Chapter Fifteen: An Act of War

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"Am I in trouble?"

Abigail didn't answer my question. She didn't even acknowledge that I'd asked it.

She was driving me to see the Admiral the day after the events at Mrs Cavendish's house, and she wasn't feeling chatty. That was normal, of course, but it felt so much worse when I considered how much trouble I might be in for not alerting anyone to Éven's presence in the attic. I felt like I was being taken to see the headmaster, except this headmaster could throw me in jail.

Everything after Éven's escape was a blur. There were other Horseshoe agents in the attic in a flash—Abigail's back-up—and they took control of the scene. I know that someone took my statement, but I could barely remember what I'd said—except I know I lied.

The agent asked if I'd spoken to Éven. I said no. He asked if he'd spoken to me. I said no. He sent me home with a different driver and a promise that there would be more questions.

Today was the day for more questions.

Had I spoken to him? Yes, of course. But what had I said, and had any of it mattered? My heart had been beating so fast that it was hard to recall the details.

Had he spoken to me?

"I want to explain myself, Ben. I want you to understand me."

Yes. Yes, he'd spoken to me.

"I want you to understand me."

Those words had been with me through the rest of the day, a sleepless night, and all the morning. I wanted to understand him too.

He was a thief, but he seemed to believe that what he was doing was right. He was a thief, and what he was doing had almost got people killed.

Abigail had seen us standing close together. She might even have seen us talking. If she'd read my statement and seen through the lies, it would explain why I was getting the silent treatment now.

It was too late to tell the truth. If I told the truth, I'd have to tell them about our meeting at the net huts. I'd have to explain why I'd kept it a secret. I'd have to pick a side.

Horseshoe or Éven; who do I trust?

Abigail steered us off the road, and we drew up in front of a train station.

"Are we catching a train?"

"We're picking up," said Abigail.

I looked out of the window at all the people coming and going. Commuters. Passengers. Citizens.

Tiana Cavendish was well hidden among them. She sat on a bench reading a tattered old paperback and drinking tea from the lid of a flask.

I wasn't sure how to feel about seeing her here. She seemed like the first truly sympathetic person I'd met throughout this experience, but she also showed a formidable side in the attic. Was she here to bear witness to my bad behaviour?

Abigail honked the horn. Tiana looked up and smiled. She tossed her tea into the gutter and marked her place in the book with a tattered train ticket.

"Good morning. How are we today?" said Tiana.

Abigail drummed her fingers on the steering wheel. I reached across the back seat and opened the door.

"Morning Mrs Cavendish."

"Good morning, Ben. Sleep well? Sweet dreams?"

"I don't remember," I said. It was the truth. I rarely remembered dreams. I wish I did. I'd like to think I'd had some good ones about Éven.

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