One hour left of my final workday of the week. Let’s see how fast I can write something!
The blade at her throat was warm. It smelled of blood, but Evalise Beaumont knew Adair wouldn’t dare threaten her with a bloodied blade. He had no doubt cleaned it just before sneaking into her chamber.
“My Lady,” he whispered in her ear. His voice was hoarse as ever, and even more unwelcome.
“Adair,” Eva’s voice was dry as her mouth.
Adair wrapped his free arm around Eva’s midriff, pulling her body against his. Eva didn’t need to look to know he had used ash as camouflage. She was glad she decided to wear a darker dress to the evening’s ball, but even blood would stain the deep green gown.
“Do you know why I’m here, My lady?” his breath brushed against her neck. Eva held her breath so she wouldn’t have the unfortunate experience of smelling it.
“I can venture a guess,” she responded, “how much of a ransom would you like?”
“Ever the ignorant,” he ran his hand along the ribs of her corset. His blade wasn’t too tight against her throat that a swift jab to his ribs wouldn’t free her from it, but he would surely sense her muscles tense if she tried.
“Do you know for whom I work, my lady?” his lips touched the back of her ear as he spoke, driving chills down Eva’s spine. She wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of seeing her fidget.
“I know the rumors,” she sidestepped the question. Of course she knew, but he shouldn’t know that she knew. A lady of her stature would have no reason to know such things.
“That’s not what I asked,” his hand at her waist stopped moving. Moving lightning fast, he grabbed her shoulder and spun her around. He pinned her against the wall, hand on her shoulder, knee between her legs, and dagger at her throat. It was a rather unladylike position for poor Eva Beaumont, but staring at Adair face-to-face, his sharp blue eyes looking directly into hers, she didn’t care so much.
“For whom do I work?” he asked, pressing the blade tighter against her throat.
Eva turned her head away from him. She couldn’t sidestep this question. The fact that he would even ask it in such a manner was bad news for her. He knew more than he was supposed to.
She tried to say she didn’t know, but the words just wouldn’t come out of her mouth.
“Zephaniah,” she said at last, “You work for Zephaniah.” she glared into his piercing eyes, letting hers pierce back.
Adair grinned, releasing his grip on her ever so slightly. Eva didn’t know what he wanted from her, but it wasn’t looking good. That question was a test, and she had, unfortunately, passed.
“Perhaps you’re not as ignorant as I thought,” he lowered his blade and sheathed it as his side. Eva didn’t relax. “Can you follow directions, my lady?”
“You mean you don’t have a test for my intelligence as well?” she tried to buy time to figure a way out of his grasp. She might be able to knock his hand sideways, off her shoulder, then give him a sharp strike to the face. She didn’t need to incapacitate him, she just needed to escape.
“Who said these directions weren’t such a test?” his grin persisted. His eyes seemed to glow in the dim evening light of the Beaumont manor.
“What would you have me do, then?” Why was her heart beating so fast?
“The ball at the Jamison household this evening,” he leaned closer as he spoke “After the third waltz, you are to step out onto the north-facing balcony without an escort. Understood?”
“Yes,” she responded in a whisper. She attributed her warm face to her racing heart.
“Good,” Adair relented, releasing Eva from the wall. “Should you disobey, the world will know your secret.”
“And what secret would that be?” Eva did her best to pretend she didn’t know what he meant. She prayed he was bluffing, but there was no telling with the minions of Zephaniah.
“You know very well, changeling,” he offered her one last smile before disappearing out the window she didn’t realize was open.
Changeling! She brought her hand to her mouth, not sure if her smile was one of relief, nerves, or something else entirely. He thinks I’m a changeling! The thought was intriguing, though wrong. Changelings were hardly welcome in society, but they did better than Eva’s kind did.
She stood for a moment, gazing out the window at the grove of trees below. Should she disobey and let him make a fool of himself with such a false claim? Or should she play along, hoping he doesn’t realize what she really is? She could tell the guards, but what would she tell them?
Evalise shook her head. She still had to finish her makeup before the ball. She would think while beautifying.
Not bad for about 40 minutes of spur-of-the-moment writing (I docked 20 minutes for when my manager so rudely interrupted my writing to discuss work stuff. The audacity!). Great way to kill time, too.