Say goodbye, as we dance with the devil tonight. Don’t you dare look at him in the eye, as we dance with the devil tonight? Trembling, crawling across my skin. Feeling your cold dead eyes, stealing the life of mine. I believe in you, I can...
Say goodbye, as we dance with the devil tonight.
Don’t you dare look at him in the eye, as we dance with the devil tonight?
Trembling, crawling across my skin.
Feeling your cold dead eyes, stealing the life of mine.
I believe in you,
I can show you that I can see right through all your empty lies.
I won’t last long, in this world so wrong.
-Dancing with the Devil, Breaking Benjamin-
ANYA Romans laid on her bed, fully awakened.
Despite how time passed by on that night, the night one of her elder twin brother, James, had decided to surprise her by coming home, she just couldn’t get to sleep. Her mind refused to shut down, no matter how tired she was.
All she could ever think about was one thing:
Why was James here? Sure the man had said he was getting really home-sick and once he’d learnt that Rosy was out of time for a week, decided to fly back home first chance he got.
That did not erased the young woman’s worries however. Her mind wandered of the foreign Prince and his damned Butler, and she groaned.
What if this was a blackmail? To make sure she wouldn’t backed on her words from helping them get home?
Suddenly, an image of Aidan smirked devilish popped into her mind.
Anya clenched her pillow tightly, filled with anger. That Butler dared to use my own brother against me? How dare he!
The more Anya thought of it, the more everything clicked together, and it made sense. Why else would James allowed two completely strangers to stay at their house a minute after he had shut the door at their faces? Moreover Aidan had discreetly told her himself that everything was done by magic.
Ugh, she beginning to hate that particular word!
Forcing herself to calm down, Anya sighed softly. The night was as silence as a graveyard at one thirty o’clock in the morning.
Finally given up on turning and tossing on the bed, Anya sat up on her bed, while carefully not to wake up her little cat, Casey, who was already dead to the world as she slept peacefully at the edge of the bed.
Anya reached for a small torchlight on a small table beside her bed, and flashed at a figure laying on the cold ground beside her bed.
Sleeping cosily on the cold floor with thick mattress, a sleeping bag and pillows — was her brother, James. How did he ended up sleeping on the floor of her bedroom one might ask? Let’s backtrack few hours ago.
"HELL no freakin’ way!”
Anya had rapidly shook her head and crossed her arms. “Honestly James, I don’t see why you should sleep in MY room when you can sleep in your own bloody room!”
“Simple. It is inappropriate for a young woman to live together with men alone, even if you knew each other. While Mum is away, I will sleep in your room to make nothing happens to you youngsters. Understood?”
“That’s double standard bullshit! I’d slept over at Steve’s mansion many times before and you never once seemed to have any problem with it!”
“Steve is a family.” James stated in neutral tone.
Anya snorted loudly and rolled her eyes. “Look bro, if it worries you so much, just ask them to sleep in the living room. Better yet, why don’t you go ahead and sleep with them! That way you can keep watchful eyes on them, no?”
James sighed heavily. “It is just for a week until Mum gets home. They may be your friends, Anya, but believe me when I say all men are the same especially when it comes to the opposite sex. I’m just trying to protect you.”
“Yeah, but so are you.”
“Yes, yes. But unlike them, I’ve seen you butt-naked when you were a baby. Believe it or not, sis, you’re not exactly my type.”
“I DON’T GIVE A CRAP!” Anya bellowed. “You are not sleeping in my room! Now get out! OUT!”
Ignoring her, James had resumed his work by taking a couple of pillows, blanket, and an extra comfort mattress, before spreading them on cold floor. He had then laid his head on the soft pillow and covered himself with the thick blanket.
“I’m too tired to argue with you, Anya.” James yawned. “Let’s just sleep on it tonight, okay? We’ll discuss more tomorrow. Shut the light will ya?”
Anya had narrowed her eyes at her brother. She let out a small growl before turned off the light and climbed onto her bed.
The thing about James that always irked her was that she could never get angry with him for far too long. Not like Dean or even Josh whom she could be mad for days. James had been the one who had always taken care of her.
Sure she had Dean and Josh, but Anya was never close to Dean due of his constantly busy hours with helping out with the family business. She had even secretly nicknamed him as ‘Mr. Stoic’ due to his strict and no-nonsense personality. James and Josh on the other hands, were more laid back. They knew when to be serious and when to have good times.
Often, they would take her for outdoor activities such as rock-climbing, camping, hunting, and fishing.
After the twins had graduated from high school and left the nest to persuade their dreams, Josh had been the one who looked after her while attending Police Academy.
Being a tomboyish girl, Anya had often got into a fight with the schoolboys ever since she was in kindergarten. Whenever she got involved with a fight, James had been the one who consoled her and whom she seek for consultation.
For Anya, James had been a sort of a father-figure to her after their father’s death.
When her brothers left home for university, Anya had been the age of fourteen — a rebellious stage and every parent’s nightmare. Her rebellious ways had been; cutting her hair short like a boy and wearing baggy pants and shirts.
Though, Anya never voluntarily involved with fights much, when she did however, it was usually to protect her friends from the bullies and perverts. Whenever that happened, Anya would often come home with bruises.
One summer though, Anya had returned home with bad bruises after she had protected her best friend Steve, from a notorious gang. Josh, who had happened to be on vacation and stayed at her home at that time, nearly went berserk. He’d even threatened to beat the crap out of whoever it was who dared to lay a finger on his precious niece with an iron baseball bat.
With years of police training under his belt, Josh made it a mission to train Anya and sharpened her martial art skills, all in the name of self-defence against those heartless pricks.
His training had paid off. A week later, Anya had challenged the gang and had successfully beat the crap out of them.
The time was three o’clock in the morning. By this hour, Anya had drifted into a deep sleep when the door of her bedroom opened slightly, and a tall figured entered.
The man walked toward her bed, all the while, carefully not to step on James or anything that would give his presence away. Though he highly doubt none of the Romans siblings would be awake immediately judging by their loud snores.
Once he reached the end of Anya’s bed, the man watched the youngest Roman peaceful face as she slept and briefly wondered why wasn’t her constant face be this pleasant? Maybe if she did, he wouldn’t have to insult her every minute of the day.
Shaking his head from that thought, the man decided time was golden and he needed to get things done. First, he reached out his hand on the exposed part of her arm, and then he pinched her gently, before gradually increasing the pain.
Anya’s face retorted uncomfortably. She tried to wave whatever that was causing her so much pain on the arm. Finally after turning and tossing in her sleep, Anya abruptly sat up on her bed. Her forehead nearly got smacked into the man’s chin.
“What the hell are you doing in my room?” Anya hissed.
"Shh. you do not wish to wake up your brother now, do you?” The seductive voice that she had been listening for a month, whispered. Even in the darkness, she could see him smirked.
“Aidan. What the hell do you want? Do you have any idea what time is it now?” Her face flushed darkly at their closeness.
“It’s three fifteen in the morning.” Aidan stated calmly. “Come along now, Miss Romans. There is something that I must show you.”
Instead of following him, Anya rolled on her back and covered herself with the blanket.
“Idiot. Who would want to go anywhere with you? Whatever it is butler boy, it can wait till the sun’s up. I’m tired. Let me sleep some more.”
Seconds later, Anya felt something cold, sharp and pointy at her cheek. Her eyes grew widened. She felt her blood turned cold when he spoke the next words very quietly.
“You have two choices: come obediently with me, and we can spare the long explanation to your brother of why there is trails of blood on the bed, or, I’ll drag you off your bed regardless with a bleeding cheek, thus, waking up your brother from your screaming, and finally, having to force to kill him. Your choice, Miss Anya.”
Anya scowled and gritted her teeth. Swearing lowly on her pillow, she reluctantly nodded and got up from the bed, not forgotten to throw a pillow at the Butler. It hit directly on his face.
“I hate you so much, butler-boy.”
“Dully noted. Come along now.”
As soon as they both walked out of her room, Aidan guided her to surprisingly, Dean’s room. But before Anya had the chance to ask why were they heading to the room, he said, “You’ll understand soon enough.”
Stopping at the door, Aidan opened the door, and allowed Anya to enter.
Before James sudden return, the two Excalibellians had occupied James’s room due to the neatness and clean of the room, much to the latter’s dismay, while Dean’s room remained completely untouched.
Thus, when Anya had asked Aidan why he didn’t want to bother to sleep in Dean’s room, the butler had mentioned something about it would be easier to protect the Prince if they were to share a room should the unexpected were to happen.
Ever since the incident with the Demon King’s son, Zenon, they had been taking extra measurements to avoid any more encounters with him.
“Why are we here,butler-boy?” Anya asked as soon as they entered the room.
Not bothered to turn on the light, Aidan walked straight in the darkness until he reached to a wall beside the study table. Anya followed him curiously from behind. Aidan raised a hand to the wall and it started to glow in dark blue. In less than seconds, a secret passage suddenly formed on the wall.
Anya looked at him suspiciously. By now, she was already got used to him using magic in the house with or without her permission. But that didn’t mean she approved of them!
Aidan stepped aside and with a charming smile. “Ladies, first.”
Anya stepped into the dark passage. She waited for the butler to come forward and stood beside her.
“There’s no need to fret, Miss Romans. His Royal Highness is inside. Come along.”
The two of them walked into the passage until they reached to a place where there was a bright blue light. Anya swallowed the big gulp on her throat and proceeded cautiously. Somehow, she felt extremely nervous for whatever it was waiting for her.
When she finally came to sight, Anya could not help but to gasp loudly at a wide flat-screened monitor with few computerised keyboards attached to it. Blinking her eyes rapidly, Anya looked up and instantly met with Duke’s friendly gaze.
“You okay, Miss Anya?” The Prince asked, concerned.
“I-I guess?” Mika replied meekly.
“First of all, forgive my rudeness for waking you up very early in the morning, Miss Anya. I didn’t mean to be rude and I sincerely hoped Aidan didn’t do anything... Indecent to you while waking you up?”
“Nothing the unusual except that he’d threatened to kill my brother if I didn’t come along.” Duke frowned and glared at the back of his Butler’s head who was busily himself with the monitor.
“I shall have a word with him later. For now though, there’s someone that urgently wanted to meet you. Please don’t freak out, Miss Anya.”
At his last words, Anya raised an eyebrow. “Why would I want to be freak—”
“Is this the commoner you were talking about, Duke?” A deep grouchy voice suddenly interrupted her. It came from the wide monitor in front of her.
Anya almost tripped on her foot when her eyes met the screen.
There on the big monitor was a big intimidating muscular man, on the screen with deep olive eyes and red hair, was staring at her. His hair was braided in the back. He also had a beard and a moustache that was also braided.
One obvious thing Anya instantly took noticed about the gigantic man was his facial structure — it resembled a lot like Duke.
“Yes, Father. Allow me to introduce you to Miss Anya Romans. Miss Anya, meet my father, King Edwin, the current supreme Ruler of Excalibell.”
Instantly, Anya face went pale. One thought kept running through her mind:
There was a King on the monitor.
A King on the monitor.
“AAAAAAAAH!!!!” Anya screamed at the top of her lungs before strong hands clamped her mouth. Her eyes met with Aidan hardened gaze.
“Didn’t anyone taught you any manner when dealing with people?” Aidan whispered lowly.
“Behave yourself in front of the King, will you?” He then lightly pulled her toward the monitor to meet with the King.
Aidan lowered his head and went down on one knee. “My apologies, Your Majesty. This commoner does not know the proper way to greet and behave in the presence of Royalty. Please forgive her lack of manners.”
“It’s fine, Aidan.” King Edwin pointed a finger at her. “You there, child. Kindly step forward so that I may be able to see you clearly.”
Anya nervously nodded and moved forward to the monitor while King Edwin made a quick inspection of her. A full minute of awkward silence passed by between them before the King cleared his throat.
“Let us begin the introduction. I am King Edwin Excalibell, the Supreme Ruler of the Kingdom of Excalibell, as prior said by my idiotic son and heir over there.” Duke flinched at the sharp tone of his voice when he’d sputtered the word ‘son’. Especially after he’d just gotten his arse chewed by his father for his recklessness that led them to this mess.
“It is nice to have finally meet you, Miss Anya Romans.”
“T-The pleasure is a-all mine, Y-Your Majesty!”
“My son has told me what happened thus far. Including the fact that he is now working at your family’s shop to repay for his debts to you for letting him stay at the comfort of your home. Is that true, Miss Romans?”
“I see. Are you aware that he is indeed a Prince, Miss Romans? Someone who is befitting to rule a Kingdom someday. And yet, you still made him work in your shop. Are you not afraid of the consequences that could be fall on you for making the future King of Excalibell doing commoner’s work?”
“Father! That’s really not necessarily to—” A hand lifted in the air and stopped the Crown Prince to talk any further. Anya lifted her head and looked the King straight in the eyes.
“With all due respect, Your Majesty, I do not fear of what consequences that may or may not befall on me as I am hardly guilty for anything. His Royal Highness the Prince is the one who caused all the troubles in the first place. I’m just the unwilling victim who caught in the middle of this mess.”
Anya turned to look at Duke who stared at her in stunned disbelief. “Just to be clear, Your Majesty, I’d never asked the Prince to work at Home’s. He and his butler did it voluntarily. Besides, working at a commoner’s shop, is not a bad thing. It’s a good thing actually, especially for the Prince so that he knows how commoners work daily. Be in their shoes for a day, and you’ll know just how hard and tough life can be for some people. And don’t you think it’s better that I’d asked for his sweats and body to work instead of money or jewellery that some girls may have take advantage of? The women in my world are not the same as the ones that you have, Your Majesty.”
King Edwin kept quiet the whole time he’d allowed the brave young commoner spoke out her mind without any sense of respect toward him. He saw the changes in her eyes compared to before — her eyes were burning with controlled rage when he had repeatedly mentioned how his idiotic son had to work at her shop, as if it was an insult.
His eyes moved from the young woman to his son and the butler. Both held on their breath and bore different expression on their faces that caught his interest: Duke couldn’t take his eyes off the girl beside her. His eyes filled with fear and terror at the words she’d just said and the consequences that followed. Aidan on the other hand, glared dangerously at the girl with the ‘just who do you think you’re talking to, woman?’ look.
King Edwin inhaled and then exhaled sharply.
“Duke. Please escort this young lady back to where she came from. Aidan, stay. I would like to speak with you for a moment.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
“Yes, Father.” Duke bowed. Without a word, he pulled her back to the dark passage while Aidan stayed behind.
Once those two left, Aidan turned to the screen.
“Your Majesty. Please forgive that commoner’s lack of manners. I will be sure to punish her for—”
“She’s quite all right.” King Lewis interrupted.
“I beg your pardon, Sir?” Shock was faintly written all over the butler’s stoic face.
King Edwin smiled as he leaned back against the comfort of his chair and stretched his arms. “It’s too bad my idiotic son has already chosen his one true love. That commoner would made a great Queen. Strong, bold and outspoken — those are traits that are not easily to be found in the women of our time. It takes guts for a commoner to say those words upfront to a King.”
Aidan stayed silence, contemplating on what had been said by the King.
After a moment, Aidan asked, “Is there anything else you wish to speak, Your Majesty?”
“Yes. Regarding the topic that we’ve discussed earlier, do not let the Prince knows about it no matter what. Understand?”
“Yes, Your Majesty. You have my words.”
WHEN Anya finally woke up three hours later, it was already eight o’clock in the morning. She yawned and stretched her arms. Memories of meeting with Duke’s father came to mind.
It must be a dream. One of those realistically weird dream. Anya thought and shook her head.
She was ready to put all memories of this morning at the back of her head and got up from the bed when Anya noticed a piece of paper with beautiful handwriting on the small desk beside her bed.
’Good morning, Miss Romans. Regarding this morning’s early meeting with His Majesty King Edwin, I’d expect you to take full responsibility and be aware of the consequences that follow should you ever let that little information slips.
Anya flinched and angrily tore the letter apart, before she got up from the bed and headed to the bathroom.
A few minutes later, Anya finished drying her hair when she recalled that she did not have anything else to do for the rest of the day. The Academy had called her earlier to inform her that her morning class had been cancelled due to the lecturer who caught a high fever.
Hearing the news, Anya had been super excited that she could finally sleep in throughout the morning. Unfortunately for her, James had already made plans for them — which involved by yanking her blanket, and forcing her to get up and help him out at Home’s. He’d even threatened to kick her out of the bed should she still refused to get up in time.
Sighed, she grabbed her handbag and walked out of her bedroom.
Fifteen minutes later, Anya arrived in the living room. She wore a white long sleeves and a three-quartered black pants. She had her hair tied in two Dutch braids at each side of her head, which she had managed to learn from Duke.
Making her way to the kitchen for a simple breakfast, Anya was surprised to see Aidan was already making breakfast in the kitchen.
“Good morning to you, Miss Anya. You look nice today. Have some scrambled eggs.” Aidan smiled and poured the freshly made scrambled eggs onto the two plates.
“English breakfast?” Anya raised an eyebrow.
“His Highness the Prince requested this morning. Here you go.” Awkwardly accepted the plate, she murmured a ‘thank you’ before headed toward the dining table.
While serving the two plates on the table, Duke, walked in wearing a fitted plain white shirt and black jeans he’d brought.
“Good morning, Miss Anya. How are you this lovely morning?” He greeted cheerfully.
“Ah, morning.” Anya nodded.
“Is something wrong? You look rather pale. Are you not feeling well?” Duke reached out and touched her forehead with the back of his hand. “Hmm. No fever.”
“I-I’m fine!” Anya slapped his hand away before picking up a fork to eat.
Duke shrugged. “Has Mister James left to work yet?”
“Yeah. He said he’ll be going ahead and opens the bakery. He’s expecting us to show up before ten though.”
“Understood. We’ll leave as soon as we finished with breakfast.” Duke picked up his fork and began to prey on his food.
“This is good. Your butler sure can cook.” Anya complimented as she munched on the scrambled eggs.
Duke chuckled. “There is nothing that Aidan can’t do. Being a Gran Mago makes him a force to reckon with. As a matter of fact, he hardly uses any magic, unless necessarily, which is very rare.”
“Is that so?” Anya raised an eyebrow, mildly impressed with the butler’s strength.
Duke nodded. “Although... Now when I think about it, he did use quite amount of magic when we got here...”
When the Prince suddenly went quiet, it alarmed the young woman beside him.
“..Is that a bad thing?”
“Not really. As long as it’s not offensive magic he should be fine.” Duke finished the rest of his scrambled eggs.
Anya looked from her half-eaten meal to the Prince sitting opposite her. “Can you do magic too, Duke?”
Duke swallowed the food in his mouth. He looked surprised at her question, but nodded regardless.
“Yes, of course. However, mine isn’t as powerful as Aidan’s. He is the Gran Mago, after all. Aidan had been my Magic instructor before he became my butler. So you see, I learned my magic from the very best.”
“Is that right? Must be nice to have magic.” Anya finished drinking her coffee and got up.
She gathered her plate and cup, before putting them into the sink and washed her hands. Ten minutes later, she picked up Casey, gave her a kiss on the cheek, before informing her that she would be home later in the evening.
As Anya was closing the front door and about to lock the gates, when the key from her hand suddenly disappeared.
“Magic isn’t just for fun, Miss Anya. There’s always a price to pay for every magic.” Anya slowly turned to face Duke who lifted one hand in the air where the key was floating. He made a small hand gesture and the key fell right on her palm.
“Magic often requires one’s life force. Of course, a simple magic like the one I’ve just shown you doesn’t cost a thing. But some powerful magic, like offensive and defensive types, require a lot of life force. That is why magicians take many years to be able to master magic, and take longer years to earn the highest title, the ‘Gran Mago’. All except for Aidan. He got the title when he was thirteen. They’d called him a genius of his generations.”
Anya swallowed the gulp on her throat. It didn’t take a genius to put the pieces together of how powerful and strong Aidan really was.
“Come to think of it, we haven’t had any challengers coming at us ever since we got here. Isn’t that right, Aidan?”
“Correct.” Aidan nodded.
“Those who seek the title, must challenge the current holder of ‘Gran Mago’. Back in Excalibell, we received challenges all year round. Every time, Aidan managed to successfully beat them all. It was truly remarkable to watch, Miss Anya!”
“Is that right?” Anya looked at her wristwatch and locked the gate. “We’d better get going. I don’t want James to scream at me first thing in the morning for being late.”
AT nine-thirty in the morning, the trio arrived safely at Home’s.
Anya let out a relief sigh that the journey coming here was finally over. The moment they’d left the apartment, all eyes were on them from the apartment, all the way to the train station. Men and women stopped on their tracks as if the two men who passed by them were celebrities.
While waiting for the train to arrive, numerous people had boldly stared and whispered at them, mainly the two men she was with.
Anya had to keep her head down all the time as she stood in the middle of the two men. When the train arrived, the trio had quickly got in.
The attention they’d received in the train was even much worse.
Duke had to smile politely at the unashamedly women who ogled and openly flirted with him, while Aidan sat still and kept watchful eyes on their surrounding.
“Jamie darling, we’re here. Where art thou?” Anya greeted as she entered the front door.
“Took you guys long enough to get here. Give me a hand, will you?”
Anya went over to the storage and helped James carrying some of the boxes to one of the tables at the front.
“Careful. These are the new batches of cupcakes I’ve just baked. Have a look.” James carefully lifted the cover.
The cupcakes looked, very lovely and delicious. Red velvet and cranberries cupcakes. The design was simple; creamed cheese with a cranberry on top.
“Each one of you, give it a taste.” James picked one and handed it to Anya. He repeated the action and handed it over to the men.
“This is so good!” Anya licked off the creamed cheese on her lips.
“Indeed. This tastes wonderful!”
“It is indeed delicious.” Aidan nodded approvingly.
Satisfied with the comments given, James smiled brightly.
“All right! This will be our special promotion for today. We’ll serve these cupcakes to the customers for free just to let them have a taste. If they want more, then we’ll charge them for it.”
Everyone nodded and finished eating the rest of their cupcakes. After more briefing for the day, they prepared to open Home’s.
A man wore clothes that made every fashionista’s eyes bleed, walked casually in the city like he owned the place.He had a naturally blue skin, and a pair of red eyes, covered with sunglasses.
He wore a bright orange stripped suit and a yellow top hat that matched the suit. With his pale face and thick Gothic make up, he walked on ahead, ignored the whispering of others about him.
The man soon found himself standing in front of a cafe. Smirking widely and adjusting his suit and hat, he walked in.
“Welcome! How may I—” Anya gasped the moment the customer entered the cafe. The empty tray that she was holding slipped from her grip and fell on the ground, causing the two waiters to look at her.
Nobody spoke. Even the other customers who had a moment ago were busy with their chattering stopped when he walked in.
Oh God. What the hell is he doing here?
Anya bravely took a step forward, only to be held back by a hand gripped tightly on her arm.
“Welcome, Sir. Where would you like to be seated?” Aidan smiled and greeted politely at the man. That smile however, didn’t reached to his unkind eyes.
Zenon’s grin grew widened as he took off his hat.
“What’s this? No sincere smile for a customer? How pitiful.”
Anya frowned at the comment. She knew where this heading would eventually heading.
Zenon dramatically sighed. “Ah, and to think I’ve come so far just to have a taste of your famous cakes, only to be greeted by a rude waiter,” He repeatedly shook his head. “Pitiful. Just...Pitiful.”
“Now listen here you—” A hand suddenly placed on her mouth. Anya’s eyes instantly grew widened. For a moment she thought it was Aidan, who was standing behind her. She was prepared to gnaw his hand off for touching her, but the peppermint cologne gave it away and Anya reconsidered her action.
“Forgive the rudeness of my employees, kind sir. I will be sure to have a word with them today.” James stepped forward and lowered his head, apologetically.
“This way, please.”
Zenon followed James to his seat. He was given a menu and served a free coffee together with the red velvet cupcake.
The cafe was once again cheerful with a slight awkwardness.
Anya and the others stood nearby at the coffee machine with narrowed eyes and arms crossed.
“I’d thought demons are supposed to be allergic to sunlight. Why the hell is he here then?” Anya whispered angrily, and scowled deeply. Just a moment ago, she had been badly scolded by James for almost ruining their cafe’s reputation by yelling to a customer.
No matter how bad the situation with the customers was, the employees must never talked back rudely to them.
“I do not know, Miss Anya. We weren’t unable to detect his presence earlier. Had we able to, Aidan would definitely not let him comes in.” Duke stated.
Anya massaged her forehead. Already she could feel migraine coming soon.
“I knew something bad is going to happen today. So what now? Should we wait for him to leave or—”
“Excuse me!” Zenon waved his hand in the air. James who was at the counter watching over the crowds, immediately went over to his table.
Anya watched closely as her brother exchanged words with the Demon Prince. His face changed from polite to worry. James raised his hands and shook his head a few times. She could not hear what the conversation was all about but it made her heart felt uneasier than it already was.
Finally, James retrieved the menu from the customer. Instead of walking to the kitchen, he approached Anya with the same worried look on his face.
Scratched his head guiltily, he said, “Anya. We need to talk.”
Two college students were chatting and giggling at each other’s jokes. Serving their dishes was Aidan, who smiled politely as they bashfully thanked him.
He then excused himself and was about to make his way to the counter when he was stopped by a loud screeching voice coming from the kitchen.
Turning his head to look at the source, he saw Anya, who looked like the world was about to end any time soon, and his Royal Charge standing beside her with an equally horrified face.
Aidan quietly sighed.
“I have to whaaaaaaaat?!”
“It’s only just for a day!” James assured her. “Please Anya, would you go on a date with him?”
“ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!” Anya bellowed. “Why the hell should I go out on a date with that...That freak!”
“I too am against the idea of having a strange guy takes you out on a date! But what choice do I have?”
“Hmm. Let me think... TURNED HIM DOWN?!”
“Can’t.” James sighed.
“Why the hell not?” Anya crossed her arms.
“Anya, do you have any idea who is he? The fact that he’s wearing those outfits and even the police don’t bothered by it at all?”
“Don’t know don’t care. So who’s the freak?”
James sighed irritatingly at his sister’s ignorance. “That freak you’re referring to is a world-class famous food critic, who is also the son of the Head Police!”
Anya scoffed. “Food critic? Him? That blue mutant freak?”
“He does have a weird hobby of dressing up, so says the media.” James coughed and cleared his throat. “Nevertheless, he is one of the best food critics in the culinary industry. All of his reviews have been used in every culinary schools. If he writes bad reviews about Home’s, what do you think would happened to us, huh? ”
Anya sighed heavily. “So, what do you want me to do? Simply just go for it?”
“Anya, a sacrifice is needed when the business is at stack. Moreover, he has promised me nothing bad will happens to you while you are on a date with him. And on top it all, should you agreed to it, he would buy every slices of each cakes and every cupcakes that we have, and even pay them in cash!”
“In other words, you’re willing to sacrifice me, your only sister, for the sake of the company? Brilliant.” Anya rolled her eyes.
“Fine. I’ll go on a date with him, for the sake of Home’s. But in return,” Anya poked him hard on the chest. “You sleep in your own room or in the living room. Deal?”
When the two Romans’ siblings returned, Duke was waiting anxiously at the counter. Before he could ask, Anya answered him.
“I’ve decided to go on a date with him. Though it is very much against my wills.” She gritted her teeth and glared at the man sitting comfortably at his table with a wide grin plastered across his lips.
James patted her head softly. Deep frown formed on his forehead and he sighed.
“I’ll go and tell him. You go ahead and change, Anya.”
James made his way to the table and told Zenon the news.
“Excellent! As promised, pack me a slice of every cakes and cupcakes that you have.”
“Very well, Sir. And as you’ve also promised me nothing harm will come to my sister, right?”
Zenon firmly nodded.
Sighed again, James reluctantly left the table to pack the cakes and cupcakes.
Meanwhile, Zenon was enjoying his cup of coffee. Despite the constant stare and whisper he received from the other customers, nothing could make his day turned bad.
Just as he was enjoying his coffee, all the sudden, a table knife fell on his table, nearly missed his thigh by merely a couple inches away, before it made a light ‘ting!’ sound as it hit on the hard floor.
“Ah, please forgive me, Sir.” A familiar voice came from behind him.
Aidan got on one knee and retrieved the table knife.
“Just exactly what are you planning?” Aidan whispered quietly.
“Hmm? Did I detect jealousy coming from you, servant? This is very unlike you.” Zenon smirked.
Aidan mutely glared at him before he excused himself and made his way to the counter.
Zenon held on his cup of coffee tightly to his mouth. Eyes behind the shades of glasses narrowed as his vision followed the butler wherever he went. Closeup view though, the Demon Prince’s hands were trembling.
Zenon gritted his teeth. He would never admit it but that Butler stroke fear in him more so than his old man ever did!
A light cough caused Zenon to look up. Instantly, he forgotten all about the Butler and grinned.
Anya stood beside the table with a hand on her hip. She had undo her double Dutch braids and replaced them with single ponytail. Her sling handbag across her small figure.
Narrowing her eyes, she glared sharply at him.
Zenon got up and smiled. “I’ll go and pay the bills. Wait here.”
While waiting for Zenon to pay for the cakes, Anya tried desperately to ignore the stares and whispers coming from the customers when her cell phone suddenly vibrated.
An instant message from Aidan.
Anya had bought the Prince and Butler each a cheap smart phone for them to call and text messaging to her and each other. She had even taught them how to use it.
’Miss Romans, under His Highness’s order I have already cast a protection spell on you so that if Zenon dares to do any harms on you, you would be protected. Bear in mind, he is a cunning fellow and loves to scheme. He might tries to dig some information about us from you. Seeing as how gullible you are, that makes you an easy target. I hope you do not give away any information no matter what — least you value your brother’s life. Regardless, if things changed to worse, run away as fast as you possibly can and pressed the gem on the bracelet that I’d given you. I will try my best to get to you.′
Anya gripped her phone tightly. She glared at the back of the Butler who was serving a customer’s drink.
Even in this moment he dared to threaten me with James’s life? And what did he meant by gullible? Heartless bastard. I won’t forgive him!
Anya’s fingers quickly replied the message before she closed her phone. Huffing, she watched Zenon made his way toward her, and offered his arm.
“Shall we, Princess?”
James waved his hand hardheartedly. He watched his sister being escorted by a man whom he barely knew but had heard a lot about. A celebrity in the culinary world.
James sighed deeply.
Standing not far away from him, Duke watched the older Romans with a sympathy look. He made his way to where his butler was, at the counter, who was checking on his phone.
“Has Miss Anya replied your message yet?”
“Certainly she has, Your Highness.”
“Well, what did she say?”
Aidan frowned. ” She gave me a rude icon. One that is not befitting for a member of the Royal Family to see, hence, I will not show you.”
Duke pouted. Looking at the front door again, he internally prayed nothing bad happened to Anya.
IF this was not a blackmailed date, Anya Romans would have be trilled and enjoyed riding a Lamborghini throughout the rural highway outside of the city.
When they had left the cafe, Zenon had taken her for a walk few blocks away from Home’s where he had previously parked his Lamborghini.
When Zenon had told her to get in, Anya refused. She only agreed to get in when he’d threatened to bring down her family’s business with just a click on a number on his cell phone.
Anya sighed. He had been driving for an hour to God knows where. Stretching her arms, Anya decided to start a conversation.
“So, where are we heading?”
“Dunno.” Zenon replied mildly.
Anya smacked her forehead. “What do you mean you ‘dunno?’ What kind of lamearse answer is that?!”
Zenon remained silence and focused on the road ahead.
Letting out a yawn, Anya looked at the plain scenery outside — trees everywhere.
“You know, when a man asked a lady out for a date, the least he could do is to take her out for a meal. You’ve been driving for an hour. Aren’t you hungry? I know I am.”
Zenon pressed the accelerator hard as the car moved faster to their destination. In less than twenty minutes later, Anya found herself in a small noodle shop beside the road, with a steamy beef bowl served in front of her.
She blinked her eyes a few times at her ‘date’, sitting on the opposite side and was already digging the noodles with a great pleasure.
Now that’s interesting. Thought Anya. She too began to eat her beef bowl.
Once again, Anya found herself inside of the Lamborghini. With a full tummy, and no words to say, she began to feel sleepy.
Anya yawned — and instantly regretted it when the car suddenly stopped. Biting her tongue earlier when the car suddenly stopped, she could feel blood in her mouth, and glared sharply at the Demon Prince.
“Why the hell are we stopping so suddenly?” Anya snapped.
Wordlessly, Zenon switched off the engine.
Her suspicious of him grew. They were out of nowhere, with no cars around, not even a house was on sight, and he’s stopped here of all place.
Anya gulped. Wait if he... tried to do something to me?
Crossing her arms, Anya continously glared at the man. If he dared to try anything, she would beat him up within the inch of his life.
Demon Prince or not, she wouldn’t give up without a fight.
Anya waited patiently for him to make any moves that would give her reasons to beat the crap out of him.
Zenon suddenly opened the driver’s door and stepped outside.
“I’m gonna smoke for a while.” He shut the door before she could say ‘okay.’
Seconds after he’d left, Anya sighed in great relief.
“The hell was that about?” She muttered lowly. Wiping her damp forehead using the back of her hand, Anya reached out for her smartphone in her slingbag.
Keeping watchful eyes on the Demon Prince who was still smoking outside, Anya dialled a speed-dial number and waited.
Three beeping tone later, and she was greeted by a worried male recipient.
“Miss Anya!” Anya groaned at the loud voice at the other end.
“Don’t shout at the speaker, idiot!”
“I-I’m sorry!” Duke apologised. “I’d been so worried. We all have been since you’d left Home’s.”
“How’s everybody? James?”
“Mister James... Well, he went home pretty early today, an hour after you’d left. He’d said he couldn’t concentrate on work and left. When Aidan and I got home earlier, he was fine. Well, sober to say at least. Aidan mentioned he drank at least a bottle of liquor. Though, I think he’d finally cracked up a while ago, because he was on the phone, complaining to Mister Josh, I believe.”
Anya gasped aloud. “I can’t handle two insanely drunkened men in one night!”
Duke’s voice cracked a bit. “Which is why Miss Anya... Please don’t get mad, but I’d asked Aidan to cast a sleeping spell on Mister James — to keep him calm! It’s just a sleeping spell until you come back! He won’t remember anything that happened today — at least the Zenon part! Please don’t be mad! Miss Anya?”
There was a dead silence on the other side. Duke was hanging on to the phone like a lifeline, waiting for her reply.
“Miss Anya? Is everything.. Okay?”
The line went dead.
Anya gritted her teeth and clenched her phone. She was so pissed she didn’t even realised Zenon had returned and shut the door.
The car started to move again but Anya didn’t care for one bit. All her anger was channelled to the Excalibell Prince and his damn Butler.
No matter what his reasoning was,
Anya had made it absolutely clear to them that family is off-limit to magic. Moreover so after what they had done to James yesterday night!
Little did Anya realised the anger that she felt toward the two men had subconsciously transferred to the atmosphere in the car.
Zenon, who had been silence the whole time, stole a glance at the young mortal beside him. The look on her face was enough to make him — the fearsome Demon Prince, cringed.
IT was late evening by the time Zenon reached to The Star’s apartment. He pulled over just as Duke was running down the stairs to greet them.
Anya mutely took off the seat belt and opened the door when she stopped. She wanted to say something to him. Anything.
‘Thanks for the date.’ It wasn’t her choice in the first place.
′It was fun!′ Hardly. They hardly even talked for goodness’ sake!
′Well, I guess see you around then?′ No. She does not want to see him around ever again.
In the end, Anya couldn’t find the right words to say.
Oh well. The very least she could do was to thank him for the drive and meal, out of courtesy.
Turning around, Anya was just about to thank him when Zenon suddenly cupped her chin, forcing her to look at him, and brought her face closer to him.
“Thank you.” He whispered those words softly.
Eyes still widened, Anya for sure had thought he was going to kiss her. Their faces were so closed she could pratically feel his breath on her face!
When Zenon suddenly pulled away, Anya got out as fast as she could and shut the passenger’s door. Her face was flushed and warm.
She watched as Zenon speed ahead on the road when Duke’s voice, calling her, reached to ears.
“Miss Anya!” Duke huffed and panted, from running all the way from the twentieth floor to the ground floor where she stood.
“Miss Anya, are you okay?”
Anya snapped out from her thoughts. “I’m fine.”
“Really?” Duke gently brushed his knuckles against her cheek. He then frowned. “He didn’t hurt you, did he? Because if he did—”
Anya slapped his hand away from her face. “Of course not. I wouldn’t let him get too close to me.” Liar. He caught you off guard just a while ago.
“Thank Goodness.” Duke sighed in relief.
“He did thank me though. Which I found it to be extremely weird.”
“He thanked you?” Duke looked as if he had just swallowed a bug.
“Yes... Why?” Anya frowned and crossed her arms.
Duke shook his head. “Nothing at all. Just... Well, for as long as I knew him, he’d never thanked anyone. Just the fact that he suddenly showed up and asked you for a date is odd in itself. Aidan is looking into it. But Miss Anya, it’s best if you stayed close to us for couple more days. Just in case.”
Anya reluctantly nodded. While she hated her freedom to be taken away, Anya knew it was for the best.
“Now then. Let’s forgot all about Zenon, okay, Miss Anya? You must be tired.” Duke smiled and wrapped one arm around her as they walked to the elevator.
“By the way, Mister James has awaken. Though, he doesn’t remembers anything related to Zenon. We’d told him he wasn’t feeling well so he left work early. Oh, and Aidan made chicken curry for dinner. You’ll love it! And Casey’s...”
A Lamborghini stopped in front of the Jones’s Mansion. Someone came out from the driver seat. Instead of wearing the flashy attire he had wore the whole day, the man had changed his attires
who came out from the car was wearing a standard black and white butler attire.
He had combed his hair to the usual; the one that the Jones’s butler had always preferred — all the way to the back. He looked at his reflection on the mirror.
No longer was he wearing the flashy attire that he was so fond of, or the heavy Gothic make up or even the wacky hairstyle.
As soon as his feet touched the Jones’s soiled ground, Zenon was someone else.
He was Hans — a persona he’d created for him to be able to closer to the Jones’s daughter, Marian.
Initially, he had planned on dropping by the Roman’s household. He had been tired of listening to his father’s nagging for him to take his duty as the Demon Prince seriously. Thus, in need of some stress release.
Maybe he could kidnap the mortal woman and have fun with her — if he’s lucky, maybe he could screwed with her just to get a kick from the Excalibell Prince.
Zenon was not blinded by the fact that the Excalibell Prince adored and even formed a platonic relationship with the mortal woman.
Forcing plan her to date him earlier today and watched how worried Duke had been made his day.
However, as much as Zenon loved to see the horrific look on the Excalibell Prince’s face, it wasn’t him who took the cake.
Zenon smirked as he climbed the small steps to the front door of the manor.
He remembered while driving casually on the rural highway out of nowhere, and just about to execute his ultimate plan — seducing Anya, Zenon had thought he saw something on the rear view of his car.
It was the damned Butler. And he’d looked very pissed.
Zenon shook his head. He wasn’t a careless driver by all means, but Aidan had caught him completely off guard that he had been forced to emergency brake.
Decided that he needed some fresh air, Zenon had quickly excused himself from the mortal woman for a smoke outside.
“I know you’re out there. Just so you know, I won’t dare to lay fingers on her — not when I know you’ll be watching us anyway.” He smirked.
He waited until the threatening aura surrounded him faded away before he finished his cigarette, returned to the car and drove them back home.