I tucked the note in my pocket, grabbing my bag of things and hurrying downstairs to the parlor. Rain beat at the windows and knocked at the door, as Abrielle sat like a porclein doll perched on her sofa, with her young children at her feet.
"Is my Uncle here?" I inquire.
She looks up, notcing my bag. Her youth and beauty shine even through a grimace. Abrielle was years younger than my uncle, his second wife. His first had been an English woman, my Father's cousin, and they had met through an introduction from my parents. Her name was Elizabeth from what I was told, and she died some time afterwards.
"He is out at a friends." her French accent was thick and sweet. I had always admired it. "He is not to return until this evening. Where are you going?"
"Orleans." I briefly explain. I recognized the look of disapproval on her face-my uncle did not like when I joined the Blanche...he did not like it when my Louis joined either, and obviously Abrielle shared the same sentiment.
She stood, making her way over to me and gently taking my hands. "You should not go chasing this Guillame wherever he bids you. I understand that you may fancy once another, yet...."
I stiffened, ripping my hands from her own. "I do not have those feelings. My feelings do not matter in this Abrielle-how could you think that?" I backed away. "Why do you think I do this? I have nothing to lose-if you were in my own position, what would you do. I must depart now." Tears prickled at my eyes in the memory of my husband.
"I had known Louis years before your union with him....so I share some of your feelings." she said quietly. My eyes hardened, hiding further emotion. "And it is not true that you have nothing to lose, Annette, dear."
I swallowed, turning my eyes away from hers. "I must go, Abrielle, it is something I must do."
"The rain! You shall catch cold, Annette! You must consider the risks, for you and your..." she began, her eyes pleading and filled with motherly concern.
A flair of anger bites at me. I reply curtly, "It is of the utmost importance. Time is of the essence. I shall return when I may." With that I turn on my heel, tossing my cloak hood over my head. Abrielle doesn't bother to stop me. As I close the door behind me, I feel a pang of guilt. Time is of the essence. I repeat my own words in my head, shaking the emotions from me.
I trot to the stable through the rain, my hood makes no difference in the soaking of my hair. I shiver from the wall of water that soaks my clothing, yet continue on to toss tack upon one of my uncles horses and mount, urging him out into the storm. I shall arrive at Orleans soon...I repeat in my head, blinking water from my eyes.
I was amoung the first to arrive, the meeting room sparse excluding Emmanuel and Guillame. They look up to me from their intense conversation, their words falling to silence. Guillame stands from his seat at the table and walks over to me. "My, Madame Annette, you are quite soaked through. Go and change before everyone arrives so you do not catch cold. I shall have some tea fixed for you. Was it raining in Paris?"
I smile to him, grateful for his kindness and go as I was told. A maid-girl guids me to the back where clean dry clothes are waiting, those of servants, yet I care less. When I return, a few more people have arrived. Guillame strolls over to me, handing me a warm, steaming cup of tea. "Merci Beacoup." I thank him with another slight smile. "You are very kind."
He returns the grin, inquires after my family briefly, and then continues to ask of the latest information I have gathered from Paris. In an undertone, I tell him of a few minor discoveries of mine, and he nods thoughtfully. The last of the Blanche come through the door, and we make our way about the table. There are three other women there, a few that I do not know so perhaps they are Guillame's newest recruits. Guillame offers the empty seat next to his own and we both take a seat, on the other side of him is the knight Emmanuel. "Well then. Nouis sommes tous ici. We are all here. Let's begin." he starts.