“What is happening with them?” Aaron’s eyes narrowed on his mother and Martin. I rolled my eyes and pulled him close as the music started.
“Nothing,” I said and kissed him gently. “He’d have told me.” He nodded. “And them?” I nodded to Annalise and Harran.
“I don’t know,” he frowned. “She needs to decide soon.” I looked at him. “Tristan wrote me.” I fiddled with the buttons on my costume.
“He’s been busy,” I said. “He wrote to Marina and me too.” He laughed. “What do the Provenance leaders think about Harran?”
“They’d prefer Emmett,” he pointed to a young man, only barely a young man at that, standing quietly in the corner. “But since he’s never said two words to her, and he’s four years younger I doubt there’s much hope there.” I laughed. “Harran’s better than Eric, who they completely object to.” I frowned. “Frankly, your brother is looking damn near prudent at this point.”
“Maybe she won’t marry,” I said and sipped on my drink. He looked at me. “It would be good for us. Our children would be in the running as heirs.” I gasped. “Trey would throw a parade.” He laughed and kissed me.
“I’m neglecting you, I’m sorry,” he said. I shrugged. “We should have gone home.”
“She needs us here,” I said softly. He frowned. “Aaron,” I whispered, “we’ll be home soon enough.” He pulled me close.
“Thena,” Lisette bounced over holding Prince Eric’s hand. “Eric is taking me sailing in the morning.” I raised my eyebrows.
“She insisted that you be checked with,” The Prince said to me. I nodded.
“The coast has been clear since our arrival,” Aaron noted, “and Brayton is still in his cell in Dovetail.” I looked at him.
“Your security assesment is appreciated love,” I muttered. Lisette giggled and they ran off. “I thought you said,”
“I said the leaders don’t like the match,” he pointed out, “but I like the side he brings out of her.” I sighed and walked outside. Raymond was sitting out on the terrace and I sat with him. He looked at me.
“Are you all going to kill her?” I asked. He laughed.
“No,” he said, “they’d have sent more competent team for assassination, I can assure you.” I laughed. “Aaron has come around and your brother is gone so I suppose someone has to be the paranoid one.”
“I resent that,” I said. He shrugged. “Where is Randolph tonight?” He frowned. “He didn’t want to come?”
“No,” he said. “It doesn’t matter.” I looked at him. “I want a life here, I thought he did too, but,” I nodded, understanding. I also loved someone who seemed to want something so different from me. “You don’t want us to stay, though.”
“That isn’t true,” I said, “I like you, and I think that Lefty is good for Marina,” he smiled. “You are very good at getting people to talk to you.” He smiled. “You could stay even if the others go.”
“I suppose so,” he said softly. “It would seem ungrateful though.” I shook my head. “Why didn’t you go to Dorin?” I frowned.
“I hate it there,” I finally said out loud. “My Mama used to take us when we were little. And the house was like a tomb. And everyone bowing and scraping to my grandfather,” I shook my head. “Besides we can’t both leave her.” He nodded. “You feel the same way?” He nodded.
“If Lefty stays but Eric goes,” he shrugged. I nodded. “You’ll be a Countess then so what do you care.” I laughed.
“Can I tell you a secret?” I said. He raised an eyebrow sardonically at me. “We’re not going back to Dovetail. Aaron and me, we’re staying in Pantona after the wedding.” He looked at me and nodded.
“That’s quite the secret,” he muttered, “she doesn’t know?” I shook my head.
“We want to make sure that she’s settled, or close to it,” I said. “Eventually, we have to work towards the mandate but I want to be Aaron’s wife, I want to be Athena, not Commander DuGarry.”
“I waited my whole life to be Raymond,” he said, “not Her Majesty’s brother, not the freak or outcast. I can understand the impulse.” I looked at him and nodded. “We should both get back to the party.” I nodded and went back to the ballroom.
“I lost tonight,” Harran walked over. I rolled my eyes.
“You’ll lose tomorrow morning,” I said, “training?” He grinned.
“I’ve missed beating you,” he stuck his hands in his pockets. “See you in the morning.” I laughed and went to Aaron.
“Hello my love,” he said, I pulled close.
“Let’s get back to the palace,” I said. He grinned. “I’m tired and I want you.”
“Alright,” he said and kissed me softly. “I have to say goodbye to Lisette and my mother, I’ll meet you out front.”
“And Marina,” I said, “I’ll come with you,” he nodded and took my hand as we circulated. I tried to suss out what he was seeing between his mother and Martin. Something seems settled between them, but I can’t intuit what. I will absolutely be asking him about it.
The last thing I need is him doing his whole love and leave business with The Countess. I don’t need to watch her float stoically past him as he sighs longingly. I really do not.
“I’m glad you came,” Marina said and hugged me tightly. “I know you didn’t want to.” I laughed.
“It was wonderful,” I said softly, “you were born for this.” She sighed and nodded. We quickly moved outside and walked up the beach to the palace, which was lit up in white light. “What did Tristan write to you?” He shook his head and laughed.
“I think it’s going well enough,” he shrugged. “And he misses you but doesn’t want to worry you.” I smiled. “I wrote him that you miss him but don’t want to worry me.”
“I do miss him,” I said, “and I don’t want to worry you.” He ran his hands through my hair.
“You’re welcome to,” he said softly. “I’ll always worry about you, I can’t help it.” I laughed and we made it back to the palace and fell back into bed.
No matter how else I was feeling, being with Aaron always soothes me.