What Is It?

That night I sat on my bed as Olivia combed out and braided my hair.

“The beef was good,” she said. I nodded. “Did you have a nice morning?”

“I think so,” I said, eyeing the violets now sitting on my vanity. She nodded. “The Dumanis train is in town.”

“Ah,” she said, “I imagine that diverted Tristan.” I twisted and looked at her. “Andrea or Brie?”

“Charlotte, Andrea’s daughter,” I said, “you know them?” I asked. She laughed.

“I was supposed to bring Charlotte out at court, if you can believe it,” she said, “of course things changed.” I nodded. “I would have asked about Trey but I know he’d never come here.”

“Anyway, then we went to the inn, and Tristan and William behaved very oddly,” I sighed as she turned my head back to continue braiding.

“I’d imagine they would,” she said, “William’s no fool, he can spot when he has a rival.” I looked at her. “Darling, you’re not that naive, you must have realized Tristan’s regard for you.”

“Well, I suppose,” I said, “but, William??” She laughed and turned my head again.

“He came to us last year and asked to marry you,” she said. I was speechless. “We obviously couldn’t say yes, but Caleb told him you were too young, and that we were certainly not going to make such a decision for you, and that he was free to continue your friendship and ask you in a few years.”

“William has been courting me?” I asked. She laughed. “He must think I’m dense.”

“I think he thinks you’re discreet,” she said, “and now I think he thinks that he has competition.” She finished my hair. “Besides which, it’s good practice for you. Once everything is settled you’ll only have more suitors, not fewer. Not to mention it can be fun.”

“It doesn’t seem fun,” I muttered. “I like William, we’re friends and Tristan,” I sighed. “How did you do it?”

“Rather poorly in retrospect but I thought I was brilliant,” she grinned. “You’ll do fine. You’ve never lead William on, and once he learns the truth he’ll back off.”

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