Chapter Ten – continued
Fortunately, Camille took charge. She pulled Muriel forward and inclined her head to her friend in parting. Abigail quickly moved Madeline alongside her in Camille’s wake. Muriel was still in her stupor as they loaded her into the carriage and headed back home.
By the time the carriage rolled up to Olidan Manor, Muriel had managed to shake herself out of her daze. Now she shook slightly and her face was ashen.
“What shall I do?” Muriel murmured as they trooped into the manor, her daughter’s hands helping to support her.
Abigail met her sister’s eyes before Camille could open her mouth. She knew her older sister was furious, knew nothing good would issue from her mouth. It would be up to Abigail to smooth things over, to prevent the rift between stepmother and stepdaughter from filling with angry words and blood. Camille, Abigail knew, wouldn’t let an opportunity like this to belittle Muriel pass by her.
“Madeline,” Abigail said, pushing past the stone in her throat. She swallowed heavily. “Why don’t you and Camille see if Helene has any sweet buns left?”
“Madeline, do you mind going on your own?” Camille asked, her eyes on Abigail.
Out of the corner of her eye, Abigail could see Madeline nervously looking around all of them before, blessedly, dropping Abigail’s wrist and bolting from the hall. As she left, Geoffrey took it as his cue to swoop in and gather heavy cloaks.
Abigail pressed her lips tightly together and shook her head at her sister. She saw the frustration in Camille’s eyes, saw her need to take Muriel down a notch. But Abigail knew it wouldn’t help any of them, would just make matters worse. Abigail couldn’t let that happen.
Taking a deep breath as her heart raced away from her, Abigail stepped between Muriel and Camille as smoothly as she could. Muriel still looked a little lost, but met her eyes anyways, a bewildered, confused look in them.
“I know your introduction into society was not what you thought it would be,” Abigail said soothingly. “Fortunately, we know the Prince and Princess well. They are unlikely to invite you into their home.”
Her words must have sunk into Muriel’s head, because Muriel abruptly dropped to the floor, her voluminous skirts billowing around her as she wrapped her arms around her middle.
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