The Fractured Empire
“I’m sure my ankle is fine now. Feel free to set me down at any time.”
“Gladly,” Xav said. “I mean, you aren’t wearing shoes, and I’m sure your delicate socialite feet are more than accustomed to picking their way across broken bottles and cigarette butts, but here you go.” Xavier unceremoniously plopped Addie on her feet. She gingerly tested her ankle but said nothing.
“Xavier, you can’t make Addie walk in this. Pick her back up.” This from my more compassionate brother.
“Whatever. The girl is heavier than she looks. I’ll pick her back up when she asks me to. Nicely.” He folded his arms over his chest.
“Don’t hold your breath. Or better yet, do.” Lending weight to her words, the stubborn girl took off walking. Or limping, rather. In the wrong direction.
“Wrong way,” I alerted her, having finally gotten my bearings despite their banter. She changed course, cursing a bit under her breath. After several paces of listening to her sharp intakes of breath, I turned around and hauled her over my good shoulder.
“I was doing fine.”
Her pride was unbelievable.
“Of course you were, but we’d like to get there sometime today, so be a good girl and stay still.”
Her outraged hiss did more to amuse me than anything. In the midst of this mission gone wrong, I found myself with the urge to laugh. I held it back, but there was something about this girl that I couldn’t help but find humorous.
Xavier hadn’t been entirely joking. The weight of the girl and her dress was fairly substantial for how tiny she looked. I had noticed that on the walk to the forest, but it was more pronounced with her on only one shoulder. Her dress was billowing in my face, and I kept having to blow the dirt-covered fabric out of my mouth. Thankfully, it was only a few more minutes to Wesley’s container.
A cautious hand crept toward my belt pocket. She wasn’t shy, I’d give her that. With a sigh, I covered the slim hand with my larger one.
“I don’t blame you for trying, but that’s not how this works. I told you, you’ll get this necklace back when I get the one I want,” I told her.
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