This is a really rough chapter. I’m not even sure if it’ll stay, but it kind of ties into a fairy tale told in Queen of the Garden of Girls, so I’m kind of torn. I haven’t even decided yet if Adrian really should get his own chapters, though I hope he’ll hurry up and tell me!
The cottage was warm and smelled of freshly baked bread. An old woman lived there, alone, and hadn’t seen anyone in years, excepting a few carefree rascally children who thought her house was made of sweets and candy. The house was a landmark, the woman told my sister. A way for the giants in the clouds to find their way. The old woman took my sister outside to where a towering vine hung from a cloud. But my sister wasn’t entirely certain it was a cloud; it didn’t move. The giants of the skies, the woman told her, are nomads, and she is the keeper sent by the fae to protect them.
Adrian waited before the massive doors of the castle, his hands behind his back, his feet stationed apart from each other. He looked like a well-dressed version of one of the castle knights that flanked him and the doors. He abruptly shifted his feet closer and relaxed his arms as a carriage rumbled closer to the castle, the noise only partly masked by the bubbling fountain to mark the turnabout for the carriages.
Unlike his sister and parents, he preferred to walk up to the castle. The time gave him some silence to think in. After days of listening to his sister berate him for not going after Abigail and his parents, in very confused tones, asking about what, exactly, was going on in the Olidan family, walking to the castle to meet James’s bride was a relief.
He still wasn’t sure himself what had happened to the Olidans. Abigail, the girl with the warm smile and wise eyes, was the the maid he’d met at the markets. He had realized his mistake only after Abigail had run from the manor. The maid hadn’t said her name was Gail. She’d clearly choked on her own name, ever the shy, reticent girl he’d left behind ten years before.
Adrian fought the urge to rub his brow. It was a relief to know he hadn’t gone and fallen for two different women who were, admittedly, a great deal alike. But, clearly, Abigail hadn’t intended on him ever finding out. How he was going to get through to her again was a complete mystery, but, perhaps, the coming engagement ball could be used to his advantage. As long as he could shake off her stepsister.
The carriage came to a stop, the four horses pulling it snorting and stamping at the ground. He smiled. The Murant horses were very active and disliked being told to stop, but the castle, for being on a hill, still had a great deal of open space they could gallop around in, and they knew it.
A footman opened the carriage door and handed out his mother and sister before his father emerged.
Grant smiled and patted Adrian on the shoulder as they approached. “Ready to meet a mermaid?”
“Should be an interesting experience.”
“Oh, I’m sure the sea witches gave her and her entourage legs,” Andalissa said, the skirt of her ball gown brushing against his legs as she passed by.
“Come, dear,” Aloise said to her husband, lifting an eyebrow expectantly.
Grant bowed to her and offered his arm. Then he nodded to the knights, who pushed open the great doors. Adrian and Andalissa filed in after their parents.
Catch up on Sisters of String and Glass
Check out Queen of the Garden of Girls