“Fucker!” I cursed loudly.
I’ve been wandering around this maze for the last twenty minutes. I made turns here and there. Pulling my hair, wondering where the damn exit is.
Stopping, I sigh. I need a break. Deciding to sit on the ground, I cross my legs and start braiding my hair.
“Calm down, Amari, just think,” I mumble to myself. Right now, I had two different turns to take. I needed to be sure which one was the correct one. If my guess were right, I would lose this bet. After all, Lorcan knew this place the best.
After careful thinking, I stood up. Dusting my dress as I look to the sides. Frowning, I shrug my shoulders.
“I swear I will beat him,” I whispered, taking a right.
Walking around this maze gave me a sense of peace. It was eerily quiet and only the trees rustled around me. The walls of this maze were so high I could barely see the trees. Vines and bushes cover the place. I did like it here. Not like Maximus palace, all gloomy.
Remembering him, I stop.
“Does he miss me?” I whispered as I lowered my head. There was no time to be thinking about him. Biting my lips, I shake this feeling of sadness away and continue my mission.
An hour later…
“You fucker!” I yelled as I stump out of the maze. Lorcan sat on a bench with no care in the world.
“This is cheating,” I said, grabbing him by his shirt.
“Hold it!” Lorcan said, raising his hands. He had a smirk plastered on his face. “If you find it unfair because I know my way, you should have thought about it before.”
Groaning, I raise my hands to my head and pull my hair. Cursing under my breath, I hear Lorcan laugh.
“What’s so funny?” I snap.
“You, my dear. You look nice smiling,” Lorcan said, smiling sweetly. I blush as I stare at him. Averting my face, I ask him where we are.
“This is the secret garden,” Lorcan mumbles. I turn and look at him over my shoulder. He had a sad expression as remembering something.
Moving a hair strand away from his face, I open my mouth but decide it would be best not to intrude.
A slight breeze graces us. It was just us and the rustling of the trees. Lorcan glanced my way, smiling sadly. He shook his head and stood up.
Standing before me, he looks down at my petite body. Without a word, he moved a hair strand behind my ear. I watch him quietly. What was making him look so sad?
“Why are you sad?” I whisper, slapping my mouth shut. Eyes wide, I look down. Why did I have to ask?
Lorcan stopped moving. His hand halfway. I felt embarrassed and stupid for asking him. Chuckling, Lorcan leans down and lifts my face.
“Would you like to hear a story?” Lorcan whispered. Nodding, he grabs my hand and brings me over to the same bench he was on earlier.
“Long ago, there was a girl. Her name was Eve. She used to be my mate,” Lorcan said with a sad smile. I grip his hands softly, giving him the courage to continue. Lifting his pathetic face, he smiled at me. An honest smile. “She… passed away.”
“Passed away?” I utter as I look at him, surprised.
“Yes,” Lorcan nodded as his lips formed a thin line. He had a crease on his forehead. “They killed her. Taken away from me.”
I gasp, surprised by what he was telling me. Gulping nervously, I stay quiet. I didn’t want to ask or make him remember something he didn’t want to.
“This garden I made for her. She was the one… I love,” Lorcan mumble softly, “That is why… I took you away from Maximus.”
Snapping my head, I look at him, shocked.
“W-What?” I asked nervously. My heart started beating as I look at him. His gray eyes were piercing my blue ones. Reaching for my face, he smiles. “I couldn’t let him kill you. That… I couldn’t let it happen.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, confused.
“I…” Lorcan stutters but stops. “Forget it,” he said, squeezing my hand. As he stood up, I gripped his hand and stopped him.
“Tell me!” I begged. Lorcan’s eyes were wide. I could feel his body trembling. Smiling, I stood up and approached him. “Tell me, please.”
“It’s that… I can’t, Amari,” Lorcan whispered, averting his eyes.
“Why? Because I may judge you?” I said, caressing his face, “How could I judge you? When you never judge me?”
Lorcan’s gray eyes had tears as he looked at me. Pulling me, he hugged me.
Feeling his chin over my head. I wait for him to continue.
“I… twenty years ago. M-My father k-killed my mate. I-I couldn’t stop him. I was a coward. I just watched as he took her life away right before my eyes. The one… I loved. She died in my arms as I begged her to come back. To stay…” Lorcan said as he choked on his words. Feeling his arms tighten around me, I make small circles on his back, “I loved her, Amari, and I still do. I will always do. Even though it was too late to tell her I loved her.”
Hearing him so sad was making my eyes sting with tears.
“That’s why I can’t see you die by his hands. I can’t see it because I know he will regret it for the rest of his life,” Lorcan said, making me tense. Regret it? Maximus would never regret it.
“W-What nonsense are you saying?” I asked. My hands started trembling as my heart beat hard against my ribcage. I started feeling sick.
“What I just said, Amari,” Lorcan said, pushing me so I could look at him. Holding my face in his hands, he says, “Maximus loves you.”
Pushing him away. I felt my stomach make flips. The nauseous feeling I was getting from hearing that was making everything else numb around me.
“Don’t s-say things l-like that,” I stutter as I back away from him.
“It’s true,” Lorcan said as he gave a step to the front. “He loves you. But he won’t admit it!” this time, his voice sounded with anger.
“STOP IT!” I yelled, covering my ears. “He doesn’t love me.”
Lorcan shook his head.
“He does… he’s just stubborn,” Lorcan said, smiling wryly.
“Lies, those are fucking lies,” I said in tears, “if he even had an inch of love for me, he wouldn’t have used me! Even if I barely knew him. He had no right; he has no right.”
“Oh Amari,” Lorcan said, grabbing my arms and pulling me to his chest. I hit him as I cried.
“He will never feel anything for me,” I whispered.
“Feeling better?” Lorcan asked as he wiped my tears. Nodding, I apologize. “Hey, it’s ok. It’s my fault.”
“No,” I mumble.
“How about we talk about something else?” Lorcan suggested smiling. Nodding, I fix my messy hair. Crying like this felt good. I never had someone to rely on before. Now I could count on him. “So our bet.”
“What about it, you cheater,” I said, punching him.
“Princess, you have a date with me,” Lorcan said, laughing, “And I have a place I wish to take you. So would you care to join me?”
He was offering his hand. I nod happily.
He was walking back to the palace. Lorcan calls his butler. Fixing my dress, I looked outside. The day was good. Couldn’t wait to see where Lorcan would bring me to.
“Things should be ready in twenty minutes. How about you change?” Lorcan said, grabbing some papers from a servant.
“Aren’t you busy?” I asked, looking at the stack of papers he was holding.
“No worries. I don’t have much,” Lorcan said, smiling. Could I believe that? Stopping, he lifts his head, “Go on, dear. I will see you down in twenty.”
“Fine,” I said, turning around.
“Hey, Amari?” Lorcan called. Looking over my shoulder, I find him smiling brightly, “Thank you.” giving him a firm nod. I walk up the grand stairs.
Lorcan palace was majestic. Every golden detail was one to admire. This place was full of color, life. Making a turn in the corner, I bump into someone.
“So sorry,” I said, massaging my nose. The person just cleared his throat. Looking up, I feel my eyes go wide. “Oh my, you’re fucking tall.” I spat, covering my mouth. Why did I always have to do that?
The man looked at me sharply. Lowering my head, I bow.
“I’m sorry,” I said honestly. Looking under my lashes, I see the man with long black hair and gray eyes looking at me. I frown as I find a resemblance with Lorcan.
“You must be the woman my brother brought,” he said with an accent, “Filthy.”
Frowning, I look at him. What was his problem?
“Move now,” the man said, pushing me to the side. I stood still as I watched him bump into me. Biting my lip, I leave the place and head to my bedroom.
Noticing me, the guards open the doors. I thank them as they close it. Sighing, I look at the time. I needed to get ready.
“Sorry, did I make you wait?” Lorcan asked as he got in the carriage.
“No, it’s ok,” I mutter.
“What’s the matter?” Lorcan asked as the horses outside whine. The golden carriage started moving. I look outside the window. “Amari?”
“Is your brother always rude?” I asked, not looking at him.
“Brother?” Lorcan asks, “Wait; you met them?”
Surprise, I snap my head his way.
“Met them? How many brothers do you have?” I asked, baffled.
“Hmm, let’s say four?” Lorcan said, rubbing his chin, “Oh, who did you meet?”
Turning serious, I roll my eyes.
“The one with gray eyes like yours and black hair,” I spat angrily. It still bothers me he treated me like that. I know I wasn’t a likable person, but there was no need to be so rude. It even surprises me I’m mad. I should be used to it. People would always see me like some disease.
“You met Alastair,” Lorcan said, sighing loudly, “Apologies, princess, was he rude?”
Nodding, I look away. Just remembering the way he looked down at me made me angry.
“I’m sorry, Amari. Alastair is quite special,” Lorcan said, smiling wryly.
“I didn’t know you had brothers,” I murmur.
“I do. I just don’t mention them much,” Lorcan said, laughing.
“Are they all boys?” I asked curiously.
“Actually not,” Lorcan pointed out, “I have a sister.”
“You do?” I asked, getting interested.
“Yes,” Lorcan smiled, “You will meet her in a few days. She’s coming back soon. I think both of you will get along.”
Clasping my hands, I giggle. Can’t wait. Does she look like Lorcan? I wonder.
Leaning against the seat, I smile. The sun was shining bright as I looked at the blue sky.
“Amari?” Lorcan called out.
“Hmm?” I hum.
“Look outside,” I heard him say. Opening my eyes, I look at a grand lake. It was a bit far away from us, but the sun’s rays gleamed against the clear water.
“A lake?” I said, smiling. My hand on the window of the carriage as I lean. Remembering something, I back away.
“Is everything ok?” Lorcan asked.
“Huh? Yes!” I said as I glanced at the lake.
Offering his hand, Lorcan helps me down from the carriage. I held my hat as the wind blew hard. Thankfully, I had my hair tied in a low bun.
“Let’s go,” Lorcan said, grabbing my hand. We walk down a trail. The dried leaves are covering the ground as our feet make a crunching sound.
I look around the place. It looked so desolated that I was getting afraid. Squeezing my hand, I look at Lorcan. He smiled at me. Taking a deep breath, we continue walking.
Reaching an opening, Lorcan stops.
I smile as I look at the lake. Happy to see something like this, I let go of Lorcan’s hand. I ran up to the edge of the lake. It was my first time coming to a lake. The one I saw before was when I was arriving at Maximus empire. Frowning, I crook my head. Was this the same one?
Hearing some voices, I glance behind me. Some guards that joined us were talking with Lorcan. Leaving him, I walk around. I was curious to see around the place. Finding some acorns, I kneel and start picking them.
“Having fun?” Lorcan said near my ear. I yelped in surprise and fell on my buttock. “I’m sorry, are you ok?” Lorcan asked as he got down on his knee. Slapping his hand, I groan.
“You look cute when you pout,” Lorcan said, laughing, “Here, allow me.”
I raised an eyebrow as I stared at him, getting up by myself. Lorcan reached for my arm.
“Let me,” Lorcan insisted.
I sighed tiredly, fixing my skirt. I look up and find Lorcan staring down at me.
“I want to ask you something,” Lorcan said as he turned serious. I frown for a second.
“Yes?” I mumble.
“Would you be interested in becoming strong?” Lorcan asked.
“Strong? I frowned, “What do you mean?”
“Become strong, Amari, in fighting and defending yourself. In even arguing. If you want to, I can help you,” Lorcan said =. I look at him skeptically.
“Why are you so embedded in helping me?” I asked curiously. All this time I’ve been wondering why he helps me. He said that he didn’t want me to die. But I feel there’s another reason for it.
“I can’t hide it; I see,” Lorcan smiled. Holding both hands, he brings them to his lips and kisses them. “I said before I didn’t want you to die, right?” I nodded, “and I mean it. I won’t let him or anyone does you harm.”
“But why?” I asked.
“I know you still don’t trust me, and we barely know each other. But I can see there’s something in you that doesn’t let you live. You’re hiding something. But I won’t push you. I respect that. But Amari, you can’t keep it forever. One day you will have to say it,” Lorcan sighed, “And well, I also… kind of like you?” Lorcan said, scratching his head. His long gray hair covers his now red face. Looking away, I see him shy. I frown before realizing what he said. Feeling my face hot, I yank my hands away.
“What are you saying,” I said, laughing nervously.
“I mean it,” Lorcan said with a serious face. I look at him in shock. “But I just like you. I will not ask you to be anything. So don’t worry. Just allow me to help you be what you should be.”
“And that is?” I asked.
“Be a true queen,” Lorcan murmured.