A week later
The big doors swung open, revealing Raiden and Malia. Crowds, media, guards—everyone in attendance—their eyes darted to the couple on the top of the stairs.
Malia’s arm was wrapped around the crook of Raiden’s elbow, and he felt her tense when they became the center of attention.
He was used to the scrutiny, but it seemed like Malia wasn’t. Her breathing had picked up, she shook a little, and he could feel her press against him. Not in a sexual way but one of agitation.
Malia wanted to disappear, hide in the confines of her room like she had been all her life.
Cheers arose, but soon questions from the press erupted all around them.
“Why weren’t you revealed to the world sooner?”
“What are your thoughts on your wedding?”
“How come the only time we get to see you is when you’re leaving?”
All these questions were directed to Malia, and they were making her even edgier than before.
Malia’s grey eyes danced to every corner of the room, she chewed on her lip anxiously, and every time the flash of a camera went off, she flinched.
“You need to breathe and look straight ahead of you. Ignore them,” Raiden whispered so that his words would reach the ears of the princess alone.
Malia listened to his advice. Lifting her head, she noticed a sleek, black limo ahead of them.
She tugged Raiden a little to get him walking a bit faster. Malia wanted to be hidden away from everyone, even if it was for a little while.
Raiden complied and picked up the pace. The two entered the limo. The car door shut behind them.
A sigh of relief escaped Malia’s lips as the car door shut. “Thank you for earlier.”
“It’s no problem, really,” he responded, sending her a small smile that made her temperature rise.
Malia then averted her attention to the window, hoping Raiden wouldn’t notice the blush tainting her cheeks.
As the car started moving slowly, she noticed her brother standing tall next to her father, away from the crowds, staring at the car driving away. Malia waved a little, but she knew her brother couldn’t see her from the tainted windows of the car.
Last night she’d said a tearful farewell to her brother before he left. She was going to miss her only sibling.
Looking down at her hands, she savored the sight of her brother. It might be the last she’d ever see of him. You never know.
As they started pulling into the main streets of cities and towns, people were lined on either side, celebrating and rejoicing.
The security escorts surrounding them remained rigid. Not once did their attention stray from the road ahead of them. The other SUVs behind them carried the other Reds that had accompanied the King as well as Anna.
The princess wondered how she was doing. They had spoken this morning, and Anna was the most excited between the two of them.
Malia tried to recall random things when the silence in the car was starting to eat away at her slowly. She wanted to talk to the King but didn’t know where to start.
“Uh... what’s your trait?” she asked him. Malia realized she didn’t know what trait Raiden possessed and hoped that it wasn’t anger.
“Passion.” He turned to look at her. “What’s yours?”
“Simplicity,” she answered.
“You seemed like the purity type of person,” Raiden told her, and Malia rolled her eyes.
“I’m not all innocent, you know,” she huffed.
“I know you’re not. I mean, I’ve had first-hand experience.” He winked.
Malia crossed her arms as heat encompassed her face.
“Will you ever let that go?” she asked, still mortified by her actions. She didn’t see herself drinking for a long while.
“No, not for a long while.” Grinning, Raiden opened a built-in cooler and pulled out some chilled water. “Thirsty?” he asked Malia, to which she nodded.
He brought out two glasses and poured the water into them. Passing one to Malia, they drank in silence.
“So, tell me more about the Red Kingdom.”
They spent an hour on the road until they reached the airport where a private jet was waiting.
Malia was glad she had spoken up and struck a conversation with Raiden because she learned so much more about the Kingdom she would come to rule.
Not only that, but she got to know more about the Red King. He was more human than she thought he would be.
One of his favorite hobbies was painting, but he hasn’t been able to do it as much as he’d like to. Another pastime of his was women, which he told Malia boldly, and she’d blushed.
Malia had asked, “I hope it’ll end once we’re married.”
She’d told him in a joking manner, but under her exterior, she didn’t like the idea of a mistress while she was married to Raiden.
It’d never struck her as a possibility until Raiden had responded, “Probably not.”
Her heart had sunk, and she didn’t speak to him after that, even after he tried initiating a conversation twice. He didn’t know what had made her mood turn sour.
So, they had been quiet the rest of the ride. An unsettling silence bothered both of them, but Malia let it dampen their spirits until they boarded the jet.
Malia took a seat next to a window. She was exhilarated yet fearful at the thought of riding on a flying machine.
She’d never been on one before, and she was excited about the experience.
“First time on a jet?” Raiden took a seat next to her and asked. Malia just nodded, her gaze set outside of the window.
“Look, I don’t know what I did, but I’m sorry,” he apologized, tired of the silent treatment.
“Mhmm,” Malia hummed.
Raiden clenched his jaw at Malia’s ignorance but didn’t say anything else.
Once everyone was settled, the jet started to inch forward. The small move causing the string of nervousness in Malia’s belly, become taut. She clenched the armrest, her knuckles white.
The jet started to speed up, and Malia’s breathing became jagged as she tried to inhale more air—unsuccessfully.
“Calm down, close your eyes and focus on breathing,” Raiden instructed. The princess spared him a glance before she obeyed.
By this time, the jet had started to begin its ascend, and Malia wriggled in discomfort. Even though she’d calmed down, her ears wanted to pop, and it was very uncomfortable.
“Hold your nose and then try to exhale through your nose. It’ll help a bit,” The King demonstrated, and Malia, ridden with doubt, mimicked his movements.
Her ears popped, and she suspired. Biting her lip, she took a moment to consider if she should thank him. In the end, she decided to be grateful.
“Thank you,” she tells him earnestly.
Malia started to turn her head back to the window, but Raiden averted her attention.
“Just tell me what I did.” It didn’t sit right with the King that he’d been ignored for a reason he was unsure of.
“It’s not a big deal. I was overreacting,” Malia wistfully said.
Pressing his lips into a thin line, Raiden narrowed his eyes. “Why can’t you just tell me the truth?”
“I’ve already told you, it’s no big deal.” They both knew she was lying, but she put her foot down at this point. He wasn’t getting any more from her.
Raiden sighed. “At least stop ignoring me. If you can’t tell me why you’re so worked up, then act cordial.”
It was Malia’s turn to sigh. “Fine.”
“Great! Tell me a bit about yourself. We never got to that part.” Raiden shifted in his seat and stared at the white princess. His eyes on her skin made her start to feel hot and bothered.
She was a novice with these new feelings. It seemed her body had a mind of its own these days. The heat between her legs started up when Raiden focused solely on her. And the blush she was unable to hide when he gifted her with one of his charming grins.
“There’s not a lot to know about a girl who’s never set foot outside the castle until today.” Her thoughts started to wander back to the days where she was forced into her room when there were too many people out and about.
No matter how many times she’d refurnished her room, it never felt any less than a cage.
“There has to be something. Like...were there any rendezvous?” Raiden wiggled his eyebrows, making the princess laugh.
“My father had me on a tight leash, I’ve never even had my first kiss, and I’m twenty-three.” She smiled sadly to herself. Malia had read many romance books that had fueled her imagination about what her first kiss would be like.
“I can’t imagine a life like that, always stuck in my room. Never allowed to leave. I can’t believe you’ve endured all that.” Raiden was awed at Malia for being able to endure the same walls every day.
“It could get very lonely, so I’m grateful Anna always came to visit.” She smiled at the memories the two of them had made together.
“Is Anna the maid that’s traveling with you?” Raiden had remembered a few files he had filled out to permit the maid into Red territory.
“Yes, she’s my best friend too!” Malia added gleefully.
Raiden chuckled. “That’s nice.”
Malia hummed her agreement before staring out of the window. “It’s so beautiful up here,” she commented as they flew through the sky.
“It is, isn’t it?” he grinned. “The sky looks absolutely stunning.”
And it did. The shades of blue were mesmerizing, dotted with clouds. They both enjoyed the view and stared out into the vast swathes of the sky.
Lady Amaha admired herself in her ornate mirror. The lilac dress she had opted to wear hugged her body perfectly.
She was a seductress, and her victim was the King.
But he’s engaged.
The thought made her snicker before she was outright laughing. Engaged? Like that changes a thing.
That little princess better mind her business. King Raiden had been hers the moment she’d laid eyes on him all those years ago. Amaha should be the one standing at the altar beside him in a few weeks.
All those sleepless nights couldn’t be labeled as just a meaningless hookup. It meant something to the Lady, and she was going to make sure the King saw it that way too.
Running a finger through her blonde curls, she smirked. No one could trump her in beauty.
She was the epitome of elegance.
Blowing a kiss to herself, she stood up and exited her room. “Sylvia!” she yelled, and her maid scrambled to the awaiting Lady. “Make sure the coach is ready to leave for the palace at once. I can’t be late.”
Sylvia nodded, “Yes, ma’am.”
As the maid walked away, she was disgusted at the outfit her employer was wearing. The purple piece of clothing barely covered anything, and she was going to greet the King in that attire?
Sylvia knew of their nights together, but now that he was engaged, she should stop pursuing him.
The maid exhaled. She didn’t need to worry herself about the problems of others.
The poor princess, though. She probably had no idea of what she was about to walk into.
Sylvia promptly met the coachman and informed him to ready the carriage. Then informed Amaha that it was being prepared.
“Tell him to hurry. We can’t be late.”
By the time Lady Amaha had reached the castle, they were ten minutes early. So, she stood with the rest of the nobles and royals.
Cosima, her best friend, hurried towards the Lady. “I see you’re still trying to seduce my brother,” she whispered.
A sly grin made its way to Amaha’s face. “How did you know?” They both giggled at the rhetorical question.
Both of them also knew that the other esteemed guests in the room were whispering about Amaha’s choice of clothing. But they didn’t care. After all, Cosima was Amaha’s number one supporter.
“I can’t believe he got engaged to someone he’d never seen before,” Amaha whined. “It was just right when I’d started pushing him for a relationship.”
“You should have shot your shot earlier,” Cosima reprimanded.
“I know, but I don’t think your sister would like that, though.” The two of them craned their necks to see Gwyneth frowning at the two ladies.
“Who cares what my sister thinks?”
“That’s true.” Lady Amaha had gotten used to people’s disapproval, and she honestly didn’t care anymore.
They caught up for a few more minutes before trumpets blared. King Raiden and the white princess had arrived. Cosima moved back to her sister’s side, and Amaha was left standing alone.
Adjusting her dress, she prepared herself to meet her latest rival, the princess.