*The Next Morning*
“Leah, dear,” I heard my mother say in her soft voice as she nudged my leg to awaken me. I didn’t realize that I cried myself to sleep. Time for a new pillow. “Leah,” she said again.
“Yes?” I groaned as I still lay on my pillow.
“Sit up, dear. Let’s talk.”
“Your eventful evening.”
“Oh, joy,” I sighed as I slowly sat up and ran my fingers through my hair. “Nothing happened,” I said as I rolled my eyes. I obviously do not want to talk about it.
“A whole lot happened lsat night.”
“Oh what? Did Alice tell you I was being a whore last night? Just so you know, she’s wrong. I would never-”
“She told me some things, but I want to hear my daughters story. I’m sure you’re more accurate. Seeing as it was you.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m positive, sweetie.”
“Okay, fine,” I sighed as I looked down and picked at my fingernails. As I looked up, I saw Alice at my door. “I’m not tell you while she’s here.”
“Who?” My mother asked and turned around. “Oh. Alice, will you give us a minute?”
“It’s time for Leah’s breakfast.”
“I understand that, Alice, but pease give us some time to converse.”
“Yes, madam,” she nodded and shut the door.
“Go on,” my mother said as she looked in my eyes with great sincere.
“Well… I kissed Michael,” I blurted out and looked up at her.
“Carry on,” she smiled. I get a smile?
“Well, it started out as a normal stroll and I convinced him to go to the shore with me. It was a beautiful night, Mother. The stars and moon were shining so bright. They looked so beautiful in the water. I guess the mood was just right. Then… I walked to the edge of the water, he followed me and told me how much of a beautiful girl I am and… well… he kissed me,” I shrugged. “So, I kissed him back,” I looked up at her again for a scolding face or anything. But she was still smiling. “Mother, why are you smiling? Didn’t Alice tell you I was being a whore?”
“I don’t believe Alice.”
“Did you believe her before?” She shook her head no with that same smile on her face. “Why are you smiling?” I laughed.
“You like Michael.”
“Well, of course. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have kissed him back.”
“What is it about him that you like so much?”
“He’s not like Rupert, for one.” We laughed. “He has mannerisms. He actually tries to understand me. I don’t even think Rupert tried. He was too stuck on laughing at me.”
“I don’t like Rupert too much either. That’s not because he’s a bigger either. I know my daughter. Rupert just isn’t for you.”
“Why can’t father see that?”
“Let Horatio be Horatio. It’s a tradition for a father to choose his daughters husband.”
“I know, but he’s different. He says that all the time and how he hates following rules and traditions and stuff like that.”
“Some rules you just can’t break, Leah.”
“I know,” I sighed and picked at my nails again.
“What else do you like about Michael?”
“Mother! Have you seen his eyes?!” I gushed.
“Why no, I haven’t. Must I see them?” She laughed.
“You must! They are so beautiful, mother. His lips are so soft too. I didn’t want to stop kissing him,” she smiled at my comment and kissed my head.
“I should meet this Michael fellow.”
“Oh, please do. He’s much better than Rupert.”
“Well, when I meet him, I will tell you my verdict. As of now, I believe that if he makes you happy, I am all for the two of you.”
“Thank you, mother!” I smiled and hugged her. “You’re so understanding. It really hurt when Alice called me a whore. I didn’t know she was capable of using such words.”
“Let Alice be Alice. I’ll see you at breakfast, darling,” she said and got up.
“What is it, dear?”
“When is my little brother or sister coming?”
“Any day now, Leah,” she smiled and shut the door after she walked out. Just as she walked out, Alice came in.
“Oh, great,” I mumbled as I got up and went to the restroom.
“Good morning, Leah. How was your night?”
“Why?” Oh, don’t act like you don’t remember.
“Nothing,” I sighed.
“It must be something, dear. You slept horrible. You said so yourself.” You would be the cause of that.
“So, what was wrong?”
“Well, in that case, I’m sure you slept fine. It must have just been your position of sleeping.”
“My position was fine.”
“Well, how has Michael been?”
“I don’t know. Why are you asking me? I haven’t seen him since last night.”
“You know I don’t like him, Leah.”
“He’s not right for you. He’s a trouble maker.”
“A trouble maker? Ha! In what way?”
“Darling! I had to get you away from him last night.”
“Whatever, Alice. Is my breakfast ready?”
“Yes, it is,” she said as I walked past her.
“Leah!” She said as I rand down he stairs in my robe and slippers.
“Good morning, Princess,” Rupert smiled as he stood up to meet me.
“Good morning,” I said in a bland voice.
“Please, sit here,” he said as he pulled out a chair beside his.
I looked around the table to find that everyone was looking at me with great interest. I just want to scream “what?!” But I can’t do that.
“Leah, good morning,” my dad said without looking at me.
“Morning, Daddy,” I sighed.
“How was your night?” He asked.
“Eventful.” Oh, so now everyone wants to discuss my night?
“I understand that,” he nodded as he looked me square in the face.
“Good,” I mumbled as I began to ear my eggs.
“Did you have a nice night?” Rupert whispered.
I dropped my fork and looked at him, “yes. I had a great night. Why?”
“Just wondering,” he said with a surprised look on his face and turned away from me.
As I looked up, Michael walked in, fixing his sleeves. How could a man be so gorgeous? Just as I began to check him out, he looked up at me and smiled.
I smiled back and picked at my eggs. Gawd, that smile.
“Leah, what are you.. oh,” Rupert asked as he looked at Michael.
“Why are you smiling at him?” He interrupted.
“I’m just being friendly, Rupert,” I laughed.
“Friendly? Yeah, right.”
I looked at him as though he were crazy. “Excuse me,” I smiled as I got up and went to my room.
“Where are you going?” Rupert asked as he followed me.
“My room. Why?”
“Why don’t you stay down for breakfast?”
“I’m not that hungry.”
“Okay… well, I hope you slept well last night.”
“I did. Quite well.”
“Shall I meet with you after you bathe?”
“How about we have alone time today? Then tomorrow we can meet.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m positive. If we do this, then our marriage is sure to survive,” I smiled.
“Good thinking. We’ll meet up tomorrow, Princess,” he smiled back and kissed my cheeks.
“Alright,” I sighed as I shut my door and quickly wiped my face.
“Leah, why are you up here so early?” Alice asked.
“I wasn’t too hungry. Have you drawn a bath for me?”
“Of course, dear. Go on,” she said. She’s pretending as if nothing happened last night. I have never seen this side of her before. Upset one moment and happy go lucky the next. “I replaced your pillow with a clean one.”
“Thank you,” I sighed as I relaxed in the warm bath.
“I’ll come back soon. You relax,” she smiled as she shut the door. As soon as I heard her shut the door to my bedroom, I sunk under the water. Nothing could go wrong now that I was alone under the water.
“Leah, are you finished?” Alice asked.
“Mmhm,” I said as I kept my eyes shut. I had been in for about thirty minutes. Although, the head had all gone away, I still wanted to sit in the tub. Well, you must get ready.”
“Your father’s brother is coming. He wants to see you and Rupert.”
“Alice, I wanted alone time today. Did you plan this?”
“Maybe,” she laughed.
“Then I’m not coming. Reschedule for tomorrow. I need time to myself to think some things through.”
“But, but, Princess! He’ll be here in half an hour.”
“Well, I’m sorry. Maybe you should have told me yesterday.”
“Are you still upset about last night?”
“Who cares? Now, if you’ll excuse me. I’m about to get dressed,” I said as I wrapped a towel around my body and shut the door.
“Yes, ma’am,” she sighed and began dumping my water.
“Alice, where is my black corset?”
“On top of your dresser, dear.”
“Come tie this for me, Alice.”
“Where do you plan to go today?” She asked as she began tying my corset.
“Just stroll round the city to think.”
“I’m sure you’ll have someone to come along with you.”
“No. Just me. So, I won’t get accused of anything.”
“Oh, that’s a great choice. Do you mind if I go.”
“Yes, Alice, I want to be alone.”
“Of course, of course. All finished, she sighed as she went back to the bathroom.
“Alice, I’ll be on my way now,” I said as I grabbed my money purse.
“What time should I expect you?” She asked.
“Who knows?” I mumbled as I shut the door and began walking to town. Just me. No Alice. No Rupert. Thank GOD! No Michael… I wonder how he’s doing. My father is going to have a fit that I went out without him. I could care, but I choose not to. I need my time alone.
“Leah?” I heard a familiar voice as I looked at a painting. “Leah…” they said in a sing song voice as I turned around. Elizabeth. Oh, great. “Hello, sweetie!” She smiled as she hugged me. “How are you?”
I fake smiled, “great. Living life, ya know?”
“Yeah,” I laughed as I studied the painting some more.
“So, have you talked to Michael?”
“Last time was last night.”
“Oh. Why isn’t anyone here with you? Shouldn’t you have a bodyguard?”
“I chose not to have one today. I really need time alone.”
“Oh, I understand,” she smiled.
“Yeah, so I’ll see you soon.”
“See you soon, Mrs. Rupert.” I rolled my eyes at the name and walked out.
After a long walk, I sat down by the fountain in town square and pulled out my new book. Now would be a great time to catch up on some reading.
Just as I began to read, horses hurried by me. That must be my uncle. My parents are going to be quite mad at me because I’m not there. I can’t stay here. Someone may see me and order me back to the palace.
I got up and quickly ran down the street. I’ve lived in the city for so long, yet I have no idea where I’m going. But I don’t care. As long as I’m far away from the palace.
“Leah!” I heard someone shouted behind me. I looked back to see Michael running up to me and stopped.
“Oh, great. You’re here to bring me back to the palace, aren’t you?”
“Exactly,” he smiled.
“I don’t want to, Michael. I want to walk around town. Not see my uncle and stand beside Rupert like I actually like him.”
“I guess I can understand that.”
“Good. You can tell them I’m not coming.”
“I’ll just stay with you. They’ll figure it out.”
“Oh, no, no, no. If I get caught with you, I’m gonna get in trouble.”
“You’d be in bigger trouble if your father knew you were out here alone,” he pointed out.
“Fine,” I sighed.
“Don’t be sad,” he laughed. “At least I’m not Rupert.”
“Please don’t mention that horrible name. I saw your sister today and she called me, ‘Mrs. Rupert.’ I about gagged,” I said as I made a gagging face. He smiled that oh so gorgeous smile and bit his lip. Damn, do that again.
“‘Mrs. Rupert.’ That’s quite funny.”
“No, it’s not. It’s disgusting!”
“Not funny,” I mumbled as we walked toward the forest.
“Ever been in here?” He asked.
“Maybe in the family carriage. But I’ve never seen it with my own eyes. The carriage is always covered.”
“Wanna go in?”
“Will I be far away from the palace?”
“Of course,” he smiled and grabbed my hand as he led me into the forest.
“It’s so beautiful in here,” I whispered to myself as I inhaled the tree aroma.
“It is quite beautiful. I come in here to write sometimes.”
“Yeah. Some poetry.”
“You’re a poet?”
“I wouldn’t consider myself a poet. I just write poetry.”
“Well, I’d call you a poet.”
“Well… thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” I blushed.
“Ever climb a tree before?” He asked as he began to climb a tree.
“Does it look like it?” I laughed and looked down at my dress.
“Everyone must have climbed a tree at least one in their life.”
“Well, Michael, I’m the inexperienced one. I have never climbed a tree before.”
“Hmm. Come on. I‘ll help you.”
“Yeah. Come on. Don’t be scared. I’ll just take you to the second branch.”
“Michael, I can’t!”
“Yes, you can. Come on,” he laughed and lifted me up.
“Oh my goodness,” I said as I raised my arms up to grab hold of the first branch.
“Now, lift your leg.”
“My leg? Then you’ll see my underwear.”
“I won’t look, Leah.”
“How do I know you’re not lying?”
“Look, I’ll close my eyes.” I looked back at him to find his eyes squeezed shut.
“Okay…” I sighed as I lifted my leg and put it on the branch until I finally sat on it. “Oh my gosh! It’s such a beautiful view!” I used.
“You’re only up one branch, Leah,” he laughed as he climbed up to the second one.
“Come on. I’ll help you up to this one.” I looked up as I took his hand and climbed up. “See? Isn’t this view better?” He asked as soon as I got up.
“Yeah,” I smiled and looked out at the view. “Michael, how are we going to get down?”
“You’re in a rush already? I thought you didn’t want to go back to the palace.”
“I don’t. I just wanna know how we’ll get down.”
“Don’t worry about it,” he smiled and took my hand in his. I looked down at his hand and back up to his beautiful brown eyes to find him looking back at me. Alright. I’m officially hypnotized. His eyes are so beautiful it’s almost ridiculous. Michael let of my hand and touched my face like he did the night before. Oh gawd. What if we get caught again? We can’t. No. We can’t. No one knows where we are. I’m fine. I’m perfectly fine. Just as he began to bring his lips to mine, I placed my hand on his chest and kissed him. He seemed surprised, but relaxed into it as he slowly opened his mouth. I opened mine as well and let our tongues dance together in each others mouths. My second kiss! And it’s with Michael. Oh my goodness. Hopefully, we don’t get caught. I ran my fingers up and down his arm as he bit down on my bottom lip. My heart began raising as he trailed his fingers up and down my arms and around my collarbone. His touch is amazing. Rupert’s touch does absolutely nothing for me. It’s just… a touch. Finally we stopped.
I bit down on my lip as I picked at my fingernails. I feel as if I have done something absolutely wrong. But at the same time, it felt so right. “I’m sorry,” I whispered.
“Don’t be,” he smiled and grabbed my hand again. “I think we should get back to the palace now.”
“Are you sure?” I asked. I don’t want to go back. He knows that.
“Yeah. It’s only best. Come on,” he said and helped me down.
I’m confused now. Did I do something wrong?