Chapter 30

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She’d forgotten about her trunks.

Maelyn shook her head as she paced the empty bedchamber. Somewhere between Runa and Grunwold, all of her possessions rode in Uncle Jarrod’s carriage. She had to borrow a nightdress from Coralina. It was purple.

But no matter. She would send Willow to fetch the trunks in a few days. Perhaps she would borrow another of his books before he left. He had wonderful talent. And she could help him. She could pay for copies so that others could enjoy his work.

She slid beneath the coverlet, her heart warming as she thought of Willow. How he looked at her. How he spoke to her. For the first night in months she forgot to miss her father. Something had healed when Willow tucked her in his arms. She felt whole again… though hungry for more.

She picked up The Devious Damsel, not quite finished, and opened it on her lap. She hadn’t forgotten Uncle Jarrod’s threat of a new king. Whoever that was, he must be treated as an enemy. Maelyn would have to hunt him down. And warn her sisters.

Despite this worry, Maelyn smiled. Her sisters had given her a festive supper. They had revived memories of their childhoods and laughed at them anew, lingering at the table until the candles burnt themselves into waxy puddles. Though no one spoke of it, Maelyn felt their joy in not losing their eldest sister. It was in their smiles, the quiet attention when she spoke, and the overly generous portion of stuffed partridge on her plate.

Because to them – and to Willow – she was not an orphan from a poor village. She was not a princess of Runa Realm. She was not even a sister or a daughter or a niece.

She was Maelyn. Just Maelyn.

That was real.

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