Guinevere Ellen Rickman was pregnant. On most occasions, a pregnancy is something to celebrate, to rejoice in, but in 1749 being just eighteen and unwed, this was a nightmare. To make matters worse her father, James Howell Rickman, had been a prominent businessman and banker, a man well known throughout the colony of Maryland. Because of this, there were expectations of Guinevere, expectations which she can now never achieve.
Life was harsh for unwed mothers and their children. The mothers were seen as harlots and their children were unwanted bastards looked down upon and hated for the sin of their parents. Even a bastard born to a rich family had little advantage. The mother and the child would be outcasts.
So, when it became all too apparent to Guinevere what her condition was, she did what any sensible, scared young woman would do; she told no one. She went about her day pretending that nothing was amiss. And, to maintain her façade, she began faking her monthly courses and keeping to herself more than ever.
No one suspected a thing. Not even her sister Igraine who usually noticed everything. Guinevere loved her sister and longed to tell her, but feared her reproach more than anyone else’s. Igraine was seven years older than Guinevere and as stern as their father was. Where Guinevere was shy, Igraine was confident; where Guinevere was unadaptable, Igraine was resilient with a strong mind for business and unused to the foolish squabbles of youth- though still quite young herself-, making her intimidating.
Despite their differences, Igraine was an affectionate older sister. She was always patient and understanding of whatever troubled Guinevere, but this was different.
To make Guinevere’s situation less desirable and more difficult to bring up, Igraine had just lost her husband not long after she found out she was with child. William Wilder was a good man, ten years older than Igraine and a business partner of her father’s. Guinevere knew that though their marriage was not based on love, Igraine highly regarded and respected her husband. Their marriage might have been passionless, but it was companionable and she could tell that her sister deeply mourned the loss of her friend.
Then there were the rumors. Guinevere, even with going into town as little as possible, heard them. Her sister, who inherited not only her father’s share of the business but her husband’s as well, was seen as greedy and people had been whispering that she killed her husband for his fortune.
Guinevere knew them to be untrue, however. William had died from the pox; a well-renowned doctor attended him and claimed as much.
Igraine, who easily gave off the impression of coldness, shrugged the rumors off, but Guinevere, knowing her sister better than most people, could see that they affected her.
Though their situations varied greatly, both sisters were hurting and in need of comfort, yet they remained silent and clandestine in their pain.
Igraine stared at the ledgers in front of her, blinking as the pages blurred for the hundredth time. She put them down and sighed, rubbing her tired eyes. She had been looking at the same page for what seemed like hours.
She looked over at her tea and saw the lack of steam rising from the full cup. She gave a slight shake of her head. She swore Sally had just poured her a cup not twenty minutes before. Needing a change of view, she stood and walked over to the window overlooking the Chesapeake Bay.
She saw her sister in the distance sitting under the willow tree. She appeared to have a book in her hand, but did not seem to be reading.
Igraine furrowed her brows for a moment. She had been wanting to talk to Guinevere for days. She had noticed that she was acting unusual, more silent than normal. She even declined her invitation to spend the summer in the Carolinas with her friend Bridgette, something she has looked forward to every year since she was twelve.
There was a knock on the door and Sally poked her head in.
“Miss Bowman be downstairs, ma’am,” she said, the slight annoyance in her voice apparent.
Igraine turned her head slightly. “I’ll be down shortly,” she replied turning back to observe her sister.
Sally gave a curtsey and turned to leave the room.
“Put a fresh pot of tea on,” Igraine said before the door was shut. “I have let mine from earlier grow cold.”
Igraine waited until the door closed before she turned around. She took one last look at the ledgers on her desk, her eyes a little clearer. Something seemed off. She swore the numbers weren’t quite right, but every time she looked through they appeared to add up fine. She sighed, vowing to look into it further as she got up and gave a stretch and making her way down the stairs.
“Angela,” she said with a smile as she entered the parlor. She embraced her friend and kissed her cheek.
“Sorry to disturb you so late in the afternoon, Ig,” Angela said, “But I have a design for a new dress and wanted to share it with you.” Angela pointed to her sketchbook.
Igraine picked it up and gazed over it.
“Now, I’m thinking I make the dress with a little more stability in the bosom so as to push everything up without the use of a corset,” Angela explained as she pointed out the details of her dress. “I know how putting that awful thing on is the worst part of your day.”
Igraine smiled at her friend. “Am I to be your test subject then when your project is completed?” she asked.
“You know I don’t trust anyone else,” Angela replied with a grin. “No one is more honest than you.”
Igraine gave a small laugh through her nose. “Much to your chagrin, I suppose?”
Angela gave a small shrug. “You have a good product without an honest opinion from a potential buyer.”
Igraine lifted a brow at her friend. “Have you made a list of my father’s anecdotes?”
Angela grinned and tapped her head. “I never forget a wise word.”
Sally came in soon after and poured their tea all the while sneering at Angela.
“That maid of yours is never going to get used to serving me tea, I believe,” Angela said with a triumphant smile.
“Because your skin is of a darker complexion, you mean?” Igraine asked not looking up from Angela’s sketch book. “Sally is rather conservative and jealous. Last month I had a shareholders’ meeting and I thought she was going to throw herself from the upstairs balcony when Mr. Weinberger accidently touched her.”
“The Jewish man with the German accent?” Angela asked failing to suppress a smile.
“That’s the one.”
Angela let out a laugh and shook her head. “Perhaps you should check her before she gets too comfortable in her complaints. Or you could fire her”
“I know, but I have not had the heart to look into a more suitable replacement. I hate interviewing. I’ll have another talk with her,” Igraine replied.
“Or you can tell Frita that she looks at me crookedly and she will give her a piece of her mind,” Angela told her with a smile.
“She is rather scared of Frita’s reprisals,” Igraine laughed. “So, when is this dress to be finished?” she asked after a moment.
“I can have it done in a week,” she replied. “Your measurements the same?” Angela lifted a brow and looked Igraine up and down.
Igraine narrowed her eyes slightly at her friend. “Are you implying that I have filled out a bit more since the last time you measured me?”
“To be honest,” Angela started, “it looks like you have grown too thin. Are you eating?” She pinched Igraine’s arm to gauge its sturdiness.
“Ouch!” Igraine exclaimed pulling her arm away. “Of course, I am eating.”
“Are you eating enough?”
Igraine blinked and looked away. “I might be skipping a meal or two every now-and-then.”
“Ig,” Angela began, “are you doing all right?”
“I am fine.”
“No, Ig,” Angela pressed. “I really want to know.”
Igraine turned and looked at Angela, her earnest dark eyes searching her for the truth. Igraine forced a small smile and reached out to pat her arm. “Truly, I am all right.”
Angela looked skeptical, but she didn’t push the issue. “What about your mother-in-law?” she asked. “Have you heard from her lately?”
“Not since she sent me a letter saying she arrived safely at her niece’s house,” Igraine replied. “Losing William was very hard on her. She has had to bury all three of her children.”
Angela nodded. “I know, poor thing. She has had it rough,” she said. “Have you written her lately?”
Igraine looked mildly ashamed. “I confess, I have not. I wrote her maybe three months ago or in reply to her letter, but that is all.”
Angela lifted a brow at her.
“What is there to tell?” Igraine asked defensively. “I know she is grieving, but she is not one that wants to be coddled. She is getting over her son’s death her own way which is far better than how my mother dealt with her sons’ deaths.”
Angela opened her mouth to say something but knew not to breach to subject of Igraine’s mother, so she stopped.
Not long after, Guinevere came in to the parlor. She smiled at Angela.
“Good afternoon, Angie,” she said.
“Gwenny, look at you,” Angela replied. “I have not seen you for a month. You’ve been hiding yourself away lately, haven’t you?”
Guinevere blushed slightly and mumbled something in reply before excusing herself and making her way out of the room.
Angela watched her go in slight confusion wondering if she said something wrong. “You have grown thinner, Ig, but Gwen has certainly filled out, don’t you think?”
Igraine looked up from another one of Angela’s sketches. “Has she?”
Angela furrowed her brows at her. “How could you not notice?”
Igraine stared at her for a moment.
“I made that dress for her just a few months ago and I can tell that she has let it out. She has done it quite poorly, too.”
“I guess she has been eating what I have not, then,” was Igraine’s only reply.
“If she needed to let it out, why would she not bring it to me to do?”
Igraine shrugged at the question. “Perhaps she was embarrassed.”
Guinevere was a sorry sewer. She had never enjoyed it and despite her governess correcting her half a dozen times during every lesson, she never got a knack for it. But as her waist was growing and her belly was swelling, it was necessary to expand her dresses.
Angela would have readily done it for her and would have done it exceedingly better, but since she could not give a reason as to why she needed it done or get remeasured, she had to do what she could herself.
The first month or so of her pregnancy she could not stand the sight or smell of food. Anything other than unbuttered bread was enough to make her queasy and sick. But as the months progressed, she was unable to contain her hunger and the same foods that made her nauseous before were never enough to satiate her appetite.
She would sneak food from the kitchen to her room, or have another one of the maids order sweets from the bakery. More than anything she craved marzipan. She couldn’t get enough of it no matter how much she ate.
The worst part of it was hiding it all from Igraine. Igraine took notice of every penny that was being spent in the household and if something looked wrong she would make note and ask around about it. Guinevere has already intercepted two or three bills from the shops in town so they would not make their way to Igraine’s hands.
Guinevere let out a small gasp and placed her hand over her belly. The baby had moved. It had started moving about a month earlier. From what she could tell from the old physician’s book in father’s library, she was just over five months along. In about three or four months’ time, she would be a mother. She would be able to hold the child in her arms.
She gave an involuntary smile as the baby moved again. It was such a strange, yet, wonderful feeling. She frowned when she caught herself. She still had not figured out what she was going to do when the baby came.
Guinevere slouched in the on her bed and gently rubbed her belly. She would be showing soon, a lot more that the swell she had now. Luckily, she did not have a small frame and was able to the bulge easier, but, soon, she would not be able to hide the fact that she was with child. Soon, everyone one would be able to see what she was hiding. Soon, she would have to decide what she was going to do.
“You are up early,” Igraine said as she walked into the breakfast parlor.
Guinevere smiled over her cup of tea as she shifted a little more under the table. “I did not sleep well last night,” she replied softly.
“Well, I was going to go into town to get a few things done. Would you like to join me? We can get croissants from that bakery next to the bank.”
Guinevere’s mouth watered. “No, thank you,” she replied after a moment. “I am much too tired. I think I am just going to take a walk around the grounds and then answer a few letters I received the other day.”
Igraine gave a small nod. “Is there anything I can get you while I am out, then?”
Guinevere longed to say marzipan, but she stopped herself. “No, thank you,” she replied with a smile.
“Gwen,” Igraine started.
Guinevere looked up at her sister who stood tall and stern. She had lost weight, she could tell. “Yes, Iggy?” she replied timidly.
“Are you unwell?”
Guinevere quickly shook her head. “No, I am quite well. I am just,” she paused trying to give another excuse but could think of none. “I am just tired,” she said again.
Igraine didn’t say anything for a few seconds as she studied her sister. Guinevere remained unmoving trying to give her a weak smile.
“I shall wait until after breakfast to go in case you change your mind,” Igraine told her.
Guinevere did not change her mind, so Igraine made the hour-long ride into to the town of Annapolis herself. The weather was fair and though the breeze had a slight chill, she could not have hoped for a more beautiful spring day.
She thought of the business she had to take care of and her heart dropped. She used to make this ride with William. William had been a kind man and a good friend and husband. It was true that she did not love him, or she did not love him in the way that a young girl hopes to love their husband one day, but she appreciated and respected him. He saw her as his equal, a companion to share his goals and ideas with. He was not like so many men of his class where women were seen as only tools for breeding.
Igraine felt her throat tighten and her eyes water as the thought of children crossed her mind. She had had three miscarriages during their four-year marriage. It was one of her many regrets, not being able to give him children after he had given her so much.
The carriage finally came to a halt and her driver opened the door for her to get out.
“Thank you, Alex,” she said as he helped her down. She straightened her hat on her head and brushed off her dress. “I should be no longer than an hour.”
Alex nodded. “Yes, ma’am.”
Igraine made her way to her father’s bank built by his father and his mother’s brother; Rickman and Howell Bank. Pride swelled inside of her as she looked at the sign as it did every time she saw it. And now it was all hers. Well, forty-four percent of it was at least. There were nine other shareholders that she had to go over decisions with, but since she held the majority of the shares, her vote held the most weight.
She pushed through the door and the doorbell chimed causing the clerk to scurry back behind the desk from the back room. He looked up and his smile brightened.
“Mrs. Wilder,” he said with a nod, “to what do I owe the pleasure?”
Igraine smiled. “Good morning, Bert,” she replied. “I am here to drop off the ledgers from our bank down in for Mr. Weinberger to glance over. Mr. Collins was to have left copies of the ones from Prince Frederick for me. Do you know if he has gotten to them yet?”
“I shall check immediately.” He gave a small bow and disappeared through a door behind the desk reappearing two minutes later. “Here you are, Mrs. Wilder,” he said handing a roll of papers to her.
“Thank you, Bert,” she said. “Is Mr. Weinberger in today?”
He shook his head. “No, ma’am. On Fridays he prays. He says it is his Sabbath.”
“Yes,” Igraine replied. “I quite forgot. He shall be in tomorrow, then?”
“Could I get you to give him a message for me.”
“Most certainly.” Bert produced an inkwell, quill and paper for her.
“Thank you,” she said as she took the quill in her hand and scribbled a short message. She shook the paper to help it dry before she folded it. “There is no rush on it. You can just leave it here for him to receive tomorrow.”
“Of course, ma’am.”
“How is your wife, Bert?” she asked.
“She is very well, Mrs. Wilder.”
“I hear she has given you a fourth child.”
“A little girl this time,” Bert beamed. “Delilah is her name.”
Igraine smiled. “I am very happy for you both. I shall be back again in a week or two, I suppose, Bert. Continue the fine work while I am gone.”
“It is my pleasure, ma’am. Good day to you.”
“Good day, Bert.”
Igraine turned and walked back out the door. She walked along the docks of Annapolis and watched the ships as they came and went, listening to the hustle and bustle of men as they loaded or unloaded them.
She would make the same walk with William after they were done with whatever business they had with the bank. They would muse over where the ships have been and where they were likely to go. Before he became sick, William had talked about taking a ship along the coast, a little tour of the colonies.
“Mrs. Wilder,” a voice said breaking her from her melancholy thoughts.
She turned to see Mr. Granger, another shareholder with her father’s bank, walking towards her. She smiled softly. “Good morning, Mr. Granger,” she said giving a curtsey to his bow.
“You look well today,” he said. “I hope you are adjusting well.”
Igraine let out a small sigh. “I am not sure some days,” she replied.
Mr. Granger nodded and reached out to gently squeeze her hand. “It is difficult to be sure. When I lost my wife, I thought that I would lose myself and at times, I am sure I did.” He gave her a small smile. “It will be ten years this coming summer and I still miss her every day.”
“She was a very sweet woman,” Igraine said. “I still have one of her paintings hanging in the hall. She was a very accomplished woman. Do you not see your daughter often?”
Mr. Granger shook his head. “But once a year, perhaps,” he replied. “She is too busy with her children and is to be expecting their third late this year.”
“Congratulations! That is wonderful news.”
Mr. Granger nodded. “Yes, yes, a third grandchild.”
“Perhaps, you should visit her soon,” Igraine told him. “I think the bank can handle your absence for a fortnight or even longer.”
“I think I shall after the babe is born,” he replied, his face thoughtful. He squeezed her arm again. “Things will get easier. Mr. Wilder was a good man and he was certainly lucky to have you for a wife.”
Igraine gave a small smile.
“You let me know if you need anything?”
“Yes, Mr. Granger,” she said. “As long as you promise to take time off to see your daughter.”
He gave her a broad smile. “Ah, you know me too well, then.” He lifted his hat to her and then walked off in the direction he came.
Igraine turned back to the ships for another minute before she made her way back up the street. She could tell by how busy the street was that it was almost noon. She pushed her way through the crowd and made her way to the bakery which was almost full to capacity. The baker noticed her, however, and immediately sent one of the boys from behind the counter to fetch her order. She gave them both a fair tip and made her way back out to the sweet shop next door for marzipan and molasses and then to the carriage.
Alex saw her with her hands full and rushed to help her.
“I do wish, ma’am, that ye let me do the runnin’ ‘round,” he said. “Tis not right, you carryin’ all this yerself.”
“Thank you, Alex, but I don’t mind.”
“People probably be thinkin’ me lazy and not worth me breath.”
“I get your point,” she said. “If you truly wish to come with me to each store and carry my boxes for me, I shall not stand in your way.”
“You jest, ma’am.”
Igraine tried to suppress a smile. “In spirit, but I am serious.”
“Thank you, ma’am.”
“Have you eaten today, Alex?” she asked as he placed the boxes in the carriage.
“Aye, I ‘ad a few eggs and bread before I come to work.”
“That was several hours ago, I imagine,” Igraine said. “Reach into that bakery box and grab yourself a pastry. Whichever one you like.”
Alex blinked at her a moment.
“Oh, don’t look at me like that, Alex, just take one,” she told him. “This is not some test.”
Alex gave a nod and tentatively opened the box and pulled one of the pastries out. “Thank ye, ma’am,” he said deeply nodding.
Igraine nodded as well and turned to look down the street once more before they left when she noticed the empty shop on the corner.
“What happened to the milliner’s shop?” she asked.
“Don’t rightly know, ma’am,” Alex replied staring down at his pastry with hungry eyes.
“Eat, Alex,” she said. “I am going to inquire.”
Alex nodded and took a bite.
Igraine walked over to the store front and peered in, her brows creased in confusion. The milliner shop was up and running not two weeks ago when she last came to town, but now it was barren except for a few mannequins and a chair in the back.
She looked down at the ‘for lease’ sign and smiled.
“Mrs. Wilder,” came a smooth voice behind her.
She turned to see Cedrick Fillmore, the son of the man who owned most of the shops in town. He was grinning at her, his smile as devilish as his looks were captivating.
“Mr. Fillmore,” she replied with a curtsey. “How can I help you?”
“Perhaps I can help you,” he responded. “You seem interested in this lot.”
Igraine gave a small smile. “I might have an idea for a business venture,” she told him. “It was just a thought.”
Cedrick nodded and then ran his fingers through his thick, dark hair. “I am sure we could give you a fair price on the rent,” he explained. “Our fathers were always friends.”
That was a lie. James Rickman hated Victor Fillmore. They were civil at parties and in public, but there was always a wall of tension between the men wherever they went. That dislike imprinted itself on Igraine.
“How kind you are, Mr. Fillmore,” she replied. “I would have to go over the idea with those I plan to go into business with, of course.”
He bowed, still smiling at her.
Igraine tried not to shiver.
“You know where to find me then?” he asked. “I would love to have you over to talk business whenever you are available.”
Igraine frowned as she watched him leave, an unsavory taste in her mouth. He was a god looking man, there was no denying it, but Igraine could see right past his gleaming smiles and expensive clothes.
She brushed her arms off as she was trying to rid herself of dirt he left behind. She then looked back at the empty storefront.
Was it worth it?
“A dress shop in town?” Angela repeated incredulously, looking at Igraine with wide eyes.
“The Milliner had accrued quite a substantial amount of gambling debts and had to sell everything that he had practically overnight. The place is empty and is ready for a new business,” Igraine said.
“Ange, everyone knows that you make the best dresses. Why not have your own shop and grow your business?”
Angela brushed the crumbs off of her fingers from the croissant she was eating and took a long sip of her tea.
“You only have maybe ten people who come to you for dresses and hats now, think of how many more people you will have if you have a shop in the middle of town.”
“You know, people aren’t always so keen on people like me,” Angela said cautiously. “They expect us to be nothing.”
“Men of my class tend to expect women to stay at home and do nothing but breed, yet, here I am, a prominent shareholder in a well-respected bank,” Igraine told her. “There is nothing so terrible about proving people wrong.”
“I will invest in you,” Igraine continued. “I can gift you the money for the first year of rent and have nice materials ordered.”
Angela lifted a brow at her friend. “What makes you think I need all that help?” she asked.
Igraine blinked at her friend in surprise.
“I’ve put some money away, you know? I have well paying customers even if that number is small.”
Igraine smiled. “Yes, but it doesn’t hurt to have some help. Gwen and I can make a point to be seen going in and out of your shop regularly too.”
“You have already decided then to help me do this?” Angela asked.
Igraine took a deep breath and let it out. “I may have already spoken to the landlord and stopped at Mrs. Weatherby’s on the way home. She is one of your best customers and is thrilled with the idea of you owning your own shop.”
“I’ll think about it,” Angela said. “Give me a day or two to decide, will you?”
“Of course,” Igraine said. “There is no pressure, but there is one thing I should mention.”
Angela gave a small huff. “Why does this not sound good?” she replied.
“The property belongs to the Fillmores,” Igraine said making a face as if she were in pain.
“The Fillmores?” Angela repeated incredulously. “Are you insane, Iggy? You hate them. We hate them. They are pretentious and arrogant and assuming . Plus, they own 100 slaves and are infamous for mistreating them.”
“I know, I know,” Igraine replied holding her hands up in defense. But this is a great opportunity for you, Angela. Think of what you could do!”
Angela took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “This information does not make my decision easier to make,” she said after a moment.” She shook her head. “But it has always been my dream to own my own shop.”
Igraine smiled. “You still do not have to make a full decision right now. Talk to Gwen about it first and maybe see what she thinks.”
“Now that you mention your sister, have you talked to her lately?” Angela asked frowning.
Igraine gave a small shrug. “I spoke to her for a few minutes this morning.”
“But have you really spoken with her? Beyond the normal, ‘how are you feeling’ or ‘would you like some tea’?”
Igraine thought for a moment before shaking her head. “I have not. It’s strange. I cannot get her to open up to me. Perhaps, she thinks she is giving me space to deal with William’s passing.” She looked at Angela. “Has she spoken to you about anything?”
Angela shook her head. “No, I haven’t really seen her when I come over anymore. She is always ‘somewhere about the grounds,’ as you say.”
Igraine nodded. “She has been quite distant, I know.”
Angela finished her tea and stood. “Well, I should go. I have a few orders that I need to finish before Monday.”
Igraine smiled at her. “Think about the shop, will you?” she told.
“I will think about it,” Angela replied.
Guinevere watched Angela leave from where she sat under the willow tree. She lived just a short distant behind their house through a path in the woods. It was a comfortable little place that her grandfather had built on a small piece of land that Guinevere’s grandfather had given to him. The two had been friends ever since Mr. Bowman had saved his life.
Harold Bowman had been born a slave, but after the incident, Guinevere’s grandfather bought his freedom and set him up on the property behind his house. It was there that Angela’s father and herself were born growing up with the Rickman children. Angela’s father Moses being good friends with her father as Angela and Igraine were good friends as well.
In fact, Angela, being a few months older than Igraine, had been her first friend and closest confident and she had always been treated Guinevere as a sister.
Guinevere waited until Angela has disappeared before she made her way to the house. She didn’t want her to see how strained the seams on her dress were. She felt she could barely breathe. She rounded the corner of the hall and stopped when Igraine called her into the parlor.
“You looked rather flushed,” Igraine said with concern.
Guinevere forced a smile. “I have been out walking.”
Igraine looked skeptical, again, unsure whether or not to believe her. “Let me pour you a tea. Sally brought it in maybe fifteen minutes ago so it is the perfect temperature now.”
“I bought pastries from the bakery,” Igraine said, “and marzipan from the sweets shop.”
Guinevere’s mouth watered at the thought.
“I also would like to discuss an idea I had.”
Guinevere met her sister’s eyes as she told her about the dress shop she wanted to set Angela up with. She smiled and agreed that it would be a wonderful idea.
“No one makes better dresses than Angela,” she exclaimed heartily.
“I agree,” Igraine said. “We just have to convince Angela. I don’t think she is quite sold on the scheme. I think she is a little put off that it’s one of Victor Fillmore’s properties.”
Guinevere blanched. “Oh,” she said almost inaudibly.
Igraine huffed. “Cedrick actually approached me while I was looking the store front over.”
Guinevere didn’t- couldn’t respond.
“He is such an arrogant little thing,” Igraine continued.
“Yes,” Guinevere replied softly.
“I don’t like the idea of going into business with him, but the timing is perfect and the shop is even more so,” Igraine said nodding. “We just have to convince Angela. Do you think you could talk to her, too?”
“Absolutely, I would love-” Guinevere paused forgetting about her condition and the reason why she was avoiding Angela. “I can write her a note, certainly.”
Igraine frowned at her sister. “Certainly a note would have less affect than if you went to talk to her in person, do you not think?”
Guinevere opened her mouth to speak but shut it again without saying anything.
“Is there something the matter, Gwen?” Igraine asked in a soft voice.
Guinevere’s eyes watered for a moment as the urge to spill her secret overcame her, but she quickly blinked them away. “I am fine.”
Igraine gave a soft smile. “If I were a man, I would be ready to believe you, but as a woman I know what the weight of the word ‘fine’ truly means.”
Guinevere held her sister’s gaze for a moment before standing. “I have nothing to tell, Iggy. I wish you would stop asking me.” She turned to leave the room.
“Guinevere, wait,” Igraine said with a little more force than she meant.
Guinevere froze where she stood.
“There is no need to leave the room simply because you do not want to talk. I am not trying to pry. I am just worried about you.”
Guinevere turned her head slightly.
“We have not spent a lot of time together since William passed,” Igraine said. “I know you viewed him as a brother, so I understand how his passing could have an effect on you.”