Alfred was usually pretty contented. But he did often wonder about who his father was. He thought Daisy was his birth mother. He had no idea he was adopted. One day he broached the subject with her.
“Who is my father? Is he still alive? Does he live nearby?”
He was taken aback when she got angry.
“Never mention your father. Never! He was a bad man, that’s all you need to know!”
“Is he dead?”
She turned from him. The conversation was over. She hadn’t said he was alive but used the past tense. It didn’t mean he was dead either. Alfred wondered.
What had he done? What was his name even? Daisy would not say another word.
Which meant, Alfred thought, that he had to seek his answers elsewhere.
He pretended to go to school, but instead, made his way to the town by getting a ride on a cart. He wandered around aimlessly. The buildings and people overawed him. People ignored him or gave him weird looks. He realised he had no idea what he was doing.
He was passing by some residences when he was hailed from behind by a woman.
She called for him to stop.
He did as he was told, and turned.
She seemed interested in where he was from and who his parents were.
He told her he was trying to find his father.
The woman was, of course, Hivera, and she thought this possibly could be her missing brother. He was of the same age. Didn’t he look like her mother? She thought she knew all the teenagers in town. He was new. She could see he was out of his depth. Brought up in a small faraway cottage? Secretly, she smiled in triumph. She was certain he was her brother. She told the boy to keep in touch with her and she’d help him. She gave him an address she was moving to. “You’ll find me there.”
Alfred wasn’t certain this woman could help but she was friendly and had offered. He decided to go back home so Daisy wouldn’t get angry at his disappearance. At least now he knew someone else.
Hivera, in the meantime, had set her sights on marrying Jameson Foxgrove, Miriana’s twin brother. The Foxgroves were friends of the family, and pretty much the only well-to-do family who weren’t related. Hivera could see the potential for her vague plans.
Hivera got to know Jameson, recently returned from university, although rumour had it he had dropped out. She didn’t care. He had money.
She proposed to him. How could he refuse? She was the only eligible woman in the town, related to royalty.
Hivera persuaded him to buy the old house that her grandfather used to live in. He did so and they planned their wedding.
Bard and Nikko happened to be passing. There was no reason to be suspicious. It was a natural alliance, but Nikko had a bad feeling about Hivera. He didn’t trust her.