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Chapter 21

It’s wrong, and I know I shouldn’t have taken pleasure in it. But kneeling there in the sand, his arms wrapped around me as we watched the last few rays of the day slowly slipped away, I knew I would never care. I should care, maybe once I would have, but I currently don’t. He’s the first man to ever look beyond and see more for than just what I’m not. All my life I was taught I would never be loved- I could never be loved. Because I was defected, broken, incomplete. No man would ever want that, but he does. And he is a King. Perhaps I am not as broken as I have been led to believe.


Finishing her entry, Scarlet blew on the ink to dry it before closing her journal. Hopping from her bed, she hid it back in her bag and left her room to meet for breakfast. The Beach house was rather tiny compared to the King’s grand mansion. Consisting of three, rather than four, floors the home sat soundly on a grassy rock side. The first floor was dedicated to the basic; a Kitchen, a dining room, a den and a meeting room. The second floor held a total of ten bedrooms, three of which were solely dedicated to housing the workers and the third floor was the Royal’s private area. Scarlet could assume that there was a bedroom for each the King and Queen, along with a tea room, and an office for the King. Perhaps he even had some storage stashed away. What the home lacked in size, it made up for in quality. The home was fit for royalty, each floorboard was carefully placed and every piece of wallpaper was gracefully laid. Only the finest of craftsmanship was used for the furniture, the highest quality of fabrics. It was all so grand.

Entering into the dining room, Scarlet slowed but did not stop. Sitting at the table already, talking civically about the engine used in the Metal Birds, was Theo and Renee. They both looked up and greeted her; she responded and took her seat. “Theo was telling me about her new, advance engine that uses a mixture of steam, oil and coal to run. It’s quite fascinating.” Theo nodded, taking a sip from her tea cup as she leaned back. “It’s true, Renee and I have found a common ground.”

That’s great, but when did you get into engines Renee?

Renee’s face slightly colored and she slowly chewed the food in her mouth. “Um, Vern has been teaching me actually. He saw how I took interest in the subject and begun to teach me a while ago.”

Why didn’t you ever tell me?

Renee shrugged. “Guess I never saw the point to. I’m sorry if it hurt you, that I didn’t I mean.” Scarlet shook her head no, and filled her glass with some juice. As she begun to fill her plate the King entered in. The three females stood, bowed, and returned to their seats. She dared to glance at him, as if it was any other morning. He sensed it, and met her gaze. Both said nothing, each of them keeping a plain face. Scarlet was not expecting anything more, she feared anything more. But the thought of the night before, of the secret held between the Kind and herself, sent reviving thrills through her.

“So, sire, what is on our itinerary today? More flight test?” The gleam was in Theo’s eyes, and a smirk on her lips. The King, whose glass and plate were brought to him already filled, took a sip of red from his glass. “Testing, yes, but not of your Birds. The Admiral shows the most interest in your steam boots.” Theo made a face, as if the orange she was eating was sour. “My boots? But why? I’ve only got the prototype. It’s barely been tested on land, let alone risked over water. I don’t even think they’ll work over water.” Theo shoved another piece of orange into her mouth. The King gave a tip of his head. “Well, during the last war meeting I had with my high ranks we discussed some of your projects. Captain Kerns must have been impressed with the idea and passed it on to the Admiral.” Theo rolled her eyes, groaning like a child. Then a thought came to her and she stopped. The King frowned at this, as if he knew what she was thinking but said nothing.

“So like a planet, these little plates will gather the sun’s rays and convert it into energy! More accessible, readily available and more powerful energy.” Theo lowered the blue pints to the ground, and smoothed them out. It was a motion she had done a number of times over the past few minutes as she explained her Sun Plates to the group. Scarlet didn’t fully understand, Renee looked excited beyond words, the King seemed impressed and the two navy members appeared bored. Theo’s smile fell as she casted her eyes on the last two. Folding up her map, she moved towards the table. Motioning for them to follow, only three did. Placing the map on the table, Theo tipped her head to face the two unmoving humans.

“This next one, I’m very proud of.” Theo picked up a round, metal ball from the table of her inventions, “I call it Lil’ Grey.” and tossed it in her hand. “Yes, yes, but when are you going to demonstrate your boots. That is what I want to see, not these little knick-knacks.” Scarlet took a step back, as Theo’s face grew dark. “I’ll get to it when I get to it. First I’m going to show you Lil’ Grey.” The Admiral rolled his eyes under his goggles as Theo turned. “Fine.” She faced Scarlet and Renee, her voice low. “When you hear the third beep, put on a mask.” Twisting the metal ball, Lil’ Grey, she pressed her thumb to a small button. Turning, she smiled at the Admiral. “So what does this, thing, do?” Theo picked up a mask slyly from the table with her free hand. Scarlet and Renee copied her, safely watching her experiments from the opposite side of the table. Theo tossed the ball down towards the Admiral and Captain, they both stood on the opposite side of the ‘testing circle’. “You’ll see.” As she said that three high pitch beeps filled the air, hurting even the human’s ears. Lil’ Grey suddenly expanded, sending a cloud of menacing smoke suddenly into the air. Scarlet fumbled with the mask in her hands, getting it on just as the blast hit her. With the mask held to cover her mouth and nose Scarlet glanced over to Renee who looked back. The smoke was thick, and Scarlet couldn’t see the King- who had been two or three feet from her. As quickly as the smoke filled the room, it was pushed out. With full visibly returned to the room Scarlet could see that the King was looking at only one things- two bodies on the ground. Unstrapping the mask from her face, Theo’s grin was brighter than the sun. The King removed his mask, making his way over to the Admiral and Captain. Theo let out a satisfied laugh as the King bent over the two humans. “Are they dead?” Three pairs of eyes turned to Renee, who held her mask nervously in her hands. Theo let out a scoff, “No, just knocked out. That’s all Lil’ Grey does, knock out any and all species. Vampire, Werewolf, the rare witch, humans- he does it all. It’s not like they didn’t have it coming.” She kicked the Captain’s foot with her boot. “It was just pay back.” tossing the smoke bomb in her hand, Theo reset it. “How long will they be out?” The King rose as he asked his question, no concern laced on his face at all. “Eh, I’d say three, maybe four…”

“Minutes?” Theo laughed at the King. “Hours.” The King’s jaw dropped, and Scarlet sat her mask on the table. She made mental note to herself to never get on Theo’s bad side. “Theo!” The werewolf jumped slightly at the King’s tone, dropping the bomb as she did. The room stopped moving. After a few seconds, and no eat piercing beeps, the werewolf picked the bomb back up. “I barely gave them anything. Lil’ Grey’s full force could kill if I wanted it to! Not that I’ve tested it, yet.” The King sighed, and rested his forehead in his hand for a moment. “Well, there goes four hours. Renee, go alert someone to get the unit doctor.” Renee nodded, dropping her mask on the table and scurrying from the room. “What are we to do now?” Theo grinned once more, “The summer solstice festival is taking place today in town.” Renee returned a few moments later, a Doctor following closely after her. He looked between the King, the two females standing by him, and the bodies on the ground. “They were knocked out by a simple chemical reaction.” The King stepped up, daring anyone in the room to challenge him. “I shall be leaving now but please have me alerted when they come to. Until then, we’ll be in town.”

If there was one thing Scarlet quickly came to understand, was that to many of his subjects the King was a name and nothing more. Unlike the High Lord of Tobus, whose picture was hung clearly everywhere, The King barely had more than two portraits of himself in his castle. And that was to include the one in the Grand Hall of Rulers. The small group was able to walk freely through the crowd, the occasional town folk smiling and wishing them a happy summer. It was near midday, the sun almost reaching it’s peak. Happy, joyful movements and sounds surrounded them. Roads were blocked off, different booths- of both food and goods, and games set up in place of cars. In the center of the town, where normally was a simple cross roads, was a dancing square. A small band was set up along one corner, and a merry group danced around in sets of pre-determined motions. Unlike the dancing at Pals wedding, Scarlet recognized some of the music and knew what moves the dancers were performing. There was so much going on, and Scarlet was so caught up in everything that she didn’t notice Theo and Renee slip away as they passed the street filled with outfitted Steam vehicles. Something colorful caught the corner of Scarlet’s eye. With eyes like a child, she reached for the scarf and wrapped it over her hair as she sometimes saw Pals do. Clutching it, she turned and rested her hands under her chin. Smiling at the King, he nodded in approval. “She looks lovely, no, no?” The King nodded to the salesman behind the display table. “She does, how much for the item?” The salesman’s smile grew bigger. “For this one? Well it is made of the finest silk made by the rarest of worms from the peaks of the Endless Mountains.” The King made a face that told the salesman to get to the point or risk losing his business. The salesman cleared his throat, “Uh-hm, yes, twenty-five gold, two silver.” Scarlet paled at the amount, quickly removing the scarf from her head. That was easily a third of what her mother was able to make in a yet, let alone have enough to splurge on a simple scarf. With a simple blink the King removed his wallet from his pants pocket and begun to write a Note out. Dropping the scarf carelessly to the table, Scarlet reached out to physically stop him. Meeting her gaze, he pulled away gently. “Allow me.” Finishing the Note, the King pulled the paper free from its booklet and handed it to the merchant. The salesman smiled, handing the scarf over to Scarlet in almost a full on toss. She caught it, holding it carefully in her hands. As the two begun to move away the King held a hand out, “Allow me.” Taking it, he wrapped it loosely around her neck, smiling. “Green is your color.” She blushed, but unlike those of the past Scarlet didn’t mind if he saw. Suddenly the band begun to play a well-known partner dance, and Scarlet found herself nudging her way to the front of the gathered circle. The King followed her, reaching her by the time her body was already bouncing to the beat.

Renee taught me this one. It’s my favorite.

The name of the dance was quite fitting, and truly explained the idea behind it. During Caught, each pair of partners is given a ribbon that is held on each end by the other. Moving in a preset arrangement of steps the goal of each person is to wrap their partner in the ribbon. The only rules were to never let go of your ribbon or touch your dance partner. The music always started out fairly slow, but gradually it would built itself up into an allegro. The audience, normally rooting for a particular person on each team, would normally join in by clapping to the tempo of the song and encouraging whoever they sought to win. It was a simple idea, turned into a simple dance that almost the whole world seemed to know. Typically played three times in a row, it allowed couples to try to beat each other out fairly or allow new ones to join in. “I don’t believe I ever learned it.” Scarlet looked at the King as if he had grown a third eye. He leaned in close to her, his breath hot. “Royal dance teachers do not teach barn room dancing I’m afraid.” Scarlet smiled, for no particular reason but unable not to.

Watch their feet, learn it. We can join in next time.

The King appeared to want to say something but instead he did as Scarlet suggested. By the time of the third round, the two found themselves square in the middle of the make shift dance floor. Scarlet wrapped the silky ribbon around her wrist once, to keep a good grip. The music begun, and they moved. Simple at first, they simply stepped in a large circle before spinning themselves and starting in the opposite direction. Turning they moved near, and then far from each other- their bodies never touching. Coming back in, they spun, and walked away from each other. During this time they were still moving around the floor, other couples copying them. Filling the ribbon grow tense, they moved in one last circle. There was a sudden shift in the music, Scarlet grabbed her skirt- grateful she chose to save her pants for another time. A quick spin on her toes, a bounce of her hip, and Scarlet was rushing towards the King. They met in a middle ground, skipping along the dance floor. The rest of the dance Scarlet spent on her toes, avidly avoiding the King’s attempts to catch her. The crowd clapped and cheered; Scarlet felt herself get lost in the moment of the dance. She found herself going in every direction, and getting so dizzy she felt as if she would fall over at any moment. Stopping suddenly with the last note, she smiled through the pounding in her head. The King was tightly wrapped in the blue silk, laughing at his defeat. Still lost within the moment, she leaned forward to wrap her arms around, and then kissed, the King. Realizing what she was doing, Scarlet quickly pulled back. The King said nothing, but most likely noting how red her face was. She had kissed him, and in front of all the people who weren’t even paying attention. Smiling at her, he kissed her burning cheek.

After freeing the King from the ribbon, the two left the dance circle. They strolled the streets together, looking at everything and trying so many different foods that Scarlet lost count. As they passed by an open store front, a voice calling out them stopped them. “Please, please, stop.” They turned to the merchant, who beckoned them to enter into his shop. “A lovely couple as yourself should have this moment in time captured forever, should you not?” He motioned to his shop’s hanging sign, that adversities photographs. “Allow me the pleasure to capture it for you.” The King begun to shake his head, most likely remembering how Scarlet had taken to getting her photograph before, but stopped when Scarlet nodded yes. “You wish to do this?” She nodded again, pleading with her eyes. He smiled, and that made her inside core melt, “Very well.” The photographer smiled as the two, linked at the elbows, entered into his shop. He quickly ushered them to an area behind a black curtain where the camera and background were set up. Setting their half eating food on a table to the side, the photographer then instructed them on where they should go.

The first pose was stiff. Scarlet sat on a stool, the King behind her with his body angled. They did not touch, nor smile. The second one was slightly less stiff than the first, but as painfully awkward. Standing side-by-side they held hands and each gave a small smile. The third was Scarlet’s favorite. With both her arms wrapped around one of the King’s elbows, she rested her head on his shoulder with a wide grin. The last one, as the King would later admit to be his personal favorite. They stood like the second, only instead of looking into the camera the two looked at each other. Scarlet had never seen quite a pose for a photo, but when she looked at the King she couldn’t help but smile. Because he was staring right back, with a grin as equally as large as her own. When she looked at him, Scarlet felt truly happy. The photographer went to develop the photos, leaving the King and Scarlet alone. He brushed a hand over her cheek, staring at her. Smiling and feeling like she was in some strange dream. Scarlet moved away from his hand and went to the bathroom. Splashing cold water on her burning cheeks, she stared at herself in the mirror.

How had it only been last night that the King admitted his feelings for her? Scarlet felt that deep down, she always held something more for the King than just admiration. They had barely admitted to anything and yet it felt as to her that they had always been together. As if it had always been meant to be. The point of his marriage meant nothing. Clearly he was willing to defy his vows, and she was willing to accept that betrayal to the Queen. The Queen. It sent a spike of ice through Scarlet’s soul to think what the Queen would do if she was to ever find out. Queen Dolra did not like to begin with, she would most likely want Scarlet dead for kissing and lusting after her husband. Scarlet wished that she could come clean to the Queen, and tell her she had nothing to fear. The thought of being a Queen herself was never what Scarlet desired. She only wanted the King. Not his title, his status or money; merely the vampire man. It was then that Scarlet felt the cold weight of reality settle over her. She had thought she had already dealt with it- but she was wrong. Oh so very wrong. She was becoming someone she always sought to be, but never in such a way. The woman who looked at her- wasn’t Scarlet. She wanted desperately to break the mirror.

Exiting the bathroom, the photographer was handing the King an envelope, which held their fresh photos. The King paid and thanked the man, and Scarlet started for the door. Reaching her easily, the King called for Scarlet but she only stopped moving when his hand wrapped around her upper arm. “What’s wrong? Are you okay?” Scarlet sought to move her head up and down but instead she shook it ‘no’. “What happened?” Looking at the concern on the King’s face, she realized then that he had always cared for her. She had seen that look directed at her so many times but she had been so blind.

We did. We’re wrong. You’re married, and I cannot. I don’t want to do this. I can’t.

She cared, she loved him. He could see it in her face, in her eyes- and she knew it. Scarlet removed her scarf, and handed it back to the King. Unable to help herself, and overcome by the guilt, she broke down in a wave of tears. She didn’t wish to seek his comfort, but when the King took her into his arms Scarlet did not pull away. Instead, she pushed herself deeper into his chest. His smell was intoxicating.

If looks could kill, then Theo would have been struck down a few times over from the glares of the Admiral and Captain Kerns. Theo, who was zipping up her boots, glanced over to them. “Oh quite your hissy fitting. I don’t like either of you but I only knocked you out because you both deserve it. I’m fair like that.” Standing up straight, the two humans shuffled back a step, on edge. Theo rolled her eyes, plopping her goggles over her eyes. Scarlet, who stood a few feet away with the rest of the group, copied her. “Okay, so with a quick snap of my heels the boots should power up. No one freak out over the smoke and steam, that’s normal- for now. I’m working on it.” The Admiral and Captain took another step back, just as Theo bashed one heel against the other. Nothing happened. She repeated the process a few times, mumbling under breath as she did. The more she repeated, the more upset she was clearly getting. “I knew it, I knew it was too good to be true. Another failed invention by Dr. Deaeque. At least we figured it was a flop before giving out to the mass population. Saved a lot more lives this way.” Theo growled at the Admiral, her eyes flashing. “I told you good and well that those water tanks weren’t ready to go out. I told you they needed more controlled water bound testing before going out. You chose not to listen to me. If those deaths- including the one of my boyfriend who was the main creator those underwater metal tanks- are to be blamed upon someone then it shall be you!” With those final words Theo bashed her heels together. Suddenly, and rather loudly, the boots came to life. Steam shot from the soles of her boots, pushing and, lifting Theo from the ground. “We both lost someone that day, Wiles. Don’t ever forget it.” She remained in the air, easily two feet from the ground, thanks to the near constant stream of air. Crossing her arms over her chest in an empowering moment, she looked down to the two humans. “Doubt me again, or ever speak of Jim like that again and I will personally claw your eyes out. Then gladly deal with the consequences.” Spinning to face the others, her arms dropped and she smiled. “I present to you, the Steam Streams.” Theo’s voice was loud and echoed. Moving her feet, she glided over to them. “Working purely on steam power they can lift you as little and five inches from the group up to three and half feet.” Turning, she showed them the sides of the boots. Which were covered in tiny nobs on the outer sides. “Just calibrate how much steam you wish to exhaust and that determines your height.”

“How long do they last?” The King had almost yell in order for his voice to be heard over the boots. “Depends on how much steam you use. The lower the lift, the longer float time. I’m trying to figure out a way to get height with long life but it’s proven difficult.” Theo bent down, pressing a few buttons on the boots. The steam lessen, and she sank closer to the ground, remaining hovering. “Can they go higher?” Theo looked at the Admiral, not needing to physically say anything. Readjusting the nobs, she went back higher in the air, but no more than what she was at before. “No, higher. You said up to three and a half feet. Can they go higher?”

“Of course, I just haven’t had any real test yet beyond-”

“Then let’s test them now!” The muscles in Theo’s neck grew tense. The Admiral did not back down. Scarlet found herself scooting back a few inches, memories of the last fight she had seen Theo in resurfacing. The only difference now was that Pals was not here to stop her sister. Not that she even would in this situation.

Adjusting the nobs Theo rose higher, much higher than three feet. Admiral Wiles nodded his head slightly, clearly pleased with the boots. Easily up by five feet, Theo glided around the room. She bounced, losing a few inches, every time she switched lead foot. The smudge smile on her face was only a short lived one. With one last shoot of steam, the boots gave out. Theo sensed it, her face changing as the boots coughed out the last stream of steam. She cursed, Renee gasped, the King called out, the two navy officers scattered out from under her. Her body, falling, never fell to the ground.

Opening her eyes, Theo looked around before stopping on Scarlet. With a hand held out, Scarlet kept the werewolf suspended in the air. “By fate.” Captain Kerns was the first to speak, the Admiral nodding his head. Speechless. The Captain looked pallid, prepared to pass out. The Admiral’s tight kept on her forearm kept her up. Scarlet slowly lowered Theo to the ground, releasing her grip only once the werewolf sat on the concert. Taking the hand offered by the King, Theo stood back up. No one said anything as she walked to Scarlet, or when the werewolf wrapped her arms around the human. “Thank you.” Theo released her. “You not only saved my bones, but also my boots.”

“I had my doubts, but she truly is the Blessed one. What else can she do? How powerful is she exactly? Can she lift a car? A whole loaded ship?” Scarlet nodded, slightly proud of herself.

I’ve never tried but I know I could. Renee translated to the two navy officers, both getting flushed with excitement. “Show us. I must see it with my own eyes.” Scarlet was prepared to accept, but the King’s voice stopped everything. “No. You’ve pushed enough limits today Wiles, no more. Scarlet needs to prove herself to only one person and that is me.” Their faces all went grim.

I want to. I know I can. Let me.

The King shook his head. In that moment, as the wave of disappointment begun to rush through her, something in Scarlet snapped. With her lips pressed tight, she rushed passed the group to the nearest door. They all called after her, chasing her. Entering into the cool afternoon, Scarlet set her eyes on the closest docked ships. Crates and wooden boxes were currently being loaded and unloaded from the ramps of the three beast. Taking a stance, she focused and closed her eyes. The world around her begun to slip away, as she became one with the power from within.

Reaching Scarlet first, Renee held her arms out. Acting as a physical barrier, she stopped the other three from moving any closer. “Don’t. We’re too late. Breaking her concentration now would not end good for those three ships.” Shouts and cries of confusions came from the ships, as Scarlet lifted them from the water. The Admiral called orders for everyone to remain calm and in their current spot until the ships were back in the water. Rising, one blocked the sun from them and they were in it’s shadow. Water dripped and poured off of the metal hulls, gleaming. They easily went fifty feet into the air. “I need to sit.” The Captain crumbled to the ground, her neck still craned up at the floating navy ships.

A total of thirty seconds passed before Scarlet begun to lower the ships once more. Renee could see the beads of sweat rolling down her temple as she did. Clearly having strained herself greatly to prove her point of power. Renee could see her body relax the moment she released the ships and turned to them. Smiling, Scarlet brushed back the hair that stuck to her forehead. Her chest moved as if she had just run a marathon. “That was absolutely amazing! You are beyond physics itself!” For the first time Scarlet smiled at the Admiral, perhaps more proud with herself than from his praise. She thanked him, her face suddenly going neutral as her eyes rolled into her head. It happened within a second, seeing the whites of Scarlet’s eyes before her body crumbled. “Scar!” Renee moved to try to reach her but was beaten out. As he had done once many months prior, the King was quick enough to catch her before she could fully reach the ground. “Scarlet.” The King ran his hand across her forehead, cupping her cheek. “Get the medic!” Looking up, all the nearby seamen and women- who had stopped to watch the display- were now rushing to find the unit doctor.

“I’ve never worked with a Blessed before, but from all my years in the service I’m going to say that she just over exerted herself. So no more ship lifting Ms. S. Got it?” Scarlet nodded at the doctor, thanking him once more. She hadn’t planned on passing out- or even knew that she would. “I give you a clean bill of health then, have a wonderful day.” The King offered a hand to help her from the bed. She took it, and released it just as quickly. Now alone for the first time since that afternoon, the King stopped her from opening the door. “The others are waiting in a nearby room and the car is waiting.” She nodded, unsure to why he would stop her for that. “Everything I’ve said over the last two days; I’ve meant it. I know I’m married, and I know that it’s unfair to either of us to pursue something. But I feel that if I don’t, if I allow you to slip away to someone else, I’d die. I don’t know why but I do. So I won’t let you go, but I won’t ask anything of you either.”

They’re waiting.

Scarlet left the room, saying nothing more. The car ride back was filled with awkward conversation meant to try to vaporize the silence that would otherwise reign. Arriving back at the beach home, each being went their own separate direction. The King went to his office, Theo rushed to the back where her make-shift lab was set up in a shed, Renee went to her room and Scarlet to hers.


I’m so conflicted. If only he was not married, then we would be able to truly be together. But I don’t care that he’s married and that’s what scares me.

Closing her journal, Scarlet brushed at the few tears on her cheeks. As she stuffed it back into her bag, her eyes caught something in her bathroom. Going into it, she reached for the green scarf on the counter. It was folded perfectly, and needed no note. Bringing it to her chest, Scarlet took a breath. Leaving the bathroom, she opened her small carry on and dug out her journal. Wrapping it in the scarf, she made sure both were hidden at the bottom of the bag. Looking around her room, Scarlet felt utterly bored. Leaving her room, she went across the hall to Renee’s room.

Entering without knocking, Renee jumped when Scarlet opened the door. Upon seeing her, she scrambled to get the papers spread out on her desk. “Scar, what are you doing here, no don’t.” One of the papers Renee rushed to get together fell to the ground, and Scarlet reached it before she could. Renee ended up stumbling from her chair, the rest of the papers flying everywhere. Scarlet, upon picking up the paper, read it and frowned. Dropping it she picked up another one, and repeated the process one more time. Renee, who had been scrambling to gather the papers to her chest, looked at the one in her hand. “Scar, let me explain.” Scarlet threw the paper at her, standing. “Scar!” Renee dropped the papers, and reached for her friend. “Scar, wait!”

Wait for what? For you to say sorry again? You’ve been on me about changing and making my own choices and yet you’ve been writing letters to Tobus! Your family knows you’re alive and well.

“Scar, I can explain, please.”

No! I’m over you. You keep saying I’ve changed, well I guess it takes one to know one. Because you’ve changed even more.

Scarlet shook Renee from her arm, leaving the room. As she did, Scarlet nearly ran into a maid. The small girl announced that dinner was ready and the King was already waiting for them. Brushing the maid off, Scarlet just went into her room.

Renee stood in her door way, looking at the small maid. “Thanks, she’ll be out soon.” Closing her bedroom door, and locking it, Renee headed to the dining room. Entering, she was greeted by the King and Theo. Bowing to the first one, Renee then took her seat and a plate was brought out to her. “Where’s Scarlet?” Theo tore into her steak with her teeth. “Oh, um, she just need a few minutes. She’ll be done soon.”

Scarlet wouldn’t come down for dinner at all. When she finally came into the dining room doorway, the small group was on after-desert drinks. The King had just taken an envelope from a maid, as Theo and Renee discussed the engine behind the steam power boots. The two sensed Scarlet first, but Theo was the only one to greet her. Scarlet waved back, stepping into the room but not sitting down. Renee stood, moving towards Scarlet. Scarlet stared at her, daring her to move closer. Renee remained where she was. “Oh my.” The three women looked to the King, who held an open letter in his hand. “What is it sire?” The King shook his head, clearly not able to form words at the moment. He sat the letter down on the table, and Theo leaned over. “My Love,” she read out loud, “before I give you anything on my current trip I have the most wonderful news to share with you. I’m pregnant!” Theo’s jaw dropped and she patted the King’s shoulder. “Congratulations sire.” Pregnant. The word echoed through Scarlet’s mind and the last thing she felt was her whole inwards exploding.

“Scarlet!” Renee was within an arm’s length of her friend and held her arms to catch her. Scarlet’s body went limp, and despite being caught in Renee’s arms, still went down. Scarlet’s body pulled Renee down, and with a yelp landed on Renee.

“When we return to Drale tomorrow you’re going to be checked out by Dr. Cartson.” Scarlet sniffled, trying to slyly wipe away the tears falling. The King had walked silently on the sand, and she was too focused on the setting sun, her own thoughts, to realize he was approaching.

I’m fine.

“I don’t care, she’s still going to check you out.” He lowered himself beside her, leaving distance. She refused to look at him, she couldn’t. Instead she drew her knees closer to her chest, resting her head on her knees. “I know how it looks, but everything I’ve ever said to you, I’ve meant. I do love you Scarlet. Dolra might be pregnant but it doesn’t mean my feelings for you change. It just means life gets more complicated. I’m sorry, for everything.” Scarlet took a deep breath in an attempt to control her tears, and hugged her legs tighter. “I’ll just leave these here. I kept the last one. It was my personal favorite.” Standing he left her alone. Scarlet glance to the folder resting beside her. Reaching out, she opened it. Sighing, she stared at the photos- taken just hours before. Something twisted in her chest and she closed the folder. Standing she turned to find the King still walking away. Clapping her hands, she begun to run towards him. He stopped, turning just in time to catch her in his arms. Her fingers dug into his cheeks, she wanted to rip them out and kiss them all at the same time. Pulling his head to hers, she kissed him. It was a desperate kiss, sloppy and needy.

I don’t know what I’m doing. They pulled away from each other just enough for Scarlet to sign. “Neither do I.”

I have these feelings and I don’t know what to do with them.

“Give in.”

You have a wife, who’s pregnant. The ping of pain shot through her innards once more. “I know, but she doesn’t love me. She never has. But I have never truly loved her, so we are equals. Scarlet, I love you. I want you. I will live every day of my existence proving that to you if you wish it. But you have to be okay, you have to be happy. That’s all I want. Is for you to be happy.” A single tear fell from her eye, and he gently wiped it away. She did not cry at the softness, the realness, of the King’s words. She did not cry for the fact that she had followed in her mother’s footsteps. She did not cry for the Queen. She cried for herself, because she knew what a mess she was choosing to enter into.

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