I glanced down. The red had seemed to stick out like a sore thumb the day before, but now I knew it was the only way for me to blend in. No one else wore regular clothes. Even Hannah wore a white uniform. “I’ll change later. I need to go back to the bunkhouse and—get my things.”
“Your things?” said Hannah, eyebrow arched. “What things?”
I’d tucked the napkin Benjy had drawn for me underneath my mattress for safekeeping, but more urgently, I needed to make sure Noelle knew I was all right. “Just—something sentimental,” I said. “It doesn’t have any real value. I just want to have it.”
She took a long breath and released it sharply. “If you insist. At least wait until after lunch. I suppose I’ll be able to stomach one meal with you in that thing.”
I had to bite my lip to stop myself from a retort I’d likely regret. “Thanks,” I managed, and I stepped out of the pink-and-gold room. “Which way?”
Hannah led me farther down the hallway, presumably toward another staircase. Before we reached it, however, we passed an open door, and out of habit, I glanced inside.
It was another guest room—this time marked The Edward Suite—and it was decorated in navy and silver. A four-poster bed and other mahogany furniture dominated the room, and unlike the Augusta Suite, this had no stained glass. It was comfortable, but there were no frills or personal touches.
Except for one. On the bedside table was a gold frame with a labyrinth etched into the metal—the exact same one Greyson had given me for Lila’s birthday.
I stopped in the doorway. This must have been the room Knox was staying in, only a few yards from mine. It would be incredibly easy to sneak into his room and slit his throat in the middle of the night. If I did it right, he might even think I was there to ask his forgiveness. It would be simple. One piece of that stained glass, one slash to the throat—
“He misses you,” said Hannah over my shoulder.
“Knox?” I said, too startled to hide my surprise. “He doesn’t miss me. He never loved me in the first place. It was all some twisted political arrangement.”
“Maybe that’s how it started, and maybe that’s what it is for you, but I know love when I see it. That man would move heaven and earth to keep you safe.”
The ludicrousness of her statement fueled me with an insane kind of courage, and I stepped into the room, heading straight for the picture frame. I picked it up and examined the photograph of Greyson and me inside. I’d been Elsewhere for a single day, but already that felt like another lifetime ago.
My finger twitched toward the switch on the back, the one that would reveal the picture of my real face and Benjy. But with Hannah lurking behind me, I couldn’t risk it. Not even for a split second.
“Knox is the reason I’m here,” I said, tracing the golden labyrinth. “He killed my—he killed my best friend and sent me here all because he thought he couldn’t control me anymore. If he loved me the way you think he does, I’d be back in D.C. right now, and you wouldn’t be on babysitting duty.”
“I’m always on babysitting duty.” She stepped beside me. “Who is that?”
“Greyson. My cousin.” It took me a moment to remember that until his older brother had been killed last year, Greyson had been the spare and had spent his life out of the public eye. I’d barely known anything about him before being Masked as Lila, and someone Elsewhere likely wouldn’t recognize him at all. “He’ll be Prime Minister next, after Daxton.”
“Right.” Hannah hesitated. “I’m sure we’ll meet him soon enough.”
“I hope not.” I set the picture frame down gently. The knowledge of what lay behind that photograph would have to be enough for now. Maybe later, when Hannah wasn’t trailing me, I would have the chance to sneak in and see Benjy’s face one last time.
Instead of leading me back out, Hannah remained standing in the room for a long moment, her gaze focused on me. “Whatever happened between you and Knox...I’m sure he had his reasons for it, and I hope you find it in yourself to forgive him. That kind of love is rare in this world, and if you’re lucky enough to find it...” Her lips pursed, and for a moment, she looked away. “You shouldn’t throw it away all because of a stupid mistake.”
I opened my mouth to tell her that it hadn’t been a mistake—that Knox had known exactly what he’d been doing when he’d pulled the trigger and murdered Benjy, but my protest died on my lips. Hannah was focused on something far beyond this room, and it was obvious we were no longer talking about me and Knox.
“I’ll talk to him once I’m settled,” I said, trying to sound like I was really considering the option. Inwardly I began to wonder if there wasn’t more to Hannah than I’d already assumed. Whoever she was thinking about, it was obvious it wasn’t her husband.
At last she led me to the grand staircase. The steps were cold and sharp, made of marble with no carpet to protect them, and as I followed Hannah down to the foyer, I fantasized about pushing Knox down the stairs. It would work just as well as a shard of glass to the throat, and this way, I could reasonably claim innocence. No doubt Hannah would suspect me, but without any proof...
Hannah knocked on the double doors that had remained shut throughout her tour. “Jonathan, Lila’s here.”
“Come in,” called a muffled voice. Hannah pushed the door open, revealing an office with a long desk in the middle and a pair of uncomfortable chairs facing it, clearly meant for guests. Mercer stood in front of a wall of wooden filing cabinets, and he hastily closed a middle drawer, locking it with something hanging from a cord. Before I could get a good look at it, he hung the cord around his neck and dropped the key underneath his shirt.