Karissa picked the note from her pocket that had been left on the tavern bar. She had not seen who had left it. It had read simply, “Meet me at the gypsy camp. D” She knew the handwriting as belonging to Desire. She placed the note on the fire to burn.
The tavern was quiet, as was the town. Bryantt was busy tending to his businesses and keeping the Countess entertained. It was easy for Karissa to slip away. She decided to walk to the camp in the woods. The cool evening air was refreshing. She had stayed inside since the Truce Day. She wanted to avoid the stares and judgement of the people of the town. She heard the whispers behind her back about her relationship with the priest and her relationship with Bryantt. They were not very happy with the town’s ex-madame.
When she arrived at the camp, Desire was saiting. After they greeted each other, Desire laid a package on a log near the campfire. “You asked me to keep this safe for you.”
Karissa gasped. “My dress,” she said. Her mind traveled back to the day. After the flight from the handfasting, she had been with Barnard. Desire had brought her some fresh clothing. She had carefully folded the dress and wrapped her jewelry. The dress had been torn and was dirty from the adventures of the night. Desire had cleaned the dress and neatly mended it.
“Thank you,” she said. Desire then asked her about how things were going for her since the Truce Day. She told her of Bryantt’s plans to handfast her and marry the Countess, and the conditions laid out by Bryantt and the Countess.
Desire understood her pain. Desire told her about her new position in the infirmary and Barnard’s new post as bailiff of Tanninhold. Karissa tried to be happy for them, but her mind kept turning to the package in her lap. One thought formed strongly in her mind. She did not want to have children and raise them, only for them to be branded as bastards.
She looked toward the island, wondering if Gus might be able to help her. She had grown fond of the old man and saw that he had a kind heart. Desire had offered, with Gus’s help, to teach her the old ways and Karissa had agreed. She hugged Desire and thanked her again and then used the raft to cross over to the isle.
She spoke to Gus and purchased two vials. He walked her back to the raft and saw her safely on her way. Returning to the tavern, she formulated a new plan. Instead of death, maybe there was a better solution to the madness.
That night the worry faded in light of her new plan, and the sleep that had eluded her for several nights quickly took her off. She was smiling as she entered her dreams.