Rei had occupied her time at the Leolins by getting to know the youngest of the children. It was an easy way to avoid any interaction with either of her suitors, though Rian had bluntly refused to acknowledge her presence since Rionna had been sent away. She guessed that he was displeased with his mother, and Milena’s worrisome sighs at his behaviour supported her theory.
Maiolaine it seemed had taken to the younger of the girls, Viera. She had risen early to spend time with Viera, leaving Rei to enjoy a few more hours sleep. She knew where to find the pair, as surely Viera’s hungry stomach could not wait for Maiolaine’s excellent cooking.
Rei smiled to herself as she entered, expecting to see the little blonde miss begging to taste Maiolaine’s cooking. Instead, she found herself suddenly rather flushed and heated. Lucan stood with his little sister, laughing at the young girl’s begging.
“You’re too big, princess.” Lucan laughed, “I couldn’t go hauling you over my shoulder if I tried.”
“Just spin me around once please, just once!” Viera stood on her tip toes, grabbing her brother by the hands. “I promise not to tell Ma.”
“That’s what you said last time, and I got a slap around the ear for it!”Viera grinned, “I pro-mise!”
Rei spotted Maiolaine standing over the stove, and the maidservant smiled to her. “Good morning, lady.” She cooed, “I was going to send the lady Viera to fetch you.”
“Oh,” Rei put a hand to her chest in embarrassment.
Lucan had noticed her then, pulling away from his sister. He turned to bow extravagantly, “Princess, how delightful is the sight of you.”“You needn’t say that,” Rei stammered.
Viera bounced over to Rei, “You’re a real princess, you should make Lucan pick me up and spin me around like he used to when I was little!”
Rei smiled down at her, “Does your mother disapprove?”
“Only because she thinks Lucan will drop me, but he won’t” the little girl said. “I swear!”
“No swearing in this house, princess.” Lucan scolded, “Well of course that doesn’t include you, Princess.” He winked at Rei, “Swear all you like, I should like to hear it.”
Rolling her eyes at him, Rei gave in to Viera’s tugging and leaned down to embrace the young girl.
“Princesses don’t swear, Lucan” Viera informed her brother as he came to join the two girls. “It’s not ladylike.”“I think you’ve been taking lessons from Nolia again, haven’t you?” Lucan spoke to his sister, but his eyes were firmly set on Rei. “A Princess can do as she likes.” He took her hand and held it to his lips, “For I know I shan’t complain.”
Rei pulled her hand away quickly, fearing the sweaty heat that came over her. She had grown flustered and confused in the few moments he had been gazing upon her, and he still would not tear his eyes away.Maiolaine grinned at them, a steaming plate in her hands. “Little miss, are you ready to eat?” She asked Viera, who jumped at the opportunity to open the kitchen door for her. “I’ll only be a moment,” Maiolaine said to Rei, meaning that she would not leave Rei in the company of a man for very long.
Rei just smiled as Viera and Maiolaine disappeared from sight, she stared down at the stone tiles below. Lucan had taken a step away from her and Rei was relieved for it, she sucked in a breath attempting to calm her exterior. His eyes had still not left her, and he waited patiently as she slowly built up the courage to look him in the eye.
“Oh?” She found herself searching her memory for the day he mentioned, “In the barn?”
“Your skill with the sword,” his smile widened. “I should like to meet this Sir Geraint fellow, seeing he had the patience to teach a girl.”
“And what is that supposed to mean?”
“What are you suggesting?”
“Oh nothing, I’m sure” he repeated, looking back at her with a wink. “Did you find him pleasing?”
Rei felt the heat and nerves quickly disperse, she narrowed her eyes in offence. “Are you inferring I had a relationship with Geraint?”
“Not at all,” Lucan finally lost his smile. “Only curious of my competition, as I am quite certain I can outdo my brother – but to outdo a man with the patience to teach a girl to swing a sword – a knight no less, may take a little more preparation.”
She did not know whether to be flattered at his words, or disgusted. “Are you,” she said “Jealous?”
“Well I’ve never had a way with words,” he replied. “But I am curious, is there any reason to be – jealous?”“No.”
“Are you sure?”
“So I should be jealous?”
“You said yes.”
Rei felt the heat returning, as if the burning of her cheeks wasn’t enough, her gown had grown tight and restrictive. She turned away from him, “If you’ll excuse me.”
She made to leave, but felt his hand on her forearm. She looked down at it, he had strong and slender fingers. She noted the dirt beneath his fingernails and calluses on his palms. She glanced up at his blue eyes to see a glimpse of sincerity in them.
“I meant no offence, princess.” He said, “I’d like to ask to see you another day – there’s something I’d like to show you.”Rei sniffed, “I shall speak to Maiolaine about it.”
She shrunk away from him, suddenly feeling like a child to have to ask for permission to see him alone again.