Chapter 48 - Passing Notes

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Kastali Dun


Claire returned to her chambers directly after her walk with Talon. There she found Desaree and Saffra waiting in her sitting area. She smiled to herself: it was nice having friends to come home to (not that this felt like home yet). Desaree jumped up fuss over her, taking her shall and hanging it up. She took a seat beside Saffra, and they exchanged smiles.

"It looks as if your walk did you great good," Desaree's called from the wardrobe. The smugness that carried in her voice reminded Claire that her handmaiden's advice ought to be headed more often. "Oh, and did you see the guards in the corridor?" Desaree asked, rejoining them a minute later with a tray of cups and a pitcher of water.

"I did see them. I hope they won't be too much of a bother. King Talon gave me no choice." She shrugged, but not because she was annoyed by the addition. It was more of a shrug of acceptance because she finally understood the threat Kane posed. Her life was in danger and Kane wasn't messing around. She had been careless—but not anymore. At this point, she was genuinely glad to have extra protection.

"I am glad of it," Des said, as if reading her mind.

"I am too," she admitted. It felt good saying it out loud.

Desaree's eyes widened sarcastically. "Gods be good, Claire, you mean to say that you did not argue with him about it?" Desaree said this with a knowing smirk before adding, "And how did your walk go?"

Claire laughed then grew contemplative. "You know, I'm surprised to admit it, but it went well..." She turned her attention to a stray thread coming undone on the upholstery of the sofa arm.

"Well?! Are we going to have to drag details out of you?" Desaree's face was full of curiosity.

Claire couldn't help but grin. She thought about how best to sum up her time with Talon. At last she said, "Talon and I have turned over a new leaf in our relationship. We have had a fresh start, so to speak."

"Lady Claire, my patience wears thin!" Desaree gave her a stop-messing-around look nearly as sharp as her tone.

"Oh, all right, all right." Claire held up her hands and laughed. Then she relayed every detail of her walk to Desaree and Saffra.

Her listeners listened eagerly as she told them about the various conversations she and Talon had shared. Both Desaree and Saffra liked the idea of Claire receiving extra training, and especially the fact that she was going to get Cyrus's sword.

"That must have been extremely hard for him to part with," Saffra said, with obvious surprise. "He loved Cyrus."

"I know, right? He didn't even argue when I asked."

Desaree and Saffra were less impressed when they heard about King Talon's reaction to Claire's Sprite theories. "The signs are all there," Saffra argued. "If he refuses to admit that, refuses to admit that you have Sprite blood, then he is in denial."

"The truth can often be the hardest to handle," Desaree said in defense of the king. Claire and Saffra both agreed.

It wasn't until Claire talked about King Talon's various displays of emotion that her audience became especially receptive. She lingered over little details like the way Talon's face lit up when she offered to share her theories, or how he sometimes made a point to reclaim her arm after they stopped walking. Her favorite thing had been the way his mouth twitched when he wanted to smile, and he had certainly smiled more than once. She considered that a win. "I think he finds me funny, but in a good way. I even made him laugh."

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