From The Movement of Crowns, first in The Movement of Crowns Series
But his heart had been in his voice, particularly after he’d cupped her face with one hand, and, with more ardor than the prince of Rêeh had been capable of mustering in a day, Staid had impeccably pressed his warm lips to Constance’s cheek for as long as he dared to stop time. She’d felt him hover near her trembling mouth, but might it have been a sign of haste or desperation for him to alight there, that night? Would it have been too soon—or too final?
His lips had hovered. And, then, they’d moved on, taking soft, steady possession of her other cheek before he’d eased her away from him at last. “Leave me, please, my lady,” his heart had spoken through his hoarse throat. “Now.”
Constance hadn’t taken a second to think but had left Staid at once, her whole being ablaze with a mixture of desire, rapture, and dejection. Why on earth did she have to care so for this military man, of all the men in the country, at such an inopportune, trying national time?
Still, looking out at the assembly before her, Constance knew this was not the time to bemoan inopportunity. Critical judgments about life and death were waiting to be made. A force stood menacingly without their land, taunting their nation, and this woman, this royal junior, had something to say about it.
Constance rose from her seat in the audience stall, waiting to be recognized.
A full minute or two passed before her father glanced over at her, but she knew that he’d noticed the moment she’d risen. The king then held up a hand to pause the standing Greenly, along with the other chieftains, elders, and the handful of soldiers whose voices were colliding in the middle of the Mundayne deliberations. Matthias sat there with his hand up as the assembly hall grew silent, and while he looked at Constance in a way she could not interpret, she imagined that he was going to shake his head at her, and order her to sit back down.
He did not order her to do that, however, instead acknowledging her as she’d never thought she would be acknowledged by him in her life.
An indomitable princess. A beautiful prankster. A young, untried king of a powerful Realm.
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