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Chapter 28

I don’t know if Cole was happy or not because I couldn’t find the guy anywhere. Seriously, how hard was it to find a darned prince?

I walked another loop around the middle of the castle and I still didn’t find him. By then, I was frustrated. As I took it one last time, I ripped open doors, finding some things that intrigued me and others that... didn’t.

Apparently, the middle loop on the bottom floor of the castle alone had the kitchen, two bathrooms, a huge library (which I’d utilize later), one totally empty room, and another stairwell to some cellar room or something.

These people were just plain weird sometimes. They apparently like doors that lead right onto staircases, which is dangerous, and they don’t seem to find a problem with leaving rooms absolutely empty.

Actually, maybe that makes them stupid.

Either way, by the time I was making the fourth or fifth pass of what looked like the same door, I was downright pissed.

In one of my more stupid attempts at releasing my anger, I kicked the wall.

“Ow!” I yelped as I felt my toe meet hard stone. For some reason, I was making a bigger deal out of it than it was. It hadn’t really hurt because I wasn’t so dumb as to kick it hard, just... I kicked it and I was waiting for it to hurt.

“Well, that’s entertaining. Please, do more,” A voice said from behind me.

I whirled around to see a new person. I blinked up at her, both intrigued and slightly nervous she was going to rat me out.

To whom I have no clue because I’m still new enough that I know the name of the cook and that’s about it. Although, knowing the names of all five crown royals should give me some leniency.

“Who are you?” I asked warily, still babying my toe even though it didn’t need it.

“Alexia,” She said, grinning. “Cole sent me to get you.”

Internally, I cursed.

I pasted on an innocent smile and kept looking her in the eye, growing increasingly on edge. The fact that she was taller than me didn’t help my frustration.

Why was everyone so dang tall?

Alexia grinned, “Oh, I think you know exactly why Cole wants you. I’m not supposed to tell you good job, but bad bad job or something.”

I narrowed my eyes at her. “Why can’t you tell me ‘good job’? Also, aren’t I supposed to be thrown in the dungeon for talking the guard into letting me in yet again. I think this is the third time or something, so that’s really not good.”

Alexia’s eyes darkened. “I think that’s part of why I was sent to get you,” She said hesitantly, “But also because Cole has a hunch and he wanted me to see if I thought it was true.”

I glanced her over, not as impressed as I could’ve been. “Huh,” I said, not entirely believing her. However, I had been looking for Cole and I couldn’t find him, so...

“By all means, lead me to Cole,” I said dramatically. I turned one way and Alexia snickered. I turned back, only a breath away from growling at her.

“First of all,” She began, “That’s the wrong way.” She pointed in the opposite direction. “And that’s the wrong way, too.”

I blinked at her in confusion. “Then how the heck do we get to Cole? He’s not here and there’s no staircase in any of these doors.” I gestured around us, knowing that one of the doors was a bathroom and the other was empty.

Alexia grinned, baring her teeth. “Why, we go up of course.”

I didn’t understand what the heck she meant but I loved the crazed expression on her face.

Alexia reached a hand high above her head and jumped. When she came back down, her hand was wrapped around a thin grey rope.

I eyed it warily. “Do I want to know why someone obviously went through the effort of dying the rope grey and then hanging it from the ceiling?”

Alexia grinned at me, “I mean, I think you do, but I wouldn’t know.”

Her innocent expression rivaled mine, which both annoyed me and impressed me. I couldn’t tell which direction I was leaning in.

I cast her a look that I sincerely hoped conveyed ‘drop the act, stop being an absolute turd, and tell me already.’

Alexia burst out laughing. She looked up and pulled the rope. “Watch out,” She warned.

A ladder fell and unrolled, looking as flimsy as a ladder could without crumbling with a single touch. When it fell as far as it could, it slowed, but still swung a bit.

I raised an eyebrow at her, “You want me to climb this?”

Either this was a really dumb ploy, or it really was safe. The hard part was telling which was which.

Alexia grinned, “Of course I do. Otherwise, I’m going to leave you behind.”

With that, she jumped as high onto the ladder as she could and began climbing quickly. I didn’t know if it was advisable to chase after her, especially on such a flimsy ladder, but I jumped up right after her.

Thankfully, the ladder held.

Alexia flew up the ladder and pulled herself up onto the next level, ducking back instead of charging forward down the short, narrow corridor the ladder had led to.

If I hadn’t seen her do it, I never would’ve known.

I would’ve flown down that hall just as fast as anyone else.

It was that fact that made me more determined to stick with her. She could become an asset if I played my cards right.

I pulled myself up and perched on the edge, turning to look at her. “So, we aren’t supposed to run down the corridor looking for people who didn’t run down the corridor. What else?”

Alexia looked amused, but pleasantly surprised. “How about, we don’t sit on the edge of holes that the person you’re asking for instructions from is trying to close up?”

I looked down, seeing that the new rope she was holding was also connected to the ladder. “Hmm, I would say yes, but I don’t know you very well.” I looked back up and smiled sweetly at her. “First thing you should know about me: I don’t take instruction very well.”

Alexia took a deep breath. “You don’t remember me at all?”

I raised an eyebrow at her, not feeling any sort of recognition whatsoever. “Nope. Should I?”

Sadness flashed in her eyes. “I’d hoped so,” She turned away and started roughly yanking the rope. The wooden parts of the ladder clanked together as they pulled up.

I pulled my legs out of the way before they got clipped by the ladder. Moving away from her, I stood up, my hand sliding closer to my knife belt.

Alexia was silent a moment longer before glancing back at me. “I used to play with you,” She looked away and wrapped the rope around something, pulling on it much harder than seemed necessary.

“I was your best friend.”

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