Breakfast was a dismal affair. Instead of eating with everyone else, the King, Queen, and their children ate in the private dining room.
Of course, the situation was made even more awkward with the addition of Pierce, Peter, Robert, John, and Ian. Evelyn sighed before carefully sipping her tea. Her mother had ignored her when she had added sausage to her plate.
“This is ridiculous! Why in the hell aren’t we dinning with our damn guests?” Thad all but shouted, shattering the silence.
“You will watch you language and your tone, young man,” King Reginald reprimanded. “We are here because my sister is missing and her granddaughter was discovered to be living in an orphanage by Evie yesterday when she went into town. The news is most alarming.”
“Your Majesty, if I may. Ian and my brother had been looking into a matter regarding Princess Evelyn, and I feel the situation with your sister may be tangled up in it somehow,” Pierce explained.
“I learned of a plot to kidnap who I assumed to be Princess Evelyn, now I believe it to have been Lily. The girl’s uncle was seen conversing with an unknown man,” Pierce told the King.
“Interesting. Did you rule out a kidnapping attempt on my daughter?” King Reginald ask.
“Yes, I did. Once the date and time the kidnapping were supposed to take place had passed, I had Ian look into the matter again. He reported back that the kidnapping was a success, but Princess Evelyn wasn’t the target.”
King Reginald ate a few bites from his plate, seeming to mull around the details Pierce had given him. “Then, correct me if I’m wrong, you went about trying to learn who had been taken?”
“Precisely. But I had never met Lily, and only heard her name brought up a few times, so I wasn’t thinking a child had been taken.”
“I sent a missive to my sister. She is to return in a few days. She will be here in time for the birthday ball. I didn’t mention anything about Lily to her because I didn’t want her to worry,” King Reginald told everyone.
“In the meantime, I think Lily should be in the nursery with one of the maids, not taking up Evelyn’s valuable time with suitors,” Queen Maria interjected.
“I agree. I know Philip has been complaining about hardly spending anytime with you Evelyn, and Lily will just complicate the matter,” Thad stated boredly.
“Lily is just fine where she is. Jessica and Evan are watching her in my suite of rooms. It is truly no imposition at all,” Evelyn all but growled.
Thad laughed at his sister’s tone. “You would almost think she was your daughter the way you acted!”
Pierce’s eyes jumped to Evelyn’s face, as Queen Maria dropped her fork. “That is enough Thad! We do not joke about such matters! What if someone heard you?”
“Relax, Mother. No one would ever believe Evelyn had a child. She has never been out of the public’s eye,” Thad observed.
“Still, your Mother is correct, that is not something you should joke about,” King Reginald put in.
“Everyone needs just needs to learn how to take a joke. Isn’t that right, sis?” Thad asked poking Evelyn.
Evelyn dropped her fork and winced in pain. “What did you do to your sister?” Queen Maria demanded.
“It’s nothing really. I’m fine. Thad wouldn’t have known about my bruise,” Evelyn blurted out.
“What bruise? Pierce, what bruise is she talking about?” King Reginald boomed.
Pierce was about to answer when Evelyn cut him off.
“Lily and I created the commotion at dinner last night in order to leave before dessert. In all the chaos, I hit a wall as we were making our escape. Pierce found us and reprimanded us. Don’t be mad at him, Daddy. It really was all my fault, I got what I deserved,” Evelyn pleaded.
Evelyn gave her Father a beseeching look. “All right. I guess you learned your lesson, and you are a grown woman. But no more sneaking around creating a scene,” King Reginald warned.
“I promise. It won’t happen again. But I am curious about something, Philip’s man was disqualified from the tournament, so why would I be spending any time with him?” Evelyn asked innocently.
“Is that true? How could you disqualify his man?” Thad roared.
“Because he cheated! He used a real sword in the competition and cut Pierce. It’s against the rules,” Evelyn fired back.
The two siblings were glaring daggers at each other. Evelyn had picked up her knife, which hadn’t gone unnoticed by her parents.
King Reginald cleared his throat. “Your sister is correct. Philip should have been informed of the disqualification yesterday.”
“This is an outrage! How can Philip be held responsible for what his man did? Did you ask him about it? Was is just for the swordfighting? He is supposed to have a fresh man for each round of the competition” Thad questioned.
A chill ran down Evelyn’s spine. A pit was beginning to form in her stomach. Why was Thad fighting so hard for Philip? What had he done?
“The rules are the rules, Thad. He’s disqualified from the entire event. It is a friendly competition. Yes, Evelyn is the prize, but she has to agree to the betrothal. It is all there in black and white. The matter is closed,” King Reginald announced into the room.
“Pierce is up next, Princess Evie,” Lily exclaimed. The girl was in heaven sitting with Evelyn and Richard in her box watching the third day of the sword fighting portion of the tournament.
“Let’s hope he does as well as Peter and Robert,” Richard commented.
“I’m nervous. He is injured after all,” Evelyn fretted.
“Yes, and his injury wasn’t caused by a wall,” Richard observed. Evelyn’s cheeks turned pink.
“That mean man throwed Evie into a wall! I was so scared,” Lily revealed to Richard.
“What mean man?” Richard asked brows furrowing.
Evelyn looked at Lily and shook her head no, but the child loved the attention from Richard. The little traitor! Evelyn noticed Evan and John leaning in too. Great. Pierce would known within the hour how she had been injured.
“Philip,” Lily quietly uttered his name. “He chased us up the servants staircase after we snucked out of dinner. I was so scared, especially after he grabbed Evie and then throwed her against the wall to get me.”
Evelyn could feel three pairs of eyes boring into her, but refused to make eye contact. She stared straight ahead waiting for the next jousting match.
“And then what happened, Lily?” Richard coaxed.
“Evie grabbed something from a table and knocked him to the ground. She then screamed at me to run, and I did. I runned as fast as I could, but after we got to the stairs, Evie picked me up. Philip almost caughted us, but Jessica opened the door to the room and Evie and I slid across the hall into the room,” Lily gushed.
“Jessica shut Philip out and we had a grand laugh about our adventure, didn’t we Lily?” Evelyn interjected. “Oh look, it’s Pierce.”
Richard glared at her, but Evelyn refused to take her eyes off of Pierce. She was worried. His wound was only a day old and she was certain everyone knew about it.
Pierce lined up across from his opponent. The men circled each other, studying the other and taking stock of the weaknesses.
After a few moments, the back and forth of clashing swords filled the air. Pierce hit the man, knocking him to the ground. As Pierce moved in for the “death blow,” the man swung his sword, hitting him where his injury was.
Pierce almost lost his grip on the sword. He had paled and was beginning to sweat, but quickly regained control of the match. As his opponent went to stand, Pierce found his opening and struck, thus winning the match.
Evelyn let out a breath. Lily was jumping up and down beside her. “Did you see that move, Evie?”
“I did, Lily. There are a few more matches, and then lunch. Should we take lunch on the veranda with everyone?” Evelyn asked the child.
“Or you both could take a private lunch with me,” Richard suggested. He had a gleam in his eye, one Evelyn knew all too well. He also adored Lily.
“Can we please, Princess Evie?” Lily pleaded.
She laughed. “Yes, yes. We can lunch with King Richard.”
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