The next few days were torture for Adrianna, not because her father picked on her in any way, he showed her the same indifference he had always shown when she had done something to displease him. Her home became a living hell purely because of an immense boredom that settled in after the first day of being locked away in her room. There was nothing for her to do except stare out of the window at her sister, Vittoria, walking slowly around the garden in the spring sunshine.
On the second day she wrote a letter to Matteo telling him of her imprisonment and boredom, which she enclosed it inside another letter to Countess Novia, charging her with the task of finding Matteo and giving him her letter. She knew her father wouldn’t let her send it so caught Luisa on her own after dinner that evening and begged her to send it on her behalf. It didn’t take Adrianna much persuading to convince her adoring youngest sister to agree and the letter was sent the following morning.
When no reply came the following day, Adrianna was disappointed, hoping for some sort of sympathy from her two friends in regards to her situation. She also wished she could have something to read to relieve her of the boredom that sent her pacing round her room every five minutes just for something to do.
The fourth day of Adrianna’s confinement arrived and still no letter from either Countess Novia or Matteo. She knew neither of them would have attempted to visit her, for different reasons, so Adrianna was beginning to wonder if her letters had even reached their intended recipients or if they had been intercepted en route.
So it was with a heavy heart that she closed her bedroom door behind her that evening after dinner. She wandered over to the window seat opposite her bed and collapsed onto it, staring longingly at the outside world as the light was quickly disappearing, sending long, eerie shadows across the grass.
It was really a surprise that when a face suddenly appeared at her window right in front of her own that Adrianna nearly screamed.
“Matteo,” she exclaimed in hushed tones as she hurriedly opened the window and helped him in. “What on earth are you doing here?”
“Come to rescue you from your prison. I got your letter this morning and thought you would want some company, or at least a little diversion from what’s been going on. Why are you locked away in here? You were very vague in your letter.”
“You’ll probably want to sit down,” Adrianna said, shutting the bedroom window so the pair could sit on the window seat. She then explained everything, right from the potential marriage proposal from Count Alberto, all the way down to her encounter with Prince Niccolo. She could see Matteo’s face turn almost scarlet with rage when she mentioned the way the Prince had treated her and felt a guilty sense of pride that his feelings were strong enough for him to be outraged by the incident.
“So your father didn’t believe that you were telling the truth?”
“No, he just assumed I’d said something to the Prince to make him think I was willing to be his ‘pretty young girl’ for the night.”
“That is beyond forgiveness,” he exclaimed, shaking his head in disbelief. “Other men don’t go around acting like that so why does he think he can do it just because he has more power than everyone else?”
“They say that the King is on his deathbed,” Adrianna said with a shrug of her shoulders. “Then Niccolo will take the throne and he’ll be King Niccolo, then he can really do whatever he wants.”
“Not if we get our say. He’ll be answerable to an elected government, not a group of advisors he chooses himself.”
“If we ever get there,” Adrianna said skeptically. “With Queen Rowena and her Ferserian companions arriving at the castle tomorrow I don’t think we’re going to be able to get our ideas effectively across for months and once Niccolo is officially in power he’s not going to want to lose it.”
“Did you say Queen Rowena was arriving here tomorrow?” Matteo asked, shocked.
“Yes, did I not tell you?”
“No. What is she doing in Verenia?”
“I don’t know, a peace mission or something like that. Building bridges before Madrimar can get to us I suppose. I just wish I could speak to her, get her opinion on a few things before she leaves but my father says he’ll be supervising me throughout the entire visit.”
“So you’re going to the welcome feast?”
“Yes I am. Not that I’ll be able to do anything useful while I’m there.”
“You’re clever and I know you’ll find a way to get around your father, no matter what it takes.”
Adrianna smiled shyly up at Matteo, his compliments making her skin tingle with pleasure. The next thing she knew his hand was on hers, his thumb stroking the soft flesh above her wrist soothingly. As she continued to look up at him his face, he leant slowly closer towards her. Adrianna’s heart rate quickened as Matteo’s breath caressed her cheek, his forehead pressing against hers, his other hand cupping her chin and lifting her head so her lips tenderly brushed against his.
“Adrianna?” A confused and scared voice said from the doorway.
The pair leapt away from each other faster than Adrianna thought possible, her face flushing and her heart pounding. She looked up and saw Luisa, standing bewildered and staring right back at her.