Proving Innocence: Chapter 5
“I said, what are you doing?” the voice behind me repeats, this time with more power. The voice clearly belongs to a female.
Slowly, I stand up and turn around to face the source of the voice. I am a bit shocked at the sight that greets me.
Standing in front of me in a defiant position is a girl probably no older than I am. Her light, curly blonde hair is loosely braided down her back, and her stunningly bright blue eyes study me with a mix of coldness and curiosity. Her thin, pink lips form a grim line, and her nicely-shaped eyebrows are furrowed. Despite her current facial expression, she is absolutely gorgeous
“I-uh-I-I just, umm, I left something in there,” I stutter lamely. The look on the girl’s face clearly shows she’s not convinced.
“And how did you get in there in the first place, may I ask? That room is off-limits unless you are directly affiliated with the government or the king, and for some strange reason, I feel you fit into neither category.” She crosses her lean arms across her chest, and that’s when I notice her swollen, protruding belly for the first time.
My mind races as I try to come up with a convincing lie, while she just glares at me and keeps her arms crossed angrily.
I can’t stop looking at her belly, though. It reminds me of my argument with Branson yesterday about him telling the store owner that I don’t want children, which then leads me to remember my feelings for him, which in turn makes me more antsy to sneak into the room to gather the information and be on my way out.
“I, uh, I got in the first time by, err—” A thought strikes me. “Wait, who are you, anyways? Do you work here?”
Her scowl becomes fiercer. “No, not anymore. I used to before—” she stops herself before she can finish. “Just, never mind!” she snaps. “So, what are you doing?”
I look at her, then look around the room, and then look at her again. I glance behind me and see that the door’s still open a crack. Before pondering anymore, I grab the girl’s wrist, and drag her into the room with me.
“Hey, let me go!” she protests, trying to loosen my death grip around her arm. “You’re hurting me!” I wince, hoping no one will hear her atrociously loud “cries of pain.”
By heavens is this girl aggravating! I think disgustedly to myself as I yank her along.
Only once we’re inside the small, musty, poorly lit room with the door securely locked do I heave a deep sigh.
“What the bloody hell is the matter with you?” the girl screeches. “I could’ve fallen! Do you know what that could’ve done to me?”
I ignore her the best you can ignore someone so irritably loud, and glance around the shelf-lined room to make sure there is no one else with us. One of my hands feel for the knife I have tucked safely beneath a loose fold in my dress.
“Well, are you going to talk or not?” the girl nags annoyingly.
I give her an exasperated sigh which only causes her frown to deepen. Well, what does she expect? For me to go and give her a big hug and kiss and thank her for almost ruining my plans? No bloody way that’s gonna happen.
As she opens her mouth again–more than likely for no other purpose besides to nag me–I stop her with a wolf-worthy growl. She looks at me, slightly taken aback.
“Would you shut the hell up?” I demand. “I’m on a bit of a mission here for someone I care about!” As I clench and unclench my fists, I run my tongue over my lips to moisten them as anger continues to build up inside me.
Beads of perspiration form on my already dampened forehead. “That person’s life is at risk, and I’m doing all I can to save it! Every minute I spend talking to some spoiled brat who has a perfect life here in Avvalene with a husband and a child is another minute gone to waste! I can’t imagine you caring for anyone like I care for my friend, so you probably wouldn’t understand. I bet you don’t even care about your damned husband as much as I care about my friend. So, please, madam if you would, I’d like to fulfill the promise I made to that friend.”
I shove past her to examine the shelves while she continues to stand, open-mouthed at my outburst. As I scan the shelves for the documents I am looking for, I’m also waiting for the girl to do something to completely sabotage my efforts. I would stop her if I had to—only if I absolutely had to. I mean, she was carrying an innocent child, right? I don’t have the heart to end a helpless life without good reason.
After about a minute of being in complete shock-mode, the girl shakes herself out of it. I discreetly hold my breath as I wait for her next action.
Surprisingly, she just sighs deeply and gently drops herself into a chair that sits against the wall. She rubs her large middle and stares outside a very small and dusty window vacantly.
I stop my search momentarily to watch her. She doesn’t acknowledge me.
Finally, when my curiosity can’t take it any longer, I say, “So what just happened? You were screaming at me a minute ago, and after I shot you back, you decide to relax and enjoy the the view of absolutely nothing that lies behind a teeny window layered with five inches of dust and dirt? What the hell am I supposed to think?”
Loose strands of hair that have escaped the hold of my braid fall into my face, tickling it agitatingly. I scrape it away with my fingers and continue to watch her.
She remains completely calm for a little bit before looking at me with a solemn expression.
“What are you looking for? I can help you. I did used to work here after all.”
I gape. “Wh-what?” Stammering, I try to understand what this girl is saying. She’ll help me? Because I yelled at her, she’ll help me?
“It seems you need to get your ears checked. I said that I’ll help you. What are you looking for?”
I study her, suspiciously. “Why should I trust you? For all I know, you could be plotting to report me. And what do you want in return? What’s your angle?”
She sighs and, with some difficulty, stands up and walks over to me.
“I promise I won’t report you. You have my word on that.” Her expression is serious. “All you have to do in return is help me escape.” I’m a bit shocked at this request. Why would she want to leave her husband and home behind in Vianda?
She continues to explain. “I’ve tried so many times, but I always got caught by the guards because all of them know me. What I don’t understand is how you got in without getting checked for your Viandan card.”
My fingers play with the loose thread that hangs on my dress.
“It was busy this morning and someone hurt themselves so the guard rushed away from me to help them. It was just a lucky chance. I have no idea how I’ll get out.” All of this is true. If it hadn’t been for that lucky chance, I don’t know if would have gotten in.
She sighs. “Well, I guess I can just help you then. No need to take me with you if it’s too much trouble. Now what do you need to save your friend’s life?”
Frowning, I ask her, “Why do you want to help me if I’m not doing anything for you?”
She sighs. “I want to help save someone’s life and if this is what it takes, I’ll do it.”
My mind ponders the likelihood of this girl’s honesty. After a minute, I decide to trust her.
“Fine. I need to find the most recent crime-files from Avvalene along with the list of employees who work at the palace on Mondays and Tuesdays and those workers’ personal files along with any other information that you think would help with proving my friend’s innocence of committing that crime.”
“That’s a lot of documents.” She tilts her head. “May I ask what crime your friend committed?”
I make a grim face. “Once you help me find the crime-files.”
Yay for another chapter! Hope you guys like it. TBH, I don’t really know where this is going…