Love Can Sometimes Be Dangerous and Unpredictable
“There’s no sign of them,” said Carlotte. “Nobody saw Dahlia leave. We know where she is, obviously, but she was whisked out of here without any of the guards seeing so much as a shadow.”
“He has to have had help,” Danai said, rapping her knuckles on the table. “He couldn’t have pulled this off alone.”
“I don’t see how he could have pulled it off at all,” Janus disagreed. He had a habit of leaning on the table, which he shouldn’t. He was getting taller and looked short when he did that. “He’s smart, but he’s no criminal mastermind.”
“He could have pulled it off,” Geoffrey disagreed, feeling tired and sick. “He could have. But I don’t see why he would have.”
They knew who’d betrayed them, who’d helped Hans kidnap Dahlia, who’d given their enemies the security information about the house that had let them get to Dahlia’s room so easily. Alfie was missing too. He’d been in bed with Javier, Dalton and Aleksander, and when they’d woken up as the alarm had gone up, he hadn’t been there. He knew the house inside and out and he was missing with no sign of a struggle.
And Andre, when he’d finally come to, had said that one of Dahlia’s abductors had been shorter than the others.
“Grief?” Bernd asked. “His companion is still missing. People do crazy things when their lives are already falling apart.”
“We also don’t know that he didn’t orchestrate his companion’s abduction.”
That got all heads turning towards Lydia Elderbyne, who was at the far end of the table. She shrugged. “What? It has to at least be considered. Alfie was in the room when Giacomo and Darius were kidnapped. Who’s the one who came and told you Giacomo was missing?”
“He wouldn’t do that,” Geoffrey insisted in a whisper. “Alfie wouldn’t do that. I’ve known him since he was a little boy. He loves Giacomo more than anything in the world. He would never hurt him.”
“My uncle Raphe killed his wife,” Lydia said. “And locked her body in a bedroom in their manor. Because, according to him, he loved her so much he couldn’t bear to be away from her. Sometimes people hurt the people they love. And sometimes they confuse love with obsession.”
“I…” Geoffrey shook his head. That wasn’t it. Alfie wasn’t like that. Alfie was part of his family. He would never hurt them. Any of them.
Dahlia wasn’t part of their family. But Alfie wouldn’t betray them like that.
Javier put his hand on Geoffrey’s back. “I agree. Alfie wouldn’t have betrayed us unless he had a really good reason.”
“And he didn’t,” Geoffrey agreed, grateful for the support. “There was no possible reason for him to…”
“Not even if Hans promised him Giacomo?” Janus asked, making Geoffrey look up. “We know Hans is in league with the Sorcerer King, and we know that’s who has Giacomo. Maybe he made arrangements for Giacomo to be returned.”
“In exchange for Dahlia,” said Tanya. “It makes sense. And it would explain Alfie’s behaviour. He’d do anything for his companion, right?”
“He would,” Geoffrey agreed. Geoffrey didn’t know what Hans could have offered the Sorcerer King in exchange, but he’d made a career out of falling upward, and all the other parts made sense. As much as he hated it, it did make sense. He’d have done the same thing. He’d have killed Dahlia himself if it would have gotten Giacomo back for him. And Alfie knew that.
And that was why it didn’t add up. Alfie knew Geoffrey was doing everything he could to get Giacomo back. He knew that Geoffrey just needed a little more time for everything to move into place. He knew that Geoffrey wanted Giacomo back more than anyone, and Geoffrey thought they were all on the same page, that if any of them felt like the situation was this desperate they would talk about it together, like a family. But Alfie hadn’t even asked Geoffrey for help.
“We won’t know for sure until we have the boy so we can ask him,” Bernd said. “In the meantime, we must focus on our next step. Without the queen, we have no backing.”
“Of course we do,” Geoffrey said dismissively. “Hans has kidnapped the queen. When he puts out letters saying he’s rescued her, we tell the truth. It’s more than enough reason to stay in rebellion.”
“We’ll lose support very rapidly, especially if it comes down to open conflict,” Tanya warned.
“I don’t care about…”
A servant knocked on the door, then came in. “Lord Geoffrey,” he said, hurrying over. His name was Milo, and he had a cute mole on his cheek and a cute little baby with one of the kitchen staff. “There’s a package for you at the door. It’s from Jorge.”
“From Jorge,” Geoffrey said, rounding on Milo. “You’re sure.”
“His name is on the letter,” Milo said, handing it to Geoffrey. “There was a chest as well. It’s in the main foyer.”
Geoffrey looked around the room, tore open the letter. Jorge had told him Hans was planning an attack on the house.Of course Geoffrey had thought that the liar was lying, but that had actually been a tactically placed truth, which meant that Jorge hadn’t placed it. Geoffrey hadn’t expected Hans to be that smart. But Hans couldn’t think they were stupid enough to trust—or predictably distrust—Jorge again.
Lord Geoffrey, said the letter, in clean, scribal handwriting. You and your allies are cordially invited to a meeting to discuss terms of peace. All of your protection is guaranteed and you may bring as much security as you see fit. The meeting will take place at noon tomorrow in King Ludwig’s Plaza. Enclosed in this chest is a sign of our good faith, a gift for you.
It was signed with Hans’s name and seal. “He’s inviting us to a peace summit,” Geoffrey muttered, handing the letter to Javier and leaving the room. “What’s the gift?”
“We haven’t opened the chest, sir,” said Milo, walking with Geoffrey.
Geoffrey nodded, barely noticing the others following him. “It’s definitely a trap, right?” Janus asked.
“Of course it is,” said Danai. “It would be beyond foolish to go. It doesn’t matter how much security we bring if Hans has had days to set up the space.”
“And even worse not to,” disagreed Lydia. “That’s why he’s making the terms so favorable. As many guards as we want in a public place that’s neutral? It would look like we’re the ones who want hostilities to continue.”
“We are the ones who want hostilities to continue,” Geoffrey said, blocking them out. Something was off about this. Why was Jorge’s name on the letter if it were signed with Hans’s? What the fuck were they playing at by sending him a gift? There was nothing they could give him that would prove good faith.
In the foyer was a large, banded chest with House DiFueure’s sigil on the front. “It could be booby trapped or something,” Janus warned, as Geoffrey got near it.
Geoffrey nodded, crouching to the side of it and reaching around to undo the large clasp on the front. He frowned. “No,” he said, smelling the air. “It’s not.” It smelled awful, like blood and something worse.
“You don’t know…”
Geoffrey lifted the lid on the chest, and stepped back. There was a person inside, or rather a person’s body. Or rather, no. Not a person’s body.
Jorge’s throat had been slashed, the knife that had done it stuck between his legs. He stared up at Geoffrey, his eyes flatter than they’d been when he was alive. “Oh,” Geoffrey said, looking down at the body. A gift, for him.
“What?” Janus asked, quietly taking Geoffrey’s hand.
“I know why Alfie did it,” he whispered. He felt light, calm. “And I know who helped him.”
“Are you sure?” Janus asked. In the corner of Geoffrey’s vision, he could see Javier, stricken, nodding.
“Yeah,” Geoffrey said, taking a deep breath. He felt like the world had finally stopped spinning. “Yeah, I’m sure. It was Giacomo.”
6 thoughts on “Noble, 23”
So THAT’s where Giacomo’s been!
Yep, seems like it! 😀 Thanks!
I was wondering why Giacomo was taking so long to let Geoffrey know he was back. Should have known he’d be getting up to more skullduggery; I t’s going straight home without incident that would’ve been out of character for him.
It very much would have been. Giacomo is never back by his curfew, so why should this be any different? It was a period of time where he finally had nobody supervising him, of course he was going to take it and do sketchy stuff. 😀
Heh, the moment that package showed up, I called it being Jorge. Classic “What’s in the box?”
This makes sense, Giacomo left for five minutes and everyone started fucking around without him and ruining the whole setup that he was working on. Now he has Dahlia, so they’d better work something out.
If there was one thing that really stuck with both Geoffrey and Giacomo through all the changes in their lives up until now, it was how much they both hated Jorge, haha.
But yeah, Giacomo took a small working vacation and everyone just kinda lost their minds. He should have known better than to leave them alone. Taking Dahlia will hopefully force them all to sort their shit out!