Buried back in the kitchen it took a while for the news to reach her. Whispers about the advisor’s search for a new queen buzzed through the castle and filtered down to her by way of a soldier. They all had ideas about who would match the king best. Bella’s stomach churned at the thought, which made her frown.
Why would she care who the king married? It had nothing to do with her being a chef except she would be expected to feed one more person. How did she feel about that? No matter how she turned the idea around in her head she couldn’t see why the idea bothered her so much.
The king was a nice guy and his children were sweet, they deserved someone who loved them. Maybe it was the cold-blooded selection process? But it had, by all accounts, worked well for the king before. Everyone raved about what a great woman the last queen had been.
It wasn’t like she thought she’d be a valid candidate. Bella had zero wish to be royalty and she definitely wasn’t ready to have children even other peoples’ children. So why did the thought of someone at the dining table laughing with the boys make her so sad?
Shaking her head she finished decorating the cookies she made for the boys.
“What are those?” Chef Brillon stared at Bella’s work as if he’d never seen them before.
“You’ve never seen a gingerbread man?”
He shook his head.
Bella quickly put a chef hat on one and handed it over. “Here you go.”
Brillon’s hard mouth quirked up at the edges as he examined the cookie with a critical eye. “Gingerbread?”
“Yep. Go on try it.”
If she hadn’t watched him so closely she wouldn’t have seen the flare of surprise after he took a bite.
“That’s excellent. I don’t suppose you’d share your recipe.”
Bella shrugged. “Maybe we can make an exchange.”
“I’d like that.” The chef patted Bella on the back and headed back to his area.
Smiling, Bella finished the rest of the cookies. She wanted them to have time to set before she stacked them on the tray. The empty bowls of soup told her the king and his sons enjoyed their first course and she’d already sent out the quiches and salad for the second course. When the guard returned with the covered platter she’d add the cookies.
Concentrating on her frosting skills she brutally shoved the idea of a queen to the back of her mind. The king needed a spouse and those sweet boys needed a mother. She was an idiot to think she should have a hand in helping pick the perfect person. She was only the cook, she couldn’t even claim to be a family friend.
The soldier returned with the tray. Bella quickly uncovered it and set the cookies a careful distance apart. Putting the lid back on she motioned for the soldier to take it away.
“Aren’t you going to come with?”
Bella shook her head. She needed to remember she didn’t belong butting into the business of the royal family. If she went to see them now she knew she’s ask questions better left unanswered.
After giving her a strange look, the guard left taking her cookies with him. Bella knew she’ d miss the boy’s expression when they say the treats but maybe that was for the best.