I hadn't meant to injure her. But she needs to learn to control that damn tongue of hers. I slid back through my window and cracked my neck a few times. The scroll still sat upon my desk and I glared at it. I would have to see her again. She would surely mention what I did to her but I wondered if she would do it in front of her mother.
When the sun rose, I woke and changed into more casual clothing. I picked up the scroll and walked down the stairs, ignoring the bowing servants. I was battling with myself. Should I apologize? I didn't want to. Such an act was only for the guilty. If anyone should apologize, it should be her. Did she not know respect?
I reached their home and knocked three times. I heard her yell in frustration and cocked a brow.
"Now Viveka," her mother said in a calming tone. "It could be anything."
I heard stomping footsteps.
"If I get one more proposal, I swear I'll-"
The door flew open and she gaped at me. Marriage proposals, huh? Her expression changed from shock to anger.
"Good day, Lord Cian," she said through clenched teeth.
I stared coldly back. "Good day, Viveka," I returned.
"Lord Cian?" her mother asked, coming up from behind. "Where are your manners, Viveka!? Invite him into our house!"
I'm sure Lord Cian does not wish to dwell among the poor.
"Would you like to come in?" she said instead.
"Thank you," I said haughtily. I walked past her and smirked when she slammed the door shut. "This is a lovely home you have."
"Thank you," her mother said. "My deceased husband left us well taken care of."
She was definitely not poor. Sarcastic little minx.
"My father told me of his death. I am sorry to hear of how it happened."
"Thank you," she whispered. "How may we assist you today?"
"It's actually about your husband that I'm here," I continued. The two women stared at me. I pushed the scroll at Viveka. "This is from my father."
"And he sent you to deliver it?" she asked with a smirk.
Her mother smacked her head and she rolled her eyes. She frowned as she untied the black ribbon then draped it over her shoulder. She unrolled the scroll and her mother mumbled what it said, reading it, too. The more she read, the more confused her face became. Finally, she looked up at me.
"I don't understand," she said.
"What's not to understand?" I snapped and she glared at me. "You are being offered a chance to learn a trade; something no woman has been offered before."
Her eyes searched mine. "When did the king write this?"
I knew the reason behind her question.
"Yesterday afternoon," I answered and she stared at me one more time before nodding.
"This summons says you are to accompany me back," she said and I cursed my father. "I wonder why."
"Your guess is as good as mine," I said blandly. "Are you ready? I don't have all day."
"What do you think, Mother?" she asked.
"Go!" she said excitedly. "This is what you've been waiting for!" She turned her back on me and lowered her voice. "And you can tell the king about-"
"I said it wasn't important," she interrupted, her teeth clenched. "But, yes, I will accept."
Before I could open the door, she threw it open and strolled out. I growled quietly but followed her, closing it as gently as I could.
"You are supposed to walk beside me," I said coldly.
"So you can bruise me again?" she asked sarcastically. "No."
"Do not make me grab you again," I hissed.
"You won't," she snapped back, turning to face me. "My mother is already pressing me to tell her who did it. If you do it again, she will go to the king. Something tells me I will not be able to lie to him."
I frowned. "So you did not tell her it was me?"
She scoffed and continued to the palace. "It's not like she'll believe me anyway."
I sped up to walk beside her. She tried to speed up and I started to get entertained. She'd never be able to outwalk me. I decided to get some enjoyment out of this walk and sped up. Again, she rushed forward but without running, her hands balled into my fists. I lengthened my stride.
"That's cheating," she snapped suddenly. "Your legs are longer."
"It's not my fault you're short," I retorted.
She stopped and stared at me for a second. I cocked a brow in challenge and leaned forward slightly.
"Are you sure you want to do this, Viveka?" I whispered.
"I don't know," she whispered back. "I guess you'll just have to-"
She ran off before I could react. It took me by surprise and she was almost to the doors before I recovered. She was fast. But not faster than me. I dug my heel into the dirt and ran. I surpassed her without a problem. I smirked at her when she reached me, panting and glaring.
"Whatever," she snapped.
She took a few deep breaths and straightened her dress and hair. Once her breathing was under control, she stared at me.
"What?" I asked.
She rolled her eyes. God. If she kept that up, they'd roll right out of her damn head.
"I'm not opening these doors," she spat.
I smirked. "Is your body too delicate and weak to open this little door?" I mocked.
"No but this is not my home," she said. "It is yours!"
"Oh," I said, momentarily stymied. "Right." Now she was the one smirking. "Just get in the damn castle."
I pushed the door open and she followed me into the throne room where my father was reading a book and my mother was humming as she looked out the window. I cleared my throat pointedly.
"Oh! Hello, Viveka," my father said cheerfully. "How are you?"
"Confused," she answered.
"Why?" he asked.
"Yesterday you were mad at me and now you've sent me this," she said. My father snorted and I looked at her. She was pointing at me. I opened my mouth angrily. "And he says you're offering to teach me a trade?"
"You seem like the kind of young woman who does not like being idle," my mother said. "Am I correct?"
She looked uncomfortable. "Perhaps," she said slowly. "But what could I possibly learn?"
"What do you have an interest in?" my father asked.
"Farming," I snorted and she glared, balling her hands into fists.
"There's nothing wrong with farming," she snapped.
"If you're a man," I taunted. "Last I saw you have a few extra parts."
She gasped and slapped me, turning red and putting an arm over her chest. I blinked a few times in surprise. Did she just slap me!?
"Keep your eyes to yourself!" she yelled.
I looked to my father, my mouth open in shock. He looked shocked, too, but my mother was smiling.
"What's so funny?" I demanded.
"Come with me," she said to Viveka.
Viveka nodded and shoved the scroll into my hand. I gaped at her as she walked out of the room with my mother. When the door closed, I turned to my father, pointing at the door.
"She hit me!" I said indignantly.
"I know," he said slowly. "I didn't think she had it in her."
"She hit me!" I repeated.
"You were a bit crass," he said reasonably.
I rolled my eyes. "Whatever."