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.
Juliette had sent her firstborn to bond with its father while she and her surroundings were cleaned up after a long but successful labor. The second question out of each mouth had been the baby's sex, but they were disappointed. Juliette reserved the right to tell Fitzwilliam herself what lay beneath their baby's swaddling. Fitzwilliam was too happy to mind.
After reading it a final time, Benedick tucked the page of his mother's journal back under his mattress. He had studied the page countless times since he stole it from the journal his mother left lying open the night she died. Every year, he spent hours on the anniversary of her death staring at the paper, begging it to tell him more. He hoped time would reveal something his younger self hadn't seen, some hint as to what really happened to his mother.