Tyala caught sight of Caidy out of the corner of her eye. Caidy was lurking just outside the window, peeking every now and then. Tyala knew her friend had to be worried about her when she didn’t meet her at the Angelic Church last night. But she had no way of explaining to Caidy what had happened. Her parents had put her under lock and key and now one of their servants was watching her every movement.
She stood at the parlor window, her hands clutching the bottom part of the frame. She could see her friend’s slight, petite figure hiding behind a lemon tree, but she knew Caidy didn’t dare to get any closer.
Surreptitiously, Tyala glanced over her shoulder to see what the serving woman was doing. Lya appeared thoroughly engrossed in her knitting, with her head hunched over her hands, the needles click clacking against each other as the blanket she was working on emerged. Seeing her watchdog was busy, she slipped a hand into a pocket and pulled out a slim envelope.
“Are you warm, Lya?” Tyala asked, her tone innocent enough.
“No, Miss,” the serving woman replied without looking up, “but if you are, I could open the window for you.”
Tyala waved the woman back to her seat. “I can take care of it, Lya. Go back to your knitting.”
Sticking the envelope between her teeth, she pulled up on the window a few inches and waved, both to bring in the fresh air and signal to Caidy that she was to come near. Then she pushed the window back down, securing the envelope between the window and the frame.
Tyala whirled from the window and stalked over to the serving woman. Lya peered up at her mistress with a curious look. She put away her knitting and rose to go where Tyala went.
“I’m going to the music room,” Tyala announced. “It’s been too long since I last played anything. I’m sure Father will be pleased if I can relearn his favorite piece.”
“Of course, Miss,” Lya said with a slight bob.
The two left the parlor and Tyala didn’t risk looking back at the window; she would check it later to see if Caidy received her note or not. It hurt her that she couldn’t be with her best friend, the only person who truly understood her. She feared Caidy wouldn’t understand what had happened. It was all just a stroke of bad luck, really.
Caidy peered over the bottom frame of the window. It had taken her a few minutes to work up the courage to creep across the gardens. She had studied each window before moving from tree to bush, praying no one was looking down into the gardens, that no one else was home. Fortunately, the windows had remained covered and they didn’t look like they had been disturbed. Now she had reached the parlor window and saw that the room was empty. Tyala must have left, so she wasn’t planning on meeting her.
Puzzled, Caidy’s brows knit together as she squinted to look in through the window. That’s when she saw the enveloped. Frowning, she gently pulled it out and quickly looked around the garden for a hiding spot.
Nearby, she caught sight of a draping willow tree, the strands of leaves thick and veiling. There were also a few low bushes nearby, full of leaves and bright blossoms. That would have to do. She wasn’t sure of what she would do if someone caught her, but prayed that wouldn’t happen. The gardeners were nowhere around and she expected she would hear them if they got too close to her hiding spot. She contemplated going home, but was curious to see what her friend had written. After all, she had waited half the night for Tyala to come.
She practically crawled over to her chosen hiding place, her heart pounding all the way. It was hard to crawl away from the manor and keep an eye on all the windows. All she could do was hope that everyone was occupied and no one was looking. The twin boys were playing around out here, but she’d heard them on the far side of the manor. Hopefully, they would stay there.
Settling herself on the ground softened with green moss, she opened the envelope and pulled out a folded piece of paper. Taking a quick look around, she unfolded the paper and found Tyala’s neat writing covering about half of the page.
My parents caught me packing up last night. That’s why I couldn’t meet you. I don’t know what they mean to do about me, but I know they don’t want me to leave. I accidentally let slip that you and I are best friends. I fear what will happen to you and your father now. I don’t know when we will be able to meet. They have apparently decided I need to be locked up in the manor for now. Who knows when they’ll let me out again? But, for now, we can’t see each other. I cannot let any harm come to you. At least, I hope to minimize any harm my parents attempt to place on you and your father. Think of me, Caidy, and keep safe.
Your friend, Tyala
Caidy drew in a sharp breath and crushed the paper in her hand. Tyala had been caught and now Lord and Lady Almi knew about their friendship. What else could go wrong? Right now, she was just thankful that her father didn’t know who her best friend was.
She glanced over at the house, a concerned look on her face. She knew now what had gone wrong last night. And now she was afraid for her friend. There was no telling what Tyala’s parents would do.
Taking a final look at the manor and the window from which she had spotted her friend, she crawled out from under the tree and stole her way across the gardens. She barely kept tears of frustration from her eyes as she left the Almi Manor and headed for home, hoping the Almis hadn’t done anything yet.