Sisters of String and Glass, Part 142

Chapter Thirty-Six – continued

Startled at a voice that was not Adrian’s, Abigail shot up in bed, the covers falling around her waist in a silky puddle, her tangled hair falling around her shoulders. She gasped at the sight of a looming shadow just outside of the moonlight falling on her floor and quickly pulled the covers over her chest.

“Who’s there?” she whispered, her voice quivering as her heart quickened.

“Just a friend,” the voice said mildly.

Her brow creased. The voice was familiar, but she couldn’t place it. Then again, she had been hearing quite a few male, and female, voices she didn’t recognize lately. The castle was still crawling with people. The storm may have been abating, but no one was brave enough to wander back into the city without some announcement from the King, who was still out at sea.

“If you’re a friend,” she whispered, her voice slow and careful despite the wobbles, “why are you in the shadows?”

“Ah,” the man said, a smile in his voice. “I did not say whose friend I am.”

Her hands clutched at the covers and she attempted to shrink back into the pillows. Moments ago, she had wanted to banish the next serving girl, but now she wished one of those stubborn young women would walk in with the next meal she was tasked with putting down Abigail’s throat. But there were no knocks, no swooshes, to indicate anyone was entering her chambers.

“My guards,” she began, her mind whirling. Her guards were positioned right outside of her chambers. Adrian had ordered her to be guarded every moment of the day and night.

Too casually, the shadowy figure drew out a long, thin something that glinted as it touched the edge of the moonlight. Her breath caught, willing herself to believe she had not seen a red sheen mixed with the shadow.

Her hands shook with the sheer force she was clutching at her covers. Her heart threatened to jump out of her throat. Her mouth was dry, and she was certain she was shaking.

“What do you want?” she finally whispered, so softly she wasn’t sure if the man heard her at all.

The man didn’t say anything for a few moments. Instead, she watched, with horrible fascination, as he set the tip of one finger against the point of the knife and turned it one way and then the other. She didn’t think he pressed hard enough to draw his own blood, but she suddenly didn’t feel too sure of anything.

“My dear Abigail,” he said softly, “it’s not what I want, but what a certain friend of mine wants.”

Confusion twisted in Abigail’s gut. “I’ve only just met you. How would I know one of your friends?”

“I believe you know my friend much better than you know me.”

The question formed in her mind, but the words stuck to the inside of her mouth, refusing to pass her lips. She couldn’t blame them; she wasn’t sure she really wanted to know.

Finally, on a whisper full of hesitation, she dared, “What does your friend want?”

There was a smile in his voice. “Everything you have.”

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