Chapter 8 - Lux-Mindon

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Chapter 8 – Lux-Mindon

Arabella hurried down the stairs. Well, hurried as fast as her growing form allowed. By the time she had traversed several flights, her breathing was labored. Reaching the bottom, she leaned slightly against the banister to catch her breath.

"You know if he sees you, he'll have your rooms moved to the first floor before you can blink. Not to mention all those sword fights, horseback rides and long walks you enjoy being revoked." The deep voice behind her caused the queen to jump slightly as a frown tugged on her lips.

"But you're not going to say a word, are you?" Arabella's frown turned to a mischievous smile as she straightened up. Leander sighed deeply as she tucked her hand in the crook of his arm and began tugging him along with her.

"How do I get myself dragged into these things?"

"Simple really. You love me and don't want to listen to Killian fuss." Arabella listened as her old protector chuckled deeply.

"He actually thinks you listen to me. Poor man is in for a rude awakening one of these days," Leander said with a shake of his head.

"Oh, hush. It's not that bad," Arabella said, one hand resting protectively over her unborn child. She continued pulling Leander along as she traversed halls and corridors until she made her way through the main keep, across several courtyards to the garrison. Just before they entered, Leander halted their procession with a firm tug on her arm but his expression remained tender.

"Are you sure you want to do this? You know it makes you sad for days afterwards. And if he finds out..."

"He's not. And I do not get sad. I become reflective, for your information," Arabella defended. Leander followed his charge through the maze of corridors and stairs until they reached the lowest level of the dungeons. Arabella was glad he hadn't said another word. She hated dragging him along with her but she needed his company whether she ever admitted it to him or not. What Leander said was true. She did become sad after she visited her aunt. But not for the reason he thought. He could never understand the longing she carried inside of her.

Her aunt had grown up with her mother. They were raised as sisters and for a time loved each other, however short a time that was on her aunt's part. Something inside Arabella couldn't release the hope her aunt would wake up from her delusions and realize she could have a family, and someone who would love her. During the first few months, she'd make the trip down here every few days, then it went to every couple weeks. Overtime, it stretched to months in between visits. And while Killian never specifically said she couldn't see her aunt, Arabella knew he worried each time she did. And not only for her safety, but he truly worried for her emotionally. He once told her he understood why she did it, that she was trying to regain a piece of her mother.

While he may understand her actions, he could never fully understand her motives. There was no way he could while she didn't even understand them fully herself. She only knew she couldn't give up on the one woman who could share so much about her mother with her. The one person who, despite her flaws, was her last blood relative. Granted she wasn't truly the aunt the entire kingdom believed her to be and instead a cousin of sorts, she was still her family, her blood. Something inside her wouldn't let her give up. She thought this insistent niggling inside her brain and heart would have dissipated by now but over the last few months it had only grown. Maybe it was maternal instinct kicking in the closer her time came but she couldn't shake the growing feeling her aunt needed to speak with her.

And there in lay her problem. Her aunt had not uttered one word in the past three years. Not to her, not to guards, not even crazy ramblings to herself. Not one muttered sound. Standing on tiptoes, Arabella peered through the barred opening near the top of heavy metal door. Her aunt sat in the same spot as she always did with her back to the door facing the corner of the cold, stone cell. After the first several visits, she chose to stay outside the cell speaking to her aunt through the door. But nothing she had to say changed her aunt's imposed silence.

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