I knocked on the door. "Come in!"

Hilsworth now resided where Lady Haven had been. It was rather a morbid place now but Hilsworth had wanted it for the view of the stars. At least that was how Aiden had put it.

I opened the door and stopped short. In the few short weeks Hilsworth had been at Castle Haven, the room had completely changed.

Piles of books and papers were strewn all over in precarious piles, the bed had become much smaller and pushed into one corner, and a desk was set in the middle of the room. A short chubby man sat in the chair at the desk, blading head bent over the paper he was scratching at with a ink quill.

I waited for a few moments while the steady scratching noise of the quill against the parchment continued uninterrupted by my entrance into the room. I cleared my throat and the head lifted to reveal a wrinkled face, bright brown eyes, and a grin. This was Hilsworth.

"Ah, you must be Crimson!" He put down his quill and folded his hand in front of him on the desk, still grinning.

"Crim, sir. You must be Hilsworth," I replied.

"Indeed. So you are the girl that will eventually be married to Aiden. What do you think of all that?"

Taken aback by his straightforwardness I managed to answer, "I guess I'm alright with it, sir. What do you think of it all?"

He laughed, a deep belly laugh that made him seem bigger than he looked, "I, young lady, think that a man and woman should decide for themselves whom they marry."

"Even lords, ladies, and their children?"

"Even them," He replied with a nod.

I grinned. I liked Hilsworth, "You wished to see me."

Hilsworth moved from his chair and slid off to stand on the ground. He was barely higher than my waist, the crown of his head drew level with my ribs. I tried not to be shocked, "Yes, I wondered what you knew about the family."

"You mean the curse."

Hilsworth nodded as he started searching through the pile of books till he found the one he wanted and yanked it from beneath the many other books that had been stacked on top, the rest of the books falling and swaying precariously before the stack righted itself and became immobile once more, "Yes, the curse," he said, ignoring my stare of surprise. By all rights the other books should have been on the floor making an even bigger mess.

"I know of it and what is to happen on Aiden's twentieth. Why didn't his mother tell him?"

Hilsworth looked up from his book with a look of surprise, "Tell him what? That he's going to die or if he doesn't want to he'll have to kill you? No, that would be too harsh. I think Lady Haven just wanted you two to have children before her son died."

I stared at Hilsworth in disbelief. Children?! And Aiden would only die if he-he. . . Uh, I didn't know that part.

He looked up and saw the expression on my face. He put the book down and took my hands in his small ones, "Lady Haven told me a lot, Crim, should something ever happen to her. She was a good woman and she wanted to hope that somehow you two could figure out a way to break the curse."

I nodded, "So I'll tell Aiden-"


I sighed, "You want me to NOT tell him?"


This wasn't making sense. "Aiden said you wanted to talk about things logical. This isn't logical. Trust me. This is a headache and a half. What am I supposed to do, break the curse on my own?"

"If Aiden finds out about the curse then he'll die."

OK, I didn't know that either, "He'll what?"

Hilsworth sighed and rubbed at his face with a hand, releasing one of my hands, "You didn't get to finish the book either, I take it."

I shook my head.

"Then take this, it'll make more sense," Hilsworth handed me the book he'd been reading, "it's her diary."


"The last few pages she wrote to you. It explains everything. Read it, then come see me again."

I nodded and turned to leave when I paused, "Um, Hilsworth?"

He'd already gotten back into his chair at the desk, "Yes, Crim?"

"Did she tell you about me?"

He nodded, "We'll talk about that too. But read what she wanted you to know before you start asking me questions," he raised a hand to forestall my curiosity, "or else you'll only get more confused. Go on," he made a shooing motion before he picked up his pen once more and began to scratch away at the parchment.

I sighed and left the room. Homework time.