Chapter 1 - Calla
Sat on a stall in the kitchen watching the kitchen staff prepare the grand food for the first party of the Christmas season, which happens to be tomorrow I prepare myself for the daily mischief we all expect from Prince Cairo and Princess Ligeia. Watching one of the cooks get a huge tray of cookies out of the oven I know for a fact it will be soon.
“They smell delicious,” I say sniffing, the cook looks at the tray of chocolate chip cookies like he thinks there’s something wrong with them.
“Burnt.” He exclaims throwing the pan down. Oh, dear he is extremely stressed, I watch him grab the mixing bowl and immediately start to remake the batch that yes looks slightly crunchier than they should but smell amazing.
“Can I take one of them each for Prince Cairo and Princess Ligeia it should keep them out the dangerous kitchen?” I ask giving what I hope is an innocent expression.
“The royals cannot eat burnt cookies.” The cook says firmly. Yeah, the Royals shouldn’t but that does not mean they wouldn’t, and I bet they wouldn’t give a single complaint. They both love foods that their parents deem they should never have.
“They can wait for later and I shall have a fresh perfect batch for them for you to take.” The cook informs me. Sighing I look at the clock preparing for the two demons to get to work on their plans. It does not take long before the six-year-old Prince Cairo comes running into the kitchen a dog in tow. I quickly Grab 6 cookies off the tray myself before four-year-old Princess Ligeia sneaks in the door from the garden. Why has she got worms in her hand? Why does this not even surprise me anymore?
“Your highness the kitchen is dangerous.” A guard shouts running in behind Prince Cairo, another one followed by the nanny comes in from the garden. Prince Cairo grabs something sneaky from one of the food trays. What did he manage to get? He is getting better at this. I have to admire his cunningness. I quickly pour two cups of milk and shove the crunchy cookies in the pocket of my white apron. As they manage to herd the children out of the extremely busy and now even more stressed kitchen. I follow them all out the two cups of milk in my hand as the royal children’s new Nannie gives them the same speech, we have all heard too many times and I can tell goes in one ear and out the other.
“I got the pests,” I say seriously knowing for a fact that they don’t need the spill again. also trying not to smile at the kids. I have to force myself to act serious like I am not impressed with them and their plans just to sneak a snack. The new nanny glares at me like I am something on the bottom of her shoe and I possibly am. But I go down to my knees in front of both kids. Hell no one would be impressed if they heard me call the kids pests. But both the kids look up at me then trying not to smile at them as I hold out a glass of milk to both of them.
“What do you two say to coming and watching some cartoons with me?” I ask them as both kids take their cups of milk from me. smiles on their little faces.
“the royal children of.” The nanny starts the spill about how the kids aren’t allowed to watch cartoons. Cartoons will apparently rot their brains, but it’s never done me any harm. I look up at the nanny knowing as I was the one who cleaned them away, how Ligeia had put spiders in her bed for tonight because she wants to scare yet another Amaris who thinks taking the nanny job will put her in contact with Prince Raiden away. The last Amaris nanny that actually had the kids in mind rather than sex with the princes or getting a position of respect had been eight nannies ago. I roll my eyes at the kids as the nanny carries on the spill, we all know so well. Prince Cairo copies me and smiles at me, pulling a baboon face, his cheeks puffed up, I pull a face back which has him grin at me.
“Cartoons never did me any harm.” Prince Lonan says, I turn to take him in. when had he arrived? He hadn’t responded to my text the other day. After 3 months of me not replying to his he may have given up on me. I look him over, his black hair had been cut a lot shorter than it had last time I had seen him, he now looked less aqua man and more business meeting. the suit he is wearing gives the same impression, but it does not quite hide the body I know he works so hard on. Looking him over he seems to be going for a Clark Kent look this month as his muscles are hidden under his suit and he has black-framed glasses on his nose. Has it really only been three months since I last saw him? His chocolate brown eyes look me over as if he is as much unimpressed with me as normal. Is my mouth hanging open again or did he catch my silly face?
“Miss Matthias, what are you doing down on the floor?” Prince Lonan asks me, his lips up in the corner. Am I going to remember how to talk this time? I look at the 17-year-old prince wondering why he always looks at me like that.
“Um, I.” okay then the answers obviously no. his lips go up slightly more in the corner.
“What happened here?” he asks in general, but his eyes settle on his little brother and sister who look up at him like butter wouldn’t melt. yeah, no one would fall for that.
“The nanny told us we couldn’t.” Princess Ligeia starts managing to look like a little angel, a sad angel.
“So, you did what she told you not to do?” Prince Lonan questions, I can tell he’s trying not to laugh. not falling for his brother and sister's innocent act one bit.
“both of you can go watch some cartoons in the playroom, I shall be along in a moment.” Prince Lonan says. He nods to their guards as if to say move along. I don’t move. As Prince Cairo and Princess Ligeia actually walk away.
“not you nanny. I have yet to be informed of your name.” He says as the nanny goes to leave. She looks up at him, I watch her blink her eyelids. Obviously deciding Prince Lonan is as good as Prince Raiden to flirt with. I slowly raise back to my feet.
“What is your name?” he asks her.
“Lady Rita Jepson.” The nanny says, curtsying to the prince. there answers everything as to why she had been treating the rest of the staff like dirt and that we were beneath her. She thought she was better than everyone here.
“Well Lady Rita when you talk to my siblings, I suggest you get down to their level rather than hover over them dictating to them.” Prince Lonan says.
“Run along and I shall be there in a moment.” He says deadly serious. I watch the nanny leave.
“Miss Matthias are they cookies in your pocket?” he asks me.
“Yes, I got them for the prince and princess to keep them out of the kitchen,” I admit truthfully not looking up to meet those chocolate eyes that see straight through me.
“A private word please in my office.” He says indicating the door he had come out. Oh, had his office been moved this year? That didn’t surprise me his mother was always decorating. He holds the door open, I slip into his office. The moment his door shuts, trapping me in with just him and one guard his mouth meets mine. My arms wrap around his neck as he lifts me up pressing me between him and the wall. My legs wrap around him as well.
“Has it really only been 3 months since I last saw you? it feels so much longer. Why haven’t you texted me back?” he questions me when he pulls away from my lips.
“I thought you would have been informed Aerisdeludum currently are not allowed to use modern technology. The new headmasters a nut head.” I admit.
“So, you obey the rules?” he questions me, putting me down raising his eyebrow at me. I wish he hadn’t as he leaves me feeling cold as he walks around his desk and takes a seat.
“They are using modern technology to block modern devices,” I admit, with my lips up in the corner. A lot of us still want them to see the irony of that.
“How does that even make sense?” he asks.
“your guess is as good as my whole schools. Including a lot of the teachers.” I say seriously, still leaning against the wall.
“Have no royals complained?” he questions me.
“what royal Amaris do you know who would send their children to Aerisdeludum?” I ask him with a raise of my own eyebrow. The school of air is possibly the least popular Amaris school out there. It also happens to be the cheapest and the one in our home country but only teaches air element. Which is why the kids there like me wonder why we just can’t go home after school. But nope because all Amaris attend boarding schools unless they are home educated which might as well be waving a flag above your child’s head saying different, I have asked my mom if she would. It would save us a lot of money at the end of the day. But mom puts my education above everything, even if it’s a rubbish school.
“Have you spoken to your mother about it?” he questions me, tapping his table. I sigh as I walk over and sit in front of him. It’s a long old talk with my mother. It isn’t because she wouldn’t want to send me to a better school. It is because she can’t afford to. The Amaris schools are expensive. But I can’t say that to the prince. He will think I am accusing his parents of not paying my mother enough. If she got fired it would be a disaster. If this went wrong and he wanted rid of me to the point he fired my mother, it would be a disaster.
“I just have to live with it Prince Lonan you don’t miss something you never really had to start. TVs in the court still only have 3 channels and that’s a good day.” I point out.
“when is the court going to move on with the times?” he questions, looking at the paperwork on his desk.
“I do not know,” I admit.
“How is Ludum lunae?” I ask. Wondering for the millionth time what the school in japan is like.
“Alright.” He says, putting his hand on my stomach. I look at him really confused but he pulls out the cookies from my apron pocket a smile on his face as he shoves one into his mouth. He knows that there is always something sweet in there for his siblings. I smile at him. He then shoves another in my own mouth.
“slightly burnt.” He says with a smile when his cookies all gone. I chew mine. It’s so yummy.
“it’s still really good,” I admit.
“you haven’t been eating enough again.” He says looking me over, his eyes settle a moment too long on my own as if challenging me to deny it. I shrug my mother said the exact same thing.
“new exercise regime at school. Anyone would think they are expecting a war.” I mumble, what a lot of us had been thinking. None of us at my school would actually make an effect if we were sent to fight. No one would really miss us in society and nor were any of us trained. so we all knew most of us would end up being sent so that royal Amaris didn't have to fight, there own battles.
“We need to get you out of that school.” He mumbles more to himself than me. sliding his hand down a bit, so it rests on my thigh.
“what main subjects did you choose?” he asks me interested.
“Air, and housekeeping .” I shrug. He looks at me like I hit him, and he is disgusted with me.
“Why the hell would you do that to yourself?” he questions me.
“Because we were limited on our choices this year,” I admit.
“what the hell are they doing there?” He asks me looking from me to his guard as if asking if either of us could make sense of this.
“They want to limit the number of teachers the school needs due to funding cuts,” I admit.
“What’s happened to the school's funding?” he asks me as if I would know. I shrug.
“who knows,” I admit. He sighs.
“talk to your mom about moving your schools. Any school would be better.” He says seriously. I shrug.
“I’ve only got three years left at school. What’s the point now?” I ask him. Mom wouldn’t be able to afford to even if she got a huge pay rise. Prince Lonan puts his hand on my cheek then,
“you don’t normally have such a losing attitude, Calla.” He says sounding worried.
“I’m just tired I have been here since 7 pm trying to get the house ready for all these guest tomorrow,” I admit. He looks at his clock which shows 8 am. He sighs.
“Calla why are you even still here?” he asks me looking at me worriedly.
“I thought you were just on a break?” he questions me. looking my uniform over as if it will make sense for him.
“I’m pulling a double shift. I restart work in half an hour. I just am on a short break.” I admit to him.
“Calla you can’t keep doing double shifts. I thought we talked about this during the summer break?” he says seriously.
“We did, but I need to. I can only work the school breaks it isn’t enough.” I mumble. He takes my chin in his hand and pulls it up, so I look into his eyes, rather than at his chest.
“When did you last have blood?” He questions me looking annoyed, he really does know me better than he should.
“I’m honestly fine,” I assure him.
“Calla” He sighs looking at me like he is cross.
“What are you working tomorrow?” he questions me.
“I am on the party,” I admit.
“So, you’re going to be exhausted by tomorrow evening.” He sighs.
“What are you meant to be doing in a minute?” he asks me.
“I have 8 guest beds left to make and rooms to prepare for tomorrow,” I admit.
“I then have to clean the entrance steps,” I say.
“then you’re done?” he questions sighing as if he knows I won’t be.
“I got the entrance to make sparkle. Then I got to mop the ballroom. The queen Jessica also said she would like a bath tonight that I need to draw. Then I have to draw your brother's bath. Then your own.” I say.
“then?” he questions.
“Then I have to air out all of your beds,” I admit.
“could you not do mothers and Raiden’s beds at the same time as drawing their baths?” he questions me.
“if they are happy for that,” I say truthfully.
“then what have you got to do after my bath?” he asks me sighing.
“I then have to clean two of the dining rooms and drawing rooms,” I admit.
“Only two?” he asks me.
“I cleaned the rest earlier and they all passed the head housekeeper. So as long as no one’s been in them they are done.” I say hoping for my already exhausted body that they are done.
“What are the other maids doing?” he questions me.
“A hell of a lot,” I assure him. He looks at Peterson who is leaning against the wall still as if asking him to confirm this.
“the house is a buzz and extremely busy sire. Your mother has been informed to hire more staff before the Christmas ball.” Peterson informs him.
“this is why we normally just go away for the Christmas period,” Lonan says, looking at me worriedly.
“Lonan I got to get back to work by 20 past,” I tell him looking at the clock, he runs his hand on the inside of my thigh.
“Tonight, are you going home?” he questions me.
“I have to, I have to get ready for the party my uniform for tomorrow is at home its different from todays,” I say seriously.
“do you look pretty in it?” He asks me, smiling.
“It fits me fine.” I shrug. Pretty in tomorrow’s outfit is possibly not possible. Cute maybe. He leans forward and gives my mouth a kiss, I feel like I melt into him. when he lets go of my mouth he sighs.
“what about tomorrow?” he asks me his hand resting on my inner thigh.
“Mom really worried last time I didn’t come home,” I admit to him.
“is she worried you’re going to repeat her mistake?” Lonan questions me. I don’t comment. Because it was kind of a dig at my mom and he knew it. My mom had been just over two years older than I am now when she had got pregnant with me. she had her life laid out before that. To this day my mother has never named my father. Not even when she had to register me. Part of me imagines a whirlwind romance where my 18-year-old mother was swept of her feet. But I don’t know, and I possibly never will as she would only have to announce it if I was due to marry someone of my own bloodline and the chances of me marrying are next to none.
“What is your mother working tomorrow?” Lonan questions me.
“She is on set up tomorrow and then clean up the next day. She doesn’t work the parties you know that. If she was, she would be in the kitchen anyway.” I say what happened at the last party mom had to work.
“So, she’s not here could you tell her your sleeping round a friend's and then just make yourself in my bed?” he asks me.
“you want me to make the bed with myself in it?” I ask him.
“Don’t I make it clear enough to you that I want you Calla?” he asks me. wants me, not loves me I have to remind myself as my heart beats faster.
“I might be able to make myself in your bed Christmas eve,” I say nervously.
“Definitely a brilliant Christmas present. Can I unwrap you early?” he says smiling at me. I smile at him, but that’s when his office door is opened, and his brother walks in with his guards without knocking.
“Learn to knock Raiden,” Lonan says as I quickly jump to my feet, thinking I was about to get in trouble.
“why were you and Miss Matthias up to something?” Raiden asks looking me over, the fact he remembers my name actually shows how long I’ve been around the estate.
“I should get to work, sorry sires.” I start trying to edge out the room. Looking at Raiden’s two guards that are the same age as him. Raiden’s only been graduated for 6 months and currently in his first year of college, but he always makes me feel like I am a misbehaving child. But then so does Lonan.
“You still have fifteen minutes left of your break,” Lonan says looking at his clock, as I am edging round the room. He sighs.
“Can you open my bed at the same time you draw my bath for tonight and have my suit for tomorrow sent down to be ironed?” Lonan asks me.
“of course, sire,” I say, he gives me a look that says he doesn’t like the fact I just sired him.
“Can you have my own bath canceled I am going out tonight and shall just have a shower in the morning.” Raiden says calmly.
“of course, sire. Would you still like your bed opened?” I ask.
“I am not going to be spending the sleeping hours here tonight, so cancel that too.” He informs me.
“of course, sire,” I say and I slip out the door his guard opens for me.