Chapter 25: The Celebration (Retta's Version)

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Retta greeted the guests and silently fumed a little more as each one made their way to the dance floor. She-, she was beyond angry. She greeted another guest and turned to her left, where Rashidi was standing with Sika, the woman he had brought as his date.

Retta frowned at them, at how stiff Rashidi was, and then turned back to greet another guest.

****

Retta was sitting off to one side, watching the guests dance and eat. She may be mobile now, but she didn't have the energy for dancing all night long, not yet at least.

They were all spinning and twirling and dipping and smiling, it was a beautiful slight.

And then Jaime was there, smiling just too pleasantly.

"Retta, daughter-mine, your mother and I have a surprise for you."

Retta didn't react, didn't let her suspicions show on her face. "Where is it, father?" She asked.

Jaime continued to smile as he walked away, leading her to another room.

"You see, Retta," he said as he opened the door. "The situation with your twin and his chosen, has made us... apprehensive. But! With you better now, it doesn't matter."

Retta felt dread pool in her stomach. "Father, what kind of surprise is this?"

Jaime's smile twisted slightly, becoming something no longer happy as the look in his eyes changed to something that made Retta afraid.

"We sent out letters inviting as many noblemen who would come to attempt to sway you into becoming their wife. You will pick one, or your brother will be forced to leave his beloved. The family needs an heir, you know it does."

Retta hesitated for only a moment before walking into the room. She could do this, she could sacrifice this choice to protect them. This way at least one of them would be happy.

There was a man at the table, tan skin and brown hair, wearing too many rings and an over the top outfit made of blue fabric with amber stitching.

Retta sat down across from him. "Hello sir, as you likely know, I am young Lady Retta Alabann, daughter of Lady Masva Alabann."

The man smiled, stained teeth peeking through his lips. "I am young Lord Wiff Markindale, son of Harvik Markindale, Prime Lord of Bluecentre, a port town in the north."

Retta nodded. "What are your duties there?"

Wiff was still smiling, his ugly teeth on display. "I'm in charge of the fishing boats, I collect the taxes off of them and arrest anyone who is short of payment."

Retta smiled politely as all of her interest died. "And in your free time?"

His face fell to an expression of neutral distaste. "I study politics, so that I may take my father's place. I am his eldest child."

Retta didn't entertain him for much longer. Or the next lord, or the next one, or the next one.

A young Lord Billis, son of Lord Mark Pieric, caught her attention for a moment when he mentioned being friends with commoners in his free time. But, he said it was only an act, to garner sympathy from them. Retta barely resisted from glaring at him.

Another of the young lords was able to hold a conversation about books for some time, but, from there, he had little else in common. She mentioned commoner friends to him and he backtracked out of the conversation so fast Retta almost got whiplash.

This went on and on, most lords barely seeming to be interested in talking to Retta, typically wanting to talk about themselves, while some at least had some sense in their brains. But, all of them, all of them just weren't right, weren't suitable.

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