Voices from the courtyard met Camilia as she entered. She smiled and paused under the arch to enjoy the daily spectacle only she got to see: the empire’s most notorious young rake playing with her children.
“And how are you going to get there?”
“ELPHANT!” Aleish bellowed. Cahleina giggled.
“Vash! What are you teaching them?” Camilia struggled to keep the laughter out of her voice.
“Mama!” Cahleina scrambled to her feet.
“We were just talking about what an imperial procession should look like.” His wicked look was the same that had thrilled the hearts of so many inappropriate noblewomen, and it made her laugh to see it here. The great secret of her household: her lesser husband’s steady heart.
“There is no room for an elephant in the stables,” she said severely, raising an arm to receive the daughter who barreled into her leg.
“Elphant.” Aleish gave her a rebellious look. Avash’s face was alight with mirth. Camilia completely lost control over the smile.
“Maybe at the summer palace, sweetheart.” At least there they wouldn’t have to coax it through the streets of Maj Delumai. Triumph! Aleish was off running in circles. Trumpeting noises rang off the stone walls. “You are terrible.”
Avash gave her an amused look as he strolled over. She shooed Cahleina off to chase her brother. “Cahleina asked me if Dahla was a witch yesterday,” she continued. “I know they’re not getting these things from Sahmin.”
He laughed. “That could just be intuition.”
Camilia let out an undignified sound that was half snort, half laugh, and leaned into his arm. “Another might be nice.” She saw the tilt of his head out of the corner of her eye but didn’t turn. She wasn’t worried. He was devoted to them both, even though he knew Cahleina was certainly Sahmin’s.
“A three elephant parade is more impressive than a two elephant parade.”
Her shoulders shook as she raised her face for his kiss. “It is.”
Welcome to this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge! This week’s prompt called for 33 to 333 words on the third definition of the word HEART:
1: a hollow muscular organ of vertebrate animals that by its rhythmic contraction acts as a force pump maintaining the circulation of the blood
2: a playing card marked with a stylized figure of a red heart
3: personality, disposition <a cold heart>