Chapter 3: Abduction
IT was another busy day for Anya Romans as she sat in the Shield Academy’s library dressed in a black hoodie and fitted jeans. Her notes and reference books scattered on the table as she shooting away words on the keyboards of her laptop and music loudly blasting through her headphones.
Anya glanced at the digital clock on the screen: it was ten minutes to four-thirty in the evening. She quickened her speed on her fingers as she typed away the words, putting all of her focus into writing the last few sentences. She needed to complete the assignment by today and submit to her professor before the day ends.
At four twenty-five, Anya rechecked her assignment again, making sure everything is in the correct order. Her right hand moved the mouse and clicked on the ‘send’ button.
Anya sighed in great relief once the email has been sent to her professor. She then took her quarterly empty water bottle and finished it when her phone vibrated.
A message from Emma.
‘Where are you?’
‘In the library. I’ll be out in a minute.’
‘Okay. Steve and I have just finished Eco. Meet you at the hallway?’
‘Gotcha. See you!’
“There’s my favourite person!” Emma Greens smiled widely once she spotted her best friend in sight. “Haven’t seen you in a while. Been busy?”
“Yeah. You could say that,” Anya said, yawned tiredly and stretched her stiffed back. “Been staying up late catching up on deadlines and juggling Home’s.”
“Oh, sweetie. Do you need extra hands to help you out at Home’s? Me and Steve can help you out as long as you feed us afterwards.”
“Definitely,” Steve nodded. “Although, I’m not too keen on eating sweets after work... Yucks!”
Anya smiled softly at her best friends concerned look.
“Thanks for the offers, guys. But I’m good,” Anya gently declined. “Besides, we’ve just hired two new rookies. They’re good but definitely not as great as moi.”
“Well. Alright then... Just remember, we’re always here if you ever need extra hands at Home’s,” Emma gave her supportive smile, though she felt bad about not able to help out more than Anya would allow her.
“I’ll remember that. Thanks, Emma. Steve,” Anya smiled reassuringly to both of them, hoping they would move on from the topic. In truth, Anya and her mother have been struggling lately to cope with Home’s with the lack of staff mending the cafe and Rose’s frequent travels to out-of-state to attend conferences.
They have been wanting to recruit more staff to lift some of the burdens when it turned out that Heaven has been hearing their prayers after all and granted them two people with mismatched personalities from another dimension.
While Duke and Aidan have been a great helping hands to Home’s, there absolutely no way in Hell would Anya ever allowed them to go anywhere near her friends.
A sudden ringtone snapped Anya from her deep thoughts. Steve took out his mobile phone from his pocket and silently read the message silently before he nodded.
“Looks like we’ll be heading off to your cafe after all, Anya. Mum sent her regards and mentioned she’s craving for your famous Blueberry Cheesecake.”
BUSINESS at the Romanz’s Cake House had always been modest on weekdays and busiest on the weekends. Fortunately, the profits had skyrocketed ever since they’ve recruited two new employees about one and half month ago.
Customers could be seen from far off distance lining up at the front door, giggling and squealing while trying to snap photos or taking a glimpse of the two irresistibly gorgeous men sporting in a white top and black jeans with a denim pocket apron on top. Both bore winning smiles and irresistible grins that instantly swooned all customers.
Anya groaned at the scene the moment they stepped out from the railway station, just across the building. She couldn’t complain nor could she ask the customers to leave without causing any ruckus.
“Wow, Anya. Did you hire celebrities to work for you or something? I mean, look at the queues! I’m surprised Josh hasn’t sent out his security team to protect this place and his precious niece already from all of those wandering hands,” Steve teased.
“He did,” Anya replied bitterly, gritting through her teeth. “I’d kicked them all the way back to HQ. C’mon, let’s use the back door.”
“So who are they?” Curiosity got the best of Emma and so she decided to ask while they were heading toward the back door.
“My mum has a regular and long-time customer, Aunt Penny, who had decided to travel across the globe with her recently retired husband. Needly to say, they dumped their sons at us, and here we are. The end,” Anya unlocked the back door and entered.
“So you’re stuck at babysitting two grown ass men? That sucks,” Steve commented, as they walked in.
“Yeah. Nothing like have another pair of testosterone for me to boss around again,” Anya grinned.
Walking toward the storage where she stuffed her bag in an old locker and took out an apron. Anya untied her hair, combed it into a neat bun before she went to the nearby sink to wash her face.
Her best friends silently waited for her to get ready for work. Once settled, Anya took a long deep breath and smiled at her friends. Together, they passed through the kitchen and head towards the front.
As soon as they stepped out of the kitchen, the sound of chatters and giggles belonged to a group of high school girls reached to Anya’s ears.
Turned to her left, she saw Aidan approached their table and jotting down their orders. With a sly smile, he then bowed his head slightly to them before proceeded to the counter, leaving trails of the high schoolers squealing behind him.
When their eyes met, Aidan smiled and nodded his head in acknowledgement at her two best friends who were standing awkwardly behind her.
“Good day, Miss Anya. I trust you were very productive at school today?” Aidan teased with a smirk.
“I did. You guys better be productive too,” Anya replied casually while she passed beside him and moved toward the counter where she found Rosy animatedly engaged in small talk with a customer.
After the customer left, Anya stepped in and surprised her mother with a kiss on the cheek.
“Oh. Hi, honey! Are you hungry? There’s a chicken pie in the fridge if you want.”
“Hi, ma. Emma and Steve are here. Mrs Aarons wants the blueberry cheesecake.”
“Take the one in the fridge. It’s still new. Oh and give dear Emma and Steve each the strawberry creamed-cheese cake as well - they’re on the house,” Rosy turned to look at the young couple and waved her hand.
“Hello there, dearies!”
“Hi, Aunty Rosy! We’ll just grab these and get going. Sorry to bother you on your busy day and thank you very much for the cakes!”
“No problem, honey. I hope your mum would like the new strawberry creamed-cheese cake, Steve. Send my best regards to both of your families!”
“Thanks and sure thing. See ya tomorrow, Anya.”
Anya smiled and waved at her friends a goodbye without sending them off while she took orders from the customers.
“THANK YOU! Please come again!”
Duke waved at the last customer goodbye at the door with a gleeful smile. He then flipped the signboard hanging on the door from ‘OPEN’ to ‘CLOSED’ before re-entering the shop.
It was already eleven o’clock at night when they finished mopping the floor and kept the place settled and ready for tomorrow.
Rosy Romans busied herself calculating the day’s profits, along with Aidan who offered his assistance. Meanwhile, Anya and Duke were in the kitchen, washing the dishes.
“That was quite enjoyable, wasn’t it?” Duke commented happily.
Lazy eyes stared at the Prince as Anya yawned tiredly.
“You actually enjoyed doing all of these commoner’s stuff?”
“Oh, absolutely! It’s certainly new experiences for me compared to the daily routines back home, for sure,” Duke put away the clean plates on the racks and left them to dry.
“Mmm. Good for you then,” Anya yawned again.
Lately, she felt more tired than the usual. Then all the sudden, as if someone knocked her head with a brick, Anya felt her head hurt all the sudden and started to lose focus. Meanwhile, Duke, oblivious to what’s happening, continued to keep on talking.
“As the only Heir to the Throne, I have very high expectations from not only the people around me but also from the public. I have to strive for greatness and perform to perfection for the sake of my Kingdom and my people. That being said, I’m always busy — whether mingling with Noblemen, finding ways to expand the empire or handling the political issues and what’s not. It is indeed quite stressful being a King, really!” Duke chuckled.
“Life in the castle can be a bore if nothing is interesting for you. That’s why—”
KCHING —The sharp sound of shattered plates and glasses on the floor echoed loudly in the otherwise silence kitchen.
“Anya? Sweetie, can you hear me?”
Those were the first few words Anya heard as she slowly opened and blinked her eyes. Groaned weakly, Anya blinked her eyes again for few times to find she was back in her own bedroom. Her blurring eyes focused on a con Lava lamp on her study desk — a gift from Emma on her sixteenth birthday.
“What happened to me? My head hurts...” Anya winched when she felt a bandage wrapped around her forehead.
“You’d collapsed in the kitchen while washing the dishes, dear. Duke was quick enough to catch the rest of you, but not before your head hit the sharp edge of the sink. Luckily, it wasn’t that bad.”
“I see. In that case, I’ll have to thank him later,” Anya muttered softly.
“Anya sweetie, why didn’t you tell me earlier that you weren’t feeling well? You have a high fever,” Rosy gently reprimanded her only daughter.
Immediately after Duke had caught Anya safely in his arms, Rosy had rushed Anya to the nearest Hospital for a checkup while entrusting the two men to lock up after the place.
“I’m sorry for making you worry, ma. We’ve just hired those two to start working for us and so... ”
“Oh, you silly child. You don’t need to worry about them. They’re doing marvellous jobs so far. The customers absolutely adore them. As long as they keep on with their services, business will surely continue to bloom!”
Rosy lent forward and gave Anya a kiss on the forehead.
“So, honey. Why don’t you take the rest of this week and the next off from work and get enough rest, okay?”
Decided it would be best not to argue with her mother, Anya simply nodded.
Meanwhile, Rosy’s eyes roamed all over the room now. Notes and mountains of various types of books scattered everywhere on the floors.
Just how on earth could anyone be walking around without stumbling over? Rosy wondered silently.
“Your room needs some serious cleanup, sweetie.”
I’ll clean it up tomorrow. I was working on a major paper.”
“Oh. What’s it about?”
“The Blue Tree. According to old folktales, a long time ago, there was a mystical Blue Tree that existed to protect the people of Hillview from evil threats. It is also said that the Blue Tree could grant wishes. Now, I don’t usually believe in those craps, but the tale about the Blue Tree is fascinating enough,” Anya muttered, slowly drifting to sleep.
Rosy smiled tenderly, brushing his daughter’s hair. “Your father started to write children’s storybooks because he too had found this city filled with fascinating folktales,” Rosy’s voice was soft and kind, yet Anya noticed there was something lack in her tone. Moreover, it was rare for her mother to talk about his father since his passing.
Losing him in the accident has wounded her the most.
“Oh, yes. I suppose there was a time your father mentioned when he was a kid that he stumbled upon-”
Two soft knocks on the bedroom’s door interrupted Rosy. A moment later, the door opened and Duke’s face appeared.
“We’re home. Apologies for getting home slightly late, Ma’am. We’ve closed up the cafe house as per your instructed. We’ve decided to stop by a nearby Deli afterwards and bought dinner,” Duke showed them the takeaways, a hot freshly-home cooking meals in containers.
“Thank you so much for your help, fellas,” Rosy smiled brightly. “Did you make sure to close and properly locked the shop, Aidan?”
“Absolutely, Madam. I assure you that the shop will still be in good conditions tomorrow morning,” Aidan smiled reassuringly.
True to his words, he even cast an invisible magical seal around the shop’s perimeters so that no burglar or magical beings could trespass the area.
“Well, I’d better go and freshen up before eating my dinner,” Rosy got up from the bed. “I know you boys must be tired after a long day, still do you mind keeping Anya here company while she takes her medicine before she dozes off to sleep?”
“Ma, I’m a grown woman. I don’t need babysitters,” Anya cringed awkwardly.
“I know honey, but it really put my mind to ease to have someone to watch over you in case you suddenly vomit or something before you fall asleep.”
“Absolutely! We’ll make sure she eats her medicine and keeping her company so you don’t need to worry about a thing, Ma’am,” Duke said reassuringly while holding on to Anya’s left hand, which caused the young Roman to groan.
Despite countless times, Anya had told him how much she hated to be touched, she came to realise that the Prince of Excalibell was an affectionate person. The only reason she put up with his affections toward her was that most of his touches were considered to be innocent.
Though one thing that Anya found it to be amusing and annoying was that Duke particularly enjoyed giving her plenty of hugs. Whether it was a full bear hug or other times, it was just a side hug.
The first time it happened, Anya had knocked the air out of his lungs when Duke suddenly hugged her in public after he had won a lucky draw and a gift hamper at a supermarket.
The look on the Prince’s face when he was being shoved was priceless. Since then, Duke was reminded that day and had been cautious whenever he wants to show his affection for her.
“You can leave her to us. Please take your time and enjoy your bath, Madam,” Aidan’s deep voice broke the silence between them.
“My, it really does feel like having my boys in the house all over again!” Rosy chuckled and sighed happily. Slowly, she got up from the chair and made her way out of the room, shutting the door gently.
Aidan waited patiently for Rosy’s footsteps faded before his friendly face fell as he glanced at the young woman who was fastly asleep on her bed without taking her medicine.
Aidan’s eyes move from the young woman to the Prince who had taken Rosy’s seat beside the bed and held Anya’s hands while he watched her sleeping.
“Your Highness, Miss Romans has not yet eaten her medicine. Perhaps we should wake her up... Your Highness?” Aidan’s eyes grew when he noticed Duke muttered softly before kissing the palm of Anya’s hand.
A reverse spell.
“What on Earth are you doing?” Aidan scolded him harshly.
Meanwhile, Duke calmly put one finger to his mouth, his eyes never leaving the young woman.
“I simply decided there’s no need for us to keep a close watch on Miss Anya anymore.”
“...What made you said that? Isn’t it still too early for us to trust her? Moreover, we’ve only known her for a little short while.”
Duke gently patted Anya’s hands before putting it down and stood up.
“Take a look around this room and tell me what you see.”
Files, notes and opened references books with sticky notes and stationary were located all over the messy room which was not befitting for a young lady of any status.
“Clearly, Miss Romans is very dedicated to her studies. However, I could not see how this is related to the conversation we’re having.”
“About half of a month ago, the two of us came to her life and unexpectedly caused her world to turn upside down. Moreover, you’d threatened her not to talk about our secrets.”
“I did it for your safety, Your Highness. To protect you from any threats that may come. Without any contact with the Kingdom, we are defenceless as kittens in this foreign lands. To ensure Miss Romans does not break her part of the deal, threatening her is the only choice we have.”
“Indeed. Miss Anya may barks louder than she bites, still, you can’t easily shove off the fact that she is still an innocent young woman who got caught between the mess which I have created for myself.”
Duke’s cheerful façade was nowhere to be seen as he sighed softly.
“I understand the dire consequences which may occur to us now that the spell has been removed. Still, I truly believe in Miss Romans and that the chances of her betraying us are close to zero. I will take full responsibilities should anything were to happen to us while we are stuck under the Romans’ households.”
Clearing his throat, Aidan spoke the next few words with a firm tone.
“Very well, Your Highness. As long as you are fully aware of the consequences that may befall on us.”
Aidan’s eyes glanced over at the sleeping maiden and then he scoffed. At times like this, how the butler wished desperately to give the young Prince a good smack for being too naive for his own good and for trusting strangers too quickly.
“Thank you, Aidan. I promise you I won’t forget. Come now, we should let Miss Anya rest,” Duke placed the chair to back to its respective place and quietly exited the door with his butler in tow.
HOURS into the late night and long after the Prince and his butler had left the room, a tall silhouette figure stood in front of Anya Roman’s bedroom window covered blinds.
Well, well... What do we have here?”
The silhouette figure turned into a cloud of smoke and sneaked into the window. Once the smoke dispersed, a tall slender man in Maroon to blazer and Ultramarine pants appeared beside the bed.
He had a white painted face covered in heavy Gothic makeup, including black eyeliner and dark lipstick and two small horns pointed on his forehead.
The man walked toward the bed and watched how peacefully the young woman slept.
Grinned wickedly, the man reached out his scaled blue skin to touch her head when a flying blade came out of nowhere, caused the intruder narrowly dodged his head, causing the blade to hit the glass window instead and shattered it.
The bedroom door burst opened and Duke and Aidan entered the rushed into the room. Both were awakened from their slumbers when they felt a strong inhumanly presence that came from the opposite place — Anya’s room.
“Miss Anya!” Duke’s eyes widened. “You...”
Standing at the broken glass window, the intruder was now floating in the air, carrying Anya in a bridal-style with a wide grin at the two men.
Anya stirred and slowly started to wake up after being rudely awakened from her deep slumber when she felt something had grabbed hold of her.
“At long last, we meet again once again, Prince Duke of Excalibell!”
“If it isn’t Zenon with the Perky voice. How troublesome,” Aidan sighed.
“Shut up, servant! My voice is husky not perky! Husky!”
Anya now fully awakened, looked back and forth at them with eyes widened with shock and surprise. Before she could open her mouth and speak, a duct tape magically covered her mouth. Anya also felt her body being restrained by tight neon ropes.
What the hell is going on?!
“I’ve heard rumours that Excalibell is at a loss now that their precious Prince has recently gone missing. Father is so delighted when he heard about the news.”
“Damn you!” Duke cursed.
“I told him, ‘Pops, what’s the fun of crushing Excalibell now when the cause of the fun is somewhere else?’ Of course, I’d walked away before he could give me one of his famous lecture about being the Demon King’s heir, and went on a search of your whereabouts. To be honest, I was actually surprised to have found you here so quickly.”
“What have you done to Excalibell? Answer me!”
Zenon snorted loudly. “Oh, for Hell’s sake. It was just a fake story I made on my way here to tick you off!”
“To tick me off...?” Duke looked at him uncertainly.
Zenon let out a frustrated sigh. “Honestly. You’re still so easy to tick that’s so frustrating! Listen, nobody except me know that you’re here. Not even my pops. Although if he knows, there will be a big war between Excalibell and the Demon King. Though, I don’t care much about what’s happened in the past as long as I can have some fun!”
Zenon’s grin widened. His red eyes landed on Anya. “I see even a Prince like you couldn’t resist the beauty of another maiden other than your precious Marian, huh, Duke?”
“You leave Marian out of this! She’s my one and only true love!”
“Is that so? Then I suppose you won’t mind if I take this mortal away for some fun?” Zenon smiled wickedly.
Too late. The moment Duke took a step forward toward the window, Zenon vanished in the thin air — taking Anya with him to who knows where.
“Curse you, Zenon!”
“Your Highness, he hasn’t gone off too far. We can still catch up with him.”
“Let’s hurry! You know where he is?”
“Certainly,” Aidan grinned.
THE street nightlife in the Town of Hillview was a busy and exciting and filled with colourful lights and never-ending entertainment. None of them realised five hundred meters up in the skies, there was an unfitting loud scream enough to make any ears bleed.
Anya screamed her lungs out, hoping she would catch anyone’s attention as she’s been carried on his shoulders like a sack by a blue-skinned being known as the Demon King’s son.
Unfortunately, the loud scream was deafened by the nightlife of the city.
“Let me go, you blue-skinned mutant bastard!” Anya shouted at the top of her lungs, all the while banging her fists on the Demon King’s back.
When they’d arrived in the city earlier, Zenon had landed on one of the rooftops and pulled the duct tape he had sealed on her mouth, hoping that he could charm his way into bedding her.
Boy, he regretted doing so! The moment he’d taken the duct tape off, the damn woman had the nerves to actually bit his fingers!
Him — Hell’s most handsome and fearsome son of the Demon King!
Cursing to himself, Zenon swore beneath that cute face, she had the meanest shark-like teeth.
“Stop struggling, woman! Do you want me to drop you five hundreds feet down?”
“Look, buddy. Whatever funny business that the two of you have, I want nothing to do with it!”
Tired of her constant yapping, kicking and punching, Zenon made a graceful land on one of the tall building’s rooftop. He sat down her down on the ground, not before chaining her to a big ball of a chain which he had summoned out of thin air, and handcuffed them to her right leg.
“In all of my years of bedding a woman, I’ve never felt more tired than having to deal with a woman cursing my name before we even begin!” Zenon grumbled and sighed deeply.
“To be honest, I’d never expected him to be here of all the places. It’s way out of chart from where his beloved Marian’s lives. What’s your secret, woman?”
Anya instantly looked up at the mention of Marian.
“You know Marian? You know where she lives?”
A correctly trimmed eyebrow rose at her questions and he suddenly grinned. “Why would I not know where she lives? Hmm?”
Getting close enough to invade her own personal space, Zenon whispered softly to her ears while one hand gently caressed her hair. Anya tried to turn her face, only to get it caught by his hand who firmly cupped her chin to look at him. She felt his gaze on her and it made her whole face burned that she eventually shut her eyes.
The rooftop’s staircase door burst opened by a powerful force. Duke ran straight toward them, with a sword on hand. He pointed the blade at Zenon.
“I demand you to release the girl. Now!” Duke grated.
“How did you manage to find us almost too quickly?” Zenon raised an eyebrow.
“By using what the humans in this world called ‘the transmitter detector.’ It allows someone to tell the location of something or someone,” Aidan took out a black transmitter detector device and pointed one finger at Anya.
“I’ve sneaked the transmitter inside the back of your pyjamas while you were sleeping, so that I may easily monitor you now that His Highness had removed the contract spell.”
“You...You did what?!” Anya’s cheeks instantly turned to beetroot and she looked mortified that he had the nerves to do such thing while she was asleep!
“I assured you there’s nothing for you to be embarrassed about. Your flat chest was nowhere to be seen underneath that absolutely hideous baggy night clothes.”
“W-Why you! M-My chest is not flat! THAT’S NOT EVEN THE POINT OF THIS DISCUSSION!”
Sure, her pyjamas didn’t look much — made of cotton in red and white with small geometrical patterns. But it was really comfortable enough to sleep in with. Just what the hell was his problem anyway?!
Find your happy place, Anya. Find it!
Deep laughter came from the Demon Prince caught their attention.
“I’ve never laugh so hard in my whole damn life!”
Zenon smirked at the Excalibell’s Prince, who never lowered his blade.
“You want the girl? Catch!”
Anya’s eyes grew big and widened as a powerful force shoved her toward Duke, who instantly dropped his blade and caught her in time.
When they looked back, Zenon was standing at the edge of the building.
“Consider this as a greeting to welcome you to my territory, Prince Duke of Excalibell,” Zenon snapped his finger, and out of thin air, a black stallion-carriage appeared behind him. Waving his hands to them, he winked at Anya.
“I’ll be seeing you again, sugar.”
The carriage instantly dispersed in thin air.
Aidan sighed. A couple of minutes have passed since they watched the stallion-carriage dispersed. From a distance, he would hear Duke asking Anya with great concerns filled in his voice.
“Are you okay, Miss Anya? He didn’t hurt, did he?”
Aidan turned around to check on them when he did not hear any reply from the young woman, only to catch something flying to his face which he quickly caught it.
It was the transmitter.
“I demand respect for my privacy, you jerk! I’ve given you two bastards a shelter to live in, food to eat and comfortable beds to sleep on and this is how you repay me? Unacceptable!”
“I agree with you, Miss Anya,” Duke nodded firmly. “Aidan, what you’ve done to Anya was really uncalled for even if what you were trying to do is to protect the both of us. For now on, I want you to treat her with much respect that she deserves for all the things she has done for us. You don’t have to like her, but do not go against beyond anything indecencies. Understood?”
“As you wish, Your Highness. I hereby offer you my deepest apologies, Miss Romans.”
“Apologies accepted. But that doesn’t mean I will forget so easily. If you really want to seek for my forgiveness, then prove your worth and be useful to us by helping out at the cafe.”
“Aye, whatever my lady wishes.”
A realisation suddenly hit her. Anya blinked her eyes a few times and checked on her forehead. “My fever’s gone now.”
“Really? That’s a relief!” A loud sneeze came from Anya stopped the Prince from saying anything further.
“...Though, I might get a cold now if we stay here any longer.”
“Oh, right. Aidan, could you take us back home, please?”
“Absolutely. Before that, there’s something I would like you to have as an apology for my rude behaviour earlier, Miss Romans,” Aidan reached out for her left wrist and put on a small wrist-band with a little ruby gem on top.
“I may not be fond of you, but Zenon seems to be. Moreover, he’s an unpredictable idiot who loves schemes. There’s no telling what he might do to you in order to get to us. Since I have been forbidden to use any magic or transmitter to keep you on watch, this is the best way I could come up with. Press the ruby gem if you ever encounter with Zenon again. We will come and get you as soon as we can. However, if you press the jewel for other than that, then I will have to punish you for wasting my time. Do we have an agreement, Miss Romans?”
’“Huh, whatever. I don’t need your ‘damsel-in-distress rescue’ anyway. I can rescue myself just fine.”
“Excellent!” Duke clapped his hands excitedly. “Well then, I think it’s best for us to get going. The sleeping spell Aidan which had cast on Madam Rosy’s room will fades soon.”