It's been three months since Dalia and Miles' wedding, currently they're touring the kingdoms as their honeymoon, being treated like kings and queens wherever they go, they send the occasional postcard saying where they are or how there doing, mostly happy to be married and hopelessly in love.
Soraya is still in Corallone, her dad and brothers went home a couple of months ago. But Ray stayed, and I'm really glad she did. I mean I miss her when I'm gone for a day doing work and she's in the kingdom never mind if she went back to Bamberall.
Recently I've been getting some more responsibilities since Miles is away. I guess I've been picking up all the work he didn't do. Which means I'm really busy. A lot of the time. But I enjoy it, I mean it's exactly what I knew I was signing up for when I accepted my title as Crown Princess Of Corallone.
It means paperwork, a lot of paperwork and meetings, which are not as boring as Genevieve used to portray them as. I enjoy taking notes and finding solutions to problems or negotiating someone out of a stupid idea. Leon seems to appreciate my help too. Lola enjoys the company when I join her as a consultant for the people every afternoon for an hour. And the people seem to like seeing me help out, even if it is only for an hour every day, only during the week. The one bad thing is that I can't spend time with Ray but she says she's fine. Apparently she's getting to know Shade. Which I find amusing. Shade has proven to be stubborn, sarcastic and realistic. The stubbornness I can deal with, the sarcasm too. But the realism is quite grating sometimes when you wake up and hear Shade shout as he stubs his toe on the side of the bath "Oh my goodness that hurt but the pain might not be real but it still hurts." Which is a really long curse for stubbing a single toe.
Currently I'm sitting at my desk in my room, with a stack of paperwork in front of me, just begging to be started. Most of it is signing warrants for people or approving plans for things. Occasionally it's filling a form in saying that we're going to donate this amount of money to a certain charity. As I pick up my pen and open the first brown paper folder containing the first of many papers needing signing, a pair of arms slips around my shoulders, the head resting in the crook of my neck.
"Good morning Ray." I say swivelling around to face her and being met by a kiss on the lips.
"Good morning Lia." She murmurs against my lips before walking away, her hair swaying around her shoulders, "I'm going to take a shower." She says before disappearing into the bathroom.
Ray's been staying with me since the wedding, since we both said the "L" word. Which she doesn't know I remember her saying back after I said it in my drunken state after the wedding. To be honest I don't really remember most of the reception, it's all a bit of a fuzzy blur. I turn back to the paperwork and get started. The first one is a cheque that needs signing to donate three thousand pounds to a charity that helps one of the orphanages in the city. The next a form that says we can build a new estate so more people can have homes.
As I sign the last cheque I check the time to see that it's past lunch time, and realise that I haven't eaten at all today. Picking up all the brown paper folders I leave my rooms and head for the throne room, intending to drop the papers off in Leon's office on the way. Knocking on Leon's door I wait outside to hear the "come in." That I usually get straight away. But this time I hear voices, raised voices inside, one is Leon's deep voice, and the other is a mans but not one I've ever heard before. A shattering sound forces me to push aside the feeling that I'm disobeying Leon and enter the room to see a man with light brown hair, wearing a waistcoat and jeans, stood with his back to me, his hands raised in surrender.
To his left I see a smashed vase, flowers strewn across the floor.
"Is everything alright? I heard something smash" I say catching their attention.
"Yes Lillia, it's alright, did you want me?" Leon says sighing.
"Oh, no, I just wanted to give you these signed papers." I reply innocently, "I don't believe we've met, I'm Princess Lillia." I address to the stranger.
"Nice to meet you. Lord Rowan Everfall." He smiles slightly before hurriedly leaving the room, nodding at Leon on his way out.
"I didn't mean to intrude. I honestly just wanted to drop these off for you on my way to get some lunch. I was planning on waiting outside until they came out but then I heard the smash and got worried. I'm sorry." I say to Leon quickly, worried I interrupted something important.
"Lillia it's alright, I don't mind, I was verging on hitting him but then you intervened." Leon replies with a relieved sigh, "Anyway, you'd better get some food. Thanks for these." He indicates to the stack of papers I've just dumped on his desk as I head to the door. I walk down the steps to the kitchen, my heels clip-clopping on the stone steps as I do. The sweltering heat of the ovens hits me as soon as I descend the last step, the hustle and bustle and the constant chatter smothering my ears almost instantly. Annabelle runs up to me, wrapping her slim frame around my waist in a hug.
"I haven't seen you in ages!" She gushes, "We need to catch up soon, but for now what are you doing down here?"
I smile at her enthusiasm, "I just wanted something to eat, but I didn't expect it to be so busy down here, what's going on?"
"Well," She starts, "Lord Everfall and his son are here for the first time in like thirty years, and so the Queen has organised a feast for everyone."
"And his son?" I say slightly confused, the Lord Everfall I met five minutes ago did not look like he had a son.
"Yeah, Rowan I think his name is." Annabelle says with a thoughtful look on her face.
"Hmm." I reply, "Well can I just have a sandwich, like any filling apart from sweet corn and tuna. No fish actually."
Annabelle nods, then rushes off to make it for me. As I wait, the new mistress comes out of the office and all the maids stop what they're doing and stand silent and still as she walks towards them, not noticing me stood in the corner.
She's wearing a black pencil skirt with a purple blouse and her hair is twisted into a tight knot. Her face is harsh but there is a slight glint in her eyes that suggests she can be kind. I stand smirking slightly waiting to hear what she says. She looks at Annabelle stood at the chopping board, the bread and chicken sat on the chopping board, the knife laid to the side.
"Why are you making a sandwich for yourself? We don't have time for that. We have a banquet to prepare and not very long to do that. Put that away and get back to work."
"Ma'am I was.."
"I don't want to hear your sorry excuses. Get back to work immediately."
Smirking even more now I decide to speak up, "Annabelle, is my sandwich ready? I have a meeting with Lola in five minutes."
"I'm sorry but Annabelle doesn't have time to make sandwiches for visitors right now." The mistress says not even bothering to look at me.
"Well I'm ordering her to make it." I say using a slightly more authoritative voice than before.
"Well you cannot order her to do anything unless you're a member of this royal household." She retaliates.
"Well then it's a good job that I'm Crown Princess then. Annabelle, carry on making the sandwich and everyone else can get back to work as well." I say finally using my full voice and slightly raising it just to rub it in. The mistress whips around to face me and takes in my tiara and my heels and my entire stance, the colour drains slightly from her face then she says apologetically "Oh. I'm so sorry. I didn't realise. Princess Lillia I am sorry I didn't realise it was you."
"Honestly it's alright. I'm glad you know the rules and abide by them. I'm also glad you run a tight ship however. You need to be a little less harsh, maybe. Now thank you Annabelle for the sandwich." I say to Annabelle as she hands the sandwich to me.
I take it and walk back up the stairs, eating on the way to my meeting with Lillia. I have to say the sandwich is delicious. I lick my fingers as I enter the main hall, already full of people queueing for advice from me and Lola. Lola's already started because I can hear her talking from her throne. Ascending the steps I take my seat and as she finishes giving her advice she pauses the next person with her hand for a moment and looks to me for an explanation.
"I got held up talking to Leon and then I needed food because I hadn't eaten since yesterday. Sorry." I say apologetically.
She nods before beckoning the next person forwards and gesturing for them to speak.
"My Queen, Princess, I have no money and no food, I have three children, fifteen, sixteen and seventeen. Their mother works full time in the hospital and never stops, the eldest and middle children work part time and the youngest is in school. I have no job but I need one to pay off the debt we owe for the house. Do you have a job for me here? I'll take anything."
We turn to each other, both of us thinking through the jobs we have here and if we need anymore people.
A thought comes to me and I say to the man who stands fiddling with his hands "The gardeners need a hand. They're a man down because he moved away so they could use someone to fill the gap. It's part time and hard work but I'm sure you'd be up for it."
He nods enthusiastically "I'd love to. I love gardening. It's one of my passions, thank you so much! So. So much!" He shakes mine and Lola's hands before rushing out of the hall probably going straight home to tell his family.
As the hour draws to a close, less and less people arrive, probably planning on returning tomorrow instead. The last person, satisfied with the advice given walks out the door and immediately Lola and I sag our shoulders and sigh in relief that the hour is over. Then the bell rings for dinner meaning it's the feast for Lord Everfall and his son, Rowan. I think again to the argument I overheard earlier and how that fares for this feast to go, with or without tension. I'm guessing with but then I remember that I get to see Ray for the first time since this morning and that makes me smile. I get up and descend the steps with Lola at my side, both of us exhausted and hungry and heading straight for the banquet hall. We enter and take our seats, Leon already sat waiting along with Nathan and June whom I kiss on their cheeks and hug before taking my seat, delighted to see them. They normally have their meals in their quarter so I don't see them all that often but occasionally I'll go and have afternoon tea with them but I've been too busy recently to be able to. But maybe once Miles gets back then I can take it up again.