The nurse had not exaggerated in the message she had sent to Adrian. Behind the door, the room was ringing with Frederick's wails. Wailing was not usually in Adrian's purview. If the nurse couldn't soothe Frederick, she went to Ann. It was only natural, Adrian believed, that a small child would be better comforted by his mother. It didn't hurt that the mother was Ann, either. Her warm touch was one of the first things that enthralled Adrian's heart when they were little themselves. Even if her warmth was now often paired with verbal kicks in the backside, it remained a marvel. Adrian didn't have a talent for warmth.
Barely more than a hundred years earlier, Carey House had been home to a noble family. When the sea swallowed most of Lady Carey's dwindling fortune, she angled for a clean fall. Nearly all of her family was sent away, their bags laden with salable goods, to begin more modest existences in places like Port Gale and Maerdilean. What couldn't be transported was eventually seized by the Council to put toward her unpaid taxes. The Council also stripped her of her title and holdings. Only two assets remained to the former Lady Carey, and she sold them both to the Capulets: Carey House and her personal store of information. She had secrets worth more than gold and knew how to acquire more. Her middle daughter had talents for both secrets and blood. Even as the Carey name faded into obscurity, a new alliance formed.