Chapter Seven - Unrequited (c)
“Why were you carrying this, Nana? Was there no one to help you?” I settled the bucket on the right side of the kitchen entrance.
“Your mother requested for me to tend to her roses,” she answered as I head back to the bench beside her. “You know how much she loves her roses and she only entrusts them to me so technically, I did tend to them on my own.”
“Would you like for me to get you something to drink?” I offered.
She giggled. “No, dear boy, I will be fine. I’ll fetch some for myself later. However, you didn’t answer my previous question,” she draped her skirt over her legs as she carefully crossed them.
“What question?” I asked, hoping she wouldn’t ask again.
She stared at me, giving me a smile that’s telling me she knows I’m hiding something from her. “Something happened to you, am I right?” she started.
Although I know I can’t hide anything from her, I have to use the very best of my abilities to hide my dilemma from her. “I don’t understand where your question is coming from, Nana.”
She gave a light chuckle. “Robert, if you think you can hide the fact that you’re completely distraught right now, you’re mistaken. I know how you act when you’re fine and when you’re carrying something with you.”
“No, really, Nana, I’m completely fine,” I lied but I think my body language is giving everything away. “This is why I’m so confused about what you’re telling me.”
“Robert,” she looked at me, her gaze intensified but with love still. She’s trying to make me say it. “Are you sure you’re going to lie to me? Even to yourself?”
I continued to stare at her as I tried to see if she would give up knowing what’s wrong. But in the end, I was the one who gave up the whole charade. I sighed, put my head back into my hands, and pulled tightly onto my hair.
She sighed from where she was. “Pretending that everything is always fine will be the death of you, young man,” she started. “I know that in this world, you can’t trust anyone. Not everyone has your best intentions in life. But when it comes to matters like this, if you can’t tell your parents, you can tell me what’s going on.”
I looked back at her, trying to keep myself from crying. Slowly, my eyes started to swell with tears. I’m frustrated, angry with myself for what I did to Laura. She was just being a good friend but look at how I reacted to her concern. I acted as if she betrayed me.
“Oh, my child,” she walked towards me, kneeling as she reached me.
“No, Nana, don’t kneel. Your knees will hurt,” I held onto her arms as I tried to stop her.
“I’m fine, Robert, don’t you worry about me,” she replied, her knees completely on the floor. She then put her hands on my knees. “I’m not that old to have my knees hurting whenever I kneel. Let’s talk about you right now.
I nodded as I looked down to my feet. My eyes slowly burned, the tears wanting to come out. I continued to stop them from falling, not wanting Nana to see them.
“Robert,” she lifted my face, a tear finally fell on my cheek. “Oh, my little one,” she wiped it away, “Don’t hide those tears from me because I won’t judge you. Why don’t you tell me what’s going on inside your head?”
I couldn’t open my mouth. It felt numb, frozen because I was still trying to prevent myself from crying. It took a few seconds for me to get myself together before I spoke, “I’ve done something terrible, Nana.”
She cupped my face with one hand and I immediately held onto it. “What do you mean?”
“A friend of mine was concerned with me and I treated her in a way… that James would treat me,” tears ran down my face as I explained. With every word that I utter, my mind would always recount that moment when I saw the hurt in her eyes and she turned her back on me.
“What did you do to this friend?” she asked again. “How did you know that you treated her in the manner of how James does with you?”
“She was just making sure if I was all right but I treated her coldly. It was disrespectful of me and now, I don’t think she would still talk to me,” I fully succumbed to my tears.
“Oh, hush, my dear one,” Nana quickly hugged, rubbing my back in slow circles to coax me. “There, there, young one. It’s all right. Let everything out. I’m right here.
I clung to her even more, my hold on her tightened as I let all of these held-back emotions out through my tears. Nothing has ever made me reach the point of breaking down except for family matters. I’m disappointed in myself. Even my intuition loathes me for my actions.
Nana continued to rub my back for a few more seconds before she released me, helping me sit upright again. She then offered a napkin.
“I’m sorry if I cried too much, Nana,” I wiped my face with the napkin. “I just couldn’t keep it in anymore. The guilt is too much to bear.”
She smiled as she held my face in one hand, caressing my cheek with her thumb. “You don’t need to apologize for crying, Robert. Crying isn’t a sign of weakness. It shows that you’re of flesh and bones, which makes you even stronger,” she said. “Now, don’t feel too bad about yourself. I know you didn’t mean what happened to you and your friend.”
“I didn’t, Nana. I was trying my best to keep my mouth shut in order not to say anything that could offend her,” I explained. “But she kept on pushing to know what’s wrong and I couldn’t help myself but say words that she wasn’t supposed to hear, an approach that she doesn’t deserve.”
“Everybody makes mistakes. Even if we’re immortals, we’re not perfect and we tend to make mistakes every once in a while,” she said. “Even the prince of the Western Wind isn’t immune to mistakes. What’s important is you know you’re in the wrong and you’re willing to make things right. Am I correct?”
I nodded, sniffling.
She patted me on the head. “I’m proud to have raised you and to see you grow into such a good person. I trust that you know how to make things right.”
Nana did raise me for almost all of my childhood. Because my parents were occupied with their duties as king and queen of the Western Wind, they didn’t have any spare time to raise my sister and me. It’s a good thing that Nana Olsa was there when I needed someone to look up to.
“You’ll get this right, Robert. I know you will,” she smiled as she patted me on the back.
I nodded, still sniffling. For a man who doesn’t cry much, I produce a lot of snot.
“Well, then,” she stood up, “I have to go back inside and help others prepare dinner. I have to make sure that everything is perfect. Your mother has requested another family dinner tonight.”
“I don’t think I want to join them right now, Nana,” I shook my head, standing up as well. “I’ll have one of the maids clean your napkin for you, Nana.”
“Oh, there’s no need for that, son. You can keep it,” she smiled. “I’m sure you need it more than I do.” She grabbed the bucket of soil and walked into the passage, heading to the kitchen.
I let out a deep breath and prepared more apples and water for Lady. After everything was to her, I started making my way back inside when someone called me from behind, “Hello, Robert.”
I turned to see Mallory coming into the stables. “Oh, hello, Mallory.”
“Where have you been?” she asked.
My brows furrowed, confused. “Why do you ask?”
“I need to know,” her lips formed a firm line as she walked towards me.
“Are you my mother to know my whereabouts?” the sarcasm in my tone as I replied. I turned around and continued to head to the entrance, only to be stopped again by her.
I deserve to know because we have a relationship,” she protested.
“Our relationship was never real,” I turned to her, rolling my eyes.
“I don’t care what kind of relationship we have! We’re a couple now which gives me the right to know where you plan to go and what you plan to do!” she shouted.
I walked towards her with a smirk, towering over her as I reached her. “As far as I know, you can only say that when the relationship you have is real, where both parties are truly in love and willing to surrender one another to each other.”
“Well… I still have the right because I’m in love with you,” she insisted, stuttering as she struggled to find a reason against me.
“We’re not in a real relationship so I suggest that you stop whatever this act that you’re going,” I raised my voice a little so I could get my point across and make sure that it’s stuck in her memory.
“For me, this relationship is real,” she answered.
“This relationship was never real to begin with,” a hint of anger slid under my control. “Our friendship is undeniably true but this relationship as a couple will never be true. You need to stop your delusions and remind yourself that this is only temporary.” I proceeded to walk into the kitchen, not caring if she will cry or not.
As I was walking in the hallway, I came across Gonzalo. “Gonzalo?”
“Your Highness,” he bowed.
I nodded and continued to walk ahead of him and he immediately followed. “Any updates or reports that I need to know?” I asked.
“Your parents were looking for you, Your Highness,” he started. “Most especially, His Royal Majesty.”
That information caused me to stop. “James was looking for me?” I turned to him.
“Yes, Your Highness.”
“Where are they right now?” I questioned.
“Your mother went to visit your aunt, Lady Bethilda,” he answered. “Your father is currently in his study. He has a few lords with him.”
“And my sister?”
“As I can recall, I’ve seen her enter the library,” he replied. “I overheard her telling your mother that she will be having her ‘alone time’ so my best guess would be in the library.”
“Okay. Is there anything else?” I asked for assurance.
“A man that was looking for you a while ago,” he said. “He said you and him are quite close.”
“Did you get his name?” I asked, my brows furrowed.
“He never mentioned his name, Your Highness,” he replied. “But it does look like he knows you very well. He knew where to find you.”
“Did he ever mention returning?” I asked another.
“He did say that he will return some other time because he still has other matters to take care of,” he answered.
“Thank you for your diligence in daily reports for me, Gonzalo,” I praised him. “I’ll be heading to my room now. If you need anything, just let my page know that you’re welcome to enter at any time.”
“Do you need anything to be sent to your room, young prince?” he questioned.
This is why I entrust everything to Gonzalo. Aside from my protection, he’s always on top of everything that I could need. Even if I don’t say it, he’s willing to prepare everything ahead of time so I won’t waste time asking for something.
“Thank you, Gonzalo, but as of the moment, I don’t need anything,” I smiled, putting my hand on his shoulder. I removed my hand before I added, “All I need right now is some rest. I’ll call for you if I need anything.”
“As you wish, Your Highness,” he bowed, moving aside as he waited for me to leave.
I gave him a formal nod and I went on my way to my room.
Once I entered my room, I jumped right onto my bed. Not even thinking of removing my shoes, I closed my eyes in an attempt to have a quick nap.
“Had fun with your little trot outside?” an all-too-familiar voice echoed throughout my room.
I sat up and began to scan my room. As my eyes passed by the window, I took a second look. There stood a figure that I’ve known for years now.
“Hello, Benjamin,” I smiled.