How are Miles and Atticus? I asked. You sure you’re all right?

I reached for Ben’s hand, and pulled him closer. Dad, I said, finally managing to steady my voice, meet my husband, Ben.

A rather blank expression washed over his eyes, and finally he just shrugged and said, I don’t know. It seemed like the right thing to do.She nodded. It all made so much sense. It was exactly the sort of thing he would do. Phillip was always doing the right thing, the honorable thing, apologizing for his transgressions, shouldering everyone’s burdens . . .

Honoring his brother’s promises.And then she had one more question. Did you . . . she whispered, almost losing her nerve. Did you feel passion for her? She knew she shouldn’t ask, but after that afternoon, she had to know. The answer didn’t matter—or at least she told herself it didn’t.But she had to know.

No. He turned away, began to walk, his long stride forcing her to jump to attention and follow. But then, just when she’d gathered enough speed to catch up, he stopped, causing her to stumble and put her hands out against his arm just to keep her balance.I have a question for you, he said, his voice abrupt.

Of course, she murmured, surprised by his sudden change of demeanor. Still, it was only fair. She’d practically interrogated the poor man.

Why did you leave London? he asked.Then Sofia arrived, carrying a bouquet of roses and a bunch of fuchsia cherry blossoms. Sofia and my mom wove the blossoms into my hair while keeping the bouquet aside. I’d never thought that I could look so beautiful. I could hardly wait for Ben to see me.

Rose and my family changed into their own outfits, and soon Jamil was knocking on the door to inform us that it was time. He looked dashing in a dark gray suit, which I guessed had been provided by the dragons.As Sofia and my mother bustled me out of the room, I was already picturing myself walking down the aisle. I felt a twinge as I thought of my father, who should have been here to give me away to Ben. He almost seemed like part of another life. I wasn’t even sure exactly where he was right now. Still locked up in some Texan jail—that was if he was even still alive. I had drifted apart from my father ever since he’d left my mother, but now, it truly felt like we inhabited separate universes.

I looked up at my brother and looped my arm through his.Will you walk me down the aisle? I asked him.