Monday, November 17, 2014

Black Keys 20

(SM) owns Twilight.
(CozItRunsInMyBlood) owns the plot.
(RobzBeanie) is a lifesaver and she beta this.
(janosch73) is my amazingly wonderful per-reader.
Chapter 20
Isabella Marie
Cheater, cheater, cheater …
My mind forced the word to ring into my ears over and over again. The voice telling me that I was a cheater grew louder and louder by the moment, until I started choking.
My hand left the prince's, and the other left his shirt that I had been fisting all the while my lips were pressed to his and my tongue was tasting him. Both of my hands moved up to my throat and I clasped it, trying desperately to catch my breaths that I was struggling to take in or even let out.
"D-do-don't-" I gasped out, my eyes welling up with tears that I soon shed for how ashamed I was of myself. "Don't d-do thi-s again."
"Hey, hey, are you okay? What's wrong?" the prince's voice that I was hearing as if I were underwater asked, full of worry and concern.
"D-don't do it-t again," I choked out the words, my vision blurry and my legs shaking so badly that I almost lost my balance and fell.
It was as if I was trying to convince myself with the 'Don't do it again,' that kissing the prince was all his doing and I had nothing to do with it. It was as if I was trying to tell myself that I was forced into it, that I wanted to stop it, that I hadn't wanted it to happen in the first place.
But I wasn't that stupid. I wasn't that stupid that I wasn't able to convince myself of the lies I wanted to plant in my own head. I knew better.
I had kissed him back.
I had kissed him back and I liked it. The realization wasn't at all easy on me. It was killing me, ripping at my heart from the inside to admit to myself – even with a very small part of my mind – that I was attracted to the prince, that I liked him, and that I wanted him.
But that wasn't all of it, there was more. And the more was uglier. I was feeling something for him, as well. More than just attraction.
I was feeling something deep inside of me for the prince. It was strong, it was powerful, and it was … scary. Oh, so scary.
God! I was falling for one of them. Falling hard!
Cheater, cheater, cheater …
Oh, God, help me!
"I won't, I won't." His hand surrounded my body and I sunk slowly to the ground, still gasping for air and holding my throat and collarbone tightly, as if it would help me to breathe better that way. "It's okay, you're fine, just breathe."
"C-can't brea-the."
"Yes, you can, Princess. You are breathing. You're okay. I'm here," he told me, his left hand under my head as held me to him while I half lay on the ground. His other hand tried to remove my hands away from my throat.
"Yes, yes, you can. Inhale deeply from your nose and let it out slowly through your mouth as if you’re blowing into a balloon. Breathe. Yes, you're doing well. It'll pass."
"Ca-n't find it." My hands moved frantically over my chest and above the shirt. My world was darkening by the second, and my mouth was getting drier and drier.
"There, there, it's in your hand," he said, his hand moving from my wrist – where he was probably checking my pulse –  to my palm, which he placed my cross in. I held it in a tight grip and brought it up to my chest, trying to focus on my breathing like he was telling me to do and like I knew I should be doing.
"You're safe, Princess, you're alright, it's okay," he kept assuring me with his words. His hand moved my hair out of my face before he placed his hand above mine that was over my chest as if he was trying to tell me he was here by his gentle touch.
"Our father–" I whispered breathlessly, "Our father in heav–" I took a deep breath and tried to say my prayer, finding it really difficult and almost impossible to breathe while doing it, so I prayed silently instead.
My heart was thumping so hard inside of my chest that I thought it was trying to make its way out of my body, but my breathing was getting a little bit better as I lay there trying not to think of all of the things that had stirred up my panic attack.
I don't know how long we stayed there that way on top of the mountain, trying to get myself back to normal, encouraged by the prince's words as he kept telling me that I was fine and that it was okay. And when I was finally fine again and my panic attack had passed, we made our way back to the royal stable.
The prince left me for a minute after asking if I was okay to stand by myself while he got Thunder situated again in his room. I watched as he tied him up like he was before we’d taken him for the ride, then patted him a few times before walking away from him.
The prince was almost out of the room before I told him to wait for a minute. I went up to the beautiful creature and hugged his neck. "Bye, Thunder. Thanks for the good time," I whispered near his ear, smiling softly.
When I turned around, I found the prince watching me closely. I didn't say anything only both looked and walked away, up the path we’d come from, passing by one room after another of horses that were peeking their heads above the door. I enjoyed watching them all the while I was walking with the prince following behind me.
One of the rooms was slightly opened and I just had to look. When I looked inside I gasped. The sight was too adorable not to stop in my tracks and take a step closer to the room. Inside, there were three horses; one of them was much bigger than the other two – actually, the other two were so little, even smaller than Salma. The three of them were beautiful shades of white. The bigger one that I knew for a fact was the mother had a white coat that was slightly darker than the two little ones who were nursing from their mother in such a beautiful way that I couldn't help but stand there and stare.
A few minutes later, I heard the prince's voice as he spoke, "This is my brother's."
I only nodded but didn't say anything. I think it was only then that I realized why the prince was so fond of horses or why they were his passion. I also understood why Mona had said that he forgot time whenever he was with Salma, because standing there – I just found myself smiling and almost forgetting everything I was going through while I watched the mother in amusement as she fed the two little ones and then when she helped them to stand up. They moved around her and she rubbed her head to their bodies and they did the same. Pure love. Pure love was shining out from the three of them; it was very touching and I couldn't help myself as I stared and – loved.
"Can I touch them?" I asked in a quiet voice, not looking back at the prince. I found myself for the first time wanting to touch a horse while knowing I could – unlike with Salma, that the prince had told me I couldn't touch, and Thunder that I was too afraid to touch. I still wanted to ask, since I had no idea whether or not it might be offending to his brother.
"Of course," he said, "Just go slow with the twins."
I nodded and moved to stand right beside them, then moved my hand slowly and carefully to touch them, one at a time. They were even softer than Thunder, and I felt like I could never get enough of touching them and enjoying their softness and their company.
One of them rubbed its forehead to my chest and my heart swelled just looking at the little pony. But then I felt the prince's hand as it touched mine and I flinched. "Shhh," he said before pushing on the back of my hand that he was touching, forcing my hand to push the little horse's neck away from me.
"Hey!" I protested, frowning. "Why did you do that?!" I asked, so scared that the push had hurt the little creature.
"You have to show them you're in control or they'll demand more playing time, and then they'll be upset when you don't have it. Don't worry, they are stronger than you think. I'll have to teach you a thing or two about horses," he told me, moving his hand away from mine.
I didn't understand why I should show them I was in control or whatever, but I had to admit that I didn't know anything about horses. I was surprised that I wanted to learn, just not knowing why I would need to at the same time.
I nodded again, still not looking at him.
"What are their names?" I asked.
"They are not named, yet."
"Why not?" I wondered.
"They are waiting for you to name them," he replied.
I turned my head to look at him. "Me? Why?"
"They are yours, Princess. My brother's wedding gift for you." He offered me a small smile.
"Oh, my God! Are you kidding?" I exclaimed, and he shook his head, smiling. "This is so wonderful!"
"They are the same as Salma's species, original Arabian horses. They were born on the morning of the wedding, that's why my brother said they'd be yours. He said the girls themselves wanted to be since they arrived earlier than expected," he smiled. "I just met them earlier when I was here for Salma."
"They are only four days old?!"
"He also said that it was a good sign, twins are very rare in horses, he said our marriage will be a very successful one,"
I didn't know why he was telling me that, I believed in signs, but I didn't believe in this one. Our marriage was never going to be anything like that. It was impossible.
"It's so generous of your brother, I want to thank him," I said, deciding to change the subject.
"Sure, you're going to meet him next week anyway when you start working on things here," he said, and I frowned, not replying. "I mean, your brother said you'll be handling things from now on instead of him. I understand it's not your wish now but …" he paused. "Whatever you want, Princess, we'll figure out something."
I nodded, looking away from him.
I just want to go home …
I watched the twin girls for a few more minutes, closed my eyes for a moment and opened them again with a sigh before I said the next words, "Hope and Faith."
"Beautiful names, Beautiful Princess."
"Wait," I said to the prince once again when we made it to the garden where the opening to the tunnel was. I bent down in front of the bed of red flowers that circled the garden with other yellow ones, then I picked a dozen of the red ones that weren't so easy to pick but I manage, all the while feeling the prince's eyes on me.
When we made it to the door of the tunnel, the prince made me press the numbers again, making sure that I had them memorized.  He praised me when he found out that I still remembered them, and then carried me again the same way he’d carried me when we first came.
"I can walk," I said.
"I know you can," he replied, but didn't put me down. "Just relax, Princess."
I didn't argue, I just rested the side of my head on his chest and listened to his heartbeat, relaxing in his arms. Our walk back to the palace was just as silent as the ride back to the stable. The tension between us was so thick you could cut it with a knife and I didn't know where we would go from there.
When we made it back to our wing, the first thing I did was call Mona. It was the first time I’d ever done that and the prince did notice it. I was a bit worried that I would be waking her up, but then yesterday I woke up almost at the same time as now or a bit earlier and she said she was already awake because it was time for her to pray or something like that, so I figured she should be awake now as well.
I heard a knock and then Mona came inside, asking if I needed anything. Her smile was smaller than usual, and I felt even worse than I already did.
"This is for you," I offered her the roses and her eyes widened. "I'm sorry for yelling at you earlier."
"Oh, Princess Marie," she said. "You didn't have to apologize, I was pushy and you didn't yell at me or anything."
It was a lie; I did yell at her, and I did make her upset, I could see it.
"I'm not above apologizing for my mistakes, Mona," I told her. The words I just spoke made me pause as I remembered how many times I had said hurtful words to the prince and never apologized to him. And I didn't know why it was so hard for me to do so or why I never did it – my own actions were confusing to me.
"Thank you very much, Princess," she smiled widely, taking the flowers from me. "Is there anything you need? Can I bring you something to eat now?"
I chuckled at her obsession with feeding me and shook my head. "No, thank you. I'll just take a shower and head to bed; it’s been such a long day."
"Let me prepare the bath for you, Princess," she said. Her words were kind of pleading, as if she was afraid I'd refuse. I just smiled and nodded.
When she walked out of the room and not into the bathroom, I figured she went to put the flowers in water or something. Before she came back, the prince spoke, "That was kind of you." My reply was nothing but a small smile.
I didn't believe it was kind or anything. It was a must do, so I did.
"Just pick me something comfortable, please," I told Mona when she was about to leave the bathroom to get me something to wear. My legs were really dirty and the wind had managed to blow some soft sand into my hair, so I had to wash both with extra attention.
Mona came back with a set of pink lace panties and a bra, and a pink tank top with spaghetti straps and a little white bird on the left breast. She also brought me white cotton sweatpants with loose legs and the same little bird on the right thigh, but this one was pink. And once again I admired Alice's taste.
When I came out of the room, the prince was nowhere to be found. I wanted to ask Mona if she knew where he was, but didn't want to at the same time – I refused to let it show how I was thinking about him.
I went to the dresser that was near the window and sat down on the chair in front of it. Mona started blow drying my hair right away, and I guess my head turned to the sides several times as I kept looking for the prince around the room because Mona spoke, "Prince Mazen showered in the guest bathroom, Princess Marie, and he's offering his prayer at the moment in the living room."
Though I didn't know why I felt a bit more at ease when I learned where he was, I wanted to let out a snippy comment about how I hadn't asked her where he was, but then thought better of it. She didn't deserve to have my anger taken out on her. Again. So instead I said, "He could've told me he needed the bathroom first. I didn't take that long, did I?"
"It's not like that, Princess," she said as she moved the brush down my hair. "He didn't want to bother you, he wanted you take all the time you needed. He was just afraid he would miss the prayer, is all."
"How would he miss it?" It was the second time I’d heard the words 'Missing the prayer' and I didn't understand what that meant.
"This prayer's time ends at sunrise, Princess," Mona explained, but before I could ask her any further questions, the prince walked into the room, smiling softly when our eyes met. I looked away. And when I saw my reflection in the mirror again, I still called myself a cheater, because though I looked away and didn't smile and my acts were cold to him, there was a warmth inside of me when I looked at him that I couldn't deny I was feeling.
"Thank you," I said politely when Mona was finished with my hair.
"It's my pleasure, Princess Marie." She smiled brightly and I smiled in return, getting up when she left and heading to bed.
"Uh, Princess?" the prince called when I reached the side of the bed.
"Yes?" I said without looking, then felt him coming closer.
"Can we talk?" he asked.
"Not now, I want to go to sleep, I'm exhausted," I replied, reaching for the bed covers and starting to pull them back. I'd only slept for three or four hours in the past day.
"Only for a few minutes."
I sighed. I really didn't want to talk, I just wanted this day to be over already. Still, I went to the living area and sat on the couch, crossing my legs then my arms in front of my chest.
I wasn't feeling very comfortable when the prince chose to sit next to me on the couch.
"What happened earlier–"
"I don't want to talk about it," I interrupted him.
I heard the prince sighing. "I meant the panic attack not the ki–"
"I don't want to talk about that, either."
"Princess, please," he pleaded in a quiet voice. "Nothing works fine when we block things out and shut down. Please, just talk to me, I need to make sure you're okay."
Heart hurt and mind fogged with thoughts and memories. "I'm okay," came out the whispered reply.
There was silence for a minute before the prince spoke again, "Has that happened to you before?"
I didn't want to reply, but I found myself nodding anyway.
"How long ago?"
"Thirteen years." My throat started closing and I swallowed a few times to let it go.
There was concern in his voice and a hint of sorrow – which I hated – when he asked, "What prompted it the first time?"
I couldn't talk about that, not at all, and not to him of all people. "I don't want to talk about it," I shook my head.
"You can tell me anything, Princess. I'm not a bad person, I promise, maybe I can help."
"No, I can't tell you anything, I can't tell you a lot of things. I don't know you, I shouldn't be telling you my secrets, and I sure-as-heck shouldn't have kissed you," I exclaimed, leaning forward and holding my head in my hands, my frustration with myself taking its toll on me as I started showing how angry and ashamed I was – with myself, that is. That in itself bothered me to no end because I didn't want to show him my vulnerability any more than I already had.
"But I thought– …" the prince started then paused before speaking again. "I thought we said we would try to get to know each other, Princess. Why are you pulling away now? Why are you changing your mind? What happened?"
"You know what happened," I snapped, head still between my hands.
His sigh was more like a huff this time. "Listen, Princess," he said, and I didn't move an inch to let him know that I was listening, "I know this has all started out wrong – very wrong – but, maybe something good could come out of it, just try to see that."
"Something good like what? We fall in love with each other and then live happily ever after? It's never going to happen." I shook my trapped head.
The silence that came after that statement was deafening. My words – for some stupid reason that I didn't want to admit I knew of – stung as I spoke them, but it had to be said.
"When we kis–"
"Don't say it! Please." Speaking of it, hearing of it, was as hard as remembering it. "Let's just pretend it never happened, okay?"
"You want to pretend it never happened?" His voice was low and his tone was sad.
"Yes." Pretending was the only thing I would ever be able to do, but between me and myself, I knew I would never forget it had happened.
"But as far as I remember – before that, it wasn't so hard for you to look me in the eyes and you didn’t flinch away when I touched your hand."
I squeezed my already-closed eyes and laid my head back, resting it on the back of the couch. The war inside of me– …I just– … too much!
"We can be friends, you know?" he whispered.
"I can't be friends with you," I whispered back, my voice shaky and newborn tears stinging my eyes.
"Why not?" Same low voice and same sad tone.
"I can't be friends with a Muslim," I stated. The words might have hurt me the same way I knew they were hurting him.
I could only imagine what he would think of me after that. I could only feel sad for myself for my inability to open up to him or accept him as a friend, but it was so hard for me. I couldn't just let go of – everything. Not after what had happened to me before because of – them.
No words were spoken after that, and I didn't remember exactly what happened, but I knew that I cried, and I knew my heart was aching. Maybe I dozed off or something after a while, because the prince carried me bridal style once again and I remembered him placing me on the bed then pulling the covers over me. He whispered a few words that – though they were in my language – I couldn't understand, or found it in me to ask him what he meant by them. His voice wasn't as sad as it was pained when he spoke while moving locks of hair out of my face and behind my ear.
"May you find the black keys, Troubled Princess."

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