I debated whether or not to post the next chapter this week since it’s kind of long and this is the last week before I vanish for 2 weeks for the holidays. But, as I have a packed week on this blog, I decided to push back my Digest to next Monday, which gives me the chance to spread this out over 5 days instead of 4. I hope you enjoy!
I can’t promise I’ll post the next chapter after my break as I’m currently only a few paragraphs into it as having two kids doing school at home doesn’t give me much time to write, but I’m hoping the two weeks off for all of us will give me time to at least complete chapter 24.
My sister presented the miller’s daughter to the Queen, all done up in the finest fabrics and decorated with the most exotic ornamentations she could find. The miller’s daughter pleased the Queen, who invited the princess and her handmaiden to stay the night as the snow was falling thickly outside the dome and the dome itself was much too chilly for a delicate princess to be wandering. The princess graciously accepted and my sister swept her off, a metal pea in her pocket.
Camille sat in the parlor with her father. Well, her father was writing letters at his desk and Camille was reading a book. While Lawrence would have preferred sending his daughter out to find a suitable partner, he couldn’t fault the novel his daughter had chosen: a classic from the linked world his late wife had cherished. Though perhaps he wouldn’t be happy to know she was doing less reading and more keeping an ear out for Muriel and Madeline.
Neither woman had joined father and daughter at breakfast, and Lawrence hadn’t inquired after them. After spending some time silently pressing an ear to both Muriel’s and Madeline’s doors, she had decided situating herself as close as she could to the front doors of the manor would be the best way to keep an eye on them. After all, if Muriel was hurrying Madeline off to the castle to snag Adrian, they’d be leaving through the front, and not through the kitchens like Camille and Abigail were wont to do.
A fire crackled merrily and her father’s pen scratched along the paper, otherwise all was quiet. Camille’s fingers danced along the sides of the pages of her book, impatience running from her brow to her toes. Late morning was creeping up on them and, other than the servants and her father, she hadn’t seen anyone. Surely Abigail would have arrived back in the city by now, but she had told her sister to head for Murant Manor instead.
A sharp knock came at the door, and Camille leaped up, nearly throwing her book at Lawrence’s head. But Lawrence, ever lost in his own mind since returning from the sea, only continued to write. Outside the parlor’s door, she heard Geoffrey’s quick steps and the rush of cold winter air as the doors were pulled open.
Curious, Camille quietly set her book on the sofa behind her and made her way into the hall.
“Kyanan?” she asked, blinking in surprise at the tall young woman wrapped in a thick winter coat.
The woman pushed off the hood and grinned, the cold flushing her dark cheeks.
“It’s been too long, Camille,” Kyanan said as she approached Camille, pulling off her gloves and flexing her fingers. “Castle-issued gloves are toasty, but awfully stiff.”
Camille laughed and pulled her old friend into a hug. “What brings you here?” She glanced behind her to where her father was still scratching away. “Why don’t we go the kitchens and see if Helene has something warm and flaky?”
A soft, nostalgic smile spread across Kyanan’s face, but regret quickly forced it off and she shook her head. “Unfortunately, even though James has taken off, I still have a job to do.”
Camille made a face. “You’ve become Adrian’s advisor. Hasn’t talked your ears off yet, I see.”
Kyanan laughed softly. “More of an assistant, Camille. If word got out around the court that a woman was advising the heir, well.”
Camille couldn’t help but roll her eyes. “Court needs an overhaul. From what I understand, it’s one of the reasons why James ran away.”
“Well, I don’t blame him. Though it has put Abigail in a difficult place, hasn’t it?”
Camille perked up. “Have you seen her? Abigail?”
“I just left her in guest quarters at the castle. Adrian has insisted she remain in the castle. Something about keeping her away from your stepmother and stepsister?”
“It’s a long story,” Camille said with a grimace. “But, yes, I agree with Adrian. I suppose he does sometimes have a good idea rattling around in his head.”
A soft frown creased the corners of Kyanan’s lips as she pulled her gloves back on. “He’s doing remarkably well. I think, as he settles into his new position, he’ll surprise us all.”
Camille sighed. “For my sister’s sake, I hope so.”
“I’d love to stay, Camille, but Adrian will be needing me soon and I promised to help get Abigail settled. But do come by the castle when you can.”
Camille’s eyes briefly strayed up the stairs. All was quiet there, but it did little to reassure her. “Let my sister know I’ll see her soon, but I’m, ah, handling a couple of things.”
Kyanan raised a brow, but didn’t ask any questions, saying only, “I will.”
Catch up on Sisters of String and Glass
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