shing him further away.

   “You need to take good care of him.”

   Gladys faced Erna, who was blushing, kept her neck straight.
It might have been because of her small stature, or her appearance, but she looked like a young girl, rather than a mature woman.
The authoritative air of a Princess of a country was now where to be found.

   “From our divorce, to our lost child…he has many wounds.
So, Grand Duchess, please take good care of him.” Gladys looked almost regal in the bright light of the mid morning sun.
She was like a beautiful saint from an old painting.
Her platinum blonde hair, which was like Bjorn’s and her arrogant yet graceful smile overwhelmed Erna, who felt shabby sat next to her.

   “And if I could give you one last piece of advice,” Gladys said, holding up her tea cup.
“Be careful not to make this mistake in the future.
We will be in Lars soon, so you can’t be so carefree.
Today, fortunately, I was here to get you out of trouble, but it wont always be possible.”

   Gladys stood up and looked down at Erna.
She only had to endure that stare, but she couldn’t find the words to say.
Gladys politely said goodbye and moved away.

   “Have a pleasant honeymoon, Grand Duchess.” Gladys said as she went.




The tea party ended ahead of schedule as Gladys complained of a headache and left.
Erna didn’t notice, but Gladys glared at her as she left, like Erna was responsible for ruining the party.

   Erna stumbled down the narrow corridors and cursed the open ocean, where she could only see the vast, flat horizon where ever she looked.
She bumped into Bjorn and the delegation as she entered the first class cabins.
He turned and looked at her, they all did, she could feel their judgement.

   “Did you enjoy the tea party?” Bjorn asked.

   “Yes, it was the Viscountess Forester’s tea party.”

   “Forester?” Bjorn questioned.

   There;s no way you didn’t know. Erna thought.

   Erna’s eyes went stern.
Her resentment toward her husband for sending her that awful tea party with those awful people, transformed into bewilderment.

   You heard me clearly and you answered. Her shock was absolute.

   “Erna,” Bjorn said her name as if sighing and stepped closer to her.
His eyes were on hers and he bowed his head deeply, it no longer contained warmth.
“Before accepting the invitations, you should really speak to Karen first.”

   It was a soft tone, but she could still catch the thorns laced within the words.
It was scolding.
Erna parted her lips in a moment of sadness and resentment, but she could not readily refute him.

   She was reminded of Bjorn, how he had been so nonchalant, but Erna had been so enraptured by their time together.
He looked at her with kind eyes, like she was her lover.

   It was so exciting for her, especially when there eyes met across the table.
She felt so pretty when those moments came.
She didn’t know how many times she had adjusted and fiddled with her bow.

   But he didn’t.

   Realising that made Erna’s heart sting.
To him, with his wife sat opposite him, Bjorn was completely indifferent, to the point where he slipped into the room and threw out an answer to a question he did not hear.

   “Yes,” Erna said, not being able to find the courage to confront him.

   She could not call him out in front of the delegation.
He was their prince first and his wife second.
They looked to him for leadership and despite it being their honeymoon, she could not discredit her husband in front of everyone.

   “I’m sorry Bjorn, I will be more careful in future.” Erna held her trembling hands together as she apologised quietly.

   Only then did Bjorn giver her a smile.
It was mix of a laugh of embarrassment and pity, much like what Gladys had done earlier.

   “Your Highness.”

   The minister, who had been watching them, urged with polite impatience.
Bjorn nodded his head and straightened.

   “Go and get some rest, I’ll be back for dinner.” He whispered affectionately, like her lover again and then turned back to the envoy.

   Erna couldn’t move, frozen to the spot until her husband disappeared round the corner.

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