rs on the edge of the tea table.
“They need replies as soon as you can.”

   Watching Bjorn play the role of Grand Duke made Erna excited to play her role of the Grand Duchess.
She was eager to show her princely side.

   “Yes, I will review them, Thank you.” Erna smiled.

   She didn’t have Mrs Fitz to hold her hand and provide experience guidance, so she would have to handle this invites on her own.
Mrs Fitz had told her, before they left on the cruise, that if Erna had any doubts, she should turn to the eldest maid, Karen.

   Karen was the maid that served her tea and presented her with the invites.
If Erna had left it to her, their marriage would be over by the time they finished the cruise.
She had over heard the maid talk about how she wanted Erna’s marriage to be over before they had kids, so that it would be easier for Bjorn to get back with Gladys.

   Erna went through the invites with straight back and high neck, as if rising above the gossip the maids liked to wallow in.
She felt Bjorn look at her from time to time and she wanted to present herself as dignified and regal.
She was the Grand Duchess after all.

   It was hopeless though.
Erna couldn’t figure out which invites to accept and which ones to reject.
She recognised a few names that sided with Gladys, but there was four she couldn’t not recall memories of.

   “Bjorn.” Erna cautiously called over the tea table, adjusting the red ribbon in her hair.

   “Yes?” His gaze briefly passed over her.

   She felt hesitant in talking any further, like she was only being a nuisance, but she had committed now and he was waiting.

   “Do you know the Hawkins?”


   That ruled Hawkins out and both subsequent names.

   “What about the Foresters?”

   “Yes.” He sounded distant as he flipped the papers.

   “Is it someone we want a relationship with?”

   A pause, “yes.”

   Erna adjusted the ribbon in her hair, then picked up the small hand bell on the table to call the maid over.

   “Please prepare my things, I want to write a reply.”

   Karen soon prepared her stationary and a pen with a fresh pot of ink.

   Erna took up the pen with excitement, Bjorn was still fully engrossed in his paperwork and was still when Erna finished her responses to the invites.

   She was a little disappointed, but she knew this trip was more than just a honeymoon.
She had to maintain self control, so that she didn’t come of as some needy child with no discipline.

   She must remain calm and graceful, like a lady, in every situation.

   While reflecting on her grandmothers teachings, Bjorn had finished going through the paperwork and looked up at Erna.
The atmosphere around the tea table became more intimate when the maid left with Erna’s replies and Bjorn’s signed documents.

   “Your handwriting is so wonderful.” Erna said, fiddling with a teacup.
“You have big, pretty hands.” Erna couldn’t make eye contact because of how shy she suddenly felt.

   Bjorn was looking at Erna.
His expression seemed to say ‘what kind of pointless conversation are you trying to drag me into?’ But he laughed.

   “You look pretty too, especially in the rain,” he said.
“ And especially with that ribbon you keep fiddling with.”

   He reached out and took Erna’s hand, together they poured whiskey into the tea.
The scent of it mixed with the sweetness of the tea and tickled the tip of Erna’s nose.

   “Ah, this? Thank you.” She said. 

   The ribbon in question had grown nearly to twice its original size because Erna kept pulling at it at every opportunity.

   Bjorn had been trying to tease Erna a little, but her smile was genuine and warm.
Seeing that smile and watching her play with ribbon some more, Bjorn couldn’t help but let out a little peek of a laugh.
A slightly softer sound than the barks that came before it.

   Erna spoked about the people she met on deck, a joke she had heard from the maids, even about the dinner menu.
Her stories might not have been poetic, but her voice, mixed with the sweet smells of the tea turned the afternoon into something leisurely.

   Bjorn decided against going to bed and instead watched his wife.
She was like a little song bird chirruping away.
He appreciated her voice, the eyes that revelled in shy excitement and her delicate hands still playing with the ribbon, which was as red as her rosy cheeks.

   “Bjorn…” Erna cautiously called his name.

   Bjorn simply nodded, lost in her wide blue eyes that took him in.
They trembled slightly, as she considered what she was going to say.
When he smiled, Erna blushed furiously and she smiled back at him with pure admiration.

   When he saw he had caused her to blush and smile in such a cute way, he realised something.

   This woman, its her,

   He loved everything about her.

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