Royal Estrangement: The Royals Book II

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VIII

Annie

I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about William. He seems a little shifty to me, and he tells me things about Daniel that make me think. At the same time, Daniel tells me things about William that make me think too. It's tough and I can compare it to the feeling of when you're reading a novel from different characters' point of views. Both narrators have shown themselves to be unreliable in the past so.... who do you believe? Who's word do you take as Gospel?

That's the dilemma I'm currently facing, and it doesn't help how absolutely bias I am towards Daniel. I love him, so of course I'm going to believe and take his side in everything. It's infuriating, but the heart wants what it wants I suppose.

William politely smiles at me and rises from his seat on a bench in front of the koi pond when his eyes meet mine. Then, they trail to Aline who's walking beside me and I swear they darken with something akin to anger. It's something I don't like and I make note of it. He places his arm across his front and the other behind his back and bows before me, even though I've explicitly told him not to. "Princess Annie. Charmed. I trust your flight was alright?"

I nod. "It was fine." If you leave out the fact that I had to sit on a very sore ass, but I don't add that. "How was yours?"

He nods. "Tiring. I don't fancy flying, it tends to mess with my sleep schedule." William smiles at me, but it isn't warm and inviting as it once looked to me. I remembered him seeming so friendly at my wedding. Now, on the other hand, it looks darker, I would compare it to a predator. Daniel sometimes smiles at me like that, although now they are mostly genuine and full of the love he won't admit he has for me.

Bastard.

William pulls me out of my thoughts when he turns to Aline. "Hello dear, and who might you be? I was under the impression it would just be Annie and I this afternoon." He looks to me.

"I'm sorry, I haven't seen her since I've been gone and she wanted to catch up. I hope you don't mind."

He shakes his head and waves his hand dismissively, but the look in his eyes tells me he cares more than he's willing to let on. "Not at all! I just don't believe we've met before. Forgive me, but you look terribly familiar, Darling."

She puts her hand out, expecting a handshake, but he takes it and kisses the top of it. I don't know why, but everything about William now gives me the chills, including this simple, what-should-be polite action. It causes me to feel unsettled.

Aline blushes and stutters over her words, and why shouldn't she be? His treatment of her is so polite and almost romantic. Any woman would be falling at his feet, but for some reason I want to do nothing but run away. Could Daniel have been right about him?

"M-My name is A-Aline. I'm Annie's best friend. You've probably seen me around. I'm a palace maid too and I was at her wedding reception."

William nods. "Ah! That's right. I do remember seeing you at the wedding." He turns his emerald gaze back to me and I shiver, but not in the good way when Daniel looks at me, this is a feeling I do not like. "It was a lovely service, wasn't it, Annie?"

I can do nothing but nod, my throat feeling dry all of a sudden. Thankfully, he accepts that as my answer and moves back over to the bench where there's a beautifully woven picnic basket sitting on the seat. "I hope finger sandwiches and pasta salad is alright with you, that's all the kitchen had at such a short notice."

Aline looks to me and I nod for her to respond, for some reason, I still can't seem to find my voice. We're outside but to me it seems like there's no air. For some reason, William, who once made me feel at home, now makes my skin crawl.

"Yes, that's fine. I'm sure the palace chef's picnic foods will taste better than anything I've ever eaten." She jokes and they both laugh. I weakly laugh along, not wanting to give away that I'd rather be anywhere but here. I'm not sure what brought it on, it could've been Daniel's clearly worried warning, but I feel unsettled, which I'm glad for, because this entire interaction is working as a great distraction for the fact that I'm without a doubt, completely, 100% screwed when Daniel realizes what I've done.


We fall into small talk for a while. William asks Aline about how it's like working in the palace and they're both pretty content with speaking to each other, which I'm grateful for. With every passing second I'm glad I brought Aline along because she's always been an attention seeker. Whenever we'd go out together, she would take all the attention, all eyes and ears must be on her at all times which works out perfectly, because I'm content with being in her shadow-- now more so than ever.

Aline asks William to tell her everything about being a royal and he goes on a brief tangent. With him occupied, I'm free to look at the koi pond. I've never been out here, but it's beautiful. Light blue water and colorful fish with a beautiful fountain with a statue of a familiar young woman in the center surrounded by roses. It's absolutely stunning and I can't help but stare. I will definitely be sure to come out here more often-- it's very peaceful.

"Ah. You've discovered why I love coming her so much." William breaks me out of my trance and I flick my eyes to him. He's smiling at me, and it still gives me the chills. "This is called Regaliata aguadora, or Queen's Water. It wasn't always here. My uncle, you know him as the King, commissioned it for his wife, Queen Clarita when they were wed. It's a statue of her in the center of her favorite fish, koi." He smiles, and this time it doesn't creep me out. "As you can see, she was much younger then than she is now."

No wonder it looked so familiar, it's Queen Clarita, and she looks no older than me, forever immortalized in the polished marble. "It's beautiful."

He nods, looking at me. "It is."

Something tells me he isn't talking about the statue, and Aline must sense it too because she coughs. "Damn. Went down the wrong tube!"

I turn to her, thankful for the excuse to break eye contact. "Are you okay?"

She nods.

"The question is... are you?" William asks me and I know he isn't asking if I'm also choking on bread cut into tiny triangles.

I bite my lip and nod. "I am." And I surprisingly mean it. I'm not great, but I'm ok, and I know I'll be able to get through this. I refuse to break down and give up.

He sighs. "I'm sorry you have to deal with him, he's truly an ass."

Don't I know it.

William continues. "And I'm sorry you're stuck with him." He leans forward and I resist the urge to scoot away from him. "I'm worried about you. He's..."

"I know, I know. He's 'dangerous'. He said the same thing about you." Shit. I snap my mouth shut immediately. I shouldn't have said that.

He straightens his spine and I hear Aline suck in a nervous breath. "He did, did he?"

I swallow the excess spit in my mouth and nod. I speak, suddenly finding my voice. I won't be intimidated by this man, just like I wasn't by Vanessa. "He did. He actually told me to stay away from you."

A slow shark-like grin takes over his face and I find myself fiddling with my fingers in my lap out of nervousness. "Interesting... Then why are you here right now?"

I bite my lip again, it really is a habit I have to try to stop. "Well he's about to learn that I'm not going to be following his commands anymore."

William scoots away and I hear Aline gasp but it's too late. I hear the voice I didn't think I would hear, at least, not so soon.

"Oh really?"

My eyes widen. Fuck.

I turn around slowly, trying to hold off my fate for a little longer, praying it isn't who I think it is. Sadly... it is. There in the flesh is the spider himself. For some reason, he always does this to me, I really should be more careful. "H-Hey, Daniel. I hope you had a good day so far. You left before I could see you this morning, I've missed you." Always playing the part of the loving wife, now it's true. I did miss him. I always want to see him, it's pathetic.

Daniel smiles, but it doesn't reach his eyes so I know he's acting. He has to be furious with me for sure. I don't always agree with his rules but I'm pretty sure disobeying his orders to stay put and climbing down the balcony on bedsheets breaks all of them. I'm definitely in for it, which both excites and terrifies me.

He leans down so it looks like he's kissing my neck and whispers words in my ear that make me shiver. This time though, it's in a good way, not like how William makes me shiver.

"My day has gone far better than yours will go, Little American. You're in a hell of a lot of trouble." Then he leans back, kisses my forehead, and speaks loudly for all to hear. "It has been very productive, but I've missed my wife terribly. If you'll excuse us?"

Aline narrows her eyes at him but I eye her and she nods. "Of course, You Highness."

William doesn't let up so easily. "Nonsense! We've only just begun, please cousin, join us?"

That of course is a lie, we've been out here for an hour at least. Daniel clenches his jaw, but his paparazzi smile never slips. "I do apologize, cousin, but we must be going, my father wishes to see us. Something about my upcoming coronation?"

Ouch.

William's smile widens. I think that happens when he's pissed off. "That's funny, I don't remember him officially naming you his successor. It's anyone's game, or should I say crown, at the moment."

Daniel laughs. "Of course, you wouldn't know. Only immediate family is in the loop."

Okay. This has gone on too far. I stand up and grab Daniel's hand before turning to William and Aline. "I'm sorry, but we have to go. I forgot to feed Baxter earlier and he must me starving now."

William's eyes linger on Daniel before they slide over to me. He nods. "Of course, Annie. We'll catch up later?"

I nod. "Yes. I will see you both later."

Aline shoots me a look, one that roughly translates to "Do you know what you're doing here, Annie?" I nod at her. I'm trying to avoid another repeat of when Daniel quite literally knocked William on his ass.

I let Daniel lead us away from them and back through the royal gardens. When we're out of ear and eyeshot I dig in my heels. "What the hell was that about?"

He stares down at me. "I could ask the same thing about you. A bedsheet ladder? Really, Annie?" His eyes are dark, showing his anger, but there's a small smile on his lips. "I'm trying my hardest to be angry, and trust me, I am, but... I'm just dumbfounded right now."

I cross my arms over my chest. "Good. I don't regret what I did. You practically kept me as a prisoner so I did what was necessary."

He chuckles and shakes his head. "Did what was necessary? Damnit, you're either the dumbest woman I've ever met or the smartest. You decided to sneak out the day after I set fire to your pretty little backside? And you made a damn rope out of the sheets? You must know you're in trouble." He leans down and whispers. "Now, if I didn't know any better I'd say you enjoy my punishments, Little American. I indirectly told you to stay put."

I take a step away from him, feeling way too close-- dangerously close. "And I told you not to call me that, looks like we both aren't getting what we want."

Daniel takes a step forward, causing me to step backwards and so fourth until my back hits the stone wall separating the palace grounds with the real world. I gasp in surprise and Daniel grins. "I love that sound. It's so sexy." His eyes darken until they look like two pools of obsidian and before I can make an annoyed rebuttal his lips descend on mine with nothing short of sexual passion.

He doesn't just kiss me--he consumes me. His hands tangle themselves in my hair and his tongue explores every inch of my mouth like it's been starved of me and it kind of has. His lips bruise mine and his fingers pull and stroke and mess up my hair to the point that I'm sure I'll look like he fucked me against this wall. "Fuck," he murmurs into my mouth. "I missed you."

My heart swells even though I know his words mean nothing. He did miss me, that much I do know, and they're nice, but they aren't the three words I long to hear from him.

"I missed you too." I mumble back, against his lips, in between violent kisses.

His hands leave my hair and trail down my body until the wrap around my waist and pull me to him. His large palms grip my ass and I wince and suck in a quick breath of air. Daniel smirks onto my lips. "Oh don't worry, Wifey... you'll be doing a lot more than wincing when I'm done with you." He moves his lips to my neck and breathes his next words into my ear. "You've been a bad girl."

I shiver and nod. "I have."

"Mhm. Climbing out the window?" He pushes me against the wall, pinning my wrists above my head as he leans down to meet my eye level. I expect to see anger but instead, I see... worry? "You climbed off the two story balcony and onto a rope that wasn't 100% sturdy. That's so unsafe. You could've seriously hurt yourself."

I shake my head. "I was fine, Daniel. It was easy. I didn't get hurt."

His lips flatten into a firm line. "But you could've. What if the knot snapped? You would've fallen."

I roll my eyes, I'm already in enough trouble as it is so why does it matter? His eyes narrow at my action. "I wasn't going to fall. I was completely safe."

He shakes his head. "You don't understand. It doesn't matter if you were fine, the point is you could have not been."

I frown. He's right. Of course he's right. The sheets weren't safe, the knots could have come out at any moment. I totally could have fallen. "I know."

He searches my face for sincerity then nods, letting a small smile form on his lips. Daniel brings his hands to my face and cups my cheeks. "When I heard what you had done I was so worried. I was afraid you would get hurt. Please promise me you won't do anything like that again, Little American." He strokes my cheeks with his thumbs and I fall in love with him all over again. Why does he have to be like this? Why can't he be cruel and mean all the time? It would make this way easier.

I nod because I have no other choice. As much as I try to deny it, he still owns my heart completely. "I promise, Daniel, but you need to promise never to do something so stupid like keep me locked inside again! Ridiculous!"

Daniel smiles and nods. "I know, and if it makes you feel any better, it wasn't to keep you in." I give him a look. "Well, at least not completely. I wanted to keep people away from you."

"You mean William." I supply.

A shadow casts itself across his eyes. "Yes. I told you I do not trust him."

I bring my hand up to his cheek. "I know, Daniel. I understand, and from now on, I'm going to stay away from him." I don't tell Daniel that William has begun to give me a bad feeling or that he's creeped me out. If I did, I know it wouldn't end well, he would assume William did something to bring this feeling on in me. That's not the case, he hasn't really done anything, it's just a feeling I can't shake.

"Good." He pats my cheeks and that look returns to his eyes again and I know I'm done for. "Now, I think we have some urgent business to take care of before I can do what I really want."

The way he looks at me makes all the moisture in my mouth evaporate and travel... somewhere else. "What do you want?"

He leans in and speaks against my lips. "I want to fuck you so hard you won't be able to walk tomorrow and then I want to watch my seed dripping down those pretty American Thighs of yours."

A chill runs up my spine and I squeeze my thighs together to alleviate some of the ache. Daniel grins and all of a sudden I'm ass over head and my stomach is laying over his shoulder as he carries me like a caveman carries his conquest. "Ah! D-Daniel! Put me down!" I kick my legs and pound on his back but a sharp swat to my jean-cladded bottom shuts me up real quick as I realize how vulnerable of a position I'm in.

"I don't think I will. I'm going to carry my naughty wife all the way back to the palace where she can be properly punished." He muses and starts doing exactly that.

"What? What if someone sees!"

He shrugs. "Let them. I don't really care who sees. I'm going to do what I want."

"Of course you are." I roll my eyes, knowing he can't see. "Ow! What was that for?" He spanks me again.

Daniel chuckles. "Don't play dumb. You and I both know you just rolled your pretty little blue eyes at me." He smacks my ass again and I cry out. "If I was you, I'd quit complaining because there's a lot more where this came from when we get home."

Home. I'll never come to see this place as my home. "We're going back to New York--ow!"

"No, our suite. This is your home and you better get used to it cause you won't be leaving for a while." He snaps.

"It's my home until I give you an heir and then I refuse to live here, or see you again." I huff.

Daniel stops. "We've already had this conversation, Little American, and I don't think you want to have it again" He says through clenched teeth. "-- especially when I have such good access to this sweet ass of yours." He spanks me again and I hiss. It hurts, more so now that it's still tender from last night.

I decide to relent. Daniel's right. "Fine, but this conversation isn't over."

He chuckles and resumes walking towards the palace. "I would expect nothing less from the woman who climbed out the window on a sheet." He rubs my ass, soothing some of the sting away. "I missed you, Little American. I wondered where my little rebel had gone."

I grin. "Oh, don't you worry, bastard-ow! Worth it -she's alive and kicking and will always be around to give you hell."

Daniel laughs and spanks me again. "I like the sound of that."

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