Aoi continued sitting as the fourth member of the table arrived. She squirmed uncomfortably, and constantly looked down with a shy look on her face. If Fidel could only see me now, he would surely say something embarrassing, she thought.
“Miss Aoi, have you ever had crab? It’s quite a delicacy you know,” Jane Melonscone, sitting to Aoi’s left, said.
“I’m from the water kingdom, after all,” Aoi said very softly. Even though she wasn’t loud, it didn’t matter, because she was going to be ignored anyways.
“You must try this restaurant’s crab. It’s from the western seas. The duke’s territory, I believe, for this particular establishment. Quite good. An area just above one of my beaches. Correct, Duke? Interested in selling?” Jane laughed as she called the waiter over and started ordering.
“Anything for Madam,” Duke Tourney replied in his usual submissive voice to Jane. He smiled happily, as though he enjoyed being ignored by Jane. He sat across from Aoi, and was constantly looking to his right.
“And Eason, how are you? Wonderful of you to join us, even if it is a little late,” Jane said while she turned towards the table. The waiter ran off to place the order.
“Disgruntled and unhappy around you, Madam Melonscone,” Eason said with a toothy smile. His sincere voice betrayed his pleasant look. He sat across from Jane.
“You always have been such an honest person. A pity, that.” Jane pleasantly smiled at Eason. Aoi looked up and watched Jane’s face. Aoi couldn’t help but feel shocked as she watched Jane smile. Her words aside, it was hard to be unimpressed by Jane Melonscone’s incredible beauty. Aoi was very familiar with Jane’s words; as she often had to listen to Jane speak during governmental meetings. She hadn’t ever familiarized herself with anyone other than then a few of Fidel’s closest advisors, so Aoi had never met Jane personally before. She had only seen Jane at a distance as she yelled from the gallery, and had never taken a closer look. Her personal image of Jane, before, was that of a stereotypical noble woman. Expensive jewelry, amazing clothing, and pounds of makeup were used by noble women to seem more attractive than they really were. Remove it all and all that was left was something that could come out of the poorest parts of the fourth district. Yet Jane was different. Perfect in every way, on the outside, with no need of jewelry or makeup to create the illusion of beauty. Yet the jewels and makeup that were used perfectly accented Jane’s face in just the right parts. It was shocking to Aoi, who had never met a noble that had looks that could truly match their vanity.
“You know Madam, just why did you decide to invite me?” Eason spoke as he sipped from a freshly poured glass of wine. His furry ears twitched in Jane’s direction, expecting a good answer. Aoi thanked Eason internally, as she had been wondering the exact same thing, but didn’t have the courage to ask.
“Why did you attend?” Jane asked in jest towards Eason.
“Why shouldn’t I?” Eason replied in like manner towards Jane, with an ounce of force in his voice.
“Now now, I cannot tell whether you two love or hate each other,” Duke Tourney said in a casual voice. Aoi froze in fear, expecting that he would soon regret his words.
“I don’t really mind him,” Jane said as she settled into her seat in a relaxed manner.
“She’s fine by me, recently,” Eason said with a glare. Still, he had settled down.
“Years, Mr. Eason. Only recently makes it seem like it was only yesterday.” Jane spoke while rotating a glass of wine with her right hand. “She has been quite good for a while now, as your monthly visits confirm. She’s become more obedient, so there hasn’t been as much need for discipline. Of course, we never have too long of intervals in between each time, to keep the memories fresh, you know. Oh, glare all you want, but discipline is quite necessary. Why, compared to when I was a child, my parents, I’m soft. I appreciate it now, though in my youth I hated it. I suppose that’s why I’m even still too lenient. I should revise my earlier words. She appears more obedient, but I know that she still does things behind my back. The royal guardsman that I have assigned to her actually does a good job, as well as the bear can do with a noble. He goes along with her whims, yet keeps her just within my boundaries, and then reports back to me. As long as I have a tab kept on her, I do not need to reveal that little secret to her. I do hope she matures a bit more, and afterwards she just might be ripe enough to, hmm, that’s all I’ll reveal.”
“Yes, quite more than enough, Madam. Though, as much as you talk about her that way, I have to ask, do you love her?” Eason asked Jane seriously.
“I love her royal blood,” Jane said with a smile.
“Nothing but a tool for you. Aren’t there more important things than your name?” Eason resisted the urge to become upset, and then sighed. “Why do I bother?”
“Indeed,” Jane said, amused, “it’s foolish to argue with me. But I really quite like you, dear Eason.”
Aoi was prepared for it this time, and the pretty face and smile that Jane showed didn’t shock her nearly as much as before.
“Madam, you do that too well,” Eason said while sounding wholly unimpressed.
“Well then, would you prefer that Aoi smile at you?” At Jane’s comment, Aoi’s concentration broke, as the conversation that she was finding herself engrossed in suddenly involved her. She, and quite obviously Duke Tourney, hadn’t understood much of the previous conversation.
“What?” Aoi spoke, and would soon be thrown into the midst of another strange conversation. She regretted, at that moment, opening the letter that she had received a few days ago.