SEVEN CROWNS | The Black Stone

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Chapter X

Elliot takes the day off, he calls his colleague and asks him to replace him. He can’t work in his state, his head hurts and he feels like vomiting. He calls a taxi even though he took the car this morning, but he can’t risk driving when his mind is elsewhere.

It’s been a long time since the young man spent a day outside the Papillon Doré. Elliot rarely takes holidays because there’s nothing else he likes besides cooking for the customers. Staying at home bores him and makes him moody. He used to have friends, a lot of them, but they turned out to be bad ones. Most people who befriend Elliot only want him for his money and successful career. He helped a lot of them to find jobs, meet businessmen and seduce men and women, but in the end he received nothing back from them, not even their affection.

The young chef rolls his eyes at the sounds playing on the radio, he’s not a big fan of electronic dance music songs especially since all of them sound a lot alike. He doesn’t ask the driver to turn off the radio, not wanting to disturb him, and searches for his favorite playlist on his phone. Elliot sighs and closes his eyes when the gentle piano melody caress his ears, the instrument always finds a way to calm him and make him feel at ease. Unfortunately, his relaxing moment doesn’t last long when he spots a very familiar person; long legs, golden hair and heels. He stops the music when he recognizes his ex girlfriend who looks happy holding hands with a not so young man. He clenches his fists as he feels his chest tightening because of the rage consuming his body.

He met Céline for the first time during a party organized at a five-star hotel outside the city where successful chefs, culinary editors and entrepreneurs were invited. The beautiful woman caught everyone’s eyes because of her bright blue eyes and slim body. Elliot was lucky that night to have conquered Céline’s heart, or rather very unlucky.

They started dating a week later, everything was well at the beginning but with time, her true colors started showing. They stayed together for almost a year and poor Elliot was blinded by love. He thought she was the one for him, the woman of his dreams as he used to tell his friends. His mind was full of false ideas she made him believe into. Elliot did everything for her; he planned surprise trips during his free days, drove her to the sea when she felt bad and cooked for her every day. She didn’t need to work because he was doing everything.

Then one day he finally woke up from the transe. He realized Céline would smile and be touchy with him only when she wants an expensive designer bag or dine at a luxurious hotel. She didn’t talk much when they just stayed at home to watch a show or when he used to ask her to go on a walk at a nearby park. Elliot woke up and knew he was the only one who was giving his time, patience and heart, unlike her who never proved her love to him.

Later he found out that meeting her at that party wasn’t just a mere coincidence or fate as he used to think. Céline knew about him way before, she looked for his profile the second she saw the list of the guests. Elliot looked kind, naive and most importantly… rich. Her plan worked perfectly and it made the young chef hate himself for being blind.

He unlocks his phone and leave the piano playlist to look for the classic rock one, he turns on the volume and releases his anger while humming the lyrics. Sometimes Elliot does feel like leaving the world because there’s nothing to lose in it when it’s full of liars and betrayers, but then he thinks about his dreamy career and backs up.

The opportunity to really escape from earth is here, he just needs to accept it.

Ashley is now sitting in her parents’ living room, drinking a hot chocolate while watching a show with her father. They can hear Lydia singing in the kitchen and it makes her daughter wonder how making food can make you so happy. She wants to smile but doesn’t find the strength to do so as it’s probably the last night she’ll spend with them. Eamon insisted that they have to leave before the magic completely fades away, the time is unknown but he thought it better to go sooner than later. Ashley is receiving it worse than any of her friends, Ruby has her mother and they both come from the same world, as for Nate, his memory loss is beneficial for the first time because there’s no one close to his heart he can remember.

“You need to a lot darling. Look at you, you’re getting thinner.” her mother’s sweet voice interrupts her thoughts. “What’s wrong? Is is the exams again?” she sits next to her and places her arm around her waist.

“Yes.” Ashley presses her lips when she lies. “There are too many things to memorize and it’s stressful.” Once she thought that studying for the final terms was the hardest thing, that the days spent in her studio drowned between psychology books were the worst, but that was before she faced reality. Now she wishes her biggest concern would be about exams and college.

Charles is the first one to take a seat around the table when the lasagna is ready. Ashley helps her mother preparing the plates and glasses and follows her with her eyes closed while she literally sniffs the food’s savoury flavour. “I’m going to miss your lasagnas.” she doesn’t feel himself speaking out loud until she sees her parents looking at her confusingly. “Why? Are you going somewhere?” Lydia chuckles and takes a seat next to her husband. The young woman presses her lips and faces her parents nervously. She obviously can’t say that she’s going to another world and that everything is fake, even them. “I… I have an internship outside Moon City.” her chest tightens every time she lies to her parents. “I’m going to work in a high school for five months, I need it so that I can finish my studies.” she smiles to them even if it hurts her.

“That’s amazing!” exclaims Lydia. “High school kids aren’t easy to handle but I’m sure you’ll do just well. They will beg for your consultation.”

Lydia always manages to make it harder.

Ashley occupies herself with the delicious food so that she doesn’t face her parents because she’s ashamed to have lied to them. Surprisingly, this time she doesn’t feel like crying. An unusual feeling possesses her at this moment, one that makes her lift her head high and give them her most charming smile. Ashley takes a breath, there is like some sort of power travelling in the lands of her heart and mind. It’s refreshing.

She then looks at her mother and compliments her for the nice dinner she made. Of course Lydia keeps telling her to be careful and not to trust any stranger as any mother would tell her children. Ashley keeps nodding and smiling, wishing she could take them both with her, but she can only dream.

Charles tells her to do her best during the internship so that she can find a good job later at a hospital or a clinic. She reassures him by saying that being a psychologist is what she always wanted to do and she’ll sure fight for her dream, one that has been replaced recently.

Ashley likes to live for a purpose, she wants to make progress and fight for something or someone. She has family and friends but they can do well by themselves, it’s not enough. She has a dream career to pursue, but it’s still not enough for her because once she’ll get it she knows she’ll need more. But now that Eamon told her she has an entire kingdom to protect, a million people to free and an enemy to fight, she’s certain that she’s finally found her real purpose.

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