"I'm not letting you see him," my father ordered, standing in the doorway of my room. I supposed it was no wonder, considering what had happened after the Queen had taken my prisoners away.
The second the Queen had been out of earshot, the water jug, used as a reward for particularly forthcoming prisoners, was hurled against the wall, smashing into a thousand pieces. "How dare that Iberan traitor come in here and take my prisoners," I had screamed, looking for something else to violently throw around. My father had eyed me nervously before making a gesture to Smith who had quickly picked me up, literally kicking and screaming. My nails lashed out at the man in rage, and it is a credit to him that he did nothing to me beyond carry me beyond the dungeons and throw me in my fathers carriage.
I had not lashed out in the carriage, but the second we returned home I let my father, who had been silent all the while, know how I felt about this development by slamming the door, hard. There was a grim satisfaction to be had in watching the way mother's so carefully collected ornaments rattled on their shelves. I glared at my father as if daring him to say something, to reprimand me for my outburst.
"You'll wake your mother up you know," he said calmly, staring me down.
"I don't care," I yelled. "I want to go back to the castle. I want an audience with the King, now. His traitorous wife can not be allowed to get away with this. Those were my prisoners, mine."
"Yelling at the King will only get you in trouble daughter dear," my father said, calmly still.
"I don't care," I cried again, hitting my hand against the wall. One of my mothers pieces of china fell, shattering in the silence that followed as we both stared at it.
"You foolish child," my father called out, as a manservant stepped up from behind me and carelessly picked me up. "Your acting like a right brat over this." The manservant carried me up the stairs, as once again I kicked out, wanting to vent my fury by making someone else hurt, anyone. The Queen could not be allowed to do this to me, to take away my hard work.
Finally I was deposited in my room, the door slamming behind me. My father spoke loudly from the other side. "You need to calm down daughter dear. I can see now that it was a mistake to allow you to dabble in these matters. A spymaster must be calm always, obeying their superiors. You will stay in this room until you learn that."
I could hear his footsteps retreating, and I let out a scream, not carrying if I did wake my mother from her daily nap. How dare he side with them on this, with those who had taken my prize away from me. I picked up the nearest item at hand, luckily a pillow, and threw it at the door. Several other items followed afterwards, until finally the rage that had filled me since the Queen had walked out of the dungeon with my prisoner began to fade.
It was in this scene that we now stood, my room in a disarray as my father surveyed me, denying my request to see the King.
"You were right,"I told him, trying to appear as calm as he did. "I shouldn't have lashed out. But I have every right to see the King. The Queen has taken my prisoners, but should I allow that to deny me my reward for capturing them? I am owed for them, and for Eliza as well. You told me that a spymaster must always ensure he is paid for his deeds, and that is all I want."
My father eyed me, as if trying to determine whether I had calmed down or not. His eyes returned to the room, and the various items laying in a heap just before the door. Finally he looked back at me. "Very well, I will allow you this audience. But my daughter, you ever try to throw a tantrum like that again in the spy game and you will learn the consequences of your actions. I won't let the fact that you are my daughter spare you from how I would treat any other under me who acts in the same manner. Understand?"
I nodded, once again remembering just how dangerous a man my father was. The cold light glittering in his eyes reflected a man who I hadn't even known existed a few years ago, a man who held the power of life and death. I had wanted what he had, and he had indulged me, as with many other aspects of my life. But it seemed that indulgence could only go so far.
Some time later I found myself waiting outside the King's audience chamber, a messenger informing me that the King would see me now. I glanced over at my father who gestured for me to enter, alone it seemed. "You are responsible for your own actions in there," he informed me softly, before I stepped through the door.
The King was seated in is throne at the end of the room, disapproval seeming to radiate off him. And yet it didn't seem I was the source of his bad mood.
"And what can I do for you today Miss Mays?" the King asked once I had curtsied before him, as was only proper.
I took a deep breath, steeling myself to speak the words I wanted to speak. "No doubt you are aware of my part in the capture of the Iberan spies your majesty?" I began.
The King nodded, his posture changing as if he could tell I was about to demand something. "Go on," he prompted.
"And you no doubt know that the capture of Eliza Frances was my doing as well."
"Eliza," the King muttered, for a moment appearing distracted. "I forgot to tell her about Eliza." Quickly he gestured to a messenger beside him, ordering him to bring his wife back to see him at once. "I won't hear the end of it if I don't tell her I have the daughter of Sir Frances in my possession," he said distractedly.
Suddenly the King turned back to me, as if realizing I was in the room, silently seeming to take control of himself. "Yes, I am aware of your work in regards to Miss Frances. I suppose you come to me now for a reward, as all the spies have been removed from your hands."
"Well your majesty, I do have but one small request as my payment. A request that will cost you naught to grant."
The King leaned forward, as if his interest had been piqued. "Let me hear this request then," he ordered. "If it agrees with me I shall grant it."
I took a careful step forward, trying to make myself appear more confident than I was. I had thought hard on what my request should be, and in truth there was only one thing which my position or family name had yet to grant me. "Well sire, I am as of yet an unmarried woman..." I began.
"Ah, you seek a husband do you? A woman of your station and looks must have many a suitor," the King replied, interrupting me.
"Indeed I do your highness. And yet I have had my eye on one man in particular," I continued.
"And you wish me to have the pair of you betrothed," the King said, assessing me. "But alas I cannot grant your request until I know the man who you seek."
"Mr James Newberry sire. He is the one I would desire as a husband."
A light seemed to spring into the King's eyes on hearing the name. "I am aware of Mr Newberry, Miss Mays. He is as yet unspoken for." He seemed to pause for a moment as if to consider the matter, before a smile crossed his face. "Perhaps by removing Mr Newberry to a married life she will interfere less," he said softly, so softly that I only just picked up the words. Finally he looked down at me again. "I think your request is one that would be for the benefit of the both of us. I will have Mr Newberry informed of the matter, and shall have your betrothal announced tomorrow. A wedding date can be set at a later time. I wish you happiness in your upcoming nuptials Miss Mays, and I hope you know what you're getting into."
With the King's word, I could feel a sense of joy fill me. As I walked from the room it was if I was walking on air. Finally James would be mine. And with Eliza locked away there was little she could do about it.