All princes and their first wives were invited to have dinner with the King. When we arrived, the King welcomed us and we greeted him in turn, then we greeted one another amongst ourselves. While the princes chatted and laughed, except Lucian, the princesses just glared at each other. There was some kind of hostility between them.
Lucian didn’t go up to his brothers, he just stood beside me. None of them seemed to care about him, either. He had told me earlier that they didn’t like him because he was the devil’s son. I wondered if they really believed that kind of blasphemy.
And why did he say that he didn’t know if he actually was the devil’s son? I was confused.
Before my head imploded with questions, dinner was served and we sat down in our assigned places. Each prince sat beside his wife. The Crown Prince was sitting next to the King, they were talking about something animatedly, waving their hands around wildly. His wife Elsa looked at me now and then. I wondered if she had any problem with me. But I had to admit she was a beauty. Possibly the most beautiful of all the princesses, with her curly blonde hair and sky blue eyes.
Lucian and I ate our dinner in silence; he seemed uncomfortable as though he was forced to be here.
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A guard came in and whispered something into the King’s ear and shortly after the king stood up from his seat. “I have a few things to take care of, but enjoy your dinner.”He said guardedly, and with that, he left.
As soon as the King left the Crown Prince rose from his seat holding his wine glass delicately in one hand and a spoon on the other. He tapped the spoon on the glass to grab everyone’s attention.
“First, we shall welcome or little brother’s bride,” he began, “and then..” he continued, clearly not fit to form complete sentences in his intoxicated state.
“And then,” the prince next to him picked up where his brother had left off. “We shall tell embarrassing stories about our little brother to his bride.”
Lucians brothers laughed. They may have been speaking of this as a joke, but something was off. Their laughs weren’t genuine and sounded evil to my ears. I could feel Lucian shifting uncomfortably beside me.
The Crown Prince walked along with the table and stood behind the prince and his wife who were sitting in front of us.
“You must have heard the rumor about our brother, about him being the son of the devil. What do you think about that?” He asked, cruel mirth clear in his tone. I could see Lucian clenching his fists under the table.
“It’s as you said Your highness, just a rumor” I replied. I didn’t know why I defended Lucian, but I felt a strange protectiveness over him.
The crown prince sent me a scrutinizing glare, but he wasn’t willing to give up. He was probably thinking of other ways to insult his brother. He had no right!
“So you don’t believe them?” He looked at me skeptically.
“Should I, Your Highness?” I said in a challenging tone, mock sweetness coloring my voice.
Clearly, the crown prince was not succeding with his insults so he got some help from his brother sitting in front of us.
“Even his mother didn’t want him after she gave birth to him,” he added.
I couldn’t believe my ears. How could he say something so cruel to his own brother?
Beside me, Lucian’s entire body tensed up, ready to spring at the brother sending cruel taunts to the both of us. I quickly reached out under the table and gently laid my hand atop his, willing him to stop and consider his actions.
Lucian stilled. He raised his incredulous gaze up to my eyes, clearly surprised by my contact. I gave him a reassuring smile, and by intuition, I could tell he had calmed down significantly. Turning to his brothers, I was furious. I hadn’t known Lucian for that long, and I hadn’t chosen to be married to him, but now he was my husband and I couldn’t change that. I had only one option: to make this marriage work.
His brother looked at me, calculating. He must have guessed what I was thinking.
“Well, I hope he treats you well,” he said slowly, backing off.
“Well is an understatement of how he treats me,” I said stiffly and his brothers sent me a disappointed look.
Lucian intertwined his fingers with mine under the table, as though he approved of me defending him.
For his entire life, no one has ever stood up for him like this beautiful woman had done today. This woman, his wife who barely knew him, had surprised him with her touch and melted his heart with her words and smile. She hadn’t believed the rumors about him, that even he sometimes believed about himself.
Once they arrived at their chamber Lucian noticed that Hazel had a frown on her face.
“Is everything alright?” He asked.
“Yes,” She said her gaze slowly turning to the window. “Can I go outside to the garden?”
Lucian noticed that she liked being outside, so he decided to take her not only outside the room but outside the castle. Her eyes twinkled when he told her about it.
In the courtyard stood the stables, and he led her inside to show her his own horse, a beautiful chestnut with a white star on his flank.
“Can you ride?” He asked her.
“No” she replied, embarrassed.
“Then you should ride with me.” He suggested.
Lucian helped her up and she sat behind him on the horse. “Hold on.”
She seemed to hesitate, but then ever so slowly she put her arms around his waist and held him lightly, almost not touching. But as soon as they started riding, her grip tightened, pressing her soft and warm body against his back.
“Is it too fast?”
“No,” she replied but her tight hold around his waist said otherwise. Either way, he didn’t slow down; he liked the feeling of her arms around him.
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