AIDA WATCHED DRACO FOLD and re-fold his tie five times before she stepped in to help him. “Sit down on the bed,” she whispered.
Wordlessly, he dropped to the bed. He could see her in front of him, standing between his legs, concentrating on the task at hand but his brain wasn’t registering anything she was doing.
“Baby,” Aida sat on his leg sideways. “I know this is hard—”
“Do you!” He yelled standing up abruptly.
Aida collided with the floor, a low scream escaping her mouth.
Draco stepped over her. “You’re not the one who was given this uncontrollable curse that made people fear you.”
Cowering in fear, she scrambled back until she was flush against the bed.
“They’re threatening my title, Aida. I don’t think you understand what’s that like.”
Whimpering she got on her hands and knees and crawled out of the room. Fifteen minutes later, she had packed one bag for each of her children, strapped the twins into a stroller and was standing outside waiting for Selene. A black Rolls’ Royce pulled up and Aida felt her heart crumble a bit. “Thanks for watching them,” Aida sent her mother-in-law a smile that didn’t reach her eyes.
“Where is he?” Selene asked, referring to her son who wanted nothing more to throttle.
Aida shook her head. “Now isn’t the best time, Ma. I packed enough things for one week, I’ll call you if it’s going to be any longer than that. Maverley will start school again on Wednesday, her uniforms are in her bag and she starts school at 7:30 and ends at 1:30.”
Selene nodded. “Are you okay?”
“The twins are allergic to kiwi.”
Selene narrowed her eyes. “Stop deflecting Aida.”
The Queen waved a hand. “I’m fine,” her smile was fake. “Seriously, I’m alright.” Turning her attention to her kids she kissed them each on the head and waved goodbye. “I’ll call every night.”
Stepping forward, Selene wrapped her arms around Aida and rubbed her back up and down. “Stay safe and come over if things get out of hand.”
Aida didn’t allow herself to cry until the door to her chambers had closed, providing a barrier between her and the rest of the world. There was a knock at the door and she stumbled to reach it, before it came crashing down. “Grace,” she straightened her spine and whipped underneath her eyebrows. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m sorry, My Lady, I know I’m not supposed to bother you when you’re in your chambers but the car is here.”
The words, ‘I’m not going,’ sat on the tip of Aida’s tongue but she swallowed them. With a curt nod, she pulled her hair from it’s bun and placed her crown on her head. Splashing cold water on her face, Aida used a couple eye drops, plastered a fake smile on her face and walked out of the door.
Draco didn’t lose his title but his temper was starting to dissipate after five very harsh days. Grunting he rolled out of bed and walked down the stairs to the kitchen. A glimpse of honey colored hair piqued his interest, but it was only for a split second. He sighed and ran a hand down his face. Draco couldn’t remember what he did to make Aida send the kids away or sleep in her formal chambers, and that pained him. “Hi Greta,” Draco muttered to the head cook who seemed to also be avoiding him like the plague.
She tutted and dropped a plate of food in front of him. “I’m only doing this because the Queen ordered me to make sure you stay well fed. If it was up to me, I would let you starve in a heartbeat.”
Not phased by her language, Draco sent her a smile. “How is she?”
“Okay.” Eating his food in silence, Draco raked through his brain for ideas. “Do we have a basket?”
Greta turned to him. “Didn’t I tell you to shut up boy?”
Draco stared her down, waiting for her to answer his question.
With a heavy sigh, “what kind?”
“A whicker one.”
Narrowing her eyes at the King, Greta nodded.
“You can take the rest of the day off, Greta.” He watched as she unwrapped her apron and tossed it in the drawer. “Thanks for your help.” Racing up to his office, Draco grabbed his phone and called Paul. Their interaction was short, Paul didn’t want much to do with the King but it seemed no one really wanted to be around him since he hurt the Queen.
“I don’t even want to be here,” Paul flopped down onto the chair across from the King’s desk.
Draco said nothing.
Paul sighed. “So you want me to get her ready?” Paul watched the King nod. “And not tell her what it’s about.”
“Ah, he speaks.”
Draco glared. “We’ll be outside,” he grunted. Dismissing Paul with a wave of his hand, he waited until the stylist got to the door before saying, “thank you.” Aida had really managed to whip him into shape because previous Draco never spoke words of gratitude. With a sigh, he forced himself out of the comfortable desk chair and got dressed. The outfit didn’t scream royalty, but a picnic in the wild wasn’t much of a royal activity anyways. Double checking the basket, he looped his fingers through the handle and set off outside.
Aida stood staring at Draco, her eyes displacing a tornado of emotions. On one hand she was happy to see him but on the other hand she was hurt and full of anger. “Draco,” she said in a clipped tone.
He nodded at her, hoping to bury his visible disappointment when she didn’t really acknowledge him. Tension radiated between the two as they walked from the castle and towards their secret spot. Draco felt hot and sweaty under Aida’s scrutinizing gaze as he laid out their cream colored blanket.
“What is all this?” She asked gesturing to the basket, blanket, and food he had set up.
“It’s my apology,” he rubbed a hand through his hair. “Also known as a picnic.”
The Queen nervously took a seat. “Why?”
“Because I love you.” He said it honestly. “I love you so much it hurts and I’m a fool for treating you so poorly. What I did to you…” the King stopped and shook his head, unable to bring himself to recount what he had done. “I’m sorry. I never meant for our relationship to come to a point where you would feel the need to send our kids away to protect them.”
“What happened to you that day?”
The food between them had remained untouched as they discussed recent events.
The King sighed. “There is no excuse for what I did to you, I want to make that clear before I explain. Five years ago today, I watched my cousin Melody die as she gave birth to Zara.”
Aida sucked in a breath.
“We weren’t very close, but I still hung out with her when I was around. I took her to the beach, it was one of her favorite things to do. She still had six more weeks to go in her pregnancy—we thought we were fine. On the way back she went into labor. The hospital was nowhere nearby so I had to help her. It was messy, bloodier than it should have been. I tried my best to keep her alive but there was nothing I could have, there wasn’t much the hospital could have done either.”
As much as she hadn’t wanted to, Aida shuffled closer to her mate, allowing his head to fall onto her chest.
“What I did to you was uncalled for and I promise you it will not happen again.”
“As long as you can promise me it won’t happen again.”
It was late in the evening when Aida’s phone rang. She was happier than earlier, but that all had to do with the thoughtful apology Draco had delivered that afternoon. Skipping over to the ringing device she placed it to her ear, assuming it was Selene. A hand flew to her mouth and her knees buckled.
The loud cry startled Draco from his work. “Aida,” he whispered before fleeing his office. “No no no,” he muttered when he saw her against the floor. “Sweetheart look at me.” Her face was pale and cold in his hands, “Sweetheart open your eyes.”
Aida opened her eyes slowly, but everything was blurry—she wasn’t able to register what was happening. Her hand pushed the hair away that was sticking to her face. “Dr-Draco,” she cried.
“I’m here, Sweetheart.” He gripped her cheeks tighter, “tell me what’s wrong.”
Rolling her head to the side she blinked rapidly, watching Draco come into view. “There was,” she gulped. “There was a helicopter crash. My parents, Draco, they were on that plane.”