Lucan Leolin was not an unsure man. All his life he had been certain of his path; never hesitating in his actions, pouring his heart into every endeavour he undertook. But how could he now condemn his brother, and escort him to face trial by the king? His gut feeling told him it was the only way, his sense of righteousness encouraged him further, but the guilt of delivering his own brother into the hands of his possible murderer, kept him away. Since he had been caught, Rian had been confined to his rooms, and all interaction with him had been withheld. Lucan guessed that their father had gone and had words with him, but beyond that nothing more had been said about the matter. Idelisa was shaken, but she had admitted that the servant’s story was true. Their mother had been weeping for a whole day and night, her pregnant belly heaving with each gasp and sob. Lucan was pained to see his family in such a wreck, and his only saving thought was that the princess Rei had not yet abandoned them.
If there were any reason to confess his brother’s actions to the king, it was for the sake of Rei’s honour. If he did nothing, and allowed Rian to go unjudged for his crimes, was the princess at risk? No, Lucan did not believe so. His brother was aware of his affections for Rei, and he was not naïve enough to cross him. Something had to be done, and the thought to take matters into his own hands had ventured through his mind. Images of belting Rian like he was a child again, but swatting his rear and sending him running would not suffice for such an offence. It seemed as though there was nothing Lucan could do to save his brother, or his family, from the king’s justice. There was a knock at the door, and Lucan glanced up from his hands. He blinked, looking around at his surroundings. He suddenly realised he was in his old bedroom, after somehow wondering in during his procrastinations.
“Come in,” he said, surprised at the squeak in his voice.
The door swung wide, and a small figure entered the room. Golden hair streamed down a ceramic face, dark blue eyes scanned him, and full strawberry coloured lips were set in a frown. His heart leaped in his chest. She wore a white dress, which made her skin appear darker than usual.
“I’m sorry if I’ve disturbed you,” Rei said, taking quiet steps toward him.
She moved so silently, her grace held a ghostly presence about it. She was such a delicate, small thing, so gentle and warm. Lucan had watched her carefully since she had arrived, and under her layers of silk and satin, there resided a stubborn will that would not bend or break under pressure. She had enchanted him with her smile, but stolen his heart with her strength.
“Not at all, princess.” He smiled, he had taken to calling her that – but not as a title, more as a nickname. For some reason, he doubted she’d had many nicknames growing up. “You are always welcome to keep me company.”
She smiled at his weak attempt to joke, “Are you okay?”
He looked up at her, hearing her question again and again in his mind. He could sit there for hours trying to answer her, or he could lie. “I am,” he said.
“Would you like to talk?”
“Are we not talking now?”
Rei frowned, and nodded her head. She went to turn away, and Lucan could not bear it. He stood up, reaching out to grab her by the wrist. He had held her wrist before, he had felt the softness of her skin, but this time he would not let go so easily.
“I’m sorry if my presence disrupts you, sir” she said dismissively.
Lucan sighed, “Sir? There’s no greater insult than being addressed as such by someone I care so deeply for.”
She stared at him, her eyes studying his face – looking for insincerity. “You,” she whispered “Care?”
He nodded, pulling her close to him. She did not resist him, and let her body fold into his. She smelled of freshly cut lavender. He pressed his face to her golden hair and breathed, feeling the tentative pressure of her hands against his chest.
“I don’t know what to do,” he whispered. She made no sound to confirm she had heard him, and in a way it comforted him. “I am lost. If I betray my brother, our family will be disgraced. And how could a princess marry into a family so humiliated.” For a second, he thought he felt her smile against his neck.
“You would not betray your brother by doing what is right, and maybe we should be married before you take him before the king.”
Lucan’s breath caught in his throat, and he pulled away from her. He stared intently into her pretty little face, and she smiled nervously at him.
“You,” he said. “Will marry me?”
“Is that your proposal?”
Lucan grinned, seeing the gleam in her eye.