Cory wasn’t afraid of the butler. She was far too sensible for that.
She adored the servants. Their bow ties and smiles were as familiar as the seats on the family airship, or her favorite row of books in the third floor library. The maids tucked her in at night and the cooks warmed her porridge in the morning. Even the butler smiled from time to time. They had watched over her since she was little, and she never suspected them of anything dangerous. So she knew better than to listen to her brother—the butler was not planning to murder them.
“Simply ridiculous,” mumbled Cory, who rarely mumbled. She roamed the second floor hallways, opening room after empty room, finding each one the same. She peeked under each perfectly made bed, checked behind each nightstand, and was always careful to close the door, as she didn’t want to blow out the lanterns. Every guest room was ready, but so far, none held any sign of Thomas. “Wherever you are,” mumbled Cory again, “you are in so much trouble.”
She had to find her brother before dinner. Father would be home soon, and judging by the trousers and jacket still hanging in their bedroom, Thomas wasn’t even dressed. Nor was he in any of his usual hiding places.
That’s how Cory knew he was serious.
“Thomas,” she whispered, sneaking up on the final unopened door. “I know you’re in there.”
Cory flung open the door, blowing out the lantern.