Chapter Twenty-One – continued
Camille rested her fork on her plate with not a small degree of regret before rising to gently press a kiss to her father’s cheek. As expected, he didn’t look up, but she did see his fingers clench more tightly around his own fork. The slightest indication he was aware she was there. It was enough.
Swiftly, Camille made her way from the formal dining room. The halls were quiet, so she lifted her skirts and dashed off for the stairs. Her heart in her throat, she hurriedly made her way to Madeline’s rooms.
Just ahead of her, a door clicked closed. Her hammering heart only seemed to work harder as she slowed her steps to a quiet tread. Hardly daring to breathe, she silently approached Madeline’s door, hoping the two women hadn’t retreated into the bedchamber. She wouldn’t hear a word unless they remained in the sitting room.
“This is taking too long, Mother,” Madeline was hissing. “We know Abigail isn’t here. You said her rooms were empty. I should be at the castle! This is my one chance to win over Adrian.”
“Quiet down, dear,” Muriel said, her voice sounding tired.
Camille could hear a heavy sigh and assumed Muriel must have sat down heavily. She could still hear pacing footsteps that were quicker than Muriel’s slower, more stately steps. Quietly, she sank down to her knees and rested back on her heels, keeping her ear pressed to the door. She wasn’t quite sure what she would say or do if one of them caught her listening, but she figured she had enough hanging over Muriel. After all, Lawrence was home now.
“I can’t,” Madeline said in a loud whisper. “Now’s my chance.”
“We mustn’t make Lawrence suspect anything. You heard him. He fully supports Abigail’s marriage to Adrian. No, my dear, we must take care of Abigail.”
“We don’t even know where she is.”
“No, but she’s bound to turn up.”
“What if she really is at the castle?” Madeline asked, uncertainty creeping into her voice as the pacing abruptly stopped.
“Then it would be a good thing you’re still here at the Manor.”
“Muriel!” Madeline hissed, her voice sharp enough and her use of her mother’s name unexpected enough that Camille nearly toppled over.
Holding her breath, Camille pressed her ear as tightly to the door as possible. She dearly wished she could yank her heart from her chest and throw it far away. It was annoyingly difficult to hear above it’s constant thumps.
“Madeline,” Muriel said, just as sharply.
“What? Who’s going to hear?”
“You forget the craftier sister is still in residence,” Muriel said drily.
And that, Camille determined, was her cue to leave.
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