Meanwhile, Viv stood staring between her hand and Reggie’s retreating form. She had wanted to say more. She’d imagined that they would click instantly and begin talking about their interests and talents, about their families and their friends. By the end of the day, they’d know so much about each other tat it would be as if they’d known each other their entire lives. Apparently, Reggie didn’t want the same.
“Um, what was that?” asked Viv, looking from her father to Valentine and back again. “Was… was that supposed to happen?”
“No, but I suppose no one warned you of my son’s incompetence,” said Coramund, speaking at last. She gave Viv a brief smile as a greeting and handed the infant in her arms to her husband. Viv looked up at Coramund, a feeling of awe and great discomfort coming over her all at once. That was the feeling that she had expected upon meeting Valentine. Viv knew that Coramund was a queen, and she would’ve known that just by looking at her. She simply projected superiority from every fibre of her being. “I’ll go speak to Reginald, try to convince him to come back out. Just as a fair warning, he probably won’t. It’s no fault of yours, dear.” Viv instantly disliked the way she said ‘dear’. It was too sweet. It almost made Viv want to vomit. “He’s not too keen to meet you. He’s very haughty towards those not in the court, and occasionally to those inside it.”
Viv curtsied to Coramund as she made her way up the stairs, wondering how many more times she’d have to curtsy that day. Valentine placed a kiss on his infant daughter’s head and smiled up at Viv and Arthur.
“Well, I suppose you’ll want to go inside and get accustomed to your suites,” said Valentine. His eyes went to either side of the palace doors, searching for Lottie among the servants positioned there. He had a particular affinity for Lottie, as her mother was his nursemaid and later his chambermaid, and her mother did the same for his father. For as long as Alterra had had a king, he had been tended to by a woman from the Jenkins family. At last, he found her between two manservants. “Lottie, could you show the Duke and his daughter to their rooms? They’ve had a long journey and I want them bathed and changed before dinner.”
Lottie nodded. As Arthur and Viv followed Lottie through the foreboding hallways of the castle, Coramund found Reggie exactly where she’d expected to; the library. He was seated on the window sill, a copy of his favorite book in his hands. The room was enormous, bigger even than the throne room. Hundreds of bookshelves filled the space, going up the walls for many levels. Large stained glass windows depicted scenes from many popular fairy tales, bathing the room in all the colors of the rainbow. Chairs were positioned all around the room, each one more comfortable than the last. The entire room had a permeating aroma of old books and pen ink.
Valentine’s father, King Adam, had had the library built for his wife, Queen Belle. She was a woman of great learning, always found with her nose buried in a book. After Adam had died, she’d gone to live in one of the many royal chalets, Bordeaux Chalet. She lived there still, and visited court on occasion to bestow a new book on her grandson. Reggie often found comfort in books that he saw nowhere in the real world. The only thing that ruined the illusion was that Coramund knew every single one of his hideouts and had her spies report Reggie’s every move back to her. He knew she would come for him eventually. He had simply wanted to get lost in ‘Love Amongst the Dragons’ before she did.