We were sitting in Trey’s office, all of us, lined up on one side of the desk and Grandfather on the other. Well, Martin wasn’t sitting, he was standing leaning against the door.
“As I see it,” Grandfather began, “we have an excellent opportunity, with Tristan finally deciding to do his duty by his family,” Martin snorted, and I shot him a glare, he held up his hands. “Athena will be making her home in the Midlands, and there are several families who would be happy to expand their territory there, with daughters the appropriate age.”
“And why are we here, then?” Martin said. Trey sighed and pressed his fingers against the bridge of his nose. “If it will be so easy, I don’t see why I need to be consulted. You all know I think it’s a bad idea, that it goes against Alexia’s wishes, my wishes as his guardian,”
“Tom, everyone knows your objections,” Trey said, “but it’s Tristan’s decision.” Tristan was silent, I wanted to know what he was thinking but he wouldn’t meet my eyes, so I couldn’t even guess. “We need to know you’ll stand behind him. And you, Athena, and Count Aaron.”
“Of course Aaron and I will stand behind him,” I said. “Was that ever in question?” Tristan looked at me and his face softened.
“And his place in the guard is assured?” Grandfather said. “As it was with his father, it is a large part of his appeal. A rise in station for the girl.” Tom sighed and looked down.
“I would not dismiss Tristan,” he said, “only a fool would let go of such a soldier willingly, but as he likely told you, the decision is not entirely mine. The Guard serves at The Queen’s pleasure.” Trey nodded.
“I told them,” Tristan said, “she won’t ask me to step down.”
“For the moment, but a jealous young girl’s judgement,” Grandfather started. I stood up then. “Where are you going?”
“I won’t stand here and listen to you insult her,” I said. “She is your Queen, and would never,” I looked at Tristan, “how dare you?”
“Athena,” Trey said softly, “No one is insulting Queen Annalise, there is a concern, that she may, well, change her mind regarding Tristan’s position given they are no longer,” he waved his hand.
“She wouldn’t do that,” Tristan said, I saw him gripping the arms of his chair. “As I’ve been saying all afternoon.”
“And I think Carland is insulting her a little,” Martin said, “though I understand the idea of loyalty beyond immediate gratification is unthinkable to him.” Grandfather stood up at that.
“If I had my way Thomas Martin you’d have been,” he was seething and thought better of it.
“Always a pleasure to hear your empty threats, sir,” he said glibly, he looked over at Trey, “I genuinely thought we could get past all this.”
“Perhaps your time in Pantona will help you,” Trey said. Tom nodded.
“Speaking of you going to Pantona,” Tristan said, “I can’t leave for Dorin before Martin and Count Aaron return. I can’t leave the Queen that vulnerable.” Grandfather nodded. “You know my other stipulations for the contracts.”
“Of course,” Trey said.
“Then we’re done here,” Tristan stood up and we all three walked out. We got out into the street. “How many times has he threatened to have you killed?” Martin laughed.
“I lost count around my twentieth birthday,” he shrugged. “He’d never do it, for all our problems, Trey would never forgive him.” I smiled. “You’re sure about this?”
“I am,” Tristan said, but his voice was caught in his throat. “It worked for my parents, after all.”
“They were lucky,” Tom said softly, “and your mother was an uncommon person.” Tristan smiled. “Whoever she winds up being, you know I will welcome her.” Tristan nodded and looked at me.
“When I’m a countess,” I muttered, “I’m going to ban him from Pantona,” I said, “Trey and the Aunts may come, but if he sets foot on my land I’ll throw him in a dungeon.”
“I don’t think Pantona has a dungeon,” Tristan laughed as we started walking.
“Well then I’ll build one,” I scowled, “and throw him in it. As if Annalise would dismiss you,” I sighed, they were both laughing. “It isn’t funny,” I said.
“It’s a little funny,” Martin smiled. “I am glad to finally have you on my side though, Thena.” I looked at him and nodded, we walked back to the palace and I got to my apartment to find Aaron waiting.
“How did it go?” He asked. I sighed and straddled him on the couch and kissed him. “Oh that well?”
“I yelled at my grandfather again,” I said, “I don’t think he’ll put up with a third time.”
“Do you still want to ban all Dumanis business in Pantona?” He asked. “We can if you really want to. The tenants might be disappointed but they’ll get over not having anyone to sell animals or crops to, or buy city goods from.” I shook my head.
“No, we can’t ban the family,” I muttered, “but he insulted Lisette!” We kissed again.
“Thena,” he whispered as I moved my hands down to his waistband, “we have to go to dinner with my mother.”
“We can be quick,” I assured him. “I need you.” He smiled and ran his hands through my hair, and I pushed his pants down. His hands moved up my thighs.
“You’re the most incredible woman,” He mumbled, as I arched my back letting him into me. I writhed, riding him until we both finished. “I’m going to miss you so much.” He whispered.
“I’ll miss you too,” I said and stood up and went to clean up. “Why are we going to your mother?”
“Lisette wants her to get to know The Prince,” he sighed and leaned back.
“And this isn’t possible in the banquet room?” I frowned. It wasn’t that I didn’t love an evening with Countess Olivia, but the idea of more family time is overwhelming right now.
“According to my mother, no,” he said and stood up. I laughed. “Thena,” he said softly, “what if we got married, and you came back to Pantona with me?” I looked at him.
“I want that more than anything,” I said softly. “Really, I do.” He smiled. “But my brother,” he sighed, “and Martin and Lisette.” He nodded. “And your father, do you want us to get married before he’s at rest?” He sighed and hugged me around the waist.
“I suppose not, but if he hadn’t died we’d be married already,” he pointed out. I shook my head.
“That’s morbid, my love,” I said, “go, I have to get presentable.” He sighed and kissed me again.
“Fine,” he muttered. “See your later.” I swatted him on his way out.