42 ※ I Trusted You. I Loved You.

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Chapter 42 ※ I Trusted You. I Loved You.

A small clock placed perfectly on his bedside chimed it warnings. Cerid glanced up, double-checking the face of the ticking thing before exhaling. 'It's later than I thought.'

Later than she had anticipated as well, she wanted to supply. Instead, the girl grappled with her silence, one eye resting on the door, on the brass handle. Even with her glaring it hadn't encouraged the door wide open.

With time seeping through her fingers like blood, dripping on the floor, staining her beautiful dress, Elle coughed. 'So...' she perused the room, running a finger over all of the ornaments. 'A family reigning as long as yours has must have some secrets. A hidden room, perhaps?'

Cerid laughed, 'I suppose it will pass some time before we have to return to the ball. My family, contrary to the gossip's beliefs, are fairly ordinary with their hidden passages.'

'Oh, but you have them?' Her voice had dropped to a lower, more sultry tone. Cerid's tongue darted and he licked his lips. 'We have them.' He affirmed.

'Come on now! Show me the mysteries lying between these walls.' The assassin let her hair pool over one shoulder as she looked back at him, meeting his eyes.

The Imperial Heir inclined his head, tilting it slightly so she could see the glint in his eye. Her heart raced, picking up speed like one of the beasts she had ridden on the journey to Lorel.

He approached one of the walls, where there was a series of cabinets and storage spaces. Above the wooden furniture were a collection of animal heads, mounted and stuffed. Each one wearing a smile. Flashing teeth, yellow eyes—amber eyes.

'Are you alright, Vhiena?'

The girl realised she had grabbed onto the cuff of his suit, costing the same amount as a small house. Brushing her fingerprints off him, she hurriedly smoothed out the creases she had made. 'It's nothing, I was just wrapped in a daydream.'

'Aren't we all?' He quirked a smile.

She managed a watery one in return.

'Here.' Reaching out, his fingers deftly twisted one of the boar's large teeth. Elle's ears pricked with the audible click ricocheting within the walls. As commanded, a small panel of the wall slid away, with a groan.

Taking a step towards the newly opened passage, Elle's eyes took a moment to adjust to the dimness. She squinted inside, until pitch darkness moulded into shadowed shapes. A gust of sudden cold wind almost took her off her feet. Her lips pursed as her hair was blown around.

'What's down there?' She breathed, finally making out the silhouette of a stairwell, spiralling down. 'A safe room.' He replied grimly from behind her.

That must be where the vault is! She had searched everywhere in the room, tested almost every panel and book, prodding and poking things until all hope had sunk. It was the only option.

'Well?' she stepped into the gloom, making sure he didn't close the thing on her, trapping her for god knows how long. 'Are you coming to explore or not?'

'I've been down there already. There isn't much to see.'

Did he sound nervous?

'I haven't seen it!' Fumbling around on the wall, Elle's fingers found the paraffin lamp that she knew a passage would keep handy. Lighting it, the space around her became dimly lit. Shadows of them were thrown on the walls, bending proportions into monsters.

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