"Jeremy!" I said when I got to my friend in the foyer. He looked grim and very neat in his black tux and gelled hair. "Hey Mark," he said awkwardly and couldn't meet my gaze. Guilt filled me again. "Look, I'm really sorry but see things from my point of view. The girl is manipulative! You should understand that best of all," I said. Jeremy looked at me and sighed. He smiled a little. "Yeah, I'm sorry too ... looks like we're both idiots," he said and I chuckled. "What else is new?" I asked sarcastically and Jeremy smirked. "It's not as much fun this time though," he said and dropped his eyes. I nodded and waited. "She really said that?" He asked. I took out my phone and tossed it to him. He caught it easily. "Look under screenshots," I directed.
My siblings and Chanelle completely saved me from not just wasting mine and Jeremy's time on this girl, but also almost losing a great friendship. She wasn't worth it. Jeremy was now going through messages that Rosie got screenshots of Aqua's phone, a conversation between her and a friend of hers called Hope. In one message she actually said she was only dating Jeremy so she could get to meet Chanelle and get invited to the party to meet me. She had planned it all. All she wanted to do was gain popularity by dating me, and she used Jeremy and Chanelle to get what she wanted. Jeremy sighed and tossed the phone back to me. I caught it and put it into my pocket. "So, are you ready for tonight?" I asked. Jeremy took a few seconds to look at me with a sneaky smile he got, right before the two of us started some crazy scheme. "I'm going to enjoy this," he said. I smiled and was about to fist bump him when I noticed Aqua walking in with a white dress looking hot as ever.
My spirits dropped. Such a waste. Jeremy caught my eye and instantly knew what I was looking at. He had his back to Aqua. He smirked. "Hey, don't lose your head over a pretty face again, bro. It won't end well. Stick to the plan," he said and walked past. I resisted the urge to smile and looked at Aqua. The plan was just to break up with her as soon as I could, and get her off the palace grounds. She seemed skeptical as she approached me. Her hair was in long curls and the makeup made her eyes stand out so that you could see its color from across the room. She hugged me and I almost lost it again when I felt her soft skin. "So you two are okay again?" She asked smiling when she let go of me. I smiled a bit. "Yeah, we talked things out," I said. "Good!" She sighed, seeming relieved and I wondered for a second if she was faking it. "Jeremy's such a good guy. I'd hate it if there were any bad vibes between us because if this," she said, her hand still on my shoulder. I nodded, smiling.
She stared at me for a while before her eyes widened when she realized something. "Oh, yes, before I forget ..." She turned and I noticed a girl standing behind her. She was the type of girl you could only describe as sweet. She had the whole innocent look on her. The quiet types. She was just a bit shorter than me. Her hair was semi-curly and medium length, going halfway down her back. She had warm, brown eyes and an adorable heart-shaped face. She wore a black dress that went to her feet and suited her curves nicely. "This is my friend, Hope," Aqua said. That was all I need to get my mind straight. We greeted and turned my attention back to Aquamarine. "So, are you excited for tonight?" I asked. Her eyes widened though she tried controlling it. "Is it that obvious?" She asked. I smiled a bit and looked at her friend. "Can I steal her for a while?" I asked. Hope smiled and nodded shyly. "Sure," she said. I looked toward the hall.
"Walk through there and get some starters. Socialize. Have fun. The people in there are really nice, don't worry," I said, trying to put her at ease since she was obviously the shy type. Hope glanced toward the entrance before looking back and nodding a thank you. I turned and took Aqua's arm gently as I escorted her outside. She smiled up at me when we got to a quiet spot. "Wow, that was really sweet of you. She doesn't really enjoy being out, but I convinced her to come since I had a plus one on my ticket and she needed a night out. She's a total nerd. Can't spend a day without her books." Aqua smiled and I wondered why she was rambling on about her friend. "Love that child though. Been best friends since primary school," she said and turned to me. I looked at her and started re-thinking the plan for the night. Aqua had a friend that was the complete opposite of her, not just a friend, but a best friend. A friend she stood by despite her shyness. That made her seem so much less shallow. I sighed. "Aqua ... I know you only dated Jeremy to get to me," I said. Her eyes widened with shock and her cheeks turned pale. "I-uh ... that's ..." She trailed off, looking flustered. She looked away, seeming ashamed. She bit hard on her lip and turned back to me. "Why? Why would you manipulate so many people just to date me?" I asked, remembering what she did to two of my closest friends. She sighed and pulled up her shoulders.
"Mark, if you haven't realized it, you're a prince," she said sarcastically. "You're at the top of the food chain and to top it all off, you're an amazing guy who's going to be King one day. What girl wouldn't want to date you?" She asked. I stepped back, feeling disappointed, but not in her. What she was saying was; I would never find a girl that truly wanted to be with me, for me. "So, you were just with me for my status," I said. Aqua dropped her eyes. "Hey, that's how it started out and I would lie if I said it had changed." She sighed. "Mark, I really like you. You're an amazing guy," she said. "But if I wasn't a prince ..." Aqua looked away. "Honestly?" She asked quietly. "That would be nice," I said. She turned back to me and smiled. "Like I said, I like you ... but I don't feel that attraction I want to feel when I'm around you. The sexual attraction is there, don't get me wrong but I can't see myself falling in love with you. You're the kind of guy every girl should have as their older brother or best friend." I lost my words for a few minutes. "Ah, the words every guy dreams of hearing," I said bitterly and put my hands into my pockets. Aqua smiled. "Mark, you'll find a girl that will want to be with you, for you, don't worry and she's going to be the luckiest girl alive, and I'm not saying that because she's going to be dating a future King but because you're going to treat her the way she deserves to be treated." She shook her head and looked away.
"This was a really stupid scheme, I know. I've hurt too many people and I'm sorry ... I'm going to make things right from now on ... but we're still friends, right? I mean, we did have fun," she said looking back at me. I smiled against my will. "Yeah, we had fun. We're friends," I said. Aqua hugged me again and I felt nothing. She let go and smiled at me. "But come on, admit it, you don't feel anything for me. I could see it. Mark, you're still on a teenage maturity level when it comes to relationships, and trust me, when I tell you this, I'm not the kind of girl for you." Her words stunned me a bit. She winked. "You'll figure it out," she said. I smiled. I guess I would. Things were starting off quite well for the night. Now to focus on my sisters. We went back into the hall and I caught sight of Shane and Eric entering the hall. I had to resist from calling out. Being around those two was like being around my own siblings, but right now, goofing off and being anything but proper wasn't allowed to be displayed to the public eye, and there were photographers everywhere.
"Mark!" Shane called out when he saw me. He laughed. "What's up man?" I laughed, shocked. Shane definitely had more freedom than we had. I greeted him and Eric with a hand clasp. "Welcome back," I said looking from Shane to Eric, and back. "How have you guys been? Feeling nervous?" I asked, specifically to Eric. Eric and Shane both pulled up their shoulders. "Just going through the motions," Eric said and smiled with a faint grim. A little boy ran up to us and grabbed Shane's hand. "Uncle Shane! Come with me. I can't reach the chocolate fountain!" He exclaimed and started pulling Shane away. "Hey, be polite, James." Shane said and tugged the boy gently. Eric looked at me. "You've got to see this," he said. The boy looked up at me and Eric. "Good evening, sir. I am James Eldridge Junior," he said in a high English accent. I stared down and had to fight to contain my laughter. I looked up at Shane and he twirled his finger, indicating that I should go along with it. "Oh, it gets better," he said softly. I looked back down at the boy. "Good evening, Sir James Eldridge Junior. Such an honor to be in the presence of a, er, man of your stature," I said. "Oh, well the pleasure is all mine, good sir. As I hear it, you are the heir to this magnificent kingdom," he said. I nodded, still fighting the laughing fit. "That I am, sir," I said.
He was about to say something else when Rosie stepped next to me. James instantly closed his mouth and looked at the ground shyly. Tears were forming in my eyes from trying to contain my laughter. The little guy couldn't speak in front of girls! "Hey, Eric, Shane." Rosie said and hugged Eric tightly then Shane. James pulled on Shane's arm and he laughed, shrugged, and went with the kid to the chocolate fountain. I looked to my sister, saw what she was wearing, and my jaw dropped. She looked insanely beautiful in an elegant jade dress that was strapless and had a slit at the bottom, exposing her long, slender legs. My eyes widened a bit. "Rosie?" I asked, shocked. She smiled shyly when she looked at me. "I know, it's not my style but Rose thought-"
"You look hot! Like really hot!" I laughed and turned to see Jeremy standing beside me. Rosie laughed shyly. "Yeah, what happened?" I asked. Rosie punched me on the shoulder. "Hey! What are you trying to say?" She asked rhetorically, laughing. I rubbed my arm. "I meant, why the sudden sexiness?" I asked. Rosie groaned. "Uuuug, don't use that word! It makes me so uncomfortable." She sighed. "Rose picked out my dress. It felt wrong to say no to someone who was moving out soon," she said. I laughed. "Well, she made an excellent decision," I said. Jeremy laughed. "I cannot wait to see what Rose is wearing then," he said. "What are we talking about?" I turned and saw Matthew entering our conversation. "Rosie's sexy dress." I gestured toward our sister and received another hit from Rosie. "Ow," I said and rubbed my arm again, then laughed. "What? It looks sexy," I teased and put my arm around her shoulders.
"Mark, I swear, use that word one more time and I'll drown you in the juice fountain," I threatened. Mark laughed again. "Just try it," he said, pulling me close to him. I rolled my eyes. "Hey Rosie, the Oaks' are here." My heart dropped when I heard Mark say that. I looked up at him, trying to look as calm possible but I knew I wasn't winning. What was he talking about? There was no way he could know. My eyes darted around the room for a second before looking back at him. "What are you talking about?" I asked, my heart racing. He smiled knowingly and pointed toward the entrance. My heart seemed to stop when I saw Mister Oaks, Jaylinne, and Madison walk into the room. My eyes widened. "Mark, what are they doing here? How do you know them?" I asked, my eyes not leaving the Oaks family and desperately looking for Ethan. Mark's arms dropped from my shoulders and I suddenly realized Eric and Jeremy had walked away. Matthew was smiling at me and holding something out. My eyes dropped to his hand and I saw the bracelet Madison had made for me there. My breathing was irregular at this point. "Where'd you get that? What's going on?" I asked. They both kept smiling and Matthew tied the bracelet around my arm. "Rose told us everything, we wanted to help so we invited them," he said.
I looked back at the family and Madison caught my eye. She grinned widely and waved excitedly. I smiled. She was wearing a little white dress with her short hair in a loose bun. Madison ran toward me and I took the opportunity to smile at Jaylinne and Mister Oaks. Mister Oaks was neatly suited up and Jaylinne looked my age with her straight hair and elegant red dress. I raised my hand to wave at Madison but all crashed into me as she hugged me. "Oef." I laughed and looked down at her smiling face. "Hey, Rosie," she said. I smiled down at her and hugged her back. "Hey," I said and bent down a little to her height. I shook my head, trying to piece together what was happening. "What are you doing here?" I asked and hugged her again. She giggled. "We're here to see Ethan play." I looked up at Mister Oaks and froze at his words. "You what?" I asked, realizing I had lost my breath. I stood up, my fingers shaking. He pulled me into a hug and I had to smile again. Jaylinne giggled and I hugged her after Mister Oaks let me go.
"Yeah, Ethan's on the piano," Jaylinne said and looked at me with a raised eyebrow. "You didn't know?" She asked. I turned so quickly that my hair almost slapped Jaylinne. My heart pounded when I saw Ethan sitting by the musicians by the piano, talking to Matthew. He laughed and I almost dropped to the floor. My jaw dropped. "We thought you knew, he got the job last week," Mister Oaks said. I could barely hear him though. My eyes were glued to Ethan. He nodded and seemed to click with my brother easily. I so badly wished I knew what they were talking about to make him seem so chilled. Ethan smiled and his eyes suddenly landed on me. His smile shortened into the shy smile I had come to adore so much. I smiled nervously when I realized I was the only one he smiled at, that way. "Oh, my gosh. Princess Rosaline looks so beautiful," Madison said and took my hand. I looked down at her and realized she was looking at the stairs. I looked to where she was and saw my sister standing at the top of the stairs. I smiled at her and the hall went silent, something that always happened when a female royal entered the room.
My eyes shot toward the top of the stairs and the world instantly disappeared. I was staring but I knew everyone else was too. Rose gracefully descended the stairs looking completely oblivious of all the eyes on her. She gets more beautiful every time I see her, and this was no exception. That dress she was wearing clung to all the right places and made her seem flawless. When she reached the bottom of the stairs and caught my eye for a split second, I took in a sharp breath, realizing that I hadn't been breathing. Her eyes saddened a little before she dropped them and smiled at something next to me, but close to the ground. "Uncle Shane, you're hurting me." My grip instantly relaxed on James' hand when I realized I had been holding it too tight. I crouched down to his level, ripping my eyes away from Rose so I could compose myself, and turned to him. "I'm sorry, buddy, I got a bit distracted," I said, looking into his round, innocent eyes. He looked over my shoulder and I knew his eyes had fallen on Rose. "Is that Uncle Eric's fiancé?" He asked innocently.
I looked over my shoulder at Rose and had to catch my breath again. "Yes, James." I almost sighed when I saw her standing by Mark. "Is she going to be my aunt?" James asked. I looked back at him and nodded, forcing a smile. He looked at me then looked back at Rose. "I brought her something," he said quietly and looked back at me. I smiled for real this time. "You did?" I asked, amused. He nodded and reached into his pocket, taking out what looked like a hair clip. I laughed when I saw it. It had a little excited Spongebob on it. "Mommy says it's polite to bring gifts when someone enters the family," he said. I rubbed his hair. "Well, she's right. Usually guests save the gifts for the wedding, buddy, but I'm sure she wouldn't mind receiving it tonight," I said, smiling still. "Do you think she'd like it?" He asked. I smirked, looking at the pin again. "I think she'll love it," I said. James smiled brightly, looked back over my shoulder. He looked at the ground shyly. I smirked. "What's wrong?" I asked. "Can you call her for me?" He asked. The blood in my veins turned cold in an instant and I could feel every pore on my body break out in cold sweat.
"Uh ..." James looked up at me with his big, round eyes and I couldn't find it in me to say no. I sighed and turned. Rose was looking at me and I had to keep my cool. I motioned for her to come over. She excused herself from Mark and started walking toward us. My heart pounded with every click of a step I heard coming closer to where we were standing/crouching. I turned back toward James. I held my breath when I felt a presence behind me. "Hello." Rose's voice sent my heart pounding powerfully against my ribs. She crouched down next to me and I looked automatically, losing my breath, yet again. Her eyes remained on James. "What's your name, sweetie?" She asked, smiling at my nephew. James' cheeks suddenly turned pink and I smirked. "James," he said quietly and with his head down a bit. I smirked. When a girl came in, Sir James Eldridge Junior flew out of the window and instantly became James - period. "I'm Rosaline," Rose said and extended her hand to him. James shook it lightly. "Nice to meet you," she said.
James raised his eyes to hers, suddenly seeming more confident. "The pleasure's all mine," James said teasingly. I raised my eyebrows and smiled with amusement. The little bugger wasn't even ten yet and he already knew how to flirt. I noticed Rose's eyebrows shooting up also. "Ah, now that tone sounds familiar," she said slowly and looked at me with a knowing smile. I couldn't stop the smile from spreading on my face, although I couldn't look at her yet. "Guess it runs in the family," she said and turned back to James. "I have a gift for you." James handed her the hair clip and Rose laughed as she took it from him. "This is so sweet," she said and in knew she meant it because she put the pin into her hair immediately after she studied it. Rose reached out and hugged James. "Thank you. I love it," she said. James smiled. "Uncle Shane said you would," he said and looked at me proudly. It was my turn to blush. Rose looked over at me. "Oh, did he?" She laughed a bit. "I didn't know you liked kids," Rose said. I pulled up my shoulders and forced myself to look at her. "How could I not? I mean, look at him," I gestured toward the air in front of me. I straightened up a bit with surprise and looked around as we slowly rose.
"Where did James go?" I asked just as I noticed him by his mother. I shook my head and laughed. That tiny Casanova just forced me into my biggest fear of the night - small talk with Rose. I slowly turned toward her. She couldn't meet my eye the first time she tried. "So, how are you feeling?" I asked and she finally made eye contact. "Terrible! These shoes are killing me," she said and I had to chuckle. "I've been better," she said after I calmed. Rose's hands came together in front of her and my eyes fell on the ring on her finger. My spirits dropped instantly. I looked away, right into my brother's eagle gaze. I flinched and looked back at Rose. "Uh, it was nice seeing you again, Rose, but I need to go," I said and turned to leave. "Shane." I turned and looked at her instantly. I hated hearing her say my name and loved it at the same time. It had the crappiest, incredible effect on me. I looked at her. For the first time since we've met, she looked out of place. She played with her fingers nervously. "Uhm ... I nee-"
"Good evening, ladies and gentleman." My eyes shot to the stairs where Matthew stood with the mike. Rose turned to look as well. "I would like to take this opportunity to welcome ..." Matthew's words faded as my eyes lowered to Rose's bare shoulders. My fingers itched to touch her soft skin. Just a touch might be enough to get me through tonight. I took a deep breath and shook my head a bit, but I couldn't take my eyes off her. She was gorgeous in every way I could imagine. Eric moved in next to Rose and took her hand. I realized that Matthew had finished speaking and it was now time for the guests of honor to make their speeches. Rose and Eric made their way to the podium on the stairs and Matthew handed Eric the mike. I felt my heart hit my chest painfully with every heartbeat. I could feel the blood rushing to the head then realized I couldn't do this. I felt a sharp pain in my chest. This was too much. I couldn't listen to my brother speak about his future marriage with the girl I loved. I turned around and headed toward the nearest exit, hoping to get some air and clear my mind.
I watched Shane walk out of the hall and just caught myself before running after him. I felt Eric's hand wrap around mine and give it a light squeeze. I turned toward Eric as we stood in front of the quiet hall. He looked at me and smiled encouragingly, then we turned toward the crowd. My eyes landed on Ethan, his eyes were on my sister and I could see Rosie was trying hard not to look at him. I smiled. Those two deserved to be together. "Ladies and gentleman, I would firstly like to say thank you to everyone who has made the effort to be here tonight." Eric's voice rose from next to me but my eyes remained on Rosie and Ethan, those two were so in love, it was amusing. "It gives me great pleasure to tell you all ... the wedding's off." I turned sharply toward Eric, my eyes stretching so wide, it felt I could tear something. "What?" I asked loudly.
Another chapter I had to post before the previous chapter was posted, so again I'll reply on both chapters in the next one. Eee, I'm sorry, I was too excited!