The giantess graciously allowed my sister entrance to her large home, though it was modest by giant standards. There, playing within with a young giant child, the size of a full-grown adult, were a lovely girl and broad shouldered boy. They resembled Ilsa, the Keeper, and my sister knew she’d found the girl and boy. But, just as the Keeper had said, her children could not recall her, could only call the giantess their mother, if only by adoption. The giantess offered to let the children visit this woman calling herself their mother, but the children refused, so my sister went on her way. The Keeper was overjoyed to know her children were well and happy, though sadness at not being with them clung to her as my sister bid her farewell.
Abigail was wide awake at dawn, not quite sure if she should bolt down to the kitchen in her maid’s dress or lie in bed until full morning as a proper lady usually did. Her sore feet decided for her. She’d spent much of the previous night dancing with Adrian, becoming more at ease with him and in his arms. Even if Madeline spent more time lurking in shadows than dancing with her fair share of eligible bachelors, namely the bachelors Andalissa and Camille had “thoughtfully” sent her way.
A small smile graced her lips. Adrian was certainly more than an overgown version of the boy she had known, with a serious streak that took duty, honor, and responsibility to a near extreme. But he was still the boy who had stolen her heart when she was twelve. It unsettled her a little that the feelings she’d locked away ten years before were so easily released and revived, but it was so easy when he was still everything she’d loved about him. He hadn’t changed one bit.
Adrian, ever thoughtful and protective of her, had intentionally kept her dancing until the end. Her father, Muriel, Camille, and Madeline had departed long before. The King had offered her guest chambers, but, since Olidan Manor was so close, she had graciously declined.
Camille had had a hand in arranging her to get home without having to deal with Madeline. Through the enchanted glass, Camille had told her Madeline had been furious, though it had been interesting to watch her keep it out of Lawrence’s awareness. After all, the Count was just as intent on marrying Abigail to Adrian as Camille, Andalissa, and Adrian were.
She giggled a little to herself, pressing a ladylike hand to her lips even though she was alone. Everyone was ready for Abigail to marry Adrian. If she were one of the headstrong heroines in her mother’s books, she’d likely be running away. But she was Abigail. And Abigail didn’t know how she’d survive the wild if she ran away. Surely, she’d die, if not by fright than by some danger lurking on the roads. Besides, why run from the only one she had ever loved?
But Camille had concocted a sleeping draught with Helene that had sent Muriel and Madeline to bed almost as soon as they had been dressed for the night, making it safe for Abigail to slip home.
Abigail turned over and regarded the gradually lightening sky. Her window overlooked the copse she’d hidden in and she watched as the light touched their crowns. Briefly, she closed her eyes, but her exhaustion was no match for routine.
With a sigh, she slipped out of bed and into a dress her father would approve of. Sky blue with a full skirt and long sleeves, it would both keep her warm and mark her as a noble. With her father home, she was every bit a Lady Olidan and not at all a kitchen maid.
But she still headed straight for the kitchens in the quiet, slumbering manor. She could almost taste Helene’s sweet buns.
As expected, the kitchens were bustling. But Helene knew she was there the moment she entered.
“My Lady,” Helene said.
Abigail quickly raised her hands. “Don’t worry. I’m not here to make bread. I’m just looking for some sweet buns.”
Helene bit her lip and glanced over to Abigail’s usual spot, near the table by the back door. Without saying a word, she gestured for Abigail to follow. Her brow creased, she did, wondering at Helene’s nervous look.
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