Things were strained between Kayden and I; I was afraid to talk to him alone because I didn't want him to bring up running away. I was afraid of the way I felt when he mentioned it because there was a part of me buried deep down that wanted to run away and start living how I choose with no one who knew anything of my past life- and it terrified me that maybe Kayden had realized that. Do you know how scary it is to have some one know your deepest, darkest, most secret wish?
Tristan was really busy as usual, I hardly saw him except when he had some new information to give me about the men I was supposed to talk. The party was in a few hours and I still was wondering how in the world I was going to get these men to tell me their most guarded secret… I was going to have to creative.
I was a lot less nervous this time, but there were still a few butterflies in my stomach but I knew they would disappear the moment I got there. And this time Kayden, Tristan and I would all arrive together so that made it a little better.
Tristan hadn't said a word to me about what had happened with Kayden so I think he believes what I told him. And Kayden was right, there's always a handful of men and boys waiting outside our door but they aren't obnoxious or anything- even when I go outside most of them don't even say a word to me. They just stare and every once and a while one of them gets brave and offers me a flower or asks how my day is going. Its kind of sad, every time I see them I think of what Kayden said- how they're wasting their lives away trying to catch a glimpse of me, and I wonder if I really am in the wrong. Am I really leading them on? I don't see how I could be because most of the men here I have never ever seen before…but I still feel guilty and wonder sometimes.
As the maid does my hair and makeup I keep running everything I know about tonight's mission through my head, I just hope I'll be able to figure out what's going on. I don't want to let the guys down, Tristan told me that this is really important and if we can get this 'address book' then we can stop all those criminals and traitors and save many people's lives. That's a lot of responsibility to put on my shoulders but I know I can take it if I put my mind to it. Then after all this blows over then Tristan and I can live happily together, right? I wasn't sure if that was how it was going to end, to be honest after what happened with Kayden I have had a sinking feeling that I might have everything wrong but maybe I'm just paranoid.
I was ready in no time. I had slipped into my blue gown, it was really one of my favorites- it was a deep electric blue with billowing sleeves that hung from the curves of my shoulders and opened up at my elbows and flared out. It had a small train and was made of a shimmery silk- it made me feel like I was wearing a piece of the night sky.
I was pleased to see both Tristan and Kayden stare as I came downstairs, I smiled and pretended not to notice as we got into the carriage. The men outside stared in awe, I couldn't help but laugh at the looks on their faces- men were so easy.
"What?" Tristan asked, looking confused. I shook my head,
"It's just that those men are so easily taken in, I mean its sad really." I answered.
"Then why do you encourage them?" Asked Kayden in an accusing voice. I rolled my eyes,
"Really? You're gonna start this again? I don't encourage them at all! I don't even talk to them, it's not my fault that they're really shallow and fall the first pretty girl they see!" I said, feeling irritated.
"Well you don't have to go flaunting around looking like a goddess or something, I mean damn-"
"Both of you stop it!" Tristan practically yelled, we both turned to him and glared.
"Why don't you mind your business and let us talk." Kayden practically growled.
"It is my business." Answered Tristan leaning forward, with a taunting smirk. Kayden leaned forward to and I could feel the hostility between them- when had this happened? They were best friends! Had I done this? I sighed,
"Guys! Stop please! We have to focus on the mission right now!" I said and tried to get between them but that's a lot easier said than done when your all dressed up in a carriage.
"Everything's fine darling." Tristan said and Kayden rolled his eyes and leaned back. I let out the breath I had been holding and looked out the window, what was going on? Everything had seemed so perfect before.
The beginning of the night was a blur really, it was a lot like my first appearance- everyone stopped and stared as I came in then they flocked to my side and I was introduced to face after face, not remembering a single one. To be honest I was focused on what was going on with Tristan, Kayden, and I. Why were we suddenly fighting each other? Why did I hardly ever talk to Tristan anymore? And why did that not really bother me? Why did I trust Kayden so much? All of that was swirling in my head- I almost forgot what I had come to do, but when I suddenly recognized the name of one of the men I was introduced to I snapped back.
He was a few years older than me, attractive but nothing spectacular- he seemed like an average man but he was very nice to me and I pretended to be taken with him. Flirting and dancing with him, pretending to ignore the rest of the world.
"So what do you do for a living I asked?" I asked as we danced.
"I manage my father's estate." He answered, we talked about his father's house, his family, everything then all the sudden.
"You want to know a secret?" he asked.
"Of course!" I whispered, getting excited but know he would probably saw something like 'you're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen' or 'I love you'.
"You can't tell a soul!"
"I won't, I promise." I said with a smile. He leaned forward putting his mouth right next to my ear.
"I really work for the King."
"What?" I said in a surprised whisper- what was he talking about?
"I'm a spy for the King," He whispered, "I work for him and help keep all the other spies safe." He finished looking so proud of himself.
"Keeping them safe?" I asked.
"I'm one of the guards for the book."
"The address book?" I gasped, was it really this easy to find out about this huge secret?
"You know about the address book?" He said surprised.
"I've heard rumors of it." I murmured.
"Well yes, I help Roland- the Duke of Fentwall keep it safe because if it fell into the wrong hands…"
"Wow, you're so brave!" I said, trying to sound awed, "What's this book look like? I mean is it really just a book?" I asked, trying not to sound suspiciously curious.
"Yes actually, its disguised though as some silly novel called Love's Labors Lost…" I stopped listening to him after that and looked around desperately for Tristan or Kayden. I could hardly keep from turning away from him and running in their direction but I managed somehow to remain calm until the song had ended and then get away with an accuse about needing to use the restrooms.
"Tristan! I know who has it!" I whispered eagerly to him as I grabbed his hand to get his attention.
"What! How?" He said turning to me and leading me to one of the balconies pulling Kayden with him.
"He just told me! He was trying to impress me and said a bunch of stuff and then said that Roland the Duke of Fentwall is the one who has the address book!" I exclaimed as soon as we were out on the balcony.
"Roland?" Tristan said looking pensively out into the darkness, "Perhaps we should pay him a visit."
"Now?" Both Kayden and I asked.
"Why not? Lets go." Tristan took my hand and we starting walking towards the door. Kayden just stood there for a second then followed us.
"Kayden we're going to drop you at the house to get some…things." Said Tristan as we got into our carriage, "That way we'll be prepared." Kayden didn't say anything, he just nodded and looked out the window.
All my excitement of discovery had disappeared and I was feeling almost sick with a feeling of foreboding, and the way Kayden was acting wasn't making it any better. I wanted to ask him what was going on, and if it was true what he said about working for the king- what was the 'address book' really?
"I'll send for you when I need you." Tristan said as we stopped in front of our house, Kayden turned and looked as me as he opened the door.
"It's now or never Deirdre." He said quietly, I swallowed trying to calm myself. What was about to happen? I just stared back at him not knowing what to say.
"What are you talking about?" Tristan said, sounding irritated. Kayden looked at me and shook his head and got out.
"Kayden-" I said reaching out like somehow I could stop him.
"What the hell is going on?" Tristan angrily turned to me, "Is there something going on between you? Are you sneaking around behind my back?" He practically yelled. I shrunk back into my seat and took a deep breath.
"I don't know what you're talking about." I said and crossed my arms across my chest feeling as if that would keep him from suspecting.
"You better not be…" He mumbled.
"What the hell is your problem!" I exclaimed, I couldn't understand why he was acting like a completely different person all the sudden. He huffed and looked up like he was asking God for patience,
"I don't have time for this." I glared then turned my body away from him and looked out the window, fuming. I wanted to punch him- repeatedly.
When we arrived at the Duke's huge mansion we were shepherded into a small study where we were met by a hulking man with small rat like eyes and brown, almost black hair. He was dressed nicely but definitely not like a duke, I kept looking at Tristan for an explanation but he practically ignored me.
"I haven't seen you in ages." The man said cheerily as he motioned for us to sit down, "And I definitely haven't see this ravishing young woman before." He looked me up and down and I felt a shiver go down my spine- not the pleasant kind, this man scared me.
"It's been way too long, Gustuov!" Tristan said with a smile, "This is my friend Deirdre she's been helping me get some information." Gustuov? Tristan had never mentioned him to me before, I was sure of it…
"Oh I bet she has!" Gustuov chuckled and winked at me, I grimaced and looked away.
"I have to say I'm kind of surprised that you're still working here, friend. I thought you would be long gone." Continued Tristan.
"I wish!" Exclaimed Gustuov, "But they couldn't find anyone else to do the job right. The old man doesn't trust strangers so I'm stuck here for now. But I wont be here much longer," He leaned forward and lowered his voice, "The old man isn't going to on earth much longer if ya know what I mean…"
"I'm happy for you! Now I'm sure you suspect why we're here, we've been looking everywhere for this and now we have gotten some information that has led us here."
"I think I know what you're speaking about, that thing they call the 'address book', am I correct?"
"Yes!" Tristan leaned forward, expectantly. I just watched them both carefully, I didn't like any of this one bit.
"I do have some information on the whereabouts of that lovely piece of literature," Gustuov paused and stroked his chin, "But it's going to cost you…a lot." Tristan started naming prices and Gustuov kept saying no, I ignored their arguing and looked around the room out of curiosity then my eyes stopped.
"Tristan!" I exclaimed standing up abruptly and grabbing his shoulder.
"What!" He said turning angrily to look at me.
"I need to talk to you, now. Alone." I said urgently, as I had been glancing over the room my eyes happened to stop on the book shelf and I scanned the titles just out of habit. That's when I saw it, sitting innocently on the shelf- Love's Labors Lost.
"Not now!" Tristan said with a glare.
"Tristan its really, really important!"
"Please, listen to me!" I pleaded but he ignored me and started talking to Gustuov again.
"I'm not made of money Gustuov," Tristan said in a stressed voice, "Tell me what you want and I will do the best I can."
"Well , you have always been a good friend to me…" Gustuov drawled, "I'll tell you what- you give me this," He wrote something on a piece of paper and passed it to Tristan, "And I'll call it even."
"Are you serious?" Tristan said incredulously, glancing in my direction.
"Completely, that's fair right?" Asked Gustuov, leaning forward and licking his lips.
"Of course," Tristan looked down for a moment, "Fine, I agree."
"Don't worry- it won't take long." Gustuov winked. I looked back and forth between them but I was lost- I had no idea what they were talking about.
"Well we have a deal then?" Asked Tristan.
"A deal." Gustuov replied and they shook hands.
"I have to get something, I'll be right back." Said Tristan, getting up abruptly. I stood up too, "No, stay here. I don't need you." He said looking a me then quickly away. I sunk down in my chair trying to decipher his behavior.
As soon as he left Gustuov got to his feet and came around his desk to stand in front of me.
"Now let's see what information you can get out of me." He said, his voice sound husky. I looked at him in disgust and stood up.
"I think not…" I answered and headed towards the door.
"I wouldn't do that if I was you!" He warned. And of course I did, but it was locked. I spun around looking for another means of escape. There was a window…as I looked around I remember the book and inched my way closer to the book shelf.
"What's the matter, Honey? You know what Tristan promised me, don't you?" I shook my head, I didn't know but I was beginning to get an idea and I didn't like it.
"Well to put it bluntly- he said I could fuck you." Gustuov said with a grin like a little boy on Christmas morning. I laughed,
"Well he lied!" I said angrily, "He doesn't own me, and I say that's definitely NOT going to happen!" As we were talking I had managed to slip the book from the book shelf into my purse.
"I'm not asking your permission," Gustuov said quietly and then lunged at me. I screamed and tried to get out of the way but he was too fast, he grabbed me around the waist and threw me to the floor. I struggle and screamed with all my might but my beautiful dress was almost like a cage and kept me from moving freely. He started crawling at my dress, trying to rip it off. My arms were flailing around trying to get him off when they came in contact with something cold and hard- his knife.
After a few seconds of struggling I managed to get a grip on it and pull it from his sheath and plunge it into his back. He screamed and ached his back in pain, searching wildly for the knife to pull it out. I took advantage of this to throw him off balance and get out from under him. I started making my way to the window when I felt something hit my back and the next thing I knew I was on the ground again. Gustuov on top of me, grinning down at me with a psychotic smile.
"You think you're so clever beautiful?" He sneered, "We'll how beautiful you are after this!" He chuckled and held his knife up to my arm. His eyes didn't leave my face as he wrote something in my arm, I crunched my eyes shut and bit my lip trying not to scream. Tears ran down my face but I didn't make a sound. He laughed and stopped cutting,
"Now for the face!" He whispered and brought the knife to my temple, "What lovely cheek bones," He muttered and cut a line from my left temple down the ridge of my cheekbone.
"And now for the best part." He said so quietly I could hardly hear him and started cutting my dress away, and some of my skin with it. The world was starting to look hazy and I felt dizzy but I was thankful that I would probably not be conscious for what was about to happen. I squeezed my eyes shut- how could Tristan let this happen? I thought he loved me…he said he would protect me. And Kayden! Was he part of this? I sighed and watched the world slowly fade to black.
"DEIRDRE!" I heard a familiar voice shout and struggled to open my eyes, but they were too heavy. I heard another voice and loud crashes and bangs. I tried to move but it sent stabs of pain through my body and at first I was confused. Then it all come flooding back, Tristan, Gustuov! My eyes flicked open and I looked around trying to figure out what was going on.
I was still in the study, somehow I still had most of my clothes on yet they were cut, torn, and bloody. My right arm was one bloody mass of pain, and the cut on my face was still bleeding. I ripped some of the bottom of my dress to wrap around my arm as I looked around for the cause of all the noise and I saw it within seconds. Gustuov was fightng someone…
"Kayden!" I whispered in surprise, he had come to protect me! I felt a sudden jolt of energy and tried to get to my feet but I just fell back down, the best I could manage was to sit up. Seconds later a dirty, sweaty, bloody Kayden was by my side.
"I'm so sorry." He whispered, looking at me with such pain in his eyes I could hardly take it.
"I'm fine." I answered. He snorted,
"Kayden, thank you!" I said with a smile. He looked down.
"Don't thank me, I should have gotten here sooner- I could have prevented this."
"Gustuov?" I asked.
"Good," I smiled but I was starting to feel dizzy and the world was getting hazy again.
"Deirdre! Wake up! Stay with me!" He cried, suddenly alarmed.
"Lets go home," I whispered and put my arms around him.
"Anything you want, just stay with me." He said and picked me up, carrying me through the broken doorway, out of the mansion, to the carriage.
"Are you mad at me?" I murmured as the carriage drove away.
"What?" He exclaimed, "Why would I be angry at you?"
"I couldn't kill him myself…after everything you taught me…" I explained.
"Oh shut up you silly girl!" He said and kissed my forehead, "He was almost three times your size!" I sighed and laid my head on his shoulder.
"I want to kill Tristan…" I muttered, surprising myself. Kayden looked down at me seriously for a moment.
"Not if I get to him first." He said, his eyes looking deadly.
"Oh Kayden," I said a few minutes later.
"I have the book." I smiled, somehow my purse had survived everything.
"I have the 'address book'." I said happily. He laughed,
"After all this you think that matters to me?" He asked, I looked down sadly.
"Well I hoped it would…""Aw, Deirdre that's not what I meant! Its amazing that you got it, I'm just saying you're safety is more important to me at the moment." I smiled and closed my eyes.