Arc 4-Royal Pains-Part 42
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I wait until they are several meters away before relaxing my act, letting out a groan. “Oh, thank the saints that is over with.” I drop down to the blanket and lay my head on Geneva’s lap. Just to save space, really. “How did he even find me?”

“You are quite known throughout the initiates and he is a prince,” Cecilia answers while accepting a glass of wine from Geneva. “There were no shortage of eyes and feet willing to help him.”

I huff. “He should be more focused on his studies.” The fact that he’s carrying around an artifact while trying to challenge me makes me doubt his abilities. “But never mind about him. He’s gone and we’re back to our great day, featuring lunch made by the most talented succubus this side of the realm.”

“Yes, thank you. While I would have accepted any excuse to escape his rampant jealously, I am quite looking forward to this.” She picks up one of the brownies and takes a bite, her features melting in pleasure. “Oh my.”

“See why I wouldn’t let him ruin this? Fina, don’t be shy. I was kidding when I said I didn’t bring enough.”

The girl gulps, then looks to Cecilia quickly. “But, um.”

“Hey, now. Technically, you’re my guests. So, what I say goes.”

“If she insists to this degree, it would be rude to refuse further.” Cecilia extends her plate. “Take one.”

“Thank you, mistress, Lady Tome.” Fina hesitantly picks up one of the desserts and takes a small bite. I swear, stars appear in her eyes as she gapes down at the treat. Her next bite is much bigger.

“Good?”

She nods without looking up, the food overriding her manners. Excellent. This is what my happy life at the Hall should be, surrounded by pretty, happy women in the lap of luxury. Things are back on track.

“You must tell me your secret,” Cecilia sighs as she finishes her plate. “I don’t think I can live without these treats now.”

“Simple. Just bind yourself a capable elemental.” I reach up to stroke Geneva’s cheek and she leans into the gesture like a cat, wearing a shy smile. Really disturbing how easily she can pretend to be harmless and docile. “I know nothing about cooking but if you want to pluck a companion from the many realms, I’m the woman to see.”

“A pity. I believe one needs the physical or mental affinity. Ah, but your companion proves a fire affinity will serve as well. Not that any apply to me. I am a Rosefield through and through, down to my earth affinity.”

“Mm. Tell me if I’m being nosy, but was that alright? You seem pretty close to the prince.” And your family won’t appreciate you alienating him, will they?

“Samuel has been a right boor lately. His thoughtless insinuations have caused many people a few problems, as I’m sure you can guess. I heard you told him off about it.”

“Yeah, well. He should know better than to throw dirt on a woman’s reputation.”

She sighs. “Quite. I have been telling my father that he is not the sturdiest horse to hitch a wagon to, but my words go unheeded. Hopefully, with this latest debacle, my father will reconsider the idea that my life can serve a greater purpose than that buffoon’s mistress.”

Alana pauses before taking a drink. “You’re singing a very different tune without any eyes to see you.”

“One does not insult a prince to his face. Unless you’re Lourianne.” Her smile is devious. “But I assure you, this is no sudden change of heart. As you know, a lady of my standing does not have much freedom but I have always been one for…adventure.”

She leans toward me, her smile mysterious. I’d be lying if I said I was immune to it, an answering smile turning up my lips. Ah, Bell is right. She’s trying to latch onto me, hoping I’ll spirit her away from her duties as a Rosefield daughter.

I wonder. Obviously, she can’t move into my house but perhaps I can introduce her to the right people to send her on her way. If she’s a decent caster—

My thoughts are interrupted by a shadow falling over me. I blink, looking up as Alana retakes her seat. Beside and slightly in front of me, face expressionless as she looks at Cecilia. “Adventure should be sought after in the right places, Lady Rosefield.”

I gape at her but she ignores me, completely engaged in her stare down with Cecilia.

“…I see.” Cecilia gracefully gets to her feet and Fina hastily follows. “Thank you for the treat, Lourianne. I would love for us to speak again. Perhaps in my room?”

“Yes, of course,” I murmur, still mired in confusion as she walks away. Once they are out of earshot, I look at Alana. “What was—ow!”

A hand snaps up to cover my forehead where she just flicked me. “You’re too easy, you damn pervert,” she snaps. “I’m starting to understand how you and Teacher work but that doesn’t mean you need to drool after every woman who bats her eyes at you!”

“Are you jeal—ow! Stop flicking me!” Why do those slim fingers hurt so much? “I know that,” I grumble as I rub my forehead. “I wasn’t trying to get her into bed.”

“I saw the look you were giving her. You were thinking about something.”

“About if I could help. You know, point her in the right direction. Completely innocent.”

“That snake doesn’t need your help, Lou, and won’t thank you for it. Reminds me of my siblings.” Alana huffs. “She was playing with you. I don’t care if you see someone trailing her with dagger in hand, you shouldn’t get involved with her type.”

Oh, that is…kind of brutal. “Have I ever told you how sexy you look when you go all ‘protector’ on me?” I say with a grin.

She ignores me and turns to Geneva. “And you. You’re a succubus. Surely, you should have seen her game.”

Geneva blinks. She looks down at me and I can guess what she wants without her speaking into my mind. She’s asking for permission to drop her quiet, demure act. Alright, go for it.

She grins and looks back to Alana. “Oh, I saw through her clumsy attempts at seduction but there is no need to get involved. Lou would have chewed her up.” Her dark chuckles send a shiver down my spine. “If she did worm her way into my summoner’s bed, hoping for benefits, she’d leave a begging, desperate mess no longer able to live without her touch. She’d sign away her life for the pleasure, which is a fair price for her deception, I think.”

I blink. Um, she’s not wrong? Especially if I let my succubi have her. Just sounds incredibly ominous when you put it like that. Look at Alana’s expression. I think she’s reconsidering our friendship.

“She’s exaggerating,” I say quickly.

“Don’t think she is,” Alana grunts. “Suppose it’s a good thing you’re as harmless as you are.”

“Despite her vulgarity at times, Lou is far more of a gentleman than that tactless prince.”

Aw, thanks.

“And might I say, I approve very much of your handling of the situation,” Geneva continues, her smile turning wicked. “New women should know to show the due respect to older members of a harem. The girl’s upbringing is clearly lacking.”

Alana flushes, red showing from the tips of her ears to her neck. I’m right there with her, spluttering with surprise as I try to form a rebuttal.

“I’m not a part of her harem!” Alana hisses jabbing a finger at me. I tack on a “Yeah!” that I finally manage to squeeze out in the face of her offense.

“Just because you don’t sleep with her doesn’t mean you’re not a part of the harem.” Geneva blinks at her innocently. “Would it help if I simply referred to it as ‘Lou’s priorities’?”

My friend growls and gets to her feet, stomping away. I shake my head as I poke my elemental in the side. “You trying to start problems?”

“Am I wrong, my summoner?”

“Huh? You can read my mind, of course you’re not wrong.” Alana is infinitely higher on my list of priorities. If I have to leave Cecilia freezing outside in nothing but her unmentionables to satisfy my friend’s suspicion, I’m not opening the door. “But you don’t have to say it so bluntly.”

“You are not exactly subtle.”

“Yeah, but I’m the fool. I have a shroud of ‘humor’ around me so I can get away with it. You’re just a little ball of temptation so it’s a lot harder to shrug off coming from you.”

“Perhaps that’s a good thing.”

“As long as you don’t scare her away.” With a grunt, I rise off her lap and start gathering the boxes. Our lunch break will be ending soon, and Alana should have gained control over her embarrassment by now.

 

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