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Week 24: Elin & Ingrid

(Elin Meets Ingrid for the First Time)

“Your Royal Highness, you need a private secretary,” Markus said.

“Do I really, though? I’ve been handling everything fine on my own since my old one left for Finland.”

“Yes. And with His Highness leaving the service, you’ll both need new private secretaries. His Highness, Prince Christian, is foregoing one right now due to his military service, but as heir, he won’t be able to go without for long.”

“I’m sure my father will agree with you there.”

“I’ve already chosen someone for you. His Majesty requested I find someone who would be a good fit, and I believe I’ve found her, Ma’am.”

“Her?” Elin asked and sipped her tea.

“Yes, Ma’am. Her name is Ingrid Olson, and she’s been in civic service for a decade already. She already works in the palace and comes to us highly recommended. Steven and I both interviewed her, and I was impressed with her organizational abilities, among other things. Your schedule was cleared this morning so that you might interview her as well, Ma’am.”

“Oh. I get to interview her, too, do I? My own secretary,” she said cheekily.

“Of course, Ma’am. She’s just outside.”

“She’s here now?”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“You made her wait outside?” Elin asked.

“Ma’am, she knew she’d be waiting a bit for me to talk to you. She cleared her day for her interviews. She’s already had the standard background check conducted, and security has cleared her as well. Shall I ask her to come in for you two to talk?”

“Privately, Markus?”

“If you’d like, I can remain and assist in the interview, Ma’am.”

“No,” she said. “Thank you. I think I can handle it.”

“Of course, Ma’am. I’ll just get her now.”

“Thank you,” she replied.

Markus stood and bowed his head before he turned to walk toward the door out of Elin’s office. He disappeared, and the door closed behind him. Elin wondered what he might be saying to the woman who would be interviewing for Elin’s private secretary, which she didn’t want. Christian would be King, and yes, technically, she’d be heir after him should he not have children or until he did, but their father was still alive and wasn’t yet an old man. He’d had some health concerns recently, but she wasn’t worried since the doctors had assured her that it wasn’t anything to worry about. She’d had secretaries before, but she’d primarily always shared Christian’s. They were twins and had gotten used to sharing most things, and with him gone in the military long after his requisite service, Elin had been able to use his secretary pretty much for anything she’d needed. 

“Oh, well. If I must be managed by someone, at least I’ll get to interview them myself this time,” she said.

“I’m sorry, Your Royal Highness?”

Elin looked up and saw the most beautiful woman she’d ever seen in her life standing there with the door closed behind her.

“Uh…” Elin coughed a little and didn’t know why. Then, she promptly tipped over her teacup and the hot tea she’d been drinking into her lap. “Oh, no.”

“Your Highness, are you all right?” the woman asked as she rushed to Elin’s side. “I’ll get a napkin, Ma’am. Are you burned anywhere? Should I get-”

“No, I’m all right. I’m so sorry. I don’t know what happened. It’s almost as if I’m interviewing for a job today.” Elin laughed a nervous laugh as a hand holding a napkin landed in her lap. “Oh, I’ve got it.” She took the napkin.

“Of course. My apologies, Ma’am.”

“Why are you apologizing?” Elin asked as she wiped at her skirt.

“I think I caught you off guard, Ma’am.”

She definitely had, but not how Ingrid thought.

“Why don’t we start over?” Elin suggested. “Have a seat? Would you mind giving me just a moment to change into something not covered in tea?”

“Shall I have a new cup brought in for you, Ma’am? Or a new pot?”

“Yes, of course. Feel free to make yourself some tea. I’ll be back in a moment.”

“Oh, I’m more of a coffee drinker myself. I meant for you.” Ingrid stood to her full height and smiled at Elin just as Elin was taking a step backward toward the door.

She promptly ran into the sofa behind her and nearly toppled over but managed to keep herself upright.

“Your Highness!”

“Okay. I’m okay. Just…” Elin held out her hands to show Ingrid that she was okay. “I’ll be right back. Order whatever you’d like, Miss Olson.”

“Ingrid, Ma’am,” she said.

Elin smiled and replied, “And I’m Elin.”

“Yes, Your Highness.”

Ingrid smiled at her because, of course, she’d known that already, but Elin wished they’d met under different circumstances where Ingrid could maybe just call her Elin.

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