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I may not always know what's right, but I know I want you here tonight.


Cross-legged on the floor of his living room, Mallos was getting a lesson in teatime etiquette from his precocious four year-old when Jacob knocked on the door.

Croe had left on a long mission yesterday and not yet returned, which meant any hopes Mallos had of achieving anything were shelved. It seemed that four year-olds – or at least this four year-old – needed constant parental attention. Ángie wouldn’t even fall asleep unless she was tucked up in a one-armed cuddle on the sofa, although she did at least, at last, sleep through the night without getting up to bother him. In the morning, she’d be straight into his bedroom and that would be it; not a second’s respite for the rest of the day.

Ángie’s bilingual lecture about appropriate topics of teatime conversation didn’t pause when Jacob knocked on the door and poked his head in, although she did keep one dark eye on him suspiciously. Like Mallos, she usually spoke in a mixture of Spanish and English, but as soon as the young guard entered she switched firmly to the former language. Jacob – among the bolder of the younger guards, at least when it came to Mallos – stepped fully inside the room and waited politely for Ángie to run out of steam, which took a good ten minutes. Finally, when Ánge apparently realised that Jacob wasn’t going to go away, she addressed him.

“Who are you?” She asked, to the point.

“Master Jacob’s just here for the tea.” Mallos informed her in a spot-on imitation of an English accent.

“Um, actually…” Jacob was forced to accept the dainty china teacup which a reassured Ángela subsequently pressed into his hand, and stood holding it awkwardly. “His Grace has requested you come down to the Great Hall and help him with a mystery.”

Mallos glanced at his daughter. Ángela had six senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, taste, and abandonment. Already, her lips had thinned and the focus of her dark eyes had become a little more intense.

“You mean the mystery of what to talk about during afternoon tea?” He asked in a concerned voice. “Tío still needs help with that?”

Ángela squealed with delight and immediately set about selecting a teacup from her collection for Uncle Arthur while Jacob and Mallos did a poor job of hiding similar smirks. After a moment’s indecision, the bold four year-old led the way with her farther and the guard trailing behind exchanging amicable insults with each other. Jacob was one of the few employees of the royal household who gave as good as he got, which was probably why he was, increasingly, the one sent on errands to fetch or give messages to Mallos.

With only a quick check over her shoulder first to make sure daddy was following, Ángie burst through the double doors a good thirty seconds ahead of him, armed with a teacup in either hand. She made a beeline directly to the throne and had already pushed one of the teacups into Arthur’s hand and climbed onto his lap by the time Jacob and Mallos entered at a much more leisurely pace. Mallos strolled with his hands in his pockets; Jacob was still holding the little yellow teacup Ángie had given him.

Ángie herself, meanwhile, was devastated to realise that Tristan was here and she hadn’t brought a teacup for him.

“The man didn’t say you’d be here.” She told Tristan from her position on Arthur’s lap, her arms wrapped around his torso.

Mallos
I've learned enough to know I'm never letting go
Photography by Raul Soler



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