By Painter

Episode 21

“Try not to be nervous, ma’am.” Maria cooed as she brushed out my hair, braiding it to the side, after my brisk shower.

I couldn’t help thinking that she doesn’t braid the same way Fern used to do it. “The king is a very pleasant man.”

I nodded my head, trying to convince myself of that. When I’d met the king, however briefly, he had seemed very nice, but the way Calvin has spoken of him makes me worry that he isn’t actually all that kind.


Maria had just zipped up the back of my blue cap sleeved, knee length dress, when there was a quick rapping on the door.

Master Pedro stepped over to the door, letting the king enter. “Your majesty.” Pedro addressed him formally, bowing his head as he passed by him.

Maria curtseyed to him, before ducking out of the room quickly.

Master Pedro gave me a look, and I hurried to stand from my desk chair and did my best curtsey as the king walked over in front of me. “Hello, Rachel.” He said with his deep raspy voice.
“Pleasure to see you again.”

I straightened up, patting my dress down and smiled. “The pleasure is mine.” I said politely.

King Gordo craned his neck to look over at Master Pedro, who was still lingering by the door. “You’re dismissed.” Gordo said with a soft smile.

Pedro gave me an apologetic smile and left the room.
The king and I stood awkwardly in front of the desk for a moment.

He was taller than I had thought the night I’d met him when he was sitting behind the table.

He was wearing a simple maroon button up shirt, and khaki pants that made his tan skin look even darker in comparison.

He looked me over with his deep blue eyes and smiled, the corners of his eyes creasing slightly, showing his age. “You can sit.” He said pointing to the chair behind me.

I plopped down, crossing my legs, while he turned to lean against the desk. “First off, I’m very sorry to hear about your handmaiden, I’m told she was very nice.” He smiled.

“My son told me you were approached by a man in the crypts?”

I nodded my head. “Yes, sir, that’s correct.” I said trying to keep my voice even, as not to show my nerves.

He drew his brows together. “And what exactly were you doing there?”

“Oh, um, I was lost, sir.” I explained. “I was trying to find my way to the elevators when I ended up in strange area.

I was about to call out for help when a man came up to me and he gave me directions, telling me that they would get me back to the elevators.”

“Where were you coming from?” He asked.

I bit my lip. “Oh, well Prince Calvin had taken me to his mother’s old room.”

The king raised his eyebrows. “Really? Well, I don’t guess I need to ask what the two of you were doing in there.” He said walking away from the desk. “I know I have seen that Calvin seems to be quite enamored by you.” He said walking behind my chair where I couldn’t see him anymore. “I wonder why that is.” He mused.

“Oh…um, I…” I wasn’t sure what he was implying or what I was supposed to say to that.

“You don’t have to say anything.” He said, and I turned my head to see him absently walking in front of Calvin’s book shelves, running his hand across the spines.

“I’ll admit, the first night I saw you.” He paused to smile at something on the bookshelf. “I thought you had a major chance, you or that pretty Tessa girl.

However, as soon as you were in front of the people, and you starting opening that pretty little mouth of yours, I was sure you were going to be gone soon.” He chuckled and I hated how similar to Calvin’s laugh it was. “Sure, you pulled some people back to your side with your skimpy gowns and fiery speech, but I’m still not quite sure about you.”

He began walking back my way and I turned my head back to face in front of me. “Have you changed your mind about wanting to be here?” He asked from behind me.

I sighed, thinking on my answer. “Yes and no.” I replied honestly. “I am still not thrilled with being a prisoner here, but I do want to be with Calvin.”

“Ah, yes.” He mumbled. “I have a meeting with him planned later, he said he wants to talk to me about the competition.

I suspect, especially since I’m finding you here in his personal bedroom, that he is going to ask for the competition to end, presumably because he’d like to pick you.”

He waited for me to speak. “He expressed that to me, yes.”
“Why should I allow that?” He asked. “The people have loved this idea of mine so far.

It makes them feel a part of choosing their rulers, even though we know they don’t really have anything to do with it.

The spectacle of it all makes it exciting and boosts morale with the people.

It would look a little bad if the competition ended after only one month, and Cal were to choose the girl who openly stated she doesn’t want to rule my people. You understand that, don’t you?”

I could feel that he was standing right behind my chair. “Yes, sir, I can understand where you are coming from, but-.”

I stopped talking when both of his cold hands landed on my shoulders. “You don’t have to explain yourself to me.” He whispered behind me. “I’ve seen the change in Calvin.

He hasn’t been like this since before his mother died.” He said, gripping my shoulders and starting to rub them. “I could be convinced to let the competition end early…if you can show me what it is exactly you’ve done to Calvin to make him so obsessed with you.”

I felt vomit rising up my throat. “I don’t know what you’re implying.” I choked out.

He rubbed my shoulders harder, making me wince. “I know you must be doing something to him, I just want to know what it is.” He leaned his head down to my ear. “I’m the king, no one else will know.” He whispered into my ear.

I shoved the chair back, jumping up and running for the door, but he cut me off halfway there. “Get away from me!” I shouted, and his eyes turned black and he barred his teeth. “I mean it!” I yelled again.


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