Turning, I cast one last glance over my shoulder before I bolted toward the street where our townhouse was situated. I was oddly short of breath as I reached the door and knocked. It took three minutes for somebody to wake up. I caught the sound of a door groaning open upstairs, and then footsteps padding down the staircase. It was Jamil who answered the door. His jaw dropped open as he laid eyes on me.
He gave her a lopsided grin. No one ever really changes, Francesca.She cocked her head to the side, motioning to the hall, where they could hear someone moving toward them on swift feet. The footman arrived, and Francesca took care of everything, allowing Michael to do nothing but stand by the fire, looking vaguely imperial as he nodded his agreement.
Good night, Michael, she said, once the footman had left to do her bidding.Good night, Francesca, he said softly.It’s good to see you again, she said. And then, as if she needed to convince one of them of it-he wasn’t sure which, she added, It truly is.
… I’m sorry I haven’t written. No, that’s not true. I’m not sorry. I don’t wish to write. I don’t wish to think of-– -from the Countess of Kilmartin to the new Earl of Kilmartin, one day after the receipt of his first missive to her, torn to bits, then soaked with tears
By the time Michael arose the next morning, Kilmartin House seemed to be back up and running as befitted the home of an earl. There were fires in every grate, and a splendid breakfast had been laid out in the informal dining room, with coddled eggs, ham, bacon, sausage, toast with butter and marmalade, and his own personal favorite, broiled mackerel.
Francesca, however, was nowhere to be found.He began moving forward, and, nudging the top of his smooth, orange beak against my belly, herded me back toward the cave. I tried to circle around him, but again, he was quick to cut me off before I could.
I threw a glance over my shoulder into the cave. I guessed at least it would be warmer in there. But why does he want me there?If he had been intending to eat me, why would he wait for me to walk into the cave? He was a monster. He could rip me in two with a chomp of his beak. He didn’t need me in the cave to do that, and heck, even if he did, he could carry me there himself.
I glanced from the cave, to the deserted, icy landscape surrounding us, then back to the cave. It didn’t seem that I had any choice but to obey the griffin’s whims. He wasn’t letting me leave, and I was positive that if I did somehow skirt around him and hurtle down the mountainside, he would only launch into the sky and scoop me up again.So I turned to face the cave. The tip of his beak nudged against my back as he ushered me inside. Once I had neared the back of the cavern, winding around the stalagmites, I stopped and turned around again to face the creature. Planting my hands on my hips, I raised a brow as if to ask him, Now what?