1617: xvii

“What has happened to you?” Gilles noticed the cuts from the rose bush on her cheek as he helped her limp inside.

“I…tried to escape as I said I would,” Aimée replied. “It wasn’t as successful as I planned.” Gilles gave her a searching look as if he was trying to read what she left unsaid. She sighed and began to explain.

“I jumped from the bedroom window,” she admitted. Only a slight twitch from his moustache betrayed his amusement. Aimée took a seat near the fire with a slight pout.

“Don’t worry, I’ll never do it again.”

Gilles allowed himself a visible smirk.

“At least beware of rose bushes next time.” He walked away and exchanged a few words with the innkeeper before disappearing upstairs. Aimée gazed around at the collection of antisocial characters in the room. She knew Madame would not approve of such a place. However, that also meant she would never look for her here.

Gilles reappeared, his remaining beggar rags were gone, replaced by the clothes of cavalier. His face was washed and blind eye covered. The host came with wine and promises of hot food. Gilles poured himself a glass.

“Now Aimée, tell me what has happened since I left.”

She recounted most of the last year briefly. Madame’s new habit of paying visits on some of the large houses of the area and how she was thrust in the path of anything with gold that still had breath in it. About having her weapons confiscated, stealing them back, the chance interception of the Count’s letter and the arrival of the Dowager. She even let slip a few more details of her escape attempt.

i         xvi        xviii

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