Chapter Forty-One – continued
Adrian’s gaze was hard as he studied Madeline and Ephraim, the two kneeling before him. The ever resourceful Violet had fetched rope from Olidan Manor to tie them up. She’d also reported Muriel was still tightly locked up.
“Explain yourself,” he demanded of Madeline.
The woman lifted her chin, but said nothing.
“It doesn’t matter,” Adrian said softly. “I am King. My word is law. The records tell a tale. The Countess Olidan would never lie to me.”
He crouched down in front of Madeline, the Pearl King and Queen hovering, their powers swirling at their fingertips. He had no idea why they were choosing to be so helpful, but, right now, he wouldn’t question it.
“I suppose it makes sense,” he continued musingly. “You must have felt betrayed by Abigail. After all, she was supposed to help you win my heart.” He smiled, but it was cold. “But I’ve loved Abigail since I was a boy.” He shook his head. “The things women will do…”
“You know nothing,” Madeline spat. “I spent my whole life as the daughter of a moderately successful merchant. He promised me riches, a desirable marriage, entrance into the ranks of the city’s wealthy. But he and my mother were terrible at their business. They lost everything and treated me poorly, not that they had ever treated Muriel and me well to begin with. That’s why she left. And that’s why she came back when I asked.”
Adrian nodded thoughtfully. “The timing makes sense. The Count Olidan had just lost his wife. He was a suitable target. And your sister? She’s something called an actor?”
Madeline shrugged and turned away, her shoulders slumping slightly. “That’s what she told me, but I have no idea what these movies and television shows she was talking about were.”
“James was practically betrothed,” Adrian said. “But I was not. Of course, you saw an opportunity when the nobility began pouring back into the city to celebrate the inevitable betrothal. But I chose Abigail.”
“She promised me,” Madeline whispered, her eyes down. Adrian wasn’t sure of what to make of the tears sliding down her cheeks. “So I conspired to get rid of her.”
“Just as you conspired to get rid of your parents,” Adrian said, watching closely as she flinched again. “Camille has the records. Both of your parents died suddenly, together. Suspicious, I’d say.”
Madeline remained silent, her lips pressed tightly together.
Adrian sighed and shook his head, turning his attention to Ephraim, but the old man looked away.
“The late King trusted you,” Adrian said, his voice hard. “You betrayed him. You betrayed his heir. I don’t care what Madeline held over you; she’s a girl with no standing. The both of you have your stories. Muriel has her story.”
“We would be happy to imprison them in the Pearl Kingdom.”
Adrian looked up and caught a small smile on the King’s lips. Slowly, he rose. “Why would you do that?”
The King bowed his head. “We lost control over our daughter. She wrecked death and destruction on a Kingdom that did not deserve it because we chose to foist her on you. All the lives you have lost are on our heads.” He gestured up to the tower. “You have a bright future with a lovely woman. Lawrence spoke very fondly of his daughters, Camille and Abigail. She is a worthy wife for a king. Let us give you and your bride the peace you need by taking these two and this Muriel off your hands.”
Adrian drew in a sharp breath. “Are you certain?”
“We cannot bring back your dead. We cannot return your King and the man who should have been your father-in-law. Let us do this for you.”
“No,” came a soft whimper from behind him, but he ignored Madeline.
Quickly, he nodded. “I agree.”
The Queen nodded towards the castle. “Go. Your bride is coming.”
Catch up on Sisters of String and Glass
Check out Queen of the Garden of Girls