Ice Kissed / Page 39

Page 39


“I am very sorry, my liege, but I had important business to attend to, which will become very clear to you all in a moment,” Bayle said. To his credit, he actually sounded winded, like he’d been hurrying.

He seemed nervous, though—staring about the room, swallowing and licking his lips a lot, and stammering a bit when he spoke. The guard behind him held a thick manila envelope, and he would only stare at the ground.

“That’s fine,” Mikko said. “Just get on with it.”

Bayle began to rehash what we all already knew—Cyrano’s attempt to kill Mikko, my thwarting of it, Cyrano’s wife and daughter running off, the sapphires, and the fact that the only people who had access to the vault were in this room.

“We spoke to all of you this morning, asking when and why you last accessed the vault,” Bayle said, and he put his hand on the bell of his sword. “Marksinna Lisbet had been there three months ago with the record keeper, for accounting purposes. Prince Kennet was there two days ago, showing Kasper and Bryn.”

Bayle cleared his throat. “Queen Linnea and King Mikko claimed it had been so long ago that they couldn’t recollect when they’d last opened it.”

“So?” Kennet arched an eyebrow. “That doesn’t really tell us anything does it?”

“No, not by itself.” Bayle turned to the guard behind him and took the envelope. “We checked the database to see if anybody else had gotten in the vault, and according to the, uh, the computer, the last person in the vault was, uh, King Mikko, two hours before the attack on his life.”

Mikko didn’t say anything immediately. He just shook his head. “That’s simply untrue. I wasn’t in there. I had no reason to go in.”

“Sire, the fingerprint scanning says you were,” Bayle said.

“The King is not a liar,” Linnea hissed.

Lisbet held up her hand to hush her granddaughter, her eyes fixed on the guards. “What does all this mean?”

“Well, it, uh…” Bayle cleared his throat again. “We believe that King Mikko paid Cyrano Moen to attack him, making it appear that Cyrano would kill him but knowing that a guard would intervene and protect him.”

“That’s preposterous!” Linnea shouted. “Why would Mikko fake an attempt on his life? That makes no sense.”

“We believe that King Mikko is the one behind your attempted kidnapping, and that to shift blame from himself, he planned the assassination attempt,” Bayle explained. “He wanted us to think someone else was behind everything going on here.”

Kennet sat back in his chair, almost slouching, and only glanced over at his brother once. Mikko, for his part, seemed unmoved by what Bayle was saying. He just kept shaking his head.

“Mikko would never hurt me,” Linnea insisted. She leaned forward on the table, as if that would make Bayle believe her.

“It’s with all that in mind that we have come here to arrest King Mikko Biâelse for the attempted kidnapping of the Queen, Linnea Biâelse, as well as hiring Cyrano Moen for a feigned assassination attempt,” Bayle said, and for the first time since he’d come in the room, his voice sounded strong.

“That’s treason!” Linnea was practically screaming now. “You cannot arrest the King!”

“Linnea, hush.” Lisbet put her hand on Linnea’s arm. “Let them sort this all out.”

Technically, a monarch could be arrested for breaking any of the laws of the kingdom. And while I wasn’t as familiar with Skojare history I was with Kanin, in the Kanin lore, I only knew of two monarchs ever being arrested—a Queen for poisoning her husband, and a King for stabbing the Chancellor in the middle of a party.

Kings had been overthrown. A few had been forced to step down, and a couple had even been executed. But they were almost never arrested. In theory, laws might apply to royalty, but in practice, they never really did.

“I haven’t done anything,” Mikko said, his voice a low rumble. “I’d never hurt my wife, and I never hired a guard to pretend to hurt me.”

But he didn’t threaten to have them banished or thrown in the dungeon. He simply denied the charges, and that emboldened the guards to come over and put Mikko in shackles.

Linnea began screaming at them, telling them that they couldn’t do this and that they had to let him go, and Lisbet had to physically hold her back. Throughout the whole display, Kennet never said a word.

As the guards escorted Mikko out of the room, he walked with his head bowed and his broad shoulders slumped. He seemed almost resigned to the position, and since he was a King with all the power in the kingdom to fight the charges, I didn’t understand why he was just taking it like this.

It did fit in line with what both Kennet and Linnea had said about him—that he would rather take what was given to him than fight back. But that made it feel all the more tragic to see the tall hulk of a man with his head hanging down as the guard he refused to depose escorted him out of the room.

Before Bayle left, I got up and ran after him, stopping him at the door. “We’d like to take a look at the records.”

“In due time.” Bayle was talking to me, but his eyes were directed out the door, following Mikko’s figure down the hall. “There’s a case we’re working on, and you’ll have your turn when we’re done.”

“No, we should be part of the case—” I tried to argue, but he cut me off.

“Excuse me,” Bayle said brusquely. “I’ve just arrested the ruler of our kingdom. I have more pressing matters to deal with.”

While Lisbet struggled to get Linnea to calm down, I walked back over and collapsed in the chair next to Kasper. He looked just as shocked as I felt, and considering Kasper prided himself on keeping his emotions hidden, that was really saying something.

“What the fuck just happened?” he asked.

I shook my head. “I have no idea.”

TWENTY-NINE

quandary

“Miss! You can’t go in there!” the footman called after me, but if I wasn’t going to heed Konstantin’s warning of imminent death, I wasn’t about to listen to a servant worrying about propriety.

I pushed open the door to Kennet’s chambers without knocking and without waiting for anyone to let me in. He stood next to his bed loosening his tie, his suit jacket already discarded on a nearby chair.

“Miss!” The footman had hurried in after me. “You must leave.”


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