Port Schuber was over crowded with people and crates of supplies piled high and looked like a miniature mountain range.

   The port was always busy when cruise ships were set to depart, but today it was twice as busy as usual.
Along with the normal crowds, there added to it all the people that had come to see the Ducal couple set off on their honeymoon.
This more than doubled the number of people stood dockside.

   Going on another honeymoon, to his ex-wife’s country, was quite surprising to a lot of people and what really tipped people over, was the fact that his ex-wife was getting on the same boat.
Even those who were not interested in local gossip and rumour came out to watch.

   “The more I think about it, the more I notice the Princess is doing too much, too, too much.” Lisa said loud enough for the other maids to hear.
They just looked at her disapprovingly, but she didn’t care.

   If you want to hit me, do it while you’re looking at me.
I will pluck every single hair from your head.!

   That fighting spirit was probably why all the other maids only whispered behind Lisa’s back, out of ear shot.
All the more when they witnessed Lisa rough up a maid who had been saying some not very nice things about the Grand Duchess and comparing her to Princess Gladys.

   “Why do we have to share a boat with that awful woman.” Lisa said, as she passed by one particular maid who was fond of Gladys.

   After spending the last fifteen days at Schuber palace, Lisa came to realise that pretty much all the maids were rooting for Gladys and were on her side for everything.
There were very few maids that regarded Erna’s new hostess status and seemed ashamed to call her their master.

   Every time those mouths flapped and spoke ill of Erna, Lisa would curse Gladys louder, even though the Princess was one she had once admired and respected, but she had no choice, you get what you’re given.

   Lisa followed on after Erna, glaring at the Prince, he was the culprit behind all of this.
Thanks to his being taller and slimmer than most, he stood out, truly like a poisonous mushroom that dazzles and tempts.
That is why the Grand Duchess fell for him.

   Lisa looked at Erna and became distraught, she really did look like a lady that had swallowed a poisoned mushroom.
She had that twinkle in her eye every time she looked up at the Prince.
She tried to hide her true feelings, but Lisa could see the girl in the throws of her first love.

   I should have used my Grandmothers teachings, about not falling for guys with pretty faces. Lisa thought to herself.

   After thinking on it for a long while, Lisa figured her grandmother would probably change her tune upon seeing Bjorn.
And anyway, the two are married, there is nothing wrong with a wife looking up at her husband in such a manner?

   She looked back at the Prince.
He was so elegant and courteous with Erna, escorting her along the boat to their room.
He was perfect and that was the problem, he was too perfect and that perfection disturbed Lisa.

   He must be aware of how Erna feels about him, everyone else can see it, so surely he can too.
Even so, there was a cold aspect in his attitude towards Erna.
Lisa felt like the Prince was treating Erna like a gentleman’s cane, similar to the one he is always seen with.
While he walked with Erna, he did not have the cane, but leaned on her like she was one and he treated her as such.
Graceful, formal, but cold and uncaring.

   Lisa glared at the back of Prince Bjorn’s head, as they walked through first class.
He must have felt it, because the Prince turned and looked at Lisa.
He considered her like he would consider any insect.
Indifferent, not his concern.
Lisa felt her heart melt and sink to the basement of her soul.
She understood in that moment why all the girls cut out pictures of the Prince and stuck them up on their walls.
Erna was married to that.

   Lisa composed herself and redoubled her ardent glare at the Prince.
Look at your wife, isn’t she so pretty? Maybe you’d fall in love with her if you just looked.

   Erna was not one to be merited on her looks alone, she had many beautiful qualities about her, but with the competition being against Gladys, maybe looks was all anyone actually cared about.

   If so, I will make you the prettiest lady in the land.

   Lisa had always been determined in that and she worked hard at it.
She was so proud of how pretty her mistress was, but why doesn’t the Prince notice how pretty Erna is too?

   Lisa gritted her teeth in humiliation.
She had adorned the prettiest woman in the world for Bjorn and he seemed blind to it.
Even though the land gossiped about how Erna only became Grand Duchess because of her looks, so why couldn’t Bjorn see it too? He could look around heaven and earth and not find a single woman more beautiful.

   “Damn it.” Lisa muttered.

   As she looked about, she noticed something on the opposite deck, the enemy, the woman Lisa had nearly forgotten all about.
Princess Gladys.


The first impression Bjorn got after their first encounter on the boat was, shockingly, a positive one.
Bjorn thought it was great that Gladys was holding onto Lechen.
It was good to see that this woman, who had given him the shock of his life, was such a great person.
It was comforting.

   “It’s been awhile, Bjorn.” Gladys said.
Even in such an embarrassing situation, she remained calm and Bjorn responded with a gentle, but respectful nod.

   “It’s a bit late, but congratulations on getting married.” Gladys continued.

   If it had been any other woman, Bjorn would have just laughed at them for trying to play worn out tricks, but this was Gladys, her way of getting at people was with kindness and geniality.

   Gladys greeted Bjorn once more and like a heroine of some tragic fate, but with the attitude of regality, Gladys led her party away and back on their intended course.
The people who had witnessed the scene unfroze and breathed a sigh in unison.

   “Erna.” Bjorn said.

   Erna had not stopped looking up at him with eyes that trembled like the feathers that adorned her hat.

   Once Erna had composed herself, Bjorn motioned toward the deck at the end of the boarding ramp with a wink.
It was going to be there that the Ducal couple would stand in marital bliss for all the people that came to see them off.
Erna was obedient, not forgetting her duties.

   Erna waved to the onlookers, her bright smile never leaving her face.
Not like her wedding day, where she had no idea where to look.
She was improving remarkably well.

   Bjorn was proud of his dutiful wife and her ability to learn quickly.
She never once mentioned Gladys’ name in front of the masses who were eager to stir the pot for any gossip they could get their vulturous claws into.

   Erna…A woman who is gentle, kind and not at all annoying.

   Based on the last two weeks, Bjorn’s conclusion was pretty much that.
She sometimes acted like a rubber ball, bouncing all over the place, but he didn’t mind that so much.
She was quiet.
Beautiful and harmless.
She was a woman who perfectly met his expectations and Bjorn was satisfied.
Though, it was still too soon to know for sure.

   Once they were done with the waving and smiling, of greeting the crew and a short tour of the boat, they finally made it to their cabin.
Erna started to get agitated.

   “How can they do this?” Erna said.

   She looked at the guest room with awe.
It was a room that had no business being on a ship.
It had two bedrooms, a bathroom, a small solarium filled with palm trees and plants.
A spacious drawing room.
It made no sense, it felt like mansion.

   “Look,” she rushed over, pointing wildly.
“It has a fireplace.” Bjorn just laughed.

   “Your highness, when will lunch be…” A man servant said, standing in the door way.
He had been watching Erna the entire time.

   “I’m good, but please, what ever my wife would like.” Bjorn said.

   “Are you not going to eat?” Erna said.

   Bjorn shook his head and went into his room, leaving Erna behind.

   Standing among the busy servants who were unpacking their things, Erna felt lost and followed after Bjorn.
He had taken off his jacket and laid out on the sofa.
The servants that were in here tidying things away left the two alone.

   “I’ll get some rest, its been quite the day already.” Bjorn said.

   When Erna finally gathered the courage to speak, Bjorn spoke first.

   “I just don’t feel like doing anything for awhile, is all.” Bjorn said and met Erna’s gaze with a soft smile.

   “Okay.” She felt a little embarrassed, but she agreed.

   Right up until they left the Palace, Bjorn was in meetings and heated discussions.
The ministers and officials were strict and obstinate, comparably so with Mrs Fitz, he must be so tired.

   You knew that very well.

   It is too much to beg to do things together, like a spoilt child.
Erna knew the things Bjorn had to do and the late hours he had to work.

   “Then shall we have tea, here, together?” Erna said.

   Erna was curious about the restaurant on the ship, but she was willing to compromise.
Unfortunately, Bjorn seemed utterly unwilling to sit at the negotiation table with her and work something out.

   “Let’s have dinner together.” Bjorn said, checking his watch.

   Feeling dejected, Erna looked at the clock on the writing desk.
It was only 10 in the morning.
Bjorn had told her to go spend half the day on her own.

   Erna was sullen and left Bjorn to his napping.
Before she closed the door, she looked back at him in anticipation, but he had thrown off his tie and his eyes were closed.

   “Where would you like to go? I hear the restaurant is quite nice, would you like to go there for some tea?” Lisa asked.

   Erna smiled awkwardly at the young lady, who approached her with a face full of expectation.
Her cheeks flushed as she recalled the conversation they had last night, about all the things they could do on a ship the size of a city.

   “Yes, let us have tea.” Erna said.

   “Us? You want to go out with me on your honeymoon…”

   Damn you Prince. Lisa muttered under her breath.
Putting Erna on a boat with his ex-wife and then sailing to the ex-wife’s land wasn’t bad enough.

   “…Yes, Your Highness.” Lisa said with a light nod, trying to swallow the harsh words that were rising up from inside her.

   Erna looked at Lisa quietly and smiled brightly.
The Grand Duchess’ smile was so bright, even after losing her gentleman’s cane.
Lisa became more depressed.

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