"I am sorry for my son's rudeness," the queen sighed as we sat down at the desk and she got the papers out.
I didn't answer, still upset. The king knocked on the door and both men walked in.
"Forgive our intrusion," he said. "We have arrived for two reasons."
"One reason," Cian hissed.
"Silence, Cian!" his father yelled suddenly and Cian took a step back in shock. "Enough with this attitude of yours! It is going to happen whether you wish it to or not!"
Cian just shook his head and crossed his arms, leaning against the wall. The king sighed and turned back to us.
"First, I am looking for the history book on the war that burned down the village to the south."
The queen got up and browsed a group of books by the window. I smoothly hid the paper with the alphabet on it under a medical book.
"I think this one will have the information you want," she said, passing it over. "And the second reason?"
"Is absolutely ridiculous," Cian said through clenched teeth.
"I have a request for you, Viveka," he said and I sat up straighter. "As you have noticed, my son lacks... manners."
"That's obvious," I said.
"Because she's so much better," Cian said at the same time and we glared at each other.
"I know you still feel... guilty for how you spoke to my wife." I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. "I also know that, being Miles' daughter, you were given strict lessons in manners. Am I correct?"
I narrowed my eyes. "Where is this going, your highness?"
"My son needs lessons but we are too busy. Would you be willing to do it?"
I laughed, unable to stop myself. I snorted.
"Me?" I repeated. "I don't know if that's such a good idea."
"Why not?" he asked.
"Put us in a room together and one of two things will happen: Only one will come out alive, or the palace may burn down."
"She has a point," Cian said.
"We would be most appreciative," Queen Darcey said. "My husband speaks the truth: as you know, I can only see you twice a week for I am so busy."
I bit my lower lip. I had been very rude to the queen and they were being very kind to me. But be alone in a room with Lord Cian and teaching him manners? But I sighed.
"My father would insist I do it," I said quietly, "so I will. But only because I am atoning for how I spoke and because, as I said, my father would want me to."
"Great!" the king said. "We will begin tomorrow." He turned to the queen. "Thank you for the book. Cian, you-"
He had already left the room. The king shook his head.
"My dear, why is his cheek bruised?" the queen asked. "It wasn't there this morning...."
The king smirked. "He had a run in with an old friend," he said and I pounded my fist on the table.
"I'll kill him!" I yelled.
"I never said who it was," the king said slowly.
"You don't need to, your highness," I sighed. "Chester has always been...."
"He was defending you," the king said with a shrug. "Now, please excuse me. Cian and I need to read up on this village."
"Very well," the queen said and sat down beside me. "Today we will begin with tracing the letters."
"Why?" I asked. "Shouldn't I learn how to read them first?"
"It's easier to recognize a letter when you can write it out yourself."
"Makes sense," I muttered and she passed me a fresh sheet of parchment and a quill.
When I got home, Chester was waiting. I glared at him and put my hands on my hips.
"They told you," he muttered.
"I saw the bruise. Chester, I said to leave it be!"
"I couldn't help it," he grumbled. "I just got so angry."
I sighed. "Well, they aren't upset with you. In fact, they're a little amused."
He laughed. "Yeah, the king was there when I did it."
I shook my head but smiled. "You are one bold man, Chester."
I returned to the palace the next day. My mother had agreed when I mentioned Father would have wanted me to do this. I wasn't looking forward to it, though. I was almost certain we would get absolutely nowhere today.
The doors opened before I knocked and Cian glared down at me. I cocked a brow and he stepped to the side. He led me up the stairs, his fists clenched, and threw open a door.
"In," he snapped.
I snorted. "First lesson: 'In' is not the way to invite someone into a room." He glared at me. "The appropriate way would be to say 'After you, ma'am'."
"Not going to happen," he said.
"Then we'll be out here all day. I'm sure your mother and father will be pleased with that."
"I'm not saying it," he said stubbornly so I leaned against the wall, looking around.
"Lovely castle you have here."
"Get in the room, Viveka," he snarled.
"Nope. Not until you say it appropriately." I saw him move out of the corner of my eye. "And don't you dare lay a hand on me, Lord Cian."
He groaned then leaned on the wall on the other side of the door jamb, glaring at me.
"I'm not going to follow your orders like a peasant," he snapped.
I turned my head slowly to him. "Then we will be out here all day."
We stared at each other, both too stubborn to move. It wasn't until the queen, her nose in a book, walked by that it changed. She frowned between the two of us and the open door.
"Shouldn't you be in lesson?" she asked Cian.
"If she would just get in the damn room, yes I would be!" he yelled.
"Not until you say it appropriately," I repeated stubbornly.
"Good Lord," he groaned, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Why?"
"Because it is polite," I said. "You may be a lord but you will not gain the respect of your people by ordering them to enter a room. Now, you opened the door for me. That was good. What comes next?"
He looked to the queen. "Mother," he began but she cocked a brow, straightening her back.
"She is your teacher," she reminded him.
"This is ridiculous," he grumbled. Finally, he said, "After. You. Ma'am."
I smirked and curtsied. "Thank you very much, sir."