Karrie paused in front of the apartment door and gathered herself. She’d never gone against her mother’s wishes before, but in this case she felt she had no choice. It wasn’t right to coerce Damien into doing something he didn’t really want to. Karrie realized that now, and after talking to Salem she realized she didn’t have to.
Damien would support her even if they weren’t married. True, she still had to find a husband within the next two years, but that was plenty of time to find someone she could live with and who wouldn’t try and force her to do what he wanted. Perhaps the son of a minor noble house that would be so happy for the increase in status he wouldn’t dare try and question her decisions.
She nodded once and pushed the door open. Her parents sat at the dining room table together sharing a lunch of cold meat and salad. Perfect. Her timing couldn’t have been any better.
Her father smiled when she entered. “Hello, sweetheart. Will you join us?”
She crossed the entryway and sat beside her father. Not because he was closer, but because she wanted a little space between her and her mother. She took a piece of bread, a slice of roast beef, and made a small sandwich. When she’d eaten half of it she said, “I’ve decided to call off the wedding with Damien.”
Her mother took a sip of wine and frowned. “I thought we discussed this.”
“We did, but I thought about it some more and I simply can’t get over the fact that it’s a mistake. I love Damien and I realized forcing him into something this important is wrong. It’s selfish. What sort of queen will I be if I give in to my petty desires? How will I be able to do the right thing when it really matters? I have to do what’s right, and now’s a good time to start.”
“You foolish girl,” the queen said. It wasn’t her mother that was looking at Karrie through eyes as hard as gems. “Tell her, Andrew. Tell her she’s being a willful child.”
Her father smiled and patted Karrie’s head. “I’d say this is the most grownup thing she’s ever done and I couldn’t be more proud. Putting someone else’s happiness before your own, that’s exactly the sort of thing a good ruler has to do. When the time comes, hopefully many years from now, you’ll make a fine queen.”
Karrie’s heart lurched and tears ran down her cheeks. He understood. Not only did her father understand, he approved and was proud of her. She dropped her sandwich on the table and hugged him.
“Thanks, Daddy,” she whispered.
“Two noble fools.” Her mother stood up, leaving her plate still half full. “I find I’ve lost my appetite.”
She stalked off to her sewing room. Her father sighed. “Don’t worry, she’ll calm down in a day or two. Have you spoken to Damien yet?”
“Not yet. I thought I’d wait until he finished his mission.”
“That’s fine. I really am proud of you, sweetheart.” He kissed her cheek.
“I love you, Daddy.” Karrie sat beside him and finished eating, her heart lighter than it had been in months.