End of the chapter, I swear.
So the audience winds up, although not without another reference to how gross old people are.
Lady Andrews snatched the dress back and stomped away with her neck hunched into her shoulders, her gait showing her age.
Kelsea asks the Mace about where on earth her adoptive parents have gone—the Mace and co. are supposed to have found them by now. The Mace seems to be sidestepping Kelsea’s questions, but she gives up on it because it’s not time to reveal that they’re dead yet, oops, I mean, she’s hungry (yes, this is the reason given in the text).
Kelsea and one of her guards, Pen, stumble upon Andalie speaking with her one of her daughters. Andalie tells her daughter that they’re sticking around because Kelsea is a true queen, and one day they might be part of a legend. This somehow confirms to Kelsea and Pen that Andalie is psychic, because it’s not like Andalie might just have opinions or something.
They discuss the mysterious Andalie. It turns out that not only was Andalie’s husband a wife-beater, he also was a child molester, preying on his own daughters and other young girls in the neighborhood. Andalie’s neighbors tried to “take care of him,” but Andalie stopped them somehow. Holy shit, Andalie is a piece of work.
That night, Kelsea has an elaborate dream vision of a woman being kidnapped and dragged into a cage. She wakes and realizes that she’s had a vision—a slave shipment is being put together behind her back. It’s time for a rescue mission!
Except that nobody believes Kelsea except Andalie. Andalie and the Mace bicker for a little while, and when Kelsea tries to leave to get shit done, the Mace and Pen grab her to keep her from going. Fortunately, Kelsea has her sapphire, and uses it to slam them up against a wall. This moment of anger would have been so much cooler if I hadn’t realized that the sapphire is basically the decorative equivalent of Richard Rahl’s sword of truth. Thanks a lot for ruining my moment, sword of truth.
The Mace, gem of a human that he is, decides to take this moment to prepare Kelsea for her mission… by telling her to cut her hair so she’ll look like a man. Don’t they have to figure out how to get to the shipment and who they’re going to take? You know, get some weapons together? I don’t need to read this all in detail, but maybe a nod to logistics? Is anyone in this kingdom competent at anything other than being an asshole?
Anyway, Andalie cuts Kelsea’s hair, which gives them time for some girl talk.
“Why’d you marry him, Andalie?”
“We don’t always make these choices ourselves.”
“Did someone force you?”
Andalie shook her head, chuckling mirthlessly, then leaned down and murmured in Kelsea’s ear. “Who’s the man, Majesty? I’ve seen his face in your mind many times. The dark-haired man with the snake-charmer’s smile.”
Kelsea blushed. “No one.”
“Not no one […] He means very much to you, this man, and I see shame covering all of those feelings.”
“Did you choose to to feel this way for this man?”
“No,” Kelsea admitted.
“One of the worst choices you could have made, no?”
Kelsea nodded, defeated.
“We don’t always choose, Majesty. We simply make the best choices we can once the deed is done.”
Uh, all right. So Andalie’s been reading Kelsea’s thoughts, and she’s using Kelsea’s teen crush on the Fetch to justify her marriage to a man who beat her and raped her daughters. You know, Kelsea may not have chosen the way she feels, but she can choose how to act on her feelings. But whatever, women are just slaves to their passions, even queens! Females!
Well, I guess Andalie’s not using her unfettered access to Kelsea’s mind to be the perfect spy. Which is totally what I’d do if I were Andalie! Just saying!
Anyway, Kelsea is sad, not because she’s fallen in love with a shady man and distrusts her own emotions or because she feels violated by Andalie’s psychic prying, but because the Fetch won’t ever like her without her hair. Isn’t this the same kind of vanity that every other woman in the book gets slammed over? This book.