Chapter Fifteen – continued
Swiftly, Geoffrey swept in and expertly wrapped each of the Olidans in their winter cloak. He was quick and efficient, vanishing as quickly as he had arrived. Just as he had done prior to Lawrence’s second marriage, and as the Count expected.
Adrian held out a hand to Abigail and bowed low. “My Lady?”
Abigail smiled, tickled at seeing both the boy she had grown up with and the regal man he had become. It was easy for her to place her hand in his, especially when the boyish twinkle she’d loved darted through his eyes. The boy she’d known had always been happy to include everyone, to have as large an audience as possible. Inwardly, she grinned, wondering if she and her sisters were in for a ride during which they would lose their ears.
Adrian guided Abigail towards the door, his hand tight around hers. The clicks of glass heels followed behind her as Geoffrey reappeared to pull open the doors and bow the family and Adrian out into the snow.
“James had to get engaged during the winter,” Camille muttered as soon as Lawrence and Muriel had split off from them for their own carriage.
“The Pearl Kingdom was eager for the match to proceed as quickly as possible,” Adrian said. He shrugged, letting formality fall by the wayside without the Count Olidan to look on. “The mermaid princess is fascinated by the snow. I’ve heard she’s demanding a winter wedding out in the snow.”
Beside him, Abigail shivered, her fingers clenching tighter around his. “She’s mad.”
“She’s a mermaid,” Camille put in as a footman pulled open the Murant carriage.
“I’m sure the novelty will wear off,” Adrian said dryly as he handed Abigail in.
Abigail happily settled into the warm carriage, a heating lamp on either side. Camille was handed in after her and quickly settled on the other side, happy to ride backwards. She was also quick to grab onto Madeline and pull her to sit beside her, leaving the seat beside Abigail free. Abigail couldn’t stop the brief glare that filled her face, but Camille only innocently raised a brow and turned to look out the window beside her where Adrian was exchanging a few words with the footman.
“Let’s hope we head right over to the castle, shall we?” Camille said, a smile on her face.
Next to her, Madeline’s eyes widened. “What?”
Camille waved a hand while all Abigail wanted to do was cover her face.
“Oh, Adrian has a habit of getting thoughts into his head and wanting to see them through.” She turned to Abigail and smiled. “Wasn’t it a few months before the Murants left the city when he was supposed to escort you home, but you ended up on the beach and in the city gardens before you actually made it home?” Camille giggled, one hand over her mouth. “Mother was furious. Adrian and Abigail were supposed to be right behind our carriage, but had diverted well before getting here.”
“I was feeling melancholy,” Abigail muttered, fiddling with the edge of her cloak. “Adrian was being kind and thought a trip to the sea to pretend to talk to Father would help.” She sighed. “It didn’t, so he thought the rose garden would help.”
“Telling stories about me?” Adrian asked merrily as he climbed into the carriage. He grinned at Abigail just before settling down next to her. “I remember taking you to the rose garden.” He reached out and gently brushed her fingers. “You were so sad that day.”
Abigail shook her head. “Let’s just get to the castle, shall we?” She flicked a look in Adrian’s direction. “On time would be nice.”
Adrian dipped a nod. “Of course. My uncle, not to mention my parents, are expecting me to be on time. The driver has explicit directions to take us straight there.”
Madeline shifted slightly across from him, her eyes demurely lowered, her fingers tightly clenched in her lap. “It must have been lovely to ride around the city with you, Your Highness.”
Adrian cocked his head to the side. “Well, you’d have to ask Abigail.”
Abigail met Madeline’s gaze, but there was nothing except the Madeline she’d come to know in her eyes. They were wide and eager, though her teeth nibbled nervously at her lip. She took a quiet breath, remembering her promise to do what she could for Madeline and Adrian.
“An outing with Adrian is always a surprise,” she finally said. She smiled at Madeline. “If you’ve the time, it’s certainly an experience.”
Out of the corner of her eye, Abigail saw her sister frown. Certainly, she liked the Duke, but he’d grown just as she had. While childhood still had a certain hold on them, it was uncertain whether they would even be compatible. No, it was more pragmatic for her to set aside childish infatuations and keep her promise.
Catch up on Sisters of String and Glass
Check out Queen of the Garden of Girls