Amy sent one of the castle maids with a large tray of snacks. Another maid brought a tray of teapots and set it down on the table. They served tea and snacks and left. Aaron talked about the rich history of Gouster castle as he devoured the snacks. He really was hungry! I observed him while sipping my tea. He was back to his nerdy self and that distant expression from a moment before wasn’t there anymore. Thankfully!
If I didn’t know better, I could have suspected that he might have been given something to cloud his mind. I had seen people in my previous life where the indoctrination and brainwashing became so ingrained in them that they would do anything for a cause, especially in mobs, or cults. I had had my fair share of problems when I had killed someone from a cult at the request of their own family. Oh well… another story for another time.
But this was Sersaw. And my brother hadn’t met a religious cult leader. He had met the Crown princess. The princess, although annoying, didn’t look like she could brainwash others.
A servant approached the door to the room. “My Lords and Lady, dinner will be held in the hall in about two hours. I will be here to escort you when it’s time.”
Aaron let out a sigh. “Two hours… at least we had snacks. Since we have plenty of time, can I take a nap?” He stretched and yawned. Then he left for his room. His room was prepared in the anteroom but Aaron didn’t mind. He was always with his nose in a book at home too and didn’t care for so much space. Josh, Aaron’s servant, followed him to his room. The door closed.
“You felt it too?” asked Alex, after they were gone.
I nodded. “He acted very weird.”
Alex frowned. “I have never seen him act like this. He wasn’t like this the other time he met the Princess. Do you think he is… possessed?”
“Well, I don’t know about that. Besides, last time the Princess was insufferable and there were too many people around. Today was different.”
Today was the first time the Princess and Aaron had been practically alone, sans the servants and the guards. Duplo didn’t count. He didn’t look or act like the type who could hold deep conversations.
Did Aaron fall for the young and pretty princess? That’s not unusual. It wasn’t really uncommon for young, dashing men to fall for strange women, and… vice versa.
“Maybe he just likes her,” I said while I sipped my tea.
“But it doesn’t seem like the princess is his type, though,” said Alex.
“What’s his type then?” I asked.
Alex glanced at me suspiciously. I just shrugged.
“Aaron likes… intelligent and headstrong women.”
“Really? Are there any young women like that in Wishburn?” I asked.
“There are plenty of intelligent women in Wishburn.” Said Alex firmly. “Besides, he visits the archive and the libraries so often. Maybe there are women like that there too. There are the commercial guild owners and city officials as well.”
Boys, I thought, always assuming working women will even glance at them. The large-scale firms will be a lot harder to manage and the women would barely have time for other things. They won’t even glance at nobles. No matter how handsome. They have their priorities.
Wouldn’t it be nice if I could find work at a place like that? I think I would work my way up to an administrative position.
“Her Highness doesn’t really give such an impression,” said Alex.
“Were you indifferent because Her Highness doesn’t match your taste?” I asked.
“I don’t know about that, but It’s obvious that Her Highness was interested in Aaron even before meeting him. When the Queen and the Princess called me in person at the palace before that party, she kept asking me about Aaron.”
Ah, that was why Alex was acting like that before the party.
“It’s possible that she saw Aaron somewhere and let her imagination wander. She’s only fifteen. She’s at that age. She might lose interest in Aaron soon,” I said.
Alex raised his eyebrows at me. “What about you and the Grand Duke?” he asked. “What are you going to do?”
I glared at him. Why are we talking about this? “Why are you asking me that?”
“The Grand Duke seems determined to marry you. Did you two talk about it?”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “How much did you hear about our past lives?”
“That the Grand Duke was a security guard investigating your case. But you died first and he only knew how he felt after your death.” Alex looked at me questioningly, asking if it was okay for him to talk about this. I chuckled.
“It doesn’t matter. That was another life. I died, didn’t I? What is the point of having a new life if you are going to spend it thinking about your old life?”
“Well… the Grand Duke seems to have decided that this time he will do everything and anything while you are alive.”