Carissa whirled around and strode back toward the tent. He was afforded one last glimpse of her before she slipped inside.
“You seem rather pleased, especially in comparison with your disposition this morning, your majesty.”
Elon blinked at the sound of Elisa’s voice—and her bold words. He found that his cheeks were beginning to ache. How long had he been staring after Carissa, smiling like a fool?
He dropped the remnants of the smile from his expression and turned towards her. “Of course I am.”
“And why is that?”
And just like that, his smile returned in full force. “I just had the prettiest woman in the world ask to spar with me. What kind of indifferent man would I have to be to not be pleased?”
Elisa laughed as she readjusted the basket of clothing against her hip. “That is a rather good reason to be pleased. And she seems just as happy.”
“I certainly hope so.” His smile faded. “This journey has been difficult for her.”
“Regardless, you’ve been good for her. She’s a new woman compared to the one I met in Iver. You’ve given her hope, and strength, and love.”
He inclined his head. “Thank you for your kind words. And you seem to be getting along agreeably with Viltus.”
Her fiery blush belied her nonchalant shrug. “Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t. But he’d kind to me, and the troubles the border brought has changed him. He has become the leader I knew he could be, and I couldn’t be more honored to be the subject of his affection. Once things have settled, it seems we could very well be married.” Elisa glanced back towards the tent. “Think you Carissa would like to attend our wedding?”
“Would like to? No doubt. Would be able to?” Pain speared his chest. “That entirely depends on the path she chooses to take.”
“Forgive me for being so forward, your majesty, but you have foresight.”
“And Carissa has decisions to make, hard decisions, I’m afraid.”
The excitement in Elisa’s eyes dimmed, and Elon regretted causing it. “I see. In that case, I suppose I’ll leave the two of you to enjoy your sparring.”
She began walking away, and Elon contemplated calling her back. But what would he say? Was he to lie to better afford her comfort?
“Elon?” A light touch on his arm and the sound of Carissa’s voice chased his troubling thoughts away.
He turned towards her, suppressing a smile at the sight of her dressed in his trousers. “I like how those look on you.”
She narrowed her eyes. “They’re just as unflattering as the nightgown.”
True, but there was something about seeing her in his clothing that he liked. In addition, the loose fit of the clothing swallowed her, making her appear smaller and even more delicate than usual.
He tapped her on the nose. “Your adorable regardless… though I have to admit, I’m surprised.”
“And why is that?”
“Typically, you take an eternity to dress yourself. Today, you only took half of an eternity.”
She laughed—even as she hefted her sword up into the air. “I’m going to make you regret that comment.”
“You’re quite welcome to try.”