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Chapter 22 – The Note

Raine

I lay down on the bed and sobbed after Cage left.

I was deathly afraid of what he would find. Although, only three people knew and I doubted either of them would say anything. I tried to stay awake as I waited for Cage to return, but I had taken two of the pain pills and they were fast kicking in. I drifted off to sleep.

..........

When I finally awoke the next morning, memories from the night before flooded my brain. I snapped my head around, trying to find Cage.

Instead, I found a note on the side of the bed: Raine, Felaern declined our request for an audience at the Council meeting. As a result, Armand is sending me back to a neighboring nation, so that I can complete the work I wasn't able to finish on my last trip. I had to leave tonight to be able to get there before the sun rises tomorrow. I will be back in three days, Cage.

Ice ran through my veins.

He didn't use either of his terms of endearment for me. Nor did he mention what happened last night between us. And what did he mean by 'complete the work he couldn't finish before'? He hadn't mentioned his previous trip had been incomplete, nor did he mention his intention for another trip.

All of these questions swirling in my head led me to two possible answers. Either he was telling me the truth – or he was with Kaitlyn right now. The thought of him in her arms turned my stomach and made my chest ache.

Either way, it didn't change the heart-shattering truth that Kaitlyn had so kindly provided me yesterday.

I needed to accelerate my plans to escape.

I hastily got dressed in jeans, a long sleeve shirt and tennis shoes before heading out the door to the library. I walked briskly hoping to avoid any conversations, but most people typically ignored me anyway. I hadn't known before if their avoidance was because they didn't like me or were afraid of my influence with Cage. Now I knew it was probably because they wouldn't be able to contain their laughter. A blush burned on my cheeks again. I tucked my head lower and hastened my step.

When I entered the library, I immediately went to the maps section. I had found the section a few days ago and wondered if I would be able to find something that would help me navigate outside of these prison walls. A few hours ago, I felt at home here, but now...the taste of bitterness coated my tongue. How had things changed so quickly?

Now, I knew I was trapped, and would chew my own arm off if it meant I could escape. But I needed to be smart about it. I had three days before Cage's return. I would need to hide some of the food Ella gave me daily, so that I would have it for the trip. I hoped that it wouldn't take me more than three days to trek through the forest. I would leave early in a morning, when the sun was coming up. That would give me a full day to get ahead of him before he could search for me.

As my thoughts swirled, I pulled down another book and opened it. I inhaled sharply. It looked like a topographical map of this area! I recognized the triangle grouping of mountains to the north! I turned the map and studied it intently to make sure!

Yes, this was it!

I quietly tore the pages from the book, folded them and stuffed them in my pocket.

Suddenly, Ella interrupted my tortured thoughts. She spoke tightly, "The Queen has requested an audience. We need to go to her now."

I jumped. I hadn't expected her to be right behind me. Did she see me tear out the page? But I couldn't fully concentrate on that concern however because it finally dawned on me what she said – Queen Ileana wanted to see me!

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