Previously: The Legend of Leonard Letterman, Pt 17
Leonard stayed where he was, unable to return to his own chamber and bed as if nothing had happened. Waiting until morning didn’t feel like an option when his mind was now awake and churning with even more questions.
“If you insist on speaking before morning, then please be so kind as to wait in the outer room. I will return shortly,” Wilhelmina called over her shoulder before exiting through the door with a farewell flick of her nightdress hem as she turned the corner.
With Wilhelmina’s words in his ears, and without the commotion and drama of the scene to distract him, Leonard became acutely aware of the fact that he was standing in the woman’s bedroom, alone. He hurried to the door that led to the outer chamber, where they had discussed plans at length only hours before, but the feel of cool air on his exposed chest as he moved caused him to turn back to his own room first.
Leonard retrieved and donned the shirt he’d discarded before slipping into sleep and retraced his steps to the outer room through the connected inner doors; his door leading to the hallway was still locked and he was uncertain if there was a way to unlatch it from inside.
He paced the length of the room for a few moments, uncertain of how long it would be before Wilhelmina’s return. Leonard paused each time he passed the door that Masha had thrown closed behind her, wondering if the young woman had wept herself to sleep, or if she was still huddled alone with her thoughts and tears.
Eventually, he reclaimed the chair he had used earlier, and continued to wait for Wilhelmina’s return. He wondered where she was, whether she had gone down to see Jerra and issue a sentence…his thoughts turned to the plan Jerra had laid out, including Leonard’s own kidnap. Something inside Leonard shivered and sickened at the idea of what Etta could possibly want with him and he shook his head to rattle such thoughts into silence.
At last, Leonard heard a familiar tread and the rustling of soft material before the hall door opened. Wilhelmina looked unsurprised to see Leonard waiting for her, but she look drained; her steps were slow and clumsy as she neared the desk before collapsing into the chair next to Leonard, her face peaked as she turned to him.
“I sealed the portal on this side, as it should have been. Now, no one from Krosis can enter, not without my knowledge and permission, at least,” Wilhelmina answered before Leonard could inquire, her voice thick with exhaustion. Her unblemished features appeared to be cracking beneath the strain of the day, soft lines appearing around her eyes and lips.
Leonard nodded mutely in response and ignored the impulse to reach out and squeeze the woman’s hand, uncertain if it would be welcomed or considered intrusive.
“Come, Leonard, we must both get what rest we can before the day starts, so out with it. What would you like to know?” Wilhelmina asked with one slender hand propped beneath her chin. Her normally sharp eyes had a bleary sheen to them as she stared at Leonard, waiting for him to respond.
He cleared his dry throat and swallowed a couple of times before Leonard was finally able to ask, “What will happen with Jerra?” He’d intended to ask a series of follow-up questions to further fill in some of the gaps in his knowledge and understanding about what he had learned this evening, but his voice halted after the weight of the first had fallen from his tongue.
Wilhelmina released a sigh the wind would have been envious of, massaging her temple again before answering. “Honestly, I don’t know, yet. Even though there are extenuating circumstances, a trusted confidant committed treason, and that cannot be taken lightly. Most likely I’ll prolong the need for anything more than containment until some semblance of order can be restored here. We’ll deal with all of them at once, when we have all of the facts.”
Leonard wasn’t sure what he had expected or wanted to hear, but he was satisfied with what he did. It certainly sounded like the fairest way to handle things, waiting until all evidence was in, all sides of the story told before appropriate, fair action would be taken.
“We will do all we can to find out if Jylla truly is still alive, and bring her home, along with everyone else, anyone else, there against their will,” Wilhelmina interjected into the silence that had joined them, no longer sounding ready to lay down her head and sleep for ages. Goosebumps broke out over Leonard’s skin.
“Do you believe Etta really has Jylla? Is keeping her there, alive?” Leonard knew he had to ask, had to know what she believed.
“At this point, I wouldn’t put it past Etta. And for Jylla and Jerra’s sake, I hope it’s true. But I fear what purpose she is being kept for, what anyone there is being kept for….” Wilhelmina’s answer chilled Leonard’s marrow. He swallowed audibly, palms sweating as he tried to shake away the feeling of a nightmare from a distant memory gnawing the edges of his mind.
“We really should sleep, Leonard. We have many long days ahead of us, and there is no telling what kind of sleep we will be able to catch.” Wilhelmina pushed herself from her chair with effort. As guilty as Leonard felt about keeping Wilhelmina awake, he was hesitant to leave, content in her presence…and a little unnerved by the hazy memory trying to force its way into clarity.
Still, he knew she was right about them needing sleep, and he was too embarrassed to admit his unsettling sensation and desire for company, so Leonard rose and followed Wilhelmina by the door to the adjoining room. She led him through her bedroom and into his own, checking the handle of the hallway door before returning to the threshold to her bedroom.
“We can speak more in the morning, Leonard. In fact I’m sure we will, at length, before we leave. If you need anything though, just knock. Pleasant dreams,” Wilhelmina said softly, her blue eyes reddened with exhaustion, before giving him a small smile and closing the door.
Leonard turned back to his bed, tucking away the impulse to check under it for monsters as he tucked himself between the sheets again to wait for morning.
Click here for Part 19!