“I know you’re innocent…”
The words Reginald had told Kat the night before echoed as he watched Tiger walk off with his peace offering, having just apologized for his behavior. The gift was a sketch of Shalee and Tiger holding hands at the bar at the Terrace, smiling at one another. Tiger seemed genuinely impressed. The monster? Reginald had been wearing his court expression, the one that his mother had beaten into him, but that didn’t stop his feeling of utter surprise. He returned to his quarters, then suddenly felt a chill run through his spine–maybe Tiger actually did love Shalee.
“Why now?” He mumbled, throwing his head back to look at the ceiling, his worst fears confirmed.
How long had it been since he had worked to implicate Tiger in the murder of NO45 guards with Vlad? A week? A week and a half. All he wanted was to put Tiger in his rightful place–a cage–unless that wasn’t where he should be at all. Shalee had seemed happy holding his hand, when Reginald had lashed out at both of them. Shalee had declared she trusted Tiger, and Shalee didn’t trust anyone.
But it was more than that, now. Kat was being hunted by the Ministry of Internal Order. What had that Inquisitor said? That man named Ramser.
“Well, of course I’d ask for your assistance in furnishing my office with proof as to the nefarious activities Ms. Tzestu is up to, and, should we deem it necessary, help luring her to a place where we could…talk to her directly, let’s say.”
A ridiculous request and one that Reginald had essentially buried underneath a year’s worth of paperwork. Thank goodness he had an outdated household affairs office. And Ryven’s approach to dealing with the Inquisitor had been far more direct. Between the two of them, he was certain that Atin Ramser understood that the MIO was not welcome anywhere near Kat. Nonetheless, he had sent Kat a message as soon as the Inquisitor had left.
When she arrived at the Manor, she looked nervous. But when he told her what had happened, she had been happy he was standing up for her. Just like, Reginald imagined, Tiger would be happy to have Shalee stand up for him.
He let out a frustrated growl, angry at himself. How could he, on the one hand, be a champion for justice on behalf of a wrongly-accused Kat, while, on the other hand, try to condemn a man for a crime he had not committed? He had told himself it was because Tiger was a monster, but could he really be–the way Shalee defended him?
He stood up and started pacing, an internal itch nagging at his spine. His thoughts were racing. He imagined Kat being disgusted with him, for his lack of integrity. He could see the widows and children of the fallen guards glaring at him for denying their husbands justice. He imagined himself being locked away by Alexa de’Crux at the head of a column of Kameiras. And then there was Shalee. He could be thrown out of the alliance, her imperious blue gaze cutting into him like Scorch.
How much longer could he keep up the facade? He was certain cracks were showing, and if they didn’t already suspect him of something, they would in a few short days. He wondered if it mattered, then, confessing at all. Regardless, Shalee would probably never speak to him again. And Kat would leave him. That would be that. His reputation would be ruined irreversibly.
“Saving is something God does. And I think we can both agree that I’m not God.”
“No. You’re not. You don’t even believe in him, anyhow.”
“That’s because God decided He didn’t want to save me a long time ago…”
“But if he had of. Then would you be here, now? And maybe you’re supposed to be here. Maybe it was the plan all along, he didn’t save you then to save you for this.”
He bit his lip as he opened his datapad.
“If you’re out there, then you know you’re the only one who can save me right now.” That was as close to a prayer as it was going to get, though he wasn’t entirely sure who he was talking to.
He started typing:
Lady Executor Lianne,
I’ve done something terrible. As such, I’ve voluntarily placed myself under house arrest. I would like to speak with you.
He sit the “send” button and called up Cerra Manor guards, then let the datapad fall to the ground. He wondered how he was going to explain this to Kat.