I asked my newsletter subscribers to send me questions they’d like to ask Lucia and Avery! I compiled the questions and wrote a bonus scene. I hope you enjoy it!
“Is this absolutely necessary?” I say under my breath to my husband as he and I are escorted through the royal library by a maid who looks like she has better things to do.
Avery glances at me, hiding a smile. “It’s generally frowned upon to refuse the king, so I’m afraid the answer to that would be yes.”
His Royal Majesty has decided our story is one for the history book, as absurd as that may be. This is our fourth…fifth…sixth meeting with the scribe penning our tale—I lost count after the first several. According to the letter we received yesterday evening, this is the last of the questions—the tidbits needed to fill in the blanks.
“Lady Greybrow,” Arnold says, rising from his desk to bow in greeting. He’s a slender man, with fair skin and a squinty way of watching you. “And Captain Greybrow. So glad to see you again. Won’t you please sit? This won’t take long.”
I flash Avery a look, one that says I’d be willing to bet we’ll be here most of the afternoon. He presses his lips together, trying not to laugh.
“All right then,” Arnold says, squinting at his notes. Mumbling to himself, he goes on, “Yes, yes.”
I clasp my hands in my lap, trying not to think of the trouble the boys will find while visiting their great-grandmother. Last time they were in her care, they smuggled an entire family of field mice into her sitting room. Her munchkin dragon was impressed—Lady Claire was less so.
“Ah, yes,” Arnold finally says, and I believe this time he might actually spit out a question. “How long did you wait to travel after the twins were born? I don’t think you said.”
I shrug and look at Avery. “Two months, was it? Three?”
He frowns. “It was around then.”
Not long after Davyn and Lukas’s arrival, Sebastian—romantic fool that he is—worked up the nerve to propose to Adeline during afternoon tea at his grandfather’s estate.
“Adeline,” he said, staring at the teapot as she poured. “I believe we should get married.”
Adeline jerked her head up, making her auburn curls dance, and her eyes went wide. Quickly, she schooled the expression. Then, with pink cheeks, she nodded solemnly even though she looked like she was going to burst with sheer joy. “Yes, I agree. Would you care for sugar?”
“No, thank you.” He accepted his cup. “I should like to ask your father.”
“That would be a good idea.”
“What do you say, Avery?” Sebastian said as if we were discussing a mission. “Will you sail us to Mesilca?”
“I suppose we’ve no reason to avoid it.” My husband turned to me. “Are you ready to leave Silverleaf? Your mother won’t be happy.”
And believe me, she wasn’t.
“Did they give you any trouble?” Arnold asks, looking concerned. “That’s very young.”
I shrug. “The boys have spent half their lives aboard The Serpent. We have a ship’s mage to care for medical needs, and Ruby calmed them when they were fussy. The rocking soothed them while they napped.”
“One of our lesser dragons,” I say, holding back a sigh. We’ve already covered this. “The pink one.”
“Oh, yes. I have her noted here.” The scribe nods to himself and then looks back at us. “So, you don’t leave them when you travel?”
Avery answers, “They travel with us. If we’re going somewhere that might be dangerous, Adeline stays with them and her daughter in the ship, or at a nearby inn.”
“I see. Would you like to have more children?” Arnold asks.
“We would welcome more, but at this time, we have no plans,” Avery answers.
Arnold makes a note and then looks again at Avery. “You said you met Lucia when she requested to travel aboard your ship?”
“I have the facts, but that doesn’t make for an interesting history. Tell me, in your own words, what did you think when you first met Lucia?”
Avery turns to me, a crooked smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. “I thought she was a lovely young woman with excellent manners. She was…charming.”
Liar. I held a knife to his throat. But, since I don’t need that little detail going down in history, I don’t call him on it.
Arnold hums as he scratches the note onto the parchment. “And Lucia, what would you say is the most romantic thing Avery has done for you since your marriage?”
“Well, there was the time we were attacked by a two-headed emerald tree snake in Eromoore,” I say sweetly. “The captain sliced it clean in two before it could attack. If that’s not romantic, I don’t know what is.”
The man blinks, looking at me as if I sprouted another head. “Oh. Yes, I’ll jot that down.”
Arnold asks several more questions, and then well before I initially expected, he releases us. He rises. “Thank you very much for your time. I expect this will be the last of my questions.”
I won’t hold my breath.
Avery shakes the man’s hand, and then we turn to leave. I hurry through the library, terrified he’s going to call us back. We pass shelf after shelf of dusty books, leaving the scholar far behind. Apparently, freedom smells like dusty paper.
“Lucia,” Avery says suddenly, tugging me into a dark aisle. His hands are on my waist, and his laughing eyes meet mine. He lowers his voice to a silken whisper. “Surely killing a snake isn’t the most romantic thing I’ve done in all these years.”
His fingers toy at my waist, making me warm. This is an entirely inappropriate place to have a conversation of this nature—which makes it highly tempting.
“It had two heads,” I point out. “You can’t claim it wasn’t heroic.”
He leans close, and his breath tickles my ear. “If I knew you enjoyed that sort of thing so much, I would have arranged for a few more snakes to cross our path.”
I shake my head, laughing under my breath.
“You took me by surprise that first day we met,” he says, leaning close, his fingers splaying at my side. “I thought you were beautiful, of course, dressed in your pants and brother’s hand-me-down shirt, but that’s not what caught my attention. No, I knew I was in trouble when you held a blade to my throat. I was drawn to your fire.”
“I liked your smile,” I admit before I feel the need to add, “But that was before I knew you were a cold-hearted pirate, intent on stealing my orchid cuttings.”
“You can’t help it; you just have to bring it up.”
I slide my hand up his chest and then clasp it behind his neck, drawing him close. “Every chance I get.”
“Come on now,” he coaxes quietly, his tone dark and teasing. “No one will hear you and think you’ve gone soft. What’s truly the most romantic thing I’ve done?”
I meet his eyes, hating to give in, knowing how much it will go to his head. “There are a dozen things you do every day, little things. I like the way you constantly touch me—my shoulder, my back, my arm. I like that you kept things vague for the interview, keeping the moment private. I like that you surprise me with charms instead of pretty, worthless bobbles.”
“Hmmm,” he murmurs, running his bottom lip over mine. “I am quite romantic, aren’t I?”
I pull back, meeting his eyes as a smirk toys at my lips. “But, Avery, I really like that you killed that snake.”
He chuckles. “We should go before a maid spots us and boots out of the library.”
Wrapping my hand in his shirt, I keep him close. “We’ll go after a maid spots us and boots us out of the library. Now stop talking and kiss me.”
And he does.