Shortly before half past twelve in the afternoon, Darius picked me up from my room. He had dressed up and was wearing a perfectly fitting black suit especially for the occasion.
But what he could do, I could do, too.
When he saw me, he whistled approvingly.
I wore an elegant, ankle-length dress in a bordeaux tone, black stilettos and had my hair tied up in a loose chignon. I had subtle gold plugs in my ears, which wouldn’t distract attention from my eye-catching engagement ring.
“You look good, sister.”
I grinned at him.
“Thank you! You too, brother.”
“Are you ready?”
“Yes, I’m ready. Let’s put our plan into action.” With these words, I hooked my arm unto his and let me be escorted into the dining hall.
When we arrived, three pairs of curious eyes first focused on Darius and then stuck to me.
Darius greeted everyone loudly.
“Father, Sir Stuart, Lady Stuart, it is an honour to meet you. May I introduce you to my sister, Lady Margarete Fleur de Lys.”
He moved me a little in front of him, to get me their full attention, which was completely unnecessary. I already had it, since I entered the dining room.
“Sir Stuart, Lady Stuart, father...”
The three of them got up from their chairs to bow to me. I nodded to them, releasing them from their duties.
Then Darius spoke up again.
“Let’s sit down. I’m already very hungry.”
He put my arm on his and led me to the front of the table. Then he stood in front of his seat and showed me the chair next to his.
“Do you agree with this seating arrangement, Margarete?”
I nodded. “Of course, Darius. We are in your house. Your rules apply here.”
These words made both Niklas and Thorben Stuart sit up and exchange meaningful glances. They seemed to have eaten the bait, that I had submitted to Darius on my own will.
As soon as we were all back at the table, Darius clapped his hands loudly and asked the staff to start serving the food.
I used the hustle and bustle around us, to look at Thorben and his older daughter Evelyn Marie.
Thorben Ian Stuart was an older man, roughly about Niklas’ age, of medium height and wiry build. Although he had very dark hair and skin, his light, watchful eyes stood out from his face.
Its large, curved nose reminded me of an eagle. So this was Malachy’s paternal uncle. Interesting…
Evelyn looked very much like her father, which wasn’t necessarily to her advantage. The first obvious commonality was the same, slightly curved nose, that her father had. Otherwise she had very light skin, covered with freckles, slightly too large, gray-blue eyes and red, curly hair.
Although she was born a princess, she looked more like a frog, I spitefully thought to myself.
The meal was delicious. Our cook had really outdone herself.
After Darius had finished his soup and put the soup cup loudly on the plate in front of him, he began the conversation.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I am glad that all of you were able to come. Especially, that Margarete was able to arrange to come here spontaneously, to express her support for me. I think it is now time to address the real reason for our lunch meeting.”
He dabbed the corners of his mouth briefly with the napkin, then continued.
“Clan Romanov is very proud and happy about the connection to Clan Stuart and I as head of Clan think, that both clans will benefit even more from this connection when we unite in our endevours.”
As he began his explanation, he kept his eyes on me.
To emphasize his words, I nodded in agreement and benevolently smiled at him.
“This means more power for both clans. Something that we can definitely make use of in these turbulent times.
My sister Margarete Fleur de Lys renounced her claim to the throne for the sake of us with a heavy heart, unfortunately this took away the possibility of a Romanov on the throne. But the last word has not yet been spoken and this is exactly, why we are gathered here on this board.”
Thorben Stuarts and Niklas ’eyes shone enthusiastically.
They hung on Darius’ lips.
Thorben’s daughter, on the other hand, didn’t seem to care about what came out of Darius’ mouth. She was busy undressing him with her eyes.
Every time Darius let his gaze rest on her, she let her tongue slide invitingly over her upper lip.
I really had to pull myself together not to laugh out loud - what a farce.
Darius could rely on one thing. If he ever messed up, I would personally make sure, that he and Evelyn would be locked in a room alone for twenty-four hours. Then, he really would have had nothing to laugh about.
Daddy Niklas couldn’t hold back any longer and took over the conversation, just as we’d hoped. His greed made him predictable...
“Darius, my son! I am glad, that Clan Romanov and Clan Stuart share the same point of view and that you, as my successor, are willing to continue on the path, I have walked up to this point.”
After a few more hymns of praise for himself and his ingenious leadership of Clan Romanov, Niklas got to the point of the conversation.
He explained his plan, which was for me to get Malachy to change our contract in favour of Clan Stuart. Then, he looked at Thorben Stuart and asked him to continue with his explanations.
The latter added the benefits for Clan Romanov to the plan. Which would consist of the fact, that Darius was allowed to marry the wonderful Evelyn. Their common descendants would give Clan Romanov access to the throne in return.
I tried to concentrate on Thorben while listening to his explanations, but I didn’t succeed.
Repeatedly my eyes wandered to his daughter, the obscene Evelyn. She winked seductively at Darius, gave him air kisses and pressed her breasts upwards with her hands, while her father talked about wedding her with Darius.
Inevitably, my gaze fixed on Darius to see his reaction to her non-subtle advances. I was sure I could see fear in his eyes.
A throat clearing from Niklas made me turn my head in his direction.
He looked benevolently between Darius and Evelyn and added without any emotion: “The two seem to be made for each other!”
Now I couldn’t help but chuckle a little. What a freak show.
Niklas was about to reply, when my loudly ringing mobile phone saved me from his scolding.
I quickly fished it out of my purse. Malachy called me. Luck me – it was my free ticket to escape this weird situation.
I got up from the table and excused myself with the words: “Sorry, I have to answer that. James is calling.”
And the ruler was not to be kept waiting...
As I was on my way out of the dining room, I accepted the call. I was happy to hear his voice.
“Margarete! Here is Daina!” It came back rushed.
“Is everything okay with James? Why are you calling from his mobile?”
“Yes, he’s fine. We are on the way to you. Please listen to me carefully, we need your help...”
At the same time in another part of the property in Ignis:
Adrian placed Soraya in the center of Maggie’s bed.
“Are you lying comfortably or do you need a few more pillows in your back?”
Soraya looked at Adrian in surprise. “Why are we doing my transformation into a Half-Blood in Maggie’s room? Your rooms are much bigger and more private.”
“Soraya, I’ve already explained it to you several times. For one thing, the blood-serum vial is here in this room and... Why am I telling you this? Be happy and grateful that you will soon be able to lead a better, more perfect life in an elitist society, instead of questioning everything.”
She looked at him with big, frightened eyes.
“Will it hurt?”
Adrian snorted contemptuously.
“No more than a vaccination. Now, don’t act like that. You should be used to needles by now.”
The fact, that his cell phone vibrated the whole time annoyed him, but didn’t stop him from continuing.
He took a cuff, put it around her right arm, and pulled it tight so he could staunch her blood.
Soraya looked lovingly at Adrian. “Okay. I trust you.”
He did not react to her answer, but started to draw the contents of the blood-serum vial into the syringe, without spilling anything.
When he was done, he snapped his index finger at the syringe and pushed the plunger down until a small drop of blood-serum formed on the tip of the needle.
“Wonderful,” he muttered.
He sat down next to Soraya on the bed and gave her Maggie’s blood serum without delay. After emptying the contents of the syringe directly into her vein, he pulled the syringe from her arm and placed it on the bedside cabinet to secure the evidence.
He put his hand on the puncture wound to heal it and removed the cuff from her arm.
To his amazement, the puncture wound did not heal. Instead, a steady stream of blood ran down Soraya’s arm and dripped into Maggie’s bed.
Strange. He put pressure on the wound to stop the bleeding. This helped.
The time Adrian spent taking care of the healing of the puncture wound, he should have been better used to check Soraya’s general condition.
She said in a shaky voice: “Adrian, I’m not feeling so well. Is that normal?”
When he turned his attention to her face, he noticed that she was very pale.
Her light colour let his gaze wander over her body, his attention being redirected to her puncture wound.
The skin around it had turned suspiciously red and a dark line ran along the vein. He’d seen something like that before, when he was a little boy and got blood poisoning...