Daniel tries to protect her.

“Happy Birthday Valdermar” Daniel smiled, entering the Baeumonts hall where he and Sophie where greeted.

“Thank you your highness” Valdermar nodded.

“And how beautiful you look” he decided turning to Holly who sat in her rolling chair beside him. It wasn’t a lie he had always liked Holly, he’d often admired Thomas’s bravery for marrying below his station. Pregnancy suited her it was a shame it would be her only one. “When is the baby due?” he dared, he knew most avoided the subject but he didn’t want to be most men this was a choice the couple had made and he for one chose to respect it.

“Not till spring” she smiled.

“That late? I would have thought earlier given your size”

Holly chuckled “I fear the cooks cakes may be had more to do with that than the baby”

He chuckled “You look well for it either way, So was the party your idea”

“It was” Holly agreed “It’s a time for celebration”

“I’m not sure I agree” Valdermar chuckled “The last thing I want is someone drawing attention to my growing number of gray hairs”

“Behave” Daniel scolded “Your still a young man by anyone’s standards, come on Sophie let us go and mingle, leave his lordship to deal with his other guests”

Sophie nodded, taking his arm as they headed into the lounge. Things where strained between him and his wife ever since Helewys’ death things had not been the same. He didn’t listen to her the way he once did and that put a recognisable strain on the relationship. Still things had begun to get better and he had once again started to take her to his bed.

Heading into the lounge he found other guest’s mingling, the only nobleman of note that was missing was Sir Shieldsmith. It wasn’t surprising until he himself deemed the knight back in favour none dared his wrath by including him in these sorts of affairs.

“Aww” Sophie exclaimed  heading into the room, her displeasure apparent.

Following her gaze he spotted Orrick speaking with Ailana in the corner. “What’s the matter” he asked despite himself.

“She is taking the wrong path” she huffed, “It isn’t going to make her happy”

“Perhaps your wrong” he disagreed, he didn’t really know what path his wife was talking about and it had been weeks since he’d cared. Right now his main concern was for Maegan, if Sophie was right Gabriel was going to find a way to marry the poor girl and it was he decided his job to stop it.

Pulling away from his wife, he headed into the crowd looking for Maegan, there was only one way he knew to keep her out of Gabriel’s grasp. Sophie had always complained it was difficult to control others from afar so he was determined to keep the young woman as close as possible.

He found her sitting alone in the corner, Orrick it seemed had managed to get her into customary black as was fitting but one look of her face told him she was in no mood for celebrations.

“How are you doing, Maegan?” he asked cautiously.

“Faring well enough” she agreed, moving up on the small couch so he could sit beside her. It struck him then how differently she and Orrick where dealing with the loss. When he’d first heard the news he had feared it would be the end of the nobleman, losing a son so close to losing a wife almost everyone had thought it would be the final nail for the older man.

However the old man seemed to be dealing with the news exceptionally well, part of it he knew was a façade an outward show for the sake of others. Heaven forbid word got back to the Hamdun’s the Vaux’s where struggling but he wondered what went on behind closed doors.

“How is Orrick?” he dared.

“Well enough, I guess” she shrugged, none commitally twisting a stray piece her dark hair though her fingertips.

“And how are you?”

She shrugged again.

“I have a proposal if I might” he offered, “I am worried for you, I know how it go’s with woman are widowed and don’t want you falling out of favour”

“I only fall out of favour if you let me” she reasoned.

“That’s not what I mean” he smiled, “Your important your life is important and I want it to mean something, I’ve seen how Raeanne chases around after Orrick’s children I don’t want you just becoming another Nanny, come to the castle come and be one of Sophies ladies I know she would love to have you?”

“Im happy with Orrick” she smiled weakly.

“Do you not think you could be happy with us? Will you at least think about it?” he asked.

“I will” she nodded.


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