a sample of today’s writing:
Raya’s expression was unreadable, and Ella didn’t like that—when nothing else had made sense in their lives, she could always, always know what Raya was thinking.
“Raya,” she said quietly. “What’s going on in your head?”
Her sister looked out the window, her eyes stormy. “I don’t know yet,” she said after a long, tense moment. “I’m just…I’m trying to put things together. There are too many pieces of the puzzle, too many coincidences, and there was something familiar about Torvan, don’t you think?”
Ella frowned. “I…” She paused, thinking, and tried to remember what the man had looked like. There had been something about him that had made her uneasy, but nothing she could think of as familiar, and she had convinced herself that it was just the power he had over them. “No,” she decided finally. “I don’t think so, anyway. Are you sure you’re not just upset because you miss Isi?”
“Of course I’m upset because I miss Isi,” Raya snapped, and Ella jumped, startled. Raya looked stricken, then, and sighed, closing her eyes and rubbing her forehead. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I didn’t mean to…” She opened her eyes. “Maybe I am reading too far into things.” She smiled thinly. “I haven’t been sleeping well either. And my dreams haven’t had any rescue parties in them.”
Ella wormed one arm into Raya’s blanket cloak and linked her elbow through Raya’s, squeezing tight. “We’ll figure it out,” she promised. “Really, Raya, we will.”
“Mm,” Raya said, her smile going slightly wry. “How’s the escape plan coming?”
“I thought you were doing the escape plan,” Ella said, but was interrupted by a soft tap on their door. “Come in,” she said automatically, and the door opened, their father stepping into the room. Ella felt her heart leap into her throat, as if it still hadn’t caught up to the knowledge that he was alive. “Papa,” she said.
“Girls,” he said, his smile fading slightly. “Are you all right? You look tired.”
“Not a good night of sleep,” Raya said, stepping toward him. “Is everything all right?”
Raul nodded, glancing over his shoulder. “I’m meant to be giving another language lesson, but I thought we could have breakfast together.”
Raya arched an eyebrow. “Breakfast? We’re the kitchen maids. Where’s breakfast coming from?”
He chuckled. “We’ll have to go on a bit of a raid, but I’m assuming you haven’t lost your touch for finding the bread and cheese stores.”
Ella laughed despite herself, tilting her head briefly against Raya’s. “She hasn’t,” she said. “Even when she’s the one who makes it and hides it.”
Raul cocked an eyebrow. “Raya bakes now?”
Ella opened her mouth to respond, because of course Raya baked, they both did, it was part of what their stepmother expected of them. But then realization shifted into place in her mind, and she remembered that they hadn’t told him about her yet, and she managed a small smile. “She picked it up while she was pregnant,” she said.
The blood drained from his face. “While she was what?”
Beside her, Raya sighed. “Thank you for that,” she told Ella, and then looked back at their father. “Breakfast sounds lovely,” she said. “I suppose we have a lot to talk about.”