First of all, I calmed Amie down, by explaining to her, that the blood wasn’t mine and that I was okay.
Then, I struggled for words, because I simply had no idea, how to explain the situation.
“Adrian was here. He announced today’s visit, yesterday evening, by sending me a message.”
I hesitated shortly, before going on. “After we had lunch, we went for a short stroll through the park, because he wanted to talk to me in private.”
Being incredulous and close to tears, I took Amie’s hand.
“Amie, I have never seen him act like this! He wanted me to leave with him immediately, emphasizing that I don’t belong here and that he was my family. He claimed I belong to him and he owns me…”
Amie looked at me in horror.
“You know, that I have to stay here, until the test results of my blood-serum have arrived. So I had to give him a reason, for my further staying, here. Malachy’s proposal to teach me about my family wasn’t a sufficient enough reason for him. He had already demanded to take over the education part from Malachy, in a former telephone conversation. Therefore I told him, that I met Malachy before the debutant-ball, but didn’t know who he was at the time.”
Now Amie took my other hand, holding it tight. Her whole body was tense. Then, she gave me a nod, encouraging me to keep talking.
“I put special emphasis on me wanting to stay here, out of my own free will. That I felt more than comfortable around Malachy and that it feels right to be close to him. After that, Adrian lost it.”
Now, my voice started to tremble. Amie applied more pressure, while pressing my hands to ensure me of her help and support.
“He was shouting at me, while forcing himself on me. I resisted, but I was no match for his strength. He didn’t let go of me. When I bit into his lip, he seemed to lose it completely, as if he blew a fuse. He kissed me like a madman, fixing me to a wall and trying to rip my dress off.”
By now, tears had started to fall down my cheeks. I couldn’t suppress a sob and needed a moment to get my act together.
“Before anything worse could happen, Malachy suddenly appeared at the scene and pulled Adrian off of me. The latter tried to get near me again, but Malachy did something to him, that made him sag to the floor, holding his hands at his temples with a pained and distorted expression on his face. It was also Malachy, who brought me here and calmed me down.”
With a look, I pointed towards the bloody cloth, which was lying on the coffee table in front of us.
“He wiped Adrian’s blood off of my face. It seems, that I have bitten him harder, than I was aware of. Luckily, I got away with no more than a scare.”
Amie pulled me into an embrace. “Oh Maggie! I am so sorry! What, for heaven’s sake, is wrong with Adrian? Has he lost his mind?”
She pressed her lips together, brooding over what I have told her. Then she came to a conclusion: “Are you sure, that Adrian has put your shared past to rest? The whole situation, including your description of his behaviour, sounds to me like a huge drama of jealousy.”
I replied meekly: “Until a short time ago, I would have laughed at your theory. But now I am not so sure. I thought Adrian is happy with Soraya. I just don’t get it. My Adrian has never been violent, or even quick-tempered. He was always caring and understanding, up to the point of being a pacifist. He would have never gotten into a fight with anybody, let alone with the Aristocracy’s highest ranking leader. Think of how that behaviour might reflect on Clan Romanov and it’s consequences.”
I shook my head in disbelief. “He seems to have changed within the last two and a half years, in which we held no contact. He strikes me as a stranger.”
I snorted a little and laughed a humourless laugh.
Then I added ironically: “Isn’t it strange, that a stranger has already saved me twice from a situation, that was originally created by my own family?”
Amie sighed helplessly. “Maggie, I have no idea how to help you, or what advice to give you. But there is one thing, that I don’t understand. I have always thought of you and Darius as being allies. Why didn’t you tell him, that you were to spend a few days at James’ manor? He assured me, that he wouldn’t have kept you from staying at castle ‘Green Willow’, because he thinks highly of James. He could have even talked to Adrian…”
I frowned in confusion.
Then I pushed her off me so I was able to look into her eyes. “Wait a moment! I did that. I called Adrian on my way here, explaining my plan and informing him of my stay here, for the next couple of days. I am one hundred percent sure, that I asked him to inform Darius, as well. Obviously he didn’t follow my request. What is wrong with him?”
Amie used this moment to pick up on the topic of the two brothers. “Is it possible, that they don’t necessarily have the best relationship?”
I couldn’t argue with her about that. It was a topic in Clan Romanov, that wasn’t openly talked about.
Darius was Niklas actual son and rightful heir. He had been raised to one day be his successor, for over two hundred years, undergoing a strict and rigorous school.
Then Adrian appeared at the scene and Niklas decided to let go of Darius immediately. Even after it was clear, that Adrian is not the descendant, that Niklas had hoped for, he clung to him becoming his successor.
When I asked Darius about this topic, he replied jokingly, that he was lucky to be off the hook, now. Obviously Niklas’ only intention was to gain power for himself and his Clan within the royal ‘house of warriors’. Adrian’s blood-serum, being a well balanced mix of two different royal houses, gave him the rare opportunity to use both abilities of the bloodlines, which made him stronger than Darius.
Yes, that’s how Niklas ticked. He doesn’t linger over sentimentalities. Even if Darius wanted to make me believe, that he didn’t care about the power-play with his stepbrother, I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was more to it.
By now, I regretted having such a one-sided perspective on this topic: Mostly Adrian’s, because I was blinded by love.
I turned to my friend again: “You are not completely wrong about that. Our dearest Daddy Niklas is at fault for this circumstance. You should ask Darius directly. He is able to explain the situation to you better than I am.”
Now, I changed the topic. We had talked enough about betrayal and deception for one day.
I wanted to have some things explained by Amie, as well. “Speaking of Darius. What exactly is this between you two? I know and love Darius dearly, but he isn’t exactly the boyfriend material, that I would wish for my best friend to have. He loves women – without exception, but he doesn’t commit to them. You, on the other hand, are a hopeless romantic, who is a true believer of a happy ever after. You’re like a sister to me. I don’t want him to hurt your feelings, or play with them.”
Amie blushed a little.
“I know that you warned me of Darius, but I couldn’t and didn’t want to resist him. I feel save with him and I am happy. I like his flirtatiousness and I certainly don’t expect him to marry me, but once again: I am happy.”
I sighed with resignation. “Amie, you’re a grown up and it is not my intention to dictate, how you live your life. If you think that this decision is right for you, then you should go through with it. But I want you to understand, that if this relationship goes downwards, I am biased while being caught between two stools…”
Amie wanted to protest, but I shook my head and moved on with my speech.
“But this is not about me. If you really believe, that he makes you happy, then you have my blessing. But rest assured, that I will talk to Darius about this topic, as well.”
I added jokingly: “And if he dares to break your heart, I will have him being taken out of Niklas’ will, even if I have to do it myself.”
Then we both had to laugh. I was so glad, to have Amie by my side. Talking to her felt good and made me relax. I even forgot about all the tension from today’s events.
A little sad, Amie said that today’s planned girl-wellness-date had to be cancelled.
It was already late afternoon. Amie had been late, when she arrived here. I hadn’t noticed the delay, because of the drama caused by Adrian.
Now, she had to leave soon. Her shift at the Bar ‘Raven’ started at 7 p.m. and she had a thirty minute drive, back to our apartment ahead of her.
I made her a suggestion: “Shall we postpone our wellness-day to tomorrow? I have time.”
Amie hesitated for a moment. “I would love to, but I have a date with Darius planned, already.”
“No problem! Bring him with you, but under two conditions:”
Amie lifted one brow, while crossing her arms over her chest provokingly.
“First: Darius has to put up with several SPA treatments and second: I plead with you, to keep the making out, in front of me to a total minimum. I don’t want to witness something like that from my brother…”
I grimaced in disgust.
Amie lost her composure and burst into boisterous laughter. “You already had me with the SPA treatment. Darius with cucumber slices on his eyes is a view, that I can draw on for the rest of my life… and we will keep our ‘making-out’ in check as well.”
We laughed out loud and cackled like chickens.
“Oh, before I forget…”
Amie went to her bag and took two bikinis out of it, which she threw nonchalantly in my lap. A black, little covering G-String bikini and one with Leopard print.
I replied indignantly: “What a great selection! Are you kidding me? It is clear, which one I am supposed to wear, by your opinion. You do know me well enough to know, that a G-String is not something I would wear, if my life depended on it...”
Amie grinned at me mischievously. “Maybe… But I need to leave now, to be able to freshen up a bit, before I start my shift.”
She took her bag and put it over her shoulder.
“Will you accompany me to the MINI? I’ll probably not be able to find my way out of this mansion, without you. And there is something else: You really should freshen up and put on different cloths. This will make you feel much better.”
She added in a sad tone: “A shame, we didn’t have enough time, for you to show me around the castle. I am deeply impressed by all this splendour, but also kind of intimidated…”
“Why not”, she replied.
Then I stood up and accompanied her to the parking space.
On our way there, we enjoyed the beauty of the Regent’s house in silence.
We hugged ourselves goodbye, before she got into the MINI.
While embracing, she said to me with a mischievous smile, at the corners of her lips: “Ask James, if he likes to swim some laps with us in the pool, as well. I bet he can not resist, when you mention your leopard printed bikini…”
“Amie!” I shouted out in embarrassment and blushed, again.
She was still laughing, when she got into the car. Then she drove past me, winking goodbye in bemusement.
When I couldn’t see the backlights of the MINI anymore, I turned around and went back to my rooms.
Amie was right. I had to get out of these clothes.
I went directly into the bathroom and got into the shower.
When I came out, freshly cleaned, my gaze fell on the yellow dress. I liked it very much, but after today, I will never put it on again. It would only be a constant reminder of that terrible incident with Adrian.
The moment I towelled myself off and was wearing fresh clothes, I felt much better in my skin. While I blew-dry my hair, I thought about Malachy and Amie’s crazy proposal to ask him out.
Indeed, I decided to go to him. I wanted to thank him. Which I should have done already, but somehow my manners got lost within this big mess.
I went into the living room, took the telephone, dialled the direct line of the service area and asked for Andre.
After a short while, he picked up the receiver: “Lady Romanov, how can I be of assistance to you?”
“Andre, would you please bring me to Sir Stuart? I have something important to tell him.”
“Of course, Lady Romanov. I will be on my way, immediately.”
After these words, I put the speaker back on the hook.
I told myself, that it was my duty and decency, which led me to Malachy. Still, my heart started to beat faster.