And if someone was to die here tonight, it didn't take a lot of detective work to identify the most likely victim.
"Oh, figs..." Good heaping helping of G.o.ds, her luck couldn't be that bad, could it? What were the odds that...?
A moment's frantic thought-which actually took two moments, since first she had to fight down a moment's panic-and Widders.h.i.+ns realized that perhaps this wasn't nearly the coincidence she'd first thought. Rittier was, after all, the archbishop's first host in Davillon, and this, the first party he was scheduled to attend. That made tonight the first real opportunity to get at him-the distraction of the ball, combined with absolute knowledge that His Eminence would be present-and no a.s.sa.s.sin worth his salt would let such an opening pa.s.s him by. Indeed, that was why she'd chosen to act tonight, and she'd just wanted to lighten the man's purse!
"Would it be too much to ask that something go smoothly, just once?" she inquired of the room, the G.o.ds, and the universe at large. "Just for the novelty of it?"
Her only response was a swell of concern from Olgun.
"You're right. We have to get out of here, and quick!"
The G.o.d couldn't have agreed more.
"Then it's settled. We leave. Now."
Again, she felt Olgun's heartfelt a.s.sent. Yet she didn't move. Her feet seemed to have taken root in the carpet.
"The window would be best," she continued lifelessly. "The tree's right there. I can climb it to the ground, and we'll be gone with none the wiser."
She felt Olgun's growing impatience, a buzzing hornet biting at her neck and head. Still, she found herself most a.s.suredly not moving.
The murdered maid stared at her accusingly, and Widders.h.i.+ns's shoulders slumped in defeat. She took a moment, her movements quite calm and methodical, to extinguish her miniature lantern and replace it in her pouch. She took a deep breath.
And then she was running, not to the window but out the door and into the hallway, careless of stealth now, speed her only priority. Olgun's startled squawk echoed in her mind as she pounded toward the stairs that would take her to the uppermost stories where she a.s.sumed-hoped-the guest of honor would be lodged.
"I know, I know!" she muttered between gasps and gritted teeth. "But we have to do this!"
The doubt was.h.i.+ng over her was thick enough to drown in.
"Look, I just escaped gaol not two days ago. Who do you think they'll suspect if de Laurent winds up dead?"
Olgun wasn't particularly impressed with her argument. Which was just fine, since Widders.h.i.+ns wasn't taken with it either. Bouniard knew she hadn't a violent offense to her name, and wasn't lik
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