chapter two

The rest of breakfast was filled with snide remarks and heated glances. Nearly everyone was on an edge the wine couldn't take off. Including myself. However, I powered through it with a bleak smile and nod whenever someone spoke to me. For the most part, no one actually spoke to me just about me. Much of what I had to do was stare at my plate of waffles and get lost in my thoughts.

After the meal, I was given the rest of the day off. Normally I would be making sure that the maids all had their jobs for the day and to mingle with guests to get insight on diplomatic and personal issues to use to our advantage. But after all the commotion of today, I wasn't in a verbose mood.

Everyone was under strict orders to keep the news of Father's abdication hidden until I met with the councilmen. They were a group of six people who advised the King and Queen on diplomatic issues and had enough power to sway the nation's people. Fundamentally, they were men who owned the most money in their provinces and had the most people under their influence. They helped keep everyone at relative peace and they terminally decided what laws and decrees went through. So it was important that they agreed with my rule. Unluckily for me, I was scheduled to meet them later tonight.

I wasn't petrified of them but they certainly didn't help with the knots twisting in my stomach. They were misogynistic so it would definitely take some compelling to get them agree. The only thing that kept me a concise bit at bay was the case that Mother would also be joining me at the meeting. And if there was one thing she did not endure, it was disrespect towards her children. Which meant that no matter how bad they belittle me, they would get tenfold in return from my mother and I was gratified with that. I was relying on that.

On my way to my room, I spotted Zalis Lavina, the castle's clairvoyant. He was a lanky man in his early thirties with pale skin and dead eyes but he appeared to be kind and my mother trusted him so that counted for something. I personally didn't believe in any magic or potions so I endeavored to keep to myself. I didn't covet any misfortune coming my way, especially now.

When I reached my room I fell back onto my bad and engulfed myself in my duvet. I took a minute to observe. My room was tidy and impersonal. For the most part, it was white and beige with rose gold accents. The grand bed was in the middle of the room and my desk was on the side, up against the wall. To the left was an immense vanity that was only used when I brushed my hair or needed to get comely for an event. My closet door was closed which made the room look smaller but the bathroom door was open just enough to let sunlight in from the window it bared. My only thought was, would they let me keep my room after the official abdication...?

Before I knew it the exhaustion I lacked earlier returned all at once. And I drifted off to sleep.

I was awoken by Serina, a maid that aided me in getting ready for big events. I usually preferred to get ready by myself but I was too anxious to dismiss her. She was polite and never tried to make conversation with me which I was grateful for.

"Princess Genevieve," she smiled and bowed.

"Hello," I replied.

That was as in-depth as our communication went before she left to draw me a bath while I undressed. When I was done, she resurfaced and left me alone to bathe and returned to help me get dressed.

The intention was to make me look as much as a Queen as possible. I wore a ruby red dress that needed three maids to help me get into and a large diamond necklace that sat just above my breast. My black hair was simply brushed out and a large golden crown was fastened on my head. I probably weighed twice my original weight. Walking up the flights of stairs to get to the meeting was a task. Not only was everything heavy but it was a struggle to breathe with the tight corset sucking the life out of me with every step.

The meeting was in a room on a higher floor in the castle. For privacy reasons, my father asked that the whole floor was closed off and evacuated of non-essential people. The news was just too precious. Only two guards were permitted but only outside of the room.

When I entered everyone seated stood and bowed. I returned the greeting and took a seat at the only spot available, at the head of the table. No one's eyes separated from mine. It was a strange sensation, having everyone pay attention to you without asking them to.

They were probably more confused and intrigued rather than anything else. No one except for the King and Queen was allowed into a council meeting.

I looked around the room for Father who sat on the opposite side of me on the other end of the table. He wore dark red attire as well. He smiled at me which put me at ease. Next to him sat Mother, she wore a dark blue dress. She just couldn't help but make herself distinct from everyone else it amused me. The only comfort she offered was a small nod, which was enough for me.

"Welcome Councilmen," Father began. He entwined his fingers with Mother's before continuing, "I hope the trip wasn't too wearisome and that all your needs were met."

"Yes and please accept the steaks we placed in your chambers as a welcoming gift," Mother added.

They expressed their gratitude in a cluster before Father raised his hand to silence them.

"Now, down to what everyone traveled down to the castle for. There will be a transfer of power." He gestured toward me with his hand but his eyes never met mine.

I needed to be strong so I straightened out my back and looked straight ahead and welcomed the glances no matter how disrespectful some were.

"My king, you must be mistaken. A woman?" A frail old man by the name of Alger Grant, who happened to own too much money for his own good, chided.

"Councilman Grant, I'd reword your statement. It sounded like you were going against your King," Mother mused. She was more than ready to have him snatched from his seat and thrown in a dungeon somewhere.

"He's not wrong. How can we trust a woman to run a kingdom? You couldn't possibly expect us to be fine with this." Councilman Richard Welch moved forward in his seat to voice his thoughts. How bold. I wondered if they always spoke so openly in their meetings. Regardless, how things were done when I wasn't present didn't matter because I was here now and no one spoke about me in such a way.

Father was ready to speak but I interrupted.

"For a frail old man and a newly appointed councilman, you should be more shameful. Notwithstanding, you are right." I made sure to look each of them in their eyes before continuing. I wasn't sure where the surge of spirit extended from but it persuaded me to stand up and walk around the room, "I cannot rule a kingdom the same as a man. In fact, I can do it better."

I made sure to stretch every syllable of the last line.

Now, everyone's eyes were fixated on me, they were intrigued.

"How so?" Another councilman asked. He looked to be in his mid-thirties with green eyes and brown hair, probably the youngest one there. His name escaped me in the heat of the moment.

"For starters, I'll make sure that this nation is at its prime with more allies than we can count and more resources than we can take care of. Bristtol isn't the biggest or the richest of the four major kingdoms but with me, it can be."

"You'd have to admit, she does drive a hard bargain," Father appended. He was smiling from ear to ear and my mother was on the edge of her seat.

Neither of them had ever seen me so riled up about anything. If this was any other situation I'd of probably just sat and surveyed what was happening rather than engaging in it but I couldn't bring my self to let them disrespect me so indirectly.

My father wanted to see me on the throne and that was exactly what he was going to get. He never asked much from me so I couldn't fail him even if this wasn't the direction I pictured my life going in.

"Hmm," Grant Alger hummed while stroking his long white beard, "Could the council have a moment to discuss this over?"

My father was ready to speak but I beat him to it, "You have one minute."

The longer I let it drag out the longer they'd have to sense the uncertainty in my words and to uncover that I didn't have a clue as to what I was doing, that I was afraid of disappointing. That my whole discourse was bullshit.

He nodded, agitated.

Maybe I was coming on too strong?

After a few long moments, they retracted from the closely knit huddle they had formed, that excluded my parents and me. They spoke in hushed tones which made it hard to decipher. I was in the dark. I didn't need their approval but it would certainly make my life easier.

I was worried.

Alger Grant stood, "We'll approve of your Queen if she is wed with a suitable man before her coronation."

The look on my face was probably as ridiculous as it felt. Suitable man? I didn't require nor fancied one. I wasn't a little girl, I was well aware that royals weren't fortunate enough to marry for love but I was not ready to give up more pieces of myself to benefit everyone else. I always thought I had more time. Panic started to build in my throat with bile to accompany it.

"That can be arranged." Mother was quick to respond. She had been waiting for long time to pair me up with someone.

Father nodded in agreement and got up to shake hands with the Councilmen. Everyone was happy with the compromise.

Everyone barring me. The strong spirit I felt before had vanished. I felt hollow. It reminded me that this wasn't the life I wanted.

But it was too late to turn back.

On the way out my father warmly touched my shoulders, "I am extremely proud of you."

"I didn't know you had it in you to be so demanding, Genevieve," Mother appeared by my side. She was smiling, a foreign look.

"I do not wish to marry..." The words cascaded out of my mouth before I could filter them, "I mean, do I have to do it so soon?"

I didn't mean for it to sound like a whine but it did.

"Six months is enough to find a suitable man who will take care of you and your kingdom," Mother retorted.

"Not to mention, I would die before letting anyone less than suitable approach you," Father joked which resulted in Mother hitting him.

"Do not speak so carelessly about death, Wren," She folded her arms across her chest. She was superstitious and believed in bad juju, karma, and bumps in the night. Hence why she invited a clairvoyant into the castle. I wasn't sure how Father put up with it.

"I'm not worried about whether or not he's suitable. I am worried about giving myself to someone, anyone..."

"That's the price a monarch must pay," Mother answered.

Her answer allowed me to come to the conclusion that they wouldn't be able to understand even if they wanted to. They were happily married and not by chance either. They married out of love, though it did help that my mother's father, my late grandfather, was incredibly wealthy which helped Bristtol. Nonetheless, I couldn't be that lucky, this was my fate.

I never replied to her, just continued straight ahead.

The crown felt heavier with each step.

AUTHORS NOTE

This is now on wattpad, for more chapters you'll have to go on wattpad to find them. Thank you for reading!!!! I'll have chapter three up by the end of the week so September 11, please look forward to it. :)