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chapter sixteen | a furry betrayal and lots of food and every room has a fire, i swear

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It wasn't a question or an exclamation of surprise. It was a quiet word of acception. Too many things had happened, too many surprises in the last month or so, that Jean-Luc just accepted the betrayal.

"I'm not bad," Emmy said quietly, getting to her feet. "I'm not good, either. I told them everything they wanted to know."

Jean-Luc tilted his chin up and looked out the window.

Emmy stopped in the middle of the room, her hands clasped in front of her. "We're in a tower. I don't know where. They took me with you after I... told them."

The silence dragged on.

"Jean-Luc?" Emmy sat down on a rug instead of next to her friend, who still refused to look at her. "I don't know where Julienne went. I..."

"They said they almost had her, Emmy," Jean-Luc snapped, still not looking at her. "Did you tell them where they were headed?"

The silence was answer enough.

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"Careful," Michele instructed, holding the horse's bridle. "She hurt her foot a few days ago and it's not healed yet."

Anton carefully swung Julienne down from the horse, but kept her in his arms. She was tall for her age, but not heavy, and he held her with ease.

"Do you want to take her to the doctor, or should I?" asked Julienne's uncle. Julienne kept her face averted, too shy to return his smile.

Michele swept her gaze around the small town. "You can. I still remember where the stables are located, though I think you've expanded quite a bit since I've been here."

"Very," Anton laughed. "But more to the other side. We haven't done too much to the centre of Hüwels."

Michele made to walk away, then stopped and turned to Julienne. "Lenni? You okay with Uncle Anton taking you to the doctor? I'll be right there."

Julienne hesitated. She didn't like new people but knew her mama was probably too tired to carry her. Looking up at her Uncle Anton, the friendly wrinkles around his eyes and the dimple in his cheek, she felt like he was almost an older version of her brother.

"It's okay, Mama," Julienne said, nodding.

As Uncle Anton carried her away, towards a group of people, Julienne looked over his shoulder and watch her mama disappear between two wooden houses.

Of course, the eyes that followed Julienne's trajectory, also scanned the people surrounding her. And not all of them were as friendly as they looked.

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"Jean-Luc is missing?" asked Lise, running her fingers through the untidy mass of hair tangled around her shoulder. "And Bayard disappeared after he told me he'd be here."

Alec glanced at the sleeping Andrè. "You don't think...?"

"Not this time," Lise answered softly. "He told me he thinks Jean-Luc will take after his father. You know the golden-stamped records bearing Johnn's name. Bayard wouldn't tell me that if he wanted to kidnap him."

Alec hesitated. The fire roared bright in the fireplace of their room in the inn, where they were hiding from whoever had taken Jean-Luc and destroyed the inside of their house.

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