Orb's Year 937
Barron scoffed then. "I think you over-estimate your wife's tender feelings towards you!"
Geoffrey glared, "Ungrateful wench! She would have me sit in this prison cell until I died?!"
"Nay, you will not sit in this prison cell until you die..."
Geoffrey glanced sharply towards the king's retreating back. "Then what?" he demanded. "What are your plans? A public execution? You're not man enough for it!"
"My Uncle..." Geoffrey sputtered, "The usurper! You give me to my enemy?!" Geoffrey sputtered a string of foul curses. "Barron! Come back here! Don't walk away from me!" he screamed.
When the castle guards checked the prison tower some hours later, they discovered an empty cell and no clues.
King Barron slammed his hand on the table. "I want to know how he managed to escape! Has anyone heard anything? The longer he remains free, the longer there remains a threat to my family!" Barron glanced around the table and saw all the heads shaking, except...
"Dresden," he snapped, "What do you know?"
Dresden Consul looked highly uncomfortable and fidgeted in his seat. Nervously he met the King's eye. "I have recently discovered that my twin daughters are not of my blood," he began, ignoring his brother's startled gasp. "I confronted Gwen about it and she revealed an affair with Geoffrey." Now came the hardest thing to admit before these men he respected. "She left and at first I did not care where she went, but the more I think on it, the more sure I am that she might have aided him."
Barron's gaze softened when confronted with Dresden's confession. "Thank you for sharing your news with us. I'm sorry it has grieved you so."
Dresden shrugged, "I should have seen it sooner."
"So, now we know who likely helped her. Next we need to determine where they might have gone."
"Gia," he nodded. "I trust you are prepared for your service position?"
"Of course! I should cook, clean and do anything asked of me," she recited.
Hurrying to the music room, her eye was caught by the prince. My, he was handsome, she thought, quickly averting her gaze. Her father had made sure she knew the horrid tale of her Aunt Deanna's disgrace before she'd come. She'd assured him that she wasn't interested in any man but her Benji and he had seemed greatly relieved.
There wasn't any harm in appreciating fine works of art, though, right?!
Queen Diedre smiled at the young girl. "Welcome Gia! I hope you'll be happy here. We have missed our Emily ever so much."
Gia felt her stomach fluttering, "That's kind of you to say! She was my Great Aunt on my father's side!"
"Well that's wonderful! Right now I'd like you to start with the gardens. King Barron designed them for me," she confided. "Once you're finished with that, come find me and we'll chat more about your duties!"
"I heard that his lover bailed him from the prison tower!" Princess Kea gossiped with flair as Princess Catherine shushed her.
Princess Celeste slammed her keys down on the piano and squeezed her eyes shut. For all the years that she was locked in her private hell with Geoffrey, it felt ten times worse to hear others discussing it. "Enough!" she shouted, tears already forming in her eyes.
Deidre hugged her tighter. "It won't happen!" she said firmly. "I'll send one of the Castle Guards with you for protection. Geoffrey can't hurt you anymore, you're too strong!"
Celeste wiped her eyes. "Strong?" she said with a scornful laugh. "I feel weak as a baby!"
Deidre reached out and helped wipe the tears from Celeste's cheek. "I see a fine, strong woman in front of me, ready to battle anyone that would harm her family!"
Celeste smiled slightly, "Truly? That is how you see me?"
"Truly," Deidre said firmly.
Orb's Year 938
Frowning, he motioned towards her breakfast, "Eat! We can discuss an outing later."
Gia sighed. She already knew what Uncle Ennis was going to say. He'd already said it five times this week! 'A proper lady in service does not run loose with boys!'
She'd argued that she didn't run, wasn't loose and only wanted to see one boy, but none of it made a difference. Uncle Ennis thought that servants should remain celibate and readily available for their patrons.
Good thing she didn't plan on staying in service forever like Uncle Ennis! As soon as she was old enough, Benji would propose and she'd go live with the Potters!
But, there was also a part of him that thought back to the beautiful black-haired girl that he'd briefly held in his arms (Royale, Orb's Year 935). It wasn't fair to compare them, but sometimes a part of him considered Suzanne's hair too long, too blonde and too curly, her figure too bountiful compared to the lithe peasant girl.
Shaking the traitorous thoughts from his head, Prince Earl hugged Suzanne in greeting and dropped a kiss on her cheek.
Orb's Year 939
Prince Earl saw the stars in his sister's eyes and couldn't think of a worse person for her to become infatuated with! Berjes was his best friend, but he wouldn't trust him with his sister!
It had been Queen Deidre's idea to host a small dance for the young ones. Only a handful of children were invited to join.
"Oh! I'm so sorry!" she said in horror when he'd limped in pain.
Flames of embarrassment flooded Felicity's cheeks. She scrambled for some witty response, but couldn't come up with anything.
Cheers and gasps of pleasure sounded in the room. Berjes shook his head and mumbled something under his breath.
Earl laughed sadly, "I don't know why I listen to you..." he said.
Berjes just laughed and clapped Earl on the back, "Because we have so much fun! Come on!"
Orb's Year 940
Berjes glanced back over at his friend and saluted him with his drink. "It only needs to work once, my friend," he said jovially.
Earl downed the rest of his drink as Berjes got up to make his play.
Earl laughed. "I tend to think it's not the women here that are duds, but you!" he teased. "And I think the only place we should head is home!"
The girl stared up at him with wide-eyes.
Earl smiled tightly when he realized that Berjes must have been waiting for him. "I'm not sure what you mean," he said.
"Don't play coy with me!" Berjes laughed. "I saw you head upstairs with someone! Who was she?" Berjes asked. "Perhaps she'd like to meet your friend?"
Earl pushed Berjes away from him. "It was nothing! Just someone I needed to talk to!"
Berjes stumbled back and held his hands up in confusion. "Okay! Okay! No need to get all twisted up about it! I won't tell Suzanne!"
Suzanne, his intended.
Suzanne smiled and gazed up at the castle. "It's all so beautiful," she said wistfully. "I've waited for this day for years!"