“I’ll jump in the harbor before sitting down with that man,” Damian said slamming his glass down. Raymond rolled his eyes and Eric sighed loudly. “I’m serious, Eric.”

“You’re being dramatic,” he mumbled and rubbed his fingers in a circle around his temple. I looked at him.

“I don’t think I am,” Damian growled, I put my hand on his arm. I could feel the anger radiating off of him. “It’s like Daniel is trying to annoy us back.”

“It wouldn’t be his stupidest idea,” Raymond said. “Sending Franz to actually lead an invasion would be stupider.”

“Who is he?” I asked. “Athena’s asked me to have him here for dinner, she called it neutral ground.”

“I repeat my intention to jump in the harbor,” Damian said. “He’s a pompous idiot who’s nose is so far up King Daniel’s ass I’m surprised he can breathe.”

“If he were just a sycophant that would be bad enough,” Raymond said, “he also happens to be a favorite of my sister’s which means even if Daniel got sick of him, he’d still have power.” He looked at Eric. “You may have to go home, Eric. Talk them down.”

“It won’t come to that,” Eric said, “we’ll all be at dinner.” Damian growled, “all, Lefty, I won’t hear another word about it.” He looked at me. “You don’t mind?”

“No,” I said, “of course not.” He smiled. “He’ll behave.” Damian glared at me. “Won’t you my love?”

“To spare you embarassment,” he kissed me, “but I won’t like it.” I smiled softly. “I need to check on,” he swallowed.

“Of course,” I said, he needed to make sure that the Addisons were alright, to be with his old friends. “Give them my best.” He nodded and stormed out.

“I don’t envy Dorian Addison right now,” Raymond said and shut the book he was reading. Eric sighed. “Did Franz horse whip him, or something? He’s normally fine with officers.”

“It’s about his mother, isn’t it?” I asked softly. Eric looked at me and nodded. “It usually is.” I sighed. “I need a little more information though.”

“Of course you do,” Eric said. “I don’t know a lot about him personally. Professionally he’s a nightmare, of course, and thinks he’s my superior.”

“I noticed that part,” I said. I looked at Raymond.

“What? You think because I actually lived at court I know all of Elana’s little friends’ foibles?” He sighed. I shrugged. “He’s a flatterer. He already knows Annalise is a lost cause, but he’ll try to get in with you. Probably the Dowager Countess too. He understands how women wield power in Phania. The way you do it here might confuse him, you can use that.”

“I was thinking more what sort of food to serve, but thank you,” I smiled, “that was very helpful.” He shrugged.

“Whatever you serve will be fine,” Eric said with a loud sigh. “Maybe source from the Pharra neighborhood? You can mention it, and he’ll appreciate it?” I frowned. “The Admiral is Pharras, in fact, he’s angling to be appointed governor.”

“So that clears that up,” Raymond said, “are we done? I’m supposed to show Nika the maps we’ve been working on.” Eric nodded and he left.

“The Admiral doesn’t support independence then?” I said. Eric shook his head. “Neither do you, though.”

“Ah, but that’s different,” Eric said, “I’m Phanian, I don’t know any better.” I laughed. “He views it as a betrayal, not helped by Franz’s blunt reminders of Lefty’s birth every chance he gets.”

“He said he out ranks you,” I frowned. “Is that true?”

“Technically, if we were on a ship yes, he’s an admiral, I’m a captain,” Eric shrugged, “but as a senior advisor and the heir, and on foreign soil, we’re about on an even playing field. Daniel likely did just send him verses someone else to annoy me.”

“Well, that’s helpful,” I said. “He’s also middle of the pecking order, I know how to handle that.”

“Oh, you’re funny,” Eric sighed and stretched, before standing up. “Marina, I,” he sighed, “Annalise and I never want our complications to become your complications.” I shrugged.

“I know you all tease me about it but it’s all linked,” I said softly. “My mandate is to aid her mandate, her setbacks are mine. That’s how it works.” He sighed.

“I can still feel guilty about it though, right?” He winked.

“Oh by all means,” I nodded and walked over to my desk and picked up a pen. “Torture yourself, that doesn’t bother me at all.” He walked over and kissed me on the cheek.

“If we go back,” he said, “you’re really coming with us?”

“That is the current plan yes,” I said softly. He nodded. “Why?”

“I’m working on a letter to my sister in law,” he shrugged, “I light mention of you wouldn’t go amiss.” I rolled my eyes. “This is all very delicate.”

“I know that,” I said, “so does he. But we can’t make him be happy about it Eric.”

“No,” he sighed, “I suppose we can’t.” He looked at me.

“Do you need something else?” I said. He sighed loudly. “Eric, I really do have a lot to do.”

“If Tristan Dugarry comes back,” he said. I sighed.

“When he comes back,” I said, “he is always going to come back.” He nodded. “She’ll choose you,” I said softly. He smiled sadly.

“You’re so sure?” He asked. I nodded. “Why?”

“Because he’s not coming back for her,” I said simply. “Not in that way. He’s coming back for his family and his duty, with a wife, who, unless he’s lying to me in his letters, he’s quite fond of.” Eric nodded. “And if I’m wrong, we’ll handle that too,” I swallowed. He nodded. “Are you,” I swallowed, “are you only asking for yourself?” He smiled sadly.

“He doesn’t know how to bring it up,” he admitted. I sighed. “You two are writing then?”

“Yes,” I said softly. “We’ve always written, when we aren’t together. Tristan’s my oldest friend, Eric, before he’s anything else.” He nodded. “He doesn’t mention her much, which is different.” He sighed and nodded. “We can’t do this without him,” I swallowed, “Athena and me, I mean. We need him.”

“Fine,” he said and stood up. “But you can’t expect us to be happy about it.” I snorted.

“Don’t worry,” I muttered as he left. “I don’t.”


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