Chapter 11: Reunited
ANYA Roman was pissed. She had been gritting her teeth for the last ten minutes, that even her best friend Steve, who happened to have the same class with her, was getting irritated by the sound of her teeth clenching together.
“You know, Anya. One of us would very much like to remain focus in class instead of hearing your teeth clenched every now and then if you don’t mind?” Steve whispered, adjusting his glasses.
“Shut up,” Anya snapped back. Her hands were clenching on a broken ballpoint pen she had been using to write notes up until a while ago.
“You’re on your period. I get it. No need to get all snappy on me,” Steve muttered annoyingly, while tried to remain focus on the class conducting by a new professor.
Honestly, Steve didn’t know what had gotten into his best friend when she suddenly got so worked out upon meeting with the new professor.
While the other girls in the class were all swooning over the man, Anya had snapped and even muttered profanities at him, under her breath.
Sighed, Steve looked at the big letters written on the whiteboard, at the new professor’s name: Abel Fox. For some odd reason, he felt like he heard the name somewhere...
Eventually, Steve shook the thought away. It was probably one of the things he’d heard that was insignificantly and not worth remembering about.
Meanwhile, Anya was pissed for good reasons. On the Saturday morning after the night she was kidnapped by Nanas, Anya found herself waking up on her own bed with Casey clung on her feet like there’s no tomorrow.
She didn’t mind the kitten of course, but what had gotten her the most after staring at nothing for a while that she had woken up on the bed instead of the damn floor in the first place. Not only did the damn butler left without leaving a note, but he actually had the nerves to carry her to the bed!
Face flamed, Anya had spent the rest of the day contemplating ways she could do with an iron bat should she ever see him again. Sunday came and went peacefully without any sight of the butler had made Anya slightly wondered if he was actually hiding from her.
Why? Because a woman could carry him while he was out unconscious? Anya snorted. That had been her first thought.
Anya later contemplated more on the issue, she felt ashamed with her initial thought and had come to realise that Aidan wouldn’t simply avoid her just because of that reasoning alone.
No. A man like him wouldn’t be easily be threatened by a woman just because of that. He’s not that pathetic. There ought to be more than that. I’m sure of it.
While Anya had been curious to find out what it was, she knew better than to stuck her nose into someone’s else business and focused on her own. Which in her case; preparing her two best friends’ engagement party!
Instantly, Anya’s mood lifted, and she forgot all about Aidan and had remained focus on the upcoming party.
Flash forward to Monday morning, Anya received the shock of her life when her favourite lecturer, Ms Lind, had announced that she would be taking maternity leaves from today onward. Anya didn’t even know that she was pregnant!
What had shocked Anya the most was that the new lecturer who would be taking over the class was no other than the handsome silver-grey haired and dark familiar chocolate eyes: Professor Albel Fox.
At three o’clock in the afternoon, as soon the class finished and students began to disassemble, Anya waited for the last student to leave the Lecture Room before she closed the door and locked it.
Steve had told her earlier that he would go on ahead to the hotel where the engagement party would be held, to meet with the interior designer and hotel’s banquet manager with Emma for final preparation and briefing. He told Anya she could join them later after she’s done with her business.
Anya approached the lecturer’s table with her arms crossed and one foot tapped profusely.
“Whatever do you mean?” The Professor’s deep silky amused voice made Anya’s heart pounded slightly.
Oh, how she hated when he did that and knew it!
“Don’t play dumb with me! Why are you here playing dolls and dressing up like a professor for?”
“I am truly offended, Miss Romans,” The professor took off the fake glasses he was wearing and carefully folded it before putting it down on the table.
“There’s a fine line between dressing up and disguise. Guess which one is mine?” He smirked.
“Aidan, I’m not joking here,” Anya gritted her teeth.
“So am I,” All traces of humour faded away soonest he spoke those words. “His Highness thought you’d be in much safer hands if I’m around. In other words, he’d ordered me to babysit you again, Miss Romans.”
Narrowing her eyes, Anya looked straight in his eyes.
“You don’t wish to be here, do you?”
“It’s not the matter of ‘wish’, Miss Romans. Whatever orders His Highness gives me, I have an obligation to them.”
“You poor baby,” Anya gave him a sad and sympathetic look before it quickly vanished. “Grow a backbone, will you! If it is something that you disagree wholeheartedly of doing, you should put your foot down for once and let Duke knows about it! He’s a reasonable Prince. I’m sure if you tell him that, he would at least consider it.”
Was it just her or did she saw him slightly bite his inner lips very subtly?
“While you’re at it, tell Duke that I don’t need him to send you here to babysit me whenever I’m in trouble.”
“As I was saying, it is not up to me or yourself to make the final decision decide the matter,” Aidan spoke with a calm tone. “Listen carefully, Miss Romans for I will not repeat the same words twice. His Highness may be naive and credulous at times, but when it comes down to it, he is a good young man with a big heart and great insight. He is someone who will never abuse his powers and order me around to do ghastly things; not even to his own nemesis. That being said, the reason why he has ordered me to keep a look out for you is because of something much deeper.”
Anya grew silence. After a while, she nodded and cleared her throat before asking him a question.
“So, what is the real reason that you’re here?”
Aidan closed the book he was reading and cast it aside for later. Standing up from his seat, he walked over the table and stood beside her.
Anya stiffed as she stood her ground, despite her face flushed and heartbeat wildly by his close proximity. As in cue, there were a couple of knocks on the door.
Lifting his hand, Aidan pointed one finger at the door and it opened.
Anya gasped, one hand covering her mouth at the sight of two people standing at the door.
Anya’s eyes pooped out when she saw the Excalibell Prince entered the room, together with a beautiful young woman standing beside him.
Eyes growing widened, Anya looked questioning at the Prince, who nodded his head eagerly as he stepped forward and gave her a hug.
“Miss Anya! It is so good to see you again!”
Pulled away, Duke turned to the young woman and say, “Allow me to introduce you to my beautiful fiancee, Marian William Jones. Marian, love, this is the one I’ve been telling you about — the one and only, Miss Anya Romans!”
Dressed in a white blouse and black knee length skirt, with her waist-length wavy brown hair tied in a high single ponytail, her perfect figure; firmed butts and rounded breasts from all the ballet training, Marian was the perfect image of a chic, sophisticated young woman.
It wasn’t so hard to see why many guys were openly drooling at her at the corridors. Marian smiled gracefully while offering her hand for a handshake.
“It’s a pleasure meeting with you, Miss Romans. I’ve been wanting to see you in person ever since Duke told me what’d happened. I’m very sorry for all the troubles he had caused you over the last few months.”
“Likewise, Miss Jones,” Anya accepted her hand with a smile. “Don’t worry about it. Duke was very helpful in managing Home’s, my family’s cafe business. You should come when you’re in town.”
Marian nodded happily. After the brief introduction between the two ladies, Duke began to explain the reason why they were here.
“I’m sure you’ve already heard most of it from Aidan, so I’ll just say it straight. Miss Anya, you’re no longer safe to be left alone in this world.”
“It’s not as bad as you may think,” Duke quickly reassured her. “What I meant by not safe is that words have gotten out to the Demons that you are our closed liaison in this world, besides Marian.”
“Was it Zenon? I mean who else have I met from the Demon world except for him?”
“We’ve thought about that possibility. However, it occurs to me that Zenon loves schemes, it’s just not his style to spread it out to his underlings. Moreover, Zenon does have pride when it comes to scheming things; he wouldn’t let someone he has declared openly as his property in danger.”
“Why not? He treats his underlings like trash and disposes of them as he pleases. What if by allowing his underlings to get to his property then jumps in heroically just when things about to get worse just to rub in their face that he’s still way above them, gives him some sort of sickening thrills?”
“There’s a possibility in that. I may have forgotten about that,” Duke sighed softly and rubbed his face.
Lowered his hand, Duke looked at Anya with a serious gaze.
“Miss Anya, this whole thing happened because of me. Had I been more patience to, none of this would happen. Your safety is my responsibility. Which is why I am leaving you in Aidan’s capable hands.”
The moment the words left from Duke’s mouth, at the corner of her eyes, Anya saw the butler clenched his teeth.
DUSK settled in by the time the four of them finally left the school compound. Having been greatly distracted by Duke’s explanation, Anya had completely forgotten about her best friends’ engagement preparation at the hotel up until her phone rang and Emma’s face popped up on the screen.
“Hi, Emma. Oh my god, I’m so sorry! It’s totally unintentional. I didn’t realise it’s already this late by the time I finished.”
“Hi, Anya. Is everything okay? Are you still coming to the hotel though?”
Checking on her watch, Anya bit her lips and then sighed heavily.
“I don’t think so. Something came up just now. It’s nothing important, so don’t worry about. I’m so sorry that I’ve missed out helping you guys. Is Steve upset? I know I upset him this morning...”
“Oh, it’s fine. There aren’t much to prepare anyway since we’ve done like most of it weeks ago. Thanks to you by the way, for smoothing things and helping out! As for Steve, well... He understood about the whole menstrual thing but he’s slightly annoyed that you didn’t show up today. Don’t worry, he just needs some TLC after weeks of planning this event. I’ll deal with him later. More importantly, are you sure you’re okay? We’re not taking much of your already hectic and busy schedule, are we?”
“Of course not! Are you kidding me? Emma, I live for this moment ever since I saw the way Steve laid his eyes on you back in our high school years! So yeah. don’t worry about it. It was just some assignments that I need to rework on.”
Grinned, Anya could practically imagine her best friend chuckled while shaking her head in defeat.
“Fine. You win. Steve and I were just worried that we might have forced this onto you when you already have your plate full. Well, if that’s the case, then I guess we’ll see you on Saturday? The two of us will be taking leaves from classes tomorrow onward. Can you believe that Steve’s famous fashion designer aunt actually forced her way and us to take the leaves so that she could fly us halfway across the globe for fitting at her store? She’d already booked our flight tickets just so we couldn’t argue with her. First Class! It’s utterly insane how much money these people have, Anya.”
Anya laughed. “Hah. That’s gonna be your world soon, honey. Best be prepared for it. I uh, do have a request that I would like to ask you and Steve... Is it okay if I bring some friends along this Saturday?”
“Of course, sweetie! You don’t need to ask. We’ve ordered enough food to feed an entire city.”
Both women laughed out loud.
“Do Steve and I know them by any chance?”
“No. Just old acquaintances I’d happened to stumble upon the other day and we’ve been keeping in touch since then.”
“I see. Well, be sure to invite them over. I’ve got to go now, Anya. I’ll see you on Saturday, okay? Wish me luck!”
“Good luck! Say hi to Steve and your mum for me.”
“Thanks and will do. See ya, Anya. Bye!”
“See you. Bye.”
Anya hung up the phone. Turning around to the others, she apologised for the sudden interruption.
“Sorry about that. I’d totally forgot about the preparation this evening. Oh, and you all have been invited to the engagement party, or if you prefer, a ball, this weekend.”
“Brilliant! Oh, Miss Anya, This will be my first time experiencing this modern world’s engagement ball!” Duke exclaimed excitedly.
“Yes. Thank you for the invitation, Miss Romans,” Marian spoke softly.
“No problem at all. And please, call me Anya. Formality isn’t really my game, you know.”
Marian smiled shyly and nodded.
“Speaking of formality, Miss Romans,” Aidan’s voice suddenly vibrated in her ears from behind. He stepped forward and stared down at her with undefined emotions — making the younger woman felt slightly uncomfortable.
“What is it?”
Without any words, the butler lifted her right wrist and placed a thin silvery bangles bracelet with a maroon jewel.
“We’ve come fully prepared this time. Though, it would make my job much easier if I could monitor you from afar.”
Anya admired the bangle bracelet. It looked like a bangle bracelet that was on sale for a slightly expensive price. It showed how much efforts and thoughts the Prince and his butler had put this time for her own security.
Unlike previously when she had only a wristband and felt more like a prisoner than a friend.
“Also, His Highness and I have discussed this and thought that I should continue my serves at the Home’s.”
“I’m afraid my father won’t allow me to be away from the castle for more than two days at the moment,” said Duke. “Partially, because I am still under prohibition, or as what it is called in this world, ‘grounded’. Furthermore, my father will be away for a summit held in another kingdom. As the Prince, I will have to fill in his shoes while he’s away.”
“I see. Well, I will need your CV this time,” Anya smirked cockily.
Waving his hand in the air, all the sudden, in a blink of her eyes, Anya found herself holding three pieces of papers.
“You’re kidding!” Anya gasped loudly. He even put his photo in the CV!
“I kid you not, Miss Romans. If it was entirely up to me, I would have done it the easiest way. Unfortunately, His Highness has forbidden me to use magic unless necessary. He’d even forced me to sign a contract.”
“We’re counting on you, Miss Anya,” Duke said encouragingly with a warm smile.
At some point, while they were walking towards Anya’s apartment, Marian had walked beside Anya, while Duke chatted with his butler behind.
Glanced at her fiance from the corner of her eyes, Marian spoke, “If I may confess something to you, Miss Anya?”
Anya slower her steps. “Sure. What do you wanna confess?”
Marian looked down on the pavements. “I admit I was feeling rather insecure when Duke had told me about you and that he’d stayed with you for months, despite trusting him wholeheartedly. Though I already knew what was going on, I still felt quite reluctant to meet up with you today. But Duke had insisted. He was full of confidence and assurance that I would like you as much as he did.”
That moron. “Do you still feel threatened by me?”
Marian lifted her head and smiled.
“Not at all. I came to realise you’re the type of girl that he would want to spoil rotten.”
“I... I beg your pardon?”
“The moment I realised it, all my doubtfulness and insecurities fade away. It’s hard to see, but Duke is someone who gets very lonely despite his cheerfulness and positive outlook on life. Being the only child means that he has a lot of weights on his shoulders. Though he has Aidan, and they are close like brothers, there are certain things he could not disclose with Aidan even if he wants to. Protocol.”
Anya nodded understandably.
“Before we met, Duke was rather cold toward everyone and even hard to get along without me pulling most of my hair. But after a while, when I really got him to sit down with me and talk, he started to change. He became more open with his feelings and slowly began to develop into the person that he is today.”
“That’s good and all, but what does that has anything to do with him wanting to spoil me?”
“Duke wants to spoil you because he loves you, Anya.”
“What?!” Anya’s loud shout caused the two men to abruptly stop talking and stared at them.
Marian quickly assured them it was nothing and pulled Anya closer while covering her chuckles with one hand.
“Oh my. I certainly did not expect you to react this way, though. Rest assures, Anya. Duke loves you, but not in a romantic sense.”
“I hope not. I mean, no offence to Duke — he is a dazzling good looking Prince, for goodness sake. But I’ve already set my sight on someone.”
“Don’t sweat it. When I mentioned that he would spoil you rotten, it means Duke cherishes you like the siste“r he never had. Now that I think about it, it may also explain what had happened that night...”
At this, Anya stopped walking and blinked her eyes.
“That night? What do you mean?”
“Well, the night when you got kidnapped by the male Gorgon, Duke told me he had have done something risky in order to ensure your safety. Something to do with Aidan. He didn’t disclose what it was and I didn’t ask him details.”
Anya recalled the night after the rescue, how Aidan had gotten very ill all the sudden that caused worried a lot before he completed passed out.
Could it be related? Moreover, when she thought about Zenon’s appearance during the rescue, it felt a bit timing and how easily it was for him to defeat Nanas.
“Ladies, pardon me for interrupting your conversations, this is where we’ll be parting ways,” Duke’s soft tone brought Anya back to reality.
Wrapped his arms around his beloved, Duke turned to Anya with a smile. “Thank you for inviting us to the ball, Miss Anya. We’ll be there.”
Stopping at the junction that part their journey home, the two women shared a farewell hug.
“Take care,” Marian whispered.
“Thanks. You as well.”
Ending the hug, Marian went to Duke’s side and held his hand.
“We’ll be seeing you again, Miss Anya. Take care!” Duke waved at her with his free hand.
DAYS passed by quickly before everyone realised, Saturday quickly approaching. Those who were invited to the engagement party were extremely excited for the weekends. After all, who wouldn’t miss a luxurious engagement ball that could easily be compared to a royal wedding in a 5-star hotel with a Michelin-starred dining experience.
At five o’clock sharp in the evening, Anya Romans glanced at her wristwatch. Her last class of the day finally ended. Stretching both arms in the air, Anya gathered her files and notes and put them inside her bag pack when a voice suddenly called out to her.
“Miss Romans, if you would kindly see me after class, I would very much like to discuss with you about the essay paper you’ve submitted earlier today,” Professor Albel Fox said, waving her assignment paper in his left hand.
She waited until the class was completely empty before she approached the lecturer’s table.
“If this is about the research on the Mythology papers, I—” One hand lifted in the hand refraining her from speaking any further. Without a word, he handed back her assignment paper.
Anya glanced at it, and suddenly her eyes grew widened.
“I’ve got an A+?!” Anya’s mouth dropped as she gaped, looking from the papers in her hands to him. “You’re kidding!”
“I kid you not, Miss Romans. Your latest papers really impressed me. Your knowledge and understanding of the Legends and Mythology truly outstanding. I suppose it was due to being kidnapped by one of them in real-life that caused you to truly understand the subject matter better. Congratulations.”
For a moment, Anya looked like she was going to give him a big hug. For months, she’s been working her butt off every day and burning the midnight oil for weeks. It felt great her hard work finally paid off in the end.
Anya offered a small smile.
“Thank you, Professor. If that’s all that you need from me, then I best get going.”
“Actually, there is something I would like to ask you something regarding tomorrow’s engagement party,” Lifted one hand in the air, Aidan swiftly shut the door.
“Oh? What is it?”
Clearing his throat, Aidan proceeds by saying, “His Highness has informed me that he will be attending and escorting Lady Marian to the party tomorrow. If you have not found anyone yet for an escort, I am willing to escort you there.”
“Thanks, but I’ve already promised to go there with someone.”
For a while, there was a moment of awkward silence.
“I see,” He spoke the words rather calmly. “You’ve found an escort then.”
“Yup,” Anya answered without any hesitation. “And also, I’ll be spending the entire day out tomorrow. So, I guess I’ll see you at the party tomorrow night?”
“Well, I gotta go now. Mind unlocking the door, please?”
Pointed a finger at the door, Aidan mutely unlocked it.
Anya waved goodbye at him as she made her way to the exit.
“Goodbye, Miss Romans.”
It was only hours after the young woman had left the classroom, Aidan gathered his things and exited the room.
When he got home and unlocked the front door, there was an amazing aroma coming from the kitchen where he found Duke just finished preparing his dinner; a simple meal of Spaghetti Bolognese, which he had learnt from Anya.
“Welcome home, Aidan. I thought I’d drop by here and made you dinner.”
“Your Highness, there’s no need for you to go through all the problems for me,” said Aidan tiredly, putting his bag away and sat in the living room. “Has your father called in today?”
“Hush, you. I do enjoy making dishes and experimenting with them. And yes, father called in just a while ago. I’m needing back in the castle but I told him I’ll return after you have your dinner.”
“What did His Majesty have to say about that?”
“Oh, he just said ‘make sure to feed him actual edible meals’. Honestly, he’s too harsh. it was just that one time. One time that you’d almost passed out.”
Aidan chuckled lowly while he assisted Duke serving the meals.
“In any case, I am happy to have you cook meals for me. Thank you, Your Highness.”
“You’ll have to thank Miss Anya for being such a good teacher.” Duke beamed in happiness. “She’d even let me borrowed her favourite cookbook as a start.”
Remembering what had happened earlier today caused the butler to suddenly lose his appetite. Nonetheless, for the Prince’s sake, Aidan forced himself to slowly finished his portion.
“Aidan? Is something the matter? Is the meal not to your liking?”
“No, not at all, Your Highness. It is absolutely delicious.” The older man smiled. “I was just thinking about tomorrow. Miss Romans informed me just now she will be meeting us at the hotel,” He didn’t bother to mention she already had a date. “Furthermore, she will be going out for the rest of the day tomorrow.”
“I see. Will you be fine on your own then?”
“Absolutely. You have no need to worry yourself about me, Your Highness. I assure you I’m capable of taking care of myself.”
The Prince nodded and resumed with his meal.