I worried about Elva all day, about her abilities and the dangers that those might bring. I was so
distracted with my thoughts that I didn’t notice Elva was beginning to not feel well until she took my hand and I felt how clammy her palms were.
“Are you not feeling well, Elva?” I pressed the back of my hand to her forehead. She was burning up. * Why didn’t you say anything?”
“You get sad,” Elva said.
She was such a considerate child, trying to protect me. But my whole heart broke, knowing she didn’t
feel like she could depend on me.
“I love you, honey, but you have to tell me right away when you don’t feel good, okay?” I scooped her into
The day’s events had ended. We were on our way back to our room anyway. Now, carrying Elva, I rushed
there as fast as I could.
Mark caught sight of me right away. “What’s wrong?”
“Send for the doctor, please. Elva has a fever.” I tried to keep the fear from cracking my voice but it s
made it wobble uncertainly.
Mark glanced at Elva and his face went rigid. “Right away.” He waved for one of the two guards at my
Trusting him to take care of it, I entered the room and lowered Elva down onto the bed. With the quiet maid’s help, we changed her into her pajamas and got her comfortable under the covers.
I didn’t know what to do, other than what I always did: stay by her side, wait for the doctor, and pray.
The hunting event was supposed to last for two more days. Tomorrow was the most vital – the hunt
itself. if I missed it, I would lose what little ranking I had. I had almost no hope I would be able to stay in
the competition anyway, but now, with Elva sick again….
She needed diligent care. The kind we’d never have back in our small apartment with Anna.
I had to put in more effort. I had to try to survive the elimination. What if she didn’t recover this time?
What if she needed twenty–four hour care?
pouldn’t lose. I couldn’t
Nor could I leave her side, however, especially long enough to disappear on a hunt. What if she needed
There was only one thing I could do. It was desperate and reckless, but for Elva’s sake, I would try
Mark returned with Asher’s personal physician. As she began to inspect Elva, I pulled Mark aside.
“Please tell me where I can find the royal family.”
His brows were lowered in concern, but he still lifted one at my question. “What do you intend to do?”
“Beg,” I said.
Mark explained to me that on non–banquet days, the royal family took their meals in the dining room
early, so as to be alone before the girls were to dine.
The guards outside the door of the dining room did not look at all pleased to see me, but I held my
“I humbly request to speak with the royal family.
Their eyes narrowed.
“It’s important,” I insisted.
“Is that Piper I hear?” Julian called from within the room. “Let her pass.”
The guards seemed unhappy with the demand but still stepped to the side, allowing me through.
Inside the dining room, Julian lifted his wine glass in greeting, a big smile on his face. I knew he’d likely
only let me inside for the spectacle of it.
No one else at the table looked at all so eager to see me. The Luna, especially, glowered. The King
seemed mostly bored. Nicholas’s expression was impassive. Joyce was reading a book on the table. He
didn’t once lift his gaze.
“Now that I was here, with most of them looking at me, my nerves heightened and I lost my voice a
The King cleared his throat. “What was so urgent, Piper?”
My apologies.. so many apologies for Interrupting you. But,