Chapter 19

Evelyn froze on the boards. “Keep going, Evie! She can’t find us,” Pierce hissed from behind her.

Evelyn was so distracted by her mother’s continuous knocking and commands, as well as her anxiety over being four stories off the ground, that she misstepped and started falling forward.

Peter realized she was going to fall off the boards, but she was still too far away from him. Just as Evelyn was getting ready to scream, strong arms picked her up from behind and carried her the rest of the way.

“Go answer the door!” Pierce quietly exclaimed.

Evelyn kicked off her shoes, threw her cloak over a chair in the corner, and let her hair down. “I’m coming, I’m coming.”

Evelyn opened the door and her mother breezed past her. “What on Earth took you so long to answer the door?”

“I fell asleep as soon as I got back to my room. I guess I had more to drink than I thought,” Evelyn explained. “How can I help you, Mother?”

Queen Maria studied her daughter carefully before turning her sharp gaze onto the rest of the room. She didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary, which was good, it meant her daughter wasn’t lying to her.

“I wanted to pick out your dress for tomorrow morning. It’s your birthday after all and the first day the hunting challenge.”

“I thought we were holding off on the competition until after my birthday. Why the sudden change?” Evelyn asked nervously.

“Your Father heard something about the weather turning and has decided move up the tournament. Then Thad had a most brilliant idea. For all the men that were disqualified, they had a chance to bid on spending the opening of the hunting competition with you, which we could fit into the morning of your birthday,” Queen Maria announced.

“I see. What about Pierce?” Evelyn was getting a bad feeling about everything.

“Pierce won the sword fighting and he will accompany you,” Queen Maria distractedly answered.

“Of course.” Evelyn’s voice was thready. She was beginning to feel light headed and it had nothing to do with the wine she drank.

“The best part is Prince Phillip won the bidding war and will sit in your tent with you. This means you must be wearing the perfect gown to impress him,” Queen Maria declared.

“Oh how lovely. Can King Richard sit in my tent as well so that I may have someone intelligent to converse with?” Evelyn asked in a tired tone.

“Only if King Richard is serious about marrying you. He is the only single sitting King in this tournament… Oh I had forgotten about the ruby morning gown,” Queen Maria mused.

Evelyn groaned internally. That dress was almost as low as the one she had on! And Prince Philip was already touching her as much as possible, he didn’t need encouragement.

“Now, my dear, tomorrow when you wear this gown, be sure to lean over as much as possible. Oh! And lean into them, rubbing yourself up against them ever so slightly,” Queen Maria advised.

Evelyn felt the burn of the bile rising up the back of her throat. She felt nauseous and dizzy. She was a princess, not a common street whore. “I will endeavor to do my best. Although Prince Philip hardly needs any more encouraging.”

“He’s enamored by you, and I truly believe that is why he is fighting so hard for your affections, as well as your hand in marriage,” her mother responded.

“His man was disqualified, so I hardly feel like he is fighting for my hand in marriage,” Evelyn was quick to point out.

“True, but he has other two other men from his kingdom fighting for you,” came the muffled answer.

“Wait! I thought there was only on competitor per kingdom. That’s hardly fair to everyone else!” This new information completely threw her off, but that could explain why there were three challengers from the same kingdom battling for her hand.

“Technically, the other two men are from different regions, which have agreements with Prince Philip’s kingdom. Neither man is interested in marriage to you, it is part of their alliance with the kingdom,” her mother explained while looking through her jewelry.

“Then who are the men from the same region?” Evelyn asked.

“I’m not sure, but Philip paid for all three competitors,” her mother responded.

“I thought it was a free tournament.” The room was taking on a slightly sideways view. Evelyn realized she needed to sit down or she was going to pass out.

“Everyone had to pay to get into the tournament, including your men. How else were we to afford meals and entertainment for everyone?”

Her mother then trailed off before saying, “I think the pale green one will be great for afternoon tea.”

“Yes, that one is quite lovely. Or there is the gold silk too. What do you think?” Evelyn’s questions were innocent, but they only bought her time.

Pierce, Robert, and Peter never said anything about having to pay to enter the tournament. And why was Prince Philip so desperate to win?

“If there were ten men eliminated from the tournament, that leaves, what, like thirty competitors left?” Evelyn was trying hard not to sound inquisitive. Her head was pounding, maybe drinking all that wine at dinner hadn’t been such a good idea.

Her mother eyed her curiously, before letting out a sigh. “Yes… Well my dear, I believe the pale green lawn will be just the thing leading up to your birthday gown. Try to wear a longer necklace that falls into the valley of your breasts, the more attention there, the better.”

Queen Maria kissed her daughter on the cheek before bidding her goodnight and leaving.

Evelyn stood in the center of her room looking at the gowns for tomorrow, carefully laid out in her closet. Every gown selected to show off her ample cleavage, and to give men easier access to her body.

The blood rushed from her head to her toes, as blackness crept around the edge of her vision. Her gown was too tight, cutting off the much needed oxygen to her brain.

Evelyn couldn’t get her legs to move and collapsed onto her knees. Her arms weren’t working right. She needed to get the back of her dress open. Her breath was coming in rapid burst as Evelyn became frantic to get the dress off.

Her vision was going dim and she felt sluggish and sick as the blood dropped from her head to her toes a second time. So this is what fainting felt like, she thought, as her world went black.

Pierce was sitting on the balcony, waiting for the Queen to leave. He knew he should’ve left with Robert and Peter, but he didn’t trust this late night visit. So here he was, listening to a conversation he found highly fascinating.

Why was Philip so desperate to stay in the tournament? Why would these other men enter the tournament despite an alliance? He had to be missing something.

A sudden thud had him jumping to his feet. He peered through the window and saw Evelyn on the floor. He hurried through the balcony door, scooping her into his arms.

“Evelyn? Can you hear me? Evelyn, wake up, it’s Pierce,” he called to her again and again for a few minutes.

“Pierce?” Her reedy voice came out softly, as her eyes suddenly opened.

“Yes, it’s me. What happened? Are you alright?” Pierce assessed her when he first came in and didn’t notice anything of any immediate concern.

“My dress…”

“What about your dress?”

“My dress…. It’s too….. Tight,” came the broken response. “Take it… Off”

It took Pierce a moment to realize she had passed out because she couldn’t get enough oxygen. He lifted her up, rested her head on his shoulder, and made quick work of loosening the laces at her back.

This of course made the front of her gown sag open, Pierce noted. This presently wasn’t a problem because she was facing him, however, once she moved it would be a huge problem.

Evelyn’s breathing became more steady, with some deeper breaths here and there. “Pierce,” Evelyn practically moaned into his ear. “Please, I need it looser.”

He was rock hard from having her against him, then he became harder with her voice in his ear, and now she wanted him to loosen the laces more? He didn’t think he could get any harder, and yet he was. His member was pulsing beneath the fabric of his pants, he could feel her breasts through their clothing, but there was nothing he could do about it.

“Yes,” Pierce strained out. He found the laces at her back and loosened them all the way down, careful to avoid touching her exposed flesh.

Evelyn snuggled deeper into his chest as her breathing return to normal. “Pierce, my lovely Pierce, you feel so good,” Evelyn told him.

“I’m glad you think so, Your Highness,” Pierce said.

Evelyn shifted slightly in his arms, brushing his bulging member. Pierce let out a low groan as Evelyn froze. She looked up into his face, her cheeks flush and her eyes wide.

“Pierce, I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize, I mean, I couldn’t breath, but I wouldn’t have asked if I had known.” Evelyn made a move to get out of his arms; however, her gown fell further down exposing her breasts.

Pierce swore soundly under his breath, shut his eyes tight and took off his coat, placing it firmly around Evelyn’s shoulders. Something wet fell onto his hand and then another and another.

Pierce opened his eyes to find Evelyn with her head down crying. He took a deep breath and then opened his arms wide. Evelyn looked up at him, her gaze troubled and lost all at the same time. She hesitated a moment before collapsing against his chest.

“Evie, dearie, there’s no reason for tears.” Pierce’s brogue was prominent in his attempt to soothe her.

“But we can’t,” the rest of what she said was lost into his chest as she began to sob.

“I didn’t quite catch that, but no matter, my Queen. Let’s get you to bed, it will be a long day for both of us.”

Pierce picked her up in his arms. He gently sat her on her bed then went into her closet and grabbed a nightgown. He next went into the bathroom where he grabbed a cold washcloth.

Pierce gently wiped her face, and down her throat to the tops of her breasts. Evelyn shuddered under his gentle touch.

He then turned around and walked into the bathroom again to get her toothbrush. He could hear the rustling of fabric and had a good idea she was getting undressed.

The pressure was getting to her, as was her desire for him. Evelyn just needed to hang in there for a few more weeks, then all this would be over. However her desire would still remain.

Pierce let out a deep sigh. Richard had told him fifteen years ago when they had met Evelyn for the first time to be careful around her because she could fall for him. Pierce had laughed it off, but as the years went on, it became apparent she was not longing to see Richard, instead she wanted him.

When Evelyn had turned nineteen, Pierce and Richard had come for her birthday. It was the last time he saw her, although she never saw him. She had been entertaining her friends in the solarium for high tea.

King Reginald had been impressed Richard had avoided a major political coup as such a young ruler. He had offered Evelyn to him on the spot.

Pierce had been stunned by the move. Richard hadn’t turned the King down, he had been building a friendship with Evelyn for years under the guise of getting to know her. While Evelyn was entertaining her friends, they had taken high tea in the dining room with the King, Queen, and other members of court.

After King Reginald’s offer, Richard had made one of his own. He had suggested Pierce as a match for Evelyn, but had been soundly rejected. The Queen’s laughter echoing off the dining room walls was not something he would ever forget.

Pierce had left after tea. Richard had met him back on the ship and they had talked. Pierce felt if he couldn’t marry well, then what good was he to the kingdom and his people. Richard had suggested joining a private detail known only as “The Queen’s Men.”

Richard had explained he was a brilliant leader and supremely talented, but would never have the career he wanted by staying in Scotland. So, as much as he would miss him and his brilliant military advice, he was setting him free to figure out what he wanted.

Four years of utter hell had awaited him. It was worse than anything the Scottish Army had thrown at him, but he had loved every moment of the challenge. He had made a name for himself and clinched the coveted position of leading The Queen’s Men.

Yet nothing he had done had prepared him for the shock of learning who the next queen of Astonia would be, or the absolute hell of being in her presence and not being able to have her.

“Pierce,” Evelyn called out in a small, trembling voice. “I’m sorry I started crying. Everything with the suitors is starting to get to me.”

Pierce walked into her bedroom. She put on her nightgown, her blue dress discarded on the floor. Evelyn was in bed with the blankets up to her chin.

He handed her the toothbrush. “It’s alright. Sooner or later everyone just needs a moment.”

Evelyn nodded as she brushed her teeth. When she was done, she handed the object to Pierce who cleaned it and put it away.

“Good night, Pierce,” Evelyn softly murmured as he walked to the balcony.

“Good night, Your Highness,” he returned.

A tear slid down Evelyn’s face, but she quickly dashed it away. She had known all along that man was never meant for her. They could never be together and it was too late to try to escape her present fate. She was stuck.

“The ivory color really sets off your complexion, Your Highness. And the filigree pattern is quite breathtaking,” Jessica complimented while weaving diamond tipped pins into her hair.

“Thank you, but the plunging neckline means I have to be extremely vigilant or else I may show off too much.” Evelyn loved her birthday gown, but she wished it covered her ample cleavage better.

“I’m just glad Pierce won the swordfighting competition and is your escort for the evening. The way he looks at you, my lady, well, let’s just say I wish a man looked at me that way,” Jessica continued.

“Pierce winning is a blessing. I’m so very grateful I don’t have to worry about Philip anymore tonight! His touches made my skin crawl and my stomach churn,” Evelyn retorted.

“Unlike a certain someone?” Jessica was playfully baiting her, but Evelyn still blushed all the same.

“He will only ever be a prince, he will never be a king, which means he isn’t good enough. I can long for more all I want, but that is the reality of the situation,” Evelyn lamented.

“You never know what surprises life has for us. Just stay positive and enjoy yourself.”

Evelyn smiled at the young woman in the mirror. If only her advice could be taken so easily. A week ago she would have thought the advice brilliant, but now? She had suitors vying for her hand in marriage, a little girl and her grandmother to protect, not to mention trying to escape the advances of one very determined prince.

There was a light knock on the door. Jessica glanced at the clock. “That should be your bodyguards, my lady. I will go let them know I’m almost done.”

As Jessica answered the door, Evelyn put the diamond studs in her ears. She then added a very simple diamond and ruby choker around her neck. Evelyn was admiring herself in the mirror when Jessica return to finish her hair.

“Who was at the door?”

“Who do you think?” Jessica giggled.

“Well, we mustn’t keep Prince Pierce waiting too long,” Evelyn chortled. “That man is an absolute dish and I would hate to miss one moment of him.”

Once the final pin was in, Jessica put her crown on her head. Evelyn grabbed a fan and matching reticule before opening the door.

There, on the other side of the door was Pierce. He was wearing all black, with the exception of his cravat and waistcoat, both of which were a deep blue bringing out his eyes. Evelyn was rendered speechless.

She was so happy to be attending her birthday ball with him, but was sad as well because they would never have the type of relationship she wanted.

“Are you ready, my Queen?” Pierce asked. There was a husky quality to his voice.

“Yes, Your Royal Highness.”

Once in the ballroom, he caught Robert’s attention and suggested she dance with him. Once Evelyn was safely with someone else, Richard turned to Pierce.

“Prince Philip has the Queen around his finger. He has been accused of some very foul acts against women, we need to keep him away from Evelyn at all costs,” Richard commanded.

“Then marry her!” Pierce hissed. “There is no other way at this point. If there was, I would have done it by now. I’m half afraid that I’ll win and it won’t be honored in some way.”

“Marry her? Your great idea is for me to marry her?” Richard was shocked by the suggestion.

“It’s that or kidnap her if it all goes sour, which it very well could. Her mother is in love with the idea of Evelyn marrying Prince Philip, and I don’t know why. The rest are second or third sons, or in my case, a fourth son. You are the only person capable of marrying her.”

Richard knew Pierce’s point. He had just been taken aback by how quickly his brother had thrown out the idea of marrying a woman Richard was willing to bet he was in love with.

“You’re really fine with me kissing her, touching her, caressing her, making her moan, and bearing my children? Looking at her, but never being able to touch her?” Richard watched as the anger and color rose in Pierce’s face at his suggestions.

“No, but there is nothing I can do. I have nothing with which to buy her in the eyes of her family.”

“I tried brother, on more than one occasion, to work something out. They want something more for her.” Richard sighed. He had offered enough gold to last two lifetimes, as well as land and other resources, and each offer had been summarily rejected.

“I don’t know what that could be. I have spent the better part of two decades learning how to protect kingdoms and win wars, not to mention the six years learning how to protect her. How to better serve her. How to create a more prosperous kingdom, but it’s never enough. I’m never enough,” Pierce flatly stated as his eyes followed Evelyn.

The brothers silently watched as Robert swept her across the room. Evelyn’s eyes were sparkling as she beamed from ear to ear. Occasionally she threw her head back in laughter.

“I’d rather she be safe and adored than abused. You’re the only person here who can talk them into letting her marry you despite this tournament,” Pierce commented.

“I’ve already spoken to King Reginald and the princess has the right to refuse the marriage. So I’m really not too worried”

Then a thought came to Pierce. His stomach dropped to his knees, the bottom fell out of his world. “Richard, Prince Philip has two more men fighting in this tournament through some sort of alliance. He will stay and continue to pursue her.”

“Son of a bitch.” Richard’s face contorted to one of understanding and then rage. “I don’t know what that man is playing at, but I am sick of it.”

The song ended and Evelyn came back over with Robert. Before she could say a word, Queen Maria came over with Prince Philip.

“My darling, Prince Philip has requested the first waltz,” Queen Maria proudly informed her.

“Mother, Prince Pierce won my affections for the evening. I have promised him both waltz’ and any dance I desire,” Evelyn responded cooly.

Pierce held out his arm to Evelyn, but her Mother grabbed her. “I suggest you dance with Prince Philip instead of the hired help.”

Evelyn had had enough of this. She clenched her teeth before responding quietly, “I will never marry the man who almost raped me in the hallway near my room. Had Jessica not come, I shudder to think of what might have happened.”

The rage etched on Philip’s face spoke volumes, as did the shocked expression on her Mother’s.

Pierce led Evelyn out on the dancefloor as the waltz began. He was holding her much too close, but he didn’t care. The Princess, his soon to be Queen, had just announced why she despised Philip, and he was waiting for the other shoe to drop.

“Pierce,” Evelyn called out softly.

“Yes, my Queen?” Pierce answered.

“I want to leave.”

“Your Highness, we have only just arrived at your birthday celebration. It would look most odd if we left now,” Pierce told her.

Evelyn looked up into his eyes. There was worry in their depths. Truth be told, he didn’t blame her, he was worried as well. He had his men in addition to Richard’s, but they were still greatly outnumbered by an enemy he had yet to fully unmask.

“No, I want to leave,” Evelyn stated meaningfully. “I don’t know who I can trust, and I’m scared.”

“Oh Evie. I know you are scared, lass, but we canna just leave. As much as I would like to,” Pierce told her softly.

“She keeps pushing me toward Philip, but I don’t know after my announcement what she will do.” Evelyn sighed. “There is always someone else with her.”

Pierce and Evelyn finished the remainder of the dance in silence. Once off the dance floor, Lisette approach Evelyn.

“Happy birthday, Mon Amie,” Lissette said as she hugged her friend. “You look even more beautiful in that gown than I remember.”

“Thank you! Your work is exquisite and I don’t know what I will do without you,” Evelyn replied.

As the two women chatted about court life and Evelyn’s future, King Richard came over to wish Evelyn a happy birthday.

“Thank you, Your Majesty,” Evelyn giggled. She then turned to her friend and noticed Lissette was checking out King Richard, and visa versa. “King Richard MacLaughlin of Scotland, may I introduce my dearest and oldest friend Lady Lissette de Bourbon.”

Lissette curtsied deeply before King Richard bowed over her hand and kissed it. “A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Your Majesty.”

“The pleasure is all mine, Lady Bourbon,” Richard replied deeply. “Would you care to dance?”

Lissette blushed before accepting. The pair made their way onto the dance floor.

“I think Richard may have found someone who sparks his interest,” Evelyn touted.

“What do you know about her?” Pierce inquired.

Evelyn turned to him and laughed. “Oh Pierce, of all the women here, she is by far the most innocent. She doesn’t have ulterior motives. Lissette’s mother escaped from France with her parents during a period of civil unrest with the monarchy and aristocracy.”

This news surprised Pierce. “She is of noble birth? Then how did she become a dressmaker?”

“Her mother taught her. She was a dressmaker for my mother. Margriet was struggling when my mother discovered her. She brought her here where Margriet eventually opened a store front and married a lessor nobleman.”

Pierce digested this information as he watched the pair laugh and glide effortlessly around the dance floor. “Was this nobleman wealthy?”

“No, he was broke and had lost his estates through no fault of his own. His father had left him buried in debt. By the time he inherited, there was nothing left but a title. He built up a trading business and met Margriet while she was buying fabric.”

“So Lisette is wealthy,” Pierce mussed.

“It’s more complicated than that,” Evelyn answered.

Pierce and Evelyn stopped talking as the happy couple joined them.

“Thank you for the dance, Your Majesty,” Lissette said, her eyes shining with delight.

“The pleasure was all mine, Lady Bourbon,” Richard replied as he bowed and kissed her hand.

Lissette laughed lightly. “Oh Evelyn, how could you keep this man a secret?” She then pulled out her fan to hide her smile.

Evelyn was getting ready to respond when Thad approached her. “I need to speak to you now.” Giving her no time to answer, Thad grabbed her arm and pulled her towards the terrace.

Pierce was quick to follow. He was not letting Evelyn out of his sight, especially not when she was suddenly dragged off with no warning.

Once on the terrace, Thad let Evelyn’s arm go before whirling on her. “I don’t know what happened between you and Philip and I frankly do not care! Do your damn duty and marry him!”

“Why? I have made it very clear I will never marry him. To be ‘frank’ as you put it, I do not care for him.”

Thad grabbed her arms and shook her. “You selfish whore! You’ll give yourself to that Scottish bastard, but you won’t give yourself to a real prince in order to secure your family’s future.”

Pierce had seen enough. “Let her go, Thad.”

Thad let out a merless laugh. “I should have known your lap dog would be nearby,” he spat. “I don’t know why you would fall for the charms of a fortune hunting bastard.”

Pierce clenched his jaw while Evelyn moved closer to him. “I do not know what has become of my brother, but you are being extremely rude to a crown prince regardless of how he chooses to live his life.”

Thad opened his mouth to respond, but he was stopped. “Thadius, you are a disgrace to this family in this moment. Leave your sister’s party and I suggest you take your friend with you,” King Reginald bit out behind him.

Thad’s complexion paled. “Father, I was just explaining to Evelyn what her duty is.”

“She knows her duty, however, it seems I have a son who has forgotten his place,” King Reginald seethed. “Go now.”

Thad shot Evelyn a scathing look before slinking off.

King Reginald approached Evelyn. “Happy birthday, my love. Ignore your brother and your mother, go have fun.”

“But Daddy, what about you?” Evelyn asked. She was worried about her father. Thad was beginning to act more and more like a caged animal. Evelyn didn’t like it and was worried for her Father’s safety.

“I will be fine, and you will be fine too,” King Reginald told her. He then kissed her on the cheek and handed her over to Pierce. “You look out for my little girl.”

“Always, Your Majesty,” Pierce answered.

He escorted Evelyn back into the ballroom. There was a dance underway, and Pierce swept her into it so no one would know she had been missing.

Evelyn didn’t notice at first they were dancing. She was too distracted thinking back over what Thad had said, then it suddenly dawned on her that they were dancing. “Pierce, we can’t do this,” Evelyn hissed.

“And why not? Too ashamed to be seen dancing with the help,” Pierce retorted.

Evelyn was stunned by his words. “Not at all. I am dancing the second waltz with you, to dance three dances would be considered scandalous,” Evelyn fretted.

“Do you honestly care about a scandal?” Pierce was looking into her eyes. She could tell he was angry and frustrated, as well as several other emotions warring in his eyes.

“No, I don’t care about a scandal. I would kiss you right here and now to prove my point, but then you would be furious with me. I was just surprised is all,” Evelyn explained.

The music ended and the gong rang out announcing dinner. Pierce led her into the massive dining room.

As Evelyn entered the room, she stopped suddenly and gasped. There, in the center of the table was a beautiful six tiered cake done in the colors of Astonia. On each tier were beautiful orchids crafted out of sugar.

Evelyn’s eyes began to water. The sight was overwhelming. Marabelle had outdone herself. The cake was a site, the food laid out around the table was mouthwatering. She had cooked her favorite cuisine – Chinese. It had been her favorite ever since they had entertained a foreign dignitary a few years back.

Evelyn turned to David. “Where is Marabelle?”

“I shall go fetch her, Your Highness,” David responded.

The guests marveled at the amazing spread before them. Footmen began serving the food and set a plate in front of Evelyn. She took a bite of the sweet and sour pork and closed her eyes. The flavors of the food dance in her mouth.

“You wished to see me, Your Highness,” Marabelle answered. Evelyn’s eyes flew open. She turned to look at the woman next to her. Evelyn’s eyes began to burn and a lump formed in her throat.

It hadn’t hit her until this moment, but Marabelle would probably never make her another birthday meal again. The woman who used to let her bake with her, snuck her treats when she had gotten in trouble, and always made sure she had a proper meal.

When she was sick, Marabelle always made sure she had the freshest broths and soups. Evelyn would never forget the time Marabelle had become extremely ill. She had been about fourteen.

Evelyn went into the kitchen every day for a week and personally made her broth, soup and bread. She had even sat up with her during the worst of her illness and helped mop her brow.

She had been scolded and told she would catch the illness too and to stay away, but to Evelyn, it was worth it to pay back a woman who had always been nothing but kind. Marabelle had never had children, and in a way, she always treated Evelyn with motherly affection.

Evelyn stood suddenly from the table, surprising everyone. She took Marabelle’s hands and whispered, “You have truly outdone yourself. I have no words.”

Marabelle beamed with pride. “Thank you for your generous words, Your Highness. I will let the kitchen staff know.”

Evelyn nodded and smiled. She didn’t trust herself to speak. As she sat back down, Pierce grabbed her hand under the table.

“She knows, Evie. She knows,” Pierce said softly.

“After everything is over tonight, I want to go down and see her.” Pierce nodded. He knew she would sneak down on her own if he told her no.

Dinner was wonderful. The lemon cake had been a true treat. Now Evelyn was back dancing in Pierce’s arms for the final waltz and dance of the evening.

Evelyn let out a small sigh. “What is it my Queen?”

Her cheeks flushed with embarrassment. “I was just thinking about what a truly perfect birthday this has been.”

Pierce chuckled softly. “Are ye sure lass that was all ye was thinking of?”

Her cheeks flushed deeper, which only made Pierce laugh harder. “Ye are a bonnie lass.”

Once the music ended, Pierce led Evelyn from the ballroom towards the kitchen, but they were stopped by Queen Maria.

“Evelyn, my dear, where do you think you are going?”

“I was just going down to the kitchen to talk to Marabelle,” Evelyn replied evenly.

“I do not feel that is wise. She is the help, for god’s sake, Evelyn. I don’t know why you had to make such a show at dinner, but it is embarrassing. Remember your place,” Queen Maria reprimanded.

“Yes, Mother,” Evelyn responded tightly. She turned around and began making her way up the main staircase with Pierce.

Copyright © Meg’s Chronicles 2018 All Rights Reserved

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