The Inherited

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Chapter Thirty Two

Mme. Fraise woke me early the next morning. She ripped the velvet curtains to the side and let smudgy morning light soak into room. The hairs on the back of my neck prickled as she tottled over to the bed. “Time to wake up, Mademoiselle.”

I pulled a pillow over my face. “I don’t have to be ready until one.”

“I’ve already let you sleep an extra 15 minutes,” she countered, voice now echoing of the tiled walls of my bathroom. Pipes rattled as she turned on the baths taps.

I groaned into the pillow.

“Shave - everything, and wash your hair. I’ll be back in half an hour with your breakfast.” The door clicked shut as she disappeared into the hall.

I remained in bed, determined to resist the old croons orders. The water still heaved into the tub in the next room though. With a sigh, I pushed of the heavy comforters, gathered myself up from the bed, then ran the few steps to the bathroom. The cold, damp night air still trapped inside the castle nipped at my skin. Steam billowed from the almost filled basin of the tub. I shimmied out of my pajama shorts while twisting off the handles.

“My dress is floor length,” I muttered as noticed the razor and soap she had left waiting at the tub’s edge for me. Another shiver ran through me so I stopped grumbling and slipped into the water.

Seconds later there was near silent knock on the bathroom door.

“I’m not done shaving yet,” I called.

No one replied. I cracked open my eyes in time to see Leopold sneak through the door, eyebrow raised. He held a finger to his lips while my cheeks flushed.

“You’ll get caught,” I whispered.

Leopold folded himself down onto the tiled floor beside the tub and leaned back against the basin. “M. Arsnault is keeping everyone away.”

Water sloshed as I sat up and folded my arms along the edge, resting my chin on their backs.

“I needed to be sure you were okay. That you understood,” Leopold said softly. His hands were on his lap and he picked at a scab on the back of his knuckles. “Now that you know.”

I took a deep break. Water lapped at the edges of the tub. “Now I know. Did you speak to Odette?”

“Yes. She likes you. She’s a good person, Fred.”

“I wouldn’t expect anything else.”

Slowly, Leopold turned his head to look at me. His gaze was careful. A soft inquiry.

“You protect the people you love, Leopold. Yes, you break protocol, and your temper sometimes gets the better of you, and you don’t always so what people want or expect. But from the moment I first arrived, I have seen nothing but compassion from you. I’ve see you sacrifice everything for your family and what you think is right. You are good, and honest, and true and it’s my job to do everything I can to make sure you stay that way. I haven’t changed my mind.”

Leopold let out a shaky breath, eyes fluttering shut, as he rested his forehead against mine.

I drew my hand from the water, steam curling from my skin as I wound my hand though the black hair at the base of his head.

I place a single kiss on his brow. “I’ll keep you safe, you keep me wild.”

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