Sisters of String and Glass, Part 77

Chapter Seventeen – continued

Abigail blinked at them. “You have the swiftest horses. I don’t understand how you couldn’t get there without help. Surely, if you leave now, you’ll have a sizable lead.”

“As soon as the castle knows we’re gone, every knight will be sent out to find us. I’ve left a note for my parents to let them know I refuse my responsibility as Crown Prince. My father will be furious. If he wants to find us, he will. He’ll make it known in every kingdom and The Spindle that I’ve run away and Poppy and I are wanted. I need you to help talk us into The Spindle and Roderick Manor if we are too late.”

“Why me?”

“Well, you or Camille, but, since you’re here and time is of the essence…”

James trailed off and, if Abigail were the sort to curse, she’d be stringing them into a sentence. But she wasn’t, so all she did was bite her lip.

“Why me or Camille?” she finally asked.

“I trust no one else. You and Camille were my closest childhood friends. The closest friends I’ve ever had apart from Adrian and Andalissa. But I can’t ask them. You heard Adrian last night.”

“But if you lay it out for him as you did me…?”

James shook his head and fell back into his chair. “It’s not that easy. He’ll just tell me he’ll be by my side so Merike can’t take over. I can’t put him into harm’s way.” He looked up at her. “Please, Gail.”

Abigail took a deep breath, her heart racing. A part of her knew that, if James left, Adrian would be Crown Prince. If she married Adrian, she’d be Queen one day. It wasn’t a thought she wanted to dwell on. A part of her wanted to tell James to stick with his duty and marry Merike, but he had as much a right to happiness as she did. Besides, Adrian might just hate her for helping James run away. It broke her heart to think she would lose him, but how could she let her childhood friend enter into a devastating marriage? Surely Adrian would understand. One day.

She whirled away and strode through the kitchen. “Helene! Quickly, please, package enough food for three to last the journey to The Spindle. Alexander, please run out and have the stable hands prepare Pear and the mounts for the Prince and Poppy. Diane, I’ll need some extra cloaks and some spare traveling clothes. Quickly, please!”

Immediately, the kitchen staff ran from their stations, hurrying to do as she asked, hearing the urgency in her voice. It scared her a little at how easily commanding them had come. But she knew in her heart she had to help James and Poppy. And time was most definitely of the essence.

Quickly, she returned to the table and grabbed a sweet bun. “Eat. We’ll be off as soon as all is prepared.”

James grinned at her and, for the first time, Poppy looked up, tears in her eyes.

“Thank you, Gail,” James said quietly, intensely.

Abigail swallowed and nodded. “Please don’t make me regret this, James.”

“I’ll try, Gail,” he promised. “I’ll try.”

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