Chapter 1: Sage
Their highest expectations. That was all I was to my parents. An object. A toy. All I could do was follow what my parents objected to me. I needed to protect my sister. My twin. My other half, Nina.
I was getting ready for the charity my mother assigned to me when Nina entered through my black French doors.
“Oh my, sister, your dress is insanely cute and hot!”
I would agree if I weren’t so pissed at my mother for making me attend this charity. Don’t get me wrong, I love helping people, but all of this was a façade. My parents only ever cared about influence. No matter how much money they wasted, they wanted to be on top of the rule. The Dukas were on top, for now, they were also my parents’ rivals, which made them automatically mine. My parents wanted to pass down the reign to me, the rightful ruler of our small “cult” that I had zero information about.
I felt my sister’s hand rest on my diamond necklace, her chin on my shoulder while looking at our reflection in my white vanity.
“What’s wrong, Sage? I can feel something’s wrong through our twin bond.”
I rolled my eyes. She knew everything about this gala was bullshit. And something felt… wrong. I had a bad feeling going through with this, but, did I have another choice? I needed to buy my freedom as well as my sister’s. I needed to perform and ace my parent’s commands if I wanted to continue my medical studies. According to them, my studies were distracting me from my “duties towards my people” and I needed to attend all these fake events every once in a while in order to keep on studying and realizing my dream. I had skipped most of the classes that normal children would take. Since I was fourteen, all my classes were at home and would only consist of biology. It kept me busy and I was good at it and it was one of the things that distracted me from my parents… punishments. My parents needed a lot of convincing from multiple doctors telling them I was more intelligent than any other kid and that it would serve well once I take over to know all about the human body and mind. I will forever be grateful to these doctors. I looked down at my bruised wrists and hands and quickly covered them by wearing my shiny black gloves that perfectly matched my princess-cut black strapless dress.
“I can’t help but feel like something’s gonna happen,” I replied with worry coating each of my words.
“Your psychic powers have yet to be wrong, sister. If you want to sit this charity out I can go and-”
“No.” My voice was final. My eyes pierced through my sister’s dark blue eyes challenging her to contradict my command.
“Okay.” She said slowly. “I’ll inform mother that you are ready.”
My sister knew me so well. She knew that I didn’t want to see my parents right now or else the wound would open and I wouldn’t be able to be strong anymore. I needed to be. For my sister. I promised her, ten years ago when we were only eight, that I’ll protect her, and I have been faithful to this promise- I always was.
A knock on my door was all I needed to get me moving to this charity. After a short ride inside the carriage, I reached my destination.
As soon as I entered, every pair of eyes swiveled towards me. It had been months since anyone saw me- if they had even seen me in their life-. My parents loved privacy especially when it came down to me and my sister. The ballroom was all white with gold flowers painting every wall. It was very large and people had already joined the dance floor. I internally screamed. I had to dance. I knew how to slow dance and waltz, but that was all. I made the wise decision of waiting for a slow song before joining in. Meanwhile, I made a few conversations with some wealthy investors.
A few hours into this boredom, my eyes caught the forbidden sight of Logan Dukas. Heir to the Dukas thrown. The family controlled everything in Xerus. My heart skipped a beat. I no longer heard whatever this old man next to me was saying. I willed my eyes away from him but in vain. He was a sight for sore eyes. His deep blue eyes matched perfectly with his sea blue suit. His fluffy dark hair contrasting the mischievous glint shining in his eyes . His full thick eyebrows gave him a threatening and commanding look. He was tall. Very tall. I must’ve been looking longer than I should have since he locked his eyes on mine.
As I was mingling with investors, I felt a pair of eyes on me. I was right. I almost laughed when I saw whose eyes were scanning me. Almost. I immediately swallowed the laugh because, to be quite honest, I would be fooling myself if I didn't. She was the devil incarnate. My parents made sure I understood that. Her emerald green eyes enclosed a powerful creature that was yet to be discovered. I could feel her power from the other side of the room. She was more powerful than she knew and that made her the most vulnerable here. She was clueless about her true nature. A sense of protectiveness washed over me but I dismissed it. I had to. The plan had to work or else my kind would cease to exist. Why was I feeling the way I was? Her tan skin made her shine in this oblivion, in this dark world, in her black dress. And, God, her full red lips. As if she was reading my mind, she shifted nervously and bit her lip. She was the most graceful woman I had ever laid eyes on. She broke our eye contact and went back to chatting with her investor. My heightened sense of hearing caught her voice. How I wished it didn’t. An angelic voice yet a devil was its holder. Something inside of me wanted to get burned by her flames if it meant to be near her. A terrible thought crossed my mind. What if she was my mate? I would be doomed if she was because what I had planned for her would not only switch our roles, it would destroy and annihilate her. She would never forgive me. We were playing a dangerous game. The difference between us was that I was the master of the game and her, a player that didn’t know the rules.
As the night went by, I was careful not to cross paths with Logan. It had been the first time that I had seen him in real life. Sure, I had seen pictures of him but in reality, he was much more handsome. As I was making my way to another investor, I froze. A slow and romantic song began playing, and in front of me was the last person I wanted to be near that night.
He looked down at me and smirked as he extended his hand and cocked his head.
“Would you care to join me for this dance?”
Gasps filled the room. Everyone was looking at us. Everyone knew we were rivals. Everyone except -apparently- the two of us.
Before I could respond, a girl sashayed her way between the two of us.
“Why would you want to dance with her?” Her voice carried disgust which made everyone shift uncomfortably. She dismissed me and basically threw herself on Logan who stiffened in response. She was all over him yet his eyes were still locked on mine.
I might be extremely polite, but I will fight back when needed. Unfortunately, Prince Charming here replied before I could as he gently pushed her off of him.
“The question you should be asking yourself here, Scarlet, is why the hell would you interrupt me from talking with a potential investor?”
Scarlet snorted, “Her? An investor? She’s here to collect money so her family can feed her. May I remind you that she is your rival? You think she would invest in your project?”
I was beyond reach. Something warm inside of me encouraged me. I reached for Scarlet’s wrist and urged her to look at me. I fixed my posture to look as graceful and as tall as I could. She was pretty, but she was filled with botox and fillers. I also had more influence than her entire family. The world was very intrigued by me-for some reason- and I intended on using that to my advantage.
“My family’s money can easily feed the entire kingdom for at least three years. I wonder where your family is? Aren’t you the youngest? Where are your older brother and your parents? Ah, I know. Cleaning my bedroom maybe? After the money crash your family went through, they need all the help they could get. I bet if they sold your breast implants they would be back to the higher ranks.” Silence. ”Should I keep going?”
Scarlet looked like a ghost. She shrunk at least five inches. I told myself it was her fault. As much as I hated what my parents did to me and my sister, I would never let anyone disrespect my family’s name in public and in private.
All that Scarlet could muster was, “How do you know?”
I giggled. “I have connections all over town because I actually have a title.”
Logan looked flabbergasted. When he saw me looking at him, he gently inclined his head and smiled. I didn’t know why, but his approval meant a lot to me. This shared moment between the two of us gave enough time for Scarlet to collect herself and she retorted, “I wonder what these fine people would think of you now-”
“They know it was your fault, Scarlet. You picked a fight with someone who has greater power than you. You needed to be taught a lesson-”, replied Logan with a harsh tone.
“But-” she said while faking a pout. God, can she be any more annoying?
“No buts. Leave before you cause another scandal to your family’s name.” His voice carried a command. A final warning. She listened and the party went back to its rhythm.
Logan kept his gaze focused on Scarlet until she disappeared. His blue eyes suddenly looked at me, amusement glistening in them.
“You really did her dirty there, Sunshine.”
“Sunshine?!” I was baffled. No one had ever given me a nickname and why would he?
“Yeah, got a problem with that?”
I flushed. Why was he so… infuriating yet charming? I quickly composed myself and tried to change the subject.
“She disrespected my family. What did you expect? Would you let it slide?”
“Definitely not, but she was jealous of you,” he said pointedly. As if I was supposed to know why.
“I beg your pardon? I work very hard to build myself and my reputation. I never count on my family’s money.”
His eyebrows shot up in surprise. “A working princess, I like that. But, what could you possibly be doing that gives you a purpose other than being a politician?”
“I’m a doctor,” I responded without hesitation. If he looked surprised before, now he looked like he just saw a unicorn with a magic horn that spit fire. I continued anyway, “I have been doing extra work for my parents for them to agree to me becoming a doctor. I still have two years before I officially become a doctor, well, a neurosurgeon to be more precise, but I could still work as a family doctor. I have been studying since I was fourteen. It is all that I have been doing.”
“Wow, I didn’t expect that. You are something else, Sunshine. I’ll give you that.” He paused before offering again. “Well then, doctor, may I have this dance?”
I hesitated, but then remembered I had to keep my family’s name clean, and refusing to dance with an important person would mean our doom. “Of course.”
Sparks were flying everywhere as soon as we entered the dance floor. I forgot I was in a room full of politicians. It was just us, here, slow dancing. He was making me feel all kinds of things. Good things. Unfortunately, that meant bad things because we would never be together, we couldn’t. My psychic powers were telling me to leave now. For once, I wanted to act like a girl who didn’t have special abilities and just fall in love with the wrong person. Learn from my mistakes. I just hoped it didn’t mean I would lose my dream job. Another wave of precognition hit me. Mate. Love. Hurt. Death. My psychic abilities didn’t always reveal everything, but this was the vaguest precognition I had ever had. Sensing my panic, Logan’s hand went from my back to my waist and squeezed, stabilizing me.
“Sunshine, are you okay? You look like you just saw a ghost.” His eyes were searching mine frantically.
“I’m fine. I just had a bad precognition. Yeah, it sounds stupid but I have psychic abilities. I get those often, but this one seems like it’s inevitable and… dreadful.”
I got the right girl. It was her I needed to mislead and hurt. She was obviously not my mate. The Death Tree wouldn’t put us together. And even if we were mates, it would never work. She was pretty. I must be just attracted to her power. Mother warned me she might attract powerful creatures and I was powerful.
I hoped I was right.
I leaned forward to whisper gently in her ear and continued with the plan, “Scarlet was jealous because I wanted to dance with you and not with her.”
I really prayed that I was right.