Paige rocked Andrienne gently as she made another slow circuit of the sitting room. She couldn't help glancing at the door to Valerie and Darren's bedroom again, noting that it was still closed tightly. She sighed and turned her attention back to her niece, smiling at the way her tuft of black hair was pointing in several directions.

The sound of the door opening had her head jerking up. Axton walked out of the room, shaking his head. She chuckled at the expression on his face. "Well? What'd she want?"

"Your sister asked that we watch her highness for an hour since she, her majesty that is, is in need of a nap," he said, nodding at the baby she was holding.

Paige rolled her eyes. "She didn't call you all the way over here to ask you to babysit. Especially since she already asked me to do it. What'd Vally really want?"

He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "She wished to speak to me about my future."

"Oh?" She said, dropping her eyes to Andrienne, hoping he didn't notice her sudden blush. "And what she'd say?"

She didn't see his smile at first but noticed it when she looked up after he touched her shoulder. "She said she believes I am a moderating influence on you and would feel less worry if I were to remain by your side. The other…well it is an offer that applies to both of us she said."

Paige frowned slightly, not sure she could trust whatever Valerie's plan was. "What's the offer?"

"As you know, my father has been forbidden to return to court after his part in the conspiracy to assassinate your sister, limited though it was," he said, the smile disappearing from his face.

She winced. "Yeah, Darren did what he could but…"

Axton shrugged. "It is a leniency he should not have expected. The others are to be executed in the coming days. Only the fact that he left their group when he discovered their actual intent to kill you sister and his help in locating us kept him from the noose. He only did so because he wished my safety. I do not believe he would have volunteered such information had it only been you."

Paige sighed, not liking the way he'd set his jaw. "In fairness, he might not have known where they were if they hadn't tried to use you as a hostage to force him into helping them. And he did back out when they started seriously talking about killing Vally. But let's not get into an argument about what he might and might not have done. The point's moot."

He snorted. "Fine, but I will say that he would not be unhappy if her majesty were to die. I know he hoped that she would die bringing her highness into the world. But that is not what we were speaking of. Your sister has an idea of a position for both of us. Once we are older, she said."

"What kind of position?" she asked, rocking Andrienne again when her niece began to squirm and her face began to tense up the way it often did before she cried.

"A type of ambassadorial one. She has said we two have a unique perspective, both of us born to different worlds but comfortable in the other. Well," he said, rubbing his neck. "She says with time I will adjust more properly to your world. She says in the future she would like us, if we are willing, to be her eyes and ears in both worlds and to act as a bridge for those who go between them. The others who are comfortable with both have their own duties that leave them little time to do the work she feels will soon be necessary."

She grinned at that. "What she means is everyone's settling down and having kids and don't want to have to go running between worlds. I can understand that. It's not going to stop me from telling Vally and the others that they're getting old and lazy, but I understand. So what's going to happen if we accept?"

He smiled back. "She says I will attend school with you. But she says I must wait until you enter University. From the way she spoke, the place sounds like a school. Is it similar to your High School?"

Paige laughed. "It's a type of school. You can go after high school if you're accepted," she said, then frowned. "So what Vally didn't say was that she wants you to stay here until then. Well, it could be worse I suppose. As long as she doesn't forbid me from coming over again, it's fine."

She looked him over for a moment, glad that the bandages from the past two weeks were gone and that he was smiling again. He looked good like that. It made her glad that he rarely smiled except around her. She didn't know what she'd do if she had a rival but she was sure it wouldn't be pretty. She'd use every underhanded means in her arsenal, and the arsenals of her family and friends, shamelessly if it meant keeping him. She shook her head a bit, grinning again. It was still odd to realize how strongly she felt about him. It wasn't until she wasn't sure they were both going to survive that she really examined her feelings for him. She'd taken his presence in her life for granted. Well no longer. "So," she said to him, her eyes dancing as they met his. "What do you want to do? Do we accept or forge our own path. I'm happy with either."

His smile brightened as he took a step closer to her, his body warmth merging with hers as he leaned in close. "It is not as if we must decide now. We should think on it," he said, then kissed her squarely on her forehead.

She felt a faint flush come to her cheeks but ignored it, her grin gaining a wicked edge. The kiss had been daring for him. It looked like her work was cut out with her, but she had time to bring him around to her way of thinking and kissing. After all, she was in for the long haul.