After receiving Susie’s news, I needed a moment to catch my breath. I didn’t understand. The royal
doctor had already examined Elva, as recently as the day before. How could she have a fever again?
Wouldn’t the doctor have detected any anomalies before they fully formed?
Those questions would have to wait. For now, all I knew was my daughter was sick and I had to get to
I pushed away my soup bowl, and apologized to those around me. “I’m sorry. There’s an emergency. I
have to go.
Susie squeezed my arm, then returned to her chair.
As I hurried toward the exit, I glanced back at the table.
A bold girl had already slid herself into my abandoned seat. She must have said a joke, because the
people around her laughed. Even Nicholas looked at her and gave a relaxed smile.
My heart jumped in my chest. He’d been so tense when I had been sitting there. But now, in my absence,
he felt comfortable enough to enjoy himself?
A bitter kind of sadness wormed its way inside of me, but I pushed it down.
Elva was sick. I needed to get to her and find out what was going on.
One of my maids was in the hallway outside the dining room, waiting for me.
Two royal doctors are in with her now,” the maid said. She kept pace with me as we rushed back to my
How did this happen?” I asked.
The maid seemed as confused as me. “She seemed fine until about an hour ago. The fever came on so
suddenly. We thought at first she was just tired.”
We rushed in my room. Elva was in the bed, the blankets pulled up to her chest. She had a cold compress on her forehead, held in place by my quieter, second maid.
The two doctors, presumably, stood a few feet away from the bed, speaking softly with each other.
Elva gasped and hurried to her side. I touched the back of my fingers to her cheek. She was burning
Elvassoice was weak. A tear slipped out from one closed eyeild and talled down her fac
“It’s okay, honey. Mommy’s here now. It’s going to be okay.”
She seemed soothed by my presence, enough to fall asleep.
I glanced at the second maid, who was diligent in holding that compress and watching Elva. Confident she would alert me if something else occurred, I stepped back from the bed to consult with the doctors.
As I came toward them, they stopped their hushed words to each other and looked at me. One w
blank expression. The other had a pitying look.
“Why does Elva have a fever?” I asked. “What’s her new treatment plan?”
The doctors glanced at each other, then back at me.
“There is no treatment plan,” the blank one said.
I must have misheard. “Excuse me?”
The pitying doctor also had a tiny condescending smile. I hated him more than anyone else in the world
at that moment.
“Her condition is severe,” he said. “We hope you will see reason, and give up on wanting to treat the girl.”
“See reason?” My temper flared hot. “You are talking about a person a child – not some wounded
animal that needs put down.”
“We should save our resources for those with hope of survival,” the doctor with the blank look said. I
viciously hated her as well.
I didn’t understand. Were their resources so scarce they would refuse to help a child? Why hadn’t that been mentioned earlier? Julian had made it seem like they would take care of Elva, since she was a guest.
But now, here they were, saying she didn’t deserve a chance to live?
“Why didn’t you tell me this before?” I asked. My voice was rising with my panic. “Elva has been
evaluated already, and no one said a thing about her having a terminal illness!”
Ma’am. There’s no need to shout,” said the pitying one. “We can hear just fine.”
Blank expression crossed her arms.
I attempted a deep breath, but it came out shaking. I wanted to scream at them, but I had dealt with bullies before. Shouting wouldn’t work. For Elve’s sake, I had to submit to whatever they asked