Mirella awoke because of the pain. It pulsed from the egg-sized lump on her crown down to the soles of her feet, forcing her to consciousness. Her chest hurt as well. The night came back to her in a series of disjointed, painful pieces. The escape, the rain, the horses rearing, being shoved into the back of a gypsy caravan, the feel of something hard, the prince. The Prince!
Where was the Prince?
For the life of her, she couldn’t remember if the basket had been in her hand when the gypsy shoved her in the caravan.
It took every ounce of her strength to open her eyes. A pain shot across her forehead. It was dark inside the caravan, she could hear the rain against the roof, feel the rumble of the wheels. It was also crowded. Mirella had a sense of things; she wiggled her foot out of her wet slipper and touched what she thought would be a crate. Instead she felt a weave of reeds and the relief that coursed through her was so visceral, the pain momentarily vanished. By the Blood of the Tree, could it be the basket?
Mirella sat up, closing her eyes against the dizziness. When she opened them, the spinning had stopped, but the throbbing remained. She stretched out her hand. Had she had any doubts as to what her foot had touched, they vanished when she found the basket handle.
For whatever reason, the man had picked up the basket. Did he know what was inside?
Had the Prince survived?
Carefully, tentatively, she began to undo Nan Maura’s stitching. In the dark, she fumbled and swore.
“Little one,” she murmured to the body beneath the covering. “I wish we had light.”
And then the nightmare began.