My lips relaxed into a more natural smile as I took in the stranger’s appearance. He was tall and had red hair that glowed wine red as starlight poured in through the ceiling. My mother warned me to stay away from men who looked appealing in the starlight, but I gave him my hand anyway.
“I don’t think we’ve met before. What’s your name?” I asked, wrapping my arms around his neck. He kept his hands firmly around my waist as he smiled.
“My name is Jalex Romaro, Your Highness.” He commented as he dipped me carefully in order to lean in closer to my ear. “Be careful who you trust princess,” he added as he pecked my lips, slowly at first. Then the heat increased. I felt a little lightheaded as his lips left mine. I opened my eyes, and looked around for the young man with whom I just shared a kiss.
I lost him in the throng of heavily perfumed bodies once again. I touched my lips where he kissed me, confused as it tingled as if I had just been shocked by Dai, my fiancée, for doing something particularly annoying like falling asleep at a Council meeting, or missing those awful weekly teas with his mother to check in, and see how our relationship has progressed.
I walked back to my table slowly as the room started to spin. I winced as I felt my hip slammed into a nearby table.
“Ana, Are you okay?” a voice asked me, but it sounded far off as if someone had dragged me underwater, and someone was trying to look for me. The room felt as if someone had stuffed the entire ballroom into a large oven. I looked around me for a familiar face, but the room felt like a swirl of purple and gray. I tried to elbow my way through with several polite “excuse me”expressions. I felt myself fall into a pair of arms.
“Poor little Princess not feeling well?” a sugary voice whispered in my ear. I tried to place the voice in my ear. Who are these people? Why did Dai’s mother not let me know we were welcoming new guests? I felt my arm slide across something, and a slight sting as if a bug had bitten me. “She is going to need to walk. Bram won’t like it if he knows we drugged her,” the sugary voice commented.
Drugged me? I ran through a mental list of everything I had eaten that night. I had some of the moon pudding, which had bits of red chunks in it. It tasted super salty and makes me wonder if the rumors about them using traitors against the crown as the base. I only had like two bites, and then I wanted to throw up so it couldn’t be that. They didn’t bring the ice cream out yet , so that’s not an option.
The stranger who kissed me? How can you drug someone with a kiss? None of the people I’ve read about since I moved here can do that. I felt a pinch against my skin as I was pushed through a door.
“Goodbye, Princess! Have fun!” the sugary sweet voice cooed as I the air shifted from warm and suffocating to humid and damp.
The shackles held my wrists tightly as if it were a child hugging their mother after waking up from a nightmare in the middle of the night. The room swirls like the ice cream cone I never got to eat at my engagement party.
The beautiful ice cream that looked like the snow I’ve seen in all of the pictures of wintertime when ice falls from the sky so the people use it to make this thick dessert which could be why there are countless pictures of earthling children sticking their tongues out as small little chunks fall from the sky.
They want to get it straight from the source. I am brought back to reality as I am jerked roughly away from the wall by my hair. I should have listened to Dai and put it up earlier.
Then at least they would have had to hesitate for a moment before they tried to rip the hair from my skull. Shackles rubbed against my wrists like two long lost lovers reunited after a long separation. I guess those are just for decoration.
Maybe they just wanted me to look nice for the rats that will be my cellmates? Too bad they messed up my hair.
I felt something hard tear through the soft fabric of my dress, a small prick, and heard a low chuckle behind me.
“Welcome to your new home princess,” the low voice commented as I saw a small square of light in front of me. I tumbled forward and caught myself as I fell to the rough marble floor which caused the shackles to scrape against my wrists. Good thing I decided to wear underwear today.
I brushed my hair out of my eyes carefully and pulled my hand away. My hand was covered in a slimy texture as if someone had sneezed in my hair.
Do these people hate clean hair or something? I tried to push myself up but I was quickly stomped back down as if I were an annoying insect they wanted to crush. Maybe I was but why me, and not the queen?
I thought of Queen Dria sitting on a throne overlooking the reception. Would she notice? I scoffed bitterly as my mind drifted to the first time I met the queen.
It was a few hours after I arrived. I was walking among the castle rose gardens, admiring the different colors of silver, pink and of course the classic red roses. I put my hand on my head. I was feeling slightly lightheaded from the strong sweet scent of the flowers. I slowed down to look at the blood-red roses and chuckled bitterly.
”The gardeners’ blood is what gives them such vivid color.” I hear a voice that is sweet like honey dripping off a spoon. I turned carefully not sure if I could handle any more sweet people. I put on my most polite smile. The corners of my mouth wrinkled slightly as if my mouth were straining with the effort. The queen was a small round woman with a round face that sagged as if it were a ball of dough a baker had left out.
Her eyes were wrinkled around the corner. Her eyes were the same midnight blue as the sky that blanketed her kingdom. Her skin was a dark golden brown that seemed to glow as bright as the stars. It always struck me as odd that the people of the Moon Kingdom were so tan when they lived in the Sun’s shadow. I bow quickly my knees sinking to the cold brown earth as I stared up at her.
She looked down at me smiling as if I were a young child who had done something adorable. “There is no need for that, Anastasia. We will be family soon enough,” she said calmly as she offered her hand to help me up. Her hands felt like the kiss of the wind against your cheeks on a cold winter day. Her hand squeezed a little too tightly around my wrist.
“Thank you, your majesty,” I replied calmly looking down to avoid the glare of orange light coming from her hair. She grasped my chin.
“Powers mean nothing, Ana, if you do not know how to use them,” she advised squeezing my chin a little. Her eyes seemed to glow a little brighter almost as if we were engaged in the world’s most intense staring contest. I wanted to look down, but I had to keep my gaze steady.
The queen wasn’t known for being the most social royal at court. She collected enemies like one collects sand in their shoes after a day at the beach. Only she makes sure no little bits of their dignity is left lingering to crawl back into her life. I suppose she’s had to what with her husband having most of the women of the court in his bed when the queen became too aggravating.
I stared into her eyes calmly not letting the sweat that was forming on my skin cause me to back down. She smiled at me, and it seemed every bit as cold as the marble statues that were placed throughout the square.
“Princess, I am pleased you decided to join us instead of staying at your party. I trust you’ll find us more hospitable than your future-in-laws.” A deep voice commented as smooth as the chocolate fountain I was missing far away from here.
My stomach grumbled, and I sighed, I should have eaten before the party. “Oh yeah because everyone anticipates being kidnapped at their engagement party,” my subconscious chided.
“Princess you may get up now, but thank you for the honor,” he commented smiling.
“I don’t even know you so I don’t exactly know if you deserve to be bowed to for all I know you could be a member of the wait staff,” I commented as I stared down at the floor a smile dancing across my face as if it were telling me how to get out of here. I received a swift kick to the ribs.
Pain shot through them like they had reached into my chest and took out some ribs to be used as knives to cut their meat during dinner. Next thing I know I hear a loud crack as the body fell to the body was lying still on the floor next to me. I scooted over as close as I could to the guard that stood on the other side, his leg shook nervously against my hip. I bit my lip. I would be scared if I were you too buddy. He took that guard down.
“Are you okay?” the man with the smooth voice asked as he crouched down on his knees so that his light greens eyes met my brown. He looked to be significantly older than me though as his black hair was peppered with patches of grey as if someone had flicked ashes from the fireplace into his hair.
He had large bags under his eyes. Maybe he spent hours agonizing whether or not to go through with this. His round face looked like the boy who kissed me, and started this whole mess.
That’s because they are probably related dummy,” my subconscious barked at me. I looked past the man with the green eyes to meet the rose-colored eyes of the boy once again. He looked down quickly as if my gaze hurt him.
“Ah you met my nephew earlier. Do you always give kisses so freely?” the man with the green eyes said as he smiled. My mother’s warning echoed in my ear again.
“Never trust a kiss from boys who look good bathed in starlight. ” I will be sure to listen next time.