The Secret, The Truth

I don’t even know where to begin.

The twins have not even been gone six hours and it seems as though everything in my life has changed. First was dinner, which was awful, as usual, especially without Tristan there, because Lord Brayton was watching me.

Again.

It feels like he always is, and it gives me the shivers. Mercy Williams says that I should be flattered. Flattered? That he feels the need to undress me with his eyes every time I see him. Plus I’ve Seen the things he does. He’s done.

If my cousin is dead, it’s because of him.

If she’s alive, it’s likely she’ll have to fight him.

I don’t know which is worse.

After that, Papa said that he wanted to talk to me in his study. This is strange, normally after dinner, Papa and I sit in the parlor and I work on my embroidery, while he writes letters to home.

Our home is Brightcoast, it’s the largest Provenance in Cammadan. Well, technically, it’s mine, since it’s my mother’s family, and Papa isn’t even from Cammadan, but I’m only fifteen and legally can’t control the seat yet.

But tonight I went to his study, I was still wearing my navy blue dinner gown, with the green wheels embroidered on the hem. It was to represent my hope that Annalise would come back. Green is the color of the royal family and The Wheel is the symbol of the Goddess Rana, who they say Annalise is chosen by.

Papa wasn’t alone, which surprised me. He was with General Thomas Martin, the leader of the Resistance forces (The resistance fights Brayton’s secret army. I know very little about any of it), and Count Caleb of Pantona.

I was surprised to see Count Caleb, as his wife had left with the twins earlier in the day, and the two of then rarely travel separately.

“Sit down, Marina,” Papa said gently. I did so, and looked a three men. General Martin was by the fireplace, he’s taller than Papa, with broad shoulders, and dark hair, cropped short. He was wearing his green uniform. Count Caleb is even taller than the General, but he’s thinner, with grey streaking his auburn hair. “We thought it was time to speak to you about a few things.”

“Have I done something wrong?” I asked. The General smiled at me.

“No, Lady Marina,” he said softly. “On the contrary, according to your father, you’ve done very well.”

I didn’t know what that meant, but it was reassuring. Especially from the General, who, if Tristan and Athena (Sir Tristan and Lady Athena) are to be believed he doesn’t give out praise much.

“We wanted to speak to you about Princess Annalise,” Papa said. His eyes met mine. “I’ve told General Martin and Count Caleb about your dreams, my dear, and they think it’s time you knew the truth.”

“She is dead then?” I whispered.

“No,” The Count said, he was smiling too, and laughing a little. “No Lady Marina, Princess Annalise is not dead, she is in fact quite alive, and safe. She’s lived at Pantona these past fourteen years.” I swallowed and nodded.

“She’s coming soon, isn’t she?” I asked. The three men nodded and I sat back in the chair.

“We’d like to take the capital before she turns seventeen,” General Martin explained.

“And before that we want to move you from the capital,” Papa said. “It won’t be safe once Annalise shows herself.”

“But in the meantime?” I asked. This time I looked to the Count. He smiled softly at me.

“In the meantime,” he said, “you are to go on as you were.” I nodded. But for some reason all I could think about was the fact that Tristan was heading towards my cousin Annalise.

And for some reason that gave me a knot in my stomach.

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