Content Warning: This story contains references to and descriptions of Domestic Child Abuse. If you are aware of or suffering from Child Abuse, please contact your state CPS, (A list of United States CPS Agencies can be found at childwelfare.gov) or if you are in crisis contact the Crisis Text Line at 741-741
30 Years Before Annalise Is Crowned
“What do you think of her?” Olivia Bano said, sitting in the corner of the reception room as Marie SanPierre, the new girl from Phania was standing dear the Royal Family’s dais talking to Prince Anton.
“I think you are much prettier than she is,” John Dugarry said quickly.
“I have you too well trained,” she narrowed her eyes at him. He shrugged. “Look at how Anton is looking at her.” She sighed.
“Your father isn’t here you don’t need to pretend,” John said inspecting his nails. “Run along and make love with Tom in a closet or whatever it is you two have been up to for the past few months, I have to make sure this Phanian girl isn’t carrying poison.” She whacked him in the arm. “Ow!”
“How did you know about Tom and me?” She hissed. He laughed.
“It is the worst kept secret at court, Livvie,” he said. She frowned. “Before you ask of course Anton knows.” She sighed. “You didn’t really want to be Queen?”
“No” she said, and then sighed, “I mean a little, but it’s Anton, every time he touched me I just wanted to giggle and not in the good way.” John snorted.
“I can see that,” he said. “Your father doesn’t know.” She inhaled and looked at him. “But he’ll figure it out soon Livvie.”
“And I will handle it,” she said. He sighed. “I will. I always do.”
“I won’t cover for you this time,” he said. She looked down. “Anton won’t stand for it. Tom won’t.” He swallowed. “I shouldn’t.” He looked down. She stared daggers at him.
“He is my father,” she said. “He loves me and wants what is best for me.”
“What’s best for you is not both you eyes blacked and not being able to sit down for a week,” John said. She frowned. “Come to Dorin with Tom and me. You can enlist in the guard!” She rolled her eyes.
“I am not joining the guard and I am not leaving court to go to Dorin,” she said. “I’ve never understood this obsession of yours.”
“I am marrying according to my family’s cultural traditions,” he said. “And also I like Alexia, from her letters.” Olivia shrugged.
“If you say so,” she said.
“Lady Olivia,” A tall young man with auburn hair almost the same as hers walked past. “Sir John.”
“Viscount,” she blushed and curtsied gently. John bowed and then scowled at her. “Are you very happy that Lord Lestat has returned?”
“I have missed him,” Caleb Pantona nodded. “And his sister is a lovely girl, don’t you think?”
“Oh, I haven’t gotten to speak to her yet,” she giggled. “But I look forward to getting to know her.” The Viscount smiled and moved along.
“What was that?” John asked staring at her.
“Nothing,” she said and pushed her hair behind her ears. “He asked my father for permission to court me. It’s very common out in the country apparently.”
“I didn’t mean the Viscount panting at you, trust me I recalll that. ” he said, “I meant you encouraging it.” She rolled her eyes.
“Lady Olivia,” Tom Martin, his dark blonde hair cropped short and his guard uniform crisp. Olivia melted as they met eyes.
“Captain Martin,” she smiled. “John.”
“Trouble,” John muttered and took a big gulp of his drink as they took one another’s hands and slipped away. “Both of you.” Olivia stuck her tongue out at him as they slipped away into an empty room. He pulled her close and kissed her.
“Don’t go to Dorin,” she whispered. He laughed.
“It won’t change anything,” he said softly, “and I gave John my word.” She nodded. “I’m in love with you, Livvie.” She smiled.
“So stay with me,” she said. He kissed her again. “Please.” He sighed and slipped his hand through her hair.
“I promised,” he said softly. “Besides which, you have other commitments too.” She looked down.
“If you mean Anton and me, it isn’t anything,” she said. “I want you, I’ve only ever loved you.” He smiled and kissed her and she drew him back to a couch.
“I only love you too,” he said softly. She swallowed and nodded. She didn’t know if she believed him. Tom’s love felt unsettled. But his touch, and kiss were intoxicating, the feeling of him inside of her too good. And he was Tom.
He was handsome and brave and kind and adored her. Her father wouldn’t be happy, he wanted a grand match for her. But she would figure it out.
Tom was trying not to laugh as John paced back and forth in the very large and ornate receiving room of the Dumanis House in Dovetail.
“I think the summer palace is smaller than this room,” Tom said. John glared at him. “Your in laws, are clearly wealthy, congratulations.”
“You’re supposed to be helping me,” John groaned, “this is not helpful.”
“Sorry,” Tom said, “how can I help? I could ask Jeremy to sell a farm so that I can give you a proper gift.” John looked at him and laughed.
“I am in so over my head,” he groaned. “Have you heard from Livvie?” Tom nodded.
“Mm,” he nodded, “Anton is in love with Marie Sanpierre. She is devastated.”
“I’m sure,” John said.
“Drea, what exactly is the big emergency,” a boy about their age bound into the room. Tom stared at him. He let out a laugh from his throat, “you’re not Drea.”
“No,” Tom said and stood up, “I’m Tom Martin this um,”
“John Dugarry,” The boy sighed, “I forgot that you were coming today. I’m Tristan DuManis, Trey, they call me Trey.” John nodded.
“Nice to meet you,” John said, “is your sister coming? Anytime soon?”
“Lexi?” Trey said. “Did you let her know you were coming about six hours ago?” Tom laughed.
“Trey,” a girl walked in, “stop it.” John looked over at her. Tom smiled, “I’m sorry for keeping you waiting, my father, and my sisters,” she exhaled. “I’m Alexia.”
“John,” Tom said, seeing his friend standing slack jawed. She was beautiful. Blonde hair and green eyes, and she was dressed in a green gown that was clearly designed to invoke the guard uniform. A nice touch. “This is the part where you talk.” Trey laughed from the corner and Tom smiled at him.
“I’m John,” he said softly, “and it’s nice to finally meet you.” She smiled.
“And this is the part where we leave,” Trey stood up. “Good luck.” Tom laughed and followed him out. “She hasn’t eaten in a week.”
“He may have caused more damage to his weapons than good with how much he was cleaning them on the ride,” Tom shook his head. “I suppose you’re next?”
“For the marriage market?” Trey asked. Tom shrugged. “No, I’m not,” he shook his head. “I don’t, not with girls, anyway, and the contracts don’t really allow for,” Tom smiled.
“I understand,” he said. “And it’s good to know.” Trey smiled back at him.
“I should let my father know that I’m here,” Trey said pointing in the general direction fo the hall. “Nice meeting you.” He walked away.
“You too,” Tom smiled. Then he exhaled. “What am I doing?” He mumbled.
“So that’s it then?” Tom stared at Olivia, “you’re going to marry him, throw it all away?”
“Throw what away?” She said calmly, her brown eyes full of tears. “Throw away you and Anton glaring at each other over dinner, while everyone pretends not to notice? Except he’s moved on too. Throw away you spending most of your time with Trey Dumanis and acting like I don’t notice the way you look at each other.” He looked away. “Throw away you leaving for six months? I love you, I do,” she whispered, “but you were gone.”
“Your father must be pleased,” he muttered. One last arrow, the only one left. She swallowed.
“He is, actually,” she said softly. “I love you, Tom. I’ve always loved you and I always will, but Caleb loves me. He’s a good man, and he’ll take care of me.”
“I love you,” he whispered. “I’ll take care of you.” He stepped closer and cupped her face. “Livvie,” he said and kissed her.
“You didn’t deny it,” she whispered. He looked at her. “You and Trey.”
“He’s a boy with a crush, Livvie,” he sighed. “It will pass. I’m yours.” She shook her head.
“You’ve never been mine,” she said. “And I’m tired of pretending.” She turned around and left.
Later that night Tom sat quietly on the steps outside of The Barracks, the large building where most of The Royal Guard lived. He’d thought he’d be leaving it soon. Married officers took homes, his brother had offered him a place on his land.
“There you are,” Alexia Dumanis practically skipped over. Tom smiled. He’d become very fond of her. He didn’t have sisters but he imagined if he did he’d care about them how he did Lexi. “You had promised not to abandon us. Instead Trey and I have been stuck at dinner with all those stuffy nobles.”
“I’m sorry,” he said softly. “Where’s John, I believe that’s his job really?” She sat beside him.
“John is with Prince Anton,” she said, “planning Lady Marie’s security.” He nodded. “How was your evening?”
“Lady Olivia is getting married.” He said softly. Alexia nodded. “I shouldn’t be surprised, I left for six months.”
“I’m sorry,” Alexia said, “I imagine you love her very much.” He looked at her and nodded. “She’s very beautiful. I can’t say I’m too upset though. I would be very happy to call you brother.” He laughed.
“Am I that blind?” He asked. She smiled slyly.
“Trey is cautious, and Papa thinks you’re a menace, but if you don’t see it then, yes, Tom Martin, you are blind.” She kissed him on the cheek. Tom nodded. He stood up and walked out of the palace and down the market to the large and ornate townhouse that The Dumanis family had recently purchased. He stepped in the front door and turned seeing Trey sitting in the parlor.
“What are you doing here?” Trey asked quietly. “Aren’t you supposed to be with Lady Olivia tonight?” Tom nodded. “So, why aren’t you?”
“I want to try something,” Tom walked over and kissed him gently. Trey lit up and they pulled close. “Alright, good, then, that’s good.”
“Do you have any idea how long I’ve been waiting for that?” The younger boy smiled. Tom grinned back at him.