I stayed in bed for a little while longer than normal the next day. The king had made sure I wasn't bothered. I was incredibly embarrassed for crying in front of him but I felt a little better after getting it out. Just before lunch, there was a frantic knocking on my door. I hurried over, pulling my shirt on over my head.
"What's wrong?" I gasped, looking around.
"Down here!" Sally cried and I smiled. "It's lunch time, sleepy head! Come on!" I laughed as she grabbed my hand and dragged me down the hall. "I learned how to count, David!"
"Yeah! I counted all the way to ten!"
I gasped comically. "Ten? Wow! When I was your age, I could only count to five!"
She giggled and I picked her up, putting her on my shoulders. She squealed in laughter as I bounced her. When we finally reached the dining hall, she was breathless with laughter and I put her down.
"You slept late," the queen said. "Are you feeling ill?"
"No. I had just forgotten how comfortable the beds are here."
"How were your classes?" Angel asked the children and they launched into speech.
"Kids," Christina said, raising her finger. "What did I say?"
"One at a time," the quoted in unison.
I smiled and tucked into my lunch. They all bragged about how far they could count and about the history of the kingdom they learned.
"Did you know there have been over 100 kings?" the oldest son, Bryan, Jr., gasped to me.
"Over 100? Really?"
The middle son, Charles, nodded enthusiastically. "And we've won every single war!"
"Very impressive," I said.
The youngest son, Kevin, rolled his eyes. "I learned that if you capture a fairy, they have to grant you three wishes!"
"Don't be stupid," Charles snapped. "Everyone knows fairies aren't real."
"Of course they are," Sally argued.
"No they're not," Charles argued back.
"Okay," Christina raised her voice and they stopped. "How about the four of you get ready for your afternoon lessons?" They raced out of the dining hall and Christina shook her head. "Children," she muttered.
"Oh, they're beautiful," the queen giggled. "How old are they?"
"Bryan, Jr. is 10, Charles is 8, Kevin is 5, and Sally is 4," she answered.
"They're lovely," the king agreed.
"Did you not want more than one child?" Christina asked.
"Angel was a handful," the queen laughed. "She was quite the rebel as a little girl."
I smirked at the princess who was rolling her eyes.
"I wasn't that bad."
"How many pranks did you play on your poor nanny?"
She giggled and I held her hand. "She was always so gullible."
"If I could just get Charles to stop bullying Kevin, it would be much easier," Christina sighed.
"Well, you know what they say about little kids: a little spanking goes a long way," the king said. "We did it once with Angel and we never had to do it again."
Angel blushed and I laughed while she stuck her tongue out at her father.
"I can't bring myself to do it," Christina admitted. "Not after what happened to Bryan...."
I shifted and cleared my throat. "I'm going to go freshen up," I said, standing and rubbing a hand along my stubbly chin.
I hated facial hair.
"Do you have plans for this afternoon?" Angel asked and I smiled at her.
"No. We do."
She smiled back and I went up to my room. I finished shaving and got dressed. I walked to her room and knocked.
"Are you ready?" I asked and she nodded, closing her door.
"Why this dress?" she asked as we walked back down the hall and out through the back.
I laughed and looked at the brown dress she was wearing. It had green trimming and was much simpler than her other dresses.
"What we're doing is a little too much for fancy dresses," I explained and held the door open for her.
"What are we doing?" she asked. I led her to the barn and she hesitated. I knew she was still nervous about horses. "I don't think I'm in the mood for a ride, David."
I smiled kindly and took her hand. "We're not going riding, don't worry." We went around the back where targets were and the two bows and full quivers that I had requested waited. "Your mother told me about this. I want to teach you how to shoot."
She took the bow and looked at it as one of the stable boys brought us leather sleeves.
"What are these for?" she asked.
I helped her put it on and strapped it tightly. "It's to protect your arm."
Her eyes widened. "Protect it from what?"
I showed her the tight string. "Sometimes, if you don't do it right, your string will strike your arm. Trust me, it doesn't feel good."
She smiled nervously and I showed her how to dock an arrow.
"Like this?" she asked, trying to balance the arrow.
I got behind her and put her hand in the right place. "Hold the bow tightly," I instructed, "and pull your right arm back as far as you can."
She grunted as she did. It didn't pull back far. "I don't know, David. This is kind of hard."
I laughed and helped her pull it back further. "Of course it is," I said. "Everything is hard when you first start. Just trust me."
"Okay," she said slowly.
"Are you ready to let go?" I asked.
"Too bad," I smirked and let go.
She cried out as the arrow went flying. The string struck the leather on her arm and she gasped in shock. The arrow landed halfway to the target and she pouted.
"Hey, it was great for your first time," I said.
"You're just saying that. Why don't you do it?"
I picked my bow up and docked an arrow. I positioned my feet so that they were aligned with my shoulders. I pulled back and took a deep breath, aiming for the red circle. I let it out slowly and let the arrow fly. It struck and shook a little as it stuck in the wood.
"How in the world did you do that?" Angel breathed and I smiled.
"Practice, my dear," I answered, rolling my shoulders. "Practice and patience."
She sighed. "I'm not very good at being patient," she admitted and I laughed.
"You've been taking piano lessons for two years," I said.
"Because my mother ordered me to," she pointed out and I thought for a minute.
"Very well," I said and handed her the bow she had put down. "I'm ordering you to practice archery."
She giggled. "You're not the boss of me," she said but she took the bow anyway. "So, how do I put my legs again?"
For the next few hours, I taught her the proper form. By the end, she was wincing at her pointer and middle fingers.
"They're so red," she said and I kissed them gently, smiling at her and she returned it.
"You'll get used to it," I whispered.
"Kiss me," she breathed suddenly and I grinned, holding her chin.
"Is that an order?" I asked.
She grinned, too. "Yes, it is, as your princess."
I chuckled and pressed my lips to hers. I sighed as she wrapped her arms around my neck, her bow pressing into my back. I held her as close as I could. I greatly enjoyed holding and kissing her.
"Ew!" Sally squealed and we broke away.
I laughed as the four kids ran over with their ball. Kevin tossed it to me and I smiled, throwing it as hard as I could. Angel was dragged to a bench by Sally who climbed into Angel's lap, showing her something on a piece of paper. Angel took it and kissed Sally on the head, making her giggle loudly.