“Calliope?” I said from my spot near the window, curled up in one of the overstuffed armchairs. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” she said with a tired smile as Nicholas helped her into a chair. “The more important question is, how are you?”
I waited until Nicholas left to answer, even though I was sure he could hear everything through the door. “Tired,” I admitted. “I ache a lot.”
That had unexpected results. Calliope’s face crumpled, and in less time than it took for me to haul myself out of my chair, she was sobbing. “Oh, Kate! I’m so sorry, I didn’t know until after I’d dropped it off, and I tried to send someone to warn you, but it was too late, and I didn’t know what to do—”
I knelt beside her chair, taking her hand. “Don’t apologize. You had no way of knowing, and I’m sorry they got to you, too.”
Her lower lip trembled, but she seemed to be making a valiant effort to keep herself in check. “I should have waited a few minutes. It was stupid of me, and it could have gotten you killed.”
“But you didn’t,” I said. “We’re both fine. All three of us are fine.”
She stared at me, her eyes almost unnaturally wide. “But did you and Henry…”
I swallowed the lump in my throat. “It’s fine, Calliope, really. If this works out, then that would’ve probably happened eventually anyhow. And if it doesn’t, I won’t remember it, so either way.”
The dark look on her face told me she didn’t believe me. I didn’t believe myself either. His extreme reaction to the drug had distracted me from thinking about the fact that something major had happened the night before, and it didn’t feel as if it’d totally sunk in. This was supposed to be a big deal; I was supposed to feel upset or dirty, or at the very least confused about what to feel about the whole thing. But at that point, I was far more concerned about Henry than I was myself.
“Why do you think it was inevitable that he go to bed with you?” said Calliope in a careful voice I couldn’t read. “There are rumors that he has never…that he and Persephone didn’t even…” She trailed off, clearly uncomfortable.
I opened my mouth, fully intending on saying something intelligent, but the only thing I managed to blurt out was, “He was a virgin?”
“No one knows for sure,” said Calliope quickly. “He was very possessive of Persephone, but he did love her. She just didn’t love him back, that’s all. They had separate bedrooms and everything.”
I frowned. “He doesn’t have to worry about that with me.”
“The part where she didn’t love him back. I mean, if we’d met on the street or something, I probably wouldn’t have even bothered—I mean, he’s gorgeous.” I remembered what James had said so many months ago and managed a small smile. “He’s a ten. A twelve, even, and I’m nowhere near that. I would’ve never worked up the courage to talk to him on my own. But getting to know him…” It was pathetic and hard for me to admit, but it was the truth. And maybe if Calliope understood, she wouldn’t feel so guilty about letting it happen in the first place. “I love him. I don’t understand how anyone could know him and not love him.”
Calliope stared at the carpet, her cheeks red. “Me neither.”
I was silent, not knowing how to respond. Had she even intended for me to hear it? But she didn’t say anything else, so I didn’t press her. Eventually I stood on my aching legs and eased back down in my chair, wincing when my head protested. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it was bad enough to make me glad I didn’t have to trek down to the dining room for dinner tonight.
“I have an idea,” said Calliope cheerfully. Her bright mood, so different from what it’d been only seconds before, startled me.
“Yeah?” I said, not meaning to sound as suspicious as I did.
“A picnic—tomorrow, once we’ve both recovered. We can walk out to the river and bring a blanket and everything. It’s supposed to be warm.”
After getting a good look at the way she was beaming, there was no way I could’ve said no. She felt bad enough about getting Henry and me into trouble, and an afternoon away from the drama and confusion of the manor sounded wonderful. The thought of the river still sent a shiver down my spine, but I did my best to ignore it.
“That sounds great,” I said, and Calliope grinned. At the very least it would serve as a nice distraction from the possibility that I’d already failed.
Henry didn’t show up that night, and for the first time since Christmas, I slept alone. I tried not to think about it too much, but in the dark with Pogo curled up beside me, it was impossible not to. Was he mad at me because I’d made him sleep with me and subsequently failed because of it? But I hadn’t made him, had I? He hadn’t tried to stop me.
Was he mad because I said I’d loved him, and now that the drug had worn off, he realized how stupid it sounded? Or did he feel guilty about it? I didn’t care if he still loved Persephone. While I didn’t exactly like her, he was dedicated and loyal, and that he could still love someone who’d been so horrible to him—there was nothing to feel guilty about.
Unless he felt guilty because he loved his wife so much. Did he feel like he’d betrayed her?
It was an accident, not a mistake, unless Henry thought it was. Maybe it wasn’t exactly how I’d envisioned it all happening, but it hadn’t been bad enough to make him feel like he had to stay away. Had it?