“She kept us occupied while mata and babba were too busy with work. She’d sneak us galub jamun after dinner if we had helped her with the gardens that day,” smiled Prince Orlov. It was a real smile, and not a politically calculated grin.
“That sounds like fun,” mused Fane, still trying to consume his brew. Prince Orlov returned from his memory trip to drink his coffee. They both sat in awkward silence for a couple of minutes. Fane, feeling more than uncomfortable, spoke up. “I’m sorry for all this trouble. I was told that your time must not be wasted, that you are going to the general’s formal dinner. Is there anything you require of me to make amends for earlier?” he pressed.
Prince Orlov leveled a gaze on him. Fane’s heart dropped into the pit of his stomach. He wasn’t sure what the man across from him was thinking. “Come with me to the dinner,” Prince Orlov finally replied.
“Sir?” Fane’s voice broke.
“I don’t have anyone going with me, and I had an invitation for two. Join me, and at the end of the evening, we’ll call it good,” Prince Orlov offered. Pain ran up Fane’s side as his face warmed. He worked at maintaining his composure this time. “There must be someone more befitting of your position, sir. I’m only a lowly enlisted man,” deferred Fane.
“Maybe, but it’s short notice, and I don’t see anyone else around to kidnap and take with me.” Prince Orlov smiled a toothy grin.
“If it would not inconvenience you terribly? I-I’ll join you,” Fane agreed, sure that he wasn’t going to be able to get out of this one. Glancing down at his outfit, he paled, realizing he was lacking in proper attire for a formal dinner. He looked up, terrified.
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