The sweet scent of strawberries and oranges envelops me like a warm hug. A light ache forms in my head as my body is lifted off the hard-concrete floor. I feel whimsical and almost childlike but am frightened by the magnified sound of a door slamming shut. I jump slightly and the arms keeping me airborne tighten their grip. I tremble and whimper until I am finally released from the devil’s clutch.
My body is gently situated onto something that feels like a bed and I try to calm myself down a little. I focus my attention on the pressure of someone’s hand resting gently on my shoulder and slowly but surely, my breathing and the rate of my heart slow down to a steady, constant beat. Minutes pass and somehow, I have managed to curl myself into a small ball. The hand removes itself from my shoulder and the individual has a seat next to my still sensitive body. The door to the room opens with a creak and closes with a loud bang. Each step taken by the person entering the room is magnified tenfold. I whimper and cover my ears with my hands, and the loud, clomping footsteps turn into quiet, distant tip-toes.
The headache worsens, and it is evident that without some sort of medicine things are only going to continue to decline from here. Cold hands remove my hands from my head and hold them steady by my side. My mind flashes back to a time when someone held me in such a way. It felt like torture then, and it feels like torture now. I wriggle and lash out at the person holding me down to try and free myself but to no avail. The hands never release, and I tire quickly. Cautiously, I give in and the grip on my wrists loosen slightly. I feel as if I can finally breathe again.
A needle is stuck into the skin of my neck, and the liquid inside injected into my body. It’s discomforting but helps to relieve my headache and delirious state. Finally, my wrists are released, and my vision clears.
In front of me sit two people. One is Kathleen Turner, my best friend, and royal nurse. Her ginger hair is swept up neatly into a white cap. Only her side swiped bangs that rest beautifully along the edge of her face, framing it perfectly, escape. Green eyes the shade that of which is best represented by emeralds focus on her bag of medical tools. The light-blue, sleeveless shift dress that fits her body quite well flows around her gracefully. Her legs are bent into a mermaid pose when she sits on the bed and her petite, white, one-inch heels are gingerly taken off so as not to ruin the comforter. One of her hands checks my pulse through my wrist, while the other scribbles down her observations on a clipboard in a doctor’s messy handwriting.
Next to her is the Crown Prince of Carance, Thomas Brande. His blond hair falls lightly in his face and makes him look as elegant as he sounds. Blue eyes the color of the Caribbean Sea watch me with concern. Like most days, he wears a white, button-down dress shirt and black khaki pants. A navy-blue blazer rests on an armchair near the center of the room with a pair of black dress shoes sitting underneath. He lowers his hands warily into his lap, afraid that I will faint or start to fight again.
I am disoriented, but a quick scan of my surroundings gives me a better idea of my location. A large closet is open wide and filled to the brim with all types of clothing and shoes. The hand-carved, wooden dresser matches the state of the closet with clothes about to spill out of its drawers and sits right next to it. Next to the bed is a nightstand with only a lamp, small flashlight, and The Lost Years by T.A. Barron resting neatly on top. The center of the room has two chairs with ornate backings and red velvet cushions for seats. They surround a small coffee table that has a potted Anemone flower, two glass cups, and a pitcher of water on top.
Prince Thomas and Kathleen stay quiet and let me come to my own conclusions.
Having been in his room only once, I do not recognize it immediately. The door is always locked for reasons unbeknownst to everyone except its owner and the best friend. The only way to be allowed in is if someone with a key unlocks the door and opens it for you. Of course, you could always enter the unconventional way; through the windows.
Stories about the prince escaping his punishment of chamber confinement by climbing out the windows had spread rapidly throughout the kingdom over the past years, but it has yet to be proven true. Now, when confined to his room, the prince has guards standing outside both the windows and door to watch him constantly. No escape for the young and reckless prince.
Personally, I have never thought of breaking into his bedroom. Only the shallowest of women ever do; my own sister and mother included. They all find the prince to be extremely handsome and have unrealistic dreams of marrying him and becoming queen. However, I have never seen him as anything more than my boss and a prat. Pampered the entirety of his existence and never having to work for anything a day in his life. Everything comes free to him and he has no right to complain about how much his life sucks when he has everyone else doing all the work for him.
I feel exhausted and about to burst into tears. Nothing like this has ever happened during work hours. Only afterward when I am about to fall asleep. And even then, Kathleen is there to aid me before it gets this bad.
When I try to sit up and explain myself to the prince, he pushes me back down as gently as you would place a glass statue. I cannot even imagine what he must think of me now. This sickly girl that is weak and fragile. Unable to do anything without breaking into tears or fainting. How on Earth did she get a job as a maid in my castle?
“I-I,” I stutter. How do you explain something to someone who probably won’t even understand a single word you say?
“It’s all right, Lilah,” says Kathleen. “I already explained everything to His Royal Highness. You need not say anything. In fact, I would rather you get some sleep instead of speaking. Okay?”
I nod. “Can you help me to my room, Kathleen? My legs are too weak to walk without some sort of assistance.” I reach my arm out to have Kathleen help me up. She places it delicately on my stomach and a confused look washes over my face.
“If it is all right with you, Ms. Darling,” the prince starts. “Tonight, you will be resting in my bed. Ms. Turner has already approved of the situation and I will have Elliot cancel all my plans for this evening so that I may stay with you. Now, is there anything that I can get you?”
“Wha—? I, uh, I would prefer to sleep in my room. All my stuff is there, and… And where would you sleep, my Lord?”
“I will be sleeping on the floor. But, I can see how flustered you are about this and I assure you everything is well in order. You need not worry about a thing. Just let me know if there is anything you need, and I would be more than happy to retrieve it for you.”
“Thank you, my Lord. But I do not require anything except rest,” I say. I mutter a barely audible ‘apparently’ while glaring at Kathleen. A flush creeps up her neck and I see right through her striking façade. This is about more than getting rest after an episode. She is trying to make me see the good in the prince. One thing I will not allow is myself to be taken advantage of while in my ill state.