Chapter no 38 – Evie

Assistant to the Villain

The carriage ride was silent.

It seemed the only thing that could stop the track of Evie’s mouth was bone-deep tiredness, and her boss looked concerned. He kept subtly glancing at her, careful not to move his head, but Evie saw it anyway.

“You’ll have to drop me off far enough from the house that Lyssa doesn’t see you, or she’ll never let you leave.” Her voice was quiet, a rarity.

She saw him nod in her peripheral vision. “But how will she get more material for her next installment of Trystan and the Lost Princess?”

“I suppose she’ll just have to get creative.” Evie bumped her leg against his, playfully, hoping he’d bump hers back. He was still for a moment, but his thigh eventually moved toward hers, lightly tapping it.

Evie smiled and settled into the cushioned seat, staring off to her side at the passing trees, trying not to get nauseous. They were moving at a leisurely pace, the carriage rolling slowly down the dirt road, neither of them in a hurry, it seemed.

She leaned her head back but snapped up immediately when she saw something that made her heart bottom out to her feet.

Off in the distance. A lone figure walked through the trees, far away from the path. She squinted when she couldn’t make out their face, only to realize there was no way to see their face, because they were wearing a mask. The mask with King Benedict’s emblem on it.

“Oh my—” Hiking her skirts up, she stood in the carriage, ignoring her boss’s questioning look.


But she didn’t answer him. Instead, she took a deep breath—and jumped out, stumbling off-kilter for a moment but then sticking the landing. And then she ran.


Evie sprinted toward the figure in the woods, holding up her skirts. She heard the furious shouts from The Villain behind her and ignored them. The

spy would get away—she knew they would, because the masked figure had spotted her before she even left the carriage and had started to run, too.

But she wouldn’t let them get away—she couldn’t. She picked up her speed, kicking her heeled boots harder. Closer and closer she came to the running figure until she leaped through the air, slamming into the spy and both of them tumbling to the ground.

They rolled, each trying to get the upper hand. The masked figure took a swing and Evie dodged the small fist, wrestling the figure beneath her as her gaze locked on to her assailant’s very familiar eyes.

Her lips parted when she realized who it was beneath her, quickly accompanied by horror. She could hear The Villain fast approaching behind them, but Evie reached up before he arrived, yanking the mask from the figure’s head.

She gasped and scrambled to her feet, fearful she’d empty the contents of her stomach right there.


Her nemesis stared, glasses gone and brown eyes squinting up at her. “Evangelina?”

“You’re the spy?” Evie was still breathing hard from the footrace, but the shakiness in her voice was all betrayal.

When she looked up, The Villain stood there, staring at them both, looking a little lost.

“What?” Becky said, realization lighting her face as she bolted to her feet. “No! Of course not!”

Evie held up the discarded mask, and Becky pulled her glasses from her pocket, placing the large circular frames against her pert nose.

“How do you explain this?” Evie asked. “What the deadlands are you doing out here?”

Becky sighed, rubbing her elbow, which must have gotten hurt in their tumble. “That’s none of your business.”

Evie faced her boss—who did not look as surprised by the situation as she did. “Why are you not livid? Did you know about this?”

“No,” he said without emotion. “I didn’t. But I think I know what she’s doing with it.” He looked to Becky, shaking his head in disappointment. “I told you not to give stock to the rumors.”

“How could I not even try? One of the interns dropped the mask in my lap, and I thought if they assumed I was part of the guard and—”

“You thought they’d give you the cure to the Mystic Illness because you were wearing a mask?” The Villain asked incredulously.

“I thought I could at the very least sneak into the Gleaming Palace with it,” Becky said, with more emotion than Evie had ever seen her express. Her own primary emotion now was confusion, along with pinching hope.

“A cure? There’s no such thing,” Evie said, thinking of her father, how much easier life would be again if he were well.

“You’re correct,” The Villain said angrily.

“But you don’t know that,” Becky insisted in a plaintive voice. This wasn’t a version of her nemesis Evie knew. She sounded desperate—and a little sad—and Evie felt a swath of sympathy, an almost tenderness.

“Let me see if I understand this,” Evie said, crossing her arms as she finally gained control of her breathing again. “You took the mask from one of the interns, thinking you were going to traipse into the Gleaming City and steal a cure that may or may not exist?” Evie shook her head, feeling incredulous. “Are you believing this?” she asked The Villain, who looked very much like he was believing every word.

“She is being truthful, if naive,” he said, shaking his head.

When the last dregs of shock finally faded, all of Becky’s defense finally registered. “You know someone with the Mystic Illness?”

The bespectacled woman nodded stiffly, her gaze locked on something in the distance, but her chin remained high. “One of the interns left the mask on my desk last week. They were afraid to give it to the boss. I had planned to turn it right over to you, sir!”

Evie was still wary, but the initial adrenaline had worn down and the tiredness seemed to be settling back in. “How do we know you’re not lying?”

The look on Becky’s face when she turned to stare at Evie would remain in her memory for the rest of her life. It was one of such pain that Evie began to feel ridiculous for questioning her in the first place, feeling worse still when Becky began to speak.

“If you knew anything about me, which you do not, you’d know I would rather hang my own head in the office entryway than ever step foot near the Gleaming Palace. Unless I had to.”

Something told Evie she wouldn’t learn those things about her, at least not today. But The Villain knew; she could see it in his eyes.

Becky tossed the mask over to their boss, who caught it and tucked it into his pocket. “I’m sorry,” she said in defeat. “It was foolish.”

The Villain nodded, looking back toward the abandoned carriage and the startled horses. “I need to see to them.” He looked at Becky with a measure of respect and just a drop of gentleness when he said, “If we ever receive concrete evidence that the king is harboring a cure, I will retrieve it.” He looked to Evie, too. “For both of you.”

He strode back to the horses now shuffling their hooves in agitation, and Evie felt Becky’s owlish eyes seeing through her. “You have…someone with the illness?” Becky asked.

Evie straightened her skirts to give herself something to do with her hands. “My father.”

Becky’s expression was a mixture of shock and understanding. “My grandmother.”

They both stood there, silently appraising each other. It was strange. “You were really going to walk all the way to the capital?” Evie asked.

“I got the map of their usual route from the cartography closet. I thought I’d pretend to be one of them and hitch a ride right into the Gleaming Palace.” The third key—now it made sense.

Evie whistled. “Terrible plan.”

“As if you could’ve thought of anything better,” Becky scoffed, rolling her shoulders.

“I never said I could. I just said your plan was terrible.” Evie shrugged and smiled, self-satisfied.

“I can’t stand you,” Becky said, but there wasn’t any heat to her words. “Back at you.” Evie rocked on her heels.

They both were silent again until they heard the boss call them over to get in the carriage. To take Evie home and to return Becky to the manor.

Before either of them moved, Evie said quietly, “I’m sorry about your grandmother.”

“I’m sorry about your father,” Becky said just as softly.

They both began walking, still keeping a healthy silence between them.

Evie broke it before they arrived at the carriage. “I don’t like that we have something in common.”

“Me either.” Becky shuddered. “Let’s never speak of it again.” “Agreed.”

You'll Also Like