Chapter Thirty-Three – continued
Camille watched, her eyes hard and her gaze unwavering as Madeline visibly pulled herself together in order to rise as gracefully as she could. Madeline tilted her head up, defiant though uncertainty flickered through her eyes as horror dawned on Muriel’s face, her hands flitting towards her hair.
“You know,” Madeline said quietly.
“That you and Muriel are sisters? Yes.” Camille smiled, slow and cold, as she looked between the two women, one pale and defiant and the other almost a scared rabbit, her hands now clutching at her black braid. “I also know Muriel has lived for over five years in the linked world and she returned last year to help you murder your father and mother.”
“They were barely parents to us,” Muriel spat out, her knuckles white. “Why do you think I left for the linked world?”
Camille fought the urge to roll her eyes. “I don’t care about the why. Or even the how. Tell me, Muriel, were the murders Madeline’s idea?”
“Muriel!” Madeline hissed, her head whipping to her sister.
Muriel only glared at her younger sister. “Madeline begged me to come back, saying she was desperate to marry the Duke Murant and had a plan. The death of Countess Olidan had just been announced, and she saw an opportunity.”
“Muriel!” Madeline shrieked, launching herself at her sister.
Camille watched as the two women screamed and rolled on the floor, Muriel’s braid coming undone. The dramatics were a little too much for her, but she refused to budge. These women were murderers and conspirators. She couldn’t leave them alone.
“That’s enough,” she finally spat out. “Your marriage to my father is null and void. You were never Mistress Hendy as the records of your marriage to my father show. Both of you are interlopers and destined for prison.”
Camille hadn’t been sure if either woman heard her, but she assumed the word “prison” had gotten their attention. At least, the rolling and screaming had stopped, leaving the both of them lying on the floor in messy, unladylike heaps.
She crossed her arms as Madeline scrambled to her feet. Muriel remained on the floor, huffing to herself as she straightened her gown. It was quite a change from the day Lawrence had gone to the Pearl Kingdom, when she’d faced off with Muriel. But she had a suspicion it was really Madeline behind their scheme.
Slowly, Madeline walked up to Camille, who refused to budge, though wariness flooded her bones. The two women stared at each other, Muriel still fussing on the floor and muttering to herself.
“You,” Camille said.
Madeline flashed a mirthless grin that did little more than dent her cheeks. “My parents cared only for money. My sister and I were no more than somewhat useful to them. I could have gone with my sister. But I had my sights set on something higher. It was convenient when your mother died.” A slow smile spread across her face. “And it’ll be even more convenient when your sister dies.”
A jolt slammed through Camille and her eyes widened. “You can’t. Abigail is in the castle.”
Madeline laughed, low and deep in her throat. “But for how long, Camille? How long?”
Camille threw herself at Madeline, but, unseen by her, Muriel had finally found her feet and she now threw herself at Camille. Muriel was surprisingly strong, holding tightly to Camille’s torso and trapping her arms.
“Stay still and this will be easy,” Muriel hissed in her ear.
Camille tried to throw out her elbows, tried to step backwards onto Muriel’s toes, but the woman only laughed softly.
“There are these classes in the linked world,” Muriel said. “They’re called martial arts.”
“Muriel,” Madeline said, her voice coming from the doorway.
With a soft laugh in her ear, Muriel thrust Camille away, sending her sprawling to the floor. Before she could find her feet, the door slammed closed and she heard the lock mechanism engage.
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