This one is a little short so I will do two postings next week. (remember this is unedited)
Bella paused at the sight of the eldest prince at her door. He leaned against the wall by her doorway surreptitiously watching everyone pass while trying to appear like he didn’t care about the stares he garnered. He reminded her achingly of her brothers in that awkward stage between teenager and man.
Shaking off the sweet memories she approached the prince. “Is there something I can help you with your highness?”
Prince Lianth straightened and gave her a courtly bow. “Good afternoon Chef Bella. I came to apologize if my brother has offended you.”
Confused, Bella stared at the young man for a moment. “What are you talking about?”
Lianth cleared his throat. “I thought since you were last spotted talking to Varren and now have been avoiding us I was worried my brother did something to bother you.”
Bella laughed. “No prince. Your brother is a sweet boy.”
The prince scowled. “That’s what everyone thinks but he’s sneakier than a vole weasel.”
Bella couldn’t stop the smile if she were offered the finest goods in the world. “Well, now you know I wasn’t bothered you can go on your way.” She desperately wanted the prince to move on. She didn’t want him to delve too deeply into why was so concerned about his father’s chef.
Scuffing his shoes against the floor it took a moment for the prince to meet her eyes. “Father’s looking for a new wife.”
“I know.” Bella fidgeted. Her fingers became a fascinating object of interest. “I heard.”
Lianth cleared his throat. “Generally his advisors submit names for consideration but I think this time he wants to put in his own.” The prince gave Bella a hopeful look.
“Umm, that’s good.” Bella had no idea where this conversation was going but she really wanted to take a bath. Spending the day in the hot kitchen didn’t lead to happy hygiene.
“Do you think he’d let me put in a name?” Lianth looked up at her through his lashes.
When had she turned into the prince confessor? Bella sighed. “Why don’t you go ask him? I’m sure he’d be open to discussing it with you.” For a king, the man appeared to be a good father. From what Bella understood, starting the day with all of his children around him wasn’t the usual model of a ruler.
Lianth’s smile could’ve powered a starship. “You think?”
“Sure.” Anything to get the boy away from her door. Hot water beckoned.
“Thanks. I’ll tell him you’re interested.” Lianth ran down the hall as Bella’s mouth dropped open.
Bella leaned forward and smacked her head against the wall. “Why did I think coming here was a good idea?”