When I turned around, wanting to go back to the table, I saw Malachy’s amused face. That made me blush, starting with my face and spreading over my neck down to my shoulders. “You heard every word, didn’t you?”
Malachy started to laugh heartily and replied: “There is no point in denying it! This was one of the most interesting conversations, I had the luck to be able to accidently listen in on, in quite a while.”
I frowned and pouted a bit: “It’s not nice to listen in on a lady!”
Malachy’s eyes sparkled with amusement. “Guilty to the Lord! By your mentioning of the nipple stickers, I wasn’t able to not listen to what you had to say, anymore. I tried my best to be a gentleman, but at the end of the day I am just a man.” He had to laugh out loud in amusement, again.
I slowly went back to the table, sat on a stool and tried to sink into it. I put both hands over my cheeks, to hide my embarrassed blush. I wished the ground would open and swallow me up.
“Maggie, next time if you want to keep a conversation from me, you should make sure to put more distance between us, than fifty meters. But you should already know that from your brother Darius…”
I looked at him curiously. “What do you mean? Isn’t your azure blood serum giving you other powers, than the one granted to the house of warriors?”
Now Malachy’s grin gave way to a serious look. “They really didn’t teach you anything…”
I looked at him pricked and replied: “When should they have done that? I have already told you, that I was informed about my maternal lineage in parallel with you. So there was no need to explain such things to me, beforehand.”
Malachy countered with the words: “Yes…except for the fact, that you could have been interested in such knowledge in the first place.”
Ouch. He had hit the mark. I admitted meekly, that he wasn’t wrong and asked him to enlighten me.
He nodded and explained patiently to me, that the azure coloured blood serum made it possible, to combine all four unique powers of the royal houses in one person. While not as powerful and focused as the head of one of the specialized clans, azure blood holders would still keep the upper hand in a confrontation - physically or mentally.
“And why haven’t I noticed any of these abilities within me, yet?”
Now Malachy replied coolly: “There can only be two reasons: Either, because you have finished your transformation into an Aristocrat just recently, or you simply are not the one, you pretend to be.”
I remembered the words he had spoken to me. He still seemed to think of me as being a fraud. When the result of by blood serum test arrives, we will see which of the two theories was the right one.
The time until noon flew by. Before I knew it, there was a knock on my door. I asked the person in.
Andre had Adrian in tow, who seemed to be glad to see me. “Maggie! Thank God, you’re okay!”
I frowned in surprise. “Why shouldn’t I be okay? I am treated very well here. As you can see, …” I made an elaborate gesture with my arms. “…I am overly pampered! If I make the slightest wish, a whole armada of staff is on standby, to fulfil said wish immediately. I don’t see your problem!”
Adrian examined the room closely. Then he continued with his accusations: “I find your departure and your stay here very rushed. That is not typical behaviour for you.”
He was right about that. But on the other side, this whole situation was not typical for me. I had to say something to him, that would prompt him to let go of me and this dangerous topic.
I replied seriously: “Adrian, you are right! My behaviour right now is not typical for me, but you have to agree with me, that James is not a typical man and that I have to take unusual measures, to gain his interest.”
His expression darkened noticeably.
“I saw an opportunity to show him how genuine I am and I intend to use it.”
Adrian put his hands on his hips. “I don’t believe a word you say! And I am going to find out what is really going on here. You can count on it.”
There was another knock on the door.
“Yes?” I asked.
Andre opened the door and informed me that lunch had been prepared on the terrace at the small salon, as was wished by me. I thanked him and assured him, that we will be on our way, immediately.
Then I turned to Adrian. “We should really go, now. I have invited James and Daina for lunch to give us all a chance to get to know each other better. I don’t want to keep them waiting.”
Adrian looked at me blankly. “You did what? I came here to talk to you, not to get to know James and Daina better.”
“We can talk after lunch, agreed?” With that, I walked towards the hallway. “Come on, Adrian. You’re worried over nothing!”
He followed me visibly unwilling. This would be a wonderful lunch – again united in hostility.
When we arrived at the terrace, Malachy and Daina were already waiting for us. As soon as he saw us, Malachy rose from his chair and smiled at me.
“Margarete, Adrian! Great that you are keeping us company during lunch.”
Adrian replied stilted, that it would be his pleasure as well. But he had left his poker face at home. I had no idea why he was so hostile towards Malachy.
I seated myself next to Malachy and Adrian took the seat next to Daina.
She turned directly towards him: “Adrian! I am happy to see you again. Fate made us cross paths twice within one week.”
Then she put her hand on his arm and smiled. After a few seconds, she took her hand back and complimented on the perfectly arranged lunch. She emphasized that it would get cold, if we delayed eating any longer.
We started eating in uncomfortable silence. Now and then, Daina let her eyes wander between me and Adrian and seemed to smile knowingly. I wasn’t sure how to feel about her behaviour. It made me feel queasy.
Adrian decided to end the silence by announcing, that we would take a walk after lunch. He hinted with little subtlety, that James and Daina weren’t welcome.
Again, I had a feeling that Daina grinned at me knowingly and mischievously. Being close to her, however cultivated she behaved, made me feel uneasy and let goose bumps show on my skin – but not the good kind.
We had barely finished our lunch, when Adrian stood up and excused us.
Once we had left the terrace and walked along the small gravel path towards the hedge maze, I reproved him for being so rude. “You shouldn’t have pushed like that! Where are your good manners? If Niklas was attending, he surely would have gotten a stroke.”
Adrian replied curtly “Not here!”
Then he walked faster. I struggled to keep up with him.
At the same time James looked at Daina in curiosity. “What have you seen?”
Daina grinned triumphantly. “Wait and see, James. I think we should go for a walk as well. Interesting things are ought to be happening…”
James had become curious: “Shall we go right away?”
Daina laughed and waved Andre over to her. “There is still time for a digestif. Andre, please bring us Aquavit with orange peels in it.” Then she leant back and relaxed in her chair.
James replied: “You like to keep me on tenterhooks, don’t you?”
She looked at him coquettishly, answering: “You can give me a little lead in knowledge, right?”
James looked at her blankly.
“Don’t tell me that you haven’t read the little Minx?”
His reply took her by surprise. “No, I didn’t.”
Daina shook her head in disbelief. “You better watch your back, or else that little snake will poison your coffee, while you are lying at her feet languishing…”
Then she leaned in his direction and put her hand on his. “James, there are other possibilities to distract yourself a little.” She looked him directly in the eyes, while slowly licking her upper lip with her tongue.
James did not respond to her advances. He didn’t want to cross that line. Daina was very beautiful, with a body many a man would kill for, to have it for just one night. But he also knew, that she wanted more from him, than he was willing to give. On top of that he was sure, that she couldn’t handle casual sex with him.
Andre served the ‘Aquavit’ and left them alone. Daina raised her glass and toasted: “To an interesting afternoon!”
Then she clacked her glass with his and drank it’s contents in one go.