Note: Part twooooo!!! Please comment any feedback you have and check my comment for a longer note!
“Are you coming tonight?” Bea asked, tugging on my sleeve.
“Sorry Bea, not tonight. I need to get some sleep, before tomorrow. Big things are happening in a few days.”
Bea pouted and crossed her arms, “you’re a terrible brother.” She spat.
“I’ll work on it.”
Bea scrunched her face to try and hide her smile.
I swallowed a laugh and shook my head, “you have fun at dessert, ok? You better come back and tell me all about the new treats you have.”
Bea grinned and nodded, running out of my room.
Once Bea had disappeared out the door I collapsed into a nearby chair by the fire. The weight of the day piled onto my shoulders, keeping me grounded and out of the clouds. Staying grounded wasn't the worst thing though, kept me focused, getting everything done faster.
“Your highness, a letter has arrived for you.”
I nodded and the maid hurried forwards with the note. I knew immediately the note was from Eve considering it was scribbled onto the back of a napkin.
𝙸 𝚔𝚗𝚘𝚠 𝚢𝚘𝚞’𝚛𝚎 𝚙𝚛𝚘𝚋𝚊𝚋𝚕𝚢 𝚝𝚒𝚛𝚎𝚍, 𝚋𝚞𝚝 𝚒𝚜 𝚗𝚘𝚠 𝚊 𝚋𝚊𝚍 𝚝𝚒𝚖𝚎 𝚝𝚘 𝚖𝚎𝚎𝚝? 𝙽𝚘𝚝 𝚜𝚞𝚛𝚎 𝚑𝚘𝚠 𝚕𝚘𝚗𝚐 𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚜 𝚝𝚘𝚘𝚔 𝚝𝚘 𝚐𝚎𝚝 𝚝𝚘 𝚢𝚘𝚞, 𝚋𝚞𝚝 𝚒𝚝’𝚜 𝚊 𝚏𝚎𝚠 𝚖𝚒𝚗𝚞𝚝𝚎𝚜 𝚊𝚏𝚝𝚎𝚛 𝚌𝚘𝚖𝚖𝚞𝚗𝚊𝚕 𝚍𝚒𝚗𝚗𝚎𝚛 𝚛𝚒𝚐𝚑𝚝 𝚗𝚘𝚠. 𝙸 𝚔𝚗𝚘𝚠 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚑𝚊𝚍 𝚍𝚒𝚗𝚗𝚎𝚛 𝚠𝚒𝚝𝚑 𝚜𝚘𝚖𝚎𝚘𝚗𝚎 𝚎𝚕𝚜𝚎, 𝚋𝚞𝚝 𝙸 𝚛𝚎𝚊𝚕𝚕𝚢 𝚗𝚎𝚎𝚍 𝚝𝚘 𝚝𝚊𝚕𝚔 𝚝𝚘 𝚢𝚘𝚞. 𝙸𝚝’𝚜 𝚘𝚔 𝚒𝚏 𝚢𝚘𝚞’𝚛𝚎 𝚗𝚘𝚝 𝚞𝚙 𝚝𝚘 𝚌𝚘𝚖𝚒𝚗𝚐, 𝙸 𝚐𝚎𝚝 𝚒𝚝, 𝚋𝚞𝚝 𝚜𝚎𝚗𝚍 𝚜𝚘𝚖𝚎𝚘𝚗𝚎 𝚒𝚏 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚍𝚘𝚗'𝚝, 𝚓𝚞𝚜𝚝 𝚜𝚘 𝙸 𝚌𝚊𝚗 𝚐𝚘 𝚝𝚘 𝚜𝚕𝚎𝚎𝚙 𝚎𝚊𝚛𝚕𝚢. 𝙸𝚏 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚍𝚘 𝚌𝚘𝚖𝚎 𝙸’𝚖 𝚎𝚊𝚝𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚌𝚊𝚔𝚎 𝚛𝚒𝚐𝚑𝚝 𝚗𝚘𝚠, 𝚜𝚘 𝚑𝚞𝚛𝚛𝚢 𝚋𝚎𝚏𝚘𝚛𝚎 𝚒𝚝’𝚜 𝚌𝚘𝚖𝚙𝚕𝚎𝚝𝚎𝚕𝚢 𝚐𝚘𝚗𝚎. -𝙴𝚟𝚎
I smiled at Eve’s note, crumbs from chocolate cake creased into the napkin. That’s Eve for you.
Sighing I read over the note again. She made it seem important and it wasn't like I had anything else going on, so why not.
I tossed my suit jacket into the corner and hurried out the door, hoping that if I was fast Eve would still have a little cake left.
Eve must’ve heard me coming. I didn't even get to knock before the door flew open and she pulled me inside. Eve twirled in her dinner gown, the blue on her dress sparkling like Cinderella’s dress. She laughed before falling onto the floor out of dizziness.
I raised a brow, picking at one of the cookies on the dessert tray.
“You seem giddy tonight?”
Eve beamed, “I suppose you could say so,” She said before she burst out laughing.
“Did something happen? I’m lost.”
That made Eve laugh harder and I really couldn't understand what was so funny.
“Are you gonna tell me?”
She caught her breath, sitting up and quickly.
“My sister’s having her baby soon!”
“That’s great Eve!”
“You don't get it though,” She started, her face falling slightly. “Scaip Cla babies are very rare these days. Indi has been super nervous the last few weeks because this is usually the stage the baby doesn't survive through. This is the stage when all of the women get sick and since we don't have medicine to help them they just have to push through and hope their babies will do the same.”
I stopped, watching as her eyes fell to the ground.
“There’s more, isn't there?”
Eve nodded, refusing to look up. Her giddiness was completely faded as she walked over to her bed and sat on the end, tugging a blanket over her broad shoulders.
“My mother wants me home while Indi is in labor, plus some time after. She worries she won't be able to handle everything. Between handling my father's duties while he’s out of town, doubling as queen, me being here and Indi having the baby she doesn't think she’ll be able to do it alone.”
A sigh escaped me and Eve glanced up worriedly.
“Is that a no?”
“I know we had the big plan and everything, and I still want to go through with it, but since you still have a few more weeks before you have to make your decision I thought maybe I could leave. Just for a few days and help my family at home. If not than you can drop me and find someone you will actually spark with. I’ll find a different solution. My main priority right now is my family, and Indi’s baby.”
“Eve slow down, I can barely understand what you’re saying.”
Eve bit her lip and nodded for me to continue.
“On normal circumstances I wouldn't hesitate to let you go home, especially with what’s going on in your family.”
“But, my father has placed in some recent…time restraints that makes my decision much more complicated.”
“What are the time restraints?” She asked, playing with a loose string on her blanket.
“I have to announce my decision for queen in two days.”
Eve’s eyes grew wide as she stammered out a response.
“Lionel wha- why? Why in two days? What’s the rush?”
“I’m not sure. I assume it has something to do with the Valles-Esten war.”
“What does that have to do with your search for queen?”
“The sooner I find a queen the sooner my father can step down and a new leader can step up, giving the people of Esten hope.”
“And your father actually wants to step down?”
“Definitely. He’s wanted to step down for years, since a few months after my mother passed away. And now that I’m old enough, the sooner the better, in his mind.”
Eve stared forwards, not saying a word.
I moved away from the wall and plopped down into the arm chair in the corner.
“I’m really sorry to put you in this position Eve. You’ve got a few options but none of them are ideal.”
“So I can either go home and help my family and leave you to find a different queen or stay here to worry about my family?”
I bit my lower lip, “there is one other option I can think of.”
Eve cocked her head, sitting up straighter.
I exhaled shakily, resting my head on my hand.
“We could also continue with our plan and I could propose to you tomorrow.”
I gaped, shaking my head.
“You can't actually be suggesting that?”
Lionel looked away, shrugging.
I buried my head in my hands.
“This is going way too fast, and we’ve basically planned nothing. What if the plan doesn't work? What if I can't get you troops? How can you be considering this? Haven't you sparked with anyone? You don't even love me!”
I didn't realize I had shouted those last words until after Lionel winced and stood up.
“Eve I think I should go.”
“I’m sorry Lionel, I didn't mean to yell. This just- it’s not going according to plan.”
Lionel stopped, and turned back to me, a spark of curiosity in his eyes. He sat back in the arm chair and leaned forwards.
“What was your plan Eve?”
“My father wanted me to pretend. To win your heart and then reveal the truth and leave you after we had gotten what we needed for Scaip Cla to survive.”
“That was your father's plan. What was your plan, Eve?”
I sighed, pulling my hair over one shoulder.
“I was hoping that if I was upfront during our first meeting you would agree and we could plan a fair trade. We would have weeks to figure all the small details out. How we would provide for the other persons country, how we would play a happy married couple.” I paused and met Lionel’s eyes.
“It surprised me when you agreed, but I just assumed you had to be super desperate or really anxious for the war to be over. Or maybe both. And then when it was time I would go home for Indi’s baby's birth and help my mother and then be back to sort out everything else here.”
A small laugh slipped out from Lionel’s tightly pursed lips.
“This is definitely not according to your plan.”
I shook my head, and Lionel stood up.
“I really am sorry to put you in this position.” He said again.
I sighed, frustrated that he was sorry. I wanted to have a reason to scream at Lionel and blame him. If I could blame Lionel, I could convince myself that this situation isn't completely because of me. None of what I wanted made sense anymore.
“Is there any way you could get an extension from your father? Do something else for him in return?”
“Any ideas?” he asked and I could hear the sliver of hope creeping out in his smooth voice.
“Give me the night and I’ll try to come up with something. Come back here before breakfast and you can escort me there after I’ve briefed you on the potential plan.”
Lionel nodded, making his way towards the door. I fell back onto my bed, almost fully asleep before he even shut the door.
“Don't stay up too late,” he added walking out, his shoes clicking down the hallway.
I forced my eyes to stay open, getting up and taking my chair back to my desk before plopping down and pulling out a scrap piece of paper.
“Ok, Eve, all you need to focus.”
I told myself it was like how I used to strategize with father and my cousin, Noam. Noam would come over on weekends and we would play Savior of Nations. Noam would go to one side of the grounds and plan his strategies with my uncle while I would do the same with father.
“You must think and consider every detail Eve. Think through all of your options and take small steps. Small steps will lead you to greatness. If you start with a leap there are chances you will fall. When you’re all the way back here there’s no way to see what’s that far ahead of you. Stick to small steps, to ensure you’re continuing on the right path.”
“Stay on the right path Eve,” I repeated. “Consider every detail and think through your options.”
I scribbled down different ideas, making multiple graphs as I tried to think up the perfect plan and by dawn coming up with any plan seemed impossible.
After a number of hours of writing, crumpling paper, and nodding off I thought I had finally come up with something.
“Oh my god! That could actually work!”
I looked over my notes again, double checking.
“This is the best we can do,” I told myself, trying to reassure the anxiety inside of me. This felt like my only chance to have everything work out. To stay on the right path with my plan.
I dragged myself to my bed hoping I could get a few hours of sleep before Lionel showed up. The sun barely peaked through the deep blue curtains, shielding me from the new day.
“Eve you have a visitor,” I heard someone say. I rubbed my eyes and recognized that the voice belonged to Liza, one of my maids.
“You might want to get ready quickly for this visitor,” She urged a grin lighting up her eyes.
I shot up and cursed as I realized who the visitor was.
I flew out of bed, realizing I had slept in my gown and I could see the disapproval in Liza’s eyes. She passed me a new dress, simpler and pastel colored for breakfast. I slipped in it as fast as I could before motioning for Liza to open the door.
Lionel nodded at Liza before Liza glanced at me and slipped out the door. I went to the bathroom to fix my hair and makeup and watched Lionel in the mirror that faced out of the bathroom.
“You’re welcome to sit down,” I called out to Lionel who was awkwardly standing in the middle of my room.
He sunk into the arm chair by the small fireplace in my room. That was my sanction, my safe place. Lionel seemed to feel the same thing.
I pinned up my hair as best I could, spraying down the runaway strands.
“Did you figure anything out?” He asked as I moved to my make up, picking out a light neutral.
“Yeah, I stayed up all night brainstorming and I think I actually came up with something decent.”
I set down my palette and grabbed my notebook off my desk, passing it to him.
Lionel crossed his legs, peering at my scribbled notes.
“You really think this will work?” He asked, glancing up from the notebook. I ran back to the bathroom, knowing I didn't have long before breakfast started and quickly put on a few layers of mascara.
“Yes. And if it doesn't than we will have to figure that out when we get there. Small steps lead to success.”
Lionel set the notebook down, “Ok, fine. I will talk to my father as soon as I can and get it all sorted out.”
I smiled, “wonderful.”
As we arrived at breakfast and Lionel started towards his end of the table I grabbed his arm and pulled him closer.
“Thank you for all of this,” I whispered.
Lionel flashed a smile.
Talking to father about these sorts of things always got me super worked up. I had to do this for Eve and for myself. Having more time was going to be a giant relief. All I had to do was talk with father.
The guards bowed as I walked through the open door to father's office.
“An unexpected visit?” Father immediately questioned.
I felt for the paper in my pocket before nodding. Eve had given me her notes this morning before I left.
“I fear that if I rush my decision for my queen I will make the wrong decision and Esten will suffer.”
“Are you suggesting that you don't trust my judgment? I fully believe you will make the right choice tomorrow.”
“The thing is father, I have yet to spark with any of the women here. Therefore, I think it would be better to give me a little more time. Maybe two weeks?”
“Lionel we need something to distract the public and give them hope. If they see that you have a queen and I will be stepping down soon they will have hope for this everlasting war to be over soon.”
“But the public will not trust some random woman one of the guards picked up off the streets. I propose we do a meet and greet. Let the public into the castle and have them interact with all of the princesses. Then we take a poll and see who the publics favorite is. That way my queen will make the public happy and hopeful.”
Father raised a dark brow and thought for a long time.
“If you can organize this “meet and greet” by tomorrow and have the event happen the day after then I will allow it and give you an extension.”
I could tell from fathers sigh that my smile was too big for the occasion. I stood up straighter and smoothed my jacket.
“I will send you all of the details by tomorrow night and the meet and greet will happen the day after.”
“Do not disappoint me son.”
I nodded, hurrying out.
I basically skipped to Eve’s room, knocking over and over until I heard her grumble something to one of her maids.
The maid from yesterday, Liza, opened the door and dipped into a deep curtsy, her red braids falling over her shoulders.
I smiled back and walked through as Liza scurried away.
“You seem happier than I was last night,” Eve said, looking up from her book.
“You might want to put that down, you might throw it when you hear my news if you don't.”
Eve furrowed her brows, closing her book.
“Is your news good or bad?”
“Definitely good,” I said, trying to slow my words.
“And the news is?” She pressed.
I sat back into the arm chair by the fire, best place in Eve’s room by far.
“My father approved your meet and greet idea!”
Eve shot up from her bed and gasped.
“No way! Oh my god, no way!”
She repeated her disbelief into those words for quite a few minutes before meeting my eyes.
“Thank you,” she said.
I smiled, glad I could do something helpful for once.
“But since it was your idea you have to help me organize it.”
“Ok. What do we do first?”
I laughed at her excitement, “That’s where my father's catch comes into play. We have to have it organized by tonight and it must happen tomorrow. Then we’ll poll to see who the public's favorite is and if all goes well, Father will give me a two week extension.”
“So I can go home the day after tomorrow?”
“Yes, but you must be back by Sunday. Four days is all I can give you, though I still need to discuss your departure with my father.”
“I can't thank you enough Lionel.”
“We’re a team now, we have to work together.”
Eve’s smile grew, “So, where do we start?”