Chapter Twenty-Six – continued
He sighed. “Now tell me about Madeline.”
Abigail bit her lip. “Well, when she first became my sister, she was sweet and so shy. I thought I was simply being a good sister by helping her acclimate to being a noble, to being the daughter of a man so highly regarded and loved by the King.” She looked up at him through lowered lashes. “You must understand I didn’t think you remembered me, didn’t think we’d be anything more than friends and childhood playmates.”
He nodded. “I know. We’d been apart for so long. I suppose I can see why you’d help her catch my attention. But why me? There are a number of eligible nobles.”
Abigail shrugged. “James was practically betrothed, so why not aim for the next highest heir?”
He looked thoughtful. “It’s like that saying from the linked world, something about shooting for the moon?”
“Sounds about right to me,” she said, though she didn’t know the rest of it any more than Adrian did.
“What changed your mind about trying to help her?” he asked, drawing her attention back.
She gave him a small, shy smile, dropping her eyes to her lap. “You. Even though you didn’t know who I was at the markets, I knew who you were and you were just, well, Adrian. The Adrian I remembered, but grown up.”
He grinned at her as heat bloomed in her cheeks just like the ruby red roses growing to her right.
“My sister always did tell me I would never grow up. Of course,” he said, scratching at his jaw with a playful, thoughtful look, “she said it with a great deal of exasperation. I wonder how she’ll feel about it when she finds out it’s exactly what made you fall for me again.”
Abigail knew her face matched the roses, but Adrian was sweet enough to not mention it, instead placing a cake on her plate.
“What are you going to do about Madeline?” Adrian asked, his face serious once again. “I could have the guards refuse her and Muriel entry, but, since they’re your father’s wife and stepdaughter now, I don’t think it would reflect well on your family.”
Abigail sighed. “Don’t worry about it. Camille is keeping a close eye on them. So far they’ve mostly kept themselves locked up at Olidan Manor.” She frowned, too ladylike to twist the tablecloth draped over the table, but her fingers did twitch with the longing. “She said she followed one of them out into the woods. To a tower. A fae tower.”
“A fae tower?”
She looked up at him, at the bewilderment in his voice. “You don’t know about it?”
“I have no idea what a fae tower is.”
Abigail shook her head. “It’s a piece of forgotten history. When the fae were blessed with their magic, everyone else was terrified, so locked them in towers. Over time, they learned how to use their magic and how to communicate so they could eventually break out and make a home in The Spindle.”
“Why would Muriel or Madeline be interested in a tower?”
Abigail shuddered. “I don’t know, and I don’t want to think about it.”
He quickly reached over and grabbed her hands. “Don’t worry, Abigail. We’ll keep you safe from them in the castle.”
“What about Camille?”
“If Camille wants, I can send castle guards. But, knowing Camille, she’ll insist she can take care of it on her own.”
Abigail grimaced. “I know.” She gently pulled one hand from him and placed it over the small lump beneath her dress. “But we keep in touch. Most have forgotten, but sea glass can be enchanted for communication. Camille and I still believe in and use them.”
“Sounds useful,” Adrian murmured thoughtfully.
“It’s not so simple, Adrian,” she said quickly. “The enchantment only works as long as you believe. Most people think of them as silly trinkets and a waste of money to pay a fae to enchant them. But my sister and I have used them for as long as I can remember.”
He shrugged. “Well, I’ll keep it in mind just in case.”
A soft knock came at the door and Adrian groaned. Abigail looked up, but no one entered.
“I suppose that must be a sign your midday meal is over,” she said softly.
He stood and went over to her to gently press a kiss to her cheek. “That’s Kyanan, letting me know my next meeting will be expecting me soon. She’ll always welcome you here, but I need to go.”
Abigail smiled at him, reaching out to give his hand a squeeze. “Adrian, I understand. I’ll stop in your office tonight to beg you to go to bed.”
“I’ll be looking forward to it,” he said quietly before moving off and vanishing from Kyanan’s garden.
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