I made my way down to the breakfast room with a smile on my face. I couldn’t shake it. It was stuck there every time I thought about seeing Ash again. And as she was always on my mind since the moment she stepped off the shuttle, I had a silly grin on my face the whole time.
When I entered the breakfast room, I smiled at my children already sitting there. Laylar and Tomlee sat next to each other on the left side of the table and Asytar and Azmurtas on the right.
“Good morning,” I said as I came in.
They all greeted me and I went around the table and gave each of them a kiss on the head, before sitting down in my place at the head of the table.
I listened to them speaking to each other and smiled at the silly conversations.
The door opened again and when Ash entered, I got so excited, I stood up.
She met my eyes, “Good morning, your highness,” she said with a small bow.
“Good morning,” I said and sat back down again. Laylar frowned at me then looked at Ash.
“Good morning everyone,” Connie said with a smile
“Ash, come sit next to me,” Tomlee called with a bright smile.
They both sat down and I gave the staff a nod to signal they could serve breakfast.
As the food came out, I watched Ash eye every item on the table.
“Try this,” Connie said, handing her a Pali fruit, “Just don’t eat the skin.”
“Thanks,” Ash said and I licked my lips as I watched her cut into the flesh of the fruit then take a small bite. A little drop of the juice ran down her chin and I shifted in my seat.
“Father,” Laylar said breaking me out of my thoughts.
“Yes, Laylar?” I said, looking down at my plate.
“Are you alright?”
“I’m fine,” I said and reached out for my own Pali.
“Since when do you like Pali fruit?” Tomlee asked me and I met her eyes.
“Since today, is that alright with you?”
She laughed, “You’re so silly, father.” I picked up my knife and began peeling the skin off. When I looked up again, I couldn’t tear my eyes off Ash and the way she licked her lips, the way her mouth moved to chew, and the movement of her neck when she swallowed.
“Father, you are making a mess,” Laylar whispered to me. I looked down and realized I had missed my plate completely and the table was now stained with red drops and peels.
I let out a breath, “It’s not a mess. The king does not make a mess. This is the way a Pali fruit shall be peeled from this day forth, as decreed by the king.”
The younger children found that to be extremely funny, but Laylar just narrowed her eyes at me.
She shook her head and returned to her breakfast. After a while, the children began to leave the breakfast room, far more interested in playing outside. When Laylar finally left to go to the scholars, I asked, “So I hear you wish to explore the palace today.”
Connie nodded, “Yes. I don’t know much of it myself, and Ash only saw the grand hall and her bedroom.”
“It’s very easy to get lost in these halls. Perhaps you would like a guide?”
The women exchanged a look then nodded, “Yeah that might be a good idea. The last thing we want is to go into a room we are not allowed in.”
“Good, then it’s settled, I will show you around once breakfast is finished.”