A Modern Fairy Tale Romance (Chapter 11: Ambush) I won’t suffer, be broken, get tired, or wastedSurrender to nothing, or give up what IStarted and stopped it, from end to beginningA new day is coming, and I am finally free Run away, run away,...
A Modern Fairy Tale Romance (Chapter 11: Ambush)
I won’t suffer, be broken, get tired, or wasted
Surrender to nothing, or give up what I
Started and stopped it, from end to beginning
A new day is coming, and I am finally free
Run away, run away, I’ll attack
Run away, run away, go chase yourself
Run away, run away, now I’ll attack
I’ll attack, I’ll aa-WHOOOAAAAAAAAA
-Attack, 30 Seconds To Mars-
ANYA Roman was pissed.
She had been gritting her teeth for the last ten minutes, even her best friend Steve was getting annoyed by the action.
“You know Anya, one of us would like to remain focus in class instead of hearing your teeth clashed every now and then, if you don’t mind?” He whispered.
“Shut up.” Anya snapped back. Her hands were clenching on a broken ballpoint pen she had been using to write notes up until a while ago.
“You’re having your period. No need to get all snappy on me.” Steve muttered, rolling his eyes and tried to focus on the class conducting by their new professor. Honestly, he didn’t know what had gotten into his best friend when she suddenly got so worked out upon meeting with their new professor.
While the other girls in the class were all swooning over the man, Anya had snapped and even muttered profanities at him.
Sighed, Steve looked at the big letters written on the whiteboard, at the new professor’s name: Abel Fox.
For some odd reason, he felt like he heard the name somewhere... But eventually he shook it off. It was probably one of the things he’d heard that was not significant enough to remember anyway.
Meanwhile, Anya was pissed for good reasons.
Last Saturday morning she found herself waking up on her own bed with Casey latched on her feet like there’s no tomorrow. She didn’t mind the latter of course, but what had gotten her the most after realising the fact that she had woken up on the bed instead of the floor in the first place!
Not only did the damn butler left without leaving a note, but he actually had the nerves to touch and carried her to the bed like a... Like a... Aurgh!
Face flamed, Anya had spend the rest of the day contemplating ways she could do with an iron bat should she ever see him again.
Sunday came and went peacefully without any sight of the butler had made Anya slightly wondered if he was actually hiding from her.
Why? Because a woman could carry him while he was out unconscious? Anya snorted. That had been the first thought that came out in her mind. As Anya later contemplated more on the issue, she felt ashamed with her first thought and had come to realise that Aidan wouldn’t simply hid himself from her just because of that.
No. A man like him wouldn’t be easily be threatened by a woman just because of that. He’s not that pathetic. There ought to be more than that. I’m sure of it.
While Anya had been curious to find out what it was, she knew better than to stuck her nose into someone’s else business and focused on her own. Which in her case; preparing her best friends’s grand engagement party! Instantly, Anya’s mood had lifted. She forgotten all about Aidan and had remained focus on the upcoming party.
It wasn’t until Monday arrived and her favourite lecturer had announced that she would be taking maternity leaves from today onward.
Anya didn’t even know she was pregnant!
What had shocked her the most was that the new lecturer who would be taking her place in her absent was no other than the handsome silver-grey haired and dark familiar chocolate eyes; Professor Albel Fox.
At three o’clock in the afternoon, as the class finished and students began to dissemble, Anya waited the last student to leave before she closed the door and locked it.
Steve had told her earlier that he would go ahead to the hotel where the engagement party would be held to meet with the interior designer with Emma. Anya had nodded and told him she would come right after she finished dealing with her business.
Walking toward the lecture’s table, she crossed her arms and tapped her foot profusely.
“Explain.” Anya whispered sharply.
“Whatever do you mean?” The Professor’s deep silky amused voice made Anya’s heart pounded slightly. Oh, how she hated when he did that!
“Don’t play dumb with me! Why are you playing dressed up here of all the places?!”
“I’m offended, Miss Romans. ” Aidan took off the fake glasses he was wearing and carefully folded it before putting it down on the table.
“There’s a fine line between dressing up and disguise. Guess which one is mine?” He smirked.
“Aidan. I’m not joking here.” Anya gritted her teeth.
“So am I.” All humour left his face as Aidan looked at her in the eyes. “His Highness thought you’d be in much safer hands if I’m around. In other words, he wanted me to babysit you again, Miss Romans.”
Narrowing her eyes, she looked at his face closely.
“You don’t want to be here, do you?”
“It’s not the matter of ‘want’, Miss Romans. Whatever orders His Highness gives me, I have to obligate them.”
“Even if it’s something you disagreed or not wanted to do in the first place?”
Was it just her or did she saw his lips twitched a bit?
“As I’d said to you, it’s not the matter of want or not.” Aidan sighed. “Listen carefully, Miss Romans for I will not repeat the same words twice. His Highness might be naive and credulous at times, but when it comes down to it, he is a good young man with a big heart and great insight. He is someone who will never abuses his powers to order me to do ghastly things; not even to his own enemies.”
Anya agape at the big words spoken by Aidan regarding the young Prince. Though she knew even Aidan tend to lose his cool when it came to Duke’s innocence mind and good heart at times, this was the first time that she heard the Butler viewed him respectfully like this.
Mutely, she nodded and grew a small smile.
Something else clicked in her mind. Lifting her head, she looked at Aidan who was flipping pages on a book he was reading, and frowned.
“I don’t understand something. You’re his Butler, aren’t you? Your duty is suppose to protect him. How do you suppose to protect him now when you’re here protecting me? Going back and forth out of the portal is tiring, isn’t it?”
Aidan closed the book and put it aside.
“It seems you are once again, underestimate my abilities as the Gran Mago, Miss Romans.” He grinned smugly. Standing up from his seat, he walked over the table and stood beside her.
Anya stiffed as she stood her ground, despite her face flushed and heart beat wildly by his closed proximity. No way was she going to let him get any satisfaction from her!
“What makes you think I couldn’t protect the Prince and you at the same time?”
“Wha—” As in cue, there were a couple of knocks on the door.
Lifting his hand, Aidan pointed one finger at the door and it opened. Anya gasped, one hand covering her mouth at the sight of two people standing at the door.
“Good afternoon, Miss Anya. It’s a great pleasure seeing you again!” Spoke a familiar voice happily.
“Duke? Why are... Why are you here?”
Her eyes moved from the Prince to the young beautiful woman standing beside him. Eyes widened, she looked at the Prince who nodded his head eagerly.
“Indeed, Miss Romans. Allow me to introduce you to my beautiful fiancee, Marian William Jones. Marian, love, this is the one I’ve been telling you about; the one and only, Miss Anya Romans!”
Marian was elegantly gorgeous, Anya admitted. It wasn’t so hard to see why many guys were openly drooling at her at the corridors.
Dressed in a white blouse and black knee length skirt, with her waist-length wavy brown hair tied in a high single ponytail, her perfect figure; firmed butts and rounded breasts from all the ballet training, she was the perfect image of a chic, sophisticated young woman.
Marian smiled gracefully and offered her hand. “It’s finally nice to finally meet with you, Miss Romans. I’ve been wanting to meet with you ever since Duke told me what’d happened.”
Anya snapped out from her trance and accepted the offered handshake. “Nice to meet with you too, Miss Jones. Why don’t you two come inside and we’ll talk more.” Pulling the young woman and the Prince gently inside, Anya shut the door and locked it again.
“So... Wanna tell me what exactly happened here? Duke, why don’t you start first?” Anya smiled awkwardly against the door.
“First and foremost,” Duke took a couple steps toward Anya and widely opened his arms.
“H-Hey! What do you think you’re doing in front of your fian—” Duke pulled her into a firm hug before releasing her again while he chuckled loudly.
“God, I’ve missed you. It’s all right, Miss Anya. Marian knows that it is my culture to hug people affectionately to whom I considered as closed friends.”
Beside him, the said woman nodded quietly.
“Yea, well...” That doesn’t means she won’t feel anything, you moron! Anya decided to keep last few sentences to herself. She would definitely have a talk with the other woman later. For now though...
Pulling herself away from his embrace, Anya cleared her throat.
“So, talk. Now.”
“I’m sure you’ve already heard most of it from Aidan, so I’ll just say it straight; Miss Anya, you’re no longer safe to be left alone.”
“Please calm down! It’s not as bad as you think!” Duke quickly reassured her. “What I meant by not safe is that, words have somehow gotten out to the Demons that you are our closed liaison to this world, beside Marian...”
“It’s Zenon, isn’t it? Who else would it be other than him then?” Anya whispered sharply.
“Please don’t jumped into a conclusion too soon, Miss Anya. While I too had thought it must have been Zenon’s undoing, I came to realise one thing — Zenon had said to you that he wouldn’t allowed anyone to touch you, his property, had he not?”
“So?” Anya scoffed.
“So if he had said that, then why would he risked telling his subordinates about your involvement with us?”
“You’d said before he loves to scheme. What is the possibility that this is one of his sick schemes? To get us all sweat out and be on our feet all the time?”
Duke shook his head. “No, it’s just not his style to spread words around. I knew him well. As strange as it is for you to hear this, Miss Anya, Zenon has his pride when it comes to scheme; he wouldn’t let someone whom he’d unfortunately chosen as his so-called property to be in danger.”
“In terms which may help you to understand the situation better, Miss Romans, you have now became his bitch.”
“Language, Aidan!” Duke scolded his butler for uttering a vulgar word in front of a young lady. He was about to say something more to the butler when Anya stopped him.
“No. It’s all right. I get it now. Though, coming from you is something that I’d never expect to hear at all, butler-boy. But thanks anyway.”
It was Duke’s turn to be in utter confusion.
“Urghh what a pain in the arse!” Anya yawned loudly, stretching her arms, neck, and finally, her shoulders.
No words were spoken among them for a moment until Anya softly sighed.
“...So we ruled out that Zenon. Now what?”
Duke sighed. “In these circumstances, I would usually have Aidan to erase the memories of the victim as soon as they got too closed to us as to spare them the feelings of pain from separation... However in this case, I shall allow you to decide, Miss Anya. Would you rather have Aidan guarding you or would you like him to erase your memories? Should you decide to choose the latter; please know that neither Aidan nor I will bear any grudges against you. Rather, we would feel much relief actually if you do chose—”
“That won’t do.” Anya interrupted, shaking her head before he could finished his sentences.
Mixed feelings were evidently on the Prince’s face.
“Why not? Surely you’d be more protected in that way!”
“Think about it this way, will you? Even if you’d erased my memories, what are the chances your enemies won’t still go after me to get through you? If you said you’ll provide protection even then, I’ll kick your sorry arse, Duke.” She gazed her eyes sharply at him. “What makes you think I would simply put my trust in a complete stranger, who happens to be a freakin’ prince from another dimension with my life, but also the lives of my family and friends as well? They might go after them too if they failed to get through me. Besides, I’ll protect my own family and friends, thanks. You two just focus on getting rid of your enemies. So no. This way is much better. At the very least, I knew whom I’ll be dealing with and why.”
There was a long pause before Duke sighed softly.
“Understood.” A smile appeared on his handsome face. “Somehow, I knew you were going to say something like that.”
“Did you now?” Anya raised an eyebrow which the Prince nodded.
“Well, at least we’ve that one settled then. I have my men to look into the issue as well. For the meantime, I suggest the three of us stick closely together. That being said, I’m looking forward of becoming your acquaintance again, Miss Anya.”
Anya got nothing else to say, simply nodded.
IT was already late in the evening by the time the four of them got out of the school compound safe and sound. Having been distracted by Duke’s sudden presence, Anya had completely forgotten about her best friends engagement preparation at the hotel until Emma had called her and asked if she was coming or not.
Realising how late it already was, Anya apologised profusely for not being able to come and helped out as she had planned.
Emma didn’t mind. Most of the arrangements have already being made for the upcoming party this weekend anyway. That being said, Emma had asked her if she would bringing anyone to the party beside her mother and uncle.
“Uhh... I might bring over some old friends to the party this weekend. Do you mind?”
“Of course not, silly! Do Steve and I know them by any chance?”
“N-No. Just old acquaintances of mine. I’d stumbled upon them the other day and we’ve been keeping in touch since then.”
“Oh. Well, bring them over then! We’ve catered lots of food so no need to worry.” Emma giggled over the phone. “Well, I’ve got to go now, love. I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?”
“Yea, sure. Say hi to Steve and your mum for me.”
“Sure thing, doll. See ya, Anya!”
“Bye.” Anya hung up the phone. Turning her back to look at the others, she apologised for the sudden interruption.
“Sorry for that. I’d totally forgot about the engagement preparation. Oh, you all are invited to the party this weekend, by the way.” She looked at Marian and smiled, “You are invited as well, Marian.”
“Brilliant! Oh Miss Anya, This will be my first time experiencing this modern world’s engagement ceremony!” Duke exclaimed excitedly.
“Yes. Thank you for the invitation, Miss Romans.” Marian spoke softly.
“No problem.” Anya shrugged. “And call me Anya. Formality isn’t really my game, you know.”
The young woman in return, began to smile more and loosened up at her words.
“Speaking of formality, Miss Romans,” Aidan’s voice suddenly vibrated in her ears from behind. He stepped forward and stared down at her with undefined emotions — making the younger woman felt slightly uncomfortable.
“What is it?”
“Since His Highness and I have returned, it is in our best interest that we resume our work at Home’s again. Hence,” Two pieces of papers appeared in the air, and Aidan retrieved them. “Here are our resumes to be given to Madam Rosy.”
“I kid you not, Miss Romans. If it was entirely up to me, I would have done it the easiest way. Unfortunately, His Highness has already forbidden me to use anymore magic that it required me to.”
Anya snatched the papers from his offered hands and huffed angrily.
“We’re counting on you, Miss Anya.” Encouraged Duke with a warm smile.
Anya flapped her free hand in the air and proceeded walking down the streets, heading home.
At some point while they were walking home, Marian had came and walked beside her, leaving Duke was chatting with his butler behind them. Glanced at her fiance from the corner of her eyes, Marian spoke, “If I may confess something to you, Miss Anya?”
Anya slower her steps. “Sure. What do you wanna confess about?”
Marian looked down on the pavements. “I admit I was feeling rather insecure and even threatened when Duke had told me about you and that he’d stayed with you for months, despite trusting him wholeheartedly. Though I already knew what was going on, I still felt quite reluctant to meet up with you today. But Duke had insisted. He was full of confidence and assurance that I would like you as much as he did.”
That moron. “And? Do you still feel threatened by me?”
Marian lifted her head, shook her head gently, and smiled at her.
“No. Not at all. While observing you earlier, I came to realise that you’re not the type of girl who would steal someone’s beloved, and that the relationship that the two of you have is a genuine one. Something that Duke had longed for since he’s an only child in the family.”
“Whatever do you mean?”
“Duke loves you, Miss Anya.”
“What?!” Anya nearly shrieked.
“It’s not that kind of love, Miss Anya.” Marian chuckled at her friend’s reaction. “He loves you, but not as in loving an opposite sex. You see, Duke is the type of guy who gets lonely a lot despite his cheerfulness and positive outlook in life.”
Marian nodded. “It’s unlikely, isn’t it? But that’s him. Moreover, he’s the type who wants to give love rather than receiving it. And he doesn’t needs it to be a romance because he already has me, his lover. With you, he doesn’t need to be worry for it to be a romantic one. Because to him, you are a ‘sister’ he never had. Someone whom he can be his own true self and opened up his heart to. Someone whom he could trust, and loves genuinely without fearing the consequences.”
“Even so, won’t that get him into troubles? I mean society tends to be narrow-minded about this kind of stuff. And from what I’d heard from Aidan while I was in Excalibell, it’s even more so there.”
Marian sighed softly. “Indeed. But you see Miss Anya, I think for your sake, he’s willing to fight them all. Because he’s finally found someone whom he can proudly called as his sister.”
“But, aren’t you...”
Marian tapped her shoulder gently. “Personally, at least with you around, I won’t have to worry much than I have to be with other women. As you know, Duke can be a bit dense at times.”
She rolled her eyes before smiling warmly. “But even so, he’s a really good man. That’s one of the many reasons why I love him. ”
Stopping at the junction that part their journey home, the two women shared a farewell hug.
“Take care of him for me will you?” Marian whispered.
Slowly a smile began to spread on Anya’s lips. “I’ll be sure to keep him in check.”
Ending the hug, Marian went to Duke’s side and held his hand.
“We’ll be seeing you again, Miss Anya!” Duke waved at her with his free hand.
DAYS passed by quickly that whole week. Before everyone realised, it was already Friday. Saturday was quickly approaching. Those who were invited to the party were extremely exciting for the party. After all, it wasn’t everyday they get to come to a luxurious five-class hotel.
As for the said couple, they had been keeping themselves busily occupied with the preparations, even Anya didn’t get to see much of them these days.
Speaking of which, Anya glanced at her wristwatch. It was already five o’clock in the evening. Her evening class has finally ended. Stretching her arms in the air, Anya was about to gather her books and put them into her bag when the lecturer’s voice alerted.
“Miss Romans, if you would kindly see me after this, I would like to discuss with you about the essay paper you’d submitted earlier.” Professor ‘Albel Fox’ said, waving her assignment paper in his left hand.
Anya silently groaned.
I swear if he asks me to rewrite that essay for the fourth times, I’ll smack him. I’ll definitely smack him this time!
She waited until the class was nearly empty before she went to the front near the lecturer’s table and stood with arms crossed.
“I swear if you ask me to rewrite that one again, professor, I’ll—” One hand lifted in the hand refraining her from speaking any further.
Without a word, he handed back her assignment paper.
Anya glanced at it, before her eyes grew widened.
“I’ve got an A+?!” Anya gasped, looking from the papers in her hands to him. “You’re kidding!”
“I kid you not, Miss Romans. Your latest papers really impressed me. Your knowledge about the Literacy World is outstanding. Congratulations.” The Professor smirked.
For a moment, Anya looked like she was going to give him a big hug before she cleared her throat.
“Thank you, Professor. If there’s nothing left, You’ll have to excuse me.”
“Ah wait, before you leave.” He raised his hand at the door and locked it. “Now that there’s nobody here, there’s something I would like to discuss with you regarding tomorrow.”
“Oh?” Anya lifted an eyebrow. “What’s wrong?”
Clearing his throat, Aidan said, “His Highness has just informed me that he will be escorting the good Lady Marian to the party tomorrow. That being said, would you like me to accompany you to the party tomorrow night?”
“Sorry, I’ve already promised to go there with someone.”
Aidan’s eyebrows raised high on his forehead. He blinked several times before words could finally came out from his mouth.
“I see.” He spoke rather calmly. “You’ve already have a date then?”
“Yup.” Anya answered without any hesitation. Not noticed the slightest of how the professor’s stare and body language changed instantly the moment she mentioned she already promised a date with someone.
“Also, I’ll be going out for the rest of the day tomorrow. So I guess I’ll see you at the ceremony then?”
“Well, I really gotta go now. Mind unlocking the door, though?”
Mutely he nodded. Pointed a finger at the door, Aidan magically unlocked it.
“See ya tomorrow, professor!” Anya cheerfully waved her hand goodbye at the still stunned Professor as she made her way to the exit.
“Goodbye, Miss Romans.”
It was only hours after the young woman had left the classroom, Aidan gathered his things and exited the room.
When Aidan got home that night, Duke had just finished preparing the dinner; a simple meal of Spaghetti Bolognese, which he had learnt from Anya.
“Oh, you’re back, Aidan. How’s school today?”
“It was all right, Your Highness.” Aidan sighed, putting his bag away and then resting himself against the sofa bed in the living room. “Has your father called in today?”
“Yes.” Duke nodded. “He said everything is doing well in Excalibell. Unfortunately, there’s still no news about our challengers yet. Let’s eat!” Duke served his butler his share of the meal before serving for himself.
“Delicious, Your Highness.” Aidan nodded in approval.
“Thank you. You’ll have to thank Miss Anya for being such a good teacher.” Duke beamed.
Remembering what had happened in the evening today caused the butler’s appetite to falter. But for his Prince’s sake, Aidan forced himself to slowly eat the meal.
“Aidan? Is something the matter? Is the meal not to your liking?”
“No, not at all, Your Highness.” The older man shook his head. “I’m just thinking about tomorrow. Miss Romans has informed me she will be meeting with us at the hotel,” He didn’t bother to mention she already had a date. “Because she will be going out for the rest of the day tomorrow.”
“Oh, I see. Will you be fine on your own then?”
“Absolutely. You have no need to worry yourself about me, Your Highness. I assure you I’m capable of fending myself.”
The Prince nodded, resuming with his meal. Both men were left with their own thoughts for the rest of the night.
THERE was a big gathering at one of the most luxurious Five-Stars Hotel, the Lopez Hotel, in the centre of the town. The night of the official Engagement ceremony for Steven Aarons and his childhood sweetheart, Emma Green, had finally arrived.
Limousines were seen lining up outside of the hotel, conquering both outside and underground of the parking lots. In fact, the whole Hotel was fully booked and reserved for the guests who came from all around the globe just to attend the ceremony.
Most of the guests attending the ceremony, were top businessmen and CEOs, family members and friends from both sides.
When Anya looked at the Guest Lists while helping out with the preparation weeks ago, her eyes had been widened to the point of almost popping out from their sockets at the extremely LONG guests’ names that coming to the ceremony.
“But it’s just an Engagement Party! Why do you have to invite so many people anyway?” Anya asked the bride-to-be who were busily wrapping the thank you gifts along with the helps of her relatives.
“Steve’s dad was the one who had insisted on inviting them over. He said that it’s a good opportunity for Steve to get familiarise with the members of the board and it’s associates so that they know who he is when he takes over the company.”
Guests were dressing up to look their best in formal attires. Light sparkling drinks were being served by the friendly waiters the moment they stepped into the Banquet hall. People were slowly beginning to fill the spacious hall.
While most of the guest looked forward to see the newly engaged couple, one of them however, tried his best to not looked uncomfortable with all the unneeded attention that he received as soon as he stepped reached the hallway of the ballroom.
With his hair gelled to one side, Aidan looked dashingly handsome even when he was merely wearing his normal butler suit.Beneath his calm and collected mask however, Aidan silently cursed one Anya Romans for making him to come to the ceremony, alone.
He didn’t know why but his annoyance toward the young woman from yesterday still lingered until now. Tightened the fragile glass in his hand, he was closed to scattered it to pieces when he heard someone calling out to him at the entrance.
Duke waved his hand all too cheerfully. He wore a black tailored tuxedo with his curtained brown hair being gelled all the way to the back. He too looked devilish handsome and caught most of the ladies’ attentions.
Beside him, his lovely Marian, dotted in a semi-formal white laced dress. She had her hair up in a braided bun. She had applied a little bit of light make-up to enchant her looks even more.
“Your Highness. Lady Marian. It’s so nice to see you again.” Aidan lowered his head courteously. “Both of you look elegant, as usual.”
“Thank you Aidan. You look handsome as well.” Marian smiled.
“I thanked you for your kind words, Milady.”
“I don’t see Miss Anya around anywhere. Hasn’t she arrives yet, Aidan?” Asked the Prince, concernedly.
“I’m afraid I haven’t seen her, Your Highness.” Aidan answered, casually drinking up the glass in his hand.
Looking at his butler’s unfazed expression, Duke suddenly frowned.
“Aidan, do be honest with me... Have you told Miss Anya of what’d happened that night she got kidnapped by the Gorgon?”
Meanwhile, sensing the rather unnerving air between them, Marian decided to excuse herself while she searched at the reception desk for their names. Kissing her fiancé on his left cheek, she smiled sweetly while cheerfully told the two gentlemen to play nice.
Duke waited for her to leave them and out of sight before he turned to his faithful butler again. With a restrained smile, he said, “Answer my question, Aidan.”
“Sir, I am hurt by your tone.” Aidan made a hurtful gesture with both hands to his chest, which caused the young Prince to roll his eyes. With an eyebrow raised, Duke awaited for his butler to answer the question.
Aidan stopped his playfulness and sighed deeply.
“Oh, for the love of God, man! You didn’t tell her about it, didn’t you Aidan?”
At his butler’s long paused, Duke let out an exasperated sigh.
“Why haven’t you tell her, Aidan? You know how Miss Anya is! There’s no doubt that she would get angry when she found out that we’ve been keeping a very important secret from her! Now, I want you to tell her as soon as she steps into this hall, understood?”
“Later, Sir? Wouldn’t it be better if I inform her after the ceremony?”
“No. Later, Aidan. You will tell her about it later. With your sharp- tongue and her short-temper, this ceremony is the only thing that could save us all from her rage, so it seems!”
“Sir, if I may―”
“No.” Duke firmly pointed one finger at him. All sense of cheerfulness was lost in Duke’s face as he looked at his butler.
“I’d specifically told you to watch over Miss Anya, Aidan. The reason why is because I have absolute confidence in you ― in your abilities to protect her from Zennon or his bloody minions, regardless of what’d happened. I would be very upset with Miss Anya if she’d known of your situation and still acted up like a child toward you. But the fact that she doesn’t know, neither did you bothered to tell her why you’ve been acting the way you are toward her is unacceptable!”
Taking a deep breath, Duke was able to fake a smile when Marian waved at him, telling them that she’d found a table for them. After telling her they would joined her shortly, the Excalibell Prince turned to his butler again.
“Both of you need to get rid of your dislikes toward each other as soon as possible. I don’t care how you want to do it, but I’d appreciate if you do so before something very unpleasant happens to any one of you.”
“I understand, Your Highness. Please forgive me.” Aidan lowered his head in a bow.
“In the meantime, I’ll tell Marian if she could have a little heart-to-heart talk with Miss Anya later on. Perhaps a little female bonding will help us get out of this situation.”
“Yes. Thank you.” Aidan bowed his head slightly.
“Good.” Duke finished up his drink. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, my lady is waiting for me.” He patted one hand on the butler’s shoulder and said, “Try to enjoy yourself.”
“I will try, Sir. Thank you very much.”
As Duke made his way to the round table covered with white lace cloak where his love was waiting, Aidan let out an irritating sigh. He stretched an itchy little area beside his left eyebrow while carefully not to let his cool demeanour known by the passing guests.
One of the guests, a voluptuous beauty was swaying her hips as she walked toward him, attempted to have a conversation with him. She’d called out a waiter and took a glass of sparking drink.
In all honestly, Aidan was not in a mood for an attention, nor was he in the mood for a conversation even when an exotic beauty was the one who’d initial it. Not after he’d just got his arse chewed by the Prince.
Still, he was a man. Despite denying it often, Aidan loved and enjoyed getting the attentions from the women. Though he wasn’t a player or anything, by all means. Women just found him mysteriously attractive.
And so, here he was, building up a conversation with the lovely lady standing very close in front of him, all the while trying not to think what the Prince had just told him when suddenly, Aidan heard a rather loud, familiar voice at the hall’s entrance.
“THIS is stupid!”
“Will you just shut up?”
Josh readjusted the bow-tie on his neck and he cracked his neck left and right, before looking at to the passenger’s seat on his left. He muffled a laugh, before it finally exploded from his mouth.
“Stop laughing!” A firm punched his arm, and Josh groaned painfully, rubbing his sore arm.
“Okay, will you stop with that? This is like, the twentieth times that I’ve gotten hit by someone in my whole career as a detective!”
“This is a nightmare.” Anya Roman’s eyes were red and puffy from crying too much. All of the make ups that the make-up artist had put on earlier were in a mess. Looking at herself in the mirror again, she sighed longingly and exasperatingly.
Josh on the other hand, was scratching his not-so-itching back of his head. Dotted in a dark purple suit tuxedo, he had his hair in the same retro hairstyle that he was so fond and proud of. The only thing that was missing from his appearance today, was the famous red lens sunglasses which he took great liking and pride of wearing it whenever he went.
Just for tonight, Josh Campbell would allowed himself to enjoy the sight of beautiful single ladies freely without having to cover behind his dark shades.
...Or at least that was what he had in mind before he was being rudely awakened earlier in the morning. Earlier in the day, while Josh had enjoyed sleeping in during one of his rare days that he got off from work, when all the sudden, his phone suddenly rang.
Now, Josh knew he had every excuses not to pick up his phone, if only it wasn’t for the name that kept on popping on the screen.
As much as he adored his niece endlessly, little Anya had a way to get on his nerves at times. Even so, she respected and knew how much Josh appreciated his precious time waking up late on his days off. If it wasn’t for urgent, she would have text him about it instead.
So when her name suddenly popped out on the screen at six o’clock in the morning, Josh had thought something bad must have happened to her and Rosy. As soon as he picked up the phone, the detective immediately regretted every seconds of it.
Tired of hearing his niece’s ramblings, Josh sighed deeply.
“Will you just let it go? The deed has already been done. You can’t changed it back to the way it was, Anya. So just... Let it go. Okay?”
His only replied was her wailing growing louder.
Losing any patients he had left in his system, Josh looked at his favourite niece sharply before unbuckled her seat belt.
“All right, that’s it. Move out. C’mon!”
Anya gave him a horrifying look. “No! No way in HELL am I going out looking like this!”
“You look fine! Now get out!”
“No! I’m not gettin’ out! Drive me back. Take me home! Steve and Emma can beat the hell out of me later! C’mon, drive!”
“I am not driving you anywhere ― you look FINE!”
“Fine isn’t good enough! The hairstylist totally ruined my hair! Drive me back home NOW!”
“Anya, I did not spent my entire day, time, gas and money OFF to the other side of the city just so you could get your hair done like that model in the magazine ―whatshernamewas!”
“IT LOOKS NOTHING LIKE HERS!” Anya pointed at her hair, “This isn’t even closed to a pageboy cut that I wanted! I’m outta here! Reverse!”
“Stop it! We’re not going home! You’re being ridiculous! I didn’t spent a fortune just so―”
“―It’s your damn fault for losing the bet in the first place! Now drive me home!”
“My fault?! It’s your freakin’ IDEA! I’ve been a very good and generous uncle to you! I’d paid for your hair, dress AND make-up! It wasn’t cheap, Anya! It’d cost me a fortune and you’re being ridiculous!”
Josh pushed her off to the door.
“We’re not going home! We’re already late, and your mother is probably wondering where the hell you are right now. Get your butt off that chair!”
After a couple of minutes arguing in the car later, Josh finally managed to drag her arse off away from the car and into the lobby. It was a long and hard struggling, what’s more with people whispering and gave them a strange stare. But hey, they were already late for the ceremony to begin with!
If Anya had put up a fight much longer, Josh had half of his mind to haul and carried her on his shoulder like a piece a sack whether she liked it or not.
When they reached to the hallway, Anya had finally calmed down, was more self-conscious about her new appearance.
As prior said by Josh earlier, she did looked good. Not as gorgeous as some of the guests attending the function, but she wasn’t the worse either, not by a long shot. Her once shoulder-length chestnut hair had been chopped off and replaced with a pixie hairstyle.
Her bangs parted to the left, keeping it away from her eyes. And on top of her head, was a simple crystal band.
For her dress, she wore a sleeveless knee-length, dark blue Taffeta Bateau evening dress with big rose around the waist. Normally, Anya wouldn’t be into dresses like these, but the dress itself was decent and quite surprisingly, reasonable cheap.
Josh had wanted her to wear something sexy; something that would showed off more of her skin. He’d even willing to pay that expensive yet horrible skimpy dress that was put on display at the shop for her, daring her to wear it tonight.
Anya had threatened to break his precious red lens and his jaws if he did ended up buying her that stupid dress.
As for her appearance, Josh had offered to help her reapplying her make up, since the young woman was helpless to do so. While at it, he’d even fixed her hair a little bit.
Surprisingly, for a macho man, he done a very good job on her ― at least Anya didn’t looked like she came from a circus!
Taking a deep breath, Anya tried her best not to look down as she made her way into the hall with Josh as her escort.
The moment they stepped into the hall, she could feel all eyes were on her. Some of them, she recognised were Steve’s relatives.
As she and Josh made their way into the hall, Anya recognised some of the familiar faces ― and began to freak out about her new appearance.
“Anya!” Rebecca called, wearing wore a black strapless gown that showed off her worked out figure. She whistled wolfish and raised an eyebrow.
“Anya Romans, check you out! Girl, new look for the party?”
“Quit it!” Anya’s face flamed.
“Looks like our dear Anya is finally growing up. She’s became more and more of a lady. I have to wonder why.” Rebecca smirked widely. Her eyes wandered at the detective and she winked.
“Hi there, handsome. Off-duty and babysitting?”
“Why hello there, pretty lady.” Josh bowed slightly. “Fortunately, I am available.”
Immediately, he released Anya from his arm and offered it to Rebecca instead. “May I have your company for the night, pretty lady?”
Rebecca took the offer and the two of them quickly took off faster than Anya could let out the next word, leaving the young woman alone in the middle of the hall.
“Really!” Anya pouted. She would definitely get them back for this. Good thing she knew where they lived.
Sighing, the youngest Romans was about to make her way to the tables when she felt a cold, hard touch on her bare shoulders that nearly made her yelped.
Turning around, Anya was surprised, if not, relieved to see who it was.
“You look quite lovely tonight, Miss Romans.” Aidan smiled. “I’d almost didn’t recognised you with the new hair.”
Her left hand self-consciously touched her now short hair.
“T-Thank you. You look... not so bad yourself.”
Pleased that she didn’t just stormed off upon seeing him, Aidan took her left hand that kept brushing the bangs on her forehead away, and brought it over to his lips. He kissed at the back of her hand gently, never leaving his gaze on her.
Aidan broke into a grin when he saw the bewildered look on her face. The colour of her neck to her whole face changed from paled white to dark shades of red.
The whole gesture happened for a few seconds, but it felt like a lifetime, when Anya was able to breathe again.
“T-That’s enough!” Anya stuttered lowly.
Quickly pulling her hand from him, Anya huffed and turned to face the other way, all the while prayed hard that he would just stopped grinning at her that way.
After a minute, Aidan offered his arm to her.
“Shall we, Milady?”
Looking at the offered arm, Anya faked a cough before sliding her arm into his and the two of them walked toward the round tables.
AS Aidan was escorting his lady companion into the ballroom, heading toward their table, he couldn’t help but to remember what happened a few minutes earlier:
While talking to the gorgeous young lady; Aidan had heard a little commotion coming at the entrance of the hallway. His eyes immediately went to the two figures who’d just arrived at the hallway and were immediately served drinks by the waiters at the entrance.
What captured his eyes the most had been the stunning young lady walking arm-in-arm with a tall, familiar gentleman whom he knew all too well.
So, he’s her date then?
Aidan had turned deaf ears to his female companion who was getting annoyed with his lack of attention. He had continuously keeping his eyes on the young woman when all the sudden, he felt his annoyed female companion, was slowly yet surely, rubbing her hands all over his arms, with a knowing look in her eyes.
With a polite smile, Aidan told the woman he was very flattered that she was interested in him, unfortunately, he already had someone whom he loved very much. He had then bid her farewell and walked away, approaching the incoming couple.
Aidan had stopped a few steps away from them, when he heard one of the guests shouted the lady’s name loudly, hence, confirmed her identity.
“So the tale of an ugly duckling turned into a beautiful swan is real after all.” Aidan smirked at the words he’d told her at the Excalibell’s castle during the Prince’s Homecoming.
No matter how obviously uncomfortable Anya looked with the new haircut,he thought she looked absolutely adorable, along with the dress. For that reason alone, he had been willing to wait patiently until the conversation between her and her friends ended before he took a deep breath and gathered enough courage to approach her.
His only hope was that she would refrained from insulting him and ruined whatever mood that was visible between them at the moment.
When she didn’t, he thanked the Heavens.
“Miss Anya! Over here!” Duke waved his hand rapidly in the air where he and Marian were seated. Gentlemanly, he stood up as those two approached the table, and greeted Anya with a big smile and a kiss on the cheeks.
“You look absolutely stunning! Is this the reason why you came in late?”
“Y-Yeah... Is it really okay? It isn’t as I’d planned though.”
“It looks perfect and matches you. Come over here and have a seat!”
Anya took a seat beside Marian and greeted her with a brief hug.
“You look gorgeous!”
“Thank you. So do you! I love the new look.”
As the young women chattered with each other, all the sudden, there was a loud roar and cheers at the entrance.
Anya got up from her seat and what she saw nearly her in tears: her two best friends in the whole world were walked into the ballroom together, hand-in-hand as the music began to play.
Steve Aaron wore a white tuxedo suit. Beside him, Emma Green wore a strapless pale gold long dress. The moment those two appeared, the crowds were cheering loudly.
Soon, the long-awaiting speech began.
“Emma and I would like to thank each and every one of you who came from around the globe just to attend our Engagement Party. We bid welcome to all of you and thank you.”
There were clapping and heads nodding.
“To begin with, Emma and I have known and been together since in our high school days. Emma was my first love. It’d started with a simple crush, but as I got to know her, I felt a strong attraction toward her and eventually, I’ve fallen in love with her character. Now, to those who’d knew me, you would know how fragile I am, due to my weak body. There were times when I’d thought I couldn’t possibly be with someone as great as Emma. Someone who’s way beyond my reach...Obviously."
That earned him a heartfelt chuckle from the crowd, and a playful hit on the arm by his fiancee.
“But you know what, sometimes, miracles do happen. And sometimes, miracles happens in a form of a person.” Steve glanced up and looked straight at Anya.
He pointed out with a finger at her and smiled.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, the stunning lady who’s sitting over there, is my miracle. Not only is she my best friend since forever, she’s my tough protector, greatest supporter, but also, the one who’s responsible for making all of these possible for Emma and I. Ladies and Gentlemen, the one and only, Anya Romans.”
The clapping got stronger and the crowd went wild as all eyes were on Anya, who had both hands covered her mouth. Tears were gathering in her eyes, threatening to fall down any time soon.
For the first time, Anya didn’t bother to hide the tears fell down on her cheeks as she cried in front of everyone.
A little while after the couple’s heartfelt speech and few more speeches made by their closed family and friends, the ballroom began to live as the music began to play in the ballroom.
Duke had taken Marian’s hand to join him for a dance on the dance floor with the newly engaged couple and few more couples. While her friends were having a good dance, Anya had left the round table to get a bit of fresh air outside.
Unknown to her, someone had quickly got up from his seat and followed her before a swan of ladies could trapped him into asking them to the dance floor.
Anya walked into the courtyard with a permanent smile on her face. She had cleaned up after after a short cried during Steve’s speech.
Stretching her arms upwards, Anya was glad that tonight had turned out well, after weeks of slaving to make sure everything went perfectly accordingly to plan. Letting out a small yawn, she heard the sound of footsteps behind and and promptly turned around.
“Oh, it’s you again.”
Aidan had removed his jacket and was carrying it on his arm.
“The party went well.”
Anya snorted and smiled smugly. “Of course. who’d ye think helped planning it out?”
“Ah. I should have known better than to ask such question. Forgive me, Milady.”
The butler made a bowing gesture ― to which Anya snorted and chuckled lightly before softly shaking her head.
Looking around, she saw the whole garden was covered with various types of flowers. From roses to hibiscuses, to water-lilies, even the rare flowers like the Night Bloomers were surrounded the courtyard. Some were even planted in between the trees.
With lanterns decorations ― the courtyard was a perfect romantic place for couples.
Anya immediately found a stoned bench and made her way toward it. She sat down and sighed softly. Resting her head against the backrest, she failed to notice that the butler was already standing beside her.
Anya nodded her head slowly and the man took his seat beside her.
Suddenly, everything became so awkward. Anya felt very aware of her surroundings; including her heart beating rapidly.
Why am I being nervous for? It’s not like he’s Ethan or anyone else... At that thought, Anya shook her head. Though her heart beat refused to calm down.
“Miss Romans,” Aidan spoke calmly. “I have something that I would like to say to you ― a confession, if you will.”
Aidan cleared his throat before he proceeded.
“On the night that the Gorgon Nanas had deliberately kidnapped you, and before I’d come to the rescue, there was one thing that had to be done in order to secure your rescue went smoothly without clashing with other’s territorial policies and whats not. You see Miss Romans, because the Gorgons were under the ruling of the Demon King. As such, only he has the power to give out orders or punish the ones below him, should they break any rules or boundaries that had been established for many years. Nobody could interferes in that matter, not even His Majesty nor His Highness. When the act of kidnapping you, an innocent human reached to Excalibell, you could imagine how His Highness reacted to the situation knowing he could not do a thing to rescue you... All except for one.” Aidan’s voice deepened and his expression darkened.
“Miss Romans ― Anya.”
Her heart missed a beat.
“There’s one significant thing that you must be aware of about Excalibell, is that we never ever asked a favour from our worse enemy, the Demon King. Unfortunately, on that same night, His Highness had broken the rule when he had, despite my disapproval, met with Zenon instead of the Demon King, and made a deal with the Devil.”
Anya gasped loudly. Cold chill ran from her neck down her spine.
Aidan resumed. “It was a big deal with a huge risk. Nonetheless, His Highness had been desperate to save your life. The deal was, for the next few months, I will lose my abilities to use any Offensive and Destructive magic, in exchanged for your safety from any of his minions. ”
Aidan raised one hand to refrain her from talking again.
“There’s more; Zenon had confessed that he took a great liking towards you. He said he would not let anyone touched you without his permission. However, he couldn’t guaranteed the same fate to your family or friends. Do you understand?”
“That bastard!” Anya gritted her teeth and clenched her fists.
“His Highness was very concerned about this, of course. But there was no time to argue, so he made the deal with Zennon, anyway.”
Anya groaned, throwing her hands in the air frustratingly. She took a couple of deep breathe before exhaled them.
“So now that you’re out of magic, and we have who knows how many challengers out there to get to you through me ― now what?”
Aidan frowned deeply. “I’m offended that you think that I’m useless just because I’ve loss a huge amount of my ability as the Gran Mago, Miss Romans.”
“That’s not what I―”
“Regardless, I suppose it’s understandable for you to think that way of me. But I assure you, I am capable of handling the enemies even without magic involved. For example...”
Anya was at loss of words when all the sudden, she found herself floating in the air, in his arms, followed by the sounds of something metallic hit on the stoned bench they had been sitting earlier ― a huge spiked ball.
Aidan landed his feet graciously on the ground, with the young woman in his arms. He held her closed to him with one hand, while the other hand held tightly on a dagger he’d kept with him always.
Turning his body slowly with narrowed eyes, he glared at the silhuoette figure standing at the one of the trees’ branches.
“So the rumour was true after all.”
“Show yourself.” Aidan said, calmly.
“I’m impressed. Even without your magic, you are able to detect my presence, Gran Mago.” The assaulter stepped into the light and revealed himself.
Dressed in a full black spandex suit with a pair of wings that looked a lot like a bigger version of the Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, was a man wearing a red and violet Buckeye Butterfly mask.
“Who the hell is that?” Anya whispered. Never mind that he was bizarrely dressed for an early Halloween party!
“Mister Motýl ― an infamous man in Excalibell known to use the butterflies as his own personal army. How nice to see you again.” Aidan replied flatly, but his grips on her tightened.
“Is that how you greet an old acquaintance, Aiddy? And what a lovely lady you got there, by the way. At least she looks a lot better than the last one you had.” Motýl grinned cheekily.
Last one? Anya blinked before she looked at the Butler. To her her horror, he bore an extremely darkened expression she had ever seen.
Come to think of it, Duke had once said something similar about Aidan’s mysterious past before.
“No matter. I just came here to inform you that since the stage has already being set, and the characters have been cast, all it needs is a big ‘bang’ of applause! Isn’t that exciting?” Motýl chuckled lightly.
“What are you talking about?” Anya asked.
“Let’s play a game, shall we? To see if you are indeed great as the rumours has it. In two hours, this whole building will blow up to pieces unless, of course, you find and defuse the bomb I’ve already planted within the building in time.”
“How you find it,” Motýl shrugged. “Is entirely up to you. But I suppose since you can’t really use your magic, you’ll have to relay only yourself or that lovely young lady that you have in your arms for help. Better start running.” With last mocking laugh, Motýl left them and disappeared into the night.
The moment he’d left, Anya quickly released herself from Aidan’s arms. She roughly pulled his collar until he was her eye- level and looked at him straight in the eyes.
“What the hell was he talking about? He planted a BOMB?!”
“We have no time to argue, Miss Romans.” Aidan tried to pull himself back, only to be forcefully pulled by Anya’s brute strength once again.
“No, you listen to me. I don’t give a rat’s arse whatever happened in your past or what’s your involvement with that ― that lunatic! But ear in mind my family and my friends are inside of this building. Whether you like it or not, I’m in.”
Aidan looked taken by her. Not once did she backed down or turned to look away from his sharp gaze. There was fire burning with determination in her eyes. Finally, he sighed. Knowing very well how stubborn she could be when she put her mind into it.
“Very well, Miss Anya. But please bear in mind that we do not have any time to waste. Therefore, I suggest we leave all silly arguments aside and focus on the mission. Agree?”
Wasting no time, they rushed back into the hotel to form a plan.