When I looked up at him, the only thing I felt was anger—a blinding rage I’d never experienced before. I knew I should try to control it, but just then, I didn’t want to.
I jumped and charged at Kennet. He tried to block my attack, but I was faster than him and I hit him in the face, the stomach, the arms—anywhere I could reach. He stepped back, trying to avoid the blows, and he wasn’t paying attention to his footing.
His fight with Kasper had left the rug rumpled, and he tripped on it and staggered back. I watched as he fell into the window. The glass didn’t shatter, but the locks that held them shut were old, and under his weight the French windows swung open.
Kennet started falling backward, and while I was tempted to let him just fall, I needed him alive. I needed to know who he was working for and what was happening, so Kasper’s death wouldn’t be entirely in vain.
I ran forward, and I was nearly too late. I leaned out the window, almost throwing myself after him to grab his hand. I gripped it as tightly as I could, holding Kennet as he dangled over five stories above the ground.
“Pull me up!” Kennet yelled, his voice cracking in terror. “I’m sorry for what I did! Just pull me up and I’ll do whatever you want!”
“Tell me who you’re working for!” I demanded.
“Just pull me up and I’ll tell you,” he insisted, and his eyes were wild with fear.
The truth was that I was trying to pull him, but my grip on him wasn’t good enough. I had to use one hand for balance, holding on to the windowsill so I wouldn’t tumble out with him. Both of my hands had Kasper’s blood on them, leaving them slick, and whenever I tried to lift Kennet, I felt him slipping away.
“Tell me first,” I said, trying to pretend like this was my idea and I wasn’t losing him.
“Bryn, please!” Kennet begged. “I’m sorry! Just help me!”
And I wanted to. As much as I hated Kennet, I wanted him to live so he could pay for what he’d done. But I couldn’t hang on.
His hand slipped from my grasp, and he fell to the ground, screaming all the way until he hit the cobblestone courtyard below. I looked away so I didn’t have to see the mess he’d become.
I turned back to the room, with the open windows letting in an icy wind behind me. Kasper lay on the floor. I didn’t want to just leave him here like this, but I didn’t know what I could do.
His eyes were still open, staring up at the ceiling, so I crouched down next to him and closed them gently.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered around the lump in my throat.
Kennet had made a lot of noise as he fell, so it wouldn’t be long before guards found their way up here to investigate what had happened.
I grabbed a chair and pushed it up against the door, propping it underneath the handle so they’d have a little more fight before they could get in. I went into the bathroom and washed the blood off my hands, trying not to think about where the blood had come from.
The Högdragen would be on the lookout for me, and one thing I’d learned from growing up in Doldastam was that my blond hair made me stand out like a sore thumb. I needed to cover up.
I ran over to the wardrobe and grabbed the parka, then I jumped back into the dumbwaiter and prepared to make my escape.
“Yes, sir. I understand. Of course, sir,” Ridley was saying into his cell phone. “I will.”
He stood in the living room, his back to me. He still wore the Överste uniform with the silver epaulets on the shoulder. When he hung up the phone, he ran a hand through his hair and let out a heavy sigh.
“Who was that?” I asked.
“Holy crap, Bryn!” Ridley turned around to face me, and his surprise was immediately replaced by relief as he rushed over to me. “What are you doing here?”
“Your back door was unlocked.” I motioned to it behind me.
He pushed back the hood of the parka so he could see me more clearly, and he grimaced when he saw my eye, which had to be blackening by now. “Oh, Bryn.”
“How bad is it?”
“I’m not sure if you’re asking about your eye or the situation,” he said. “But the situation is not good. I just got home from work, and the head of the Högdragen called to tell me that you’d been arrested for treason, escaped from prison, and then murdered Kasper Abbott and the Skojare Prince before going on the run again.”
“It’s not like that.” I shook my head. “I never hurt Kasper, and I even told him he shouldn’t come with me. Because Tilda—”
My voice caught in my throat as I realized what had just happened. Kasper had become my friend in his own right. He was good and capable, and he was dead. Not to mention what this loss would mean to Tilda. My best friend’s husband of less than twenty-four hours and the father of her unborn baby had been killed.
But I couldn’t let the full gravity of it hit me, because if I did I would just crumple up and sob.
“And the treason charge is bullshit. I would never do anything to damage this kingdom. I was trying to protect it. It was Kennet. He’d been supporting Konstantin, and I wanted to keep the King safe. And then everything happened so fast, and I got out of there as quick as I could. I took the dumbwaiter to the basement, and then I climbed up a garbage chute to the outside, and I had to sneak around town to get here as fast as I could. But I didn’t do those things they say I did. I didn’t.”
“I know.” Ridley put his hand on my face to calm me, since my voice had taken on a frantic pitch, and he looked me in the eyes. “I know you didn’t do anything wrong. And you can explain it all to me later, but right now, we need to get you out of here before the Högdragen find you, because they won’t believe you.”
I nodded, because now everything was too far gone. I’d only been trying to make things right, but I didn’t know how I could ever come back from this.
“Stay here,” Ridley instructed me. “Lock the door behind me, and don’t let anyone in.” He started walking toward the door. “And hide, just to be safe.”
“Where are you going?” I asked.
“I’m going to get you out of here,” he said, like that explained anything, and then he left.
I did as I was told. I locked the doors and then went into his bedroom to hide. The shades were drawn, leaving it nearly dark even though it was still daylight. The afternoon sun was hidden behind an overcast sky, but the extra level of darkness was still comforting.