Regent's Blood - Aristocracy (Book 1) COMPLETED

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Chapter 41

Malachy and I ate our breakfast mostly in silence, since each of us was dwelling on their own thoughts.

Occasionally, I asked diverse questions, which he replied with a monotonous ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

“So, I am a Fleur de Lys?”

“Yes”

“Do I have to present myself as such from now on?”

“Yes…No…depends…”

My complete ignorance, combined with my insecurity made me mad.

Why did Niklas let me walk right into a trap? What was he hoping to achieve by this?

I was glad, that Malachy seemed to be a genuine Aristocrat. Otherwise I probably wouldn’t be alive by now.

My whole life, I had never been that dependent and helpless. I was the one, who chose this dependence, when I decided to embrace my birth right – it’s just, at the time I thought it would solely lead me to Clan Romanov.

The unexpected turn of events concerning my azure blood-serum threw me off so much, I let myself become a playing figure, which was played by all sides in accordance to their will.

My ‘tough self’ seemed to have retreated into it’s shell.

This needed to stop. I had to gain back my foothold as soon as possible.

This not only included gaining knowledge about the Aristocracy’s history, as well as it’s distinctive features and customs, but also taking me as part of this society into consideration. My lineage gave me extraordinary powers, which I had yet to explore.

After we finished breakfast, Malachy cleared his throat.

“Maggie, since we are already here, I’d like to ask you to accompany me to my study next door. We are in urgent need to talk about the latest turn of events, otherwise we’re running out of time.”

“Okay. Let’s go to your study.” I replied stoically.

Once there, he sat in a comfortable wing chair and mentioned for me to take a seat opposite him.

Between us was standing a small coffee table.

He crossed his legs, put both of his elbows on the side rests and intertwined his fingers in front of him.

He looked at me for several minutes, siting completely still, until he started to speak: “Since your belonging to Clan Fleur de Lys is proven without doubt, you post a big threat to my position on the throne, because you stand before me in the line of succession.”

My eyes grew wider and I wanted to reply something, but he shook his head and moved on with his monologue.

“There are only two options, to fix this defect: Either you claim the throne yourself and become my opponent automatically, or you ally yourself with me.

Before you say anything, please let me explain both options: If you claim the throne yourself, a large power shift is unavoidable. You are new to the Aristocratic society, have no allies and Clan Romanov isn’t exactly the most powerful clan amongst the royal clans – even if they gain more power via their connection to you. Let’s be pragmatic and honest: You probably wouldn’t survive for very long.

The second option is to ally yourself with me. Don’t get me wrong – I am not a Samaritan. First of all, this would mean for you to abdicate from the throne in favour of my regency and in context Clan Stuart’s regency as well. In exchange, I’ll grant you full access to my resources in order to protect you and to prepare you for your important role in the Aristocratic Society. In addition, Clan Romanov might raise to become the most powerful Clan of all Royal Houses, due to it’s connection to you by blood.

But I have a personal condition for this, which I will not hide from you: I insist on a change of successor. Darius or you will replace Adrian as Niklas’ successor and everything is perfect. I assume, that I don’t have to explain my reasons for this demand to you. However, if my requirement is not to be met, I will personally see, that Clan Romanov will not ascent to the top of the Royal Houses.”

He paused and looked at me.

I wasn’t particularly fazed about the content of his monologue. Experience has shown that there was only black and white, when there were two people with a legitimate claim to a throne.

But I wasn’t expecting, for this subject to come up so early. I felt like slipping from crisis to crisis.

In this case, the decision was completely clear to me. I already chose Malachy, when I accepted the additional blood-serum test.

So far, he hasn’t given me a reason to distrust him. On the contrary, he put his cards on the table, as far as I was able to tell.

Still, I was aware that I wasn’t forced to decide either black or white. There was room for negotiation in different shades of grey.

Admittedly, I was completely ignorant towards anything that had to do with the Aristocracy. I was successful and self-reliant, before Niklas stood at my door, showing off his money and important connections.

“Maggie?” Malachy interrupted my thoughts. “What do you think of this?”

I looked him straight in the eye and replied: “I decide on an alliance myself with you. Additionally I accept you and your direct descendants as rightful heirs to the throne. I do not grant this privilege to the rest of Clan Stuart.”

Then I paused for a short while. “Before giving you my answer regarding a power shift in Clan Romanov, I need additional information.”

He nodded.

“In case I don’t want to be Niklas’ successor and thus be the next head of Clan Romanov, can I simply be a Fleur de Lys? Is it possible to be the only member of a Clan and it’s head at the same time?”

“In theory, this is possible.” Malachy replied.

“Good. Then I want Darius to be the next head of Clan Romanov. It’s his rightful legacy, anyway. I want to work with him, but at the same time I want to be independent. You talked about preparing me for my important role in the Aristocratic Society. I am curious as to see what you have planned.”

I looked at him inquisitively, hoping he would reveal something, but I could take nothing from his facial expression or gestures.

“If there are any problems with the change of succession in Clan Romanov, I am aware of the consequences and agree with them. In return for my cooperation, I expect you to stick to your part of the deal. This includes: Full access to your personal resources and in consequence, for Clan Romanov as well.”

Malachy wanted to cut me short, but this time it was my turn to shake my head and go on speaking.

“I will personally see to it, that these resources are only available for Clan Romanov, when Darius is at it’s top.”

This statement seemed to appease him somewhat and let him lean back in his wing chair in a relaxed position.

Apparently, we shared an aversion to my father.

I came to my last request. I was immediately ready to give up the throne. To be honest, I never even wanted to rule. But I wasn’t as naïve as to give up my whole power and therefore be completely dependent on Darius and Malachy.

That’s why I needed some kind of influence, as a life insurance. “There is one last thing, that I request of you: I want a veto right to go against your decisions.”

Malachy looked at me for a long time. “Is that all? You are a strong negotiation partner Maggie, I will give you that.”

I didn’t reply. Instead I watched him curiously and patiently waited for his reply.

“Fine. I agree with everything, except your last request. I can’t grant you a general veto right. That would go against my demand for autocracy, but there might be a possibility in a slightly changed form: Your vote, combined with votes of three of the four heads of clan of the royal houses, are able to overrule me. “

I looked at him and a triumphant smile started to show on my face. “Agreed. Are we going to shake hands, or what’s the usual procedure following an important conclusion of a contract in our ranks of society?”

Malachy grinned diabolically and replied: “Considering the utmost importance of this contract, there is but one possibility: a kiss.”

I met his eyes in slight astonishment. Since he seemed to be completely serious, I believed this custom of a kiss, to conclude a deal, to be true.

“Okay, Sire!”

I stood up from my chair and moved towards him. Then I bent down and pecked him lightly on the mouth.

When I wanted to pull away from him, he held me back and deepened our kiss. He couldn’t suppress his deep, jubilant chuckle.

This time I used more power to put some physical distance between us, moving several steps back.

Noticing his sly grin, I retorted: “That’s not the common custom, following a contract’s closing, isn’t it?”

He gave a ringing laugh: “No, a handshake, followed by a signature on a written contract would have been sufficient, but where is the fun in that?”

Outraged but still amused I gazed at him while slowly shaking my head.

How could one person act so contradictory? One moment he was James the Regent, the next moment Malachy, my passionate lover.

Malachy slid to the edge of his wing chair.

“There are a few things, that I have to take care of. Is it okay, to sent you my secretary, so you can provide him with all the necessary details of our contract? He can then draw up the contract within the next couple of hours and we can sign this afternoon.”

The pace, in which he was proceeding, was astonishing.

So far we hadn’t spoken to anybody, about further steps after the arrival of my test results – at least, I hadn’t done so. And now, I am supposed to sign a contract in a couple of hours, that would change my entire future.

Malachy got up from his chair and stood right in front of me. Then he took my hand.

“I know, that everything is happening very fast, but we are running out of time. I already had to hold off the first curious head of Clans. We need to act in unison and we have to do it fast. The first power games are in full swing already.”

I held his hand tighter, then I looked into his golden eyes and asked: “Can I trust you?”

He smiled and replied: “Yes, if I can trust you.”

That made me think back to our conversation during the midnight interlude of the debutant-ball in the ‘Estate Hotel’s’ rooftop greenery. At that time, we ended our dialogue with almost the same words, but this time our roles were reversed.

He gave me a tender kiss on my temple and moved a step back to have a batter look at me. “Is everything okay?”

I exhaled loudly, unconsciously showing my tension. “Yes, I think so. I simply have to get used to this new situation.”

Then I looked at my wrist watch. It was shortly before eleven.

I answered in amusement: “Let’s see each other again at 4 p.m. to have a coffee party and to celebrate the life-changing signing of the contract?”

Malachy smiled. “With pleasure. Then we can discuss everything else.”

He walked to his desk and called Andre. “Please send Xaver into my private study. He needs to take notes to draw up a contract.”

Afterwards he turned to me. “I have to arrange several things, now. I will immediately take care of Clan Romanov’s most important members, to receive an urgent invitation to castle ‘Green Willow’. We want to inform them, before we share the news of our alliance with the rest of the Aristocracy. I will meet up with Daina in the evening. As my closest advisor, she has a right to have this information before all others, too. As soon as these parties have been updated on the latest deveopments, an official proclamation will follow. But that should be it! We will see each other later.”

With this, he left the room.

Before he was completely out of my line of sight, I called after him: “I’m going to call Amie and inform her about the latest developments. She is trustworthy.”

I could only hear a mumble “Yes, I know”, coming from the hallway.

Shortly after, his secretary arrived. We sat back on the chairs and summarized the key parameters of my prior negotiation with Malachy.

Once I was done, I apologised politely and left Malachy’s private rooms in the direction of my own accommodations.

As soon as I had closed the door behind me, my mobile already dialled Amie’s number.

She answered her phone, sounding sleepily and mumbled: “Hello Maggie! It is before noon, so please let it be important!”

I barely heard her voice, when I started cackling like a nervous chicken.

“Slowly Maggie… I am barely awake.”

I took in a deep breath. Then I started with the arrival of my blood-serum’s composition and the respective pedigree.

“Niklas led us up the garden path. My real name is Margarete Fleur de Lys, not Romanov. I’ll sign a contract with Malachy later this afternoon, to seal our alliance. I’ll tell you more, later. I have decided on visiting you at ‘The Raven’ this evening and afterwards, I am going to sleep at our apartment. I need a little distance from this castle.”

I stopped talking for a while, because I remembered the other important subject I wanted to talk about. I wanted to share these news with Darius as well.

Unfortunately I hadn’t heard anything from him, so far. He wanted to inform me, how his confrontation with Adrian went.

“Thinking of, is Darius with you, by accident?”

“No, why are you asking?”

“Yesterday, he drove to our manor in Ignis, to talk with Adrian’s regarding his misbehaviour towards me. Originally, he wanted to get in touch with me, right after finishing his talk, but I haven’t heard anything from him, since.”

Amie informed me, that Darius planned on visiting her in the late afternoon, and that she would remind him to get in touch with me. We said our goodbyes and ended the phone call.

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