I woke up in the morning to my mother throwing open the drapes of me room.

“Mother,” I groaned and pulled my covers over my head. “No one will be calling this morning. Please.”

“What about Tristan?” She said. I grumbled and rubbed my eyes sitting up. “And the general? They said they’d be at breakfast.”

“They’ll train first,” I yawned. She glared at me. “Oh alright,” I mumbled. I pushed out of bed and got dressed quickly. “Mama,” I said softly as she tightened my laces, “Last night, Tristan asked me to go to Brightcoast with him, if they have to leave.” She frowned.

“That’s ridiculous,” she said, “you aren’t married yet and it will be very dangerous.” I swallowed.

“Yes, but,” I said softly, “if I’m going to join the guard, and we’re going to war, I should start training.” She looked at me.

“Your father won’t like it,” she said softly. She cupped my face. “There’s no rush, my darling.” I swallowed.

“But,” I stuttered, and she left. I sighed and sat down. Emily walked in after her. “Good morning.”

“Good morning,” she said softly. “Are you alright? I can’t believe Papa brought Andrei to your engagement party.” I shook my head and laughed.

“That’s the least of my problems right now,” I said. She looked at me and frowned. “Did you and Alex have a nice evening?”

“Yes,” she said and bit the inside of her cheek. I looked at her. I wondered if they’d quarrelled. Knowing just how fickle Alex could be, I didn’t think that was good, “I just wish that now that it’s all settled with you and Tristan, we could begin getting settled.” I laughed and hugged her.

“I agree,” I said, “you should absolutely be getting settled as soon as possible.” She looked at me.

“Are you feeling alright?” She said. I nodded. “I can tell you, Alex and his mother aren’t at all happy about General Martin showing up.”

“Tristan mentioned that The General often clashes with the family,” I explained, we walked out and downstairs to the dining room. Father was sitting at the table, anxiously drumming his fingers.

“Papa,” Emily said, “you look perturbed.” He frowned.

“Caro,” he sighed. I looked at him and poured myself a cup of tea, “as I understand it my delayed breakfast is Tristan’s fault.” I swallowed.

“I’m sure he’ll be along presently,” I said. I was done managing my father. Last night was my last straw. “Is Captain Arain not joining us?” He narrowed his eyes at me. “Tristan mentioned he was interested to speak further with him.”

“What’s this?” Tristan said walking in, followed by General Martin.

“Nothing,” I smiled as he kissed me on the cheek. “Hello General.” He smiled and sat down next to me.

“Good Morning, Miss DuKarras,” he grinned, “Mr. DuKarras, thank you for having us.” Father snorted

“I don’t believe you had a chance to meet Emily last night,” Tristan said motioning to me sister. The General took her hand and kissed it. She blushed a little. I didn’t blame her. Old enough to be our father, maybe, but the General is incredibly handsome.

“I did not, but I’m glad to,” he said. “Trey tells me that Alex is quite attached to you. I hope we can count on you influencing him to be as supportive as the family’s been in the past.”

“Of course,” she said, “I’m a loyal subject of Queen Annalise, and as my sister will be in the guard as well,” she shrugged. He winked at me and I smiled. “Are we really going to war?”

“Hopefully not,” The General sighed, and picked up a pastry from a tray that had been brought out, “Annalise and Prince Eric had been arguing but they seem to have mended things. Of course there’s always the possibility that their courtship was always just a delaying tactic for King Daniel, but,” Tristan caught his eye and with pursed lips, shook his head once. He cleared his throat. “Excuse me, I’m out of practice with company. I was exiled from Brayton’s court for a year and Annalise and The Dowager Countess never really expect conversation from me.”

“That’s a lie,” Tristan said with a laugh, “The Dowager Countess expects conversation from everyone. She just loves you enough to put up with strategy talk at dinner.” I laughed. “You slept alright?” He asked me.

“Yes, very well,” I said. “General, my mother and I were disagreeing this morning, but I felt it was important for me to go to Brightcoast as soon as possible to begin training.”

“Oh certainly,” Martin nodded. “I think that’s for the best.” I smiled and sipped my tea. “We’ll have to decide where to best place you of course.”

“I would have thought with Prince Eric,” Emily said, her voice very chipper, “isn’t that traditional? Tristan, didn’t you say that your mother was placed with Queen Marie for that reason?”

“Yes, but I don’t want to presume anything,” I said. I looked at Tristan, I wanted reassurance from him.

“Regardless, Tristan tells me you’ll come with us when we leave soon?” The General said. I nodded. “I’m glad to hear it.”

“Hold on,” Father said, “I don’t believe we agreed to anything of the kind.” I looked at him.

“We’re discussing it now,” I said, “after all before our engagement I was going to go to Rastan, wasn’t I? How is this different?” He glared at me. I knew exactly why it was different. Rastan was his plan, Andrei was loyal to him, would keep me close. Tristan turned and looked at him.

“I can assure you, Mr. DuKarras,” Tristan said, “everything will be perfectly appropriate. I’ve already written a letter to Duchess Marina asking if Caro could stay with her until our plans return to normal.” I looked at him. Mama’s eyes grew wide.

“Really?” She said. I swallowed and Tristan slid his hand into mine. “And you think the Duchess will accept?”

“Yes,” Tristan said with a shrug. “Why wouldn’t she? We’re old friends, she’s been very supportive in her letters.”

“She’s quite young, isn’t she?” Emily said. Tristan smiled at her.

“She’s your age,” he said, “so old enough to know her own mind.” Emily giggled. “She’s looking forward to meeting you, Caro.” I swallowed.

“I’m looking forward to meeting her as well,” I said softly. “Papa,” I looked at him. He frowned at me.

“I won’t stand in the way,” he sighed, “but I don’t approve.”

“Good then,” the General smiled, “if you have a few moments, sir, perhaps we could discuss what can be spared to defend your country.” Father’s eye twitched and they stood up and walked out. Emily frowned.

“Well that was awful,” she muttered. Tristan sighed and looked at me.

“You did very well,” he smiled. I sighed.

“I can’t be left behind again,” I swallowed. He nodded. “I mean it, Tristan, I just can’t.” He stood up and sat down next to me and took my hand.

“I know that,” he said softly, “I won’t, ever, I swear it.” I nodded and kissed him gently.

“Alright,” I said. Emily snorted. “Oh what.”

“Nothing,” she said, “but you two are never allowed to mock Alex and I again.”

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