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"I don't want to see my old lover hang by the neck!" shouted Eva, turning away.
I flipped down the newspaper. "I'm sorry Eva, but it's going to happen. You don't need to watch, but I have to. It's my job, Love."
She didn't look at me. After a few moments, she said "You understand how I feel, at least?"
I crossed to her. She stared out the window of the apartment — I was already beginning to consider it ours. The sun flecked across her brow and the long tresses that hung down like rivulets distracted me. I stared in silence at her beauty.
She smiled, without looking. "Find something you like?"
I coughed to cover my laugh. "You have no idea," I whispered. I grabbed her chin with two fingers and lightly angled it to face me. I kissed her slowly. "Of course I understand. I . . . I sometimes wish I didn't have to see it. But Kurt's verdict needs to be carried out. And who knows if the Faith will try anything. If the Courtiers move in vengeance, they may just kill Phillip, and you know we can't risk that. Phillip's presiding at the hanging. We're going more for his protection than Kurt's death."
She nodded without speaking. I traced my fingers through those enrapturing locks. She turned then. "Yes, I know it's your job. But I wish it wasn't."
I smiled. "Yes, Love." I patted her shoulder, standing. "It'll be over soon enough. Now, let's be off. It's getting stifling in here."
A small grin graced her face and she collected a shawl; the spring air still had a bite of the long winter in it. We left the apartment and strode onto the streets of the capital, Teimsfeld. Looking about, I lost myself in the buildings for a moment. Nearly a year before, we'd wandered into this country without the slightest hint of the dangers and beauties it contained. Logan, Jacob, and I had been on the run from unknown fanatics. We'd learned their identities and plans here and watched helplessly as the Courtiers of the Faith killed off King Martin III of Riktenburg. The resulting whirlwind had contained more than a few sorrows. With Phillip, Martin's twin brother, restored to the throne, things were slowly returning to normal.
Of course, we'd lost a close friend in the fight — Joseph Klein. He hadn't died. Oh no. Riktenburg's former minister of war had proven to be one of the enemy, a traitor playing us like an orchestra. He was a Courtier, and with Fuchs' downfall, he fled. I still couldn't reconcile his disappearance and treachery with our friendship.
He hadn't run alone, either.
Aloysius Fuchs had gone with him. He was the master imposter and inhuman monster behind the plot. We'd watched him put a bullet straight through the king's head and laugh as the body fell.
Both of these traitors had gone into Austria, and it didn't bode well.
Before I could brood any further, Eva tugged my arm. "Perhaps it's too much to actually pay attention while escorting me . . . " she jibed, laughing.
I bowed. "My most sincere apologies, my good lady. May I take your arm?"
She gave me a mock curtsey before sticking out her tongue.
I wagged my finger. "Ah ah ahh. That's not very lady-like. Behave now."
She nodded suavely. "Yes, sir. And where are we off to this fine evening?"
I laughed, playing along. "I think we'll try Chez Henri. They've an absolutely superior beef burgundy. It's the best in the city, I'd say."
"'Lay on Macduff,'' she said.
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