Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Black Keys Chapter 22







(SM) owns Twilight.
(CozItRunsInMyBlood) owns the plot.
(RobzBeanie) is a lifesaver and she beta this.
(janosch73) is my amazingly wonderful per-reader.
Chapter 22
Isabella Marie

"I'm not sure I'm following," the prince said. "Come again, Alica?"
I looked from the prince to Alice, a frown on my face, waiting for her to obey the prince's request. I was grateful that he'd asked it at all since I wasn't following myself or understanding what exactly she wanted.
Alice emptied her lungs in a short sigh that sounded more like a huff. I didn't know if the prince noticed or not, but she looked exhausted, drained even. Her puffy eyes were bloodshot, and her face was paler than normal. She was smiling, cheerful as ever. All relaxed and appearing whole. But – she really wasn't. I could tell she was not well, not at all. Not only emotionally, but physically as well.
Had she slept at all? Had she eaten anything? … Had she stopped crying since yesterday? The questions roamed around my head. Wondering why, if she looked so tired, so sad and just plain depressed, why would she pretend to be happy? Why was she acting as if she was fine and life was rosy and pink? I had no clue. And the thing I was wondering about the most was if she'd spoken to Jasper at all or if they'd already made up.
I doubted it, though. Because it simply didn't look like it.
I figured that if I was noticing all of this – her face that she was hiding with thick makeup that although covering some of her sadness, still did so little to cover her pain – the prince was probably seeing it, too. Not due to the fact that he was a doctor or anything like that, but the fact that he was her brother. The caring and loving brother I knew he was.
"I want to take Princess Marie to meet Princess Rosanna."
Um … Rosanna?
"Aha! And why is that?" the prince asked.
"It's just that Princess Rosanna missed the wedding, as you know, and she wanted to meet with Princess Marie to wish her a happy marriage and to give her her wedding gift," Alice explained.
"Hmm …" her brother replied, his gaze moving away from her and to somewhere above her shoulder. He looked as if he was considering her request, filling the room with silence as I kept glancing between the two of them. The prince kept thinking, not looking my way, and Alice only smiled softly when our eyes met. Said smile failed to reach those lined-with-thick-kohl eyes of hers, though.
"Princess Rosanna who?" I had to ask.
"She's our cousin and sister-in-law, Prince Emad's wife."
Huh!
"It's kind of you both to think of that," the prince replied. "But you know the seven-day rule; we wouldn't want to upset our mother by breaking more rules."
"It won't be a problem; I already got the queen's permission," Alice replied.
"You did?" he sounded surprised.
Her answer was a smiling nod.
"I see," the prince said. "Well, I don't mind, but it's up to the Princess," he turned to look at me. "Would that be something you'd like to do?"
I didn't reply right away. To be honest, I didn't know if it was something I wanted to do or was okay with. I didn't know the princess in question. I didn't know if she was nice or if she would be like the queen or whatever. But then again, it sounded like she was nice enough to ask to see me so that she could give me my wedding gift.
Or just wants you there to humiliate you … a voice in my head suggested. I shrugged it off at Alice's pleading look and replied, "Yeah, sure, why not?" and something told me that the prince wasn't really that happy about me going away.
"Yay!" Alice squealed half-heartedly and said that Princess Rosanna would be very happy to see me.
I just smiled, and didn't say anything.
"Mona," Alice called, bringing Mona to the living room where we were seated within two seconds from the moment she'd said her name.
"Yes, Princess Alica?" Mona replied.
"Please, prepare Princess Marie the brown blouse with roses on the bottom, and blue jeans," she said, and Mona frowned.
"Um, brown?" she asked.
"Yes, Mona, brown – don't you know where it is?" Alice asked with a frown of her own.
"Uh, I'm sure I can find it, Princess. I'll be right back," Mona said and disappeared through one of the secret doors.
"I hope you don't mind me picking something for you to wear, Marie."
"Um, no. It's alright. You picked out all of my clothes anyway, right?" I smiled, and she returned it with a small one.
"Alica," the prince got her attention with a call of her name, "How are you feeling today?"
"I'm okay," was her instant reply, but she didn't sound or look like it.
The prince nodded slowly, he – too – was not very convinced by her reply. I could tell.
"I still need to see you before you have to leave," he told her.
The prince and his sister held each other's gaze for a moment too long before Alice nodded with yet another fake smile and a, "Yes, of course."
Before I could wonder what that was all about, Mona chose that moment to come back, looking frustrated and not very happy, more like annoyed even.
"I apologize, Princess Alica, but I can't find any brown blouse with roses on the bottom," she said.
Alice sighed dramatically – which made me frown – and got up. "I'll have to get it myself, then. C'mon Marie," she said and walked to the secret door Mona had just come from before I could reply.
When I looked at the prince, he just smiled a small smile and shrugged as if telling me silently 'That's Alice for you,' and the look in his eyes made me smile with my own. I then got up and followed them into the closet.
Inside, Alice went for a line of shirts and blouses, picking up one with short sleeves and roses at the bottom, just like she'd described. But it was actually dark red, not brown.
I thought it was strange, I couldn't understand how Alice would confuse dark red with brown. I mean, it was pretty obvious that Alice had a very keen sense when it came to fashion – everything around me was huge proof of that – the furniture, the decorations, all of the clothes. It was really confusing how could she confuse the colors.
"Um, that's not brown, Princess," Mona commented.
"Ah! Yeah, my mistake, I guess it slipped my mind," Alice said, shrugging, and Mona just smiled. "What do you think, Marie? Do you like it?"
"Yeah, it's nice. Thanks," I replied, and at my answer Mona reached for the blouse to take it from Alice's hand, but Alice moved it out of her reach, objecting.
"I'll help Princess Marie dress, why don't you go bring us something to drink, please?"
"Yes, of course. Anything you'd prefer, Princesses?"
"Anything would be fine, thank you," I said.
"Surprise us," Alice grinned despite the sadness that I could easily see in her eyes.
"I'll be right back."
Once Mona had left the closet, Alice's face cleared of any grins or even smiles; she turned from her cheerful mood into a serious one in the blink of an eye. And the next thing I knew she was pulling me by the hand to the furthest corner of the closet and then standing in front of me, as close as she could get.
"Marie, listen to me carefully," she started and for some reason, my heart started thumping rapidly in my chest just hearing those five words, "We won't be going to see Rosanna, I've prepared everything for you to get you to the US by the morning."
Her words took a second to settle in. My mind couldn't comprehend it right away. But then, when I finally did understand her words, I couldn't help the joy and the relief that consumed my heart at the sound of them.
"Oh, my God!" I gushed. "Are you serious?"
"Shhhh!" Alice hushed me, looking behind her to where the closed door was. "Yes, I'm serious, if everything goes as planned, you'll be on the jet that will get you to the States within two hours. If not–" she paused, "I don't even want to think about it."
Huh!
"Two hours from now? That soon?" It was really beyond my expectations that Alice would find me the way out just twenty-four hours after I'd told her I craved one. I thought it'd take months or at least weeks, but one day? Yes, I wasn't hardly able to believe it myself, as all of the relief and excitement to be back in my own country again filled my heart and mind.
"Today is the perfect day; I've planned everything, don't worry about it," she assured me. "You're getting on the jet that's supposed to take me to the US. You'll be wearing a Niqap–" at the frown on my face she explained, "A face cover." Oh! "So anyone who sees you will think you are me. We just need to be very smart about everything we do starting now, and a hell lot of luck."
Head spinning and heartbeats speeding up. "I'll go back to my country?" Disbelief laced my voice.
"Yes, Marie, you will," Alice smiled reassuringly, her eyes gray with all of the troubles that were filling them. She reached for my hand, squeezing it as if to emphasize the security her words wanted me to feel.
I nodded, paused for a second or two while looking at the floor, and when I looked up at her again, I had to ask, "What about Jasper?"
Her smile was gone the second his name left my mouth, and her eyes shone with what I knew to be unshed tears – it was such a sad sight to watch. "Jaser made it to New York hours ago, Marie," she replied.
My throat closed and I had to swallow a few times. "He did?" came my whispered question.
He left?
He left me?
"Yes, he did. He went in your private jet. I was supposed to go with him, but I told him I needed a day by myself and that I'd be right behind him. It wasn't an easy task, my step-mother and all, but – I managed."
He left …
That jet was still in the airport for me. It was supposed to take me back home three days after the wedding like I had planned since the start. I wanted to correct her, but I couldn't find the heart to do so. My heart was too hurt by the fact that my brother actually did leave me in the kingdom despite everything.
I slowly nodded, finding it unnecessary to keep on the broken, hurt side. It wouldn't be right to dwell on the fact that my brother was a complete jerk now. It was not wise. I had far more important things to think about. Things that needed my full attention and needed it now.
"Okay," I said, more quietly than I would've liked. "I guess I have to dress quickly."
"Yes," Alice said. "But I need you to stay calm; don't let anyone sense that something is going on. You'll have to contain yourself very well in front of Mazen – he's too smart and will notice if anything seems off."
Mazen …
The closing in my throat got a companion in the ache in my heart when I heard his name. And the realization of what would happen when I leave the kingdom – the fact that I'd be leaving him as well – hit me hard on the chest and started hurting everywhere I could ever feel the hurt.
Maybe my thoughts had affected my looks, maybe my face changed or my expression told of the worry and odd feelings that decided to visit me when I was finally aware that I'd be leaving the prince for good in just a short time, possibly a little over an hour, because Alice asked, "Hey, are you okay?"
I had to be okay. Of course I was okay. I was finally getting what I had wanted more than anything over the past few days. I was finally getting my freedom. Of course I was okay. So, I told her just that, "Yes. Yes, of course."
Once again, Mona chose that moment to come in with two juice glasses on a small tray in her hands, then she asked where we would like to drink them. Alice said she needed to go to ask her maid to bring her something I could wear on top of my clothes, and without further explanation, she was gone.
"Are you okay, Princess?" Mona asked, setting the tray on one of the three small tables that were placed in the corner I was standing near.
"Um, yeah, why wouldn't I be?"
"You seem a little distant," she said. "Is there anything you'd like for me to do or get for you?"
"No, no, I'm fine. I just need to get dressed." I thought that if Mona was able to tell so easily that something was off with me, the prince would be able to tell even easier, and that wouldn't be good. I had to get it together.
The prince …
The thought of getting out of here was more pleasant than I could ever say. Something I'd wanted from the very same second I'd stepped a foot in this kingdom. Heck, I didn't even want to be here in the first place. But now thinking about what I'd be leaving behind – or to be clearer, who I was leaving behind – the thought just wasn't as great as I'd thought it would be. Which was disgustingly crazy. I was being crazy. I knew I was.
Mona helped me out of the purple dress that I'd only worn to meet with Alice since it's not appropriate to meet her with the pajama I'd been wearing, Mona had said, and then into the jeans and the dark red blouse.
When she brought me the shoes, I didn't want to wear them, not after what had happened last night with the sandals I was wearing, and not after knowing that I'd be in a situation soon where broken stuff wouldn't be much of a help. No matter that the shoes were designed to be worn inside or outside or how expensive they were, I just didn't trust them anymore. I wanted my own.
"Do you happen to have the heels I wore on the wedding night?" I asked Mona.
"The silver ones?" she asked and I nodded. "Yes, do you want me to get them?"
"Yes, please," I said, and it took her only two minutes to come back to me with the heels in her hands. I decided to wear them once I was finished with my hair, so I walked barefoot to one of the two dressers that were placed in the middle of the closet.
It was so foolish of me to question if I was doing the right thing by leaving like that. I mean, what the heck did I want more than that? Why was I having such strange feelings that made me doubt that what I was doing was the best thing for myself at this point? Why was I trying to cover worry and uncertainly when what I should be trying to hide were my happiness and the joy and the excitement I should be feeling at the thought of leaving this place? Why?
I couldn't understand myself.
"I'm surprised the queen agreed to breaking a rule so easily," I thought with a loud voice.
"Queen Esmat would go way too far to make her nieces happy," Mona smiled. "But I'm also sure that Princess Alica was convincing enough to make her agree."
Hmm!
"Princess Rosanna lives on the same floor, right?" I asked Mona.
"Yes, Princess. Though her wing is separated from yours completely."
"Yeah, the prince told me," I replied. "Why didn't she come to the wedding?"
"Princess Rosanna is on bed rest as her doctor has ordered; she's in the first trimester of her sixth pregnancy, hardly ever leaves the bed," Mona explained, moving the brush down my hair.
"Sixth pregnancy?!" I asked in shock.
"Yes, the poor young lady has lost all of her unborn babies every time she's gotten pregnant," she replied in sorrow.
"Oh, God! That is horrible!" I commented.
"It is," she said. "We all pray from all of our hearts for God to give them as many healthy children as they might desire one day."
"Amen," I found myself saying. I didn't even think twice about it. And my one-word comment earned me a warm smile from Mona that she delivered to me through the dresser mirror's reflection.
Another minute passed before I asked another question, "If she has a boy, will he be the heir of the King?" I wondered if she was already pregnant, wouldn't that mean that the prince's chances of becoming king were already blown? Maybe I wanted to believe that so I wouldn't feel so guilty about him not marrying the right woman to help him take his place on his father's throne, as he was supposed to.
"No, Princess. It's only if – God forbid – the king dies before Prince Mazen has an heir of his own."
Oh!
"What if neither has one?" The guilt banged in my heart once again – though it was very silly of me to ever feel like that, I knew.
"Then the position will go to the king's brother, Princess Rosanna's father."
Oh!
But – wait …
"I thought you said that she was the queen's niece?"
"Yes, Princess, she's both the queen and the king's niece."
"How is that even possible?!"
"Simple, Princess, two brothers married two sisters. Actually, three brothers married three sisters if you count our former king, God rest his soul."
"Oh! That's Kareen's father, right?" I remembered her telling me that her aunt took the title from her mother after her father died and her uncle became the king.
"That's correct, Princess."
"Those things happen a lot here? My head is spinning just thinking about it; I have no idea how you guys keep up with knowing who is related to whom," I chuckled half-heartedly, mastering my plan in pretending that I was not freaking out from the inside and keeping the small talk going.
"You can't even imagine," she grinned, finishing my hair and commenting on how beautiful I looked. I politely thanked her and got up to put my heels on.
As silly as it was, the feeling I got once I put my feet in those heels was something very strange. I felt a sense of familiarity, which lead to striking the longing I had already been feeling for what seemed like too long. I was finally wearing something of my own, and it just reminded me of all of the things that had been taken away from me since the day I got here.
Mona then excused herself to bring me the clothes that Alice had said her maid would be bringing me, leaving me to my thoughts for a few minutes. I pretended to be adjusting my clothes over my body, not like the thoughts in my head was about to knock me over to the floor or anything.
She came back a few minutes later with black clothes folded in her hands. And when I gave her a questioning look, pretending I didn't know what was in there, she said that I had to cover up so that no one would know that the new bride was roaming around in the palace before the first week had passed. Or that was what Alice had told her.
The Abaya I wore wasn't like the one I'd worn last night, this one was heavier. Much heavier, and much, much bigger – I was really drowning in it. Also, unlike the one from yesterday, it barely had any decorations on it, though it still looked nice. To a point. The face cover was not an easy thing to wear, or to keep on for that matter. It gave me a headache and it wasn't comfortable at all; I couldn't breathe normally, let alone the heat I felt in it just a minute after putting it on. And when I complained to Mona, wondering how on earth they were able to keep this thing on for hours, she just smiled big and told me, "You get used to it," as if it was the easiest thing in the whole world.
With a deep breath then a long sigh, I stepped out of the closet through the same door I'd entered, the one that led to the living room where the prince was.
He was standing by the wall which the flat screen dominated, looking at what I figured was a collection of CDs. When he felt my presence, he glanced over his shoulder at me then to the CD in his hand, paused for a moment, and then turned his head to look at me again only to turn fully to be facing me.
His eyes narrowed and he cocked his head to the side, and when those narrowed eyes turned into shocked ones, I had to stifle a laugh at the expression on his face. Though he couldn't see me, I knew he heard my soft snickers.
"Princess!" he said in surprise.
"Hey!" I smiled behind my niqap.
The prince walked over to where I was standing, and came close to me, stopping only when he was within touching distance. Or even closer.
I swallowed thickly.
His hands came up to under my chin and near to my chest where he took hold of the edges of the face cover with his fingertips and brought it up and over my head, just like a groom would do to his bride on their wedding night, with her veil.
My smile grew at the look in his eyes as he studied my face, and my heart ached some more realizing that this could be the very last time I would ever see this loving look. The very last time I ever get to see those kind eyes. The very last time I see this beautiful smile.
"Wow! You look absolutely stunning, Princess," he said in genuine awe, and I felt as if the tears I was choking with were going to fall so soon. "Let me guess, Alica's idea?" he asked and I just smiled. I was glad when Mona interrupted us with her, ''I'm ready," seeing that she was now dressed all in black, as well.
"I should go," I said when I turned to look back at him, my voice shaking slightly.
"Are you alright?" the prince asked in a whisper, stepping even closer to me. His hand touched my cheek tenderly, and without any effort from me, my eyes closed and my head leaned into his touch.
"Yeah," I said when I composed myself the slightest bit, smiling a small smile.
"You don't have to go if you don't want to, you know that, right?" he asked with now concerned eyes.
Oh, I wanted to go. But I still didn't …
I nodded my answer, then asked, "Will you be okay?" as if he needed me to keep him okay or something. The truth was, I wanted to hear that he would be okay, just to please something inside of me. The 'something' that told me I could be hurting him by doing this.
The prince chuckled lightly. "Yeah, I'll watch a movie or something to keep me company until you get back." The big smile never left his beautiful face.
But I'm not coming back …
"Okay. Good," was all I said, before turning to take a few steps towards where Mona was standing.
My steps were heavy, and my heart was heavier, and I couldn't understand why I was finding it so hard to get out of that living room. I should be running out of it like a bat out of hell or whatever. Why was I being like that?
My legs on their own stopped in their tracks, and out of nowhere, I found myself running back to the prince and standing in front of him just like I'd been before, or maybe closer. I answered his questioning look about my actions by pressing my lips to his, kissing him with everything in me that screamed at me to do it before I've lost it forever, because everything in me knew that if I didn't do just that right now, I'd wonder for the rest of my life why I didn't or how that very kiss – that I was kissing completely willingly and absolutely eagerly – would've felt.
His lips were hesitant for less than a moment before they started kissing me with just as much passion as I was kissing him. His hand moved to hold me around my waist, hugging me to his body; my own hands did the same as they surrounded his neck, bringing him even closer to me if it was possible, tangling my fingers in the soft, oh, very soft hairs on the back of his head.
I got to taste him when he deepened our kiss, got to feel his need for me when he pressed me tighter to his body, and got to hear his soft moan when I pulled his lip into my mouth.
One last time, I got to taste him. One last time, I got to feel him. One last time, I got to hear him. One last time.
And when our kiss ended, there was a tear on the side of my face. The prince brushed it away with his thumb, then kissed my cheek right where the tear had lived just a second ago, telling me with his smiling lips, "We will talk when you come back, Beautiful Princess."
I smiled with all of the power I could manage to force my lips – that were aching to touch his again – to do, and then joined Mona by the door, who – by the way – was looking down at the floor and blushing deeply like a schoolgirl who'd just met her first crush. If I had it in me, I would've chuckled at how our kiss had made her look, so shy and almost embarrassed.
What I did, though, was touch my cross and hold it over my chest, closing my eyes as I stood still there for a minute.
Dear God! Please, give me the strength to do what I'm about to do. And keep me safe. Amen. I prayed, took another deep breath and then stepped out the room. Out of the wing.
Here goes nothing.
~BK~

1 comment:

  1. oh no she will leave him :( hewill feel so hurt. this is bella grey btw. i couldnt open ffn its blocked again

    ReplyDelete