My features shift into a deep frown, his words already creating a ringing that bounces among the inside of my head.
“A war?” I repeat, my frown only deepening.
A throb starts at the base of my neck and travels up to my temples as confusion swirl through me like a typhoon. It’s starting to become common for me to find everything thing out and only end up confused once again: by the apologetic look in his eyes and gazing at my facial expression he could tell what was running through my head.
I shut my eyes briefly. “You know what? This can wait,” I say, sidestepping him to walk toward the entrance of the room.
“We’ve spent long enough in here and I think it’s about time we head back with everyone else.”
Peering over my shoulder before I turn to the side, I watch as his eyes flicker with combining thoughts before he comes to a conclusion. Straightening himself out, he begins to approach me, stopping only a few inches away from my figure to stare me down.
“When this is over, I’ll meet you back at your room,” he tells me, those blue eyes putting me in a trace. “I promise, I’ll explain everything in the room.”
I simply nod, my eyes following his frame as he saunters to the door and pulls it open. Before he makes an attempt to step over the threshold out into the hallway, he peers back my way and gives me a look; I now realize that I’m still standing in the same spot and quickly follow him out. We walk back the way we came, side by side, his presence overlapping mine in a cacoon of electric shocks; the brush of our fingers only igniting them further into bursting flames.
The small moment within the room did no help to the growing feelings in my chest. At this moment, I was unsure of what I actually wanted. I breathe deeply through my nose to gain back the small composure that I seemed to have lost from a small simple touch from him. My skin breaks out into tiny goosebumps from the feel of his gaze on the side of my face.
I look ahead to see the same servant from earlier at the end of the hall, looking a bit disheveled in the face, he seemed relieved to us as he rushes toward us.
“Your Majesty we’ve been looking everywhere for you,” he says speedily, his nerves causing his words to tumble out in one full sentence, “the guest have been getting a little anxious for your arrival.”
Side-eyeing Delano as he stares down at the servant, making sure that through my eyes that he knew that it was his fault that we stayed so long within that room.
“I apologize, it wasn’t my intention to be away for so long— I hope they weren’t waiting long?”
The servant shakes his head, “No sir, they have not, about thirty minutes max.” he turns to the row of female servants that stand in a line near the door to the ballroom, awaiting further instructions.
He motions for one to come forward, a girl with auburn hair steps out of line and quickly comes to his side: he whispers in her ear and then she was gone, returning back to the line where she relays the rest of the message to the rest of them. Soon, they were all moving toward the large doors, an even number on each side.
The male servant beckons us forward to stand aligned with the double doors.
“Congratulations again, your majesty.”
With his parting words, the female servants simultaneously push the doors inward. Music floods out into the main hall, caressing my skin gently with the soft notes that were produced in a rhythmic melody. All eyes fall upon us and Delano makes the first move as he takes ahold of my hand and guides my arm to loop through his. I look up at him, examining his expression of darkness that seemed to fall over his eyes; he meets my gaze undeviatingly with the tiniest of smiles forming among his lips before he leads the way.
As the instruments perform a soothing melody in the background, the crowd before us parts like the red sea as we make our way to the front of the room where the throne chairs resided, waiting to be occupied. All eyes on us: most me as we make our way past. It wasn’t long before applause begins to resonate through the air like thunder that follows after a silent strike of lightening. From the side of my eye, I catch Delano’s face turning sour before he cloaks it underneath the emotionless mask. I unknowingly squeeze his forearm, my fingers gripping nothing but muscle— my own way of saying ‘it was okay’.
I knew what he was thinking, he didn’t deserve the applause or the congratulations. He didn’t earn the title by himself, it was inherited to him because of the sudden death of his father. He knew he didn’t deserve to be king but there was no other choice.
The walk to the throne wasn’t long and standing near it was the same group that I was examining before through the double-sided mirror. At the sight of him, the group straightened themselves out and the looks of ‘finally’ lined up on their faces, soon their gazes shifted upon me and I was left to look at the different emotions flicker through their eyes. It was hard to disregard the way their eyes ran across my skin, prickling my flesh like mosquitos to get information on my reason for standing next to their king; just like the rest.
Just before we actually reached the steps to the thrones, I remove myself from Delano’s side as he ascends up the few steps: he turns to face everyone yet catches my gaze before anyone else’s, a question within them.
Shaking my head, I nod at him to proceed on with his introduction. With a lingering stare, he shifts his attention to his people that wait for his speech.
“I’m sorry for my tardiness. I hope everyone enjoyed themselves for the short time that I was away,” he begins, “there isn’t much that I already haven’t said at the ceremony: but again, I would like to thank you all for giving me a chance to prove myself and what I have to offer.”
It was short yet simple. His people all clapped in unison and a few clinked their glasses in his wake, his decline down the steps was a small indication for the group from before to move forward. They greet him with familiarity, a woman with short blonde hair clasping her gloved hand on his forearm as she air kisses each side of his cheeks, pulling back with a sympathetic look in her eyes.
“I’m sorry for your loss,” she says, her voice soft and gentle-like. “They were good people and its sad that they went so early.”
Delano presents her with a small, forced smile. “Thank you, I agree, but there was nothing we could do,” a bittersweet undertone laced his words. “They lead this Kingdom in its right path and I hope to do continue what they did.”
“There’s no doubt you will,” she responds with a genuine smile.
My gaze flickers between the two, watching their small interaction, I stand idling in my spot not sure if I should move to his side or stay where I’m at. I notice both the boy and girl staring deeply in my direction, their eyes strikingly intense as I meet their gazes head-on. All three of us stare unblinkingly at one another, the only movement I gave was a head tilt as I gauge their intentions.
The same powerful aura I had felt before grew with each passing second, pressing into me, yet I didn’t let it phase me. The boy seemed to grow a bit flustered, his thick brows quirking downward a fraction.
The blonde-haired lady sensed the growing tension and averted her attention to the two, a scowl covering her features.
“Arthur and Caroline!” she growls, snapping her fingers once, “stop this foolish nonsense right now, have some respect.”
That pressing sensation disappears in a shred of a second, the breath I didn’t know I was holding leaves through my nose in a heavy exhale. Delano peers at me from over his shoulder, giving me a questioning look.
“Sorry mother,” they both synchronize under their breaths, their eyes still holding mine.
Breaking from their gazes, I regard Delano with a smile.
“If you need me, I’ll be near the buffet table,” I tell him, my intention of getting away from the pressing atmosphere fueling my getaway.
He looks me up and down and tries to evaluate the expression in my face, the color of the sea crashing through me in the appearance of his eyes— trying to drown me like they would the rocks settled at the bottom of a cliff. To ease his mind, I reach forward and discreetly grab his hand that hung by his side and gave it a gentle squeeze while covering it up with leaving to whisper into his ear.
“Keep your promise,” I mutter, pulling away.
Before he could say anything, someone comes up to his side, gaining his attention as I break away from the small group. Swiping my hair to one side of my neck, I inhale deeply to assemble the remains of my thoughts. As I walk through the gaps of people, their eyes followed me like a wolf would follow their prey, in the eyes of everyone I was an unknown species, walking around as if I belonged.
The overwhelming feeling of not belonging made itself home in my chest, constructing the walls around my heart and squeezing whatever air was in my lungs— it laced with the hidden figure of fear. This wasn’t the fear that made me want to run away screaming my lungs out, it was one of anxiousness, that I won’t be able to call this place home to my children and me.
The inner battle of myself didn’t reveal to the outer parts, I calmly approach the table of food, still distracted by my thoughts. I look at my hands, the paleness contracting with the blood-red table cloth. I remember what I am, remembering that I didn’t turn out this in the beginning. Shutting my eyes, I take breaths to calm the shuddering thoughts that overwhelmed.
“Whom is this female? I haven’t seen her a day in my life.”
My eyes shoot open, my gaze gazing out as I focus my hearing to the right side of me
“I’m unsure. . . she smells odd.”
Cutting my eyes over to a pair of women, they regard me small interest and curiosity, yet they keep their distance, their words flowing through the air. Exhaling, I chose to ignore them and finally scrutinize the chose of foods in front of me, with my mind focusing on the foods before me my stomach catches up with the hunger that gnaws at my insides.
Picking up a plate, I hover over high-quality dishes and pluck what my mouth waters for; quickly piling the emptiness of the platter. Reaching the end of the table, I pop a few fruits in my mouth, starting off sweet.
I turn to the sound of the voice, coming face to face with a blonde-haired beauty, her eyes boring into mine as a smile presents across her face, a second woman laps behind her. I look between the both of them, trying to sense their intentions.
Her smile brightens. “I apologize for my forwardness, but what is your relationship with his majesty?”
My appetite vanishes like the wind as it wisps through the spaces of leaves, escaping the tragedy that followed. With her question, I feel those around us inch closer, their own curiosity shown through the question that still hung in the air.
The woman doesn’t let me speak as she continues one. “We’re all wondering because this is uncommon for him to bring a female to any sort of occasion.”
I side-eye her, “I believe it’s none of your business.”
Her eyebrows twitch in reaction, however, she flawlessly keeps that same fake smile plastered on her heart-shaped face.
“Did you offer yourself? How did you do it?” She questions again, stepping closer.
“I was sure that Victoria girl was going to get him.”
I grit my teeth to compose myself, the only valid and useful thought racing through my head was my hand cracking the irksome smile she still held on her face— my patience was wearing thin like the last thread being knitted for a sweater. Straining thinner and thinner and thinner until it snapped.
“You aren’t that much of an eye-catcher—”
A sharp hiss breaks the seams of my lips, my fangs extended as I catch the reflection of red in their widened eyes, the sound was loud but didn’t overpower the music that still carried the tunes through the atmosphere. If there weren’t eyes on me before, they were on me now, but I didn’t care.
“I do not have the time or patience,“— each word slices through the air aimed for its target— “to sit here and endure the talks of jealous females.”
“If you wish to find out what happens if you do, please, be my guest and pester me more. I’ll be more than happy to snap your head off just like the first one.”
I smile dangerously, showing all teeth while flicking my tongue over a fang.
“Now, now, ladies, let’s all play nice,” Kyri says, appearing at my side with grace and all her glory, bringing along a warmth filled aura. “This is a ball you know.”