I doubled over and put my head in between my knees. It felt like I had been punched in the stomach. I didn’t know what else to, other than just sit there and hope that my breath would come back. It would be so much easier to focus once I didn’t feel like I was struggling to breathe.
“I’m sorry,” He told me. It sounded muted to me, but then I realized that my ears were still down between my legs. I tried to sit up, but my body wasn’t ready for that quite yet.
“It’s okay.” My voice was strained. I imagined being twisted like this wasn’t doing any good for my diaphragm. “It’s not like you did this. It’s not like you’re taking joy out of bringing me the news.”
“I most certainly am not taking any joy out of this.” He confirmed.
Slowly, I pulled myself back up into a sitting position. I still felt like I had been punched, but at least I could breathe again. “Okay. I think I’m ready. What are the details?”
He eyed me suspiciously. “Are you sure? No one would think any less of you if you didn’t want to know exactly what happen. I mean, it was pretty brutal.”
“My husband is dead,” I replied curtly, “I want to know how and why and who is to blame. Do not start withholding information from me now.” I thanked my mother every day for teaching me how to command a room. I wasn’t destined to be a queen but that didn’t stop my mother from raising me to act like one. Mostly, I thought it had been a waste of her time. But then there were the little moments like this, and then I was so extremely grateful for all that work.
He gave a little half bow in front of me, partly to hide the startled look that had spread across his face. “Yes, Ma’am, of course. Whatever you want.”
I waited for a moment, but he didn’t rise from his bow or continue talking. “Do you know anything else? Are you waiting for a written invitation?”
He bowed a little lower. “I’m sorry, ma’am. I don’t know who is to blame for the death of your husband. I was just told that he was killed. Bludgeoned, Ma’am, in his bed at the inn. He was found almost unrecognizable. But I do not know why or who is to blame.”
“Then, why are you still here?” I snapped, and I saw him flinch—just slightly. Perhaps it was wrong to be amused by that—but even the small bits of control felt like life lines to me right now. Besides, I had shown my weakness in front of him. I was overcompensating with strength now. “Go. Find what I want to know, or find me someone who can.”
“Yes, of course.” He scrambled from the room, not really rising from his bow as he went.
I took two more deep breaths, but then put my head back down on my knees. I would need my strength for this. Someone had to pay.