"Father I am not ready for this and you need me here." I plead even as he sits on his throne. Having me meet him here rather than a lounge or over dinner.
"Don't be silly Isabella. You will have gone anyway but now it is a priority. You will return home in two months. Your coronation soon to follow and a wedding in the planning." My father King Elijah of spain. He knows he doesn't have long left in this world. Some of his precious ideas have caused uprisings against him. My father has black hair with streaks of gray, his eyes a dark shade of brown that from this distance look nearly black. His once permanently tanned skin is lacking in its usual colour and paler.
I bow my head politely accepting his words. This isn't a once upon a time story. This is of a princess, me. Who has had 12 attempted kidnappings on her, two successful. I never met my mother. I didn't even have the chance to latch onto her breasts before, doctors cut us free from one another and rushed to care for her. My father loved my mother from what I've heard. Not that the photos decorating the halls show it but i have been told. I turn lifting my silk dress and walk from the hall my royal guard Finn follows close behind. If I travel I have six guards, two or four on duty the others resting.
I manage to walk the hall and up the stairs with poise, elegance, the perfect princess. I open the door to my room and leave it open as I move into the open sitting area of my chambers.
"Bella." Finn says as he closes the door. I turn and throw my arms around his middle. He chuckles, placing his around my shoulders. "You knew you were going to be going to Italy. They are happy to house you whilst Spain …"
"Stops hating my father? We both know that day is coming soon but not until he has passed away. Then it all falls to me." I sound awful being able to speak of my father dying. He has been ill for some time. Given six months now to live. He will live longer. My father is stubborn, a true ruler. That is why our people have turned against him. Half call for me to reign and him to step down. The others want to burn us down. The last two royals of Spain.
Royals rule. Governments were once supportive to the royal families but that was a long time ago. The royals decided against governments apart from a few areas around the world. That is when the royals are killed and the people overtake. My home. Spain is so beautiful, the people in it are so passionate but my father doesn't see it. Or doesn't want to. I go to surrounding villages and towns. Much to Finn's dislike but he has rescued me twice before and stopped all other attempts. I trust him with my life but I cannot rule as my father has. I want to be a part of the people, I want to see how they live, not hear about it. I want to help.
"Come Bella. Two months meeting the young princes of Italy. Many will come. I am sure Queen Corrina will have many balls just imagine all of the gowns. I hear your designers are working around the clock already." I look up at Finn.
He is so tall. It is like looking over a mountain. He is six foot six, with a shiny bald head. I remember when he first became my royal guard I was young around five years, no older than six. Terrified by his height and size. The man is built like a house. A brick wall does not describe the width of his shoulders, or the size of his forearms. Finn had bent down. Not onto one knee but completely over bowing as though in prayer on a mat. I smile even now at the memory. He had drawn a smiley face on his head in black pen. It took a week for it to be completely removed but I loved him from that moment on. His warm brown eyes have a way of reassuring me at any moment that I am capable. He would walk with me hand in hand right until the moment he would whisper 'The people love you, but be who you love.' When he had first started saying it I was still too young to really understand. Now I do. He wants me to be who I want, within reason of course of being a princess but Finn believes me perfect. He thinks i can do anything.
"You are right. I may as well make sure I have another dress for the occasion." I smile and Finn places a gentle kiss on my head. Right in the centre of my hair that is left to run free. "Be ready for a lot of advice giving Finn."
"There will be no need. You can see the princes from six foot apart." He sounds strict in his tone as he says it. Just like a father would protect his daughter against men. Princes are not just men but those that have everything. They get whatever they want and from what I have seen at a few balls over my eighteen years they are very sure of themselves. I have met the Italian princes. Tall, dark and handsome I remember that much but both were bashful and I was much younger than them.
"Well i am going to have to dance with them." I smile stepping away and feeling better again. Sometimes I feel like Finn is my father. The King is just that, my king. I didn't wish to be a princess but I guess it is what everyone does. Those with straight hair wish for curly hair. Those with blue eyes admiring the brown eyes of another. A princess wishing to be a common person, a nobody, who can blend in and does as they please. I am rebellious in my own way but always cautious. I would never have Finn worried but I like to have freedom.
"So Matteo what girl was it you were busy with last weekend?" I ask him whilst smiling as he dismounts his horse.
"The sister to the one you were busy with the weekend before that brother." Matteo laughs.
The stable boys take the reins of our horses and lead them away from us. We walk close to one another and towards the palace.
"So princess Isabella is due this evening. Do you remember her?" Matteo asks. A cheeky glint in his eyes.
"I remember a tiny, skinny girl with barely adult teeth and a wild mess of frizzy dark brown curls. She sat like a true lady."
"That she did. Until she snuck away and the guards and everyone were on high alert. Do you remember we found the stubborn girl in the stables, after we had used the opportunity to get away ourselves." Matteo speaks almost fondly. "It was brave."
"It was foolish. She is a princess not a servant. I wonder if she has realised that yet." I wonder. Papers write about the war between King Elijah and his people, but of princess Isabella. The country rejoices in her behaviour. The way she is pictured with the people. Always in too much of a crowd to get a full photo. So it is either from behind or from the side. Never giving much away. Other than the once frizzy curls are now perfect ringlets roaming down her back.
"My sons." My mother says standing from the bench in the gardens. Her floral heavy material gown falling to her ankles. Her dark blonde curls neatly piled on her head. "Was it a good ride this morning?" She smiles as she walks towards us. The perfect queen, the perfect smile I should have better anticipated.
"Very good mum." Matteo inclines his head kissing both of her cheeks. I follow suit and then just as quickly she reaches up grasping both of our ears.
"Mum." We both call out in unison as she gives it a tug.
"You both know that Princess Isabella is arriving today and yet you smell of horse. Dirty men now instead of boys." She tuts, flicking her tongue against the roof of her mouth. "The balls that follow in the next two months may find you a bride and yet here we are with two stinking princes."
I laugh which earns me another tug on my ear. A sharp pain shoots through. I mutter an apology as she finally lets us both go and stands before us.
"Please be considerate that this princess has had a difficult time in her short life. She has not had what you both have. No siblings to grow up with, no mother to pull an ear and drag them back into line as we welcome others. She has stood as a queen in waiting since her birth. Be welcoming to her and make sure she feels it." Mother says with authority before we both incline our heads. "O also. Dress smartly. You'll want to make a good impression." Her smile is mischievous like she knows something we don't. With a shift of skirts she is gone again.
"Well then let's go get washed up shall we brother. It seems we are not getting out of standing perfectly in line to welcome the little princess."
So as good Princes that we are we take our merry time. Showering, dressing and drinking our fill enough to make this boring evening that bit more exciting. When finally we walk outside to the setting sun and stand in line. Mother looks around noticing dad is still absent. My father walked, slightly hurrying along as he was late. My mother turned and gave him a glare.
"The car has not yet pulled up." He says, she turns back tilting her chin and he looks round her to give us both a smile. Mouthing 'women'. We both laugh as mum turns and he kisses her cheek muttering words of endearment into her ear.
King Caleb. My father. He is a brilliant ruler and an even better father. Brunette hair matching mine and my brothers, brown eyes and his tall height though he lacks the muscle me and Matteo have now.
We stand straight, hands behind our back. I roll my eyes as the music plays. Three cars pulling up, I'm sure each are bullet proof. All so very formal. A large beast of a man climbs out of the blacked out window limousine. I am surprised that he fits in the limo and mind that the suspencion is still intact. Another five guards climb out from the two blacked out range rovers sitting in front and behind the limo. I find myself holding my breath. The large bald beast of a man placed his hand into the limousine. A small tanned hand takes it. Her fingers dainty, slender then the perfect manicured fingernails.
As she steps out of the car I am taken back. I almost falter in my step to stay standing still. Her dark brown curls once frizzy and out of control. More than just ringlets but a mass of perfect silky looking hair. The top half pulled away from her heart shaped face, some falling free over her delicate shoulders. Her cheekbones are tight and her lips round almost perfectly symmetrical so wide and plump. Then her eyes look up as her feet finally reach solid Italian ground. I feel like we should have guards, it's an invasion I'm just not sure which type yet. How did I not notice when she was younger those blue eyes. Her skin golden with tan, her dark hair and those pale blue eyes scattered with long thick dark lashes, they stand out. She is still skinny, no slender, once skinny now has mature curves even though slight they are there. Her breasts are just noticeable behind the material. My palms itch with the urge to test how they fit in my hand, would they fill them? Be firm or soft like her lips look? I imagine her ass has a good roundness but her position stops my eyes exploring that. She is still small but not for the average person at five foot six. Just against me and Matteo who are six one and six two.
I step forwards bowing over at the exact same time my brother does. Even as I am bent forwards I turn, meeting his eye. I have competed with my brother before, never on anything serious. Always a joke. Always friendly but this is a Princess. A soon to be queen. It is our mother, the queen who speaks first.
"Princess Isabella, it has been too long. I hope you remember us fondly." She steps forward taking Isabella's hands and both me and Matteo rise watching them.
"I do. Thank you for inviting me here. Giving me a safe haven before my coronation." Her voice is soft, polite, perfect... Since when has her coronation been dated? I had not heard of this.
I have a feeling this princess, soon to be queen, is about to throw everything on its head. Including me and my brother. Not that i am surprised as she is beautiful and i have seen many women in every shape and size. None capable of knocking me on my ass with one glimpse of pale blue eyes. Nor were they able to match what i have. Unlike her. She is a queen without a king. She has standing of her own.
Then she looks at me, meets my eye and then to my brother her beautiful face never giving a reaction. Giving nothing away I smile ready for the challenge.