(copyright 2014 Julia Talbot)
“Your Highness, Mistress Serena is here to measure you for your robes of state.” Martha bustled over to her, fluttering slightly.
“Most excellent.” She had not seen Serena since the lady had moved into the palace, and while she loved her one new gown, the softness of the cloth left her even more unwilling to assume regular attire. She spent all of her time alone in the nude, waiting for Serena to make her another dress.
“Are you certain she isn’t a charlatan?” Martha fussed with this pleat and that ruffle of Althea’s gown, her face creased in a frown.
Althea slapped her hands away as gently as she could. “You see the quality of her cloth. See her in and leave us.”
“Yes, Highness.” Martha gave her a mutinous glare, but left her, leaving the door open just enough for Serena to slip through, a tailor’s bag in her hands.
“Good afternoon, Your Highness.” Serena dipped into a low curtsey.
Althea all but growled at her. “You know, up until a few moons ago, no one called me that. I was Princess Althea, which at least meant I knew someone knew my name.”
Serena stared at her for a long moment. “If her Highness gave permission, then in private, I might call her by name.”
“Yes.” Althea lit up with happiness at the idea. “My name is Althea.”
“Althea. Take your dress off, Althea, so I can measure you.”
“I—“ She faltered. “Latch the door first?”
Serena raised a brow. “Surely any number of courtiers have seen you in your shift. I did, the first time I came here.”
Her cheeks heated, the flush traveling all the way to her breasts, heat prickling under Serena’s fabric. “I am not wearing one. They feel rough and awful after the touch of your cloth.”
“Ah.” Serena’s lashes lowered, but her lips curved into a smile she could not hide. “I often feel the same.” Moving quickly, Serena went to latch the door. “Your guards will not try to break in, I hope.”
“Not unless I call for them.”
“Then I will give you no reason to. Here, let me help you.” Swift, sure hands lifted the dress away from Althea’s body, and she shivered, her bare nipples drawing up from the cold draft in the room.
Althea fought crossing her arms over her body. She had no reason to feel shame; she was well-made, with womanly breasts and hips, her thighs round and strong.
Serena stepped back to stare at her, lips pursed, arms crossed under her breasts. “Mmm. Lovely. I have a new weaving almost completed, and I cannot wait to tailor it to you.”
“Will it appear purple, like the robes of state?”
“It will.” From her bag Serena pulled a roll of twine with markings placed in ink along its length. “Raise your arms.”
Spreading her feet a touch for balance, Althea lifted her arms over her head, feeling brazen.
“You have a wonderful form, lady. Far fairer than my last patron, God rest her soul.”
“Oh, she was nearly eighty. Now, let me just—“ Serena leaned close to wrap the twine around her back, cheek brushing hers a moment.
Breath caught her chest, Althea froze in place, like a small animal caught by a predator’s gaze. Their breasts pressed together, and the tips of hers grew harder, pushing out, the skin puckering up.
“Your pardon, Althea.” Serena sounded breathless, as if she were exerting herself.