Sorry it's taken so long to post a new chapter. There's been a lot of things going on at home. Therefore, I won't be posting as often over the next month, possibly two. Hope everyone is having a terrific spring!
“Father, help us,”
I tapped my
fingers against the table. “Now why would Sister Gretchen designate Lady Alessa?”
Kam stared at me.
“Really, Anthea? Do I have to spell it out for you? She uses the phrase ‘my
beloved soulmate’ in the naming.”
I frowned. “But
the sisters of the Temple
of Love don’t marry.”
sigh revealed his annoyance with me. “That doesn’t mean they don’t fall in
I leaned back in
my seat. “I’m sorry. I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around the quiet,
efficient Alessa with a priestess of Love.”
love doesn’t recognize arbitrary boundaries.” The sadness in Kam’s voice
reminded me of his own forbidden affair. And Duke Marco had almost died because
his mother couldn’t deal with the fact he was in love with a veterinary
“I wonder if this
is why Lady Alessa’s not married yet. The nobility gets rather prissy about
such things when heirs and tradition are involved.”
He slowly shook
his head. “Not according to the gossip mongers. The issue is her parents’
I rubbed my
temples. A nasty ache was developing behind my eyes. “Unfortunately, this puts
an entirely different twist to Sister Gretchen’s body being found in the DiMara
“Surely, you don’t
I held up my hand
to stop him. “Right now, any conjectures are just that without evidence.”
The Goddess must
have been looking out for me. Three separate discussions melded into one.
I leaned forward
again. “Both you and Bertrice mentioned that you thought Gerd had a way to
circumvent a truthspell. Yesterday, Luc said when he questioned Lady Alessa,
she seemed to be fighting his spell. What if the Loves have managed to develop
“You’re mad,” Kam
“No.” I held up an
index finger. “Think about it. The order has always been privy to a great
number of secrets thanks to pillow talk. What’s stopping some unscrupulous
group from abducting a priestess and truthspelling her?”
Kam rubbed his
chin as he considered my theory. “To protect their sisterhood, they wouldn’t
inform any of the other temples. And definitely not share the information with
any of the registered talents.”
“But what if one
priestess shared that information with her lover—”
“Who happened to
be an unregistered talent,” Kam finished. He frowned and tapped the parchment.
“Not that the properties Gretchen has left Alessa are insignificant, but that
DiMara holdings outstrip those named in the declaration.”
I laughed, a
mirthless one. The circumstantial evidence mounted against a woman I truly
liked. “Are you going senile, too? You were at the sentencing at the DiMaras’
trial last summer. All their properties went to Marco and Katarina.”
Kam’s sigh was
weary. “Leaving his sisters with nothing but their brother’s obligation for
their bride price should they marry.” He shook his head again. “Even if she
were responsible, I can’t see Lady Alessa being foolish enough to hide the body
on the family estate.”
I folded my arms
over my chest. “Neither do I. And the barrel containing Gretchen’s corpse was
definitely on the wagon from Pana Valley. Members of the
household staff and my own rewinding of the timeline confirmed that fact.”
Kam frowned. “Do
you want me to accompany you to question her again?”
“Would you mind
terribly if I ask for two priests this time? One to truthspell Alessa while I
question her, another to watch for the counterspell?”
The old priest
laughed. “You’ll need to ask the new chief priest for that particular favor. I
doubt he’ll say no to you.” He winked.
I shook my head.
He inclined his
head toward the declaration. “What about this?”
“Place it your
safekeeping niche for now. Would you please ask Luc read it after his other
business for me?”
“I’ll pass on both
of your requests, my dear.”
I retrieved my
heavy cloak, stalked through the main doors and down the steps. My clerk
Donella would have today’s docket paperwork ready for me to proof and sign. And
maybe I’d have a little time to research a possible counter to a truthspell.
The street teemed
with traffic today since the rain had stopped for that last few hours. I checked
for oncoming wagons and carriages before my foot descended from the last marble
step onto the cobblestone. A horse and rider raced around the corner between
Light and Thief. I jumped back, a stream of invectives on my tongue. Someone
snagged my arm as more steeds poured out of the cross street.
I turned to my
late rescuer. My polite thanks died at the telltale indigo in his hand.
Sidestepping the knife aimed for my gut, I head-butted the man’s nose. Sticky
warmth splashed my cheeks.
Instead of a
shriek, he pivoted and swept my legs from under me. My hip landed on the corner
of the marble step, and pain shot across my gut. His kick to my ribs forced any
remaining air out of my lungs.
“Stupid bitch,” he hissed. “You should have been as
blind as your sisters,” he hissed as drove the knife toward my throat.