Chapter 11

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"Nefertari... I mean, the Queen is unwell? Oh, that is terribly unfortunate!" Isetnofret placed a bejewelled hand upon her chest in surprise. "Whatever shall you do? She is to be the one by your side at the parade!"

Ramses did well to disguise his displeasure. With the Queen being with child, morning sickness was to be expected. Yet, for it to come about so suddenly did leave the palace scrambling. Ramses too could very well see through Isetnofret's feigned sympathy. "And that, my dear, is where you come in!" He smiled brightly, imitating the same level of sarcasm that had been in her voice. Yet, she remained unfazed as she widened her arms to welcome an embrace.

"Luckily for you, my afternoon is free." She stood on her toes to kiss his cheek fleetingly.

His emerald orbs narrowed down on her. "And I thought that you would want to take Nefertari's place at the parade. It would not bother me in the slightest to go ask one of your other sisters. I am sure any one of them would rejoice at the chance to be the focus of attention."

"Oh, my husband, do not tease me so!" She laughed heartily, the jewels in her wig tinkling as she did so. Her heart, however, raced within her chest at the Pharaoh's words.

"Of course, I am thrilled to meet my new sister." She almost purred to soothe the Pharaoh's demeanour.

"Then I can expect you to behave, and treat her with kindness and the respect that she deserves."

"Of course, my love, the respect she deserves as a princess."

Ramses' frown deepened slightly. "Exactly."

Unfazed, Isetnofret looked away from him. "Am I not a princess, my king? Even if it is still only by marriage, is it not true?"

He sighed and crossed his arms. He knew where this could potentially lead. "It is," he confirmed.

She turned to face him then, her black eyes piercing his. "Then where has the kindness and respect for me gone?" She bit.

Ramses groaned and turned to leave. "I do not have time for this, Isetnofret."

She took him by the arm and pulled him back to her. With this, he shot her daggers, but she stood firm. "I have not seen you for months, not a word. Even after returning, you have not visited me. Have you forgotten what you promised?" Her eyes pleaded, on the verge of tears. Ramses could not help but sigh and look at her with sympathy and remorse.

"I have not forgotten anything, my dear," he perked her chin up with his thumb.

"But pressing matters have kept me occupied as of late."

"Yes, yes, and we all know what that means," she rolled her eyes sarcastically.

"Isetnofret," Ramses' voice lowered in a warning. "Show some constraint."

"Constraint? Do you have any idea how hard it is for me? The whole harem talks about how I was degraded because of some foreign pedigree bitch. And I am supposed to show constraint?

"I understand how angry you still are, Isetnofret. But I already explained everything to you. I promised I would make it up to you, and I will. As I have told you many times, nothing and no one will replace you."

"Perhaps not, but that is not what the others think, Ramses."

"Then show them how wrong they are. Show them that you are unfazed by their spiteful gossip," he reached down to stroke her cheek. "It will get easier if you stop being spiteful yourself."

She frowned at this and stepped back angrily. "Spiteful?" She hissed.

Ramses sighed and shook his head. "And this is one of the reasons Nefertari is queen, and you are not. Be on your best behaviour when the retinue arrives. We will talk more on this later." With those words, he left her speechless and staring after him as he walked away.

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