The stories say The Wilds are full of dangerous creatures, but my sister found no evidence for them. She was tired, dirty, starving, and lonely by the time she stumbled on a small town. A small town! Somewhere in The Wilds! No one else had ever spoken of a town, complete with a well, bell tower, and council chamber, but my sister regaled me with the details one night, keeping me awake into the early hours of morning as she walked the cobbled streets in the dead of night.
It had been tempting, almost too tempting to drag Madeline up to the Lavender Room to introduce her to the woman who could be her sister-in-law one day. But Abigail was certain Adrian had told his sister about Gail, and Camille knew about Gail, so she wasn’t going to risk her secret coming out to Adrian. Of course, he would probably laugh it off as a joke, but she was mortified knowing she hadn’t corrected him, had continued the charade.
So she had stayed in the kitchens, learning how to prepare duck, which Muriel had banned Madeline from ever making again. She’d also banned Madeline from spending time in the kitchens like a servant.
Abigail wasn’t quite sure if she missed Madeline’s company or relieved she no longer had to go over royal protocol while wrist deep in dough. But she did enjoy the return to solitariness.
Now, with a small smile, she finished icing the last cakes and banished the thoughts of Camille and Andalissa’s tea. After all, it had been a few days before and the Duchess had yet to return. An invitation to the entire household for her birthday soiree, though, had appeared. It must have been because of the tea that Andalissa had made sure to name each lady in the household. Abigail smiled to herself as she remembered the fury in Muriel’s voice as she read her and Camille’s names. A soft chuckle escaped her lips when she recalled Camille’s bored voice reminding their stepmother Andalissa had been a long-time friend of the family, as well as blood family.
Abigail dusted off her hands, smiling with satisfaction at the carefully iced butter cookies. She’d decorated them with tiny flowers and leaves in purple, pink, and yellow so they looked something of a garden. But her smile soured as she remembered this was only a test batch. Muriel was planning on inviting the Prince and his wife to Olidan Manor in the coming weeks, right after the soiree, and wanted to ensure the menu was flawless.
“These are lovely, Miss Abigail,” Helene said, drawing her out of her thoughts.
Abigail planted her hands on her hips. “I don’t know whether to hope Muriel likes them or not.”
Helene twisted her face into a sympathetic look and placed a hand on Abigail’s shoulder. “I’ll take them up to her. You need to scurry off to the markets today. The soiree is in a week and you and Miss Camille need the finest fabrics to finish off your gowns.”
“Is there anything else I can get?”
“No, dear. There isn’t anything we can’t get from the daily market. Just focus on getting what you and Miss Camille need.” Helene smiled. “It’s high time my little ladies shone again.”
Abigail smiled and gave the older woman a somewhat awkward quick hug. Then Helene was shooing her into her cloak and shoving her basket into her hands.
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