Sisters of String and Glass, Part 81

Chapter Eighteen – continued

The knights only stared her down. No matter how important her father was to the king, their orders overrode everything. She stared back, certain the men would be narrowing their eyes and glaring at her if they could. She gritted her teeth and raised her chin. Even if Adrian and Abigail had managed to find each other on their own, she’d spent enough time trying to coerce her sister that she knew she owed Abigail this much: to help her get James and Poppy away to the fullest extent of her ability.

The guards’ hands tightened around their pikes. One shook a little, as though the guard wanted to lower it and charge at her. But Camille held firm, her eyes steady, her mouth set in a firm line, as alarms clattered behind and in front of and around her. The streets behind her were starting to fill with people and questions, yells and shouts. If she could see the guards’ hands beneath their thick gloves, she was certain they’d be snowy white from gripping the pikes so tightly.

Fortunately, the sound of horse hooves snapped the guards back to attention, and had Camille spinning around. She gasped, almost coming nose to chest with a snorting stallion.

Adrian’s stallion. A beast of an animal, though a sweet apple or pear would turn him into anyone’s best friend.

He leaped down and grabbed her by the shoulders as she continued to gape at the horse. Dimly, she was aware of Andalissa and the Prince and Princess.

“Camille, where’s Abigail?” Adrian asked urgently.

“What are you doing here?” Andalissa asked, hurrying to her brother’s side, her skirts hiked up just below her knees.

For once, Camille’s mouth opened and closed without anything issuing forth. Her mind was frozen. What could she tell them? She had maneuvered Adrian and Abigail together. Against her sister’s wishes. Now she was maneuvering to help the Crown Prince and his beloved to escape. Against everyone’s wishes. And Abigail had asked her to not involve the Murants.

“Safe,” she finally uttered. “Don’t worry, Adrian. Abigail is safe. What has happened?”

Adrian’s hands fell from her shoulders and he looked up at the castle, grim as his hands tightened into fists.

“My fool cousin has done something utterly stupid.”

“James?” Camille asked dumbly.

“He’s run away with Princess Merike’s handmaiden,” Andalissa whispered, her tone and her wide eyes at odds, though Camille was the only one who could read her. Outwardly, she was supposed to be horrified. Inwardly, she delighted in a couple who had found true love and were willing to do everything to stay together.

Camille gasped and pressed a hand to her mouth. It was not at all the reaction she would have actually had, but Adrian had always paid more attention to Abigail than her. Her heart beat furiously as she fervently hoped he would be too preoccupied to study her.

“My uncle has called us to help find them,” Adrian said, authority in his voice. “We could use all eyes and ears possible. Keep some out for us, will you?”

“Y-yes, of course.” She took a step back as Andalissa’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. “I’ll head home at once and let my father know.”

Adrian nodded, his eyes suddenly pining her. “Yes, do that. My uncle will need your father to help smooth things over with the mer king. Please keep Abigail safe, Camille. I will visit her as soon as I can.”

“My sister is unlikely to go anywhere,” Camille said dryly.

Adrian glowered at her. “I know Abigail well, Camille. I do not know or trust your stepmother and stepsister.”

Camille could do nothing more than dip her head. Then, knowing there was nothing else for her to learn, she turned and made her way home.

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