"If you'll excuse us," he grinned. "It is time to celebrate our nuptials! Privately!"
At first she'd tried to act as though she wouldn't betray the sainted Princess Celeste, but a gold coin quickly changed her mind.
"What'd you have in mind, your majesty?" she'd asked coyly.
She didn't say no, though...
Of course, he was really off to the forest that Suzie had mentioned with the hopes of meeting the elusive Prince of Thieves. But, what little Celeste didn't know wouldn't hurt her...
Orb's Year 926
Smiling, she laid a hand on her belly and grinned.
She hadn't told Geoffrey yet, but she planned to let him know as soon as he returned from his recent adventure. He often claimed that he had the soul of an adventurer and his spirit needed to wander. When he spoke of all the places he'd been and the people he'd seen, she was in awe!
Whenever he finished telling her about the wondrous adventures he'd been on, she would often tell him that she'd love to go with him. Usually, he'd frown and tell her that she was too delicate to consider such a rugged trip. But, oh, to see pyramids! Or jungles!
But, more than anything, she missed him when he was gone! The castle seemed so much lonelier without him.
Rubbing her belly, she thought that soon she wouldn't always be alone, though!
Celeste turned and smiled at her father, then turned back to the fire. Frowning at the smoke billowing from the pot, she hurriedly pulled the toast from the fire. Sighing, she turned to her father, "I was so hoping to impress you!"
Alexander walked over and patted her hand, taking the platter from her. "Do not worry, dear. With time you learn all the kitchen finery! If you wish, perhaps Emily can come over a few days a week to help teach you!"
"No, I want to learn to do it on my own!" Celeste said. "But it is kind of you to offer Emily! I should have her over for tea one afternoon when it is slow. I miss her!"
Had she heard something? Was someone in the house?
She held herself still and listened quietly, certain she heard something....
"Of course, that is only the smallest part. The women walk around with their breasts bared to the sun!" he said. "Although, as a male, I must say that I think that I would love to see that trend take hold here!"
Gwen giggled softly. "I can imagine that would be quite liberating. Perhaps I should try it some time!"
Geoffrey's eyes flashed, "Be sure to let me know if you feel... liberated!"
Gwen leaned closed and whispered, "Perhaps it is something best seen rather than heard about, your majesty."
Geoffrey leaned forward to let Gwen know that he most definitely would be interested in attending her liberation when he heard a gasp. Turning, he saw Celeste behind him, clutching her chest.
Holding her at a distance, Geoffrey frowned. "Blessed Orb, woman! You wreak!" he said, turning from her. "Have you no decency? And we have company!"
Celeste's hands flew to her cheeks that were already reddening in embarrassment. "I'm sorry, I didn't notice... And I was having a bad dream... I'm so embarrassed!"
Geoffrey turned Celeste towards their room and pushed her in the direction of the door. "I will speak with you later regarding your lack of decorum. For now I will bid our scandalized guest farewell and see that she does not share your shame with the village."
Celeste stammered, "I'm so sorry Geoffrey," hurrying towards the safety of their room. She'd never been more embarrassed in her life! Geoffrey had sounded so stern! She hated to think that she had disappointed him so! Fighting back tears, she hurried into the bathroom to clean up before Geoffrey came to bed.
Geoffrey turned and eyed Gwen, wondering how much to reveal. It seemed as though he had found a woman that was his equal. She didn't sound accusing, merely interested in his technique. Shrugging, he bragged, "So far she has not noticed my frequent absences or indiscretions."
Gwen cocked an eyebrow, "And you're sure she has no indiscretions herself?"
At that, Geoffrey let out a booming laugh. "Celeste? The paragon daughter?! Not likely!"
"Her loss," Gwen tossed back saucily.
Gwen lowered her lashes and smiled. "Indeed," she agreed.
Orb's Year 927
And who better to seduce than a woman that handled many messages every day. She was sure to be privy to a wealth of information!
And Brittany seemed very receptive to his advances....
He was gone so often, perhaps they only needed to have some romantic time alone. She had attempted to woo him a few times in bed, but he'd shrugged her off and said he found her pregnancy unsettling.
Perhaps when her figure returned he would desire her again....
She felt like the worst mother in the kingdom for eagerly counting the days until her delivery in hopes of enticing her husband once more!
Perhaps there was something wrong with her, Celeste wondered. Why else would her husband abandon her so carelessly?
Why, between a newborn and her art, Celeste hardly even noticed Geoffrey's absences anymore!
At least that's what she tried to tell herself...
And he had heard rumors of his son-in-law's wandering eye.
It saddened Alexander that he had pushed Celeste into this sham of a marriage. He was at a loss on how to fix it, though...
Orb's Year 928
"Come off it, Celeste!" her brother, Prince Barron argued. "We've already waited an hour for him! Let us start without him!"
Celeste glanced uncertainly at the door and sighed. "You're right," she said sadly.
No one else mattered in this world!
Although, he must say he hadn't had to chase Brooke very hard before she allowed him to throw her skirts up in a pile of hay!
"Where were you?" she demanded.
Pasting a smile on his face, "Sorry, ma petite! I just lost track..."
Celeste interrupted. "Don't 'ma petite' me! You missed Elyssa's birthday!"
"She'll have others," Geoffrey attempted to console his irate wife. Before Elyssa had been born, she never would've confronted him in this manner! Now she was a mother bear standing in front of him, ready to protect her cubbling.
It was quite arousing!
Celeste wasn't sure what had come over her husband, but she loved it! "I've missed you," she whispered as she kissed him back, running her hands over his back.
Stumbling backwards towards their bedroom, he tossed her to the bed.
Celeste went to bed smiling, certain that everything would be different now! Whatever had come between them was now gone!
Celeste watched him walk out and felt her heart drop. Stammering, she called out, "But when will you be back?"
He didn't answer...