“Well that's easy the twenty million always come before me.”
He sighs. Dad is the king of sighs. Sighs is one of the associated territories in his signature. “Angus, you know that's not true.” He turns the PC POCKET over in his hand. “Is this the one you wrote the algorithms for?”
I nod. Although I'm secretly quite proud of the PC POCKET, I don't want Dad knowing how much it means to me. He can't know that I'm missing it already.
“Professor Laurence was impressed with your work. It’s a shame you can't show that side of your nature more frequently.” He goes over to the desk and puts my PC POCKET in a drawer. “It can stay here until your attitude improves.”
I'm saved from uttering something I would probably be made to regret by a knock on the door.
“Enter.” Dad stands up and winces. He places his hands on the desk and closes his eyes, for a pain filled moment, before plastering a smile back on his face.
I want to ask him what’s wrong, but Sir Gilbert Phinn, Dad's valet comes in. He holds two garment bags in one hand and his make up case in the other. “I've brought the young prince's uniform as well. He is still going?”
“He's not getting out of it that easily.” Dad takes one of the garment bags and hangs it on the empty bookcase behind his desk.
Empty bookcases were a feature in many island homes. They used to hold books until my grandfather went nuts and said the books were whispering to him. The ones in his study were the first to go. He reckoned all history would rot our brains and had every book in the kingdom burned; although Dad had rescinded grandfather’s rules, those writers that hadn’t been killed were a scared bunch these days and the dull state sponsored texts my grandfather had commissioned still dominated book sales on Covesea Island.
“Your Highness.” Gilbert's ebony eyes sparkle with humour and he bows whilst holding out my garment bag.
Reluctantly I stand up and take it. “I'd rather be whipped.” I hang mine on another empty bookcase on the other side of the room. Slowly, so I can postpone the inevitable I lower the zip on the garment bag. “This is torture, wicked, evil, undeniable torture. Pulling my finger nails out with pliers would be preferable.”
“Angus, just get on with it. Or I'll confiscate the phone permanently.” Dad pulls his white undershirt over his head. “You're not a baby. Get dressed and do your duty.” Again he pulls a face.
“Sir.” It takes some effort not to sarcastically bow or salute or something. Instead I pout at the turquoise monstrosity that I am expected wear. I remove my jeans and take off my Skuas t-shirt, The Skuas are my favourite band but Dad hates them. He blames their influence for my attitude towards duty.
Like Dad I start with the undershirt. Mine is pale grey and it always looks grubby next to his bright white. The leggings with a stripe down them come next. “Just what I need – longer looking legs.”
“Angus… please.” Dad has his emerald-green tunic on, the gold falcon on his chest is glinting in the evening sunlight that is streaming through the glass doors that give access to the grounds. “Tonight is no picnic for me either. And quite frankly I'm too worried to deal with your crap. Gil, have you got painkillers?”
Gilbert holds out some tablets and a glass of water.
“Well let me go to my room.” My turquoise tunic comes down to my thighs. I pull a face and check it in the full length mirror by Dad's desk. The leggings are already riding up and I grab hold of the material and yank them out of my crack. Tugging at the neck of the tunic helps me feel like I'm creating room for my body.
There's a loud smack. I turn. Dad has smashed his hand down on the desk. “Angus, for Litae's sake, just behave. A few hours that's all I'm asking for.”
“Yeah. Let's guess twenty million people's lives are riding on me being a good little boy?”
“It bothers me you don't seem to care.” He holds his arms up so Gilbert can attach his sword belt.
I turn my head so I can't see. It's the same sword I watched my grandfather use to dispatch people he didn't like and I don't understand why Dad persists in wearing. “Why do you wear that thing?”
“Loren, maybe I should check the wound?” Gil's voice is one of concern. "Let me see it?"
Dad shakes his head. “I'm fine. Just fine.” He manoeuvres round the desk and sits in his chair. “Just need to sit down for a bit.” The beady eye of the falcon on the front of his tunic peers at me over the top of the desk. When my grandfather wore me it terrified me but now it just accuses me.
A night of blood, mayhem and magic thrust Prince Angus, the youngest son of the king, onto the throne of Covesea Island. He's never wanted to be king. Social media calls King Angus a clown. His subjects don't rate his ability to lead them in the trade negotiations with one of the planet's superpowers.