“Malachy ...” I paused for a moment and nervously interlaced my fingers.
Malachy looked at me in silence and mimicked my gesture, by folding his fingers in front of his body.
“… I would like to apologize to you for my impossible behavior, which I showed yesterday at the meeting with Clan Romanov.
I don’t know how that could have happened. Be assured that, this was a one-time slip and that something like this will not happen, again. ”
He silently nodded to my words and did not take his eyes off of me for one second. His reaction made me realize, that I had really hit a sore point.
“Is that all then?”
I shook my head.
“No. The moment I said the words, I wanted to take them back immediately. I ... you went and left me with Clan Romanov...”
Now he interrupted me abruptly.
“It’s good, that you bring this topic up. The topic of your inadequacies in court etiquette and almost everything concerning the Aristocratic World.”
His eyes were fixed on me with a cold expression. His words felt like a slap in the face.
I lowered my gaze in embarrassment and fixed a point in front of me on the white damask tablecloth.
“Look at me, Maggie!” He replied in a cool tone.
I followed his request.
“If I speak to you directly, you can at least do me the honor of looking at me. Or is that too much to ask?”
Uncomfortably touched, I pressed my lips together.
Where was my Malachy? Who was this complete stranger, who glared at me? Was all, that had happened between us, just my imagination?
And how did he even dare speak to me?
Yes, I had made a mistake, a pretty big one, but he hadn’t exactly covered himself in glory, either.
I straightened myself in my chair, so I was sitting in a straight position and stubbornly lifted my chin, before answering him.
“Of course that’s not asking too much of me. I have already apologized for my wrongdoing and assured you, that I will not repeat my mistake. What more do you want?”
Now, he leaned a little further towards me, like a bullfighter, whose fighting spirit was only awakened by my back talk.
“I want to make sure, that you keep your promise. For this reason, you will receive adequate training on everything that is necessary in regards to court protocol and etiquette. I expect you to start with this, immediately.
It’s also high time, you familiarized yourself with the skills your blue blood serum provides you.
Various teachers will be made available to you for this purpose. After being trained properly, you shouldn’t complain about the fact, that I leave you alone as my representative in a meeting, or that you even have to attend appointments without me, anymore.”
I had to digest his harsh words.
I didn’t moan because he left me alone, did I? Anyway, why did he even go? To have a quick intercourse with his advisor?
His words provoked me beyond measure.
“Don’t worry, Malachy! I clearly get the place, I take by your side.”
With that said, I leaned back in my chair and crossed my arms over my chest.
“Wonderful! Then you can contact Andre immediately after breakfast. He is currently preparing your training for the next few days.
You will understand, that we don’t have much time to waste, since our engagement party is happening in less than three weeks.
And one more thing: I entrust you with the task of designing our future common living spaces, so you won’t get bored and have a meaningful task to put your emotions to.
I imagine, that we will take a wing of castle ‘Green Willow’ under construction for this purpose. I’ll give you free rein for the rest.”
“Very generous of you! I’ll get in touch with Andre, as soon as I’ve contacted Darius. I still have to discuss a few things with him.”
“Things?” Was his cynical reaction.
“Nothing regarding you, your Highness. Don’t worry, I’m not making any plans behind your back to expose you again...”
Oh my God! This conversation went off the rails, completely.
I wanted to approach this conversation in a completely factual manner. And until now, I had been able to stick to my plan.
Who would have thought, that Malachy would get emotional and reproachful...
He looked at me for a moment and I could have sworn he wanted to say something else.
But then, he seemed to change his mind and ended the conversation, now being composed again with the words: “Good. We should eat now. I’ll also have a meeting with Daina right after breakfast.”
Why did he have to rub that in my nose? Did he mean to hurt my feelings on purpose?
Didn’t he notice how bad his ‘meeting’ with Daina had hurt me, yesterday?
I quickly looked away and blinked a few times, to stifle the rising tears.
I couldn’t say anything. My throat was tight.
And most certainly, I couldn’t bring myself, to bring up the possibility of my missing blood-serum vial.
Instead, we concentrated on eating our breakfast - in icy silence and with great discomfort.
I nodded and asked the maid, who was standing next to the buffet to pour me a coffee.
I quickly ate a roll, then said my goodbye, mentioning that I had to contact Darius and left the dining room.
We hadn’t even mentioned the interlude with him and Daina. Only my misbehaviour was an issue.
How could we have been so close and familiar with each other, yesterday morning, when we were sitting across from each other like complete strangers, now?
My heart felt heavy.
It wasn’t going to be easy to walk the path, I had chosen.
I watched her leave the room.
I was so angry and disappointed.
I thought she could warm up to me and that I was more than a distraction from Adrian - a kind of fill-in for him ... what an irony.
As soon as she left the room, I hit the table angrily with my fist.
The maid in the corner of the room winced.
What a farce! This marriage would be a total disaster.
Why do I always need to have, what I can’t?
I had been very attracted to Maggie, from the start.
Did the urge to have her increase, because she had already given her heart to someone else?
Now, there was no turning back. We’d have to come to terms with one another.
Maggie will have to learn to play my devoted wife in public and I’ll never forget, who holds the first place in her heart: Adrian, a hideous creep!
She even let herself get carried away, to stand in front of him protectively in publicand to deeply humiliate me in the process.
What the hell did she see in him? Surely no one could be that naive, or was it calculation?
When Maggie stepped into the obvious situation with Daina yesterday, at first I believed I had hurt her feelings.
But she just stared at me, then turned and walked as if nothing had happened.
Is that the reaction of a woman madly in love with her fiancée, whom she catches red-handed with his advisor?
This morning she was cool and unapproachable. She didn’t even speak to me about my indiscretion, yesterday.
So I provoked her and told her the lie, that I was about to have a meeting with Daina, in order to elicit any reaction from her.
I’m lucky not to have to see Daina, today. I had offended her deeply.
The least I deserved, was a slap in the face.
She probably won’t let me get away with it, as easily as Maggie. In contradiction to her, she deeply cared about me.
I seemed to have lost it completely - because of a woman!
Things like this only happen, when you let your emotions steer you. I should quickly get myself back under control.
As Regent, I couldn’t allow myself to behave like this.
I got up from the breakfast table and left the dining room.
In fact, I still had a meeting, not with Daina, but with Samuel, my investment advisor and childhood friend.
We had studied together in Landar and were part of the same fraternity. He wanted to introduce me to some interesting projects.
Well, it couldn’t hurt. This way, I could concentrate on more important things than women.
When I was back in my rooms, I went into the living room and stood briefly at the window, from which one could see the large weeping willow with the small, red fountain beneath it.
It all started here.
When I came into my rooms for the first time and had time to take a closer look, I stood at the window and saw Daina and Malachy, walking next to each other along the small path behind the willow.
I feared, that I would have to get used to the sight of the two and I had to learn, not to appear unannounced in Malachy’s private rooms, anymore.
I moved on to my bedroom, stood next to my bed and took my cell phone out of my pocket. Then, I dialed Darius’ number.
He picked up on the second ring.
“Sis! What an honour! I thought I wouldn’t hear from you until tonight. Is there trouble in paradise, already?”
“Very funny!” I paused for a moment, which caused Darius to be puzzled.
“Are you okay, Sis? If you need my help...”
He got no further, since I interrupted him abruptly.
“Everything here is okay so far. But I’m afraid there is a problem with my blood vial. ”
“What do you mean?” Darius replied quick-witted. “Didn’t you bring it to the castle?”
“No. I put it in the jewelry box in my bedroom, along with my diamonds from the debutant ball.”
Then I added meekly, as I sat on the bed: “In my apartment in Atonia, which was robbed, as you already know...”
There was a deathly silence on the other side of the line.
“Darius, are you still there?”
Darius cleared his throat briefly, then replied: “Damn it! This is not good.”
“I know! But that doesn’t have to mean anything. I didn’t look for it, because of the excitement of everything that went on around me. Perhaps the thieves thought it was worthless and threw it in some corner. We should search the apartment carefully. Maybe we can still find it.”
“That’s an excellent idea. When can you be there?”
“Not today. I still have a few things to clarify about my engagement.”
“Does that have to be today? I mean, your vial, containing your blood-serum is more important, than your engagement party. James has a whole army of staff, to guarantee the success of the party.”
“I can’t come today, Darius. Please let us postpone this until nine o’clock tomorrow morning. We can meet right outside my apartment.
And please don’t tell anyone, that there is a chance of my vial having been stolen. At the moment, this news would be the infamous last stray that would break the camel’s back.”
Darius’ voice became calmer and he replied interested: “What happened? I’ll repeat myself again: If you need my help, I’ll be there for you. No matter, who I have to take on!”
“I can’t say much about it, now. Only the following: James was not exactly happy, that I had cut him short in front of the assembled Clan Romanov and also had disregarded his wish, to exclude Adrian from the meeting.”
“To be honest, I too was amazed about reaction. You are a grown woman and you have to know what you are doing, but please be honest with me: Do you still have feelings for Adrian?”
I answered puzzled. “No! What makes you think that?”
“Because your behaviour yesterday, suggest exactly that. You gave James a good reason to be jealous. ”
“Ha, don’t make me laugh!” I replied disparagingly.
“That would assume, that he feels something for me. Very funny Darius!”
Darius let out a loud breath and considered what to answer next.
“Maggie ... Tomorrow, when we’re in private, we should talk. Do not leave me out anymore, this is the only way I can really support you. Nine o’clock and be on time. And another thing Sis ... a dear advice: pull yourself together and don’t be a bitch.”
“Thanks bro! As always, straight to the point!”
“Someone has to tell you the truth. If not your favorite brother, who will?”
He started to laugh mischievously, after speaking those words.
“Okay, okay. Maybe I’ll have to take a good look at myself, here. But now I have to hang up. Andre, the butler, is already waiting for me. See you tomorrow!”
“See you tomorrow, Sis!”
Before I ended the conversation, I replied: “One more thing, big brother: Thank you for being there for me!”
Then I hung up.