I watched Lucas being carried away on a stretcher with a steady gaze.
The poison had taken effect then, sooner than I would have thought possible. A steady stream of murmurs ran through the crowd that had surrounded them and I cast a glance over to the thick double doors leading into the kitchen. A servant with dirty blonde hair pulled back into a sloppy ponytail stared straight back at me with a look of pure disgust. I had a good mind to report her but I had bigger issues at the minute.
The poison was fast acting and if an antidote wasn't found, Lucas would be dead within a few days. Everybody would be mourning. It would destroy Aislinn. Courtney and Alex would be at a complete loss as to how to help their friend and everybody would be torn apart.
I sighed to myself.
Death wasn't what I wanted, I knew that all along. I'd done some pretty twisted stuff but I wasn't a murderer. I didn't want to spend the rest of my life in an endless pit of guilt and despair burdened with the death of an innocent. It would eat me alive.
The heavy grandfather clock struck twelve, merely emphasizing the precious time slipping away. I made my expression one of indifference as I began up the stairs, trailing Lucas' hysterical friends.
'I love you,' I heard Alexandria's voice murmur. I halted to a stop and peered around the corner, praying I wouldn't be seen; that'd be all I would need. To my surprise I found her enveloped in Aiden's arms, looking completely blissed. 'Now come on, we have to find out who is responsible for poisoning Lucas.'
They started along the corridor, in my direction. I tried to hide myself in the shadows, relieved I had chosen a black dress so I could easily blend. However, I did not go by unnoticed and Alexandria paused in front of me.
'Hello Elizabeth, what are you doing here?'
Oh dear, time to see if I'm a decent liar.
'I was on my way to see if Lucas was okay,' I fought to keep my voice an even blend of concern and innocence, maintaining eye contact so she wouldn't know something was wrong.
'It's not good,' she sighed, dropping her eyes to the floor. 'He's been poisoned. Aislinn is with him now, he might only have days to live.'
My eyebrows shot up and my mouth fell open.
'Unfortunately. I don't know how Aislinn's going to take it,' Alexandria's face crumpled and I sighed inwardly. I didn't have time to comfort her. Fortunately for me, Aiden slipped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close, kissing the top of her head.
'Is Aislinn still with him?'
'Yes,' Alexandria nodded.
Dammit, what was I supposed to do now? Wait outside their room all night?
'Oh.' Then an idea struck me. 'Her father wants her downstairs.'
'Now?' Alex was surprised.
'Yeah, he told me to fetch her, that's actually where I was heading. He says it is urgent.'
'Well,' Alex pursed her lips. 'I don't know if we should interrupt them, they've just got married...'
'It's urgent,' I repeated.
'I'll tell her,' Aiden offered. 'I'll knock on the door.'
As Aiden disappeared, Alex turned back to face me.
'Elizabeth,' she began and my heart stopped. Did she know what I was doing? Did she know about the poison? 'I want to take this opportunity to apologize.'
'Apologize?' I echoed, dumbfounded.
Alex hesitated, obviously feeling awkward. She hugged her arms around her body before continuing. 'When you joined us, a few years ago, we were not very nice to you. We didn't make you feel as welcome as we should have and as the years have gone on, we've realized you're actually a decent person with good intentions, we just never really took the opportunity to see them earlier on. And for that, I'm sorry.'
I was speechless.
She smiled sheepishly and just as I was about to reply, Aiden rounded the corner with Aislinn in tow. Her eyes were red rimmed and her skin was blotchy. She'd obviously been crying.
'What is it Elizabeth? I want to go back to Lucas.'
They all looked at me expectantly. I ignored the flame of guilt in the pit of my stomach, telling myself that what I was about to do was good.
'Your father needs you,' I simply murmured. She paused for a few seconds, before sighing and heading downstairs. Aiden and Alexandria followed her and I was left alone.
I had finally got what I had wanted after all these years: an apology. Alexandria had actually said sorry. It was like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders and I couldn't help the smile that spread across my face. I had never felt so light.
The warm fuzzy feeling never left as I crossed the corridor and entered Lucas' room. He was just a bundle under the blankets, his face a sickening shade of grey and his eyelids a dark purple colour. He was snoring softly, his chest rising and falling under the covers. He had never looked so vulnerable. I slipped off my shoes and tiptoed over to him.
Slipping the vial out from under my waistband, I began unscrewing the lid when he coughed and his eyes shot open. I froze in my actions, certain I had been caught.
However, no recognition entered his eyes and after another shaky splutter, they closed again. I hurried up after that.
The small glass vial felt delicate in my fingers, like it would break if I exerted the slightest amount of pressure. With steady movements, I knelt on the bed beside Lucas and tilted his head so his neck was arched and his mouth fell open. I brought the bottle to his lips and slipped the liquid into his throat. It was consumed in seconds and I closed Lucas' mouth, causing him to swallow in his sleep.
Now all I had to do was wait for the antidote to work.