Chapter 6

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*Elizabeth's P.O.V*

I hardly even react when I feel Lena touch my arm. I most certainly do not flinch or step away, that would simply be unladylike. I shake off my nerves as I walk over to the vanity to check on my makeup. It is perfectly done, better than even I could do most of the time.

The other maids have already left, it's only Lena who remains and she helps me into the heels that match this dress. I need her help because of the way the straps of the heel wrap around my ankle in a way that is supposed to represent vines. To me it represents the fact that I always nearly fall and break my ankles in these damned heels!

"Thank you Lena," I say once she is done buckling the buckle of the heel straps. I let my dress fall back down into place since I had raised it slightly to make her job easier.

"Of course your majesty," Lena says as she smiles slightly at me while straightening up. It's a nervous sort of smile, one that you might give someone that you fear. It is the only smile that I have ever seen her give me. It was kind of tiring after a while but I didn't know how to say that to her.

I made my way to the dining room, pausing outside of it to collect myself before entering the room. Viscount Astley is there, punctual as ever, but he has someone with him. A man who has short black hair and brown eyes. Quite a contrast to Astley who has graying blonde hair and blue eyes.

"Your majesty," Astley and the mysterious man say as they bow. The mystery man's bow is much lower than Astley's and I return their bows with a slight curtsy.

"Lord Astley, it is a pleasure to see you," I greet him as I smile softly. "How have you been?" I ask him as he takes my hand, pressing a kiss to it. The whiskers of a mustache brush against the back of my hand and for a moment I wish that I had worn gloves.

"I have been well your majesty, how have you been?" Viscount Astley asks.

"I have been fine," I inform him. I know this is only small talk, a prelude to a long winded rant about the recent decisions that I had made. That was how his visits always ended. "I was told you had gone on an overseas trip recently, tell me more about it," I invite him to say, knowing that the man can't help but brag about his findings.

"I found this beautiful ocean island. There were so many fruits that I had never seen before and they were just delectable. I must have you accompany me some time," Viscount Astley states, making me nod my head.

"That would be lovely but I do not think the other nobles would like it if you took me away on a trip. They can barely stand it when I leave to visit my mother," I say softly as I take a seat at the head of the table, Viscount Astley sitting in the chair to my right. I was quite uncomfortable with this, I did not like people being so close. Yet it seems every time he visits I must remind him. It was clear he liked pushing my buttons in some way. That or he was going senile with old age.

"Sit further down Lord Astley, I do not appreciate having to remind you of this every time that you visit," I inform him, still keeping a smile on my face. I may be telling him what to do but I am being rather polite about it.

"Of course your majesty," Viscount Astley nods his head but I can see the faintest frown on his lips as he actually gets up and moves further down. Most people would not notice the frown but I had gotten very good at detecting when people showed even the slightest bit of displeasure. It came as a perk of pushing people's buttons all the time when I was younger.

The mystery man has also sat down, taking a seat next to Viscount Astley once he moves. I use the break in conversation to observe him. The way he keeps his shoulders straight, his head turned slightly towards me.

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