‘We shouldn’t be here – Ah… Ah… Ah!’
‘Here!’ Lottie held out a tissue for Ellie just as she let out a huge sneeze.
‘Atchoo!’ Ellie hid her face in the handkerchief and noisily blew her nose, before lifting her head, eyes streaming as they took in Rosewood.
At the end of the rose-lined path stood the home to the righteous, resolute and resourceful. It towered over them, sunlight glowing around its edges like rays from the face of an ancient god and demanding just as much respect. Every step up the path felt like a step closer to safety.
Only something was off. It wasn’t just her fall and the ravenous glances that followed her, but for a second the scents that usually felt like home had turned sour. She was glad Ellie couldn’t smell it.
Handing her another tissue, Lottie noticed her friend’s eyes. Darker, deeper, a midnight ocean that might pull her down. The two of them were almost the same height now, the distance closing in as Lottie grew taller. She could look straight into her now, falling fast into those dark pools whenever their gazes met.
‘Thanks,’ Ellie grumbled, blowing her nose again, the moment swiftly over. ‘We should have got our results sent to us at the palace. Then we’d be safe.’ Hesitating, just long enough for Lottie to notice, her princess added, ‘Safe from those reporters. Look what they did to you.’ Her face darkened. ‘I should teach them a lesson.’