“There’s someone else in the room,”
Evelyn whirled around and noted Ivory slipping through the partition.
“Crap,” Evelyn whispered.
Ivory’s honey eyes widened in alarm, mouth agape as she emerged and the situation settled upon her. She did not move, just stood a good distance away from the couple.
“Ivory, what are you doing here?” Evelyn asked, crossing her arms. She was still annoyed at Everest and watching Ivory’s eyes suspiciously switch between Everest and her wasn’t the cherry on top of her already destroyed cake. Ivory must’ve heard their argument and no doubt saw how close their proximity was.
Ivory cleared her throat awkwardly, but vaguely said, “I needed a way in,”
At her response, Evelyn hastily dropped her arms and sighed, rubbing her forehead with her hands in vexation. All the while, Everest watched her quietly.
“Why did you need a way in?” She interrogated. Evelyn wasn’t used to Ivory sneaking in like that, she usually came in from the bedroom door where she was announced. Evelyn knew there was something she was hiding.
“Well,” Ivory started once more, looking nervous as she chuckled, “I was out?”
Right at the moment, someone else came through the hidden door. “Ivory, you forgot someth-” The raspy masculine voice was cut off as he inspected the scene as well. The man was dressed in the guard uniform, with his brown buzzed haircut and green eyes. He froze before bowing at Evelyn.
Evelyn licked her lips and raised an eyebrow, “Who’s this?”
Ivory sighed, knowing she had to answer. “This is Jacob.”
Jacob merely stood there, observing the ground he stood on. The poor guard felt intimidated under Evelyn’s heavy gaze.
Ivory then turned to Jacob, asked him what she forgot but Jacob only blushed, the tips of his ears turning crimson. He shook his head and was about to excuse himself and sneak out when Everest stopped him.
“Wait,” He called out. Jacob stopped his movements and turned to face him. “What did she forget?” He asked, his voice stern and demanding.
Ivory watched as Jacob shifted uncomfortably and she felt guilty she put him in such a position. “He doesn’t have to answer you,” She told Everest coldly, unappreciative of his tone. Everest wasn’t the Prince here, and he held no authority over Jacob, although Evelyn did.
“Answer his question Jacob,” She told the man, not even waiting for Ivory to complete her speech.
Ivory turned to Evelyn, shocked she decided to take Everest’s side. She opened her mouth to speak but shut it once she caught sight of Evelyn’s look. Evelyn was unappreciative of Ivory’s tone just like she was of Everest’s and frankly, Ivory had no right to disrespect him because she had just disrespected both his and Evelyn’s privacy. Did she think Evelyn wasn’t in the room and decided she could use the opportunity to sneak in?
Jacob swallowed, his Adam’s apple bobbing, “She forgot a kiss.” His voice was barely audible, but no doubt everyone heard him.
Ivory blushed rosy from his comment and hid the smile she wore. Evelyn was rather confused. She didn’t know when or how the chemistry between the two sparked and she couldn’t help but feel betrayed. She began questioning Ivory’s honesty. She hid something so serious from her and Evelyn didn’t appreciate it. As well as feeling betrayed and lied to, she also felt sorry. She knew Ivory was about to feel the same thing once she began asking her own questions. She watched Ivory’s smile quietly, both angry at her and happy for her.
She nodded subtly, stepped forward and shook Jacob’s hand. “I’m Evelyn,”
“Jacob,” He spoke, shaking her hand.
The room fell quiet, everyone wrapped up in their thoughts. Everest had noticed the rather dismal expression on Evelyn’s face and slowly reached out to grab her hand. His unexpected touch startled Evelyn but nonetheless, she interlocked their fingers and sent him a lopsided smile.
“Why is Prince Everest here?” Ivory’s voice snapped the two out of their eye contact.
Evelyn’s ocean-grass eyes turned to face Ivory. She watched her look at her in seriousness, expecting an answer.
“Jacob, you may leave,” She told Jacob instead, her eyes still on Ivory. Without a word, Jacob finally relieved himself from the awkward environment. Evelyn felt she owed Ivory an explanation, just like she did. As Evelyn braced herself, she could think of countless other ways she could’ve told Ivory.
Once he was out of sight, Evelyn began, “We were talking,” She told Ivory. Her answer simple and well, obvious. She was stalling because she had no idea what to do, or more precisely, how to explain.
“About what?” Ivory basically demanded, eyeing them both. Ivory, like Evelyn, knew she was hiding something. Ivory felt betrayed, but she sympathised with Evelyn because she knew Evelyn felt the same way.
The betrayal stung them both deep, and they both looked at each other as if they were complete strangers.
“She doesn’t have to answer you,” Everest repeated what Ivory said earlier, showing her that despite their closeness, Evelyn was still the Princess and she held authority. Yes, they were both misusing authority, but Everest did not appreciate Ivory putting Evelyn in that position.
In reality, the four were the exact same. Both couples hiding from the other, trying to protect their lovers.
“It’s okay Everest,” Evelyn choked out, thanking him with her eyes before walking up to Ivory and grabbing her arm. She quickly spared a glance at Everest and said, “Wait here please.”
She lead Ivory to her closet and shut the door. As she was closing it though, she watched as Everest nodded at her softly, as if giving her permission to share the secret as well as moral support.
“What’s the real reason he’s here Evelyn?” Ivory questioned, not leaving any time to be wasted.
“I told you, we were talking.” Evelyn breathed in sharply, running her hand through her hair. “He showed up and wanted to speak with me so I let him.”
Ivory bit her lip in anticipation of the answer to her next question. “He shouldn’t do that and you know it Evelyn, and neither should you. He’s here on business or whatever, but your communication should be formal and from what I saw when I got here, it did not look formal to me. It looked questionable like you knew each other so well, you fought over your relationship. So, Evelyn, how well do you know him?”
Evelyn clenched her jaw at Ivory’s speech and refused to meet her eyes. “I will tell you everything but you should know, I am not a bad person. I may have betrayed my kingdom by falling in love with him, but it’s not like I did it intentionally. It just happened and I tried my very best to avoid it but it didn’t work.” She watched Ivory’s eyes widen, and then a rather disappointed expression sneak up her face.
Evelyn’s heart shook, she expected this reaction and that was why she didn’t tell Ivory earlier.
“Why?” Ivory choked out in distaste.
“He was the only who saw me for who I really am. He appreciated my efforts to better this stupid world even though he didn’t think it was worth saving, everyone else just gave me more expectations. He was the only one who truly loved me, and I’m starting to think he’s the only one that does because you Ivory, lied to me as much as I lied to you.” Evelyn was back in hysteria, her vision was prickled and her hands were violently shaking.
Despite her comment hurting Ivory’s feeling, it was the truth she promised to tell.
“That’s not true Evelyn....” Ivory was caught, not knowing what to say or think. “Is he forcing you into this? Is this his plan to take over this kingdom?”
Ivory just couldn’t wrap her head around the new fact that Evelyn was in love with Everest, the rival. She tried to think of a reasonable explanation and that was what she came up with. She was jumping to conclusions, and Evelyn did not appreciate it.
“What? No!” Evelyn yelled, shutting her eyes in frustration. She just wanted Ivory to understand, why was that so hard?
“You don’t know him to judge him!” She started, “He’s been good to me, and after all that, I ended it. I was the one who broke his heart and then he broke mine,” Her voice shattered, “So now he’s here, trying to mend this relationship. I think it stands a chance, but our friendship doesn’t. Because I know I can’t stand you looking at me like that anymore.” She quickly wiped away the stray tear that rolled down her cheek and sniffled lightly.
“Evelyn,” Ivory started, approaching her, “He’s the son of the man who ruined your father. Phoenix almost destroyed him. Do you really think what you feel for Everest is truly reciprocated and not a ploy? He is his father’s son.” She held her shoulders as she watched her response expectantly. Ivory was trying to knock some sense into Evelyn as if by doing so she’ll magically stop loving Everest.
Her words pained Evelyn. She knew Ivory was wrong, but the knowledge was not sufficient to stop herself from being hurt. A confused countenance crossed Evelyn’s face and she slowly met Ivory’s eyes.
“You speak as though you know what Phoenix did,” Evelyn muttered quietly, realising the melancholic truth. Ivory knew.
Before Ivory could say anything else, Evelyn spoke out. “You know, don’t you?”
Ivory just bit her lip and hugged herself protectively. Her silence was answer enough for Evelyn.
Evelyn felt like someone was squeezing her heart, the pain too much and too sharp. Her lips quivered in horror as she said, “How long have you known?”
Ivory swallowed tightly before answering, “A few months.”
At her words, Evelyn released the breath she was holding and a sob soon followed. “All this time,” She uttered, her voice broken, “and you didn’t think to tell me?”
“I couldn’t. I was trusted to keep shut, despite you being my best friend.” That was the last thing Ivory said before she walked out of the room. She knew Evelyn needed space.
Evelyn couldn’t blame Ivory for long. Yes, she kept a huge secret and information Evelyn always wanted to know away from her but she could only blame her parents. They never trusted her. The betrayal struck her to her core, and she finalised her opinion of her parents. She hated them. They had caused her so much anguish and torment, but they were still her parents and Evelyn could not help but maintain a small ounce of respect.
She sobbed uncontrollably as she slumped against one of the wardrobes, holding her head in her hands.
“Evelyn,” Everest muttered as he walked in, noticing her broken state sprawled across the floor. He slowly lowered himself next to her and held her as cried and split.
Evelyn slowly opened her eyes and acknowledged her surroundings. She recognised her bedroom and her coloured walls. She sat up on her bed, glanced around the room for a sign of Everest but was met with silence.
She started recalling the events that happened, from Everest showing up to Ivory and Jacob. She recalled her parents’ betrayal and Everest holding her on the floor of her walk-in closet as she sobbed and shook in agony. She remembered Everest’s hand wrapped around her body as he whispered soothing words into her ear.
She remembered the look on Ivory’s face, the disappointment and disgust she showed her. Evelyn still couldn’t believe it, she lost her only ally in this kingdom. Now all she had was Everest, and she hoped he’d be enough.
“Over the glowing hill, you will conquer," He had whispered into her ear, as he combed through her brown hair with his hand.
“Close your eyes and forget.” He repeated, urging her to go to sleep. She nodded meekly in his arms and closed her eyes. She breathed in sharply, trying to soothe the sobs as they came out. She lay there for minutes, shaking and breathing until she went to sleep.
Now, she lay on her bed. She felt refreshed, like a load holding her down has been lifted. She felt as if she bounced back up like a spring after being released. She breathed in relief and glanced at her clock up on the wall. 04:30 it read.
She got up and started to get ready for dinner. She dressed simply, in a blue dress that flowed behind her, with blue butterflies eloquently decorating the tail. The front was simple, the chest hugging her figure, outlining her chest appropriately with its tight corset. It flowed out from the waist.
She quickly slipped on her heels as a knock sounded and Ivory was announced.
“Princess Evelyn,” She greeted.
“Ivory,” Evelyn replied, not sparing Ivory a glance. She exited the room, cutting Ivory’s attempt at explaining herself. She was frankly still upset at Ivory.
“Your mother wants to see you before dinner. She’s in the throne room.” Ivory told Evelyn, her voice monotone as she followed Evelyn.
Evelyn didn’t reply, only started making her way towards the room.
“Mother,” Evelyn called out as she entered, watching as Erika stepped away from the guard she was speaking with and turned to face her daughter.
“Evalina!” Erika replied, scanning her eyes up and down her daughter’s figure. “Maybe something a little more exposing might seal the deal with Braxton, don’t you think?” She told her, smirking slightly.
Evelyn wanted to roll her eyes at her mother, that was the way Queen Erika thought. Show some skin, and you’ll be the queen. It worked for her, so why not her daughter?
“Mother,” Evelyn deadpanned.
“Just kidding!” Her mother giggled, “We wouldn’t want anyone bad getting the wrong idea, now do we?”
Evelyn was never close to her mother. She was raised by nannies, and always found herself unattached to her parents. She rarely saw them as a child and they only wanted to play an active role in her life at the age of sixteen, when she was about to be prepared for ruling.
Evelyn nodded silently, “Where’s Father?” She asked, glancing around for the sign of the man she desperately wanted acceptance from and the man who did not trust her.
“He’s on his way.” Erika watched as Evelyn’s face dropped a little, “but never mind that, why don’t we talk about something more exciting.” She spoke, as she begun walking out of the throne room and towards the dining room. Evelyn followed.
“What did you discuss with Prince Braxton this morning?” Erika started, curious. She smiled at the Royals that passed by, and they smiled back.
Evelyn tucked in her chin in a nod, and said, “Mostly the past. He asked me about the reason behind Father’s deep hatred for the Kingdom of the Orb.”
Erika raised her eyebrow at Evelyn, “How did you reply?” Her tone was harsh, prompting Evelyn to spill what she said. If she’d told him the truth, she would be punished, harshly. She may be the princess, but Erika was the queen.
Evelyn chuckled under her breath, “I told him what I knew.” Erika stopped and faced Evelyn, urging her to continue. “Mother, why does Father carry such distaste for the Orb?”
Erika swallowed, turning her head as to not look into Evelyn’s strong gaze. “Ask your father,” She started, facing her again, “if you have the courage.” Erika was annoyed and she gave her daughter a stern look.
Evelyn held her mother’s gaze, before nodding subtly. She made a move to walk away but Erika caught her arm, she leaned into to her ears and said, “Don’t ever ask me again or else.”
Evelyn swallowed in annoyance, pulled her arm away and entered the dining room.