Blood Feud Page 29

And I didn’t.

And I didn’t.

“Tel my parents we’re going to the Hounds. Their shamanka’s been injured,” he tossed out to one of the stern-faced guards at the entrance.

Magda and I were already scrambling down the cliffside, scattering pebbles. Something tumbled out of Logan’s pocket when he caught up to us. He picked it up, bewildered. “What the hel is this gross thing?”

He was holding a gray dog’s paw, the nails curled in. It was wrapped in black thread and thorny rose stems without blossoms. I went cold al over.

“That’s a death charm,” I said. “A rare Cwn Mamau spel ,” I elaborated when he just stared at me.

“It’s a dog’s paw,” he said very clearly, dropping it into the dirt.

“That’s disgusting. I thought you guys liked dogs.”

“It wasn’t kil ed for its foot,” I told him. “When our dogs die, of natural causes,” I pointed out, “or in an attack, we use them for spel work, after the burial rites.”

“Yeah, stil gross,” he muttered.

“And see this?” I pointed out a flat bone disk painted with a wolfhound and a blue fleur-de-lys. “That’s my personal mark.

Someone’s trying to frame me.”


Paris, 1793

“Papa, I don’t understand,” Isabeau pleaded. “Why do I have to wear this horrid dress? It itches.” The dress in question was gray wool without a stitch of ornamentation. She could pass for a maidservant or a vil age girl. Even her hair was tied back in an uncomplicated twist without a single pearl pin or diamond bauble.

“Chouette, it’s not safe anymore,” Jean-Paul answered.

She’d never seen him like this before. Nothing scared him, not Versail es, not wolves howling in the woods, not even the huge spiders that crawled into the château just before winter fel . She’d seen him fight a duel once, when she was supposed to be asleep in her bed. Now he looked haggard and tired and nearly gray with grief. Her mother sat weeping in the corner.

She hadn’t stopped crying in days. Her hair was losing its curl, her face unpowdered. Isabeau shivered.

“This is about the king, isn’t it?” she whispered.

He slanted her a glance. “What do you know , chouette?”

“That the mob took Bastil e, that Paris is no longer safe.”

“It’s not just Paris anymore,” he said quietly, shoving another wheel of cheese into the leather pack in front of him. They were in the kitchen, huddled by the hearth. Her old nursemaid Martine stood by the door, spine sword-straight. She wore a brown woolen dress and her hair was scraped back under a cloth bonnet. Isabeau had never seen her look so plain before. She shivered again.

“They’ve gained in strength and numbers. They’ve set up the guil otine as a permanent gal ows. And the king was executed yesterday. France truly has no royalty now.” She stared at him, shocked. “They kil ed the king?”

“Do you know what this means, Isabeau?”

She shook her head mutely.

“It means none of us is safe.” He wrapped a thick cloak around her shoulders. “Here, keep this on. It’s cold outside.” She tied the ribbons together tightly. “Where are we going?”

“We’re going to my brother’s house in London.”

“England?” she repeated. Her mother wept harder, choking on her sobs. “But you haven’t spoken to him in years.” She was interrupted by the shattering of broken glass coming from the front of the château. She whirled toward the sound. Her mother leaped to her feet, her hand clasped over her trembling mouth. Her father tensed. “Merde.

“There’s no time.” His eyes were determined, sharp as they found hers. “Isabeau, I need you to hide. Go with Martine, take your mother. You remember the broken stone I showed you?” Isabeau nodded, her heart racing so fast it made her sick to her stomach.

“Pul it out and crawl inside. The passageway wil take you out into the woods, by the lavender fields.” More glass broke, and something hard thudded against the locked front door. She could hear shouting, faintly. “Do you understand, Isabeau?” She forced herself to look at him. “Oui, Papa.” She understood perfectly wel . She was sixteen years old and better equipped to protect them than her fragile mother.

“Then go! Go now!”

“Non,” Amandine shrieked, clutching his arm so tightly the fabric of his shirt tore under her frantic nails. The door splintered with such a loud sharp crack that it echoed throughout the château. Martine’s face was wild as she grabbed Isabeau’s shoulder.

“We have to go.”

Footsteps crashed toward them. The mob shouted, knocked paintings off the wal , howled with hunger and frustration. The golden candlesticks in the hal way could have bought a winter’s worth of food for an entire family. Never mind that there was scarcely any food to be had, bought or otherwise. January frost covered the fields and the orchards, and the summer crops had been thinner than usual due to weather and political upheaval.

Jean-Paul tried to tear Amandine’s hand off him, to shove her toward Isabeau for safekeeping, but his wife was wild with terror and would not move. He wouldn’t let her save him and he couldn’t risk their daughter. They couldn’t al get away, they’d be chased through the countryside, found.

“Cherie, please,” he begged his wife. “Please, you have to go.”

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