“I don’t know how I feel about you saying such things!” said Alex. “I am trying to get used to it but I really don’t know how to react.”
“Don’t worry, you will get used to it,” I said. “But have you noticed that you act differently with me now?”
Alex frowned. “I think it’s easier to talk to you. Before, I only saw you as a kid and assumed you needed to be sheltered from the realities of the world. But now…”
Alex suddenly fell silent. He sounded like his pride was hurt. I chuckled. “I am still your sister. You could say you still love me. I love you too. In fact, if we weren’t related, I would think you were a really kind person that I could come to love romantically.”
Alex pales as though I had uttered blasphemy. “Hey, I am not that bad as a romantic partner. I know how to match a man’s mood, too!” I said.
Alex covered his ears with both hands. I crossed my arms and stared at him. When he saw that I had stopped talking, he removed his hands from his ears.
“And my bed manners are quite—”
“AAHHH!” shouted Alex.
Amy and Sam, who had been talking quietly among themselves, looked over at us. I rolled my eyes at Alex.
“Calm down, Lord Wishburn!” I said. “We are siblings. Can’t I even talk with you about this stuff?”
“Never again. Don’t ever say something like that again!”
“Lord Aaron has arrived,” announced Sam.
We looked towards the door. Sam had held it open. Aaron walked in with Josh behind him. Aaron looked unusually sullen. His leg, which should have been healed, looked a little limp. I looked at Alex to see if he noticed. He nodded at me.
Oh, Aaron finally noticed me today. Yesterday he had just ignored me as if I didn’t exist. The day before that, too. I raised my eyebrows skeptically. Aaron dragged a chair over and sat down. He sighed. He seemed to be begging us to ask him what was troubling him. I couldn’t care less.
Alex wasn’t as spiteful as me. “What is it?” he asked.
“You know…,” said Aaron looking at us. He then lowered his eyes and sighed again. He looked like a teenager suffering from a crush.
Ah, yes. Aaron is just seventeen. Alex is eighteen but doesn’t look like it. I couldn’t judge them based on the Grand Duke’s age. I keep forgetting. Frankly, what should I do with that man? I shouldn’t even be thinking about him but he keeps invading my thoughts. I don’t want to be involved in unrequited love and all like last time!
“I worry about Her Highness,” said Aaron, dragging me away from my thoughts. He let out a short breath.
“There is nothing to worry about. Her Highness is doing well,” said Alex.
“What are you talking about? Her maid just died.”
“Well, it is a bad idea to wander around alone in a foreign land. You know that. Every estate has forests full of wild beasts. You can’t walk around without an escort. It was unfortunate,” said Alex
“Do you really think that the maid was killed by the wild beasts?” asked Aaron.
I wondered if I had left anything behind which might have caused suspicion. Her corpse looked like it was gnawed off by wild animals. Only her toes were perfectly cut off as though by a trained dog. Wild beasts wouldn’t be capable of that. But her legs were covered, so no one could have seen them anyway.
“What else could it have been?” asked Alex.
“I think there’s some conspiracy brewing,” Aaron said in a low voice.
I stared at him. Conspiracy? What conspiracy?
“If Her Highness disappears, who do you think is next in line of succession?” said Aaron.
“The Grand Duke of Glouster. That’s not even a secret,” I said bluntly.
Aaron tapped the table with an annoyed look on his face. “That’s why no one would suspect him. People believe that he won’t do something so rash and stupid outright. If Her Highness disappears, he will be the next in line for the throne. But people can be stupid. A person can be blinded by greed and arrogance. They are capable of anything!”
I turned to Alex. “Does the Grand Duke look greedy and arrogant to you?”
“Not even a bit,” said Alex.
Aaron straightened in his chair and looked at us in frustration. “He may be fooling us all! Just think about it. The maid was the Princess’ food taster. She is dead. Why would someone kill her? To be able to place something in the Princess’ food!”
“Has she starved herself for the past two day?” I asked. “She has been eating the same food we have been eating. Nothing has happened so far.”