I woke up the next morning with a throbbing headache. What had possessed me to allow myself to be convinced to drink so much wine last night. It had been a bad idea, a very bad idea. My body was aching all over like I had taken a physical beating. My feet had suffered last night, after being stepped on by the big-footed, graceless idiots who had asked me to dance.
I rolled out of bed and crawled over to my dressing table to look at myself in the mirror. Another bad idea. I looked like death and my hair was standing out around my head like I'd been struck by lightning.
'Good morning,' Imara said cheerfully as she brought my breakfast tray in.
'Morning,' I mumbled back, taking a seat in front of my dressing table and looking at the food in disgust when my maid put it down in front of me. She then moved to my wardrobe and selected my dress for the day; the same colour blue as my eyes with dark navy embroidery on the bodice.
She dressed me with her usual briskness, humming all the while. I was going to ask her why she was so cheerful this particular morning, but decided if it was important, Imara would tell me. Instead, when I was dressed I sat back down in front of the dressing table, picked up my hairbrush and began attacking the bush that was my hair.
I was making good progress when there was a knock at the door.
'Could you get it?' I asked Imara. 'Tell whoever it is I'll be ready to receive them in a few minutes.'
'Of course,' Imara said, bouncing out of the room to get the door. I continued hacking at my hair, working through the knots, when Imara returned holding a piece of paper. 'There's a note for you.' I reached out my hand and took the note, unfolding it and reading it very carefully.
'I've got to go,' I said, standing up so hastily I almost knocked over the stool I'd been sitting on. 'I have to go now.'
'Who's it from?'
'Olivia,' I said, remembering to use Eliza's alias in case anyone was listening. 'It's urgent.'
'Do you think she's found something?' Imara whispered.
'That's the only reason I can think of why she would write me this note. It must be something very important.'
Moments later I was walking as briskly as I could down the corridors without drawing attention to myself. Luckily it was still early enough for most people to still be in bed, so I almost ran down most of the halls in my haste to get there as quickly as possible. As I was nearing Eliza's rooms I took one corner too fast and went crashing into someone coming the other way.
'We really need to stop doing this,' Hurst said, his voice amused.
'Yes,' I said nervously, trying to hide the worry on my face. 'I'm sorry but I really need to be somewhere.' I tried to edge past him but he blocked me.
'Where could you be going this early that is so important? I was very hurt when you disappeared like that last night. I thought you were coming back.'
'You know me,' I said lightly. 'I probably got caught up in the dancing. Now you really must excuse me.' I forced myself past him, running the length of the corridor. I knew he was watching me but I didn't care; I had to get to Eliza's.
I turned the corner onto Eliza's hallway and stopped dead. There were two figures standing outside Eliza's door; one a woman who looked familiar, but because of the distance I couldn't work out who she was, the other a man with a bundle in his arms.
I clamped my hand over my mouth to stop me from screaming when I saw Eliza's black hair hanging over the man's arm. I had no idea what to do as I jumped back behind the wall, scared and vulnerable. I couldn't take those two on my own and I had no back up.
I snuck another look around the corner and saw the two figures hurrying off in the opposite direction. I needed help and fast.
That's when my idea came to me. I wasn't going to like it, but he was the only chance I had. I turned around and ran back down the corridor as fast as I could.