Camilia stared out the window of her father’s sitting room. Temash’s body, still bloody from the hunt, had been taken away to be prepared for burial. Now all that was left was three of his wives, Tamedijl having been taken away in hysterics, and half a dozen of his children.
Dahla was crying. Camilia’s own mother Cahlila, who had actually cared for him, was exerting an iron focus on a cup of tea in her hand. Sala, sitting with her two oldest children, merely looked grim.
Camilia lifted her chin and turned. “Dahla, I know that you miss my father, but try not to dwell on it. It would be so bad for your health.”
The look she gave Dahla was sweet, but she held Dahla’s gaze just a little too long, until the older woman reared back slightly and a touch of fear showed. Camilia smiled and let the contact break. Cruel, perhaps, but necessary. Dahla had never moved against Camilia because Temash would not have hesitated to execute her. But now, her father’s protection? Gone. And until Camilia had an heir, Dahla’s son stood right behind her, ready to take the throne should something happen. She wasn’t stupid enough to think that Dahla wasn’t thinking it too.
“Sai, will you direct the arrangements for the funeral?” Her half-sister looked up from beside her mother. “It will be good practice,” Camilia added. She saw that register. The post of the Empress’ personal representative was a plum — and she was going to need someone she could trust. Sala, a sudden satisfaction showing through the grimness, gave her daughter a light touch on the back to send her off.
Sai met Camilia’s eyes and gave her a hint of a smile. The knot in Camilia’s chest relaxed a fraction. “Of course.” She rose and left the room.
Camilia took a seat across from her mother. “I believe I’d like a cup of tea.” She could hold this together. She could.
This week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge calls for 33 to 333 words on the third definition of the word DWELL (verb):
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