"You’re really pretty," Madison said when the two of us sat on her bed facing each other. She had a nice room that she shared with Jaylinne. It was on the top floor with dark wooden flooring and creamy pink-colored walls with hot pink and yellow flowers painted around them. There was a long window that stretched across the side of the room and two single beds facing each other below that window. Next to each bed was a white bedside table with a lamp on and a closet across the room next to the door. I looked at Madison and smiled. She was absolutely adorable. Her curly hair reminded me of Rose’s, it was just a bit shorter. Her round cheeks seemed to glow with pink and her eyes seemed so much bigger than it did in the photo except when she laughed, that caused her eyes to squint.
"Thank you," I said and tied a little pink beaded bracelet around her arm. "So are you," I said when I tied it. Madison looked at me. "You look like a princess," she said. I dropped my eyes. "It must be amazing! Having servants, maids, butlers and chauffeurs do everything you say," she said. I looked at her again and sighed. "It’s not as much fun as it seems. I mean, sure, you get everything you want at the snap of your fingers but..." I pulled up my shoulders. "It’s not like-" A knock interrupted my sentence and the door opened a little. Madison and I both looked at the door. Ethan stepped into the door frame. "Lunch is ready," he announced. Madison got off the bed. "Yay," she said. I smiled and got off as well. Madison bounced to the door then turned around again. "My dad’s a great cook," she said right before she exited the door. Ethan looked at her and shook his head, smiling. I walked slowly toward him. "I hope she wasn’t too much for you," he said. I shook my head. "Not at all. She’s kind of, like I imagined her to be, just a bit more spontaneous," I said and stood in front of him. He stepped closer to me and I smiled up at him. Ethan took both my hands in his. My heart raced instantly. "So all of this-"
"Is just perfect," I cut him off. "I feel more comfortable in your house than I do in my own," I said. Ethan dropped his eyes but smiled. He let go of my one hand and gestured with his head toward the stairs. "Come on, they’ll probably be waiting for us," he said. I followed him down the steps and into the dining room. There was a wooden table in the center of the room with a fireplace in the corner. The table was already set and the room smelled so good. "So what are we having, daddy?" Madison asked as she sat down next to her father. There were six chairs at the table; three on the left and three on the right. I found it a bit strange that their father didn’t sit at the head of the table like mine did. "Well, I can see Rosemarie is a very ladylike girl so this will be a perfect test to how much she cares for my son." Madison and Ethan laughed at their father’s remark. I looked at Ethan. "Dad, come on, she's been brought up with five-star food her whole life. You can’t expect her to just jump into this," Ethan said and I suddenly felt a bit nervous. What could we possibly be eating that I didn’t already know of? I looked back at mister Oaks. He raised his hands and Jaylinne walked in, she smiled at me and sat down at the other side of her father. Ethan led me to the other side of the table and I sat in the middle chair on the left, facing his dad. Ethan sat opposite of Madison, next to me.
Madison stood up and put her hand on the lid of the pot in front of us. "May I?" She asked her father. He nodded and she lifted the lid. I couldn’t see into the pot but whatever it was, got Madison excited. "Yes! Sloppy Joe's!" She said and put the lid down next to the fresh rolls on the table. I frowned with confusion. "What’s that?" I asked before I could stop myself. Mister Oaks laughed and looked at his son knowingly. I looked between the two of them. It was like they could communicate by just looking at each other. "You’ve never had a sloppy Joe?" Madison asked, her eyes wide. I shook my head. "You have not lived!" She exclaimed. Jaylinne laughed. "I’ll dish," she said. "Rosemarie can go first, I want to see her reaction," Mister Oaks said, smiling at me. I looked at Ethan for support. He smiled and pulled up his shoulders. Madison placed a plate in front of me with a bun filled up with what looked like wet ground up meat and something else with some sort of sauce. I raised an eyebrow. It definitely did not look like something I’ve ever eaten. "It’s not going to bite!" Madison laughed. I looked at Ethan again then at his father, feeling incredibly stupid. "Uh, I don’t know how to eat this," I said after noticing there were no forks and knives on the table. Mister Oaks chuckled. "You use your hands, my dear," he said. I was sure my eyes were as big as the plate in front of me when he said that. My hands?! I looked back at my plate and gingerly took the roll between my two fingers then lifted it to my mouth. I brought it to my mouth and took a small bite. My eyes widened again with surprise. "Oh, my-"
"Yes!" Mister Oaks yelled and high-fived each one of his children, while I lowered the Sloppy Joe from my mouth to chew. It was disgusting but incredibly delicious. I put it back into the plate and laughed along with the family as Jaylinne dished for the rest. Mister Oaks' laughter rose above the rest. I liked the sound of his laughter; it was so loud and cheerful, like he wanted the whole world to hear it. He looked at Ethan. "She’s adorable! Hold on to this one, she’s got a lot to learn," he said and laughed again. I looked at Ethan. He smiled at me and leaned over to whisper in my ear as his sisters and father chattered cheerfully. "Looks like you passed," he said. I smiled and he wiped the corner of my mouth with his thumb.
"Hey, Chanelle." I swung my umbrella next to me and stood still as I waited for Mark to catch up with me. He ran down the long castle hall and bear hugged me when he reached me. "I didn’t see you last night. Happy belated," he said and looked at me. I smiled difficultly. "Thanks," I said and adjusted my blue cardigan. "Legendary party by the way, as always," he commented. I walked ahead and he walked next to me. "Yeah, I am like the worst hostess ever," I said. Mark laughed. "Hey, you got a horse that shares your birthday, I think that’s a valid reason... nah, I’m lying. You missed out!" He said. I shook my head. "Are you alright?" He asked. I looked ahead without even seeing anything. I shook my head. "I need to talk to Matthew," I said, feeling tears sting the back of my eyes. "He said something about going for a swim in the lake," Mark said. I raised an eyebrow. "In the rain?" I asked. Mark laughed. "Yeah, Rose’s idea, I assume," he said. "Listen, there was a girl at your party last night." I looked at Mark, relieved that he didn’t look into me as deep as Matthew did. My heart pounded painfully as I thought of Matthew, I wanted to cry again. I faked a smile. "Yeah?" I asked. "She had blond hair, a blue-ish dress-"
"And incredible shoes that matched the dress?" I cut him off. Mark looked at me. "What is it with girls and shoes?" He asked and shook his head. "But yeah, who is she? She wouldn’t tell me her name last night," he said. I smiled a little. "That’s a new friend of mine, Aquamarine," I said. Mark froze. "Could you repeat that please," he said. I stopped and turned around to look at him. His face looked somewhat mortified. "Uh, she’s a new friend of mine. Her name is Aquamarine," I said a bit slower. Mark opened his mouth then closed it again. He shook his head. "Uh, I could go call Matthew for you if you want," he said. I lifted my umbrella. "No, it’s fine. I would like some company there though," I said, wondering why he suddenly changed the topic but not wanting to ask. Mark nodded. "Hey, there he is," he said. I looked ahead and saw Matthew disappear into the next hall. "Matthew!" Mark called. Matthew reappeared and smiled. I almost froze on the spot. Talking to Matthew might be more difficult if he looked like that!
To say, Matthew was sexy would have been an insult to him. I had to try not to let my eyes wander too much, but it was getting more difficult with every step he took closer to me. Drops of water clung to his hard chest. He had only his swimming shorts on, with a towel around his neck. He used the tip of the towel and vigorously tried to rub the water out of his wet hair. I almost bit my lip. Now, I have seen Matthew shirtless before, but somehow it had a completely different effect on me right then. "Hey," he said when he saw me. I smiled. "Hey," I said and looked at Mark. "Well, I’ll be off. See you later, Chanelle," he said and gave me a wink before walking away. I watched then looked at Matthew, well, tried to, I couldn’t look at him for too long. "What’s up?" He asked. I looked at the floor then gave an uncomfortable laugh. "Please, just put a shirt on. For goodness sake, how am I supposed to function with you looking like that?" I asked and felt my cheeks heat up. I heard Matthew smirk then touch my neck with his cold fingers. That quick gesture sent a bolt of electricity up my spine. I jerked away at his cold touch. I smiled against my will. "I’ll wait in the library," I said and turned around without looking at him. When I was alone, I took a breath and sat down on the soft couches. My thoughts traveled back to the day before. I closed my eyes and heard the yelling in my head again. Tears filled my eyes behind my eyelids.
"Shane, what the hell was that?"
I spun around in the guest room. We hadn’t slept in the castle the night before, but came for a quick visit and were allowed to use our old guest rooms. I looked at my brother, and pulled the rest of my black t-shirt down my body before stuffing my hands into my jeans, and trying to mentally prepare myself for what was looking to become the worst conversation I have ever had with my older brother. I dropped my eyes. "What exactly are you referring to?" I asked, knowing it had something to do with how I felt about Rose. "Everything! Shane, she’s my fiancé. I actually thought you would respect that! This is so typical of you, you see a pretty face and-"
"She’s not just a pretty face," I cut him off and looked him straight in the eye. "You think this hasn’t been hard on me? I’ve honestly tried to be friends with her but I couldn’t convince myself," I said. Eric shook his head. "Would you stop with these stupid competitions, Shane! For goodness sake, let it go. This is serious."
"I’m serious too. I’ve never been so serious about anyone before and that’s why I couldn’t tell you. This has nothing to do with competition! She’s not a prize. Eric, I fell so fast and so easy. I was already falling in love with her the day I met her and, no, that wasn’t the same day you met her," I said slowly. Eric looked at me, expecting an explanation. I took a deep breath. "I sneaked out, went into town and that’s where I met her. She wanted to see the town before she got forced into marriage but I swear I didn’t know. She didn’t use her full name so it didn’t trigger any ideas immediately, but after I spent a few hours with her..." I trailed off and sat down on my bed. "At first it was just about having some fun but she’s not like anyone I’ve met before and I understand her. I can’t explain it but I can read her. I try to read her. I make an effort to get to know her and the more I know, the harder I fall. She’s everything I never knew I wanted and I can’t lose her, Eric," I said and looked at him. Eric didn’t seem any different than he had when I started talking. He didn’t believe me. "Shane, I know you and I know this game. You only want her so badly because you know you can never have her. This is what you’re like. You love the chase, not her and I can’t let you do that to her," he said then left the room, all but slamming it behind his back.
*Doll: Haha. It's something worth trying. Believe me.
*BriBri: I did that with my cousins once. It's so exhilarating!
*Anne: Yeah, I'm trying to make the chapters longer, but that makes it so diverse because of all the POVs.