Orb's Year 945
"Oh thank you mama! I promise, you won't even notice I've invited anyone over!" Francine promised earnestly.
She didn't even notice the scowl her cousin, Elyssa L'Adventurer, sent to Prince Phillip Patron when he attempted to talk to her with his newly betrothed, Princess Felicity Royale.
Interesting, she thought. I wonder what that's about?
Although they were newlyweds, Earnest Royale and his new wife, Faelyn, had not settled into marital bliss. Though they slept in the same bed, but they had not consummated the marriage yet.
Each morning they awoke with their bodies tangled around each other and hastily darted apart, each frustrated and embarrassed in equal parts.
It shouldn't be surprising that tension stirred between them!
Faelyn Royale crossed her arms and glared at her husband. "Over my dead body!" Faelyn said heatedly.
"Cursed Orb - it's not going to hurt that much! Don't be such a baby about it!" Earnest said with condescension.
Faelyn sputtered unbecomingly. "Not going to hurt?!" she asked incredulously. "It'll bloody well kill me!"
"Oh for...!" Earnest cursed low and long. "Why can't you just admit that you're wrong?" he asked impatiently.
"Because I'm not wrong!" Faelyn said through gritted teeth.
"Fine! I suggest we look it up! The winner must grovel before the other... so prepare for your knees for groveling because I know that I'm right!"
Earnest swiveled to look at his wife, peering over to try to look at the page of the book she was reading.
Reciting from the page, she read triumphantly, "Head Pains are treated with sweet-smelling herbs such as rose, lavender, sage, and bay. See? I was right!" Going further down the page, she added, "Coriander is used to reduce a fever! HA!"
Cursed Orb, Earnest swore as he let his book snap together. He'd been so sure he was right when he'd suggested his cousin take some coriander for his aching head. Faelyn had overheard and immediately corrected him, as usual. With a frown, he glared at her as she gloated with victory. "I believe I'm in need of some lavender myself..." he said dryly.
"I'll be a dutiful wife and hurry off to get you some. But first, I do believe you said something about groveling..."
Orb's Year 946
Finn Consul added, "It's as though they vanished into thin air!"
"But, we know that they didn't vanish into thin air. That's not logical," Earnest countered. "We need to systematically comb through those woods..."
Benedict nodded his head thoughtfully. "That does make some sense. Perhaps it's time to begin looking outside our kingdom..."
Faelyn nodded her head. "Of course. I believe I floated on a cloud for a week after you knelt before me and admitted that you were wrong."
Earnest frowned at the memory. Not only had Faelyn gloated after he'd grumbled that he'd been wrong, but she'd gone too far by telling him that he needed to grovel as he admitted she was right. And though it had galled him and the words had stuck in his throat, when he'd gazed up at her smiling face, he'd only thought, do it again. Smile at me like that again!
And so his little plan had been hatched. Eagerly, he grabbed her hand and pulled her towards the stairs. "Come upstairs to the tower. I want to show you something!"
Faelyn hurried along behind Earnest as he pulled her upstairs. "You're not going to hurl me out of the tower for gloating, are you?" she asked breathlessly.
Earnest shook his head. "No, something better!"
Earnest grinned at her sheepishly. "I tried to copy the one Haydin set up at the Consul castle."
"Earnest! It's.. it's..." Faelyn had actually found herself speechless. "It's wonderful!" she cried as she wrapped her arms around him, hugging him close.
Earnest wrapped his arms around her and smiled, reveling in the heady feeling he'd received when she'd smiled and pressed up against him. Do it again, smile at me again, he thought.
Faelyn leaned back a bit and smiled shyly up at Earnest. She could feel Earnest's muscles tensing beneath her hands and she felt an incredible desire to run her fingers through his hair. "Perhaps," she said, swallowing her nervousness, "Perhaps it's time for a round of experiments."
Earnest grinned. "Well, that is why I set had it set up for you. What would you like to test first, m'lady?"
Faelyn reached up and touched his cheek. "I would need your assistance," she said, her voice huskier than usual.
Earnest met her gaze and found it impossible to look away.
And then suddenly they were in each other's arms, passionately kissing and all logic and rationality flew out the very window Faelyn had worried she'd be tossed over.
They didn't even make it to the comfortable bed that waited for them downstairs, instead falling to the stone floor and consummating their marriage
Faelyn glanced over at her husband and found herself unable to look away. How had she not seen how handsome, strong and intelligent he was?
Sexual tension flared between them instantaneously.
"I'm ready, mother!" Francine said eagerly.
Faelyn smiled mysteriously at him. "Oh no, I don't think the cake would agree with me."
Earnest frowned. "Do you think you're in need of some dried lily root?"
Faelyn let loose a laugh. "For what? The Black Plague? No, this is something that won't be resolved any time soon."
Earnest's face drained of color. "Are you that sick then? Should we summon a physic? Perhaps Haydin..."
Francine couldn't help but worry!
BJ reached his arm around her back and began to pull her close. "I just wanted to get some private time with you. We can eat afterwards."
"Afterwards?" she asked with a hitch in her voice.
BJ grinned as he nuzzled her neck. "After we make love," he promised.
Francine closed her eyes as the pleasure shot through her body. It almost felt good enough to ignore her morals. Almost...
BJ sighed. "Why not? This is where our courtship has been leading. I thought you wanted it, too!" he grumbled.
Francine shook her head. "No! I can't! You disrespect me to suggest this before marriage!"
"Marriage!" BJ scoffed. "Be reasonable Francine. I set sail for the newly discovered land across the ocean in a short time!"
"You... what?" Leaving? Francine buried her face in her hands with a sob. "I'm so confused..."
Foolish, foolish girl, she thought harshly.
Orb's Year 947
Dresden fixed the boy with a stern look. "...and you just thought that you could leave the King's Guard and become an Intelligence Counselor?" he asked dryly.
Earnest rubbed the back of his neck, "Well, yes..." he answered, only to be interrupted.
Dresden fired off another question, "Have you had any formal training?"
"Well, not exactly..." he replied hesitantly.
Dresden's lips thinned. "And have you considered..."
Dresden shot Earnest a baleful look. "Of course not. I don't see why he thinks he's cut out for the intelligence counsel. He's too easily intimidated!"
Faelyn laughed. "Well, you are a very intimidating man, father. But, I was the one to suggest the intelligence counsel to Earnest. He has such grand ideas and plans! Your counsel will be well rounded with his addition."
He smiled fondly at his eldest daughter and asked, "And how do you fare these days, my child. You and my grandson?"
"Ha!" Faelyn scoffed. "You and Earnest! Well, don't get your hopes up, it's going to be a girl!" She shot her husband a triumphant look. "And you know I'm always right!"
Earnest's shoulders slumped. She did have an annoying way of always being right, he thought. He'd so been hoping for a first-born heir...
Benedict smiled at his son. "You've really impressed your uncle, the King," he said proudly. "Receiving the top accolades and still in your twenties! I'm quite proud of you son. It makes me relieved to know one day when I step down, you'll be there to lead the men."
"Actually, about that..." Earnest said with a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. He had a feeling his father wasn't going to take this well...
"Oh, BJ!" she cried out happily. "Do you mean it! I thought you didn't care!"
"Of course I care, pet! You're the only girl I've ever loved!"
"I'll miss you and dream of you each night," Francine sighed.
"Will you kiss me goodbye, pet?" BJ asked, slipping his hands down her back to hold her closer still.
"Oh yes!" she cried out happily.
"Of course I will, pet. As soon as I can, I'll be back with tales of daring and adventure!"
Francine buried her face in his neck, kissing him the way he had done to her just a short while before. "I wish you didn't have to go!" she said mournfully. "I wish you could just stay!"
Then he was gone.
However firmly she believed he would return, sleep still eluded her the remainder of the night.
Orb's Year 948
"It's just that if he doesn't," Kea said cautiously. Her daughter had become quite prickly regarding any mention of her childhood love. "We will need to arrange another marriage for you. It wouldn't be my first choice, but Prince Scot Trottier has been suggested..."
"Just drop it, Mother! BJ is coming back for me! He loves me! I would rather die than marry someone without love." Dropping her voice, she added with a voice full of pain, "I want what you had..."
Benedict and Kea exchanged a knowing glance and sadly watched their daughter hurry away. It was clear that if BJ were coming home, he would've returned by now...
"I'm sure he is," Earnest said absently as he studied.
"He is!" she insisted forcefully.
Earnest glanced up and felt pity when he saw the look on his sister's face. His tone gentled. "I'm sure he is, Francine. How could he not want to return to you?" he asked, thinking of his own blessed marriage.
"Daddy...!" Francine said, scared. "Please...!" she begged as he pushed past her.