Liana leaned over the bridge’s smooth railing, twirling a rose in her hand. The flower for which Ilya’s palace was built to resemble. This one boasted a beautiful peach color with the tips of its petals a vibrant fuchsia.
Gardening had never been one of Liana’s talents. There were too many groundskeepers for that task who liked to hand her their precious flowers as she strolled past. Instead, she focused on learning Heissian, calligraphy, and embroidery.
For in less than two years, she would be the Crown Princess of Heissia, married to Crown Prince Holtan. A queen-to-be.
Liana sighed excitedly, noting her excited expression in the stream water below the bridge. Only a couple more years. What good fortune she had to be in the prince’s age range.
Of course, that mean leaving behind her beloved Ilya. She would miss its gardens, sprawling rose bushes, and cedar trees. She would miss the Ilyan style gowns, outrageous and covered in real flowers. Heissian dress was slimmer, and flowing. Their skirts were more like waterfalls. Ilya’s, fluffy clouds.
Liana’s heart panged at the sight of the speaker. His dark curls bounced as he jogged toward her.
Aletto. She would miss Aletto too. She would miss him most.
Sometimes she wondered how she would survive without his playful eyes and easy smile. His was a natural charm that had her smitten from the first day she saw him at court. But…
She’s been Holtan’s fiancee since she was five years old. Aletto was a distant fantasy. No matter how close she liked to stand next to him.
“I thought you were playing on the field, my lord,” she greeted him.
His boots clacked over the bridge. “Your brothers defeated me soundly, princessa. I’m not sure my shin will ever be the same again.” He lifted his pant leg to reveal a nasty darkening bruise.
Liana hissed in pain, trying to ignore the sudden ache in her chest to tend the wound. “You need a cool cloth on that.”
Aletto waved a tough hand and braced his hands on his hips. “I need nothing. I’ll be one of your brother’s advisors someday, princessa, I can’t be subdued by a kick to the shin. I’ll never hear the end of it.” He cocked a brow. “Though, perhaps a kiss will make it better.”
Liana pursed her lips and spun the rose in Aletto’s nose instead. The young lord issued a laugh that warmed Liana’s soul. “A lovely smell, and beautiful, but it compares abysmally to your grace, princessa.”
A flush bloomed on her cheeks. Ilyan courtiers were poetic romantics, no matter how they truly felt toward the receptors of their compliments. But from Aletto…Liana felt his words were true. She felt it in her bleeding heart.
A few times, she’d nearly worked up the courage to say something. Just as her strength was building now.
She watched Aletto smile and praise the wisteria and the pristine clearness of the water beneath them. He was her knight, her cultured pearl. If Prince Holtan ever died, she would run right back here to Aletto.
Liana opened her mouth to speak, to tell him how much she admired and appreciated him, but he was faster.
“Shall I escort you to supper, princessa? It would be an honor, as it always is, to lead a rose such as yourself to and fro.”
A fissure zigzagged up Liana’s heart. “Of course, Lord Aletto. It would be my great pleasure, as always.”
She took Aletto’s offered hand, resigned herself to her Fate as the Queen of Heissia, and mourned the immeasurable good fortune of the woman Aletto would make his bride.
Lord Wendigo gave us titles this week. I might use the others as inspiration later!