I gasped at the next tight pull of the laces of my black silk dress that stopped past my ankles. Another day of prepping. My chambermaids worked together in sync to make me look perfect and in all honesty, it was exasperating. One in my hair, two working on my dress and slippers, and the other constantly spraying woody perfume.
This was an everyday routine and I was getting sick of it. Expected of me to dress like a princess every day and I’m always being prepped for my future.
I am the eldest daughter of King Zaheer and Queen Ciene of our home realm Beheira.
I will be queen one day and I had a responsibility to put my lessons to use. Even though I don’t want to be a queen.
“There you go, princess,” One of the chambermaids said, breaking me away from my thoughts. They all pulled apart and bowed down before leaving my chambers.
I sighed and walked over to my standing glass mirror. I stared at my reflection and took note that my white hair was down today. The little flames that burned at the end of my strands glowed as usual and my horns jeweled with gold. I wore my pendant that represented the royal family. My black dress was stoned with familiar jewels as well as my slippers.
Hmph. Slightly elegant for a lesson today but I can only assume that I was learning something new today. A firm knock on my doors caught my attention before it opened revealing a messenger servant. Billy, was his name if I ken.
Though it was found berating to learn all of your servants’ names, I disagreed with it. I don’t know everyone but I know the usual. Billy came to a stop in front of me and got on his knees. “A message from her majesty, the Queen.” he held out a sealed piece of folded paper.
I accepted it. “Thank you, Billy,”
He took his leave and I opened the seal and read the note. My mother requested me in the ballroom. I reread the sentence with a small frown. Now I knew something wasn’t quite right. My mother never had our meetings in the ballroom. She found it unladylike to speak in such an open area.
I placed the note down and made my way to the doors. They opened immediately and I walked in the direction of the ballroom and one of my guards accompanied me on my trail. It took only moments to make it to the ballroom and there stood my mother in her elegant wear. Everything she wore just spoke power and a high royal.
But she wasn’t alone.
“Mother?” I called her name, question evident in my voice as I looked over the man that looked ten years my age. He couldn’t be any older than thirty-two.
He was tall and also wore royal wear. His horns were longer and thicker and showed past his short-cropped black hair. His iris were black as ink and his face was chiseled. He was an attractive infernal and the staredown he was giving me, he found something that interested him. Something new he’s never seen. His four guards nearby and they stared at nothing particular. Their faces were void of emotion but I knew better. They stood alert.
“Ah, Cherry,” She linked arms with me and pulled me closer to the center. “This is his majesty Vhyl. He’s the King of Exnians.”
My eyes met his and he had a formal but respectful look on his face. He held out his hand and I looked down at his hand. I wasn’t trying to be rude with my hesitance but I didn’t get an uncontaminated vibe off him which is the reason I didn’t give him my hand. Willingly, of course. My mother gave me a light shove and I forced my hand out to land into his own.
“Pleasure to meet you, princess.” He leaned forward and kissed the back of my hand. His voice was husky, deep, and chilling to the bone.
“And I, you, your majesty,” I say back, pulling my hand from his.
I looked over to my mother and found the strangest smile upon her lips. What was making her so suddenly happy?
“I’m going to leave you two alone for a while.”
I frowned, confused as to why she would leave me here with him. But I didn’t get the chance to ask. My mother was already making her way past the doors. I looked to the King and he motioned his guards away with one move of his hand. In less than a minute, everyone was gone and it was just us.
“So...” My voice trailed off. I actually didn’t know how to start a conversation with him. I mean, I would ask questions that are circling in my head but that will be rude. A princess should never question an outside royalty. Especially a King.
The King motioned over to a bench near the tall glass window of the ballroom. I nod quietly and walked beside him at a good distance. He was quiet for a King. His facial expression was serious and he looked to be thinking of something of importance. Maybe it’s not the best idea to be alone with him right now.
I won’t lie and think that he’s not intimidating because he was. His deep shade of red skin along with his clothed body. His muscles looked like they could burst through his shirt in any second. I find it interesting that a man who’s his age is here and talking to me. What did my presence have to do with anything?
We both took a spot on the long bench and he didn’t hesitate to turn and face me. I could only look at him with curiosity. A loud breath exhaled through his nose, ready to go into conversation with me. But he was taking quite some time.
“Are you alright, your majesty?” I questioned with a raised eyebrow.
“I would like to court you.” He voiced catching me completely off guard.
I blinked at him for a few seconds until the laugh I held in just came out. He has to be joking. He just has to. His facial expression didn’t morph into anger which was also surprising to me. He must be used to this feedback when he was joking, right?
“Oh, I’m sorry but that was a good joke.”
“It was not meant to be a joke, princess.” He says, still looking at me with a calmed expression.
My laughing calmed down and I frowned when I realized he was very serious. Wait a minute. Why would he want to court someone like me? “You’re serious?”
"Very.” His tone changed into something much deeper. Something to emphasize his word.
“Did my mother suggest this? If so, you don’t have to worry about her demand-”
He sighed. “This was not your mother’s suggestion. It was mine.”
My eyes grew wide. What he just said brought me back to my main question. Why does he want to court me? I was young and he was older than me. But age didn’t really matter given Infernals live for many centuries. I was considered a newborn at my age. I may have said he looks thirty but I knew he had to be much older.
I shook my head immediately. “No,” I stood to my feet, looking down at him in disbelief. “I don’t want you to court me.”
This time his expression changes and morphs into anger. He stands to his feet, towering over me. I was so small compared to him. My head barely reached the center of his wide chest. I swallowed hard when I saw the dark look of anger on his face.
“No, you say?” His voice was filled with dark robust.
He took a step closer and I didn’t dare move. I wasn’t going to back down from him. I wasn’t going to show him I feared him just a tiny bit. Not one ounce. I was going to stand in my spot and not let his intimidating dark eyes scare me. My own eyes glowed to show him my own anger. We stood there fighting each other with our silence and our eyes.
We stood toe to toe and glared at one another. The silence was surrounded us but the tension between us was very strong. His eyes didn’t leave mine and mine never left his. It felt like time halted around us as we had our hushed battle. I figured this would go on forever, neither one of us looking away but he did look away. His eyes closed and he shook his head.
“I should consider this a lucky pass. I shouldn’t court a lady that acts like a child.” He murmurs, his eyes now opened.
“Good for you,” I responded bitterly. “I don’t wish to be courted by an old man.” I disregarded his title. At this point, I didn’t care.
He glares down at me for a moment longer before turning on his heels and walking towards the other exit of the ballroom making me scoff.
“Good riddance,” I muttered while turning on my own heels to walk in the other direction.