Turning back to him, she continued, her voice hard, “Really, Dixon, it’s not nice to tell falsehoods—and such cruel ones. I would not have thought you capable of that. Now, where is Rowena, really? I haven’t seen her in some time.”
“I told you, Lilith, she is dead.”
Her eyes narrowed. The smile on her face froze. It failed to meet her eyes. “Dixon, I want the truth.”
“That is the truth. Why would I be false with you? Rowena died in childbirth.”
Lilith glanced around the room, her eyes stopping for a moment on the men near the door. She seemed confused by what they tried to communicate to her.
“Well, how very . . . unfortunate. The family will be . . . devastated, of course. You must come with me back to Shimeron and tell your story first hand. I expect the Council will want a full accounting as well.”
“Really, Lilith, that isn’t necessary. I could hardly save Rowena from childbirth now, could I? What’s to investigate? I’ll just submit my report and then— Well actually, I’m thinking about taking some time to visit my family.”
She studied him intently. “Really, I insist you come with me.”
“No, Dixon, I simply won’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”
Her public insistence left him in a difficult spot. His refusal would only serve to offend her, and potentially to embarrass her.
“Lilith,” he tried again.
“Come, Dixon, I want to return home immediately.” She held his arm tightly.
He couldn’t escape her clutches without making a scene. Moreover, he feared if he were to do so, that she might suspect there was more to his story. For now it was best to keep her close to himself, and as far as possible from Mara.
Ted approached. “Pardon me, Dixon, I don’t mean to interrupt, but I wanted you to know that I sent Robert out to prepare your horse for you.” He tipped his head toward the front of the building.
Dixon understood. Mara had left from the back, so Ted had asked Robert to bring his belongings to the front of the building.
“I expected Lilith would want to get the news of Rowena home as quickly as possible, and I didn’t want anything to inconvenience or to delay you.”
“Thank you so much, for everything.”
“Certainly. You’re welcome any time.” Ted turned to Lilith. “It was a pleasure to meet you, ma’am.”
“All mine, I’m sure.”
“I’m sorry to see you leave so quickly,” Faith said. “Are you sure we can’t convince you to stay? After all, something must have brought you here to Polesk, to sanctuary?”
“I . . . Well,” Lilith stammered. “I just planned a trip to visit a number of the sanctuaries in Oosa. I haven’t been to Polesk now for several years. I thought the people should see that we still work in their interests. Since this is one of the closest sanctuaries to Shimeron, naturally, it was my first stop.”
“Yes, of course.”
“Even so, with news like this, I couldn’t possibly continue on. It’s imperative I return home immediately. This is all so . . . shocking.”
“But you will come back, won’t you?” Ted asked.
Lilith smiled at him. As usual, the expression didn’t quite reach her eyes.
“We’ll look forward to your next visit.”
She took Dixon’s arm and made her way to the door. As they retreated, she placed a bracelet around his wrist.
“Oh, no,” Ted whispered to Faith, “she’s taken him captive!”
Within moments after they exited, the men who’d burst in behind Lilith, took up their weapons and made their way out.
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