Chapter Forty – continued
Adrian followed Camille through the forest, his face grim and his hands balled into fists. He could hear Madeline’s voice and the ringing of steel. It could only mean trouble. Through the branches, he could glimpse the top of the fae tower, and his heart clenched with the knowledge that Abigail was trapped in there.
“Very soon,” he heard Madeline say, her voice haughty, “I will be your Queen, and all of you will be executed.”
The anger boiled up in him. He knew it wasn’t kingly behavior, but he stormed through after Camille, coldly calling out, “Not likely.”
He took five steps into the clearing before stopping. Madeline and Ephraim had turned to him, but the rest of the anonymous men remained facing the people and fae they were holding at sword point. There were close to a dozen, all swathed in black cloaks and all bearing something sharp and silvery.
There was a flurry of uncertain behavior in the clearing, from the people and fae being held hostage as well as the people holding them hostage. Here was the king, but no one seemed to dare offer a single nod of deference, to make a movement that might provoke death or something equally unappealing. Adrian didn’t care.
Finally, Madeline peeled away, sheathing her sword. She approached with a smile, instantly transformed from a terrifying mad woman into the woman who had approached him when he’d found Abigail missing.
She dipped a perfect curtsey. Adrian refused to acknowledge it, but all she did was tilt her head slightly and offer a smile.
“Your Majesty,” she said, “I’ve discovered where Lady Abigail has been taken.” She waved at the people being held at sword point. “These rascals have imprisoned her.” She lowered her lashes. “I have heard they left her with no food or water, and I fear she has perished.”
Camille stepped past Adrian. “Impossible,” she hissed. “I just spoke with my sister. She told me it was you and Ephraim who imprisoned her.”
Adrian watched as Madeline heaved a sigh, her shoulders tensing. He placed a hand on the hilt of his sword. It was his turn to step past Camille, who fortunately saw the wisdom of letting him handle Madeline. Camille, after all, had no weapon.
“You could have made this easy,” Madeline said, her voice silky soft. “Just choose me instead of her.” She lifted her head, her eyes flashing. “Then I wouldn’t have had to do this. I was supposed to be your Queen, Adrian.”
“You will refer to me as Your Majesty,” he said, his voice hard as steel. “The Countess Olidan here has brought me all the proof I need to imprison you and your sister.”
At that, Madeline flinched. Adrian quickly held up a hand to forestall Camille, and was rewarded by the sound of a low growl. He knew Camille didn’t like being forced back, didn’t like not being able to take charge, but he was King and it was his bride being held captive.
“We know Muriel is your sister,” Adrian continued calmly. “The marriage record between Muriel and Lawrence is invalid. Lady Camille is the rightful Countess Olidan, and you and Muriel will spend a lifetime imprisoned.”
Catch up on Sisters of String and Glass
Check out Queen of the Garden of Girls