I was alone in the house. It was quiet, still. No sounds came from any of the rooms, and for once I was thankful for that. Rupert was out somewhere doing something. Whatever it was I did not care. I was thankful for the peace that I finally had. It had been a week since Rupert had stopped saying anything to me. Nix had told him about the possibility of the fates giving you more than one life mate but he argued with her.
I sat on the other side of the wall while she talked with him. He was angry with her, angry at the thought of having a life mate that wasn’t Ella-Rose. I sat there listening to them fight about his feelings, and me. It was clear I was unwanted, not liked, just an annoyance living in his space. I had left their conversation, to hurt to continue to hear more spiteful things leave the lips of Rupert’s mouth. I curled myself up in the hammock at the back of the yard and looked up at the sky. I wasn’t sure how long I had laid there for, but it was long enough that my eyes had dried and I had no more tears to fall.
I remembered how angry and upset Nix looked storming out the back door. She flew down the stairs, shaking her head. Her hair was wild like she had been sitting in the house pulling her hair from her head while Rupert spoke to her. Her eyes were red with rage, her face only a shade or two lighter than her eyes. I remember the words she said to me before she quickly disappeared.
I’ll find you a place.
My heart broke harder at her words, the tears that I had thought were over had come back to slide down my cheeks.
But here I was two days later, alone in Rupert’s house. I hadn’t heard anything from Nix, I prayed that she would find somewhere for me to stay. The sound of the metal flap flicking back down against the door brought me out of my thoughts. I got up and moved into the hallway. Laying on the ground at the base of the door was two dark green envelopes with sparkling gold trim. I picked them up, one had Rupert’s name on it and one was addressed to me. I flipped it over and broke the gold wax seal.
I carefully removed the cream coloured card stock from the envelope. The paper was an invitation to the annual royal ball. It read,
The King and Queen would like to formally invite you to the annual royal ball, in celebration of the community growth in Emerald City and for the celebration for their beloved daughter.
The royal ball will take place on the eve of October 1st. Champagne and appetizers will be served. The King and Queen request that you wear your most formal ball attire.
The gates will open at 6 o’clock in the evening and will remain open until seven thirty.
The King and Queen look forward to formally welcoming you to Emerald City.
The Royal Ball Organization Team
That gave me just about three weeks to find myself a gown suitable for a royal event. I tossed Rupert’s invitation on the small table by the door and slipped my shoes on my feet. I made my way to the downtown core of Emerald City.
I found myself going in and out of shops on the main square unable to find a dress suitable for the royal ball. I sighed and found myself falling into a bench. I looked around at the busy streets, people were moving in and out of shops. Some empty handed like me, others with many bags in their hands. I was at a loss, I didn’t know where else to look to find myself a dress for the royal ball. All the stores that I went into didn’t have a dress that fit me or a colour that didn’t make me look like a ghost.
“Ariella?” I turned at the sound of my name. Nix stood behind me, her arms filled with bags. “What are you doing?”
I stood up and went to help her with her bags. “Well, I was trying to find a dress to wear the royal ball that I’ve been invited to.”
She looked at me in shock before she collected herself. “That’s great! I take it you didn’t have any luck?”
I shook my head. “I’m not sure where else to look.”
“Well, you’re in luck, darling.” She smiled as we continued to walk. “I make all of my own gowns, it won’t be a bother to make yours either.”
“Nix, I couldn’t possibly bother you. The ball is in two and a half weeks.”
“I insist. I’m almost done my own dress and I have just the fabric to use for yours.”
We turned off the main square and went down a quiet street. The tall shops slowly began to turn into small apartments and then finally small houses. We walked up the small path that lead to a bright red door attached to a small white house. Nix pushed open the door and stepped inside, I followed her in.
Her house was cute, a little smaller than Ruperts. Her walls were bright, mostly white with the odd touch of yellow and blue. It was nice, homey, very feminine.
“This is the fabric.” She came back into the small room she had left me in. “I’ve had it for years and haven’t had any inspiration to use it for myself.” She held a tall stack of emerald green silk in her arms.
“Oh, Nix, it’s beautiful.” I gushed as I reached out to touch it. It was just as soft as it looked.
“Come.” She said before she quickly left the room.
I followed her into a small room at the back of her house. In the corner of the room stood a large mirror that covered the whole wall. An oval step sat in front of the mirror, a place that I found her pushing me to.
“Stand on this. I need your measurements.” I didn’t fight her on making me a dress. It was clear this was her passion. The wall that was behind me was lined with shelves filled with fabrics and accessories.
To the far side of the room, tall large windows filled the whole wall. The natural light that was in this room was beautiful, I could see why she picked this room to do all her sewing in. It was bright, relaxing and made it easier on the eyes to see while working.
“Is that your dress?” I asked, nodding my head in the direction of the manikin that stood in front of the windows.
“Yes. I’m almost done it. Just need to finish the detailing on the sleeves.”
Her dress was breathtaking. It was a navy blue trumpet style dress. It was plain across the bottom of the dress until it hit the natural waist. A small navy ribbon cut the crape looking fabric and the lace top apart. The top of her dress had a subtle scooped neckline, the natural pattern of the lace cut up over the sewing line of the bust. The dress had yet to have any sleeves added to it, it was clear with the lace attached to the one arm she was going for an off the shoulder idea.
“It’s amazing!” I smiled down at her. “Do you have any ideas of what mine will look like?”
“Yeah a few. I promise not to make you a cupcake, but your dress will be a surprise.” She smiled happily. “I should have it done in two weeks. Then we can just do the final alterations a few days before the ball.” She moved to add her notes with the fabric on the table in the middle of the room.
“Okay!” I was excited. I couldn’t wait to see what she would come up with for me. She clearly had the talent. “Um…I was just wondering if you found any leads for me to look into about getting my own place?”
Nix turned to look at me, a look of disappointment covered her face. “I haven’t yet.” She sighed. “I take it you two are still not talking?”
“No,” I shook my head. “Every time I try and talk to him he walks away. Most the time now, when I wake up in the morning he’s gone and doesn’t come back until I’ve gone to bed.” I crossed my arms over my chest. “Obviously he doesn’t want to be around me. I feel bad being in his house, that’s his space and he doesn’t even want to be there.”
“He’ll come around. He’s always been moody and overdramatic.” Nix wrapped her arm around my shoulders. “From the time he was four he’s been like this. Don’t take it to heart too much.”
“You’ve known him that long?”
“Oh, yes. His mother is my best friend. I grew up as an aunt to him and his sister.” She smiled like she was remembering his childhood. “After some serious things happened to his sister they moved to Moonstone. Rupert didn’t go with them. Afraid that if Ella-Rose came back he wouldn’t be here for her. He was seventeen at that point, so it wasn’t too big of a deal that his parents moved with his sister.”
“How old is his sister?” I asked.
“She’s twenty-five now, married and a baby on the way. They moved when she was fifteen.”
“Does Rupert see them much?” I asked trying to understand more about him.
“He goes up on holidays, and if he can he’ll go for a week or two here and there throughout the year,” Nix replied. “Now, you better get home so I can get started on this.”
I smiled sadly before I nodded my head in agreement. I wasn’t ready to head back to the empty house yet if it was even still empty. I pulled my hair back into a bun as I made my way out the door and onto the sidewalk. Did I know what I would say to Rupert if he was home? No, but it was a conversation that needed to happen. We needed a clean slate. No anger, no awkwardness or tension. Just two strangers sharing a space.
I walked into the house. The lights were all off, the rooms still quiet. I was alone. Rupert was not here. I looked down at the table where I had left his mail. It was gone, he was clearly here and had gone again. I sighed as I kicked my shoes off. I made my way down the hallway and walked into the room I had been staying in.
I frowned, the door was open. I remembered closing it on my way out this morning. I looked around. It was empty, but something was different.
The painting that once hung above my wall was now replaced with the large fall piece I had admired while Rupert and I were at the Makers Market. I looked at it in awe, surprised to see it there. I felt a smile grow on my face. I was thrilled to be able to admire this piece every morning when I woke up. I gaze slid down to the small table that sat beside the bed. A small vase was sitting next to the lamp that had been added weeks ago, filled with beautiful wildflowers. Leaning against the vase was an envelope.
I moved towards the bed, I sat down and pulled open the folded paper that lay inside. I took a deep breath to calm my racing heart before I opened the paper. A neatly written letter, with familiar handwriting, was inside. I slowly read the words, afraid of what they might say.
I wanted to start off by saying sorry for my dismissive behaviour towards you the last while. I had a lot of things that I needed to sort out on my own, and I know that is no excuse for how I treated you.
That night at the market I saw how you looked at this painting. I wanted to get it for you, so there was a little something of you in your home too.
I know this isn’t enough to excuse my behaviour towards you, but I hope it’s at least enough for you to be willing to sort out everything between us.
I would like to show you a bit more about me if you’d allow me that much. Meet me under the willow tree tonight at sundown.
Forever in your debt,
I wasn’t sure what to make of the words I read over and over again. His words seemed sincere, so did his gesture. I looked back up at the painting the bright warm colours adding a fresh touch to the room. I fell back onto the mattress. My hair flew out, some puffing up and landing on my face. I brushed it away from my eyes.
A million thoughts and emotions were rolling through my brain. My brain felt like it was suffering from the destruction of an earthquake and a tornado at the same time. Did I want to speak with him? Were my feelings just those of a simple crush? Is it possible that my feelings are because the fate they believe in so much had allowed Rupert to have a second life mate? Did I even want to do anything about my feelings if Rupert were to accept them?
There was too many questions and not enough answers. The only way I would receive those answers would be to speak to him, to hear him out and listen to the apology he had to give me.
I looked over at the digital clock that sat on top of the dresser. Two hours. I had two hours until sundown, which gave me enough time to make the decisions that were best for me and my heart.