Thalica opened the door to the bakery, and the trio of cloaked individuals entered behind her, followed by the children, Jaxan, and myself who locked the door behind us. The trio once no longer out in public view, each dropped their hoods.
“My sincerest apologies for my prior rudeness, Your Highness the Princess Trustine Avondale.” My wife immediately apologized grandly.
“There is nothing that needs forgiving. The reason I have come here today, is that I have learned from a lady in waiting of a dear friend of mine that there is a capable person here who has been creating some delicious things as of late. Such things which had recently been shared at a tea party I attended the other day and that I happened to find quite delectable.”
“Might I have the honor of knowing what it was that My Lady had the chance to sample?” My wife asked with a trace of nervousness in her voice.
“I believe it was called a thumbprint. There were also a number of other such things beside it, but that was the one which garnered my attention the most.”
My wife quickly rushed to my side, pulling me forward.
“This is my husband, Gardavan Ashford. The cookie My Lady had eaten was entirely his creation. Gar, this is Her Highness, please greet her properly.” I could feel her squeezing my arm tightly, to the point it hurt as she spoke.
The highest authority I’ve ever met back on Earth was an ordained Judge, when I came along to the courthouse with my older sister and her boyfriend when they went to have a quick marriage once discovering she was pregnant with his child. They had a nice wedding later, but as far as the highest authority goes, that was it. I have no idea how to address actual nobility or royals, nothing further than knowledge from books or movies…
I put my hand over my chest and bowed deeply.
“It is my life’s pleasure to find Her Highness was gracious enough to have deemed my humble cookies worthy enough to greet her royal palette. I am Gardavan Ashford, lucky enough to have been made into a useful husband by my kind wife Thalica, and these two children are our Nefetina and Trevorkane.”
“And of the last?” She asked, taking into account Jaxan.
“She is Jaxan… our apprentice.” I said, feeling satisfied I could at least give her some dignity in front of actual royalty. “She is learning the trade while living here and assisting my wife with raising the children.”
“I see. It is a pleasure to meet you all.” She responded in kind before jumping right to the point. “I am hosting a tea party of my own two weeks hence, and I would like you to provide the snacks which I and many other noble ladies shall enjoy. Can I count on you, Sir Ashford, to provide more of those thumbprints as well as something yet unseen? It is not without reward that I ask this of you.”
“I would be honored, Your Highness the Princess. I have a number of new ideas I am preparing to work on, and would be happy if they would debut for the first time at your gathering. Though it may be rude of me, may I ask the approximate number of guests attending, so that I can provide an adequate amount?”
“You may. I have sent out twelve invitations.”
In other words, I need to plan for at least twelve noble ladies showing up as well as the Princess. Obviously, no one would turn down an invitation from the Princess of Avondale, right?
“I will see to the preparations.”
“As you shall. My maid will visit in a week’s time henceforth, to confirm the details and reception.”
“We will make sure to receive her properly.” I said, wondering how many social protocols I’ve violated. I felt like Tally should have been the one handling this entire conversation, since I am essentially a commoner through and through. In my home country on Earth, all people were created equal, after all.
“As a token of my trust, I have brought something you may find useful.”
There was a fairly decent sized sack which was promptly handed over to me by one of the men accompanying her which I now assumed to be a royal bodyguard of some kind, perhaps even a knight. I opened it up the sack and nearly couldn’t contain myself when I saw what was inside.
“I won’t let you down, Your Highness! I will send many things back with your maid when she comes for you to sample at your leisure. If there is something you wish more of, please let me know within two days time.”
“So it shall be. Now then, I believe this concludes our business for today.” She said, following that proclamation by lifting her hood back up. The two men did the same.
“Please wait a moment, Your Highness.”
I quickly moved to the old wooden box which held the previously unsold bread. I emptied the strawberries into it, and replaced inside the bag a number of reserved and unsold cookies for the family. I can always make more, but it would be wise to leave a good impression. It also just so happened to be that I had a few of those thumbprints which were simply almond butter cookies with a depression in the top where I added a small dollop of jam.
Instead of offering it to her directly, I handed it to the man who gave me the sack in the first place.
“Something to enjoy in the interim.”
The Princess nodded and then the three of them set off from our store. Tally nearly collapsed, and I had held on to her while she barked at Jaxan to bring her some wine.
“Mommy… was that really the Princess?” Nefe asked.
“Yes sweetie, that was really the princess.” Thalica looked up at me, a worried expression plain as day on her face. “Gar…”
I rubbed her shoulder as I held on to her.
“It’ll be fine, Tally. If anything this is a good time to get some exposure.” I said, trying to comfort her stress level, which was through the roof right now.
Jaxan quickly returned with a bottle of wine and a mug, but Tally just ripped the cork out and chugged directly from the tap.
“Is everything alright, Mistress?” she asked, notably concerned, as I was.
Tally eventually put the bottle down, wiping her mouth clean with her arm. “Gar, that was the First Princess of Avondale.”
“Yes, I believe that fact was brought up more than once.” I replied with a smidge of sarcasm. “Is this a problem?”
“Yes, one way or another… this is going to bring a huge change with it. If it goes well, we can expect nobles to start placing orders like that in the future… if it doesn’t…”
She picked up the bottle again and drank a little more. Okay, a lot more.
“It’ll be fine, Tally. There’s no way what I’ve got planned won’t go over well.” I said, to reassure her. “Just trust and believe in me, okay?”
“Gar, I trust you. That’s something that has never been in question.” She stood up and then along with her bottle, announced she was going to lay down for a little while before going upstairs.
“Gard, is mom alright?” Trev asked.
“Yeah, she’s fine. Maybe it doesn’t affect me as much dealing with Royalty, but I’m confident in my skills. Besides, we just got a super awesome gift from her.”
“Gold coins?” Trevorkane took a guess.
“Nope. But I suppose it might be worth that much.”
“What is it?” Nefe asked, looking excited alongside Trev.
“Something you can only get with permission from the Royal Family, if what your Uncle Zed said to me was true.”
“Jax, care for a guess?” I threw the ball in her court.
“Could it be… Strawberries?”
“Ding, ding, ding! Correct! So many amazing things which can be made from them. Strawberry jam is going to be the theme! So I’m going to need you all to be my taste testers when it’s time, okay?”
Leaving the preparation of our meal to Jaxan, I had thought about getting started boiling some down into jam, but then I decided there was another issue that was top priority. Washing them off, I brought a number of them upstairs along with a little bit of sugar in a bowl.
“Children, I’m going to go make your mommy feel better, so go on and play by yourselves until then.”
The kids were agreeable to having playtime, and I told Jaxan if she was curious, she was free to try a couple strawberries and tell me her thoughts later. I went upstairs, finding my wife standing up by the desk, looking out the window.
“You sent the kids out to play?” She asked, acknowledging my arrival. The bottle of wine I expected to see her holding on to was instead sitting on the table next to her. I placed the bowl with strawberries and sugar down next to it and pressed myself against her from behind, wrapping my arms around her.
“That’s because there’s something important I need to take care of right now.” I whispered into her ear.
“Let me guess, you received strawberries from Her Highness and want to make a few things?”
”You know me so well, since that’s what I want to do… but not at this very moment.”
“You have something else in mind right now?”
I began moving my hands around her front to her erogenous zones, planting many kisses on her neck and shoulders, going so far as to show her I was quite interested in having some adult time with her.
“Are you trying to seduce me, Gardavan Ashford?”
“I already have, Thalica Ashford. The question is, are you prepared to have both your mouths satisfied right now?”
“Both of my mouths?” she giggled. “Is it confidence I hear in your voice right now, Gardavan, my love?”
“It’s not my voice which is speaking my confidence right now, my sweet angel…” I pressed my firm confidence against her rear end, “But perhaps something good will come of this seduction.”
“Do you mean it, Gar?”
“There’s only one way to find out, Tally…”
It took little effort from my wife, who was weak to wine and drink, to find herself in the mood. After much kissing and fondling, we soon found ourselves wrapped in the bedsheets. Savory sugar coated strawberries which paired well with wine kept her upper mouth occupied, and with her legs wrapped around my head, I made sure her lower mouth was as well.
“Mmmhh… I love it when you do this to me, Gardavan.”
I have to say I enjoy it too. Being intimate with my wife is something I look forward to at any time. It’s cute how she grabs my hair when she’s about to experience a satisfaction that strawberries can’t quite deliver. Of course this was simple foreplay, as I would be making sure to let her know whatever happened today was nothing to worry about. I did my best to take control of the bedroom activity today, and we were both wiped out as I made sure she got a different sugary satisfaction.
Lying naked on top of the covers, holding her in my arms, I said one thing I was adamant about not rushing into not too long ago.
“If this leads to that… I hope it will be a daughter.”
“Not a son?”
“We already have one. Trevorkane is a fine boy, but having a little sister to protect will turn him into a fine man.”
“Mmhh… then, we have a lot of work to do, Gardavan.” She said as she traced her fingers on my chest in no particular pattern. “Your nights are going to be very busy from now on.”
She rolled on top of me. Her bare skin glistening with sweat made visible by the sun’s light which poured in through the window.
“Why a girl, though?”
“Because I like beautiful things, and what can brighten up the bakery more than a bouquet of beautiful flowers everywhere an eye falls?”
“Am I and Nefetina not enough beauty for you to enjoy, Gardavan?”
“That’s like asking if you can be satisfied only ever looking at one piece of art, and that’s what we make here at this bakery, isn’t it? Delicious works of art.”
“So you are an artist now, and not a baker? Should I be worried about this where this brush will paint?”
I grabbed hold of my hopes and dreams, kept firmly affixed to her chest.
“The only canvas it will ever draw on, will be yours, my love.”
She leaned in and kissed me.
“Will you be upset if it’s another son? You won’t leave me to raise three children alone?”
“I’m not your former husband, Tally. I won’t abandon my responsibilities to be by your side, no matter what.”
Tears had begun to drip down her cheeks. Had I said something wrong? I probably shouldn’t have brought up her ex…
“If what you speak now is a lie, I will never forgive you.”
“I will never give you a reason to doubt. On the very name you gave me, I swear this to you, Thalica Ashford, my one and only beloved wife.”
What happened afterwards was hazy. A woman who wants to have a baby is the fiercest combatant in the bedroom. Even when Jaxan entered into the room, watching her Mistress and I engaged in true procreation, did nothing but amplify her desire as a woman to show the next generation how it was done.
Poor Jaxan, who witnessed it, succumbed to her own youthful indiscretion, her hand finding its way under her dress before our very eyes. Soon after there were three bodies spent, and a weak voice from our extra addition to the household letting us know that sup was ready before she quietly escaped the awkward aftermath.
“Could it be that you perhaps like being observed, Tally?”
“Gardavan, you brazenly say such a thing of me when you dared to swell up magnificently inside of me right when she began?”
My wife laughed.
“Come, Gar, let us sup. We will need our energy for the nights from hereon, before my moon comes again.” Her countenance let me know I was now a rabbit in a tiger's den.
Yes, we definitely need to add more meat to our household diet. I might not survive my hungry wife otherwise!