Gilles grumbled as he refolded Aimée’s letter. The message was plain and to the point. It said she accepted her mission and would carry it out as needed. She didn’t even mention his offer to show her the mysterious “dragon” from her childhood, that had always baffled her. Her words remained cold and distant. Contrary to what Jacques had suggested, the palace guard was not mentioned by the lady-in-waiting. For that, at least, Gilles was relieved.
Jacques was currently concentrating too hard on shoveling hot stew into his mouth to notice that Gilles had finished his deciphering and was now studying him intently.
“Feeling better, friend, now that you are in from the cold?” Gilles asked. Jacques looked up from his plate.
“Indeed, Gilles, but I need more wine,” he turned and yelled at the innkeeper across the room, “More wine!” When he turned back, he noticed that Gilles’s hands were empty of the letter and pencil. “What does Mademoiselle have to say for herself?”
“Only that she is committed to the task,” Gilles replied plainly.
“What? Nothing about me?” Jacques asked with a grin. He was only joking, because he enjoyed getting under Gilles’s skin. His comments were working. He could see his friend’s hands clench ever so slightly. Gilles’s gaze was hard as his blinks became less frequent.
“No,” Gilles replied, “You must not have made much of an impression.”
Jacques frowned at the jab.
“I see. I will have to try harder next time.” He watched Gilles’s stony expression carefully. His dark eye drifted from the table top to the fire as he tried to appear unperturbed. Jacques knew better than to believe him unmoved.