Regent's Blood - Aristocracy (Book 1) COMPLETED

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Chapter 25

The ball ended for Maggie shortly after 3 a.m. Everyone present of Clan Romanov had to stay at the festivity, as long as James wanted to stay, in order to pay him respect. James was very persistent.

He was even able to let everybody stay at the table in silent hostility for more than one hour, after the last dance was over.

Only Darius, with his funny attitude and even more funny anecdotes, made the situation easier to bear.

As soon as Amie and I had arrived at our apartment, Amie started her verbal fireworks.

“Maggie, sweet heavens! What kind of crazy ball was this?” Then she giggled uncontrollably. Unlike me, nobody had denied her the joy of consuming champagne.

“And you? You decide to leave the party with our ruler to who knows - maybe a nice hotel room- for a little encounter… Then comes this Daina person, who would have liked nothing more than to sit herself on Darius’ lap and finally Niklas’ stupid grin. He seemed unable to get rid of it for the whole evening… I am completely overloaded with too much impressions.

She laughed so hard, that she had to hold her hurting belly. Then she let herself fall backwards onto the sofa. I placed myself next to her, being not as enthusiastic as she was and added: “Yeah, what a crazy ball! I will probably remember this event for the rest of my life…”

Amie slowly calmed herself. “Sorry, Maggie! My nerves play tricks on me. I always knew, that these social events could be exciting and interesting, but today’s event was more like riding a roller-coaster in an infinite loop.” She raised from the sofa, swaying lightly. “I am going to fetch us a glass of water, so we can clear our heads. After that, I want to know everything about you and James, and everything that happened today, without exception. This means the juicy stuff as well. Don’t even think of falling asleep!”

Even if I were close to collapsing out of exhaustion, I wouldn’t be able to lay myself down. I had to be ready for being picked up and being driven to Malachy’s manor in less than five hours, which meant I still had to pack and prepare to present myself neat and tidy. There was simply no time to rest.

Amie came back. In wise foresight, she had added a bag of chips to the bottle of water and the two glasses. She opened the bag and loaded her mouth with a handful of chips, even before she sat down. “Sorry! You know, champagne always makes me get cravings.”

I had to laugh about Amie. She was so wonderfully natural and normal. If I wanted to keep my mental sanity throughout the following weeks, I needed her urgently as my friend at my side. I hoped, that Amie saw this the same way…

“You can start, now. I am listening”, she replied, while chewing. “I’m dying of curiosity! What the hell is it with James Stuart? Honestly spoken, I do have an assumption… what should I say: jaw-dropping handsome with long, blonde hair, sex god… do I need to make more suggestions?”

She gestured wildly with her hands. “Come on, Maggie! Don’t torture me! Is James your Malachy?”

I grinned somewhat embarrassed, before answering: “Unfortunately yes! And If I had made that connection earlier myself, probably none of us would have been at the debutant-ball.”

Unsure where to start with my story, I put my chin on my hand for support, using that time to collect my thoughts. Amie became serious.

She sat up straight and asked: “Maggie, what happened?”

I told her, that I had already met James a.k.a. Malachy at the rooftop greenhouse of the ‘Estate Hotel’, before the debutant-ball had started. I was there to calm my nerves and met him by accident. I also mentioned that our second encounter was very positive, at least up until the point where my maternal lineage had been revealed.

“Amie, James is not like Malachy. Okay, I must admit: That sounds very confusing… To get to the point: There was no ‘hanky-panky’ anywhere in the hotel, after we left the ballroom. James is extremely calculating and extremely angry at me. He thinks that I am a fraud and insists on me taking a new blood-serum test. He also expects of me to stay at his manor, until the test results have arrived. He wants to control me.”

Amie looked at me indignantly. “But how will he do that, against your will? You are mature! Or does he hold something against you?” She looked at me expectantly.

I sighed deeply, before answering her: “There might be a slight possibility, that I have told him about the fact, that I didn’t know who I was either, before Niklas revealed my true identity. And while I was at it, I might have mentioned as well, that Daddy Niklas threatened me with consequences for Adrian and Darius, if I wouldn’t play along with his plan.”

Amie looked horrified. “Have you gone mental? I know, that you wear your heart on your sleeve, but what for Christ’s sake made you share compromising information with our ruler? Who is mad at you, on top of that?”

“Amie, I am in the middle of a giant power play and nobody seems to be honest with me. I know from experience, that I can’t trust my father. He showed me as much with his latest move. Yesterday, when I was in a very bad situation and almost lost it, James was protecting me, for whatever reason. He would have had any opportunity to humiliate me, but he didn’t. It was a brave thing to do for me, maybe even stupid. But I had to choose a side and I chose one: mine.”

I paused for a moment. “I have to agree with James about one thing: I only saw the vial, containing my blood serum, but never the corresponding pedigree. What if my whole lineage is a big lie, made up by Niklas? Maybe the blood serum that we saw, wasn’t actually mine. I trust in him being capable of doing that.”

Amie agreed. She also believed that he was capable of making such a move.

I went on: “Especially my distrust towards Niklas, led me to agree to James demand. This way my real origin can be discovered, once and for all. On top of that, when I stay at James’ manor, I am out of Niklas’ direct influence.”

Amie interrupted me by raising her index finger. “I see, that you thought this all trough. But there is one thing, that you haven’t considered, yet. What if you really are a ‘Fleur de Lys’? If this unexpected circumstance would become true, then you are in danger. In my opinion, it is already dangerous enough to claim to be a part of this clan.”

I looked at Amie in astonishment. “What makes you think that? Mal… I meant James told me the same, but I thought it was a strategic move to scare me into taking his proposal and to move into his manor, until the test results have arrived.”

Now Amie’s face was getting even more serious. “I am afraid not. I am not sure what exactly had happened back then. Darius mentioned that the end of Clan Fleur de Lys was not by accident, but by a successful murder plot. If this is true, the ones involved will not be happy, that there is still somebody alive and breathing, who belongs to this clan.”

Now I felt a little queasy. What had I gotten myself into? “Considering this new information, it is good, that I will be picked up by James’ Chauffeur in less than four hours, to spend the next days at his house.”

Amie, whose jaw had dropped by my announcement, almost let the chips fell out of her mouth. She mumbled: “Are you sure, that he really wants to protect you and that this is not a trap?”

I shrugged. “There is only one possibility to find out and I already agreed. We will see what happens. Will you come visit me? I have a bad feeling about staying in this society all by myself. My opinion is, that I will have to run a lot of gantlets. And as usual, I am not prepared for this new situation.”

At that moment I could have cried. But I decided otherwise and replied firmly: “Amie, it is high time, that I took the world of the Aristocracy more serious, so I will not be a naïve plaything anymore.”

Amie came closer to me and put her arms around me. “Of course I will visit you! You should know that I am always there for you!” Then she stroked my back soothingly. “And now I am going to help you pack your things.”

She couldn’t refrain from teasing me: “Otherwise you will forget to pack your sexy lingerie, which would be horrible, considering that you stay under the same roof with James for several nights.”

She giggled amused.

“Okay”, I interrupted her. “I can see, that you have spent too much time with Darius and that he seems to rub off on you. We should talk about this. You do know, that I love you like a sister, but…”

I couldn’t finish the sentence. Amie had already stood up from the sofa, pulling me along into the direction of my room. “Another time, Maggie. Right now we have to pack your things.”

The next morning shortly before 9a.m., the bell of the apartment rang. A perfectly dressed chauffeur helped me, to put my three suitcases into the trunk of the limousine. I personally thought, that Amie made me pack too many clothes. But once Amie had set her mind on something, there was no stopping her.

Now, that I was sitting in the back of the limousine all by myself and having already passed Atonia’s centre, I was curious where I was to spend the next days. I spend the last hours before I had been picked up, trying in vain to find information about James Stuart’s estate. I wasn’t even able to find out, where it was. Obviously this information couldn’t be obtained on the internet.

I was annoyed at myself, for forgetting to ask the chauffeur how long our drive would take. If we were to drive for two hours, I would have loved spending this time to catch up on sleep. I was so incredibly tired…

Then, I just admired the landscape, letting myself sink deeper into the comfortable leather seat. My thoughts wandered towards yesterday. The extent of yesterday’s events were still incomprehensible to me. The events came thick and fast and trying to remember all of it, led to a dull pain in my head.

Suddenly I noticed that I didn’t inform Adrian or Darius about me, staying at James’ manor for the next couple of days. How could I be so stupid to forget sharing such important information? Immediately I took my mobile out of my purse and dialled Adrian’s number.

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