- beneath one’s dignity
“Prep these for us, would you?”
A catch of several fish landed on the stone slab where Pamela LaFortune was seated. She looked from the cold grey eyes of the dead fish up to the even colder grey eyes of Henry Lancen, her bodyguard.
He was serious.
She scoffed, as if his statement had been more of a suggestion than an order, an infra dig to her upbringing and title.
Her face contorted to reveal her confusion and disgust.
“Get moving, princess,” Henry warned. “My patience is wearing thin and out here you’re on my turf.”
Pamela remained unmoved by his words.
“I understand that you are my sovereign, but I was tasked with making sure you stay alive, which includes keeping you fed,” Henry said, straining to keep the edge out of his voice. “It’s clear you haven’t liked me from day one, but out here we need to be on the same team.”
He started collecting pieces of wood as he spoke.
“While you prep the fish, I’m going to build us a fire so we’ll be able to eat and keep warm tonight.”
Pamela glanced up to see he was as unmoved by her attitude as she was by his pleas.
A knife landed near the fish.
“In case you want dinner,” he called, stalking off for more wood. “And your people’s trust…”
She grabbed the weapon without looking up.
Using the slab of stone as her cutting board, Pamela set about removing scales and fish heads. By the time she finished, she smelled horrible. As hard as it was to believe, being the future queen wasn’t quite so glamorous. She was heir to the throne, but it was tradition for each ruler to spend a year with the barest of necessities before assuming their future position. It was something one of her relatives started generations ago, wanting to identify with those who had less. And somehow the tradition had continued.
Henry returned with a smile on his face and a whittled stick he had transformed into a skewer.
He began assembling the dinner.
“And you might want to consider washing up before dinner,” he called over his shoulder. “You reek!”
Pamela trudged off in the direction of the river to wash. She hated that this was going to be a yearlong endeavor; it was even worse that this was the first day.