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the heiress episode 24

THE HEIRESS

EPISODE 24šŸ…±ļø

From U.S Bah ā¤ āœŒšŸ½

The next morning dawned dark and dreary, with
rain pattering the windows. Isabelle was
already awake, haunted by her thoughts and
dreading the day ahead. She couldn’t bring
herself to chase Graham for answers, not when
he was so clearly snubbing her for his own
pleasure, nor did she want to press Byron any
further. Both avenues would only give someone
the satisfaction of knowing that they’d shaken
her, something she adamantly refused to do.

When Lissa arrived bearing a tea tray, Isabelle
was thankful for the company and the
distraction before she noticed the contents of
the tray.

Standing upright between the teapot
and the teacup was a letter.
“It’s from Kentshire,” Lissa said, as Isabelle
vaulted from her bed.

“Your father’s courier
was nearly turned away when he refused to
give it to anyone but you. Thankfully, he
recognized me before they hauled him out.”
Isabelle broke open the seal, hurriedly lighting
a candle to cut the darkness of the cloudy
dawn. She didn’t care that the cold was
seeping through her nightdress, her f!ngĀ£rs
shaking as she unfolded the letter.

Dearest Isabelle,
You are correct. I will not waste time with
pleasantries, as clearly the time for such
nonsĀ£nse has [email protected] There is more afoot than
I have shared with you, but my prevarication
was solely for your protection. I have attempted
to conceal things from you if only to prevent
your hopes from being dashed and to save you
from disillusionment.

The king’s council is debating a law that could
bring a great deal of change for Kentshire and
for you. It is the reason I have delayed your
marriage; if it comes to [email protected], you will be faced
with a life-altering decision.

Such a choice can
only be made by you, not by me, though many
others will not see it as so. I have no
guarantee, however, that this law will [email protected],
which is why I have not dared to tempt you with
such hope.
You would do well to glean as much as you can
from anyone with access to the dealings of the
king’s council.

It is one of the reasons I agreed
to sĀ£nd you to Highcastle, for should such a
law come to [email protected], you will be far safer there.
I also do not doubt that your betrothed will learn
of this news before I do, which is why I will ask
you to remain in Highcastle no matter what
Prince Leopold tells you.

If he arrives to escort
you home, please heed my warning: do not
leave the capitol until I summon you myself, in
writing, with my signature and my seal. It is for
your own safety, my dearest Isabelle. If Leopold
balks, instruct him to take his objections up with
me. I cannot predict how he will react and I
would prefer if you remained far away should he
take your decision poorly.

I know this letter will not answer your questions
and that it will only elicit more, but you must
trust me, my Isabelle. I want the best for you
and I will stop at nothing to obtain it. For a long
while, I’d believed that the best I could do for
you was a Germanian throne, but time has
brought changes even I couldn’t have predicted.
You deserve a long, safe, happy life and I will
work until my dying breath to secure that for
you.
But you must trust me.

There are many forces that would thwart me
and, from the tone of your last letter, I fear that
they may already be influencing you more than
you know. You are a woman, my love, which
means that the world will grant you little power
unless you are protected by a man.

I want to
change that for you, your future daughters, and
theirs as well. Your mother had prayed for a
son because she knew how cruel the world
would be to a daughter.
But you are not simply a daughter, you are my
daughter. You are the heiress of Kentshire. You
deserve every ounce of power such a title
commands and I will not rest until I have
secured it for you, irrevocably.

Please, keep your faith in me, my Isabelle.
There are turbulent times ahead, but we will
weather the coming storm together. We always
have and we always will.
I look forward to our next debate in my study. I
cannot express how badly I miss our
conversations.
With love, forever,
Papa
Thankfully, Isabelle hadn’t ventured too far from
the bed. Staggering backwards as she read,
she sat, devouring her father’s words over and
over again.

Her suspicions had been correct. There was
something afoot in Highcastle. Papa had been
purposefully delaying her nuptials. Something
was happening that was about to change her
future, but what? What was happening in the
king’s meetings? There was one person she
could ask, but did she dare? Her father had
warned her not to be swayed by outside
influences and what was Graham if not an
outside influence? He had been the one that
had planted so many doubts and questions in
her mind.

His actions had been the reason
she’d written to her father so bluntly in the first
place.
And yet her father believed that she was safer
in Highcastle than in Kentshire. From his
words, it was not difficult to deduce that he no
longer trusted Leopold, either.

But what could
possibly have changed that would make it so
unsafe for her to leave the capitol? Why had he
changed his opinion of Leopold? Had
something happened in Ardalone or was it
solely because of whatever law the king was
pondering in his council meetings?
Isabelle’s world was changing again, allies
turning to enemies while enemies became
allies.
Falling back onto her covers, she stared at the
canopy above her as the rain pattered against
the windows. Lissa had disappeared into her
closet to select a dress for the day, oblivious
to the monumental contents of the duke’s
letter. The courier had been instructed to
deliver the letter directly into Isabelle’s hands,
but for some reason the palace had attempted
to thwart him.

But why? Graham had teased
her once about how little she’d learned at
court. Thinking back, Isabelle realized with a
jolt that he’d even asked her if she was aware
of what was happening in the king’s council.
She’d been ignorant of the whole mess
because she’d been too preoccupied holding
out for Leopold and chasing useless
information about Alicia.

But now, if what she
was reading between the lines of her father’s
letter was correct, it seems as if she shouldn’t
have bothered remaining loyal to Leopold at
all. Her father did not want her to leave with
the foreign prince, nor did he want her to return
to Kentshire. He wanted her to stay in
Highcastle, the very place he had been
reluctant to sĀ£nd her in the beginning…
Scrubbing her face with hands, Isabelle forced
herself to think. She was going in circles. She
needed to lay out the facts. Pushing herself out
of bed again, she crossed to her escritoire and
pulled out some paper.

Smoothing out her
father’s letter beside her, she furrowed her
brow.
The king’s council. They were debating a law
that would change her future and that of
Kentshire. It seemed as if her father was
hoping that law would [email protected], whatever it was,
but that he hadn’t told her about it for fear that
it wouldn’t come to be.

What could possibly
be so monumental that he’d changed his mind
about her betrothal? Turning to the paper,
Isabelle wrote:
King’s council, new law?
Returning to her letter, she read on. Papa was
worried that Leopold would hear about
whatever was happening in the king’s council
before he did, which was why he’d directed
Isabelle to stay in Highcastle. More accurately,
he had instructed her to trust no one but him if
she was told to leave to capitol. She started a
new line:
Stay in Highcastle. Why? Why is Kentshire not
safer?
She continued onto the second page of her
father’s letter. This part was likely the reason
for his secrecy; it would not do for a duke to
say such things about women having power in
their own right. Isabelle had known for a long
time that she would belong to whomever she
married. She’d accepted it as an unalterable
truth, but now Papa was hinting that it was not
so.

More alarmingly, her father had stated that a
Germanian throne was not the best thing he
could secure for her. Why? Did it have anything
to do with her discovery in the library the day
before? Was it something as trivial as Leopold
having a lover, or was it something more
political than that?
No more Germania. Why? Andover? Law?
Skipping towards the end, she focused on his
second to last paragraph. There was a storm
coming. Surely it had to do with the new law.
He had asked her to trust him, so she would,
but not before she puzzled it all out.
What is coming? How does it relate to inheriting
Kentshire?
In the past, Isabelle’s title had been the only
thing that was ever hers and hers alone. Her
lands would never be hers, they would be her
husband’s. Any power Isabelle would have in
the future would be thanks to whom she
married, not thanks to her status as the heiress
of Kentshire. She had no direct male relatives,
except for a distant uncle on her mother’s side
who had no claim on her title or her lands.
Once she took some other man’s name,
everything that belonged to Duke Francis would
[email protected] to her husband.
Inhaling, Isabelle took a fortifying sip of tea as
she stared down at the paper before her.
King’s council, new law?
Stay in Highcastle. Why? Why is Kentshire not
safer?
No more Germania. Why? Andover? Law?
What is coming? How does it relate to inheriting
Kentshire?
It was growing clearer now. Of utmost
importance was determining what law was
being debated in the king’s council. Her father
had urged her to, so she would, even if it
meant succu-mbing to Graham’s games again.
As for why Duke Francis had decided that
Kentshire was unsafe and Leopold was
untrustworthy, Isabelle had no way of solving
that mystery unless she asked her father
outright. But it did not seem wise to commit
such a question to paper, especially since her
father had gone to such lengths to ensure that
his letter was delivered straight into her hands
and no one else’s. Clearly, he did not trust the
palace not to meddle in their affairs and
inspect her correspondence, but then why did
he think Isabelle was safer there?
With a frustrated groan, Isabelle buried her
face in her hands.
One step at a time, she thought. First, she had
to gather more information on the king’s
council. For that, she’d have to find the prince.
It was a simple enough task to begin with,
especially since her social calendar featured a
breakfast with the royal family that morning.
“Lissa, I need to be noticed today,” Isabelle
said, folding her father’s letter. She took the
paper she’d written on and the one beneath it,
chucking both of them into the embers of the
fire. She would dispose of her father’s letter in
a similar fashion, but only once she’d
committed the contents to memory. She had a
feeling there was more lurking between the
lines that would be more easily understood
once she had more answers.
As the papers smouldered, however, she was
struck with an idea. Pressing as [email protected] as she
could on the topmost paper, she wrote “Good
day, Alicia. I hope you’ve enjoyed my letters”
in the center. Chucking the first page into the
fire, she ran her f!ngĀ£rs over the sheet beneath
it, satisfied that her message had been etched
into the paper. When Alicia discovered the
message, she’d surely turn to some other
means of espionage, but Isabelle had grown
tired of being forced to write two copies of
each letter she sĀ£nt.
“Of course, my lady. I’ll fetch you something
different,” Lissa replied, taking away the
demure grey day dress she’d laid out.
When her maid emerged from the closet again,
she was holding a crimson dress with a tartan
sash
“Will this do?” she asked, her eyes twinkling.
Isabelle smiled.
~*~
Thankfully, Violet was dressed early as well.
Isabelle had knocked on her door shortly
before the clocktower struck eight. Violet
made no comment about Isabelle’s choice of
attire, but her friends eyes had widened at the
brazen tartan pattern. The pair of them
descended to the dining room early, taking
seats at a table as close to the royal table as
Isabelle dared.
“You left early last night, is everything all
right?” Violet asked finally, curtailing her
enthusiasm about the wonderful time she’d had
the night before when she noticed the worry
etched into Isabelle’s face.
“I’ve had some news from home, that’s all. I
have quite a bit to think on,” Isabelle said,
smiling for her friend’s benefit. When the rest
of the debutantes and courtiers trickled in,
their table remained empty. Alicia and the
twins took a seat at another table, the
brunette’s face pale as the twins chattered on
around her. Violet’s ladies-in-waiting hadn’t yet
arrived when Sam took a seat with them.
“Heavens, has the disappearing de Haviland
rejoined our ranks? Dressed like that, you’re
[email protected] to miss, Izzie,” Sam joked, taking a seat
across from Isabelle. “A very good morning to
you both.”
“Good morning to you too, Sam,” Violet said
before Isabelle could retort. Isabelle looked
over at her friend in surprise, but rather than
blush and look miserably heartbroken as she
had around Sam in the past, Violet finally
seemed less bashful in his presĀ£nce.
“Shall I save a seat for dear old Byron?” Sam
asked, turning his taunting to Violet. That was
enough to make her blush, but she didn’t tuck
her chin away as she so often did when she
was [email protected]
“Sadly, no. He’s out of the city for a few weeks
with his father. Shipping business, you see,”
she said.
“Then I fear it falls to me to entertain the pair
of you,” Sam said, dropping his napkin into his
lap. “Why the sudden demonstration of
Kentshire pride, Izzie?”
Before Isabelle could respond, the royal fanfare
blew.
“All rise for Her Majesty, Queen Leonora of
Pretania!”
Isabelle’s stomach sank as she rose to her
feet. The queen entered with her gaggle of
ladies-in-waiting, taking their seats at the head
table before the rest of the room sat once
again.
The pair of chairs belonging to Graham and the
king remained decidedly vacant.

To be continued….

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