Chapter 4

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*Elizabeth's P.O.V*

"Her name is Zelene," Duchess Grey informs me. "I think she is exactly what you need. She is brilliant and she would put up with you a lot better than your previous advisors did," she states after a moment.

"Why would she be better?" I question as I tilt my head. It was fun to ask her questions, it meant she had to actually sit there and think about it. The more she had to sit there and think, the longer she had to stay which meant the less time she had to plot her plans.

"She won't be bribed like your previous advisors were, she won't run off because you refuse to meet with nobles that she wants you to meet with," she informs me.

"Why do I need her?" I question as I cross my arms over my chest, raising an eyebrow when she just looks at me with amusement.

"You need her because you are a mess without an advisor and I would like for the kingdom to remain in one piece since I do live in the kingdom," she states which makes me pout. I do not need an advisor to keep the kingdom in one piece, I could do that on my own. Despite knowing better, I can't stop myself from having an attitude when I respond.

"I suppose you think your opinion of my future advisor should matter the most don't you?" I ask with a frown on my lips.

"I do not recall saying that and I do not appreciate you putting words in my mouth or using that tone with me," she states simply as she looks at me, her eyes narrowing slightly.

"I simply say what I feel," I respond as I reach over and rest my hand on top of hers, giving her a false smile.

"I think I shall simply punish you if the attitude keeps up Beth," she says as she rests her other hand on top of mine, squeezing my hand lightly before letting go. I frown at that, snatching the resume up from where she had set it on the table. I ignore the look she gives me as I read over the resume.

This Zelene was apparently quite skilled. She could speak five different languages, had worked with countless nobles, and had numerous recommendations. She was quite accomplished for only being 35.

"I will put this at the top of my pile for advisors," I say as I sip my tea, smiling slightly.

"How many others do you have already?" she queries and I smirk as I set my cup down.

"None," I respond as I rest my head on top of my hands, making sure my elbows weren't on the table so she couldn't say anything about that.

"Then it is the only one in your pile at the moment," she states dryly.

"It's technically still at the top." I tell her with a smile and a shrug.

"And technically at the bottom too..." she finishes for me with a look that tells me I'm not funny.

"It could be in the trash, ma," I point out, smiling innocently when she narrows her eyes. "What? Did I say something wrong?" I ask as I rest my head on my hands, my elbows resting on the table.

"Elbows off the table and if you throw away my suggestion just to be a brat then I will find out about it," she states.

"Yes you would," I sigh, rolling my eyes as I keep my elbows on the table. I'm not a little girl anymore, she can't punish me for every little thing I do that is improper.

"Oh and just in case you were considering being a brat," she says as she gets up, making me look up at her as she leans down to whisper into my ear. "Zelene isn't actually my recommendation. Your mother recommended I pass her resume along to you and has given her full support behind Zelene so it's not me who will deal with your brattiness, dear. You can't say I didn't warn you," she says quietly, making me freeze in place. I don't even look at her as she leaves, making sure the door swings shut and thuds close when she leaves. She was always one for the dramatic entrances and exits, I thought as my mind starts to run rampant.

At 21 years old, I should not still be scared of my mother but truthfully I would be lying if I said she didn't scare me. Being queen was not an easy thing and my mother had been queen for over 40 years before stepping down to allow me to rule. She was everything I ever wanted to be and everything I felt I could never become.

The nobles of the kingdom had wished for me to take over as soon as I was 18 but never had a valid reason to bring to her to suggest it. When they finally did, my mother stepping down had nothing to do with what the nobles wanted though. She had stepped down because she had fallen in love with a bold merchant that started competing to sell their goods to the nobles and eventually realized she wanted to remarry. My mother and the nobles didn't want to risk a fight for the throne though. To appease the nobles and herself really, she had stepped down when I was 19 after she had spent a year having me rule while under her guidance and felt I was ready. Plus I had wanted to take over and think she rather enjoyed the thought of an even four decades.

My mother had been the only ruler for a decent period of time because my father passed away when I was 8 years old. A terrible sickness had taken him from us. It struck with the viciousness of a viper and had left him bedridden within days. Within 2 weeks he had passed away. Every day since then I had wanted nothing more than to make him proud and rule as well as he had.

My mother often said I was making him proud with how well I had taken on running the kingdom. I would do anything to make her life easier for her, she only deserved the best in life. Sometimes I wondered if she would be pleased with some of my behavior but if I never informed her then I didn't have to worry about her reaction. I was sure someone had told her but I would have to actually read the letters she sent me to know if she knew or not. I should probably read one of them soon instead of just writing back whatever I felt like and not assume what she is writing but what's the fun in that?

I get up, done with my salad. There's only a few pieces left in the bowl since I have been eating while thinking so I wasn't worried about one of my maids telling Duchess Grey that I didn't eat my lunch. I didn't think I would have to worry about that but apparently I did. It felt like when I was little and had to worry about my nursemaid tattling on me to my parents or Duchess Grey.

I knew some of my maids could not be bought off by anyone, those that were truly loyal to the crown. Lena was one such maid which is why she was the one who was in charge of the maids that worked in my wing of the castle. She wasn't the most senior which did annoy some of the other maids but she was a maid I could put my full trust in. At least I hope I can... for now though, I need to go do some paperwork in my study before Lord Astley gets here and worry about my maids later.

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