"Your highness, Her majesty the queen is here" Victor, the guard voiced from outside the door when suddenly the door opened and the queen barged into my bedroom with no regard whatsoever for me, anger spread across her face.
I was still on my nighties because it was still very much early in the morning. I struggled to get up and greeted her curtseying.
"What is the meaning of this insolent act of yours I hear? Remember I warned you from the beginning" she shouted angrily pointing her index finger at me.
For a moment, I was lost in confusion. What crime have I committed again? I tried to get clarifications on what must have resulted into her actions but she fluffed me off and rather continued yelling at me.
"Because of your presence here, there's been alot of frictions between the prince and the crown. What sort of woman are you? Rather than ensuring peace, you're trying to break what's been joined for years"
"I'm sorry but I dont follow. What did I do exactly your majesty?" I asked politely because I was beginning to get upset.
"How dare you ask me that nonsense question?" She started toward me taking slow steps while I drifted back slowly too before she stopped halfway.
"I told you never to be seen with the prince otherwise you'll be dismissed but yet you keep parading your cheap self around my son constantly. To what end Aris?..."
Taking in deep nervous breaths. I didn't know if I should even defend myself because obviously the reverse have been the case.
Since the prince got back, I've spent literally every night with him. It's either we're eating together or reading or just talking randomly. But in all of these, he's been the one sending for me so where the queen is getting her allegation from is unbecoming.
"This is going to be your final warning" she growled loudly. "Dont you ever go near Zirconsite or near the prince. You've barely spent two months and already you're showing how loose and promiscuous you are. I know your agenda but how long do you intend to hide it?"
It was no longer news that everytime the queen insulted me, it hit me really hard and makes me emotional just as now. I was pained that tears began to gush out from eyes. The insults and humiliations were getting much.
"Now! Get your pretentious self to the kitchen" she commanded and swirled around to leave them turned slightly to me "lazy thing" she mumbled and walked out.
Immediately I fell to the ground whimpering. Echo rushed in as usual comforting me but at that point I refused to be comforted. I told her to leave me alone. I wanted to cry out to my satisfaction.
"I'm beginning to hate the way the queen treats lady Aris. I mean It's unfair owing to the fact that she's the princes choice" Cleo commented staring at me as I tried on different clothes.
"That's none of my business girl. She signed up for what she's getting" I eyed her waving my left hand in a dismissive manner and continued what I was doing.
"But do you think there is hope anywhere for you, the way you keep acting?"
"Girl......!" I squealed giving her a cocky wink and a confident smile. "There is more than hope for me"
She huffed "I see. So what are the plans if I may ask?"
Speaking from the front of the mirror trying on a white dress I answered. "I dont know what the queen and my mother has up their sleeves yet but they've assured me it's going to be successful no matter what. But until then I'll keeping shooting my shots at Troy till he gives in" I winked at her again.
"This is like forcing and throwing yourself on him?" She attacked me.
"Atleast it's better than having a crush on a guy without the courage of telling him how you feel" I counter attacked her back.
So apparently, Cleo has had a crush on Adrian for as long as I did with Troy but the difference is she lack the liver to tell him how she feels.
"Gemma! That's rude of you?" She shouted at me but I eyed her ignoring her rubbish. "Cant you see where confessing your feelings has landed you and us. Our friendship circle has literally been ruined and it's because of you"
"Who cares about friendship circle. All I want is to be Troy's bride and nothing else. The circle was bound to break anyways" I hissed still switching between clothes. I needed the perfect sexy dress for this dinner.
It was the duke of Troizinia's birthday banquet and all royalty and dignitaries have been invited. I knew Troy would be there so basically I was dressing up for him.
Cleo's face sadly dropped to the ground at my statement and I knew she was hurt so I walked over to her to see if I could cheer her up.
"I'm sorry Cleo for the way I sounded. I actually cherish our friendship circle, I only wish Troy was reciprocating my feelings. It would've been alot easier and better for all of us" I smoothed out her shoulders lightly.
"Its fine" she looked up at me. "I only wished I had your type of courage to tell Adrian how i feel but then I'm scared, what if he doesn't feel the same way and rejects me. I dont know if my heart can take it Gem" she sounded gloomy.
Taking a seat beside her on the bed where she sat, I turned her face so she could look directly at me. "Adrian is not like Troy, Cleo. He is different and for me more matured beside he's not into anyone else otherwise we would have known. So cheer up and shoot your shot because if you keep thinking of the outcome, you might just end up being a shadow of yourself" I advised her and her mood lightened up as she joined me in preparation for the banquet dinner.
The banquet hall was filled with royalties and dignitaries. It was the birthday dinner of the Duke of Troizinia who happens to be Troy's uncle.
As usual, the prince was invited as an entity but was also representing the king who was absent due to official duties - which meant double honour. So as part of my duty, he beckoned I accompanied him.
At first I turned it down because of the queen's constant threat of dismissing me from court if i ever was seen with the prince.
I was scared and didnt want further complicated problems between mother and son, already their relationship seems to becoming estranged because of me - atleast that's what I'm accused of.
But Troy, acted all stubborn and practically cajoled me into following him. So together with his friends, Adrian and Charles we walked into the room as our presence was being announced.
As an envoy of the king and probably the queen, the same respect and treatment was meted out to us by everyone who was present as they bowed and curtsied respectively.
Troy offered me his arms which I took lacing our arms together as we approached his uncle and aunt.
They greeted us specially and ushered us to an already prepared seat where we could take in the activities of the night while relishing the moment.
"Your highnesses" A handsome young man who looked almost like the prince greeted us warmly as soon as we sat down.
"Ocean.." Troy called out excitedly and stood up as they both hugged each other laughing. "Its so good to see you" he commented afterwards.
"Yea yea. Good to see you too" the young man said still smiling then his gaze fell on me. "You must be lady Aris of Islandes" he spoke narrowing his eyes down to my hands as he took it placing a warm kiss on the back of my palms and I just nodded with a smile.
"Its so good to have you visit us in Troizinia today my lady..... and you look so beautiful. Thank you for accepting my brother's proposal"
Look at me blushing sheepishly almost embarrassing myself. "Nice to meet you too.......-" I dragged on searching for the right words before Troy who was just watching and smiling interrupted us.
"Its Lord Ocean, my lady and he is my cousin brother whose an ambassador of Doxa to Wales" he explained.
"I'm sorry Lord Ocean, forgive my manners" I beamed shyly. " it's so nice to meet you"
After exchanging pleasantries, we got to talk briefly before he pulled the prince away Ofcourse with my permission.
Moments later the ceremony kick started with cultural displays. The performance was top notch and really fun to watch but then my attention was diverted.
"Hey babe" Adrian called me as he took a seat beside me and I gave him my full attention "Has anyone told you how gorgeous you look tonight?" He asked me or better still complimented me.
"Ofcourse" I answered playfully folding my arms together in a comfortable position. "Troy has told me more than a thousand times tonight"
"Oh really!" He eyed me stroking his beards and then stretched his hands toward my face brushing off stray of hairs to the side.
"Yes" I chuckled and turned my face away from him and back to the floor only to meet two burning gazes shooting missiles at me.
If looks could kill, I'ld probably died because those looks were scary as hell and the owners of the eyes were not playing.
What the hell! I said subconsciously. Why on earth would Gemma and Cleo be staring at me so fiercely? I became a bit unbalanced and Adrian obviously noticed it. I felt like I needed a glass of drink.
"Are you okay Aris? What's the problem" he inquired. "You look like you just saw the devil herself" he said sarcastically trying to make me smile but I wasnt feeling the sarcasm.
Then he held onto my shoulders, "look at me babe" but I nudged his hands away but he didnt give up.
"I need a drink" I demanded.
"Cmon, you know you cant drink here. Right?"
"And why is that?"
"Because its all shades of wrong. Things you must know, the prince does not eat in occasions like this for security reasons"
How would I know? Afterall this was my very first outing with the prince.
"But why are you uncomfortable all of a sudden?" he asked me getting worried. Then I pointed towards the direction of Gemma and Cleo who were now obviously occupied by Charles and another. He clinched his jaw at the sight of them.
"Gemma" he cocked his head to get a clearer view and pointed to them. "Why?"
"You needed to see the stare they were giving to me just now. It even caused goosebumps all over my body. It was like I was doing something evil" I explained.
"Ahhh!" He shook his head with gritted teeth like he had something to say but was holding back.
"I know they're your friends but -" I exhaled. "I cant seem to help it" I stammered.
"Its okay. I will be right back" he said massaging the back of his neck as he stood up and plodded toward them.
Suddenly, my throat felt so dried. It was like my salivary glands were struggling to produce saliva.
I really needed to take in fluid maybe water could help. I signalled on Echo to help get water when suddenly a waiter carrying a tray that had a glass of water approached me and Echo just quickly took out the glass and handed over to me as I gulped in the contents.
I felt relieved somehow after drinking the water. While the performances were still ongoing, I saw how happy the duke and his wife was laughing and giggling all the way. They looked so free spirited but then again few persons came to pay their respects to me greeting me warmly. Most of which were citizens of Troizinia. They appeared nice and friendly and Ofcourse welcoming.
Moments later, the duchess found her way to where I sat and got me engaged in some serious talk of national affairs. She was a well spoken and learned woman just like my mother. I got to find out that she was one of my parents allies in the royal council and were also very supportive of the crowned prince even more than his parents.
We talked randomly and then she started inquiring about my experiences at court, if they were pleasant or otherwise. I just told her that they were awesome generally sparing her the ugly details.
"Excuse me Aunt" A familiar voice spoke up behind us and we both turned to see the prince grinning seriously at us. "Can I have this dance my lady?" He asked me bowing down slightly and I said yes.
Taking my arms, he led me to the dancefloor where others were already dancing and immediately the music changed to waltz.
What? It was a waltz dance. I screamed in my head. I have never been a good waltz dancer before. Countless times, Adrian has tried teaching me but I just get bored saying "Waltz is not my calling"
What do i do now? I didnt want to embarrass myself or the prince. So I began to feel a bit apprehensive about the whole thing especially when I saw it was going to be a group waltz dancing where there will be switching of partners.
This felt like the highlight of the celebration as everyone who was interested in the dance began to take in formation.
My eyes immediately darted across the room mostly on those who were on the dance line. There was Charles and Lady Julia, Adrain and Cleo then moving my eyes away from Rian, it fell on Gemma who had Lord Ocean as her partner. She gave me a wink with a smirk on her face which did not appear friendly at all.
Reverting my attention to him, Troy's hand wrapped around my waist with the other resting on the back of my shoulders causing me to shudder a little.
Then he looked at me licking his lower lips as a slow and sexy smile appeared on his face. As I suspected he was lost in admiration of me as I was of him but then I let out a small nervous chuckle all while holding in my breaths.
He leaned forward, tossing my hair to the left side of my neck revealing my bare skin, resting his face on my shoulders, he slowly brushed his lips against my neck and ear, letting out hot breaths that were electrifying my entire body.
I let out a small moan closing my eyes tightly as he moved his face up and down my neck all while inhaling every scent of my body.
Suddenly my feet and palms became sweaty not because I felt he was getting unusually intimate or emotional with me but I was abruptly feeling sick. I bet Troy noticed it because the smile on his face faded quickly turning into worry.
"Are you alright my lady?" He asked me giving me a concerned look. But at this point I started feeling more than uneasy that I couldn't utter a word.
First of all, I felt lightheaded and then weakened up to my feet. My visions became fuzzy as the room appeared to be rotating in motion.
"Aris! Aris!" I felt the prince shaking me viciously to keep me conscious. I also heard some other voices in the background but my hearing was gradually becoming faint and I could no longer stand on my feet nor understand my environment.
The next thing that happened was that I slumped collapsing on the prince's body and passed out.