After a long and awkward apology session that wasnt easy, I was forgiven by Gemma and her parents and warned never to repeat those acts ever again.
Honestly, while still at Wayfort, I tried to see if I felt differently about Gemma but the case was the same, still platonic feelings and nothing more but it was obvious she was still very much in love with me as she claimed to be.
Fast forwarding, both parties insisted that she moved into court immediately which I did not protest.
All she wanted was giving to her but she insisted it must be those things Aris had like the same court lady attendee and adviser which meant Echo and Dorothy.
I was more surprised when the queen didnt dish out the list of rules she gave to Aris to her. She gave her the free hand and allowed her do all she wanted to do including invading my privacy and crowding my space.
That was something that became irritating as time went by. Gemma must be with me in every function and to make matters worst, they began sending me out often to represent the king and always insisted Gemma accompanies me.
"I'm sick and tired of all these" I shouted angrily in frustration in the presence of Gaius and Theon.
"Your highness, I'm sorry for the way you're feeling but you need to be calm about it all" Gaius spoke softly.
I'd just got back from Naxos City with Gemma where I went for the opening and launching of their newly built library. I regretted making that trip with her. She had the effontery to embarrass me. I was mad and furious at her.
"Dont let lady Gemma into Zirconsite again. I dont want to see her anywhere close by. Is that understood?"
"Yes" the both bowed down answering in unison.
I spent the next couple of minutes freshening up before I settled in for a private lunch.
"Gaius, please take a seat" I told him and he obeyed. "There are sensitive issues I want to discuss with you"
"Okay sir, I'm at your service" he said humbly.
I sighed deeply. "As you know it's been two months since Lady Aris was dismissed from court but I still see myself being attracted to her even more in her absence....... I've tried to push her thoughts out of my head a couple of times but I've failed. I know I might've wronged her by not reaching out to her atleast to vent my anger for the betrayal but I still feel unapologetic. I'm really in a confused state. What do I do Gaius?"
He exhaled lightly staring at me pitifully. "First of all, thank you your highness for seeking my advice. In my own view, I feel lady Aris was wrongly accused. The situation looked framed up -"
"Wait, you're telling me that theres a tendency that she was framed up?"
"Its obvious. You knew how much your mother hated her and wanted her thrown out"
Gaius' school of thought never crossed my mind, but I started seeing reason in his idealogy.
"But Gaius, will lord Charles also lie to me? Aris invited him to her chambers, maybe she was lonely or whatever, gave him drink and got him intoxicated and then almost forced him into sleeping with her. Thankfully, Charles was stronger than she was, and managed to escape. How does any of that sound framed?" I questioned again getting infuriated.
"I know that was the story you were told, and I'm not saying you should doubt lord Charles but I will advice you try confronting lady Aris and hear what she has to say" he suggested further.
"Oh Come on" I shook my head in dismissal. "She has nothing to say. Besides she admitted that she was guilty before the court. So what other story is going to change that?"
"I'm sorry my prince. Maybe you need to be more nicer to lady Gemma if that's the case" he shrugged "Probably that will help you forget about lady Aris"
"What...... you think like how we were before will make me forget her completely"
"Yes my prince and you also need to change the site of your project from Rythfork"
"Nah, this year I chose Rythfork and it will remain there. I dont want to be a joker or taken unseriously"
"You're right your highness"
"Thank you Gaius. I will lady Gemma. Infact cancel the initial order I gave of her not coming here and then invite her to have dinner with me"
"That would be great" he said smiling and standing up and then walked out.
Would this really help? I hope it does because I'm tired of dreaming about what I can not have. Each time I close my eyes to sleep, all I see is her angelic face before me with those smiles that melt my soul.
But in all of these, I still feel angry for what she did to me and yet my pride won't let me confront her. My thoughts tell me she would be waiting for me but then I cant do it. She broke my heart when she chose to act in that manner.
I lost my appetite, standing up from the table, I went outside to the balcony and lay down on the hammock bed relieving myself of every built up anger and stress.
Moments later, I must have dozed off but was awakened by a familiar noise. When I opened my eyes, Adrian was standing infront of me grinning widely from ear to ear.
"Hey......! What's up man" I smiled, excited to see him. Jumping down from the bed, I gave him a big tight hug. "I missed you man. Welcome back"
"Missed you too. Good to see you in one piece" he pulled back teasing me.
"Yea yea, I know. Could have died?" I poked his arms and he shrieked poking me back but I dodged and drifted as he made a chase for me.
Obviously he wasn't keeping up and for a while, we played like little boys before growing tired. We collapsed on the chairs that were there, panting and gasping for air.
"That was more like old times" I gasped, pointing at the air, literally at our little frolic.
"Yea" he half chuckled. "Bringing back memories "
"So what's up man? You're very busy Adrian"
"I know, it's the job. One minute I'm here the next minute am in one part of the world" He sighed rubbing his chin as I sneered.
"Do you even see your family?" I asked him because most of his free days were spent in court with me.
He smiled. "I do but not often. I mean they know I'm busy...." he shrugged.
"But you need to do better..." I scolded. "Anyways how was your trip to Capri?"
"Fine..... very fine.. had fun alongside working"
"I can see that....." I exhaled. "So, Uhm-" I stammered, searching for my next word before he chimed in.
"How are you really doing Troy? And please be honest" He asked pleading.
At his question, my face fell and softened because I knew I was hurting deep down but my ego was getting the best part of me. I rolled my eyes at him and moved my face away from his direction.
"I'm fine" I answered bluntly.
"No! You're not" He countered. "Look at you. Found out you've even brought Gemma into court officially. What are you even doing Troy?"
"What do you mean Adrian?" I gave him a confused stare, holding down my tone.
"I'm talking about Aris for Gods sake. Are you going to keep ignoring her and lying to yourself that you don't care?" He yelled at me angrily that I couldnt even utter a word back at him because I was too angry for words.
I shut my eyes tightly inhaling and exhaling deeply to calm my tensed nerves but it wasn't working. Adrian's confrontations were really pissing me off. How could he ask me such stupid questions?
"You're talking about a woman who tried to have sexual relation with one of my best friends?" I reminded him and he sneered at me.
"No she didn't? It was a set up?"
"Why do everyone keep saying it's a set up. Where the fuck is the proof to the claim" I shouted slamming my fist on the table as I stood to my feet boiling in anger. Pacing and exhaling continuously, I knew I was close to my elasticity limit and would loose it any moment.
Adrian got up and tried to touch me but I shoved his hands off my shoulders harshly.
"Calm down Troy, I dont have a proof but I trust her"
At the mention of the word trust, I stopped pacing and looked at him.
"Trust" I said scoffing with raised eyebrow. "You trust my fiance....... why would you trust her and even defend her? I'm supposed to be the one trusting her not you" I pointed at him in a state of bemusement.
"Calm down Troy!" He yelled angrily, threw his hands in the air with a raised voice. "Why won't I defend her since you've bluntly refused to do that. And if you heard yourself, you just called her your fiancee when clearly another woman has taken that position in your life?"
Running my hands through my air, I tried recollecting my words. "Maybe it was tongue slip" I scoffed. "However Adrian, what i demand to know now is, what kind of relationship do you have with Aris? I've heard side comments concerning you and her? I arched a brow impatiently with a scowl on my waiting for his response.
"Hahahaha" he laughed out loud hysterically "Are you being serious right now? You're fucking jealous of my relationship with Aris. She's my best friend for crying out loud?"
"Your best friend? I repeated with a scowl on my face.
"Yes and apart from that, we're also cousins?"
My eyes widened but I quickly composed myself. Didnt want to look surprised and stupid.
"Cousins" I huffed eyeing him. "So you mean all this while, you've been close to Aris and you never cared to tell me about it?"
"Well..... I was gonna do that at the right time. Infact she even wanted to tell you but I stopped her?" He explained.
"I can't believe you Adrain" I shook my head in disappointment. "You are my best friend and yet you kept such a secret from me, letting the whole world believe that you two were an item" I expressed exhausted and collapsed to the chair.
"I'm sorry Troy. I'm really sorry. I had my reasons for that. Now you know, that's why I'm saying Aris is innocent. I know her and I trust with my life" He apologized but I ignored him and his obtuse apology with my face buried in between my hands.
"Baby you're not eating?" Gemma's hands travelled to my arms and I shuddered breaking out of my thoughts and staring at her. "You're not eating and the food is getting cold" she repeated her statement. "What's the problem? You look lost"
"Uhm......its nothing" I stammered. "Let's eat" and I managed to dive into the food.
I couldn't get my mind and thoughts off Aris. What has this woman done to me? I couldn't believe I would fight my best friend because of her.
Gosh! I felt relieved when Adrain told me they were cousins because I didn't want any other competition, but then can I still call her mine after what she did to Charles?
The whole picture was still unclear and gradually doubts were sepping into my mind. Maybe Gauis and Adrian were right, Aris was framed.
But even though it was the truth, Gemma was now the prince's bride. Was there anything I can do even with the numerous promises I made our parents?
The more I considered the situation, the more confused I became. I was starting to be alot nicer to Gemma and guess what, She was enjoying every bit of it and giving me peace too.
Hmmm! I breathed heavily, but my heart belonged to Aris and she alone. I should probably try to reach out to her soon hoping it wont be late.
After dinner, I sat down in the living room to relax a bit and of course Gemma was still there with me.
"Dinner was great. Thanks for inviting me" she initiated a conversation.
"Its okay, glad you honoured it?" I replied almost in a whisper.
"Really?" She asked excitedly moving closer to where I sat but I ignored her.
"Look Troy, I would really love things to work out between us. I mean it would be perfect. Everyone keeps saying we are perfect for each other and I believe them"
"Gemma, there's a difference between love and friendship and the two cant be mixed up. Do I love being friends with you? - yes I do but am I in love with you? - No I'm not - "
"I know I said I was gonna try and see if I could love you but honestly you need to give me time and stop forcing it....... I was very furious at you with what happened in Noxas city" I whisper-yelled "That was a public event and you tried to fucking kiss me. Were you drunk or what?"
She sighed and moved much more closing the gap between us. I was relaxed on the couch with my back resting on the head rest while she sat up. She placed her hands on my abs softly, wanting to caress them when I held onto her hands and shoved them away lightly.
"I'm so sorry Troy, I didn't know what came over me, I guess I was feeling an emotional rush, that's what happened" she tried explaining.
"That's okay but should never repeat itself again. I need time....Love takes time" I reminded her.
"But it was love at first sight with Aris. Why is mine different?" She whined and immediately I shot her a dangerous stare.
How dare she compare herself to my fiancee?
"What did you say?" I growled
"Come on Troy, I know you loved that girl, you can't hide it and I also know you're suffering silently because of what she did. How shameless of her" She charged me. "Well, I'm here now and for you, to take your mind off that trash girl" she smirked, wanting to put her hands on my abs again but this time I held her wrist and pushed it harder away from me.
Standing up to my feet angrily, I pointed my fingers at her with a scowl on my face "Dont you ever Gemma, dont ever compare yourself to Aris. Never" I warned her sternly.