“Your father is just entertaining a guest,” Dana told her. “Enoch and Arthur aren’t home, you see.”
“Everyone’s busy then?”
“Why? Do you need to talk to them?”
“No.” Eugene shook her head. “It just feels like my brothers are never home. I almost never see them.”
Her mother smiled. “They’re just busy with work,” she said. “They know I won’t let them inherit anything if they’re lazy.”
She knew that Dana wasn’t just saying that. She would follow through with whatever she decided and there was no way to change her mind. Eugene found that she was much harder on her brothers; it was probably why they never seemed to interject when she was speaking.
“I got your flowers today,” she told her mother. She knew that it wasn’t Dana that sent her flowers, but she said that anyway.
“A bunch of dried flowers came today. The servants said they came from the Arse mansion. Could father have sent it, then? Or my brothers?”
Dana shook her head. “Your brothers wouldn’t do anything like that,” she said. “It might be your father who did it, I suppose. He sells them anyway.”
“Then I should thank him.”
By the look on her face, Eugene could tell that her mother had no idea why her father would be sending flowers to the royal residence. She also knew that if her father did anything without her mother’s permission, he would be in deep trouble. So, she didn’t press the issue any further.
Dana was studying Eugene as she sat there quietly. “Jin.”
“Is there something I need to know?”
The daughter shook her head. “What are you talking about?”
“Your face,” her mother said, “it doesn’t look so good.”
“Really?” Eugene reached up to touch her face. Was it that obvious? She tried to appear happy, but her mother seemed to see right through it.
“What happened?” Dana pressed. “Did you fight with your husband? Did you do something wrong?”
“Not at all,” she said even as she could feel tears forming in her eyes. She felt like a child, crying in front of her mother, unable to control herself. She just couldn’t stop.
“What’s wrong? Jin, baby, talk to me,” her mother said quietly, pulling her daughter into a tight embrace. “Who hurt you? Tell me. I’ll go after them.”
Eugene chuckled through her tears. It was funny how, in front of Dana, she was reduced to nothing more than a child. “It’s nothing,” she said. “I just feel down. I started my period today.”
Her mother hummed. “Do you feel like this often?”
“No.” She hesitated, wiping her tears away. She felt much better after crying and her mother’s support was nice to have. Kasser was a great help whenever she felt low, but it was just different having her mother at her side. “I think I’m just a little disappointed.”
Eugene looked down without answering.
Dana understood what she meant at once and grabbed Eugene’s hand. “Is it because of pregnancy? Is he pressuring you?”
“No,” she said immediately. “He never does.”
He never mentioned children, so much so that Eugene couldn’t help but wonder why. When she first came to this world and pretended to be fake, he acted like he was going to end her if she didn’t get pregnant. But now, he acted like he didn’t care about it at all. She had a deep suspicion that his change wasn’t natural.
He’s probably just being considerate, she thought. He’s a kind man.
“I feel like it’s my fault.”
“Your fault?” Dana furrowed her brows. “Did you eat something weird without him knowing? Did you take birth control?”
“Then, how is it your fault? You don’t make a child alone. Perhaps—”
“No.” Eugene flushed. She knew that even her mother was embarrassed to ask. The effort of making a child was too much if anything. “Honestly, I didn’t want to get pregnant,” she admitted. “I was too confused when I first came to this world and I didn’t think I was ready. I was actually happy when I got my period. But now I think that a child isn’t coming to us because I’m rejecting it.”
“No, my dear,” Dana said before her daughter could continue with her rambling. She pinched Eugene’s cheeks and grinned. “What am I going to do with you? You’re too young to be worrying about these kinds of things.” She tucked a strand of hair behind Eugene’s ear. “It hasn’t been a few months since you got married. Why are you rushing? Getting pregnant isn’t easy, no matter who you are and how long you try. Pregnancy isn’t something you can control whether you like it or not. You know this, right?”
“But I’m an Anika,” Eugene said stubbornly.
Her mother laughed. “So? Do Anikas have the ability to get pregnant whenever they want? I never knew.”
Her daughter looked away, embarrassed. She looked down on Anika who were so full of themselves, but it seemed like even she thought she was special.
“Besides, Jin, you shouldn’t get pregnant now,” Dana told her. “You have to be careful with an early pregnancy. Your body might not be able to handle a long journey to kingdom.”
Eugene nodded. Her mother was right, of course she was.
“If you get pregnant now, you might have to stay in the Capital,” she continued. “You’ll have your child here. You know, the heir to the throne is always born in the kingdom. It doesn’t seem right to break tradition. And, if that does happen, then all the Anikas will try to have their children here. They won’t even go to the kingdom. A queen whose feet never touched the kingdom, how ridiculous would that be?”
“You’re right, mom. You’re right.” Eugene smiled and hugged her mother. “Thank you. I feel much better.” She turned towards the door. “I’m going to go thank father. I’ll come back here to you if the guest is still there.”
Dana smiled too, happy to see her daughter finally happy. But there was a certain loneliness to her smile that was only for her to know about.
While she spoke to her daughter about tradition, she couldn’t help but selfishly wish that Eugene would give birth in the Capital. She would be able to take care of Jin, even hold her daughter’s hand while she gave birth.
Her heart felt empty just thinking about her daughter leaving her.