They walked down the dark wood-paneled hallway. Candles on the sconces, flickered. Shadows danced on the walls.
Tanith approached the door to her personal maid’s quarters. “Sabra!” she called as she marched in, unannounced.
“Ma’am?” The woman, sitting at her desk, looked up.
Chaya hated Sabra, who acted as an emotional appendage to Tanith. If her mother was in a foul mood—which was nearly always—so too was Sabra. A petty woman, not above using her close relationship to Tanith to get her way when she dealt with others, the woman exuded wickedness.
“It’s time. I’ve ordered Yemina to send a bath here immediately. Bisma will see to her hair and Cenka to the other details.”
“I understand, madam.”
“She’s in your care now. You’ve got until dinnertime.”
“And Ophelie has her assignment?” Sabra asked.
“Ophelie will not— Ophelie’s been sent away,” Tanith said, disdainfully.
Chaya gasped. “Sent away!”
Tanith turned her way, her lips set in a hard line, her nostrils flaring. “You do as you’re told. If Sabra or the others have any problem with you, you’ll answer to me,” she said, pointing to herself. She turned her attention back to her maid. “See to it!” she ordered, and then, she left.
“Well? What are you waiting for?”
“Everything off. Hurry! We haven’t much time.”
As Chaya undressed, a knock came at the door.
“It’s Yemina,” a voice called out, “here with the bath.”
How Chaya withstood the next hours, she could never recall. Her only connection to anyone who’d ever looked after her, who’d ever cared for her, was gone. What had Tanith done to Ophelie? And why now, when Ophelie had been so close to taking her away?
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