“Ich danke Ihnen,” she said, picking up the egg and passing it between her thick lips. “Und danke schön for taking me here.”
She waved toward the broad grassy field that made up much of St. Admeta Park, where the two picnicked on a blanket beneath a willow. This time of year, the park was closed to the public, and so the two of them had it all to themselves, at least if one didn’t count a dozen servants and their protection details.
“You’re very welcome,” he said.
“I think I go licht im gehirn if I stay anymore inside of doors. In Freedonia, we are aus dem haus much.”
“I understand completely, and may I say your Brech is coming along swimmingly.” The Prince let his eyes drift over her form. She had lost a good ten pounds since she had arrived in Brechalon, not that she still didn’t look voluptuous.
“You are so nice, Clitus,” said Henrietta. “You are taking me to the fashion show for adel in eine woche?”
“I do what I can. I’m sure that Tybalt would have preferred to be here with you, but he’s otherwise engaged.”
“Ja. I don’t think he care to be here. He is not liking me, I think.”
“I’m sure that’s not the case.” Clitus smiled thinly. “How could he not appreciate you? You’re lovely. He just hasn’t had a chance to get to know you.”
“The wedding is only einen monat. I don’t think he care to know me. I am being sorry he is the Prince I must marry.”
“You won’t feel that way after the wedding, and some day, you’ll be the next Queen of Greater Brechalon and Freedonia.”
“Being Queen is gut thing, I think, but not best.”
* * * * *
“So how did I get nominated to take Henrietta to the Ladies Auxiliary Fashion Show?” asked Clitus.
“You didn’t expect me to take her?” asked Tybalt. “Did you?”
“I did rather expect that, yes. More importantly, I think that Henrietta expected it. You’re marrying her in twenty-five days. The least you could do is to get to know her a bit.”
“Stay out of my business, little brother,” said Tybalt.
“It’s a little more than just your business.”
“Tybalt is right,” said the King. “This is his marriage, and she will be his wife.”
“He’s going to be King,” said Clitus. “She’s going to be Queen. Wouldn’t it be better if they got along? Or how about showing her just enough consideration that she doesn’t hate Brechalon?”
“As long as they perform their duties, the rest is their business.” The King stood up and stretched. “Besides, they won’t have to worry about it for many years.”
He stepped out of the room. A moment later, his eldest son started to follow him.
“Be reasonable,” said Clitus. “At least make an effort.”
“Stay out of my business.”
The younger Prince leaned back in his chair and sighed. After a few minutes, Bob stepped into the room and sat down near him.
“Maybe you should be more concerned about a wife of your own rather that the one for your brother, Your Highness.”
“You know, if I were in Tybalt’s spot, I’d be perfectly happy with Henrietta. She’s a fine young woman, smart, kind.”
“She’s not hard on the eyes either,” Bob pointed out.
“No, she’s not.”
“But she’s your brother’s, Your Highness.”
“Oh, don’t get your corset in a twist. I’ve no designs on the Princess. I’m not Tybalt and I’m not in his place.”
“I don’t think the young lady would care,” said Bob.
Clitus shot him a sharp look. “What are you trying to say?”
“She’s falling in love with you.”
“No,” scoffed the Prince.
“Yes. You’re too damn charming. You need to pull it back a bit. Stay away from her.”
“That would be easier if my brother would simply pay a little attention to his own fiancé.”
“No doubt,” said Bob. “That’s not going to happen though. So you need to stop presenting yourself as a much superior alternative.”
“I’m not doing that!”
“Maybe not on purpose. Still, best to stay away.”
“I’m supposed to take her to that damn fashion show.”
“I have to. One of us has to be there and neither my father nor Tybalt will show up.”
“No help for it then. At least, don’t sit by her.”
“How am I supposed to manage that?” wondered the Prince.
“Take Lady Esther and sit her between you. Or you could take Lady Terra. That would send a message.”
“What message would that send?”
“That you’re taken.”
“Lady Terra is not interested in me,” said Clitus.