Howie sat in the library and watched Marie clean. She was taking the books down and dusting the shelves then putting them back and making sure they were all in order. It irritated him how well she could ignore him even when he was staring so intently. He had never met a woman he could not charm and it was confusing. Nothing he said ever seemed to make her happy. It was like she was completely immune to his words. She had not once acknowledged his presence, even though he had followed her around trying to think of something to say. The only time she spoke to him was if he initiated a conversation and then her replies were short with a seemingly uncaring air. She would go right back to work, paying him no mind as she tirelessly did her duties. He glanced at the clock. It was nearly her lunch time and he wondered if maybe he could get her to eat with him.
“Marie?” He finally said.
“Hmm.” Was the only replied he got.
“Uh, would you have lunch with me?”
She slipped another book back in place and contemplated his request. He had been watching her since their first meeting. At first he had walked around, arms crossed and face angry every time he saw her, but gradually over the last couple of months he had become more interested in her. He had tried to sweet talk her like he did many women and had become incredibly frustrated when it didn’t work. Now he just followed her from room to room like a shadow. She thought she could give him at least lunch. “Alright, but on one condition.” She replied and he perked up.
“You have to help me finish dusting the shelves afterwards.” She waited for his reply, for him to start whining about how cleaning was servant’s work.
“Okay, deal.” She actually dropped a book on her head she was so shocked. She yelped as the corner smashed against her head and the book hit the floor. “Marie, are you okay?” He asked, coming to his feet.
She rubbed her head where the book hit “yeah, don’t worry about it” Howie moved her hand and looked “good you’re not bleeding” Marie giggled “it was only a book. Lets go have lunch”
“Lets have it outside at a table so it can be just us two”
“I guess you are helping me clean for this so sure” Howie went into the kitchen and asked them to set Marie and himself up outside. They let him know they would so he walked out with Marie. Marie still wasn’t talking much and he didn’t know what to say. When they were sitting the only question he could think to ask was “How did you come about being a maid?”
“I married at sixteen and became a housewife. We developed a demon problem when i was nineteen and one demon attack took away my husband just days before my twentieth birthday.” howie actually looked like that saddened him which surprised Marie. “I’m sorry i asked”
“Don’t be sorry, I have mourned him and decided to be happy. He would want me happy”
“You do always seem happy, though serious when I start following you”
“You distract me from my work”
“I didn’t think I did” The food came and they began to eat. “so, why haven’t any women been coming around here? I know your reputation well”
He stopped midbite as he tried to think of what to say. “I told them not to come around anymore.”
“Oh really? Moved on to new prey have we?”
“No, nothing like that. Maybe I want something more meaningful.”
She gave a small laugh and he had to admit it stung even if he did deserve her doubt. He slept around like some whore and even though he was safe, he had still began to find it disgusting and wrong. He never played with anyone’s hearts, never promised love or marriage, but now he was feeling guilty. “It takes a dedicated man too have something meaningful. You can’t screw everything that opens its legs and expect people to take you seriously and your attitude leaves something to be desired.”
“Then what do I do, how do I prove I’m being sincere?”
“Clean up your act, watch your mouth unless it’s absolutely needed, apologize to those you wronged, always tell the truth, and do whatever the woman you love asks of you until she believes you.”
“Then I guess I should start with you. I’m sorry for being an ass and constantly distracting you, though I do enjoy your company. I’m sorry for the bad impression I gave you and I hope it didn’t leave a sour taste in your mouth. I can be very abrasive just like my father and I didn’t mean it.”
If you’re really sorry then I forgive you. You threw me for a loop when you actually agreed to help me dust the bookshelves just to eat lunch with me”
“I really want to spend time with you. I wish you’d let me”
“If you will be like this then we can”
“Will you stop cleaning after we dust the shelves so we can spend time together”
“Sure, my shift wont be over but I’m sure with your permission Marvin wont care”
“he wont. How’s your head?” He asked in a genuinely concerned tone “It’s fine. Books aren’t that deadly” Marie blushed, considering that it might be her he was changing for. She smiled but didn’t say anything, still not fully convinced the man she heard countless stories about was any different. He might just be trying to get a lay by pretending to be somthing he isn’t. They enjoyed their lunch and got to know eachother better before returning to the library so they could dust.
Howie worked hard, as hard as you could dusting anyway. He wanted to get it all done well and fast so she would spend the rest of the day with him. When every shelf was dusted Howie said “what would you like to do?”
“Hm, I don’t know”
“Do you know how to dance?”
“I dont, want to teach me?”
“You don’t know how to dance? You’re a prince” Howie rubbed the back of his head “dad never made me learn and i was…well..always doing other things at balls”
“Then I will teach the new you what you should have been doing at balls” Howie smiled and they walked to the ballroom where they turned on some music. Howie increasingly embaressed as he struggled with different parts of dances. It made Marie smile, which was reward enough and made him keep trying. “you’re doing well”
“It doesn’t seem like it”
“It takes time and practice, you’ll get there.”
“So will you practice with me every day?”
She smiled. “Of course, when I’m not working we can dance.”
“Thank you.” It made him truly happy that she would willingly do this with him and he was going to try really hard to be good. He was going to write letters to all those he had wronged, asking for forgiveness and if they needed him too he would apologize in person. He was going to do whatever she wanted him too and be a man she would love. He knew he couldn’t replace her late husband, but he was sure he could make her happy if he tried hard enough. After a couple of hours of dancing she finally called for them to stop.
“Sorry, I’m tired after working.”
“You should have said something. I wouldn’t have asked you to teach me if you had said you wee tired.”
“It’s okay Howie, I had fun.”
“Why don’t we get some tea and go sit in the garden. We can relax next to the fountain and just enjoy the sun.”
“I would like that a lot.”
They went into the kitchen where Marie made tea even though Howie wanted another maid to do it. Howie did however convince her to let him carry the tray outside which got a few of the other servants whispering and giggling. They walked out to where Marie wanted to sit then just enjoyred their tea while they talked more. “I’m glad I’ve become less clumsy. I was a mess for the longest time. I still have my moments but I’m not half as bad”
“It’s cute when you knock over things”
“You’d be one of the few that thinks that”
“Anyone who doesn’t is foolish” Marie smiled. It was a small smile but had a warmness to it that touched Howies heart. They kept chatting, Marie seeming to get more and more comfortable with him as the time passed. Marie was honestly shocked by how fast the day went. Before they went to dinner Howie asked “want to go for a nightwalk with me?”
“I would Howie but i really am tired. I have tomorrow and the day after off though so tomorrow night I’ll walk outside with you”
“alright” he said trying not to look disspaointed. They ate their dinner then Marie went up to her room. When she was gone Howie went to his room to start writing all the letters he needed to write. He had much more than he cared to admit so it would take him well into the night if he did them all this evening.
Marie brushed her hair before crawling into bed, smiling at how sweet Howie had been to her. Even if he wasn’t changing for her, she hoped he stayed this way for the better. She suddenly felt a little sad thinking about him falling in love with and marrying someone. She had to admit that though he distracted her from her work, it wasn’t something she hated. His company made her feel less lonely. She pulled her covers over her head, hating the aching in her chest and the blush that covered her skin. She closed her eyes, falling quickly asleep after such a long day. The next morning she woke a little late, stretching then getting out of bed to get ready for the day. She took a quick shower and pulled on a pretty blue dress, wanting to look nice for Howie. She decided to go ahead and see if he was awake and would like to have breakfast with her.
Howie jerked awake to the sound of knocking on his door. He had fallen asleep at his desk while writing letters. He was on the last one and just needed to finish the last sentence. There was more knocking and he sat his pen down then got up and walked sleepily over to the door and pulled it open. All tiredness vanished at the sight of Marie and he ran his fingers through his hair to push it away from his face. “Sorry, did I wake you?” She asked.
“Yeah, but it’s okay. Did you need something?”
“Would you like to have breakfast with me?”
“Uh yeah sure. Would you like to come in, no funny business I promise. I just need to shower and change into something clean.”
“Okay.” She stepped into his room and he shut his door. She sat down on the edge of his bed and he quickly grabbed some clean clothes and went into his bathroom.
Howie washed hurriedly so to not make Marie wait long and to not waste the time he had with her. Howie dried, dressed then brushed his hair before coming out. Marie loved how he smelled from his body wash and ende dup blushing “you okay?” he asked noticing “yeah, ready for breakfast?”
“Yes” He said with a smile. He felt happy seeing he obviously made progress yesterday. She came herself to ask him to breakfast when all she used to do was ignore him. Howies favorite dress on Marie was the one she was wearing now. Blue suited her so well and he wanted to say so but worried it would come off the wrong way since she knew his history. The last thing he wanted to do was have her revert back to ignoring him. They sat side by side at the breakfast table which caught Embras eye. She noticed them sitting together yesterday too and wondered if it was friendship or somthing more blossoming.
Marvin was too stressed over running the kingdom to notice. He hadn’t realized how stressful it was to rule and just how much responsibility was laid upon you. It probably contributed greatly to how serious his father had always been. Now that he wasn’t king he seemd to be getting much more friendly and even his mother seemed happier.
“Are you okay brother?” Howie asked and Marvin looked up from his plate.
“Yes, sorry, I’m being rude. Just thinking about the problem we’ve been having with bandits attacking the silk worm mine. Our workers go down there, get the silk from the giant beasts and when they come up they get attacked. I’ve pulled everyone out until I can find a way to stop them. They bolt the second they here of knights coming.”
“Would you like my help? I don’t do much during the day and could use the fresh air.”
Marvin looked at him a bit confused, not expecting Howie to offer his help. “Sure, I mean if you really want too, maybe you could go undercover as one of the workers and see if you can stir up the bandits. It’d be dirty work though.”
“Dirty’s fine. I’ll leave in the morning and have the issue resolved before dinner.” He turned his attention to Marie. “Would it be okay if I missed breakfast and lunch with you? I’ll make it up to you.”
Marie blushed. “Of course since you’re helping people.”
Marvin looked between the two of them then to Embrae who winked. He couldn’t believe Howie was being nice and for a woman. He was never nice for anyone, but here he was being nice for Marie. “Thank you Howie, you’re really helping me a lot with this.”
“Maybe you and Embrae should relax after breakfast. I can handle any document signing and stuff like that as long as I have your permission. Would you mind sitting with me and helping me review documents?” He asked Marie.
“Not at all, I’ll make us some tea.”
“There see, you two finish eating and I’ll take care of the paperwork. Marie will make sure I don’t miss anything.”
“wow, thanks a lot. I’ve been working myself to the ground lately. I don’t know how dad did it. I plan on asking him a few things when he and mom get back again” They all finished breakfast then Howie went ahead to Marvins office while Marie went to make tea. She decided finger sandwiches and grapes might be good to have too incase it took awhile and he needed a snack so she made a couple small sandwiches then plucked off some grapes to set on the tray before heading up to Marvins office with it all. As Marie came in Howie looked up and smiled “thank you”
“I thought snacks might be good too incase you get peckish while you work” Howie smiled, Marie for the first time finding it incredibly charming. They looked things over and signed what needed to be signed. It took longer than Howie thought it would and gained a small appreciation for all that Marvin and Embrae had to do. When they were finished all the tea and a good portion of the snacks Marie brought were gone. “I can’t believe Marvin does this nearly every day”
“He’s certainly busy. Embrae helps where she can though so it’s good he found someone to love and marry”
“Yeah, Embrae seems nice though I haven’t spoken to her much”
“Maybe somtime soon we can arrange for all four of us to hangout. They don’t work constantly though somtimes it nears just that” Howie smiled again, his heart beating just a little faster “sounds good to me” It made Howie happy she was making more plans with him.
“Maybe we can set up some time for after you get back.”
“I’ll see what I can do.”
She smiled and he helped carry their dirty dishes to the kitchen where he washed them so she wouldn’t have too. He enjoyed her pleased look and decided from now on when they ate together he would do the dishes. “So what now?” She asked.
“I have to finish the letter I was working on really quick and get them ready for the post then we can do whatever you want to do.”
“Absolutely, just let me finish that letter. You can come and sit upstairs with me if you like. I’m sure the other maids have started whispering rumors about us so you don’t have to if you don’t want too.”
“I’m not scared of such adolescent things. Let them think what they want. You and I both know the truth and that’s all that matters.” They went upstairs and Howie quickly finished his letter then folded it up and stuck it in an envelope which he addressed and stamped. He grabbed the whole stack and they headed downstairs and outside to wait for the mail boy.
As they stood there Marie said “who are all those letters to?”
“everyone I’ve wronged. In the letters I’ve offered to apologize to anyone in person who wants it”
“wow, you’re really serious” He gave her a smile “I want to be a different man for the woman who I love and has made me desire somthing more out of life than the way i’ve been living” Marie looked away “have you told her how you feel?”
“In a way. I haven’t been direct about it though”
“Don’t think the moment is right yet. I want to show her a little more how different I can be” Marie couldn’t stop a blush from tinting her cheeks and Howie smiled. They waited and talked for about an hour before the mail carrier showed up. Howie handed the letters off and paid the man before he turned to Marie “what would you like to do? Anything you wish is fine with me”
“we could dance some more. You were catching on so well yesterday” That suggestion was perfect to Howie. He would get to be close to her again though he hated messing up so much in front of her. They returned to the ball room “this time, please tell me when you’re tired right away”
“I haven’t worked today so I’ll be fine”
“And women say men are stubborn. I will trust you to tell me when you’ve had enough of being stepped on then.” They walked to the ballroom together where she put on some music then got into position. They moved slowly together, Marie praising him the whole time. It made him smile and he pressed his hand into her low back a little hard so she had to stand closer. She blushed, an action he was growing fond of and found himself wanting to kiss her. He held back, not believing this was the right time for that. He would hate for her to think he was spending time with her just to seduce her.
“So, may I ask you why you and your husband never had children?”
“We thought we had all the time in the world I guess. We always wanted them, we just figured we could wait. I guess waiting wasn’t a god idea.”
He frowned. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have asked.”
“It’s okay, really. Like I said, I did my mourning and there’s nothing I can do about it.”
“You could always fall in love and get married again then have as many babies as you want.”
She laughed. “Well I am waiting for someone, but he’s a bit on the stubborn side. It’s okay though, I’ll wait as long as it takes. You’re getting better at this.”
“I’m glad and it’s a lot of fun getting to dance with a beautiful woman.”
“Well now you know.”
“And may I say you look really pretty in that dress, blue is definitely your color.”
“That’s what everyone says. When I was little I would wear blue ribbons in my hair and people would say you look so beautiful in blue. You should wear more blue.”
“They were all right. I’m glad you listened, not to say you don’t look beautiful in other colors” The urge to kiss Marie was relentless but he kept himself from doing it. Marie was also finding herself tempted to kiss him but didn’t want to make a fool out of herself if she was somehow misreading. She considered everything, that she was the only woman he seemed to pay nay mind to as of late but still, she was a busy maid and could have missed somthing. When Marie asked for a break Howie felt sad he wouldn’t be close to her any longer but was glad she said somthing this time. “want a late lunch with me?”
“sure” Howie asked the kitchen staff for a lunch of tomato soup and grilled cheese “want to eat in the garden again/” He asked after requesting this of the kitchen “yes” He ordered they bring it to the garden so they went outside to wait. “will you be spending all my time off with me now?” Marie asked. “If you’d like my company. I’ve never had many friends due to my attitude. The few freinds I did have the new me shoudln’t hangout with”
“maybe you can help them be better”
“You can only change for the better if you want to and none of them have any want”
“True, I’m really glad to see such a change in you”
“It’s permanent, I swear it”
“It better be.”
He grabbed her hand. “On my life, I swear.”
“Too bad you’re leaving to take care of a bandit problem in the morning.”
“Like I said, I’ll be back for dinner and I’ll see if Marvin will you give you more time off. I’m sure he won’t mind.”
“Just promise me you’ll be careful.”
He smiled. “I promise.” When their food was brought out he released her hand, making both of them blush. He enjoyed the feel of her skin, but knew he shouldn’t be taking such liberties with her. She was already willing to teach him to dance and spend time with him. They ate and enjoyed the warm sun and sweet smell of the flowers around them. Marie worried about him going out tomorrow, worried about what the bandits might do if they realized he was a prince and not a mine worker. She prayed the disguise he wore worked in his favor.
“Listen Howie, tomorrow morning I want you to get me up so I can help you with your disguise. I want to make sure your hair is hidden as well as any identifying marks so the bandits don’t recognize you.”
“thank you, I’ll have someone get you up once I’m in the shower.”
“good, we’ll need to cover up your tattoo” he smiled “I was born with these purple marks on my face. I didn’t get them put on” Marie blushed “I’m sorry, I didn’t know”
“It’s ok, most assume it’s a tattoo. I like the purple marks. I may have had somthing similar done if I wasn’t born this way”
“I like them too”
“Please stop being embaressed about it. How were you to know I was born with the purplr markings. I doubt you know much about elves”
“My mother spent a great deal of time teaching us about our heritage. Want to learn about my kind?”
“Yes” Thinking about what he was saddened Howie. Marie was as human as his father so she wasn’t going to live forever like he, his siblings and his mother were. He would just ahve to cherish all the more his time with Marie since he would only have her at most one hundred and seventy seven years. It sounded like a long time to a mortal no doubt but to someone who would always live that wasn’t long atall. “when would you like to start learning?”
“after we eat?”
“After we eat then”
Marie ate fast than she meant too, but she was excited to learn more about Howie and his family. They went back inside where he washed the dishes then grabbed her hand and pulled her into the library where they sat down together on one of the soft couches. “So what would you like to know?”
“Well how long do all of your kind have markings like that?”
“No, not all. Just some of us. I get a lot of looks for these. Mostly people asking if it hurt.” He laughed.
“How long do you live?”
“Forever assuming someone doesn’t kill us.”
She felt a stab of sorrow. Immortality meant someday she would be gone and he would still be as young and as handsome as he was now. “Is that why you never committed yourself to anyone?”
“No, that was just the way I was and I made some enemies because of it. Even broke up a couple of marriages then left my family to clean up my mess like some selfish, spoiled brat. The reason I want to settle down now is because I found someone who is worth it and I want to be with her forever.”
“How is that possible with you being immortal, unless she’s immortal too?”
“I overheard my mother and sister talking about this ritual that allows elves too bind their chosen mates to them so they are given immortality. If she said yes to being with me I would…” Marie kissed him, shocking him so he jerked quickly back.
“Oh god, I’m sorry, I…I…sorry.” She jumped up and was gone before he could get a single word out of his mouth.
Howies heart was pounding as he stood to run after her. She had surprised him and he had foolishly hurt her feelings by jumping back. He ran to her room where he was sure she would have run and banged on the door “Marie, please, let me in. You only surprised me”
“Just go Howie” Howie tried the doorhandle which gave. He was glad she hadn’t locke dit so he could come in anyway ‘howie”
“No, listen Marie. You ar the woman I’ve been talking about. I love you and it’s you who has been making me want to improve. You just surprised me. I never expected you to kiss me. I’ve wanted to kiss you so many times. Please kiss me again now that I’m ready for it” Marie wiped at the tears that had formed as she ran then walked over to him nervously. “I really am who you’ve been talking about? When you jerked I thought I had made an idiot of myself” Howie gently cupped her cheeks “Of course, have you seen me give such attention to any other woman” He pulled her in, hoping she could feel how much he loved her in his kiss.
Marie didn’t know a kiss could feel like this again. She lost herself completely as their lips moved against eachothers. When they broke apart they were both breathless. They stared into eachothers eyes for a time until Howie said “I don’t want to but I need to rest for work tomorrow”
“I don’t want you to go”
“I told my brother I would so I have to. I’ll see you in the morning so you can help me with my disguise beautiful”
She grabbed onto his hand and he smiled sweetly at her. “St…stay with me. Just hold me.”
He brushed his fingers over her cheek and gave her another kiss. “How can I resist this face. Just cuddling. I’ll make love to you after I take care of the bandits, all night if you want.” She blushed and he chuckled. “Alright, I’ll be good for as long as you like. I’m in no rush. Let me grab some clothes and bring them in here.”
“Okay, I’m going to shower.”
She waited until he was gone before grabbing a nightgown and hurrying into the bathroom. She switched the water then stripped down and stepped under the warm spray. She wondered what Howie loved about her. She had seen a couple of the women he slept with before he stopped inviting them to the castle and they were very beautiful. She didn’t think she was nearly as pretty as those women. She heard her bedroom door open and her heart leapt in her chest. She quickly rinsed and got out then dried and pulled her nightgown on. She pushed the door slowly open and Howie looked up, making her freeze.
“Hey beautiful, mind if I bathe real quick?” He smiled when she didn’t move. “Come here.” She stepped out and slowly crossed the room. “What’s wrong?”
“Why do you love me?”
“You’re beautiful, gorgeous actually, sweet, forgiving. You’re adorably clumsy and your angry face is actually quite sexy. You don’t lie and you love me so how couldn’t I love you. Why do you ask?”
“You saw some of my old lovers didn’t you?” He pulled her into his arms and kissed her forehead. “Forget them, I love you and only you. That will never change, I promise. Okay?”
“I mean it, only you.” He gave her a gentle kiss before letting her go and grabbing his night pants to take a shower.
Marie got comfortable under her covers while she waited for Howie. When he came out only in his night pants she blushed deeply making him give a self-satisfied smile. “Meanie” Marie said and he laughed as he got in and pulled her into his arms. “I can’t feel good my bare chest makes you blush?” Howie sighed contentedly. “I’ve wanted to hold you like this for so long” his words in a whisper. Marie smiled then gave Howie another kiss. It was touching to her how genuinely he seemed to love her kisses. His aura felt so happy and truly every part of him sang when he kissed her.
“if you knew what you did to me you’d laugh at yourself for worrying about other women” Howie said with soft eyes and a happy smile. “goodnight my sweet prince. I wont ever let myself worry about other women” They slept soundly until morning when it was time to disguis Howie. “Maybe we should cut and dye my hair? Somtimes my dad dyes his white hair for mom since she’s immortal and always looks so young. it’ll grow back”
“sure” Marie cut his hair short then dyed it the same color as his fathers hair. “am I still handsome?” He asked and she giggled “Very”
“I can use my makeup to hide the purple on your face” Marie went into her bathroom and fetched her makeup bag. She covered it as quickly as she could “all gone” Howie went to a mirror, shocked to not see it atall “I look so different”
“That’s the point”
“It is, I’m going to ask one of the male servants if I can borrow an outfit of theirs. Come with me?”
“Aren’t you going to change into it?” marie asked and Howie laughed “I’ll be back then beautiful” Howie walked out and Marie got dressed then brushed her hair. She applied the light amount of makeup she wore then added a little perfume she saved for special occasions. This wasn’t one but she wanted to smell extra good to Howie before he left.
When he came back he smiled at her, making her heart flutter uncontrollably in her chest. “How do I look?” He asked as he gave her turn.
He laughed and pulled her into his arms. “Well that is the point.”
“Well mostly normal, the way you walk and talk is still very pince like, but I suppose that can’t be helped. You’re so handsome.”
“Thank you my love.” He sighed. “I need to go now. I’m sure Marvin has called the other workers back to the mine.”
“I wish you wouldn’t do this.”
“Hey, trust me okay. I’ll take care of these thieves and be back for dinner.”
“Why can’t you be back for lunch?”
He smiled sweetly at her. “Noon is the best time to attack. Everyone will be coming up with their load of silk to eat lunch. They’ll be tired and vulnerable so that’s when the bandits will attack.” She looked away and he grabbed her chin, making her look back. “I know you’re afraid of losing me, but I promise not to die. I love you and I will come home.”
“Ok, don’t make me come into the afterlife and kill you” Howie gave her a long, slow kiss “I don’t want to lave you any more than you want me to leave. I can’t wait to see you later” They hugged and he left. Maries heart twisted with worry and sadness. She was finally letting herself love again and he was now putting himself in danger. Marie didn’t know if her heart would be repairable if another man she loved died. She decided to clean the castle to keep herself busy so she wouldn’t end up crying. She kept busy until lunch. It surprised her when Emma sat down with her “so, I see you and Howie are getting along”
“yes, we’re actually dating now”
“sweet” Marie blushed and Emma laughed “I dont have any negative thoughts but form girl to girl he’s probably playing with you. He’s never been serious about anybody. Not that i’m too involved. Once I figure out which of my proposals I’m going to accept I wont be living here anyways. Just thought I’d make sure you know that Howies feelings are probably fake. I’m his sister, I know”
“He’s changed, havent you been paying attention?” Emma made a face “Eh, i dont pay him much mind any longer. Maybe he has.” They ate without any more exchanging of words. Marie was angry at Emma for saying such a thing but she knew she hadnt meant harm. Emma just spoke without considering the impact of her words. Everyone knew that Emma just said what was on her mind and was most the time unaware she had ever been rude and mean to anybody. It still made marie want to say somthing because Emma was like that due to nobody correcting her. It was a struggle but Marie stayed quite. She was dating Howie but Emma was still her superior.
Howie walked with the other workers, keeping his eyes and ears open without looking like he was being overly observant. The other workers kept glancing at him, unsure if they were seeing the prince or not, but he paid them no mind. When they got to the mine he followed the the workers inside and out of sight before grabbing one by his arm and pulling him to the side. “I am who you think I am.” He said under his breath.
“Prince Howie, please forgive me.” He made to bow and Howie stopped him.
“Don’t bow to me, I’m here on behalf of my brother to help you with your bandit problem. I am going to be observing you all, but not actualy working so I can defend you when the time comes. If anyone asks you are teaching me how to collect the worm silk.”
“Yes sir, I understand. Do you have a weapon?”
“Yes, a dagger in my boot and my mother’s magic. I will keep you safe, I swear it.”
“Thank you sir.”
He squeezed the man’s shoulder. “Please, call me Howie.”
Marie sat in the library worrying about Howie while she read. She heard a light knocking and looked up to see Embrae standing in the door way with two cups. “I made us some hot chocolate. I figured you’d want something to help you relax and would like some company.” She crossed the room and handed Marie her cup before sitting down.
“Thank you, where’s Marvin?”
“Sleeping. He’s exhausted and I guess I didn’t help any.” She winked and Marie blushed as she laughed. “We owe you and Howie for helping us. You seem to be having quite an impact on his character.”
“He’s really a good man, he just needed someone to show him. I guess I did.”
“Well keep up the good work and may you always be happy.” They tapped their cups together and laughed before taking a drink.
The two women talked, getting to know eachother better. This was distracting Marie much better than anything else she had been doing was that day. “How’s being queen?” Marie asked Embrae. “It can be tiring since Marvin actually lets me help. Apparently none of the kings before him have ever let their wives help on anything. They were always more like decorations for the kings arm”
“I’ve noiced. Marvin and Howies mother always looks so miserable”
“Yeah, Marvin said she used to be good at pretending to be happy but overtime it’s become harder for her”
‘why does she stay?”
“Marvin doesnt know. When he asks her whats wrong when they’re alone she has always insisted nothing is wrong with her”
“Hm, I’m glad Marvin isn’t like his father”
“I woulnd’t be with Marvin if he was his father. Poor Keltie, just being his daughter is miserable. Not for Emma of course since shes everything Myron wants in a daughter but Keltie is just as wild as her mother once was and Myron has been trying to sqaush it out of her since she was born. Marvin actually gets angry at times when he talks about Myrons treatment of keltie”
“If Howie had not been willing to change I would have continued to ignore him. He’s been folowwing me around and watching me for awhile. I should have known it was more than curiosity. I didn’t think much of it until he said he was changing for someone. I believe if Howie can change then so can the old king.”
“Or maybe he’s to far gone.”
“I believe there is hope for anyone who is looking for it. I’m sure his father was just as domineering and self centered.”
Howie was actually fascinated by the silk collecting process and found himself really listening as Lewen explained how it was done. He helped the man roll up and put the silk in the back of a cart, smiling happily the whole time. Around lunch time everyone started to filter out, Howie along with them. He kept his ears and eyes open as the men opened their bags and began to eat. The air outside felt different now, charged with a hint of malice. He sat down against a tree, letting the breeze cool the sweat from his brow when he suddenly felt something cold pressed against his throat. He knew it was a dagger without even being told. More men came out of the woods and the workers jumped up.
“Get up slowly.” The man with the dagger odered and Howie pushed himself slowly to his feet. “Get over there with the others.” He walked with hands up and stood in front of the other men.”We’ve come for your silk so stay put and don’t do anything stupid. We’ll be gone befoe you know it.”
“You’re not taking anything.” Howie said.
“Excuse me, what did you say?”
He wiped the makeup from his face. “I Prince Howie Nyguyen said you will take nothing.”
The bandit leader laughed. “Do you really think we are scared of you, even if you were the prince we would care less.”
“He bares the mark sir, ony the prince has that mark.” One of the other bandits said. “Maybe we should go, harming royalty is a hanging offense.”
“Hanged? No, I want only to teach you a lesson.” He pulled the dagger from his boot and stared into the eyes of the bandit leader. “Come on then, if you truly wish to test your skills.”
The workers watched in stunned fear as Howie and the bandits went at eachother. It was amazing and truthfully shocking how seamlessly Howie moved and fought. They hadn’t expected their prince to have such skill in fighting. The bandits had underestimated him aswell which gave Howie a greater advantage than just his training. It was down to just Howie and the leader, Howie only having two minor injuries while Howie had managed to get a good stab into the leaders side. He growled angrily “It’s not fucking worth it” He retreated and how sheathed his dagger.
The workers applauded their prince and thanked him. “I must go and tell my brother what has happened. Continue your work, your king and queen thank you and hope you don’t suffer any more trouble” Howie left in a hurry though his body ached. He wanted to be with Marie again and have her see he was alright since she was undoubtedly worried about him. The second howie was through the doors the maids came for him and he todl them to get Marvin, Embrea and Marie. They obeyed his request quickly as another sought after somone to mend Howies small wounds.
The minute the maid had Howie’s name out of her mouth Marie jumped up and ran from the library with Embrae behind her. Howie smiled when he saw her and she jumped into his arms. “You’re safe, I was so worried.” She said.
“Of course I’m safe, I made a promise didn’t I?” He pulled back and kissed her as Marvin came up.
“Dear lord what happened to your hair. You look like dad.” He asked and Howie started laughing.
“Nice disguise isn’t it. Maybe I’ll practice my look of disapproval and hover over your shoulder while your working.” He sat Marie on her feet. “I took care of the problem brother, but I would station a couple of guards outside the mine at least while the men are working.”
“Thank you for this. I see you have a few cuts.”
Howie waved off his concern. “Minor injuries nothing more and one of the maids is bringing someone back to fix them.”
“Good, Embrae would you like to accompany me to the barracks?” Marvin asked and she took his hand. “Thank you again brother, we’ll see you at dinner.”
The healer came as Marvin and Embrae were leaving and handed him a potion to drink which he downed without question. His wounds closed quickly and the aching in his body started to dissipate. “Thank you ma’am.” The healer wasn’t surprised by his sudden kindness. She could see the effect Marie was having on him and smiled as she left. “Come on, I need a shower.”
Marie blushed and he chuckled “You can wait on my bed. I just missed you and want you to be near”
“Ok” Marie followed Howie to his bedroom wishing she wasn’t so shy. Her husband had gotten her over her shyness while they were married but she had spent a few years alone and her husband had been a virgin like she was when they married. Howie had slept with a slew of women. He had experienced so much with so many different females sex with her might just fall flat. Part of what had helped with her husband was the fact he had just as little experience as her. With Howie there was so much room for dissapointment. Even just seeing her naked might fall flat since he had his eyes upon so many gorgeous naked girls.
Howie kissd Marie before going into his bathroom. She instantly wanted to follow when he shut the door. A few moments passed and she stood, walked over then couldn’t get herself to open it up. “Howie?”
“Yeah?” He answered “I love you” she said instead of asking if she could join him. “I love you too Marie. Are you wanting to join me” Her blush deepend “how’d you know”
“You’re incredibly cute” She heard the water shut off and he opened the door with a towel around his waist “we don’t have to have sex just because I see you naked. I’d really like you to join me Marie. I just didn’t want to be pushy or make you think I’m only interested in your naked body”
“Let me grab some clothes. I want to” She ran to her room and came back even redder “You seem so nervous”
“You just havent seen me naked yet and”
“what did i tell you? I love you, you will be stunning because you are you Marie. I didn’t give a damn about any of those girls. I just wanted sex. It was a plus if they were pretty but in the end it doesn’t matter. I love you. Stop worrying about them, please”
She sighed, the words didn’t much change how much he had slept around but she went in anyway. Howie gave her a long, sweet kiss “You are beautiful Marie” She slowly, nervously began to undress and he just watched lovingly, excited to be with her in the shower. When she was naked he said “absolutely gorgeous” The look on her face told him she still didn’t quite believe it and he knew it didn’t help how much he had whored himself around. He wished he could take it back but he couldn’t. He turned the water back on and gently tugged her until she was under the water with him. He loved her so much and he hoped at somepoint soon in their relationship he could make her see how truly beautiful she was inside and out.
~ The End