Jenny did a wonderful job of dressing me, as always, and before I knew it I was ready to go. I walked down the corridors, feeling very nervous about my father’s secret plans for the day. I wished he would tell me what was going on, they were my suitors after all.
I stopped outside the door to my sister’s room and knocked loudly. I could hear the sound of feet moving towards me, and the door opened.
‘Hello Liliana,’ Liam said, surprised. ‘How are you this morning?’ Liam could seem stern from his hard features, strong cheekbones and lips set in a firm line, but since he had married my sister I had got to know him very well and had found out that it was just his way. He was now a very good friend of mine and always there for me if Helena wasn’t. He was as close to me as my brother, but not quite as annoying.
‘Hello Liam,’ I said cheerfully. ‘I’m very well thank you. How about you?’
‘Yes I’m good thank you. I assume you’re here to collect Helena.’
‘Yes I am, is she ready?’
‘Is he ever?’ He turned around and called to Helena who yelled back that she would be there in a minute.
‘You’re not coming?’ I asked. ‘It would be really nice to have you there.’
‘Unfortunately I have some very important business to see to out of town. I’m leaving within the hour.’
‘That’s a shame.’
‘It is. I would have loved to see which of Helena’s suitors have come back to compete for the hand of her sister.’
‘Now Liam that’s not nice,’ Helena said, appearing behind her husband in a sea of turquoise fabric. ‘Lili deserves nothing but the best, especially not my rejects.’
‘I didn’t mean it like that; of course your sister deserves the best,’ Liam hastily backtracked. ‘I was just curious.’
‘We really should be going,’ I pointed out. ‘Father said he wanted to see us as soon as we were ready.’
‘I hope you have a good day Liliana,’ Liam said kindly. ‘You’ll have to tell me all about it when I get back.’
‘I will,’ I promised. ‘I hope your business won’t take you away for long.’
‘I won’t know how long I will have to be away until I get there. That’s the problem with having land so far away from the city you have to-‘
‘Don’t bore the poor girl,’ Helena said, interrupting him. ‘And you’re going to make us late.’ She gave Liam a quick kiss on the cheek before walking out of her rooms and down the hall.
‘See you soon Liam,’ I said as Helena dragged me off down the hall.
‘I see you got some attention last night,’ Helena said, a lopsided smile on her face. ‘Lucian d’Arco clearly likes you.’
‘Do you think so?’
‘I know so. Could you not tell from the way he couldn’t stop looking at you all evening. He was seething with jealousy when Markus led you out to dance.’
‘How do you know all this? You can’t have seen all that in his body language.’
‘I didn’t. I took the liberty of speaking to him while you were occupied with your other suitors. He seems a very nice man, and handsome too.’
‘You spoke to him?’
‘Of course. I’m your older sister; it’s my duty to find out about the man my baby sister wants to marry. He is your favourite?’
‘He’s my favourite, but probably not our father’s favourite.’
‘Yes, he’ll have some competition proving that he is better than Markus.’
‘That’s what I’m worried about,’ I confessed. ‘I don’t want to have to marry Markus, there is something I don’t like about him. He wouldn’t make me happy, I know he wouldn’t. I just don’t think I’m going to be allowed to make any other choice than Markus.’
‘And you think Lucian would make you happy?’
‘I don’t know. He was so kind to me last night and so much fun. Elisabeth definitely didn’t approve, but I’m not going to listen to her.’
‘When do you ever?’ Helena joked, earning an elbow in the ribs for her trouble.
‘He seems different to all the others. He’s not here for power or status or anything of the things you would expect. He doesn’t even want to be here. He wants to marry for love.’
‘Everyone wants to marry for love, but the number of people that would turn down a powerful marriage are zero.’
‘I don’t care. I don’t have to make my decision now, there are still more challenges to give me time to make up my mind. You never know, I might find someone else I like.’