Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Black Keys Chapter 23





(SM) owns Twilight.
(CozItRunsInMyBlood) owns the plot.
(RobzBeanie) is a lifesaver and she beta this.
(janosch73) is my amazingly wonderful per-reader.
Chapter 23
Isabella Marie
Heart: Heavy.
Head: Light.
Heavy-hearted and lightheaded, I took one step after another away from the wing. I walked away from it. From the prince. A stinging feeling living my chest. Stinging. Paining. Confusing.
I couldn't help the feeling of pain inside of me as I made my way farther away from the wing, with Mona beside me. But I made sure to not think about all of the confusion I was cursed with at that moment until a later time. Because right then, it would've been the stupidest thing for me to ignore everything going on and what I had just started doing, and instead start thinking about how or why I was having these strange and unwelcomed feelings caused by the thought of my escape to freedom.
Heart. Head. Both hurt. Bad.
"This way, Princess," Mona said, and I followed her, only learning that I was still in the wing when I saw a great wooden door at the end of the lobby we were walking in. Standing beside it was a woman in black that was just another version of me; the same black clothes with almost the very same height and form. If not for the fact that her face wasn't covered, I wouldn't have known that she was Alice.
A smile was drawn on Alice's face when we approached. As fake one that by now I'd seen so many times it wasn't even funny. And a huge part of me hated to see how much effort it was taking her to show that she was alright. She seriously wasn't. She was too sad. It was upsetting.
"Ah! Finally!" she said with her fake smile plastered on her lips. "Are you ready to meet your other sister-in-law, Marie?" The look in her eyes as she gazed at mine didn't give anything away other than what I'd already known, so to Mona – I knew everything looked normal.
All I managed in reply was a simple nod; speaking seemed so hard and I just couldn't find it in me to do it.
"Great!" Alice said cheerfully. "We have to go right now so we get to spend some time with her before I have to go; I'm already running so late." She shook her head in sorrow to emphasize how upset she was over being late, and then she reached over her head for her niqap and brought it down to cover her face, Mona following her with covering her own.
I nodded again, doing the same as both of them, swallowing thickly when Mona reached for the door. This was it.
"How about Sana, Princess?" Mona asked Alice. "Is she already there in Princess Rosanna's wing?"
Because of the lack of title before 'Sana's' name, I knew her to be Alice's maid, but then I got a bit confused when I remembered them saying her name was 'Nora' when she came yesterday to help Mona clean the closet where Alice had thrown up, but then I didn't think so much about it – I had enough to think and worry about at that moment.
I could've sworn that through Alice's niqap and while watching the only part that showed – her eyes – that she was happy Mona had asked that question, but I wasn't so sure if I was right.
"No, she isn't," Alice sounded annoyed. "She's too busy packing the rest of my things," and then she paused. "Hey, I have an idea, why don't you go help her with that, Mona? I'd really appreciate it. I'm afraid she won't get done on time, but with your help, I know she would."
"Uh, I – um, it'd be my pleasure, Princess," Mona said, "But Princess Marie has all the say in this."
"I'm sure Princess Marie wouldn't mind," she told her, then turned to ask me, "Would you?"
"Of course not," I said, sounding more nervous than I'd liked for my voice to be. When Mona didn't move, I realized she was waiting for me to speak my command, "Go help with the packing, please."
Longer than a moment passed before Mona responded with a, "Yes, Princess," then left after a nod of her head to me and then to Alice, using a secret door that was behind us. Though I couldn't see her face, I was sure Mona didn't like the idea of leaving me, and a part of me wondered if it was the prince's orders or it was just a tradition or whatever. Something inside of me wanted to think it was really the prince's order, and that he'd only asked for it to make sure that I'd be okay. Another thing told me with a voice loud enough for me to hear it and believe it that I was being stupid, so stupid. Because if the prince had really asked her that, it would only be for him to make sure I didn't go anywhere – of course it was only that, nothing more.
Once Mona left the room, I opened my mouth and was only able to get a low "What– …" to Alice before she stopped me from finishing my question by raising her hand in front of herself, the inside of her hand toward my face in a 'Stop' motion. Then she tapped her finger to her ear a couple of times before pointing to where Mona had just left. I listened closely for a few moments until I heard the faint sound of yet another door being closed, which drew out a sigh of relief from Alice's mouth.
"We leave now," she whispered. "This door leads to the space between yours and Rosanna's wing; there are elevators, but we will use the stairs to avoid being under the cameras for too long. We'll use one of the back doors to the palace and a car is already waiting for you there. The driver believes it's me he's taking to the airport, so all you have to do is get in the car and he'll drive you there without a word – you don't have to speak at all. You can't speak at all, or everything will be blown. If anyone on the way from the back door to the car or from the car to the jet speaks to you, you don't reply with anything, you only silence them the same way I silenced you right now." She raised her hand again like she just had a minute ago to make sure I knew what she was talking about before she continued, "Then you move on, don't even glance their way. They'll think you're not interested or don't have the time and they will respect that and do as the daughter of the king has ordered."
I swallowed thickly, inhaling and exhaling in short breaths as I had held my breath all the while I listened very carefully to Alice as she told me of her plan. Said plan sounded okay, and could very well work. But it was just that – 'Okay'. I was so worried I would get caught, and I had no idea what would happen to me if I got caught. But then again, it was my only chance to go back home, and I just had to take it, even if the chance of it succeeding wasn't so big. I had to.
"But – what about when I'm on the plane? Will I have to stay silent for the whole trip?" I couldn't imagine how that would be; the trip lasted a bit longer than half a day – would I even get to take off my niqap? I was hardly able to breathe in it already.
Alice shook her head. "Marie, dear, do you really think that you'll be away from the palace for fourteen hours before someone realizes you're missing?"
I gaped at her, saying nothing.
"We will be lucky if an hour passes before your absence is noticed, and my hope is that by then, you'll be on that jet on your way to your country, when it's too late to get you back."
Dear God!
"Only an hour?" I asked in shock.
"If we're lucky, that's how long it will take Mona to be finished with my bags. The first thing she'll do after that is go to Rosanna's wing – where she won't find you – and then she'll run to tell Mazen."
Mazen …
What will he do then?
How will he react?
Heart. Head. Both ached. Hard.
"But – he could do something to get me back, right? He could easily send an order to the pilot." My heart burned with the tears that were trapped in my eyes and strangling my throat.
"He could," Alice said to my surprise and shock, "But he won't."
"He won't?" The fact that she thought he wouldn't do it was even more surprising than the fact that she knew he could do it in the first place but somehow won't do it.
"No, Marie." Her voice dropped to the saddest tone you could ever hear and her gaze went somewhere I couldn't point at. "He will be busy doing something else. I'll make sure that he will be kept busy for enough time to get you home."
Though I was dying to know what could keep the prince busy enough to not stop someone from doing something he didn't like or was without his permission, I didn't ask what that could be. I was so scared that Alice wouldn't be convincing enough and that would make my doubts about her plan ever working fill me even more than they already were. I just wanted to believe, just wanted to leave.
"Okay," I let out a long breath then nodded.
"Hide those blue eyes, please," Alice told me, and said blue eyes widened. I didn't even think about that! And – I didn't even know how to hide them! But when I told Alice that, she brought another layer from above my head that was much thinner and see-through, pulling it down to cover the whole of my niqap.
Great, I couldn't breathe properly and now I couldn't see either. Just brilliant!
"Are you ready?" she asked, and I gazed for a long time into those miserable eyes of her before I nodded once again with a, "Yes," to confirm my approval.
Alice reached for the door and opened it just the slightest before I pushed it back closed, breathing harder than before as the feel of an approaching panic attack started to make its way to my heart.
"What?" Alice's shocked voice asked, her eyes widening at my act.
My hand reached for my clothes-covered cross and I gripped it. "Guards," I gasped out, "Guards everywhere, lots of them."
I heard Alice huffing, "Seriously, Marie? Guards? Of course there are guards out there – this is the palace of the king we are standing in!"
God! Oh, God!
"B-but how we will leave? They are right outside!" I yelled-whispered.
"They won't even glance our way, Marie; they've been ordered to lower their gazes in the presence of women. It's the female guards I'm worried about, to be honest."
"There are female guards, too?!" I almost yelled the question.
"Of course there are! But I have a plan for them, don't worry," she assured me, but I needed to ask, "What plan?"
Alice sighed again. "We've had several of my cousins sleeping over since the wedding. I'll talk to the female guards so they know it's me going to the airport, and they'll think you're one of my cousins who will come back once I'm – you – in the car safely. I'll use another door to go inside again. They, too, will think I'm one of the princesses in the palace since the first ones will report to them that one princess will go back inside the palace in a few minutes."
The heck if I knew what she was mumbling about! I was even more confused, and I guess my eyes that were still staring at her, unmoving, told her so.
"It'll be okay," she assured me again. "Just act bored when I speak to them."
"But, won't you have anyone escorting you to the airport?" I asked, because I couldn't understand how they would let a princess who was about to leave the country do so by herself – all alone.
"Listen, there was a ceremony last night in honor of Jaser and myself departing to the States. Nora – my maid – was there instead of me, as I'd requested of my family since I wasn't feeling well. The Queen was okay with it as long as to the public our image was the same – the new bride leaving with her husband – and it passed well, no one doubted anything. Only very few people in the palace know the truth and that I will be leaving tonight instead, and since it's secretive – they won't question why I'm leaving an hour earlier."
My head was spinning – God knows that half of what she was saying I couldn't understand, but it sounded like she had everything under control. Still – I only stared, no words.
"Speaking of early – we are running out of time. The ride to the airport will take fifteen minutes max, so we need to move it now." Alice reached for the door to open it again, but she paused for a second and the next thing I knew, Alice was hugging me tightly and telling me that I will be fine; maybe she felt how much I was shaking. Then she opened the door and looked at me. "Head held high, Ameera," she told me, and for some reason, what I wanted the most in that moment was to see her expression, or maybe take a final look at her face – the girl that had brought me here, and to all of this, the same one who was helping me out of it.
I took a deep breath and did as I was told, despite everything in me that wanted to just curl into a ball and cry for how scared I was. I walked out of the wing and to the stairs right under the guards' noses, the same guards that true to Alice's word looked down at the floor once they saw us come out of the wing, keeping their gazes down until we'd passed through.
The minute that we spent in the female guards' presence was the hardest. They looked friendly with Alice, their voices had a smiling tone, but I couldn't tell if they were really smiling or not since they were completely covered from head to toe in black, aside from the bandage on their left arms. It was green with some kind of logo on it, something that told of their status as female guards, I assumed. And for a moment, I wondered how on earth they would be able to do anything with those clothes on, but I didn't find it in me to question it in my head any further.
I breathed a sigh of half-relief when we were finally away from them. A limousine was waiting just outside the door. I was even surprised that one of the guards was standing there beside the car and holding the door open. I wondered if the female guards had reported that Alice was coming out of the palace or if he was just standing there an hour early – I really had no idea.
Alice said her goodbye to me with just another tight hug and a long shadowed look, only breaking her gaze when the car moved away, with the same guard that had held the door open now driving.
A few minutes and too many guards later, the palace was finally out of sight. A small smile wanted to creep to my lips and make itself comfortable there, but that ache in my heart prevented it from passing through. I just relaxed my back against the seat, though every single inch of my body was as tense as ever.
Minutes passed, and I could see through the glass that kind of familiar road that I'd come from just five days ago, only one day before the wedding – the road to the airport.
Relief started to make its way to my heart, for I knew the hardest part was almost over. I just had to get to that jet and get on it, and then I wouldn't speak until later, when we would be in the air already and as far away as I could get from the kingdom. But sadly, my dreams simply crashed when our car was stopped by another car. A BMW was breaking our way over and over to make the limousine stop, until finally the driver had to pull over so as not to cause us to crash.
For a moment I thought that the person who would step out of the BMW would be the prince coming to drag me back to the palace, but I was mistaken. It was not the prince, but a guy in his late thirties or early forties with pitch black hair, a thick black beard and light-colored eyes. I couldn't tell if they were blue or green since the glass was making most of the things outside of the limousine appear gray.
The guy barked something at the driver and a small conversation went back and forth between them. All I could understand from it was that the guy was angry and the driver was scared.
I gripped my cross and prayed silently, because it didn't seem like it was going to go well from that point on.
~BK~

2 comments: