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the heiress episode 34


From U.S Bah ❤ ✌🏽

He should have gone to check on her.
The thought had crossed Graham’s mind at
least a dozen times in the past hour,

by both his frustration at having
un-derestimated Kentshire’s heiress and his
anger with Samuel Winters.

The night before, he’d suffered through dance
after dance with the remaining debutantes,
each more infuriating than the next. He’d done
as his father had ordered,

locking Isabelle in
her room and posting guards at each of the
doors, including the service corridor.

He knew
she wasn’t above sneaking out dressed as a

but he hadn’t anticipated she’d resort to
violence. He’d trusted his guards to keep her
safe as he’d pretended to enjoy himself at the
But he should have gone to check on her.
He could still hear her voice begging, pleading,
crying his name as the guards dragged her

He’d dug his nails into his palms to
keep himself rooted to the sp-ot, that invisible
pull between them yanking taut. But he hadn’t

He was un-der orders to attend the ball
as if nothing was the matter, so he had.
But he hadn’t gone to check on her. He’d
buried the truth behind his reasoning, that he
didn’t want to find out whether she would allow
him into her suite after he’d allowed her to be
dragged away.

He didn’t want to see how badly
he’d damaged whatever fragile trust had grown
between them.
Because of his cowardice, it was only as the
stars winked out in the murky grey pre-dawn
light that he’d discovered her flight. His
cousins had screamed for the guard,

from their sleep as something crashed in
Isabelle’s bedchamber. There, the palace
guards had discovered one of their own, a
tipped-over wardrobe and a splintered closet
door attesting to his imprisonment. The guard
hadn’t seen his a-ssailants, but he remembered
Isabelle’s maid distracting him before he was

Of course, by the time the palace guard had
thought to awaken Graham, Isabelle’s maid had
fled as well, telling the guardhouse that she
was posting a letter for her mistress before
vanishing into the city.
Graham’s fist hit the desk before him,
Isabelle’s sapphire ring bouncing along the
wood as he gritted his teeth. From the
moment they’d discovered the guard
barricaded in Isabelle’s closet,

the clues had
laid themselves out like a well-drawn map,
taunting him. Her jewelry box had been
emptied of everything, save for her farce of an
engagement ring. Her horse was missing.
Outside the stables, one of the guards had
discovered her sapphire ring and earbob from
the night before,

both half-buried in the thin
dusting of morning snow.
Upon questioning, the evening shift gate
guards had reported that Sam Winters had left
the palace with his valet sometime before
midnight, while the morning shift had reported
that Cedric MacGibbon, Winters’ valet,

had left
the palace grounds shortly after dawn. No one
had any record of the valet re-entering the
palace grounds, which meant that Sam Winters
had left with someone else in the dead of
Graham had instantly known who that someone
else was, even though his guards had only
ba-rely pieced it together when they roused him.
He was of half a mind to strangle them all for
their incompetence, but the brunt of his wrath
was squarely aimed north. Sam Winters was
the one he wanted to punish.

Sam Winters,
who had given him his word that he’d leave
Isabelle in Highcastle. Now the pair of them
had at least an eight hour head start towards
the northern roads that were not even remotely
safe for Kentshire’s heiress.

Graham had gambled on Sam’s loyalty and, as
he’d stormed out to the stables that chilly
morning, he came to the bitter realization that
the northerner had proved himself a most loyal
The only problem was that he’d chos£n to ally
himself with Isabelle, rather than the crown.
But then, how could he have expected her not
to fight tooth and nail to leave? Graham knew
Isabelle was not one to give up without a fight,
not if her blind allegiance to Leopold had been
any indication of her stubbornness. The hope
that their kis-ses would be enough to keep her
twiddling her thumbs in Highcastle while her
father lay dying in Kentshire had Graham’s
cheeks heating with mortification. He’d been a
fool, an utter and complete fool.
The summons from the king came while
Graham brooded over Isabelle’ sapphire ring,
plunked on his desk after his inspection of the
stables with his guard.
You failed.
His father hadn’t bothered to sign the note, nor
seal it, but it was his own personal butler who
had delivered it into Graham’s hands, with
express instructions that the king awaited him
in the council room. The terror those two
written words evoked were enough to drive
Graham to his feet, his mind unable to stop
from spinning with all the ways his father
would punish him for this.
Most of all, it kept returning to all the ways the
king would punish Isabelle for her
He should have gone to check on her…
Scra-ping his hands through his hair, Graham
for-ced himself to calm down. It was ba-rely
past dawn. Sam and Isabelle had a head start,
but he’d already instructed his personal guard
to prepare to ride. He’d hurry north himself to
find her, but not without his finest men at his
back. If he had been in Leopold’s shoes, a
roadside ambush would only be one of his
many plans. Graham couldn’t defend her alone,
just as Sam couldn’t, not when faced with
Leopold’s entourage.
With a frustrated groa-n, Graham swiped the
ring from the desk, jamming it into his pocket.
For now, he needed to stow all those thoughts
away and prepare to face his father. Yes, he
had failed. He’d failed at the single most
important task his father had a-ssigned him
during this farce of a season. He’d been un-der
orders to keep Isabelle de Haviland in
Highcastle and unmarried for as long as
possible and he’d been doing a splendid job of
it, especially with his father’s help. The new
inheritance law, which was the likely reason
Isabelle hadn’t fled when Leopold had snuck in
to abduct her, had been one of his father’s
strategic moves to keep Kentshire within the
confines of Pretania’s borders. He’d picked up
on Duke Francis’ hesitation to marry off his
beloved daughter and had capitalized on it.
Now, however, such a paradigm-shifting law
would be useless, especially if Isabelle fell into
Germanian hands. Granted there were a few
other sole heiresses floating around Pretania,
but King Charles didn’t much care what
happened to the Harwood estate and any
others like it. Kentshire was what he was after
and because Graham had chos£n to trust Sam,
that prized jewel was now sli-pping through his
“Your Highness?” the king’s butler said,
clearing his throat.
Graham shoved every last thought of Isabelle
away, forcing that icy calm through his veins as
he followed the butler out. He would fix this
later. He would ride up to the northern wilds
and bring her back, even if it meant putting her
in shackles and neutralizing Sam Winters.
Whatever was needed to keep her away from
He followed the butler down to the council
chamber, the rest of the palace still sleeping
after last night’s ball. Inside, the pink light of
dawn had spilled over the ma-ssive council
table, staining the wood crimson. His father
didn’t rise from his seat at the opposite end of
the room, instead watching his son with eyes
like twin chips of ice. But rather than stare him
down, Graham kept his eyes ahead as he
crossed to his seat beside the king, pausing to
His hand was on his chair when the king
barked, “Stand.”
So Graham stood as his father raked disgusted
eyes over him.
“You let the little wench outsmart you,” the
king said.
“What would you like me to do?” Graham
replied, cutting to the heart of the discussion
instead of defending his actions. No matter
what he said, the disgust and disappointment
in his father’s eyes was not about to be
swayed with words. Rather than endure the
tirade the king had no doubt been brewing
since he’d learned of the heiress’ flight,
Graham had instead chos£n to curtail the
king’s verbal lashing as best he could by
asking for orders.
“What do you think?” the king growled,
dropping his eyes to the letter before him.
Risking a glance, Graham realized it was the
desperate plea from the estate agent, asking
for urgent aid for the duke.
“I will a-ssemble a for-ce and return her to
Highcastle,” Graham said. His father grunted in
“You will a-ssemble a for-ce and arrest her,
along with whatever accomplices aided her
escape. If this letter is to be trusted, the duke
won’t be able to come for her. If it isn’t, then
he will. But either way, that disrespectful little
hag will benefit from a few weeks in a cell,”
the king said.
Graham’s world turned a shade of crimson that
had nothing to do with the sunrise.
“Of course,” was all the prince said, bowing.
There was no s£nse in protesting. He would
find some way around such a command later.
For now, however, he couldn’t let the king see
how badly Graham wanted to strangle him for
his words. The thought of his father locking
Isabelle away in some dank, freezing cell…
“Don’t you dare fail me again,” the king said,
waving his son away. Graham bowed, careful
not to hurry away as he took his leave.
Kentshire awaited him.

To be continued……

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