When I finished the call with Darius, I put my cell phone back in my pocket and went back to my living room.There I headed straight for the little table under the window, on which the house phone was.I dialed 18 to call the service area. A strange, but polite woman’s voice answered the call.I asked her to put Andre on the phone. When I spoke to him, I informed him, that I was ready for my training, now.The butler asked me to come to James’ official study in half an hour, so he could discuss further details with me.❤A word and a blow.Within a few days, I was standing in Malachy’s study, again . The last time I was here, we signed the contract...Since Andre wasn’t there yet, I took a seat in one of the wing chairs, which stood to the left of Malachy’s desk, to wait.A short time later, Andre came rushing into the room.When he saw me, he bowed.“Lady Fleur de Lys, I apologize for my delay. I had an important phone call to make with an architect. I’ll tell you more about it, later.”“That’s not a problem, Andre! I haven’t been here for long.”He nodded with an expression of relief.“Shall we start then?”“Gladly.” I replied with a friendly smile.“Well. May I offer you something, a drink or maybe a little something to eat?”I looked at him and my eyes searched his face for some clue, that he knew something about my uncomfortable breakfast with Malachy and about the fact, that I had hardly eaten anything.Andre was very discreet, but I had no doubt, that he knew exactly what was going on in this castle. Especially when it concerned Malachy.He didn’t let my scrutinizing look irritate him.Oh what the heck... I shrugged my shoulders in resignation.“I would like some water and some fruit.”Andre smiled approvingly. “With pleasure, Lady Fleur de Lys.”He went to Malachy’s desk, picked up the phone and passed the order on to the service area.When he hung up, he took a small bunch of keys from his trouser pocket and unlocked the top drawer on the right of the desk, to retrieve a few documents.Armed with writing materials and the documents, he came back to me and put everything on the small coffee table.“Lady Fleur de Lys. As you have already been informed, it is my job to put together a training plan for you. I already have…”“Andre.”I interrupted him by holding up my right hand, like a student who had a request to speak.Andre immediately stopped speaking and looked at me slightly worried. I wondered if he was concerned, that I was about to sabotage his work?However, I did not let these thoughts show on my face.“Why don’t you sit down with me? It’s going to be a long conversation. I would find it more pleasant, if you were to meet me at eye level.”Andre nodded and the beginning of a real smile showed around the corners of his mouth.“If you insist, Lady Fleur de Lys.”I nodded and grinned encouragingly at him. Then I pointed with my hand to the chair opposite me and nodded.Andre sat down, cleared his throat and continued with his explanations.“I made inquiries and already contacted a few people, who are willing to discreetly train you, so you can practice your skills at your own pace.This affects all four different royal houses, whose skills are all united in your azure blood-serum.It must be tested, to what extent the abilities have already manifested in you at the moment. This has something to do with the timing of your transition.Your transition happened at an unusually late time and accordingly, it can take some time to reach your real potential.Since you have quite a large proportion of warrior blood, these skills should be significantly more distinct.In addition, I have considered that I would like to test your knowledge of court etiquette and the current protocol - discreetly, of course, in order to determine where you still need help.”There was a light knock on the door of the foyer in front of the study.After Andre asked loudly to ‘come in’, a young maid, whom I already knew from my day in the wellness area, came and brought water and a plate with fresh fruit and pastries.“That’s all for now, Jana.” Andre replied and signaled the maid to leave the room.I nodded attentively.When we were undisturbed again, I continued straight away.“So will you be my teacher, in the field of etiquette and courtly protocol?”Andre looked at me startled and wide-eyed.“Lady Fleur de Lys, that is not my place... I am just a devoted servant...”I smiled slightly mischievously and interrupted him.“Andre, how long have you been in Clan Stuarts employment?”He thought for a moment.“I am fortunate man, to work for Clan Stuart and in particular for Sir James and Lady Sophia. I was personally chosen by Sir Richard and Lady Ivonne for this assignment, even before they were born.”Now I looked at him questioningly and a little embarrassed.“I do not quite understand.”Andre blushed slightly.“Sir Richard Leander Stuart and Lady Ivonne Claudine Stuart are the parents of Sir James and Lady Sophia.”“Ah I understand. So James has a sister. He didn’t tell me anything about her. I am looking forward to getting to know her.”Now, Andre looked extremely embarrassed. Again he cleared his throat uncomfortably.“Unfortunately, Lady Sophia is no longer with us.”“Oh how terrible! What happened?”I put my hand to my mouth in horror.“Please forgive me, Lady Fleur de Lys. This is a very difficult subject in this House and I am afraid, I cannot answer that question for you. I am very sorry that I steered the conversation in this direction...”Andre struggled with the words. Obviously he was more than uncomfortable with this subject.So Malachy had muzzled him - interesting.I would ask Darius on this subject. Let’s see what he could say about it.“It’s okay, Andre. I pushed you into that direction. Maybe you can just tell me the time frame, in which you have been employed by Clan Stuart.”The butler thought for a moment, then answered in a firm voice: “It’s been almost 400 years, now.”My jaw dropped at the testimony and an expression of disbelief graced my face.Completely disconcerted, I spoke softly.“400 years? What the... How old is James?”Andre tried to hide his surprise at my reaction.Yes, my ignorance was really amazing.“Sir James is exactly 354 years old. He went through his transition at the age of 8, as is tradition with azure bloods in our society.”It took me a little to regroup and get my astonished expression under control - 354 years, holy shit.“So you had a lot of time in which to directly deal with courtly protocol and aristocratic etiquette. In my opinion, that makes you a perfect teacher for me.I also liked your reaction from earlier.We both noticed, that I have incredible gaps in my knowledge that are not just about protocol and etiquette.You simply passed over my inadequacy and did not expose me.Besides, I trust you.There will be a few more situations, which I’ll find extremely embarrassing. I would like to have you as the person sitting across from me in these situations.I would be extremely honoured, if you were to teach me.”Now it was Andre’s turn to be embarrassed.My words of praise made his face flush and he replied, embarrassed and with his chest swollen with pride:“If so, Lady Fleur de Lys, I am honoured to be of service to you.”I almost jumped up from my chair and fell gratefully around his neck. But I was able to hold back, at the last moment.“Thank you, Andre! You have no idea how much that means to me!”I beamed at him gratefully.Andre’s complexion turned even more like a radish. Now I found the situation extremely amusing.In order not to further distress the poor butler, I brought our conversation back to our original topic.“Now that we’ve clarified that, I’m curious to see, who my other coaches are.”I encouragingly nodded to Andre.Visibly relieved, he took a deep breath and began his remarks.“As you already know, there are four royal houses in the Aristocracy, each with a different skill.The ‘House of Seers’ stands under the symbol of the golden diamond and can see the future and the past.I don’t need to explain the ‘House of Warriors’ to you, since you are part of it yourself.Then, there is the ‘House of Influencers’, which has the spade as it’s symbol. Members can read and manipulate minds.Last but not least, we also have the ‘Witch Circle’, or the ‘Healers’. They are symbolized by the tree cross and have healing powers. Accordingly, they are working as doctors and healers in our society.”I nodded at varying intervals to show, that I was listening carefully.“I have a question, Andre.”“With pleasure, Lady Fleur de Lys.”“Is it possible that my brother Darius and/or my cousin Rebecca will teach me about the skills of the ‘House of Warriors’?”Andre answered eagerly.“Of course! To be honest, I had even hoped so.”Very satisfied with this answer, I grinned triumphantly and encouraged him to continue.“Klaus McKinay will familiarize you with the abilities of the ‘healers’. You know his father, Dr. McKinay, already. He is our family doctor, a very trustworthy man.Klaus will continue his work one day, after the doctor has retired. He’s a great healer and he’s just the guy for the job. Klaus will be personally supported by Sir James.There is a certain dark part about the ‘Healers’ abilities, which only the blue-blooded can officially claim for themselves. Sir Stuart will explain more to you when the time comes.Alexandra Hartforth from the ‘House of Influencers’ will bring you closer to the skills of mind reading and influencing. You are probably familiar with her, due to her job as an influencer and model.”At the name I had to grin and a sloppy “Who doesn’t?” escaped my lips.Andre had to laugh, too. A very rare occurrence that made him look many years younger.He should laugh more often...“Who’s the last person, Andre?”I was very curious.“You already know her. She is the very best in her field. You won’t get a better teacher!”I was slowly feeling uneasy. I didn’t know a lot of aristocrats...Andre announced proudly: “It’s none other than Daina Arone. A master in her field!”At that moment, I lost all control over my facial expressions.I blinked my eyelids a couple of times in horror, then answered with a croaked “How wonderful!” and tried to smile bravely.Did Malachy come up with this to punish me?Oh my god, that would be real fun: Daina and I, alone and unobserved in a room. Let’s see whether we would both leave the room afterwards, still breathing...But I couldn’t reject her as my teachers, either. Then I would openly admit, that I was hurt by her affair with Malachy and I would not let myself be humiliated by this.Andre noticed my reluctance.“Is everything all right, Lady Fleur de Lys?”I nodded quickly and assured him that everything was fine.To quickly divert attention from the topic, I changed the subject.“Andre, I have an important appointment with my brother Darius in downtown Atonia, tomorrow morning. Can you please tell Sir James, that I cannot have breakfast with him?”“Of course, Lady Fleur de Lys.”“Would that be all, then? When does the training start?”“Training will start the week after the next, with Alexandra Hartforth. But we can start our lesson on etiquette and protocol earlier, if you wish so.”Little did Andre know, that he gave me the perfect opportunity to avoid James for the time being.“What do you think of tomorrow evening, Andre? In general, I would prefer the evening hours. Then I have a clear head and you too, have already completed your usual daily tasks.”A small voice in my head told me to be ashamed of using poor, dutiful Andre, to avoid Malachy.Andre considered for a moment, then he nodded in agreement.“That can be arranged from my side. Thank you again, for the trust you have placed in me by allowing me to teach you.”Great, now I really had a guilty conscience and felt uncomfortable in my skin.“Have we discussed everything that was necessary then?” I wanted to escape the situation, as quickly as possible.“Yes, I think so. There is only one more piece of information, I wanted to give you, Lady Fleur de Lys.”I braced myself for the next blow.Perhaps Daina is moving into Malachy’s bachelor’s place right away, then the way to his bedroom would be shorter...“The premises for Ms. Bodouir are ready, since this morning. They are situated right next to your accommodations.”Visibly relieved, I let out a slow breath.“Thank you, Andre! For everything!”I got up from the wing chair, which caused Andre to jump out of his chair at lightning speed, as well.Then I said goodbye and left Malachy’s study slowly and with a firm step.At least I had Amie by my side in this whole disaster, or else I wouldn’t know how to continue.