EXCERPT: Danielle Steele's 'HRH'

"I wasn't riding," she explained. "I just went for a run with the dog." As she said it, a footman set her soup down in front of her, in delicate two-hundred-year-old gold-rimmed Limoges. The set had been her French grandmother's, and Christianna knew there were many equally handsome services of china from her father's ancestors as well. "Are you very busy today, Papa?" Christianna asked quietly, as he nodded, and pushed his papers away with a sigh.

"No more than usual. So many problems in the world, so many things that can't be solved. Human problems are so complicated these days. Nothing is simple anymore." Her father was well known for his humanitarian concerns. It was one of the many things she admired about him. He was a man worthy of respect, and was regarded with great affection by all who knew him. He was a man of compassion, integrity, and courage, and had set a powerful example for her and her brother to follow. Christianna learned from his example and listened to what he said. Freddy was far more self-indulgent, and paid no attention to his father's edicts, wisdom, or requests. Freddy's indifference to what was expected of him made her feel as though she had to attend to duties and uphold traditions for them both. She knew how disappointed her father was in his son, and she felt she had to make it up to him somehow. And in fact, Christianna was much more like her father, and was always interested in his projects, particularly those involving indigent people in underdeveloped countries. She had done volunteer work several times, in poor areas in Europe, and had never been happier than when she did.

He explained his latest endeavors to her as she listened to him with interest and commented from time to time. Her ideas on the subject were intelligent and well thought out, he had always had a deep respect for her mind. He only wished his son had her brains and drive. And he knew only too well that she felt she had been wasting her time ever since she got home. He had recently suggested that she consider studying law or political science in Paris. It was a way of keeping her busy and challenging her mind, and Paris was close enough to home. She had many relatives there, on her mother's side, could stay with them, and come home to see him often. Although she would have liked it, even at her age, there wasn't even the remotest possibility of her staying in an apartment on her own. She was still mulling over his plan, but she was more interested in doing something useful that would make a difference to other people, than in going back to school. At his father's insistence, Freddy had graduated from Oxford, and had a master's degree in business from Harvard, which was of no use to him, given the life he led. Her father would have allowed Christianna to study something more esoteric, if she chose to, though she was an excellent student and a very serious girl, which was why he thought law or political science would suit her well.

His assistant entered the dining room apologetically as they finished coffee, and smiled at Christianna. He was almost like an uncle to her, and had worked for her father during her entire life. Most of the people around them had worked for him for years.

"I'm sorry to interrupt, Your Highness," the older man said cautiously. "You have an appointment with the finance minister in twenty minutes, and we have some new reports on Swiss currency that I thought you might want to read before you speak with him. And our ambassador to the United Nations will be here to see you at three-thirty." Christianna knew her father would be busy until dinner, and more than likely his presence would be required at either a state or official event. Sometimes she went with him, if he asked her to. Otherwise she stayed home, or appeared briefly at similar events herself. In Vaduz, there were no casual evenings for her with friends, as there had been in Berkeley. Now there was only duty, responsibility, and work.

Copyright © 2006 by Danielle Steel

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