“We were renting an apartment with a friend of mine, Anna. I worked hard for that life. Sometimes I even,
well… I’ve let more experiences happen than I should have, for the sake of a paycheck.”
My hands ached. Looking down I realized I held the wooden armrests of the chair in a white–knuckled
grip. I attempted to loosen my hold. “Were you harmed?”
“Not for the lack of effort on their part,” Piper said. “My boss at this last job was particularly vile, but your
guards came to retrieve me at just the right moment.”
My grip returned tenfold. The wood creaked.
I wanted to tell her that she was safe now, and that people like that would never be able to touch her again. I wanted her to give me this vermin’s name so I could chase him down and have him locked in the
I considered yet doing the last one, when Elva’s condition wasn’t quite so dire. But the previous I could
With the first elimination coming up, I did not know if she would continue to be allowed to stay at the palace. And the minute she was beyond these walls, I could not protect her without drawing unwanted
attention to us both.
If and when she left, I had to let her stay gone.
For now, I would do what I could. I sat in the chair beside Piper’s as we held vigil through the night.
In the early morning hours, Elva’s fever finally broke, and Piper was able to relax. I rose to send the guard
to alert the physician.
When I returned to Piper, she was fast asleep. She must have been so relieved and so exhausted, that
the moment she knew she didn’t have to worry anymore, her body sunk fast into necessary sleep.
Slowly, as not to wake her, I hooked an arm under her knees and the other around her back, and lifted
her up against me. I carried her around to the other side of the bed and lowered her down within it.
Gently, I lifted the covers up over her tired body and tucked her in.
I returned to my chair and watched over Piper and Elva both until the physician arrived.
Mark came to collect me in the morning. When I saw him enter the room, I stood, leaving the physician to her work and approached him.
“It storming?” I asked him. The weather forecasts had predicted a miniscule chance of rain, but for
“No rain…” Mark hesitated. He was holding something back. Unusual. He typically told me everything
without need for further prompting.
“I think you need to see it for yourself. The royal family is gathered in your father’s room.”
I glanced behind me, where Piper and Elva continued to doze, even as the physician attended Elva.
“I will stay and watch over them in your stead, Prince Nicholas,” Mark said.
Only with that assurance was I able to pull myself away. “Very well. Thank you, Mark.”
I allowed myself only one last quick glance behind me, then I made my way from the room.
Inside my father’s room, my parents and two brothers were standing in a half–circle around the television. A weather report blared on the screen. Red bars flickered at the top and bottom. Urgent
“What’s going on?” I asked.
The King glanced at me sideways. “Nice of you to finally join us, Nicholas.”
“I told the servants where I’d be,” I said.
“That you did,” Julian said, smirking. “I hope you had a favorable evening.”
I resisted the urge to sigh – barely. “Elva was sick.”
“She better now?” Julian asked, smile fading.
“Come here.” The King waved me closer. “Look at this.”
I joined my family in their half–circle and finally saw the news.
The newscasters were calling for a blood moon tonight.
A rare and ominous sign.
To have continued the hunt during this condition would have been disastrous.
That girl saved us. the King sald.