“Until dinner.” Par finally left. Thank heavens. There wasn’t enough wine in the city.
“Did he propose to you, or is he saving that for dinner?” A wickedly inflected baritone caught her ear, and Raicha turned with relief to see Par’s brother Avash. “You could do better.” He lifted an eyebrow suggestively.
“You don’t imagine my grandfather would let you anywhere near me, do you?” Avash combined his brother’s middling social position with youngest-son ineligibility and a scandalous reputation for affairs with married women.
“Grandfathers never seem to approve of me. Even my own.” A regretful look that she didn’t believe for a second appeared.
“Well, mine is here,” she laughed. “Go away before you get me in trouble, Avash.”
He winked and strolled off to the imperial balcony where Camilia and Sahmin were sitting. He casually dropped into the chair next to Camilia. Sahmin addressed a friendly comment to him.
Raicha froze. She could see the corner of Avash’s mouth turned up ever so slightly. Avash? She had never caught so much as a whisper. And joining her this publicly could only mean one thing. She folded her lips under and firmly bit down on them to control the hysterical bubble of laughter that was welling up. Her eyes darted around the room. The Temeru patriarch had stopped with a glass of wine halfway to his lips and was staring toward the balcony with an expression he’d be embarrassed by later. Raicha quivered.
“My lady.” A servant bowed. “Her imperial majesty invites you to join her to view the fireworks.”
“I think my view of the fireworks would be better from here.” Dahla Faro’s face was furiously red. Raicha’s great uncle – Camilia’s grandfather – caught her and gave her an amused glance. Raicha quickly looked away.
“Yes, by all means. I would hate to miss them.” Camilia turned and caught her eye. Raicha choked, but her shoulders only shook a little as she sauntered off to join them.
a : display of temper or intense conflict
b : a spectacular display <the fireworks of autumn leaves>