XXVI. For Later

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Three years ago...

Alex stepped away from the dream.

The dream gazed at her curiously.

It had been fun and it had been challenging.

But it was time to wake up.

And so she told the dream, "I must go, my lord. Thank you for the dance."

Ralph Everard's green eyes flickered in panic. "But you have not—"

"We have been gone too long. You will not wish to be found in a scandal with me." Alex started to turn. "I shall not forget this night, my lord."

She heard him sigh in defeat. "And I shall never forget your face, my Lady in Blue."

Alex scoffed.

"Dare not doubt my resolve though!" he shouted after her. "I will know your name and I will find you!"

Alex continued to walk away from the dream and into the ballroom of HIS reality. It was filled with merriment and cheers, of drinks and elegant waves of fabrics. It was different from the ones she ever experienced in Meriwether.

It was different.

Scanning the room, she found Ned and Barto talking with Emma. She walked toward them, fixing a smile on her face.

It was time to go home.

*****

"Mary shall have some of the servants at Mary House spread rumors of Ralph staying in Willowfair with a secret lover," Adrien was saying when McKenzie and his wife, Lady Belinda, sauntered into the secret chamber of the Angel House.

When the club was burned down by a member of the rebels many years past, Lady Mary had it rebuilt, adding quite a few more secret passages and chambers to entertain more highly private discussions regarding crucial matters of the Town itself.

Ralph had previously expressed his concern regarding the sensitivity of their would-be discussion but Lady Mary had been very calm and certain when she reassured Ralph that the Angel House was the safest place for secrets. In fact, the woman was still looking calm and patient while her husband talked that Ralph started to think there was more to the woman than he first thought.

He must not have doubted for the woman owned two of the most prestigious clubs in Willowfair where almost every affluent lords and gentlemen were a member of. Secrets were spilled here and now as he discovered some of the secrets of these clubs, ears were pressed against walls to devour them.

McKenzie and Lady Belinda's entrance was followed by Calan who halted to a stop when he spotted Marcus Durley idly sitting in one corner. He threw Ralph an accusing glare. "You led me to believe you would be bringing a friend."

"We are soon to be more than friends, Haverston," said Durley with a wave of his hand, telling everyone that he had no desire to further elaborate his statement.

Ralph turned to Calan. "He is the only one who can lead us through the facility without being killed."

"This man works with Osegod," Calan stated.

"Which, if I may repeat, makes him a good candidate to deliver a slave into the facility. Unless you have changed the plan, my lord, I am only very much willing to leave Alex here and find another way into that place."

He expected Alex to protest but Durley interrupted by saying, "And I also do work with the League as you know, Haverston." He let out an impatient sigh as he straightened in his seat. "I am certain you know who I am after for in this mission, Haverston. Family is my utmost priority." He looked at each Haverston and then at Ralph and finally Alex who was leaning against a wall behind Ralph. "I am sure all of you Haverstons—and Everard—would not contradict?"

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