“Are you trying to choke me?” Prince snapped at Arnald.
“It is unfortunate this cravat will not cooperate.”
“You act more nervous than I.” Prince would have laughed if he hadn’t thought he might swoon.
“Only because if you are not happy, I shall be the one to pay,” Arnald retorted. “What of your maman? Have you had your audience with her?”
Prince scowled. “Non. Her efforts to avoid me at every turn have certainly succeeded. What of you? Have you managed to gainsay yours?”
“Non. I fear we may be stuck.”
Prince glanced over his shoulder to the ormolu clock over the hearth as a thought occurred to him. “How is it that I did not know my dear maman was a twin, do you suppose?” Prince turned on his cousin with narrowed eyes. “How is it that you did not know? After all, surely you knew your maman to be alive and well all these years.”
Arnald scowled back. “Yes, well. That is quite the feat they accomplished, is it not?” With a last flick of his wrist, Arnald stepped back. “That is the best knot I can wield.”
“I’m not sure it is your best,” Prince muttered. Arnald could have strangled him, after all. He supposed he should be thankful. “This is not over, Cousin.” He paused before adding, “I don’t suppose you arranged for my kidnapping?”
“Hardly. Securing your confirmation was difficult, if you recall.”
An odd flutter of air fanned across Prince’s lips, startling him in its intensity. Eyes closed, he tried to grasp the swift flash, but alas, it escaped. Instead, he pinched the bridge of his nose. Once Ezbeth strode through those ballroom doors, there would be naught they could do to elude the noose round their necks. Their fates would be sealed.
Funny, how he came to think of her as an accomplice in the effort to circumventing their looming connubial prison.
He prayed he would not be required to call her by name, he thought wincing. No one would remiss him for a glass of brandy. In fact, mayhap he should have two.
“Here,” Arnald barked, snapping him out of his doldrums. In his hand he held two small glasses filled with rich gold liquid.
“Perfect,” Prince praised under his breath. He was sunk.