Neither of us had spoken in the last half hour. I sat quietly next to him on the carriage bench, wondering what it is he might be thinking of after the events of tonight. Although, I was curious to know what he was thinking, I was also nervous to ask. After a night such as this, I wouldn’t want to upset him, but still I wanted to prod.
“What is it that’s bothering you?” He asks softly.
I’m taken aback by his question.
Was it written on my face how badly I wanted to ask him?
Was I really that obvious?
He chuckles. “The questions circling your mind’s giving me a headache. You seem to forget that I’m also a vampire.”
“Right.” I chuckle nervously. “Sorry.”
He gives my knee a light squeeze. “Don’t be. You can ask me anything, Jane. Don’t feel like you can’t.”
“Very well.” Relived, I swallow heavily and face him. “It’s about Lilith and the faerie.”
He motions for me to continue.
“Were you really not surprised to see them together?”
He smiles. “No, I wasn’t. Like I said, I’ve known for a very long time.”
“How long exactly?”
He scoffs. “Too long.”
I frown, unable to understand. “And you’re okay with that?”
If the roles were reversed, I’d be far from happy if I found out my significant other was being unfaithful to me. I’d simply fall and crumble.
He merely shrugs at my question. “Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Because she’s your fiancé.”
He remains silent for a long moment, his attention fixed in front of him. “That may be, but I didn’t ask her to marry me. She’s my fiancé purely because our parents agreed to it.”
People actually do that? They arrange marriages?
I rise my brow in question. “Why?”
He runs his hand through his dishevelled hair. “I cannot marry a commoner.”
He shakes his head.
“So, that’s the reason why you must marry Lilith? Because she’s a royal?”
Alexander turns and faces me. “We’ve been engaged since we were very little. Myself, Lilith and Phoenix are the only royals in this area, and because of our status we can only marry another royal. People like us, don’t get to choose who we wish to marry.”
“But what if you do not love each other? Do you still have to go through with it?”
A part of me is glad that I wasn’t born in this kind of life. To marry someone just for the sake of an alliance makes me sick to my core. It makes me somewhat appreciate the life I already have, with my mother.
I click my tongue in distaste. “That seems very unfair.”
“What is?” He asks softly.
I look out of the window of the carriage and sigh. “Marrying someone you don’t love. I mean, this is the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with and eventually have children with. And for what? Politics?”
I hear him chuckle softly behind me. “Welcome to my world.”
I refrain myself from scoffing at him. Who could possibly want a life where their lives are controlled by their parents? I certainly wouldn’t. I’d rather stick to my own world.
I continue to look out the window for a few seconds, then swing back to face the prince. “You mean to tell me that you have no choice at all with whom you wish to marry?”
He shakes his head. “No. I don’t.”
I shake my head in appal. “I do not understand how you could do it. How any of you could do it.”
For me, it would be impossible.
He studies me for a moment. “Put aside this rebellion, our lives are really not that much different to each other.”
“If you mean that both of our lives are miserable? Then, yes. I agree with you.”
The carriage suddenly comes to a stop outside of the palace. Without another word, Alexander whooshes out of his side opens my door and gives me his hand. I willingly take it with one hand, and carefully step out of the carriage, holding the seam of my dress with the other.
The night air takes me by surprise. My whole surroundings was in complete and utter total darkness. Not a single star was to be seen. If the prince had not been by my side, I would’ve jumped straight back into the carriage. The trees rustled loudly against the cold and chilling breeze, giving off an eerie feel. If it weren’t for the dress, I would’ve ran back to the palace and sit in front of the living room’s fireplace.
Alexander and I walk arm in arm towards the palace, when I think back to his words from earlier. “You said that if the people found about Lilith and Phoenix’s affair, they wouldn’t be very happy. Why is that?”
“Marrying a different kind to what you are is frowned upon, especially if you’re a royal.”
“Then, why do you allow them to keep seeing each other? They’re your friends. Don’t you care about their safety?”
“Of course I do, but I care for Lilith’s safety more than Phoenix’s.”
How could he say something like that about his old friend?
The palace doors magically open by themselves. I take a guess that it was probably Alexander who opened them considering he has the ability to do extraordinary things. As soon as we step inside the palace, the doors close behind us. The warmth provided inside of the palace washes over my skin like a warm, knitted blanket.
“Why’s that?” I ask.
“Because Phoenix doesn’t care about anyone other than himself.”
I frown at him because he couldn’t be more wrong. After the way I heard him speak to Lilith tonight, I know for a fact that he genuinely cares about her deeply.
I remove my hand from his and come to stand in front of him. “You don’t know your friend at all, do you?”
After a few seconds of him not responding, I worry that I might’ve overstepped, but then Alexander surprises me by guffawing. “And you do? You’ve known him for no more than a week. Have I missed something?”
I shake my head. “You didn’t miss anything. It’s just that tonight I overheard Lilith and Phoenix speaking, and to me it sounded like he loves her very dearly.”
“He thinks he does.” Alexander sighs. “He’ll grow tired of her eventually. He’s always been like that.”
“And yet you still allow them to sneak around.”
“The reason why I allow them to do it because neither of their parents would ever allow them to be together. They’re both adults who are old enough to make their own decisions in life and if they screw up, then I’ll be the person who tells them I told you so. I’ve told them numerous times that what they’re doing is dangerous, but they’ve chosen not to listen to me. What more can I do?”
I remain silent because what he says is true.
Every single word.
“That aside, I’m sorry if this wasn’t an enjoyable evening for you.”
Other than getting my own drink thrown at me, I still had somewhat of a good time.
“Who said that it wasn’t?” I ask.
“Well, after your dress was ruined, I just thought maybe you had a horrible evening. If that were me, I would’ve ran away crying.”
“I apologise for what Lilith did.”
“It was not by your hand, therefore you don’t need to apologise for she did to me.”
He nods in understanding. “Very well, then. I’ll let you retire for the evening. I shall see you in the morning.”
“Yes, absolutely.” Before I leave, I turn to face the prince and give him a warm smile. “Despite her fooling around with the faerie, she loves you, you know?”
He smiles back at me. “I know she does.”
“And that’s not enough for you?”
He places his hands in his pockets and sways on his heels. “I do not love her, Jane. I never have. Not in the way she wants, and she knows that.”
Before I have a chance to reply, the palace door opens and he whooshes straight out of them.