Good morning, everyone! I have nothing new to report (except that the audio book should be completed soon) except to give another sample of Casting Shadows. Enjoy!
I was confident. Jayne will be angry that I entered without her permission, but I did not care anymore. I listened to the sounds of people entering the structure. There were a lot of physical fighting and whispers that rose and echoed, made quiet by several attendants. Priests were directing their altar boys. The nuns were selling candles, to bring a loved one closer to heaven, made special with the blessing of the Queen of Klenard.
When the introductory music began, signaling that my sister and Charles was a mile away, I waved my entourage forward. “It’s time.”
I wanted nothing more than to show that Jayne was the main attraction this very day. However, my surprise entry shocked the congregation already paying attention. There were many whispers as we exited from a side door by the altar. It was a scandal surely. The Princess Royal of Klenard entered in the most unfashionable and unrealistic way, but had defied her sister.
My ladies found their footing immediately. Two straight lines formed behind me. I took the front pew, usually given to visiting dignitaries, and found myself seated next to Uncle Samuel and a duke of Tommel (I could not see which one). Lady Lee was to my left and the remaining group sat behind us, with other servants of their rank.
I did not show how astounded I was to see my uncle. It had been some years since I had last seen him. He had aged, I supposed, but not by much. He still had the same black and white hair and facial hair. He was not much taller than Poppa, but was now stooped a little, as if his back ached and he was aging to an extreme. He dared to wear the regal robes of Tommel, to indicate his kingly status, and left his crown to one side, between him and his duke.
“Eleanor!” he greeted with a smile. “What brings you here?”
“I am here to help my sister,” I replied quietly. My eyes went back to the aisles, waiting for Jayne and Charles. “I was not aware you will be here.”
“I simply hurt for you and Jayne and I had to be here,” he gushed. “You are motherless for the fourth time and now fatherless. I hoped to lend some aid, to smooth over the succession.”
“I thought we did well enough by ourselves,” I commented.
“There are rumors that Jayne will disinherit you. There are slights and insults. I also did not see an invitation for you.”
“I came of my own volition. I do not need to explain why again.”
Uncle Samuel grinned. “Well, well, well…I hoped that Jayne will cease feeling that she is the most important. Some brothers and sisters do not change.” He sounded very bitter.
“I am sorry for your loss too,” I said, trying to be sympathetic. “You have lost a brother.”
He waved his hand. “It is no matter to me. I have my children. I have my nieces. They are what I can live for, now that Gerald is gone.”
We would have continued the conversation, but the arrival of the royal couple stopped us. Immediately, everyone stood and turned around, eying the Queen of King Consort of Klenard. Jayne and Charles wore dark clothing, offsetting the white snow behind them, and walked into the holy house like they owned it. They held hands, as equal partners in ruling Klenard, and approached their dual thrones near the altar, one dramatic step at a time in unison. Uriah met them at the steps leading to their seats.
But she saw me. Jayne flickered a dark glance over to Uncle Samuel and then noted my presence. For once, she was not enraged. She smiled at me, almost like her admirers and friends were present, and genuinely reflected a sense of goodness towards me. Jayne was grateful that I decided to come after all.
It was the first time my own sister gave me warmth this greatly. I was so touched that I was close to tears. I blinked them away and smiled at her. She was my sister. I love her and could not abandon her on her most important day.