|4.| The Surprise
The chilly morning breeze fluttered my nightgown. I stared at the garden right before me. Not an inch of sleep, even though I couldn’t sleep at all. Just like my past nights, I could not sleep once again. The hazy feeling and darkness tried to claw their way into my most cherished memories. I couldn’t let this take control of me, but what was I supposed to do? Be a burden once again?
I was supposed to be free, but nothing was getting better. All this was just making things worse. My mind has been trying to find a solution. Anyone that could avoid having Azriel or Maximus involved. The least I wanted was to make trouble for them. They had enough for themselves.
Was I selfish? Maybe yes, but all I wanted was peace. Maybe, just maybe, I should have let Andrei do whatever he wished with me. He could have been the one to free me and maybe end my pain.
I sighed; I was afraid of even closing my eyes. The only moment I could feel at ease was if Maximus was with me. There was this sense of safety he gave me. Leaning on the balcony rail, I stared at the fields. I’ve been wondering about what happened yesterday while we were having sex. Just the thought of what we did. How passionate it was made me blushed.
I had to admit, I felt at home, especially when Maximus held me in his arms.
I smiled. Was I falling in love with him? I had to admit I was already in love with him. When Azriel proposed to me, all I had on my mind was Maximus. I couldn’t say yes to him. My lips didn’t allow it, and for once, I was thankful. It may be harsh, but all I felt for Azriel was a slight pang of love. But not like how Maximus made me think. It was different.
Deciding to go back in, I fixed the long quilt that was wrapped around me. It was a cold morning, and soon, winter would be here. I couldn’t wait for the first snow to fall.
It’s been so long since I met everyone. I wonder what would have happened to me if I had not met them at all. Would I still be alive? Would my father be torturing me? At least he did something good, and it was sending me to Maximus. Grabbing a glass of water, I look around. No one had come still. Then, like reading my mind, I heard a soft knock.
“Princess?” Jonathan called from the other side. I smiled and let him in. “Morning, you are up.”
“Yes,” I smiled.
“I brought you breakfast; I hope you are hungry,” Jonathan explained, setting the tray down. I stared at him; he looked tired. Was he not sleeping as well?
“Jonathan?” I called, making him hum. “Look at me.” my voice came out as a command, making him turn his head and look at me in surprise.
I was using my powers on him.
He looked taken aback. But I had no choice.
“What did Azriel tell you?” I questioned him. After what happened with Lilith, I had a question in mind that I didn’t dare ask Azriel. I knew he would get mad if I asked.
“What do you mean, your highness?” Jonathan asked. He couldn’t move. I waved my hand and let him move at his own will.
“Don’t hide anything. What did Azriel tell you when you requested Lilith to get here?” I looked at him. I knew he had requested for Lilith to come to Maximus’ palace, but Azriel denied it, saying it couldn’t happen. It was a punishment for what she did.
I know Lilith did wrong, but how long could he blame her? Did he regret everything?
“He… King Azriel said nothing. All he said was that I couldn’t,” Jonathan stuttered. I stared at him; he was lying.
“Jonathan, I am asking you because I care for you and Lilith. Please, what did Azriel say to you? You came back to Maximus for a reason, didn’t you?” I tried pleading with him. “Did Azriel threaten you?”
He looked at me with eyes wide. I knew Azriel was capable of a lot of things but threatened him?
“Tell me, Jonathan. Don’t make me use my powers on you,” I sighed.
“Yes… He warned me to leave his sister. That once Lilith’s punishment is lifted, she is going away. Never to return,” Jonathan said with his head bowed.
I groaned, looking at him as I see him smiling wryly.
“It’s ok. I know I will see her someday,” Jonathan mumbled. I had no words to comfort him. Then, excusing himself, Jonathan left my room.
I hated what Azriel was doing. It wasn’t fair. Massaging my face, I groan once again. I needed to talk with him, plead for both of them, and let Jonathan take Lilith away.
My stomach grumbled as I looked at the tray of food. Standing, I walked over and checked what he brought me. I licked my lips as my stomach grumbled once again. Finally, it seems I was hungry. Taking a seat, I decided to dig in.
In less than twenty minutes, I ate my meal. I felt famished. This was the first time I ate so quickly. Hearing the door open, I turned and noticed it was Maximus. I lowered my head and drank my tea quietly. Last night’s argument was still fresh.
“Morning, Amari,” Maximus whispered, taking a seat.
“Morning,” I smiled, “you slept well?”
“Uh yes,” Maximus said as his eyes shifted at my tray of food. “It seems you already had breakfast.”
“Yes,” I said, putting my cup down and standing, “I want to look around. It’s been a while since I’ve been here. Hope it’s ok with you.”
“Yes, this is your home Amari,” Maximus said. I looked at him through the mirror and nodded. I was trying to prevent the talk from last night.
“Amari, could we-”
“I will take a shower. Can we talk later?” I said, closing the bathroom door. Leaning against it, I close my eyes and cursed under my breath. I was rude to him, but what I least wanted was to talk about last night. I barely had an inch of sleep.
Undressing, I start the bathtub and wait for it to get filled. I heard some noise on the other side as a door shut loudly. It seems Maximus was mad, but I would apologize later. Sighing, I put some salts inside the water and played with it. Once it was ready, I got in. Leaning against the tub, I take a deep breath and relax. I needed to calm myself.
I came over with the intention of apologies, but she shut me out quickly. She was leaving no chance for me to say a word. Was she still angry about last night?
I know it was impulsive, but all I wanted was for her to be happy and not sad, especially with me. So, with a sigh, I returned to my room and started getting ready for the day. I wanted to have breakfast with her but didn’t expect her to eat before. And I noticed she looked tired.
I’ve been noticing this pattern on her. She hasn’t been sleeping well, and I noticed it at Azriel’s palace. That night that I found her in the bathroom, scared like she’d seen a ghost, didn’t sit well with me. So what was she hiding now?
Were the memories of Andrei affecting her? I wanted Amari to tell me what was wrong with her. With a sigh, I change and head to my office.
I’ve been busy working on some papers that I had from before. All this time I was away, I had Devika’s sister helping around. I was thankful she lent us a hand and all, but I still had many things to do. Hearing a knock, I let the person in. Looking up, I thought for a second it was Amari, but it was Jonathan.
“Lunch is ready, your majesty,” Jonathan explained. I frowned.
“Where is Amari?” I asked curiously.
Jonathan blinked several times before he could talk.
“I thought she was with you,” Jonathan frowned.
I stopped writing and looked at him.
“What do you mean? Amari said she would take a walk around and look at something in the palace. Didn’t she do that?” I was confused by what was happening.
“No, no one has seen her,” Jonathan mumbled as he looked down at the floor. He seemed lost in thought.
I frowned and then remembered.
“Fucking shit!” I said, standing abruptly and running out of the office.
Amari couldn’t be in the bathroom still, right?
I rushed down the hallways. Bumping into several servants as I ran up to her room. Throwing the doors opened, I called for her but no answer. Her things were like she left them before I headed back to my room. I tried opening her bathroom door, but she locked it.
“AMARI?” I yelled, banging the doors. Groaning desperately, I kick the door, breaking it from its hinges. My eyes looked around until they stopped on the bathtub. “AMARI!”
Reaching for the bathtub, I kneel and reach for her. Her body was cold and stiff.
“AMARI, WAKE UP!” I yelled, scared. Fear crept into my mind as I noticed she isn’t breathing. Her lips were purple.
Putting her down, I give her oxygen.
“COME ON, AMARI!” I yelled as tears sting my eyes. She wasn’t reacting. Calling for help, I hear footsteps. “Called Michael NOW!” I ordered.
I kept giving her oxygen. So why did I leave her alone?
My hands trembled as they searched for anything. I looked at her body, my eyes stopping where our mark was. My eyes couldn’t stop staring at it. Biting my hand, I move my hand with blood over the mark. I didn’t know why I was doing this, but my mind was telling me to. It was stupid, but anything, something had to work.
Letting my blood cover her chest, I keep trying to wake her up. My mark glowed strangely when Amari suddenly started gasping for air. Coughing, I help her sit up and slowly rub her back.
“It’s ok, you are safe,” I said as my voice breaks—hearing footsteps. I look at who it was. Michael looked at us, stunned. “Help her, please.” I was almost begging.
Michael nodded and kneeled. He started checking on her quickly. Noticing she was trembling, I reached for the towels.
I wrapped Amari in it and picked her up.
“Let’s take her to bed,” Michael said worriedly. I frowned as I stared at him.
Amari clasped my neck as she kept coughing. Was she alright?
Michael pushed me away as he started checking on Amari.
“Bring some tea please and dry clothes,” I told Jonathan, who just nodded worriedly and left.
“Could you leave us alone for a while?” Michael said, eyeing me seriously. I frowned. Why was he asking that?
“I can stay here,” I tried to argue back, but he shook his head.
“Please, Maximus,” Michael pleaded. Was she injured? My mind couldn’t stop thinking about what was happening. Did something trigger her to drown? I looked back at the bathroom and then at her. She was pale and trembling. “Maximus, just five minutes. I will call you back in a moment.”
Groaning, I shook my head and turned away. I needed to know why he asked me to leave. Glancing towards Amari, I lowered my head and closed the bedroom door.
My entire body trembled as I coughed. What the hell happened to me?
I couldn’t recall what happened earlier. All I remember was getting on the bathtub, and then as I was washing, my head started hurting. The same throbbing pain I get before my mind gets hazy. After that, I recall nothing.
Michael was checking my pulse as I coughed. Wrapping my body in the towel, I looked at his frown. What was wrong?
“Amari,” Michael started but stopped. He was looking towards the door. Lifting his hand, he chanted something, and a barrier appeared. “What I’m about to ask you, I need you to tell me only the truth, are we clear?”
I frowned at him. What was he going to ask?
“Sure,” I coughed.
“Amari, who is the father of the kid you are carrying?” Michael asked. I inhale sharply as my skin crawls with goosebumps.
“F-Father?” I stuttered, not sure if I heard him correctly.
“Amari, you are pregnant.”
My entire being went numb as I tried to digest his words. Looking away, I felt shivers run up my body. I couldn’t think straight. Then something came to mind. I felt my stomach turn as I moved to the edge and threw up. My body started trembling as my nerves went out of control.
“N-No…” I stuttered as I remember one person in particular. “N-No, impossible.”
“What’s wrong, Amari?” Michael asked, his hand on my shoulder as I felt dizzy. Biting my trembling lips, I close my eyes, letting the tears fall.
“I think… I-I think it’s Andrei.”