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The First Lie

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He didn't mean to lie.

He had, in fact, promised years before to only speak the truth to this woman, staring hard at him now as if she could find evidence of dishonesty in the lines around his eyes. Those had come, slowly, from her teasing; he had smiled himself accidentally into crows' feet. He didn't mind.

She touched his hand, which made this all the harder. Surely she knew that.

Of course she knew that. It was why she touched.

"Giddon," she said, and he heard all the unspoken things contained in his name: Tell me the truth, and, I fear you are not being honest, and, I need you to tell me this is right, and, Please .

"Lady Queen," he began.

"You only ever call me that when you think I won't like what you have to say."

"Bitterblue. I think your match to King Nash's grandson would be a grand thing. He is well-suited to you. Truly. And I understand he is handsome."

"And you...are not bothered by this." It was a question and not a question, and Giddon's heart felt like lead.

"No. No, you should do this thing."

Her face a strange mix of wistfulness and sadness, she touched his cheek with her fingertips, and left the room to accept another man's proposal.