1617: xxi

Aimée watched the walls of the convent grow taller as they followed the dirt lane through the near barren trees. It was much more secluded than where she had lived as a young child. Ahead of them, Jacques and his horse had disappeared around the bend.

“Are you sure she won’t find me here?” she whispered over her shoulder to Gilles.

“I don’t think Madame or the Dowager will even know where to start and I doubt they’ll waste the expense to hire a man to find out,” he said quietly, as if the trees had ears. “Besides they’ll be looking for Aimée Marche. You will be here as Mademoiselle de Lannoy.”

“De Lannoy?” Aimée mumbled. It sounded familiar, but it felt like it had come out of a dream.

“Do you remember?” Gilles asked.

“That night…the one after you took me. We took shelter from the rain. You said something about it, but I thought it was only a story to make me sleep,” Aimée said.

“It’s not a story, but you might find the truth stretched. Still, your family tree has many different branches, too many for the others to keep track. That will be to our advantage,” Gilles replied. Aimée abruptly reached forward and pulled on the reins. The horse balked to a stand still.

“Must you speak in these riddles, Monsieur?” she asked agitated. “Advantage for what means?”

“Patience, ma Cherie, patience. It is still unclear how things will manifest themselves. Being a de Lannoy will help get you to Paris, but timing is essential.” Gilles urged the horse forward. “I have yet to work out the details.” They rounded the bend. The doors to a courtyard stood open. Inside Jacques was in conversation with a pair of nuns.

“Well, Monsieur, see that your timing arrives before I take my vows,” Aimée said coldy. Gilles clucked his tongue.

“Venom doesn’t suit you, Mademoiselle de Lannoy.”

i           xx         xxii

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