Chapter Ten – continued
Her eyes desperately scanned the crowd again. But a loud crash brought the soiree to a screeching halt. Silence fell across the ballroom as people silently turned in the direction of the noise.
“I have had it,” a female voice spat.
“Oh no,” Madeline murmured, rising from the settee she and Abigail were perched on. “Is that my mother?”
Abigail, pale and her own fingers shaking now, rose with her. Muriel was standing with a group of men and women, all of them leaders of the city. The woman who had spoken was the severe head of guilds. She didn’t tolerate nonsense or fripperies. The fact that she had tolerated Muriel’s entrance to their group spoke volumes of her respect for Count Olidan.
“You, Countess, do not belong here,” the woman was saying, her voice crisp and no nonsense. “Your family should be ashamed of your behavior. How dare you enter our conversation without an invitation. How dare you dominate us. You will listen and your will respect us.”
“Oh no,” Madeline whispered again as she gripped Abigail’s wrist.
Abigail winced, wondering if she was going to be stuck with this for the rest of her life. Or at least until she could get Madeline married off to Adrian. Madeline certainly didn’t know her own strength.
“I couldn’t agree more,” Abigail said calmly as she caught sight of Camille and Andalissa rushing back into the ballroom.
Muriel, though, had no idea of the offense she had inflicted, and drew herself up, holding her head high. “I am the Countess Olidan, married to a cousin of the king. How dare you raise your voice to me.”
Abigail covered her face with her free hand. Her heart was hammering, her feet wavering with indecision. She both wanted to flee and jump between the minister and Muriel to try to soothe ruffled feathers. But her feet were like leaden stone. Instead, she reluctantly lowered her hand to meet her sister’s eyes.
Camille was already grimly making her way through the crowd just as the Prince and Princess were making their way over. Abigail took her own free hand and gripped Madeline’s in a vice grip. Together, they stood still as statues, waiting, hardly drawing a breath.
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