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He stayed there, on the other side of the room, yelling at Alexia. It was as though he’d placed the distance between them, not because he didn’t want to come at her and tear her apart, but because he really thought he might. His eyes were such a pale yellow they were almost white. Alexia had never seen them that color before. And, despite the filthy words coming out of his mouth, those eyes were agonized and bereft.
“But I didn’t,” Alexia tried to say. “I wouldn’t. I’d never do those things. I am no adulteress. How could you even think? I would never.” But her protestations of innocence only seemed to injure him. Eventually, his big, good-natured face crumpled slightly about the mouth and nose, drawing down into lines of pain, as though he might actually cry. He strode from the room, slamming the door behind him.
The silence he left behind was palpable.
Lady Kingair had, during the chaos, managed to change back into human form. She came around the front of the couch and stood a moment before Alexia, entirely naked, shielded only by her long gray-brown hair, loose over her shoulders and chest.
“You will understand, Lady Maccon,” she said, eyes cold, “if I ask you to leave Kingair territory at once. Lord Maccon may have abandoned us once, but he is still pack. And pack protects its own.”
“But,” Alexia whispered, “it is his child. I swear it. I was never with anyone else.”
Sidheag only stared at her, hard. “Come now, Lady Maccon. Shouldna you come up with a better story than that? ’Tis na possible. Werewolves canna breed children. Never have done, never will do.” Then she turned and left the room.
Alexia turned to Madame Lefoux, shock written all over her face. “He really believes I was unfaithful.” She herself had reflected recently how much Conall valued loyalty.
Madame Lefoux nodded. “I’m afraid it is a belief most will share.” Her expression sympathetic, she placed a small hand on Alexia’s shoulder and squeezed.
“I wasn’t, I swear I wasn’t.”
The Frenchwoman winced. “I believe that, Lady Maccon. But I will be in the minority.”
“Why would you trust me when even my husband does not?” Alexia looked down at her own stomach and then rested shaking hands upon it.
“Because I know how very little we understand about preternaturals.”
“You are interested in studying me, aren’t you, Madame Lefoux?”
“You are a remarkable creature, Alexia.”
Alexia widened her eyes, trying not to cry, her mind still vibrating with Conall’s words. “Then how is this possible?” She pressed hard against her stomach with both hands, as though asking the tiny creature inside to explain itself to her.
“I imagine that is something we had best figure out. Come on, let’s get you out of this place.”
The Frenchwoman helped Alexia to stand and supported her weight out into the hallway. She was surprisingly strong for such a delicate-looking creature, probably all that lifting of heavy machinery.
They ran into Felicity, looking remarkably somber.
“Sister, there was the most awful to-do,” she said as soon as she saw them. “I believe your husband just smashed one of the hall tables into a thousand pieces with his fist.” She cocked her head. “It was an astonishingly ugly table, but still, one could always give it to the deserving poor, couldn’t one?”
“We must pack and leave immediately,” said Madame Lefoux, keeping one arm supportively about Alexia’s waist.
“Good Lord, why?”
“Your sister is pregnant, and Lord Maccon has cast her out.”
Felicity frowned. “Well, that does not follow.”
Madame Lefoux had clearly had enough. “Quickly, girl, run off and gather your things together. We must quit Kingair directly.”
Three-quarters of an hour later, a borrowed Kingair carriage sped away toward the nearest train station. The horses were fresh and made good time, even in the slush and mud.
Alexia, still overcome with the most profound shock, opened the small window above the carriage door and poked her head out into the rushing wind.
“Sister, come away from the window. That will wreak havoc with your hair. And, really, your hair doesn’t need the excuse,” Felicity jawed on. Alexia ignored her, so Felicity looked to the Frenchwoman. “What is she doing?”
Madame Lefoux gave a sad little grimace of a smile—no dimples. “Listening.” She put a gentle hand on Alexia’s back, rubbing it softly. Alexia did not appear to notice.
“Howling, running wolves.”
And Alexia was listening, but there was only the damp quiet of a Scottish night.