“Maman, what were you thinking? The queen could have you thrown in the gallows.”
“Oh, my dear, Pricilla.”
Pricilla would have been prone to laughter were the outcome not so alarming.
“That child shall be the death of me,” she spat. “Of us. All of my carefully laid plans.”
Pricilla watched her mother fan her face with the exaggerated dramatics of the jesters hired for a lavish evening designed for entertainment. She led Maman down the quiet corridor, still working to slow the pounding of her heart. It threatened to land on the imported rugs they walked upon. A bloody mess it would be, too.
Lord, if she had not awakened and…Why, it was almost as if she’d possessed some sort of insightful magical powers that had her checking Maman’s bed. When she’d discovered her missing—well, that did not take magical powers. It only took living with Maman for the last eighteen years. ’Twas only a matter of moments before Pricilla directed her through the door of a plush chamber. She led Maman to the bed and lowered herself into a nearby chair on wobbly legs.
Pricilla looked over at her mother. Maman was illuminated by silver moonlight streaming through sheer linings. She was a problem. Something dire was bound to happen if they did not find some way to stop her first. But how on earth could she and Essie keep watch on Maman’s day in and day out? And on the heels of the betrothal ball, ’twould be a miracle someone did not end up dead or worse.
Pricilla should have never shoved that silver baton in Cinderella’s hands, she thought morosely. She could have taken care of things quite nicely with that little stick. She propped her chin on a fist. Nothing or no one else came to mind. They were on their own.
“That despicable child led me astray,” Maman hissed.
“Shush, Maman, someone will hear,” Pricilla whispered desperately. She jumped up and adjusted the pillows before Maman could work herself into a frenzy. Pricilla stayed Maman with an arm as she attempted to rouse from the bed. It took strenuous effort.
“She is out to destroy me. Moi.” She flounced her large frame.
Pricilla flinched at the viciousness in her tone. Had Maman always been so monstrous? Pricilla pushed the question from mind, knowing answers in the reflection glass of herself would not glean such a pretty picture.
“Mayhap, you have one of your megrims, Maman. Where is your potion?” Pricilla used the moonbeam through the window to search the vanity.
An odd flicker tinged the atmosphere but it was gone in a flash. A quick glance through sheer drapes showed clear skies, the moon full. Strange.
Moving to the bedside table, Pricilla spotted the potion and a small glass. Funny, she thought she’d looked there. In a fit of sheer madness, it dawned on Pricilla what she must do. With shaking fingers she uncorked the potion. “Maman?” Pricilla asked softly.
“Oui, dearest. My potion. I-I do seem to be having one of my megrims.”
Pricilla poured a measure into the glass. Then, lest she stop herself, poured another, then another… She placed the glass to Maman’s lips.
Maman drank hungrily.
“Sleep, Maman. Soon you’ll feel much better,” Pricilla said, softly. She pressed Maman back against the pillows, then brushed a lock of hair from her forehead.
“Merci, darling.” Maman patted her cheek. “I have always favored you, you know, ma chère?” She whispered, a smile on her lips. Her eyes drifted shut.
“Je suis desolée, Maman,” Pricilla choked out. Her voice sounded rough and raspy to her own ears. “The betrothal ball is on the morrow. You need your sleep, you know.” Pricilla grasped Maman’s hand and lowered herself onto the mattress, shocked and dry-eyed, appalled by her actions. “I love you.”
Maman would not be giving anyone trouble much longer.
Pricilla sat there for a long while.