The final round of the archery tournament was underway, and still nothing about Prince Philip. Thad had done his share of complaining, but her father had held firm. Thad was now sulking in some pub somewhere, and Evelyn wasn’t sure if she should be excited or worried because his man had still been allowed to compete.
Lily’s squeal of excitement pulled Evelyn from her thoughts. The girl jumped up and pulled on her arm. “Did you see what he just did?”Evelyn quickly looked up to try to piece together what had just happened. Lily was her cousin through her father’s side of the family. The five-year-old was excited to be able to attend the events. Evelyn hadn’t realized Pierce was up, and he had shot his arrow through the other and just repeated the performance.
Behind him, Robert and Peter were smiling and shaking their heads. Both of them had done well, hitting the bullseye all three times. But watching them, she realized they had both been holding back.
Was Pierce making himself a target?
“Oh! That is so amazing, Lily. Very impressive, I’ve yet to see anyone else compare to my men,” Evelyn said quietly to her. “Now, let’s remember that we are ladies, and while displays to catch our attention are always appreciated, we can’t let it show how impressed we are. We might hurt someone else’s feelings.”
Lily sagely nodded. “You are right, I’m sorry Princess Evie. I shall endeavor to do better.”
Evelyn hid a smile behind her fan, tilting her head slightly in acknowledgment.
Evelyn was sitting next to King Richard, Lily, and her private guard. Behind her box was her parent’s box, where their top suitors were sitting. She had indulged them, and had had two suitors and Lily in her box for the past four hours.
She told her parents after lunch she was tired and not feeling well, so could King Richard just sit with her on the final day. She talked up their relationship and may have hinted she was having second thoughts about him because of this tournament.
Her parents had been quick to agree, which made her happy. Because she and Richard were great friends, it wasn’t difficult to make it look like they were flirting and getting closer.
“Pierce is clearly showing off to you. He’s like a peacock preening about. He is also trying to scare off the competition,” Richard leaned in and whispered to her.
She leaned in slightly and responded, “He’s putting a target on his back. They will be gunning for him.”
Richard looked at her with amusement in his eyes. “You don’t think he can handle it?”
“I know he can handle it, I just think he should draw less attention to himself. I’m worried about somethings.” Evelyn sent a meaningful look toward Lily, who was currently watching the last of the archers.
Richard caught her meaning and nodded. “I’ll talk to Pierce about it later.”
“Wonderful. I’m sure he’ll love being told to stop strutting about like a peacock,” she laughed.
The final archer finished and the butler took the field. “If Her Highness would please join us on the field, we will announce the top three winners.”
Evelyn climbed down from her box. Ian trailed her, keeping an eye on everyone.
“The top three point earners are separated by less than two points,” the butler announced to the crowd. Everyone cheered.
“In third place, Robert of Everly,” the butler shouted.
He stepped forward and Evelyn kissed him on the cheek while putting a sash around him.
“In second place, Ian of Noir.” Evelyn repeated her actions and then stood to the side, waiting for first place.
“And in first place, Pierce of Astonia.” Evelyn kissed him on the cheek and put the sash over him.
“Thank you, my mighty men,” Evelyn said for their ears alone.
“The top three men have earned the privilege of sitting next to Her Highness at tonight’s feast during the ball.”
Evelyn beamed. She didn’t have to worry about fending off perverts or flirting with men that could barely hold their forks. She also knew what dress she was going to wear. And she knew Pierce was going to both love it and hate it at the same time.
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