Alice let her brother go and the man approached the bed where she was propped. “Fortunately, you are all right,” he said, “The medic said everything was fine but I was beginning to worry.”
“I apologize for troubling you,” she said.
“He is the Grand Duke of Glouster,” said Alex in a way of introduction, “The younger brother to the king, and uncle to the princess.”
Alice glared at Alex, trying to relay that even she knew that much. She wasn’t an imbecile. She turned to the Duke and bowed respectfully, well as respectful as she could be, propped up at the bed and bowing by her head.
“I am Alice Warwick, from Wishburn,” she said, introducing herself, “It is an honor to meet you. I apologize for leaving not a very good first impression.”
“Please don’t apologize, that’s perfectly alright,” he said, “I had heard about your beauty, it is the talk among everybody here. The Marquess of Wishburn must be very proud to have a daughter like you.”
“It is indeed a shame if my father finds pride only in my beauty,” said Alice, “It is something given to me by them, but I would rather like to be remembered for other things that I would earn for myself. Isn’t that what children aspire to, my lord?”
Alex closed his eyes and opened them and glared at her. Words just came out of her before she could stop them. But she was annoyed at this less-than-stellar Duke himself running his mouth about beauty and all that. As though, that was all she was capable of. Alex was positively panicking. The Grand Duke seemed surprised at her words. Alex was turned her way so he couldn’t see him. But the Grand Duke got over his surprise and smiled at her.
“Well, looks take proper maintenance,” he said, “So isn’t it the great work of a Marquess to provide resources for it?”
Ugh, she thought. He wasn’t earning any points with her only rambling on about her appearance and nothing else. If she were to retort, though, she thought Alex would overcome his reluctance to follow polite etiquette and knock her upside the head. So she forced herself to plaster a smile on her face. So much for a Grand Duke with a pea for a brain.
She looked around her surroundings for the first time. She didn’t know where she was. This wasn’t her place that she stayed with her parents. It must clearly be the Grand Duke’s house. She couldn’t wait to be out of here.
“I have already caused you so much trouble,” she said sweetly, “We will get going for now.”
She was about to pull back the blanket and get up, when her brother’s arm grabbed her at her wrist. Even the Grand Duke took a step forward. They both looked petrified that she would fall to her feet again without warning.
“It’s too soon to do that,” said the Grand Duke calmly, “You just gained consciousness, please rest a while to make sure you are really alright. The carriage hasn’t arrived yet. Please rest till it does.”
Really? Alice said inwardly. Who the hell would know more about her own condition better than her. Obviously, she felt better so she was trying to get out of this house. If he was a medic, perhaps she would listen. These two pathetic men, pretending to know what was wrong with her, grated on her nerves.
“Well, if you think I might still not be well,” she said, “It would really be more comfortable for me to go and rest in my own home. Could Your Grace lend a poor country girl your carriage?”
The Grand Duke looked shocked at her audacity, then he quietly laughed. The sound of his laughter felt familiar. Who was he? She liked his laugh. What was she thinking? She had never met this man in her life and he seems to make her annoyed only by his face, and yet….
“I see,” he said chuckling, “Why didn’t I think about that? You can take my carriage. I hope you feel better in two weeks and be able to attend the party without any problem.”
“Don’t worry, Your Grace,” she said, “My mother will make sure of that, if not anything else. See you at the party.”
Alice got off the bed. Alex didn’t look too pleased but he took her hand. Her head was throbbing but she wasn’t going to let any of them see it. It was a matter of pride and stubbornness. That too, after she had said she was fine and wanted to go home.