“Gentleman,” Prince Jansekadé announced, “Here I must take my leave from you. Bishop Malabranca, you have my gratitude. I know that you are honorable men, and now that honor has been satisfied, I shall leave this matter in your capable hands.”
“Thank you, your Majesty. Captain, please escort His Lordship—”
“Your Grace, my compliments to your Captain, but I would ask that Lady Yale bear me thence,” the Prince said, extending his hand to Tristanué.
The Bishop consented. Tristanué took the Prince’s hand, and together they left the map room. They spoke to each other, but so softly no one else could overhear.
At the door, Prince Jansekadé turned to Tristanué, closer than he had been before. “I pray to see you again, my Tristanué,” Prince Jansekadé promised, gazing down into her. And it was there, that a most remarkable woman, strong in her own right, wished to luxuriate in the strength of another. Leaning forward, the Prince put his right hand under her left arm, his palm tenderly cupping the swell of her breast in a gesture a little bold, yes, but not brazen. At his touch, she let out a little gasp. Then, holding her chin with his other hand, he gave her a kiss of perfect proportion. It was neither over-pressing nor powerless, but moderating between the two, elaborating on her expectations immediately after the touch of his lips had redefined them.
It could be said a perfect kiss does not leave the same person on whom it falls. The Prince’s kiss was surely not his first, and would have secured his legend if it had been his last, if only in her mind. After lingering on her blue eyes, he slipped away, repairing to the evening duties of his hereditary office.
As for Tristanué, she remained under the archway, wholly rinsed of politics, slain by a kiss.
Here, her upbringing diverged from the harsh utilitarian course of political romance, such as Shin Shadane or her scheming mother pursued, both warring for equality, who perceived love as the crash of one against the other, a stalemate of equals, captors evading capture, the crack of rushing rams, but Tristanué did not.
She had no desire to prove her equality beyond a small margin of claims: her family argued for more and Nature for the rest. Her name was her reward and her retribution, and surely a Prince would know the great means of one and the terrible measure of the other. It was precisely because they were not equal, that this Prince bedewed her with ever braver touches and glances.
He was a Man with all his rights and powers and privileges.
She was a Woman with all her rights and powers and privileges.
Yes, he was a prince, and she was a princess.
Desiring to be desired, wanting to be wanted, she would, nonetheless, here, not take: she would be taken. Only in his audition was the Prince’s endurance demanded, patience put to field, a gentle sequence of approved surrenders, honor fully examined, with the full expectation that if won, her love would never require it again. She had told the Prince with her eyes how she wished to be courted, and in time, conquered, and having understood all her twinkles and blinks, he had inverted the play. Now, it was the Prince who was putting her patience to the test, tantalizing her with a slow kindling audit of her wishes.
Excerpt from The Tharn of Maraqor – Savage Errands – Vol. 2
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