"On behalf of his majesty, the king and the entire royal family of Doxa kingdom, I present this tastefully finished and furnished winery to the people of Islandes through the Duke and Duchess, Isidore and Isadora Floros and of course the beautiful lady Aris....."
Shuttering sounds of cameras
Troy's eyes flashed to my direction where I sat down with my parents dressed in a fashionable red flowing gown with my hair styled in a chignon.
He smiled at me and I reciprocated with a blush before swaying his eyes were swayed back to the camera as he continued his speech.
"As one of the best wine producing areas in the kingdom, this winery will not only enhance productivity but will also add as a source of revenue for the province and increase the number of skilled and employed workers......in the land"
"This project to me over the years has been very personal and dear, hence the very reason the names are indeed precious and dear to my heart......"
Tuning my attention away from Troy, I directed it toward Adrian who was seated beside the prince.
He seemed engrossed in Troy's speech or was he deliberately ignoring me after our last encounter?
Never for once, has Adrian being this mad at me for long..... I know I kinda over stepped my boundary with him that day, but I was stunned and dumbfounded.
After he snapped at me, telling me how much he loved Echo, I literally broke down in some stupid tears .
The feelings of anger and jealousy were so heightened that I couldn't fathom the emotional outburst I went through that day.
Honestly, It was unlike me and I was utmost embarrassed at my actions.
Apparently, Adrain felt worse - vulnerable and helpless coupled with the shock. He couldn't understand my reaction thus he asked me those two difficult questions which I couldn't answer.
As I recalled the questions, 'Are you jealous Aris? - Do you love me that way,' The embarrassment swallowed me the more.
To me, those questions came out wrongly and unexpected. How could Adrian ask me such? Well obviously, my emotions betrayed me and since I couldn't provide an answer, he walked out on me.
His exit was what broke my heart more. I cried like never before, even forgetting about the prince's visit and that I might be acting awkward.
Now here I was, trying to get his attention and apologise but it looked like he's clearly ignoring me.
My existence meant nothing to him anymore as he's refused to look at me or even acknowledge my presence.
His display of actions meant only one thing - He was definitely still angry at me...... Now how do I apologise and make him understand that it was all a false impression?
Was it really? or am I just trying to lie to myself. C'mon Aris you love Adrian but probably not in love with him.
Wandering my eyes back to the podium where the love of my life stood handsomely with so much poise, culture and grandeur, our eyes locked in each other, I couldn't help but admire how gorgeous he looked and made my culmination in my head.
Being king, surely befitted him......he was without doubt born for this - born to reign and rule.
He gave me a smile and a curt nod as he wrapped up his speech.
Cheering and applauds erupted from the gathered crowd as everyone rose to their feet in respect to the king as he descended the podium and took his seat.
Quickly, my father scurried up to give the vote of thanks speech. I glanced sideways again towards where Troy sat, to see if I could be lucky to get an eye contact with him and behold I did.
The moment our eyes locked with each other, we were indeed in a world of our own, staring longingly and lasciviously at each other before Steflos, the king's adviser whispered in his ears interrupting us.
I frowned my face but Troy winked at me and mouthed 'I'm sorry' before focusing his attention on Steflos.
Shifting my gaze back to the duke who was also finalizing his speech, I wondered why Troy would name this project 'Aged to perfection winery'
Apparently, when the project kick started months ago, many were confused as to what his intentions were but let me brag a little- I had the privilege of being aware. Troy said two things that always drove his ideas were to meet the need of a particular province of build on their existing strength.
Later, the ceremony came to an end as the prince and his entourage were ushered into the beautiful banquet area, where an already reception already awaited them - courtesy of my wonderful parents who were indeed wonderful hosts.
The large table was beautifully set and arranged, enough to accommodate all the royalties and officials who were in attendance. Though only a handful of them joined the prince's entourage.
I tried to sit close to Adrian on the table, but he understood my moves and rather chose to seat three seats away from me. I would be lying if I said I wasn't offended by his actions.
Fuck! Adrian..... you're frustrating me..... how do I apologise if you keep avoiding me this way, making me look stupid and desperate.
Consequently, I excused myself from the table on the grounds of feeling unwell in my stomach but within me, I felt dispirited and oblivious to all the happenings.
Troy sat on end of the table while the duke sat on the other with my mother beside him, followed my the rest family members. I thought of giving Troy a signal with my eyes before leaving but he was engrossed in a discussion....
Though, I assumed my absence from the table will somewhat unsettle him but I did anyways..
I felt invisible, sad and morbid, so I rushed to my room, incognizant of the tears slowly streaming from my eyes.
Aris why the hell are you shedding tears, feeling all vulnerable? my subconscious scolded but when I searched my heart, I understood it was more than Adrian's avoidance.
I felt lonely and alone. The enthusiasm built over the last few days by me in anticipation of the prince's visit was pointless.
Yes he was now here, but since his arrival yesterday up untill now, we've had no one-on-one contact apart from the hug he gave to me on the arrival day when we received him, and those passim eye contacts and smiles.
He's been so busy with one activity or the other, that I began to wonder where the unofficial visit, Adrian told me about was.
The king's itinerary had noticeably been arranged by the kings adviser - Steflos, whom I was much surprised in seeing instead of Gaius.
Steflos was a stern, no-nonsense man. He knew all Doxa's traditions by heart and was a strong advocate for them just like Adrian. There was no way, he would choose pleasure over serious economical activities.
This was the exact reason why he chose to choke up Troy's schedule, not granting him any breathing space or personal time to himself and this was rapidly eating me up.
I had missed him so much and was longing for his company and undivided attention.
Unaware of how long I'd spent crying into my pillows, when a knock filtered into my ears.
"Darling...." The duchess voice seeped into the room. Quickly I rushed into the bathroom to wipe my face and do a little touch up on my makeup before letting her in.
"Mother" my voice low and husky...
"Have you been crying?" She asked me as I jumped back into the bed resting my back against the headboard.
Damn she was good in smelling a rat.
Then she followed me in and took a seat at the edge of the bed just staring at me.
"Is the lunch over?" I inquired, fiddling with the locks of my hair.
"Yes it is.......What's wrong? You know you can talk to me.....I'm your mother"
I sighed heavily shakingmy head. "Nothing serious mum.... I had a fight with Adrian and its hurting to see him ignore me like I do not exist"
She chuckled softly... "So you're crying because of Adrian" she just had to repeat my statement as I controlled the urge not to roll my eyes at her..
"Darling..... if you had a fight with Adrian, why dont you talk to him...... he's here. Isnt he?..... look for an opportunity and speak with him....."
Then she paused and stared at me with a small smile forming at the corners of her lips. "Your absence at the table really destabilized the prince"
Shit! I mumbled inaudibly. Well I knew about the effect it would have on him when I left but the curiosity is, how did she know?
"How did you know mother?"
She blushed hard. "You do realise I once was in your place.. right" I smiled at her words as she continued. "It was quite obvious - loss of interest, frowning, irritation and many emotions he put up"
"The royal adviser is not making it easy for us to see and spend time.....with each other" I whispered the end part frowning.
"I understand that princess. You should know he's here on a double capacity...... "She spoke softly and smiled lightly.
"But I'm pretty sure, he will look for a way to meet with you soon" She said, stretcing her hands and squeezed my thighs lovingly.
"My beautiful angel in love.......I have to head back to your father, dont want him getting worried...... Find Adrian and talk things out with him.... Okay?.. I'm sure you'd get better after talking..." She kissed me on my hair, placing the strands behind my ear and walked out.
Thereafter, I sent for Ida... I wanted an update on what was happening momentarily. She informed me that Troy was preparing for yet another project flagging off in Ibiza - one of the counties in Islandes.
My chest constricted achingly at the latest information I just heard. Probably I should just head for the royal suite, I thought out loud.
Before my head could process my thoughts, my feet were literally taking me towards there.
As I moved through the hallway, the guards kept bowing at me......they looked outnumbered as I took in the environment more closely.
Although, security around the castle was usallly tripled whenever the king or prince visited.
Making my way through, I finally stopped at the door of the royal suite. It was slightly opened revealing a small part of the room.
The guards, very proactive were about announcing my presence when I hushed them.
My instincts told me he had company and again I heard multiple voices.
Notwithstanding, I knocked lightly, opened the door wider and stepped into the room.
All eyes that were present there, fell on me instantly erupting a quiver from me as I remained stuck in my tracks unable to move.
Their expressions were hard to read though but I didn't bother, besides I wasn't here for them.
After a moment, they retracted their eyes, apart for my prince whose eyes remained glued on me.... For a second, I was glad I was still wearing the beautiful red gown from before because I suddenly became conscious of my appearance.
Troy's mouth parted slightly as he eyed me from my head down to my toe, taking and drinking in my very presence which had transformed the aura of the room.
My face beamed with smiles and he smiled right back at me licking his lower lip.
He was wearing a navy blue pants, white shirt and a brown oxford whip shoe.... and a red tie. His jacket was lying on one of the couches which meant he was almost on his way out as reported by Ida.
Swallowing hard, I scanned through him, lost in his good looks and graceful appearance, before my eyes fell on him and a frown quickly creased my face.
Steflos - the adviser was here. Couldn't he just give Troy a break....? I scoffed in my head angrily as I acknowledged Theon, his right hand wingman and of course Lord Adrian.
"Lady Aris" Steflos and Theon bowed as I walked further into the room feeling conscience-stricken.
"So...sorry....the door was opened " I apologized for infringing on their private moment as I stopped infront of Troy. "Your highness" I curtsied, my gaze fixed on Troy.
He looked amused at my action as he kept running his thumb across his lower lips, his eyes sparkling with emotions.
"Lady Aris" he nodded curtly, taking my hands and warming it with a soft kiss.... his hot breath grazing my skin and electrifying my whole body....
"How are you?"
"Great" I whispered and he led me to sit on a chair, at just the time, annoying Steflos called his attention to a paper work and he drifted. I saw the timing as my cue to talk to Adrian.
"Rian...."I called softly and he looked at me from where he sat, for the very first time today...his eyes were sad.....and emotionless.
"Please can we talk?" I spoke, tears pricking my eyes but I held them in.
"Not now" his voice acrid and cold sending a sharp pain sensation all over my body.
"Then when?......Rian, I'm sorry......please"
"Aris, did you come here to see me or the prince?" He questioned with a cold stare.
Shit.... another question with no answer. Actually my intuition said he was the one.
"Apparently, I came looking for you, thankfully when I heard your voice in here, I decided to come in...... so its you, Rian".
"Hey princess" Troy interrupted us, taking a seat on the table, right infront of me so we could face each other, he clasped my hands in his, and kissed them again causing me to giggle.
"What are you doing?" I whispered, my side eyes on Adrian, who quickly stood up and walked into the bedroom probably to get ready.
"Hey - are you still here?" Troy called out, tilting my face upwards to his, and bringing my confused concentration back to him. "I've missed you so much princess" he whispered "And you look gorgeous as always"
"Mmhmm. Is that so?" He half chuckled as I pouted.
"Ofcourse.... I'm really sorry I've been so busy since my arrival but I promise, we will spend some good time together tonight when I'm back and if you're not too tired"
"Yea.....glad you noticed that because Its killing me softly- you're busy schedule..... And where is Gauis by the way?" I had to inquire because I was constantly fed up with Steflos.
"Oh, he's held up with work at the palace"
Could have been better than this stone faced Steflos.
"I missed you too, so much and that was a nice project" I muttered softly with my eyes closed as I relinquished the painful feelings of loneliness.
Troy's hands moved to my face, brushing away strands of hair and tucking behind my ear, his fingers caressed my skin as he traced a line softly from my ears down to my neck..
I gasped, swallowing hard at the budding passion that was building all over my body at his touch..
Suddenly he stopped when Steflos called on him again, interrupting us.
Oh please don't stop...... my subconscious pleaded. At that point, it was obvious Steflos was doing this on purpose.
"Its time to leave your highness" Theon declared, leaving Steflos side.
"Give me few minutes......" he responded and cupped my cheek. "Princess....." he stroked my chin as I opened my eyes staring into his. "I've got to go but, tonight...... I promise" and he hugged me, kissing my hair and forehead.
Rising to his feet, he put on his jacket as Adrian emerged from the room sipping a bottle of water which he later tossed at Troy.
"Hey Adrian.... everything okay between you two" he raised a chin darting it between Adrian and I with a suspicious look on his face.
Instantly, my heart skipped a beat as I held onto my breath, a little scared of him finding out what transpired between us. I guess Adrian noticed my discomposure as his eyes briefly studied my face.
He shrugged and nodded at Troy "Ofcourse... we are good. Why?"
"Well...... I don't know... you guys seem to be acting weird around each other or is it maybe, my imagination?"
"Probably it is...... Let's go man....."Adrian switched the topics abruptly, of which I was grateful for.
Didnt want Troy sticking his butt in our personal matter...and they walked out.