There had been no surprise at the announcement only disappointment well-hidden. Be'eth Zhazar's preference had been quite obvious. The Families had been quietly preparing to leave for days now. Kara had messaged De'enth Us'guin Debor to expect the official announcement from House L'u-cif-er immediately after her conversation with the Heir.
Kara sighed again. House De'enth would be lonely without Ilith. All the wedding preparations would be handled by House L'u-cif-er. Ilith would not return to House De'enth until after she was married. There was still the Heir of De'enth at home, but he would be leaving for the Main House for training soon.
Mentally Kara shook herself. This was not a time for sorrow. Ilith had made an excellent match. There was affection on both sides and she would one day be Ladye of Byshen's premiere House; provided Kaen did not marry and provide an heir.
Kara pushed that painful thought aside. She could be proud of herself. She had met Kaen again and handled the occasion with dignity. There was no fault to be found in her behavior. She ignored the conscience that protested she had used her position as dsk to hide from him after that one accidental meeting.
But, she argued with herself, he did not seek me out either. He accepts our roles and behaves as is correct. She tried to make herself believe that was what she wanted.
A knock on the door interrupted the futile attempt. "Dsk Kara?" said a voice Kara recognized as belonging to one of Ilith's maids. Before she had completed opening the door, the maid had launched into her message. "House Daughter asks that you serve her in the library immediately."
Kara nodded in acknowledgement. "Of course," she said. But the maid had already hurried away. Kara followed at a more leisurely pace, wondering what Ilith would want of her that she would not summon her to the privacy of her rooms.
She stepped into the library. The warm spicy scents of kanill, krydda, múskattré, engifer, and viska assaulted her senses. The smells of the desert she loved. Lost in the sensory banquet, she didn't at first notice the man standing in the shadows of the room. When she did, her breath caught and she stepped back. But it was too late, the doors had slid shut behind her, blocking her escape and trapping her in the library with L'u-cif-er Da'anil Kaen.
She sought refuge in protocol, bowing. "Head of House," she said in a voice that barely trembled.