Sometimes the Mirror Lies

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic


The base of this tale was dreamed together by a young girl, who was told that a story was going to be wrote for her. She unfortunately suffers; as too many young women do, from low self-worth and
esteem. So I wove together her ideas and a personal message from me into this book. I hope in some small way it helps her realize how truly beautiful and spectacular she really is!

Submitted: September 14, 2017

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Submitted: September 14, 2017

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Chapter One:

It’s just a mirror.  

With an ornate frame of roses and scroll work gilded in gold, it has areas worn and chipped away showing the darker cast iron beneath.  Some of my fondest childhood memories have taken place in front of it.  

My mother sitting at her vanity desk dressed in a long, shimmering white gown.  She had freshly cut pink roses from the garden that she tucked into her sweeping updo of auburn hair.  She dabbed her finger into a tin then rubbed pink rouge onto her round, smiling cheeks.  

As a child with an imagination that knew no bounds, I laid on her bed with my head supported with a fist full of my chubby cheeks cupped in each hand.  I was spellbound as I gazed at her; awaiting fairy wings to sprout from her back so she could fly away to some magical land.  Mother had an enchanting, otherworldly look of beauty about her; one that looked sadly out of place amongst all the other average people of our village.

In another tender remembrance of my younger years - every evening I would sit at her white desk in front of the mirror, as mother stood behind me.  She would take her brush and gently guided it through my hair, over and over until it was shiny and smooth.  Then would carefully braid my hair and tie the end with one of her silk ribbons.  Mother would ask me to pick the shade I wanted, but I would usually choose a pink one as that was her favorite color.

Her mirror now sits on my table top and someone who has a faint resemblance of me stares judgingly into my dark chestnut brown eyes.

“You will never be beautiful like her.”

She says in a barely audible whisper to me.

I take my dark auburn hair that is knotted and tangled from a nights sleep, pull it back without even brushing, and tie it back in a black ribbon.

“There you go.  Why even bother trying? No point if you ask me!” 

She grumbles lowly at me, as I try to ignore her sarcastic remarks.

I pick up a wide brimmed brown hat and slap it on top of my head then skip down the back stairs into the kitchen.

“Oh, there you are Rosabella.  I was wondering when you would get your little head out of bed or if you were just planning on sleeping the day away,” a loud voice echoes throughout the kitchen. 

But, without giving me as much as a moment to answer, she continues on.  As if it wasn’t really a question she was asking, but a round about way to assert her dislike of my habit of sleeping in.

“I need you to go see the Ms. Berrys’.  I want to make your father bread pudding for dessert tonight, but I am out of raisins.”

Across the kitchen kneading dough into a floured, wooden tabletop is a short, elderly woman with a head full of white hair slicked into a tight bun on top of her head.  She is my Grandmother, Evelyn.  Most people call her Evey, but I affectionately call her Nanna Broomstick.  Because, ever since I was a little girl she would have a broom in hand sweeping all the hardwood floors of the cottage.  She even keeps a little dust broom close at hand in her apron pocket.

“Must I really go right now,” I question whiningly, “I am supposed to meet up with Teddy at the pond.”

Nanna Broomstick lifts the dough mound, plops it in a bowl and then wipes her hands into her white apron.  She then grabs her broom leaning against the table and begins to sweep the flour from the wooden floor boards where she was standing.

“You must Miss O’Brien,” she states sternly and then plants one hand on her round, soft hip, “Teddy and the pond will be there once you return with my raisins!”

My shoulders slump and I begrudgingly walk out of the kitchen onto the back porch.  Nanna Broomstick is quick on my heels sweeping out the dust of flour into the yard.  I make my way into the front yard and down the main road into the small shoreline village of Kings Ledge.

Berrys’ General Store is a short walk from our cottage and is located at the main intersection of the village.  Harriet and Margaret Berry are the two spinster sisters that own and run the establishment.  When there aren’t customers in the store you can always find the two sitting out on the porch in matching rocking chairs.  Being at such a prime location in town it allows them to do what they enjoy most: meddle and gossip.

As I get closer to the store I hear the Ms. Berrys’ talking loudly on the front porch.  Both being hard of hearing, you hear them before you see them.

“Is that Doc O’Brien’s girl coming down the road,” Margaret questions as she stops rocking in her chair and lifts her small oval spectacles.

“I believe it is Margie,” Harriet who has better eyesight quickly confirms to her sister, “Oh, that Ballina O’Brien wasn’t she a beauty to behold?”

“She was indeed sister!  None such like her since in this village or the entire Kingdom of Bannister’s Blithe as far as I’ve seen,” Margaret agrees and then starts rocking again, “Might be best she is not around to see the state of that daughter of hers.  Traipsing around with that rat’s nest of hair and those men’s trousers she always wears!”

“Shhhhh, sister here she comes,” Harriet quiets Margaret with a slap on the leg.

The Ms. Berrys’ continue rocking and I pretend like I didn’t hear any of the conversation as I walk up the stairs and join their company on the porch.

“Well, what brings Rosabella O’Brien to our doorstep?” 

Harriet questions me, as if she needs to know what I want.  To see if it is a good enough reason for her and her sister to get up out of their rocking chairs.

“I hope you aren’t bringing us a message that Evey won’t be able to attend our dominoes game on Monday, because it is her turn to host,” Margaret chides in with her assumption, “It wouldn’t be beyond her to try to get out of hosting again.”

One time Nanna Broomstick was not feeling well and cancelled her Monday to host the Domino game that a small group of the town’s women attend weekly.  Ever since the Ms. Berrys’ have never let her live it down and always find a way to bring it up and hold it against her.  How she has put up with these two for so many years is beyond me.  

“No, she still intends to host the game on Monday as planned,” I state in the most polite voice I can muster up at the moment, “But, Nanna Broomstick did send me on an errand.  She is going to be making some bread pudding for Father and realized she is out of raisins.”

Harriet springs up out of her rocking chair.  Being the younger and leaner of the sisters she doesn’t struggle as much as Margaret does.  Who pushes down hard on the arms of the rocking chair with her short, thick arms and slowly raises her plump body up.

“Ah, it’s Friday night and one of Rowan’s favorite desserts if my memory serves me right,” Margaret says, huffing and puffing from expending so much effort in getting up out of the rocking chair, “Was it his week to be in Lavender Meadow, Timbers Bend, or Emerald Glen this week?”

My father has been the appointed Royal Practitioner for twenty years.  Weekly he travels to one of the villages that make up the Kingdom of Bannister’s Blithe and on Friday’s he travels back home.

“He was in Timbers Bend this week,” I respond hurriedly, hoping to speed up the process so I can finish this errand and get on with my day, “Mrs. Burnley was due any day with her 7th child and father wanted to make sure he was there.”

“Probably just another little ginger haired girl,” Harriet responds as she empties a heaping scoop of raisins into a small burlap bag, “Try as they might they are never lucky enough to produce that boy they so badly wish to have!”

Harriet ties the bag up with twine, but annoyingly doesn’t sit it down on the counter for me to take.  She just continues on in conversation with her sister about the Burnley family’s misfortunes.  

“Can you please put the bag of raisins on our tab Ms. Berry,” I cut in quickly during a short pause from the sisters’ banter.

“Oh, why sure dear,” Harriet responds in an almost surprised tone, like she had forgotten that I was still standing there.

She sets down the bag and I quickly scoop it up and make my way towards the door.  Just as I was about to exit Margaret calls after me.

“Rosabella,” she yells across the store loudly, “Please ask Evey if she wouldn’t mind making one of her delicious creamy peach pies for game night.  It’s almost fall and she hasn’t treated us with one yet and if she waits any longer it will be too late!”

“I will ask her,” I shout back and then sprint out the door and down the porch stairs.

I can hear the Ms. Berrys’ reply back to me, but I can’t make out what they are saying as I run down Main Street towards home.

 

 


Chapter Two:

“Of course they want me to specially make them a cream peach pie, as if my shortbread cookies and tea sandwiches that I make for game night every week aren’t enough,” Nanna Broomstick grumbles as she takes the bag of raisins from me.

As she continues to complain out loud about the Ms. Berrys’, I quietly slip out the back door.  I run through the orchard and finally reach the pond that sits at the outer boundary to the Forest of Shadows.

I see Teddy on his hands and knees leaning over the water.  He looks up at me with his mop of light brown hair that is almost fully hiding his emerald green eyes. Sometimes I wonder how he can even see at all!

"Where the heck have you been Rosa," he questions, in an impatient tone as he attempts to catch a small toad; which hops away a split second before Teddy's grasp could be put around it.

I place my hands on my hips and glare down at Teddy quietly.  The silence must worry him, because he timidly stands up and rubs his hands onto his brown pants before looking at my face.

“Nanna Broomstick strikes again,” he states in a voice sounding apologetic. 

“Teddy we have been friends for years.  If I am ever late to meet you, you should know by now that the answer is always - Nanna Broomstick,” I respond in a punctuated scolding tone.

I can never be mad at Teddy for long though and before I know it we are both skipping stones over the ponds glossy green surface.  We then jump across the large rocks that sit in the water and lead to an ivy covered mini castle ruin that sits in the center of the pond.

The pond and a cottage were a first anniversary gift by King Bannister’s father King Mika Bannister to his Queen.  But, the cottage has been boarded up for many years and is never used by the current King and Queen or their family.

Tired from running around the outskirts of the forest pretending to be Knights trying to find the evil dragon that hides out in a cave in the woods; Teddy and I lay in the field of wild flowers that grows in between the cottage and the forest.  There is a warm breeze that weaves around the tall, waving flowers and it gently brushes over our hot and exhausted bodies.

I open my eyes and stare at the cloudless blue sky above.  A cool prickle runs up and down the left side of my body, that feeling you get when you can sense someone is looking at you without your knowledge.  I turn my head and there is Teddy gazing at me with serene green eyes and a whimsical smile on his face.  He sits up quickly after I catch him staring and he begins to mindlessly pick at the grass around him.

“I think someday I will buy this land and the cottage from the King,” Teddy announces out of the blue, “Of course I would have to look inside the cottage to see if the structure is worth saving.”

I look up and over at him and he swipes a tuft of light brown hair out eyes.  He turns his gaze away from me and tilts his head back, letting the sun shine down across his freckled face.  A tense uncomfortableness engulfs his lounging posture; making his slender, lanky body that is normally loose and comfortable – look stiff and wooden like a toy solider.

“Maybe you would like to live there with me someday,” Teddy questions, in a voice more high pitched than normal.

“But, Teddy – wouldn’t you want to live there someday with your wife,” I ask, but as soon as I do I regret my decision.

He looks down at me with his partially hidden daydreaming eyes that speak more loudly than his voice to me.  I hope he doesn’t speak another word though – I can’t bear to hear what I think he is going to say.

His fingertips slowly graze over mine; it sends a feeling of painful regret throughout my body.

“Well….” Teddy begins to say, but cuts off when he hears the yelling of our names off in the distance.

It’s coming from a voice I know well; Isle Bennett.  

“Rosabella…..Theodore,” Isle’s high pitched voice carries across the air, “I know you two are out here somewhere!”

I quickly bounce up from our hidden surroundings amongst the wild flowers.  

“Over here Isle,” I wave my arms in excitement, showing her where we are.

Isle begins to skip over towards us; her blonde, corkscrew curls bounce up and down with her.  As she gets closer I see she has a beautiful blue and white flower print dress on with lace sleeves and neckline, which only compliment her pale ice blue eyes and make them stand out even more.

She springs on me and gives me a tight squeeze; which is her way.  Isle is always one for overly generous greetings.

“What are you two doing hiding out in the field,” she questions and then turns to Teddy, “Theodore, aren’t you going to get up and greet me?”

He slowly and begrudgingly stands up.  Isle attacks him with the same bear hug I had received.  Over her shoulder Teddy just stares at me with a look of regret or maybe its sadness.  I can’t really tell which it is, but either way the gaze makes me feel ill at ease.

“I have been looking for you Theodore, because I have something important to ask you,” Isle begins to rattle off as she pulls out of her hug with him, “As you know in a month is the annual Fall Ball at the King’s castle.  Being fourteen, we are now able to attend.  And this year is very special ball, because it’s the debut of Prince Chayton and the most eligible ladies from all around the world will be in attendance.  So, I was hoping that you and I could go together.  There is always Marty or Bill that I could ask, but Marty doesn’t have the best wits about him and Bill is too uncoordinated to dance with.  We are such good friends and I know I would have a wonderful time with you!”

Isle takes a deep breath in from her fast talking ramble that has her winded.  She quickly looks between he and I; I can feel Teddy staring my way, but I refuse to look over – too afraid what look may be on his face now.

“Oh, Rosabella,” she exclaims, “I hope you don’t feel slighted?  I know you two are thick as thieves and I am always the third wheel in our group, but I didn’t think you would even consider going!  It doesn’t seem like something you would be interested in, getting all dressed up and looking beautiful.  Please tell me I haven’t ruined any plans you may have had?”

Isle’s pretty pink lips twist in concern, needing my confirmation that she hasn’t stepped over some imaginary boundary of the friendship between Teddy and I. 

“Actually, I hadn’t thought about the ball,” I reply honestly, “And you’re right, I am not going – so no feelings are hurt on my side.”

I finally force myself to glance over at Teddy, whose face has a stinging look as if I had just slapped him.  Despite all of the awkwardness today, it’s hard to handle seeing such a expression on his face, especially knowing that I am the cause behind his apparent turmoil.

“Excellent,” Isle says giddily as she claps her hands together, then extends them out in a pleading sort of way, “So, Theodore what do you say?  Will you attend the ball with me?”

Teddy waits a second, maybe hoping I will change my mind and cut in.  But, I don’t and he snaps his head towards Isle and plants a smile on his face.

“Of course, it would be my pleasure,” he says in a forced, yet mostly gracious sounding voice.

Isle grabs Teddy by the arm and begins to walk away with him; rambling on about coordinating their outfits for the ball.  He turns his head back to me with a mournful look of defeat on his face. 

I take off in a sprint down the hill and through the orchards until I reach home.  Entering the kitchen I am huffing and puffing, trying to catch my breath, and then Nanna Broomstick spots me.

“Rosabella,” she exclaims in a heated voice, “Look at the state of you girl!  It’s almost dinner and your father will soon be home.  Get upstairs this instant, wash yourself up, and change for dinner ma’am!”

I trudge upstairs and wash the soil of today’s romp away.  If only it were as easy to wipe my mind of the awkward memories.

Looking in the mirror I try and slick back my hair and tie it with a bow.

“Who wouldn’t want to go to the ball with Isle? She is gorgeous and everything you aren’t.  Look at you, you are a mess!”

Myself on the other side of the looking glass spits out her venomous words.

I turn my back on myself in the mirror; she knows all too well how cutting her words are and says them just to break me down further.

Then I hear the familiar sound of father’s motor car coming up the drive and I rush downstairs to greet him.  He walks through the door, fluffy gray hair flying about, and his hands fumble carrying his suitcase and doctors bag.  I swoop in and close the door for him.

“It’s so good to see you father.  I hope your week wasn’t too bad,” I greet and then follow him as he walks down the hallway.

“Yes, yes Rosa,” he mindlessly replies and then walks into his office, “We can catch up at dinner.”

He then shuts the door behind him.  I stand there pouting, like a puppy that wants attention, but is exiled from a room with all the people.

Dinner with father is quiet, as usual.  Nanna Broomstick tries to make some small talk and we find out that the Burnley’s did indeed have another little ginger haired girl.  I am sure the Ms. Berrys’ will be happy to learn that their assumptions were correct.

After dinner father always sits in his chair by the fire, smokes his pipe that smells like cherries, and reads a book.  Nanna Broomstick sits in the chair opposite side of the fireplace and fights the urge to fall asleep as she struggles to work on a knitting a new scarf for father. 

I lie on a soft rug in between the two chairs, right in front of the fire, and play with my cat – Ghost.  But, at the moment he tires playing with the yarn I have been teasing him with and instead Ghost decides he rather lay there and licks clean his pristine white fur.

“Father,” I say quietly, “Will you be attending the Fall Ball at the castle next month?”

“Oh, Rosa I haven’t been to a ball in…well, how many years has it been?  Too many to count I guess,” he replies, not taking the time to stop reading his book and look at me.

I fumble my fingers around and feel my body turn rigid, just as Teddy’s did earlier today when he wanted to ask a question that made him nervous.

“Well, I was thinking….since Teddy agreed to go to the ball with Isle….that….maybe you could take me,” I ask, stumbling my way through the question.

Nanna Broomstick stops her knitting and now looks alert and wide awake.  I stare up at father waiting for his response.

“Oh, you have a few more years until you can attend the ball.  Don’t you?”

Father asks in wonder and then finally sets his book down and looks at me puzzlingly.

“Rowan, she is fourteen and most girls start going to the ball at her age,” Nanna Broomstick cuts in, “It’s a right of passage, a coming of age event.  As you well know, because that is where you met Ballina…”

She cuts her comment short when Father quickly looks over at her with a scowl on his face at the mentioning of mothers name. 

“I don’t go to balls anymore for a reason Rosa,” Father replies stiffly to me, “If you really want to go, you should with a friend your age.  You wouldn’t enjoy the ball with your father at your side.”

And with his tone I knew that was that.  There was no more reasoning or pleading with him.  Once father made a decision he was resolute in his stance.
“I am exhausted from the long week and am going to sleep,” Father announces as he gets up from his chair and heads back the hall.

Nanna Broomstick gives a nod and I know that we are all heading to bed.  Ghost lazily stands up and then stretches his front paws out and has his hind end and tail straight up in the air; he is retiring to bed as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Chapter 3:

I can’t sleep.  Sitting on the thick ledge of my window I bring my legs up and wrap my arms tightly around them.  Many a sleepless night I spend looking out into the stillness of the night, the dark and silence is calming to me.  I rest my head against my knee and let out a deep sigh. 

The moon is full and shines brightly up the sloping hill of the orchards, to the Forest of Shadows, and spills onto the steep cliffs to the castle on King’s Ledge.  But, as I gaze over this familiar landscape I realize something is different.  

I look over the hillside again to figure out what exactly seems out of place and then I spot it.  A light can be seen coming from within the stone cottage by the pond and plumes of smoke billow out of its chimney.

“Who is in the Kings cottage,” I question to myself.

Maybe it is a drifter?  Maybe Teddy decided to test and see if the cottage was livable?  So many possibilities are swimming around in my head and I know I will not be able to sleep until I see for myself who it is.  I put on my trousers, an oversized old plaid button up shirt, and tuck my long auburn hair up under my favorite newsboy cap.  

Quietly, I make my way downstairs and grab a torch light before heading into the orchards.  I wind in and out of fruit trees until I reach the cottage.  I carefully make my way up to one of the windows where there is a gap in between the nailed boards that cover the outside.  At first all I can see is the warm amber glow of burning wood in a large fireplace inside.  But, as my eyes adjust I can see cream colored cloth draped over a few furniture pieces that surround the hearth.

Suddenly, out of the corner of the room I see movement.  It startles me, I step backwards, and my foot crunches on a dry twig.  I almost let out a gasp, but quickly cover my mouth with my hand before more than a whisper of air comes out.  I look back through the slit in the window and see a body rushing towards the front door.  As I turn to run away the sleeve of my shirt catches onto a nail sticking out.  It rips through my shirt and I feel a shooting pain across my arm.  Then before I can get a step further I am tackled to the ground.

The much larger body wrestles around with me as I try to squirm out of their grasp and get away.  Although I can barely breathe from the blow to the chest, I am putting up a good fight, and my tackler is having a hard time keeping me down.  

“Boy, this is private property of the King!” 

I hear a manly voice yell as he pins my arms to either side of my head; in the process my cap falls off and my long tangle of hair flies around wildly.

I look up at him, but all I see is a shower of long black hair falling down towards me.

“You’re….a girl,” he breathily states in a shocked tone; quickly releasing my wrist and rolls off of me.

I grab my cap, hop up off the ground, and tuck my hair back up under my hat.

“Yes, I know full well that I am a girl – thank you,” I respond in an aggravated voice as I struggle to regain my composure.

Looking down at the ground I try to decide if I should make a run for it, but then I catch the gaze of the beast that knocked the wind out of me.  I was expecting to see the blood red eyes of a mean spirited bull.  But, instead I see the confused stare of moon shaped eyes.

He brushes his pant legs and gets up off the ground.  Then tucks his long, smooth, raven colored hair behind his ears; hair that is split down the center and is probably just as long as mine – when it’s not all knotted up.

“Explain yourself,” he demands in a deep voice that makes him sound more authoritative, “You are trespassing on property of the King!”

“Exactly, this is the Kings land!  But you are the one trespassing,” I reply in an equally strong voice attempting to match his own, “I am going to get the Constable and see what he has to say about it!”

I turn on a point and start to walk away, but before I can get more than two steps he grabs my arm and a sharp pain shoots down the length.  He immediately lets go of me when I cry out in pain.

“You have a huge gash across your arm,” he announces bending down to get a closer look at the wound inside my torn sleeve.

“I caught it on a nail when trying to run,” I reply in a whimper, as I look down at the wound and see blood still oozing out of the cut.

My legs begin to feel wobbly and my head starts to spin.  For the daughter of a Doctor, I do not have the stomach for the sight of blood.

“Whoa, there,” he says as he rushes to my side and puts his arm around my waist to steady my balance, “Here let’s get you inside so I can get a better look at the wound.”

Concerned of this stranger I begin to back out of his grasp, until I feel my legs start to give out again.

“I promise, no harm will come to you,” he assures me, as he takes a hold of me again.

He ushers me inside the cottage and sits me down on a cream cloth covered chair by the roaring fire.  Then he begins to roam around the cottage and comes back with an armful of items.  He sits on the left arm of the chair and rips off the lower arm fabric of my shirt.

I sit quietly as he delicately cleans and bandages my wound.  I am sure he can hear my heart beat loudly from nervousness!  

“All done, it wasn’t as bad as it first appeared to be.  You live to see another day,” he says theatrically and then plops down on the chair directly across from me.

In the firelight I can get a better look at him than I could in the blue, milky light of the moon.  He has very tan skin and in the glow of the fire his skin looks the color of burnt umber.  He has to be a native to the Kingdom, but most of the indigenous people are Royal.  And then it hits me!

I move my gaze to his enchanting hazel eyes, which are rare shade that of green amber, and then abruptly notice - he is studying me as well.

“You’ve figured it out haven’t you,” he questions with a hint of disappointment in his voice.

I nod my head, unable to speak at the moment; unsure if I should kneel in his presence or get up and curtsey.  Although my father is a Royal Court appointed I have only ever seen the King and his family once.  

The one and only time was when my father took me to an event the royal family held, it was right after mother passed away and Nanna Broomstick insisted upon it.  I was only five at the time and I remember setting eyes on the Prince.  He was only nine then and his looks are very different now being a mature looking eighteen year old.

“Prince Chayton Bannister isn’t it,” I reply in a questioning tone, but know fully well who he is now.

His chest deflates as he lets out a long sigh and his moon shape eyes grow smaller until they fully close.

“It’s always so much nicer when people don’t know who I am,” the prince says in a mournful voice.

I can see this invisible burden settle into his body, a rigidness that looks like the weight of the world is tittering on his head and one false move could topple it down.

“Well, if it makes you feel any better to me you are just an intruder that tackled me,” I state honestly as I stretch in the chair and then wince and grab my side, “I am pretty sure you bruised my ribs in the process too!”

He leans forward and rests his long arms on his knees. 

“I truly am sorry about that,” the prince responds in a sincere tone, “My ship just landed after being away for so many years.  I needed some time to myself, a last bit of freedom, and remembered this cottage.”

I give him a consoling smile and then slowly and painfully get up out of the chair.

“I should be getting back home,” I say with a strained voice, as my whole body aches, “If my father should wake and find me missing; well I will be grounded forever.  And that is a punishment worse than any tackle could ever deliver!”

“I don’t think you are in any condition to be walking home at the moment,” the prince comments in concern.

He stands up, his tall, triangular shape towering over me.

“Honestly, I am fine,” I try to say as convincingly as I can, “It’s just a short walk down the hill through the orchards.”

“Isn’t that Doc O’Brien’s house,” he asks curiously, as if trying to remember his bearings of the land.

“Yes, it is,” I respond quietly, “I am his daughter.”

Suddenly, the weight that Prince Chayton felt earlier enters my own body; I feel the burden of my past so heavily when there is a flicker of recognition of my situation.  The death of my beloved mother, my well known father who still grieves her passing so harshly, and my troubles of being a daughter who looks so much like her mother – but does everything in her power to hide that fact.

I glance into Prince Chayton’s hazel eyes and that familiar glimmer of acknowledgment can be seen, but then it slowly fades away and a new look of understanding rushes in.

“Don’t worry, you will always be the trespassing watch guard girl I tackled under the light of the moon one night,” he remarks with a one sided crooked boyish grin.

I give a grateful smile of gratitude in return.  I never had someone who I could relate with so well.  Teddy understands my situation and how uncomfortable it has been for me, but he has never felt the true despair of it.  How every time you see that look or hear the tone in their voice; it adds another hairline crack into your already fragile and broken heart.

He walks me outside and I pick up the torch light I dropped by the boarded window.  I wince as I stand back upright, from the pain in my ribs.

“That’s it; I can’t in good conscience send you home alone in this condition.”

Prince Chayton states firmly then grabs the torch out of my hand.  He carefully and easily lifts me up; as if I was as light as a feather, and cradles me in his arms.

After a minute I begin to lay more comfortably in his arms, my head pressed against his chest – so close I can feel the beating of his heart against my ear.  It’s such a soothing sound and even with being in such an awkward position, I close my eyes and am almost asleep by the time we arrive in my back yard.

“Watch guard, you are home safely now,” he says softly to me, as he sets me gently down.

“It’s Rosabella, my name,” I say in a nervous fumbling way, “but my friends call me Rosa.”

“Well, you already know mine,” he responds and his voice wavers a bit, “But, the few close friends I have call me Chay.”

We both stand there uneasily in the light of the moon for a moment. 

“Goodnight watch guard,” he says as he begins to walk backwards towards the orchard.

“Goodnight tackler,” I reply quietly and then turn to sneak back into the house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 4:

Saturday mornings are always filled with chores.  Father starts with chopping wood for the fires for the week and then spends the afternoon in his office catching up on case notes for his visits with patients that he had during the week.  Nanna Broomstick and I spend the morning sweeping and scrubbing the floors then waxing and dusting all the woodwork in the house.

I asked if I could just work on the waxing and dusting today, which can be done at a more leisurely pace.  As I am so sore and tired from the events of last night.  My arm and ribs can not take scrubbing the floors today.  Normally, Nanna Broomstick would not stand dividing the chores so unevenly and unfairly as I suggest, but I guess the exhausted look on my face softened her to the idea.

While dusting the ornately carved front staircase railing I hear father talking to someone outside.  The voices begin to become louder and closer.  Then I hear the front door knob squeak.  This is very unusual for father to invite in an unannounced guest.

Father walks in first smoothing out his tattered and worn button up sweater that he only wears when chopping wood.  Behind him I can see the sides of broad shoulders and slightly taller man. 

“Rosa, could you join us in the parlor please,” father asks of me as he passes by in the hallway.

Following father is Prince Chayton and he gives me a quick smiling wink as he walks past.  Seeing him in the daylight is like meeting him for the first time.  His face looks more cut and masculine, less shadowy and blended than it did last evening.  

I get a nervous knot in my stomach, I can’t imagine why Chay would be stopping by and talking to father.  My thoughts quickly and abnormally change to - how much of a mess I must look.  

I haven’t bathed yet today and my hair is in desperate need of washing!  I quickly take the handkerchief that I have around my neck and tie it over my hair.  I remove my apron and rub it against my face to remove any smudges that may be on it.

Slowly I walk and join them in the parlor.  They are already seated in the chairs by the fireplace and as soon as Chay see’s me enter the room he stands up at attention to greet me.  How formal and how different from how he was last evening.

“Rosabella it is a pleasure to see you again,” Chay greets me sounding official and very guarded, “I was telling your father how I had the pleasure of meeting you one evening while on a walk through the orchards at dusk and you were kind enough to lend me your torch light so I could walk home safely.”

He announces in detail so we could get our stories straight about why he was returning the torch to me; very clever! 

“I was wondering Sir, if you could lend me the assistance of your daughter for a short time,” Chay says turning towards father and sitting down again, so he could talk to him on equal eye level, “You see, she seems to know the orchards better than myself and I was wanting to pick some peaches for the cook at the castle to make some wonderful deserts.  I am sure Rosabella could help me find the tree’s that produce the best fruits.”

“Well, you have definitely come to the right person Prince Chayton,” Father responds in a proud sounding tone, as he straightens his back, sitting up tall and proud, “Rosa is quite the explorer.  She and her friend Teddy spend hours surveying the lands around here.  I have no doubt that she can help you find what you are looking for.”

Chay stands up and holds his arm out for me to exit the room first.  We walk outside then around the back of the house, and into the beginning of orchards.  The walk is quiet and slow paced.  I tilt my head back and enjoy the cool morning breeze brushing against my face.

“It’s really the last chance you’ll have to pick peaches.  The first morning frost will happen any day now and after that all the fruit left on the trees will be ruined,” I announce to break the silence.

Chay stops walking, goes over to inspect an apple then plucks it off the tree, wipes it against his pant leg, and takes a bite of it.

“The peach picking was more so an excuse to talk to you alone,” he states, while still chewing on the apple, “I wanted to make sure you were ok.”

 “Just a little tired, bruised, sore, but I will survive,” I announce, as I walk up a little further and arrive at one of my favorite peach trees that has a few still on it, “This is the one here.  It always has the best tasting peaches.”

Chay walks over to the tree and looks it over.  He seems less stiff and rigid than he was in the parlor talking to my father.  Gone is the regal pretense, he is more at ease - how he was last evening.  It wasn’t until I saw him stand by father that I noticed how sophisticated and handsome he really is.  I must look like a small, messy peasant next to him. 

“So you romp around these lands with Teddy,” Chay questions.

He looks down at me, catching me gazing up at him.  I can feel my face instantly flush so I step towards the tree to pick a peach; giving myself some busy work so I don’t feel so exposed around him.

“Teddy is my best friend.  We were childhood playmates and spend most of our time together,” I explain simply, as I pick a few peaches and put them in a pile on the ground, “We enjoy the same things; exploring, fishing, climbing, and having a fun and occasionally muddy time.  It was just natural for Teddy and I to bond, as most girls do not have the same interest as me.”

Chay has a blank face at first and then gives me a one sided boyish grin, but something about it seems a bit forced.  

We both continue to look over the tree and pick peaches.  I spot a perfect looking peach a bit higher and I go in and start to climb up to retrieve it.  I wince in pain pulling myself up onto the branch, but it will all be worth it to reach this beauty!  Lying across the thick, sturdy bough I reach out and grab the perfect looking orange and red ball.  I rest my chin against the branch and watch Chay collect more fruit and add them to the growing pile.

“I think I have enough now,” he states, then turns and looks up at me.

He quietly stares me for a few seconds with a look of wonderment washed over his face.

“Are you coming down little fruit fairy?”

He holds his arms out to me, I carefully slide down off the branch, and Chay tenderly helps me down to the ground.

“Sometimes I think how wonderful it would be to fall asleep in a fruit tree.  To be lulled to sleep by the warm summer breeze and wake up eating the decadent spoils that surround you,” I mindlessly say, releasing my imaginative reflection aloud.

“I am sure I could get lost in the magnificent thoughts that twirl around in that mind of yours,” Chay responds in a wistful voice, “I am jealous you Rosa.”

“I have no idea why,” I say honestly and then look up towards him.

Chay has an almost boyish look of envy painted all over his face. 

“Growing up as I did; in the constant spotlight and scrutiny of every step and misstep, it has squashed any dream or fantasy I ever had,” He said in a voice so forlorn that if he were a wolf, it would sound like the most mournful howl at the moon.

“Everything is strict and routine; there is no room for fanciful wonders in the Royal Court.”

At that moment I felt the urge to hug and console his sadness away.  Instead I watch myself, as if out of body as I reach my hand up and tuck a stray piece of raven hair behind his ear. 

“That’s why I am your watch guard adventurer, to protect you from getting too caught up in the mundane part of your life,” I say almost hypnotically, again letting my inner thoughts slip out of my unsecured mouth.

Chay chuckles to himself a few times and then stares at me questioningly.  His green amber eyes have a look like he is wondering if I maybe could be right.

Before letting him have a chance to respond, I take off my apron and start transferring the pile of picked fruit into it.  I tie it closed and hand the makeshift satchel to Chay.  I save the special peach I climbed to pick and put it directly in his hand.

“This one is especially for you to enjoy,” I say in a whisper of a voice and then pause, “I better get back to help finish up the morning chores.” 

He clears his throat and straightens his spine, getting back into the stance of his royal life.

“Yes, I am afraid I kept you away longer than I should have.  Enjoy your day, little fruit fairy.”

He gives me his one sided boyish grin before turning and walking away.

I return back home feeling much better than when I left.  Entering in through the back kitchen door, both Nanna Broomstick and father are standing around the wooden work table drinking tea.

“Well, there she is – Royal Explorer to the Prince,” Nanna Broomstick announces and does a mock curtsey with her short and stout body, “Should I expect to be invited to the castle soon to have tea with the Queen?”

I roll my eyes at her then cross the kitchen and grab a cup of tea as she chuckles to herself.

“But, I have to tell you Evey; Prince Chayton has grown into such a tall, brawny young man.  He was such small and slight baby and child; I know my advice given to the King has helped him turn into such a robust gentleman.”

Father boasts with his chest puffed out like a rooster.  He has always seemed like a secret and proud father to all the children he has delivered and saw after throughout the years.  If only he looked after, gloated, and bragged about me as he does with them.  I am his true and only daughter, but I feel like more of an outsider than his patients.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 5:

School started back up two weeks ago, which means no roaming and playing all day in the woods and fields with Teddy.  It pains me to be cooped up, instead of being outside enjoying all the splendors of nature.  

Every evening before bed I have been keeping an eye on the cottage on the hill, but no lights or smoke have been spotted.  It looks dark and deserted, which causes a sad pang in my heart.  It used to make me feel calm and serene to look over the shadowy landscape, but it no longer feels the same.

Saturday and after my chores I get cleaned up to head out to meet Teddy at the pond.  I brush out the knots in my long auburn hair and tie it back in front of the mirror.

“Trying to make an effort in your appearance; good for you.”

Myself in the mirror says to me in a mocking tone.

“Try as you might, you will never be as beautiful as Isle.”

My shoulders sink in defeat and I hastily rip the ribbon out.  I twist my hair back and slap on my newsboy cap.

I dash through the orchard and as I arrive I see Teddy and Isle sitting on a large rock along the pond.  Teddy has his head thrown back in laughter and Isle sits there smiling; her perfect button of a nose twists up and her pink, pouty lips form a coy smirk.

Teddy notices me walking and pops up off the stone to greet me.  Isle closes her eyes and sighs, but then follows suit and joins us.

“It’s about time you show up,” he exclaims, “Earlier, I saw a little lizard climbing the wall of the castle in the pond and I am dying to see if it’s still there!”

“Well, we can’t have you dying now can we?  Come on then!”

We start to take off, but Teddy stops short and turns around.

“Isle, did you want to join us,” Teddy questions in a very gentleman like manner.

Her face lights up and her ice blue eyes sparkle.

“Thanks for asking Theodore,” She responds in the same gracious way, “But, you and Rosabella have fun on your hunt for the lizard.  I don’t want to risk ruining my lovely dress.”

Isle then takes her stunning pale pink gown and fluffs it out and as she graceful sits down on the stone again.

Teddy shrugs his shoulders and then runs up behind me and we skip across the rocks then carefully enter the mossy entrance to the mini castle playhouse.

For minutes we thoroughly search for the lizard slowly making our way up the crumbling apart stone staircase that leads us up to the top of the castles turret.   There we find the little green lizard resting on some ivy in a square notch cut out of the protective wall.

I glance down and see Isle chatting with a young man, who spots, and waves at me.  

“Who is Isle talking to,” Teddy asks in a stern, protective tone. 

“You’ll see,” I say excitingly, as I grab his hand and take off down the stairs.

Teddy and I reach the pair; both of us are gasping as we try to catch our breath from the sprint from the pond.

“Well, well Rosabella,” Isle states in a forced ceremonial sounding voice, “Aren’t you just full of secrets.  Meeting the Prince and never once sharing this story with your best of friends.”

I quickly look down at the ground feeling embarrassed and nervous, not quite knowing how to respond properly.

“That’s because Rosa was helping me on a top secret Royal mission,” Chay states, as I look up at him and he gives me a wink and side smile, “I advised her she wasn’t allowed to speak of it at under any circumstance!”

I quickly glance over at Teddy, whose face is now washed over with what I can best describe as disdain.

“Whatever the mission was I am sure our Rosabella was a great asset.  She is tumble and always on the ready as you can see from her appearance,” Isle comments, with her arm outstretched towards me.

I can only stand their awkwardly after such a comment.  Maybe she meant it as a compliment of my adventurous nature?  But, to me it came off as a slight towards my less than conventional attire for a young woman.

“Yes, not one in a thousand women in this Kingdom can compare against ‘our Rosabella’ and that gives her an innate advantage that most people strive towards, but will never be able to attain,” Chay skillfully defends me.

“Indeed,” Teddy replies in a much more uplifted spirit, pushing himself up on the front pads of his feet and lifting an imaginary glass towards me.

“Yes, indeed,” Isle replies quietly, while blushing in an off shade of fuchsia - which is most unbecoming to her normally flawless face.

I never realized until now, how often Isle tries to take jabs at me.  I usually brush them off and never pay much mind to them, but this circumstance brings a glaring spotlight on the fact.

“Well, Theodore we must be going.  We don’t want to be late since are families are dining together tonight,” Isle announces, with a slight bite in her voice, “You need to do a lot of washing up, you smell like a bog!”

Chay takes Isle’s dainty, porcelain hued hand into his and kisses it softly.

“It was a pleasure to meet you Miss Bennett.”

Isle blushes a soft glowing pink, which compliments her exquisiteness perfectly.

He then reaches his hand out and Teddy meets it with a firm shake and then he backs away and bows at the waist towards Chay.

Isle takes Teddy’s arm and they head off together.

“Shall we?”

Chay offers his arm to me and we walk towards the orchards.

“I don’t know why she does that,” the statement slips out of my mouth without thinking. As seems to happen so often around Chay, “Why she feels the need to cut me down?  She is beautiful, her life is perfect - she has everything!”

He drops his arm from mine and quickly turns to look down at me.  I stand there frozen under his gaze, like a pet who is being scolded, but unsure of exactly why.

“You really don’t understand do you?”

He looks at me in disbelief, his moon shaped eyes analyzing me.

“She is jealous of you!”

“Of me,” I question in astonishment!

“Little and bashfully unaware Rosa; you have no idea of the raw power you posses,” Chay responds in a bold and passionate voice, “Try as you might, you cannot hide or dull your splendor.  When out of every pore and cell in your body you exude a brilliance that of the twinkling stars in the night’s sky!”

I can only stand there in shock by Chay’s comments.  I want to wave my hands in front of his face to know if he can truly see, because right now I have severe lack of judgment in his eyesight!

“Yes, Isle is a pretty young woman.  I am sure she has been praised and doted on her whole life because of her looks,” he explains to me, “So much so, all she believes she poses or has to offer is her beauty.  It makes her second guess her worth and attractiveness when she tries and fails to attain the attention of a young man whose heart belongs to a friend – you!” 

Unable to speak, I drop my head down.  It is me that has been so blind.  I feel a finger gently lift my chin up and my eyes slowly reach Chay’s.  He smiles at me tenderly.

“So when you say ‘she has everything’, just know that Isle is also thinking the same about you,” He says to me in a low and consoling tone.

My heart aches and years of hidden emotions are swelling inside me, I cannot hold back my tears, and they come freely flowing down my cheeks.  Chay takes his finger and wipes away a tear streaming down onto my chin.  Then pulls me into his arms and holds me so tightly and securely; my head against his chest and I hear the familiar and soothing heartbeat.  I begin to calm down and my crying stops.

“I did have two reasons for seeing you today,” Chay says tranquilly, backing away out of my grasp.

“And I take it having this conversation wasn’t one of them,” I jokingly say as I wipe my eyes.

He chuckles and then reaches into his blazer’s inner pocket.

“First, I wanted to return your apron you so kindly let me borrow,” Chay says handing the washed and neatly pressed apron back to me, “Secondly, well this is more of a favor.”

“Ok, and what is this good deed you need from me,” I question suspiciously.

“Well, I was wondering if you would be my personal guest at the ball next week?”

I was not at all expecting that!

“I am not sure whether your silence is a good sign or not,” Chay comments with a hint of nervousness to his voice, “I know that this ball is marked for me to meet and greet eligible young women.  But, all I really want to do is spend my time with a friend!”

I look up at him and smile widely.

“It would be my honor,” I reply simply and honestly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 6:

I waited until Monday when father had left for his weekly travels to tell Nanna Broomstick that I will be attending the ball and will need a dress for the occasion.  Of course she complained about only having a week to make a dress for me.  I told her she can pick whatever pattern she wanted and that my only request is that the color is to be green amber; the color of Chay’s eyes.  But, I did not disclose that particular fact to her.

When father returned Friday evening I decided to reveal my plans on attending the ball during dinner.  At first he was displeased by the idea, until Nanna Broomstick announced that it was at request of Prince Chayton, and that fact alone changed his tune.

“Well, now.  My own daughter, hand picked to be the personal guest of the Prince,” he exclaimed in pride, until a glazed look enveloped his face.

He wiped his mouth with his cloth napkin then stated how he was tired from his travels this week and he was going to retire to bed early.

Saturday after chores Nanna Broomstick started her prepping, preening, and pruning of me.

“I have waited years to properly attend to this hair of yours,” She stated with a thrill of excitement in her voice.

She washed, brushed, cut, and created a braided halo of swooping, loose plaits that encircle my head.  Nanna then added twigs and colorful dried leaves to my hair, which made my auburn hair look like a fall wonderland.

Alone I sit in front of the mirror, just as mother would do as she prepared to go to a ball.  I open a tin of her rogue and apply color to the apples of my cheeks.

“All cleaned and scrubbed and still - you will never be as beautiful as her.”

My mean spirited and degrading self in the looking glass says to me.

“You are just a poor man’s version of your mother.  You will never have her charm or splendor!”

Myself in the mirror states to me in a voice oozing contempt and distain.

“I am beautiful!  I may not have all of my mother’s attributes, but I have many great qualities that far surpass the surface of my skin!  I am so much more than my looks,” I respond back in a fighting tone.

For once I finally see myself in the mirror for what I truly am!  The cruel version of me fades away and the only thing I see sitting before me is simply….me - an explorer, a dreamer, a unique, and yes - a beautiful young woman.

I have learned the hard lesson that people can be mean, tease you over being different, and try to tear you down.  But, you have to discover your own self worth, embrace your distinctive qualities, and love yourself despite what everyone thinks.  Never get so down on yourself that you become your own worst enemy!

I hear the carriage arrive that Chay had sent for me and I make my way downstairs.  As I reach the landing, I see my father waiting at the bottom staring up at me.  I want to move, but the look on his face has me paralyzed.  His gaze is something that I can only describe as adoration.  

Finally, I am able gain mobility and I complete my decent, only to have my father pull me into his arms.

“Please, forgive me dear Rosabella,” he pleads in a cry to me, as he falls to his knees.

“For years I have let my heartbreak from the loss of your mother effect and poison me.  Instead of accepting the fact that you are so much like her; in my own self-misery, I rejected and pushed you away.  I have been such a fool!”

I take my fathers hands and lift him up, his face is red and tear stained.

“We are all wonderfully flawed people father.  I am glad we have come to this self realization together,” I respond with words that could never ring so true except on this occasion.

“So much time and memories I have wasted,” Father states with bitter disgust in himself.

“Our books are not yet finished,” I exclaim in a hopeful voice, “We have plenty of chapters yet to be written and stories to be told!”

He hugs me with arms so tender that only a father’s love could procure. 

Both our heads turn when we hear Nanna Broomstick blowing her nose loudly into a handkerchief, which she quickly returns to her apron pocket, and then pulls out her tiny hand broom.

“Ok, back up, back up,” Nanna says swishing her hand and sweeping my gown, “You’re going to ruin her dress!”

They walk me out to the carriage that bears the coat of arms of the Bannister family, in the colors of gold and green with a falcon and its wings splayed wide open.  Father helps me in and then closes the door.

“Even with the guest that are coming from all the Kingdoms around the world, I know you will be the most spectacular woman there,” Father whispers to me, takes my hand, and kisses it, “I am sure the Prince will think so as well!”

I can only dream that to be true, but I brush my self doubts away that are threatening to come back to life.  Putting them at bay is much easier than trying to calm my nerves that are creating knots in my stomach the closer I get to the castle gates.

As I walk up the steps to be announced, I will myself not to stumble and fall in the heeled shoes that I am not used to wearing or walking in.  I take a moment to enjoy the splendor of the entrance hall.  Large chandeliers with dangling crystals and gilded gold as far as the eye can see.

“Miss Rosabella O’Brien,” A white wigged attendant loudly announces to the crowds of people below, “Daughter of Rowan O’Brien - Royal Practitioner.

I slowly make my way to the white marble staircase with a golden carpet cascading down the center.  I can feel the piercing eyes of the on-lookers watching me carefully.

I reach the bottom with a flood of relief, only to be grabbed forcefully and hugged by Isle.

“Rosabella, you sure do keep us on our toes with your surprises don’t you,” Isle states with a laugh and then releases her firm hold on me, “Teddy and I almost had a heart attack when they announced your name and then we saw you standing at the top of the stairs in this beautiful gown! Didn’t we Teddy?”

Isle nudges him in his ribs with her elbow, but Teddy seems too stunned to even speak and just nods his head in agreement.

“Speaking of dresses, your gown is a glittering masterpiece Isle,” I respond back to her in an appropriate praise.

Her gown is light blue in color and is covered top to bottom in sequins and crystals.  You can’t help but see her as she twinkles around the room.

Suddenly the sound of trumpet fanfare can be loudly heard and the entire crowd turns towards the stairs.  The King and Queen descend down with Chay closely following behind.  They stop short at the landing half way down.

“The Queen and I would like to welcome everyone from the kingdom of Bannister’s Blithe and beyond.  This Fall Ball is a special one for our family, because it marks a momentous stage in our son’s life.  The entrance into his role in the Royal Court to fulfill his duties as heir-apparent,” the King states in an exaggerated voice to suit the occasion, “I have been truly blessed to have a son as intelligent, honest, and caring as Prince Chayton.  I know without a doubt he will make a fine King someday.”

Chay steps forward in between the King and Queen and moves past them to finish the journey down the staircase.  He stops at the bottom and turns; then graciously bows and extends his hand out towards me.  I curtsey and take his hand in mine and with a quick unexpected twirl around he takes me in his arms.  Music from a string orchestra begins to play and people in the crowd spread out to make a rectangular shaped dance floor in the center of the massive ballroom.

I have no idea if there are gasp, whispering, or even music playing anymore.  All I can focus on is Chay’s green amber eyes and the sound of my blood pumping loudly in my ears.

“Breathe, Rosa breathe,” Chay pleads to me.

And I take a deep breath in and then release it out.  I am so nervous I forgot to do something as simple as breathe.

I don’t know how many songs we danced through, but when I finally came back to some sort of reality Chay and I are surrounded by many couples dancing.  I glance up and he is looking down with that crooked smile of his.

“There you go, you’re coming around again.  Where did you go little watch guard,” he questions light-heartedly, “You were off in a faraway land in your head and not here to protect me as the masses came out and surrounded us.  Now we will have a difficult time breaking away!”

“You can always switch out partners, it would give you a chance to break out of the center of this crowd,” I reasonably suggest.

“Not a chance, you can’t get rid of me that easily,” Chay says playfully, and then pulls me in closer to him, “I have no want or need to dance with anyone else here.”

He then swings me happily around the room.  And although I have danced with Teddy for years at school and dances, I have never felt more at ease and safe in someone’s arms like I do in Chay’s.  

We eventually decide to take a break and try to make our way through the crowds of people, which is easier said than done.  Every step we take someone stops us and makes an attempt to greet and talk to Chay. 

Finally, we make it to a side table for a well deserved drink.  I guzzle down glass after glass of punch, until my thirst is thoroughly quenched, and Chay follows suit drinking 6 glasses himself.

He then leads me out a set of glass side doors and onto a balcony looking over the cliff to the water below.  The cool breeze of the ocean is a welcome relief.

“You look amazing tonight, like a rarely seen fall woodland sprite,” Chay states in a whisper of enchantment and then pauses.

“But, I have to say – there is never a more spectacular creature to behold then when you are in your trousers, with your wild hair tied back, and you’re climbing a tree to get to the perfect piece of fruit.  It is then, in those moments that you truly shine, and what made me fall for you – so ardently.  My little watch guard adventurer.”

He bends down, the moonlight shining its blue glow on his perfectly chiseled face, and he gently places his warm lips on my forehead.

When he pulls back I try to speak, but Chay covers my mouth with his finger.

“We have a lifetime of words to enjoy with each other, but for now let’s just enjoy this moment,” He states and then places his hand on the small of my back. 

We stand out on the balcony watching the moons reflection ripple on the ocean swells and he pulls me in closer to him.  I don’t need the lull of the crashing waves to peacefully calm me, when I have the soft sound of Chay’s heart beating the sweetest melody in my ear.

When we return to the ballroom I spot Isle and Teddy walking over towards us.  After the formality of bows and curtseys are finished Teddy holds out his hand and asks me to dance.  I look up at Chay who just smiles and nods.

He swings me onto the dance floor and we glide around in exact symmetry with one another.  Teddy is like returning after a long journey, he is the comfort that only being home can give.

“I have lost you haven’t I,” he questions in a whisper.

“You haven’t lost me Teddy. I am right here, dancing in your arms,” I respond smiling brightly at him, but he is focused on Chay standing by.

Teddy is aware; as am I, that there has been a shift in the axis.  Any other man; Prince or not, would not be pleased to see a woman they care for so happy in the arms of another man.  And yet there is Chay; standing on the sideline with his boyish one sided grin on his face - because he knows.

Chay understands that while Teddy will eternally have a piece of my heart that he has my unconditional devotion.  Where Teddy has always appreciated and accepted me for myself; Chay is the one who uncovered my shaded eyes so I could see the true beauty I possess.  And for a person to open your eyes to something most people so blindly overlook – well, it is something that transcends time, life, and even love itself!


© Copyright 2020 Hetty Burchill. All rights reserved.

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