyways, what, exactly, happened between Adrian and Gail?” Camille asked as they passed by the corner Abigail and Madeline were sheltering in. Well, Abigail looked quite at home with a few cakes on a porcelain plate. Madeline was nervously twisting the skirt of her dress around, her head darting side to side like a bird’s. “That woman will be the death of me,” she muttered under her breath.

“Gail?” Andalissa asked, puzzled.

“No. Madeline.”

Andalissa craned her neck around and chuckled. “Poor girl. But her mother’s worse.”

Camille turned to where her friend was pointing and had to stifle a loud groan. Muriel had moved on to an uncomfortable group of ministers, King’s Knights, and a couple of barons. She knew the group well. They were the ones who directly oversaw the city and often took advantage of gatherings like this to discuss business. One of the ministers, a middle-aged woman with hard eyes who was in charge of the guilds, was glaring at Muriel over the full fluted glass she held aloft in one hand, her bony elbow perched on her hip.

“Let’s forget she’s my stepmother,” Camille whispered. “Tell me about Gail and Adrian.”

Andalissa shrugged, eyeing the uncomfortable group with amusement. “Adrian’s been going to the markets every week just to see her. Though I do appreciate the book she helped him pick out for me.” She cleared her throat. “He went last weekend and swooped in to hold her basket so she could keep herself warmer. There’s this new drink making it’s way into this world called hot cocoa. He went to get a cup for her and was to meet her at the fabric seller’s stall. Only, she wasn’t there when he arrived. The man said a woman had come and gone, but he’d missed her by several minutes. Adrian tried going back this morning, but didn’t see her.” She gave Camille a sidelong look. “I’m assuming ‘Gail’ was busy preparing for the soiree. Anyways, he’s been fiddling with that basket since, moping about, arguing with himself. He thinks himself torn between the girl he’s loved since we all were children and the woman he met at the markets.”

“Your brother is a disaster.”

Andalissa chuckled. “Well, our parents have kept us out of society for the past ten years. I suppose we’re both a little rusty. Oh, before I forget, I did manage to wheedle some sword lessons back at Murant Holdings. If you’ve time, or can sneak away from Muriel’s clutches, I want to show you what I know.”

Camille’s heart leapt and she could feel her face light up. “Really?”

“It’s why I cut my hair. Come. My parents won’t need me until later. We can sneak off to my rooms and I can show you some basic moves.”

Camille laughed softly. “Any I can use on your brother if he gets on my nerves one more time?”

“Oh, absolutely. I’ve been tempted to use them on him myself, but Mother would die. After killing me, of course.”

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