Hana sat up quickly. Whir was still asleep in his doggie basket, so he couldn’t have woken her up. Harlowe wasn’t in her bed, so she couldn’t have woken Hana up. Hana listened quietly for the sounds of her mother moving around the house, but heard nothing. Hana didn’t like the twist in her gut though. Something was wrong. She sat and thought for a moment, trying to figure out what some hidden part of her brain was trying telling her.
She found herself staring at Harlowe’s still made bed and felt like she was going to be sick. Something was wrong, of course, and it had to be related to the only thing she’d trained herself to focus on. Something was very wrong with Harlowe.
Hana fell out of her bed so quickly that Whir jumped up from his blankets and started barking like the world was coming to its end. Hana didn’t have time for him today. She threw on a skirt and a jacket over her night-shirt, and moving as quickly as she could down the stairs. She did have the presence of mind to grab a lantern as she headed out the front door of the house—but forgot some other necessities such as shoes. But if the road was cold or muddy, Hana didn’t notice it. She was a girl with a mission.
She swung through the bar room of the Inn without even noticing Charlie behind the bar or the fact that it was the time of night when men and women gathered in their little booths to pretend that they had privacy while ignoring the lack of privacy they could hear from those around them. She moved up the stairs quickly, to the rooms where she knew that Conlyn was staying, and she hoped counterintuitively that she was about to see a lot more of Conlyn and her sister than she ever wanted to. Because if Harlowe wasn’t home because she was here with Conlyn than that meant that it wasn’t too late, that whatever bad news was swirling around her heart was in the future and they could try to change it, to try to protect her. She’d gladly be scolded for invading Harlowe’s privacy for the next two days straight if it meant that Harlowe was safe.
But no such luck. The room was silent and the bed was empty. Hana panicked for a moment, wondering if Conlyn was the one who took Harlowe away, if he was the bad news she was dreading, but then she saw him, his tall figure bent over the desk, seeming asleep on his papers.
“Don’t be dead, don’t be dead, oh please, please, don’t be dead.” Hana practically chanted as she made her way over to the desk, holding the light high to see if there was any blood or visible wounds on Conlyn. There weren’t any, so Hana took a deep breath and reached out to shake his shoulder.
Conlyn jumped up immediately, his hand closing down like a vice on Hana’s wrist, twisting her arm away from him. But, just as fast as he was there, he let her go. “Goodness protect, Hana, you startled me. What’s going on?”
“Is Harlowe here? Or did she have plans to meet you tonight?”
“What? No. No, she said she was going home.” Conlyn rubbed at the back of his neck, his brain slowed from the panic and sudden safety again. He blinked at Hana and put things together. “I’m guessing she’s not at home.”
“No.” Hana said quickly, now at a lost, not sure what her next move should be, “No, she’s not at home. And I think something very bad has happened.”