The Kingdom of Archer Book I: Bloom

By J.Rose All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Scifi

Alternate Choice

Alternate Choice

(Lyric)

Warmth. I could feel the ray of sunlight slowly rise to my face warming it up. The sun rays hitting my closed eyes until there was a soft glowing bright orange light I could see through the darkness. Turning away from it to lay on my right side, I opened my eyes slowly to find Parker asleep on the floor. He was laying on his stomach his face buried in a large white pillow one hand to his side while the other was at an odd angle beside me. Had I turned any more I would have crushed his arm.

“Why was he here?” I thought to myself only for the night before to come flooding back to my mind rapidly. I had cried… I had told him my fears… I had let Parker comfort me the way no one else had and then… then I had asked him to stay with me. That part, I couldn’t understand. Yes, I wanted to be closer to him, to give us a chance to have a life with a man I had for so long tried to avoid. It was never fear, never terror, it was confusion.

For a moment I contemplated what to do. Should I wake him up? What would I say? How could I act when the night before I had invited him to my bedroom?
“Our bedroom,” I corrected myself because we both lived here. We were both supposed to be sleeping in the same bedroom.

The sun began to move closer, rising above higher and higher, ready to light the room up. I realized it would be a few seconds before the room was entirely lit up. I didn’t want to wake him. Mostly because I didn’t really know how to do that. I wanted to give us a chance but part of me was still so shy. I suppose shyness was part of my character, so I would wait. Pulling the bed sheets closer to myself, I laid back on my side raising the bed sheets just above my chest and facing his hand. I would wait for him to wake up when the sun hit but that didn’t seem to happen when the room was lit. I realized he was facing down, and that was partially why he didn’t wake up. The other part was exhaustion. Parker had stayed countless nights sleeping outside my bedroom trying to protect me, taking care of me, stressing over me, even before Maxwell came in to the picture. Reaching for his hand I traced his knuckles softly with my finger. I had held his hand before and it always felt so rough. His hand wasn’t much bigger than mine but they were always so rough and somehow, even with that, he had the gentlest touch I had ever felt. No matter what happened in the past, or even now, never once had Parker Archer laid a hand on me that was not gentle. Never once had he tried to grab me by force or force me to do anything I didn’t want to.

“I’ll wait for you.” That was what he had said to me, and I realized that he had been waiting. Long before either of us knew what was ahead of us. Parker had been waiting for me. My heart began to flutter and I could only pull the sheets closer to me and curl myself into their warmth. Not because I was trying to stop the fuzzy feeling inside, but because I was afraid Parker would hear my heart. Did the past matter? Did my past with Parker Archer matter? Yes. Why? Because it was what shaped this life if we were to live together. I would be kidding myself if I were to say that what he had done to me had been okay; because it wasn’t. I was still hurt by his words, but somehow what he had done for me afterward had certainly outweighed that past. There was so much I didn’t know yet. There was so much of both of us that I had not figured out as a whole and as separate people. But I wanted to discover that part together. I wanted to discover that future with him. Was I in love with Parker Archer? No. But I was pretty damn close. Getting up from the bed quietly, I simply headed to the window to shut the curtains, so that once again there would be darkness in the room. Grabbing a few of the bed sheets on the bed, I covered Parker up and then headed into the shower to get ready. If he wanted to rest, then I would let him.

***

Walking downstairs to the dining area, I could see Andrew, Crystal, Spencer and King Thomas already at the table. Once they saw me, they simply offered a smile and Oliver, who had been waiting outside my bedroom, had simply followed suit.

“Morning Lyric,” Andrew spoke up, offering a bright smile while Oliver simply pulled a chair out for me to sit next to Andrew on my left side. With a polite bow, Oliver then walked away.

“Morning. Everyone,” I managed to say before I was served by one of the maids. My breakfast consisting of chopped strawberries, melon, grapes and several other fruits. In front of me a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice.

“Lyric. Where’s Parker?” Crystal questioned, a confused look on her face. Something else flickered in her eyes that I couldn’t quite understand, but she seemed to be looking between Andrew and I.

“He’s asleep. He was tired and. I didn’t really want to wake him,” I whispered feeling my cheeks tint with their usual red.

“Oh.” Crystal spoke quietly before once again, the room filled with silence and everyone began to eat. The only noise really coming from the room was the clinking of the forks hitting the plate and the lifting and setting down of the glasses.

“Mr. Green,” King Thomas spoke up to Andrew, who turned to look at the King immediately. Though unlike the normal Nova, Andrew was not intimidated when addressed by the King. If anything Andrew seemed quite relaxed and confident.

“How is your father Councilmen Green?” The King asked.

For a second, I had almost forgotten the fact that my lion friend was indeed the son of a councilman. Councilmen Green was one of the greatest and fairest of the councilmen. I had no doubt in my mind that it was because of Andrew’s father that I had been able to decide my own destiny. If not for Councilmen Green my faith would have been much different.

“He’s doing fine.” Andrew answered politely; before he continued.

“The council’s been quite busy lately given the situation at hand, but my father says they are handling the situation as best they can, given the circumstances.”

Feeling a hand reach for my own I jumped in surprise, startled at Andrew, who held my left hand tightly in his.

“We care for Lyric. Ever since she came to live with us five years ago. She’s kind,” Andrew spoke, and I found myself feeling uncomfortable. More so with the stares I was receiving from everyone.
“The council has to remain neutral should they not?” Spencer spoke up calmly; though his gaze shifted towards our hands. Pulling with much more force, I managed to set my hand free of Andrews’.

“Yes,” Andrew spoke offering a smile, though I felt more uncomfortable than ever.

“My father has to, but I don’t. Not yet anyway.”
“Won’t that affect your eligibility for Council? Taking sides?” Crystal questioned.

“Maybe. But I’m my father’s only son and I’m not going to fight anyone. I’m just here as Lyrics’ friend. And I want to protect her.”

“That’s good. We could use more protection for her.” Parker spoke, walking into the dining room.

Parker’s hand brushed my right shoulder first, kissing my temple, before the screeching of the chair to my right being pulled sounded, and he sat next to me. I didn’t want to turn to look at him, not at the moment. Everyone’s eyes fixated on the three of us. I was only when Parker took hold of my right hand and gave it a squeeze, that I found myself turning to meet his gaze. In that moment his eyes immediately softened. Offering a smile, Parker simply placed a kiss to my knuckles, and I found myself blushing. I couldn’t seem to move my hand, which somehow felt limp, my heart doing a little jump causing me to look down.

“I suppose you do. Given what’s been happening but. If you don’t mind Prince Parker. I’d like to take Lyric on a walk with me. To catch up later. We have a lot to discuss,” Andrew spoke, though when I looked back at Parker there was an edge to his eyes, anger maybe.

For the longest of times, there was silence and his gaze was hard, looking past me and towards Andrew. I didn’t want to look back at Andrew either, mostly because I was afraid that the same look would be on his own face. The silence remained for a few more seconds, then Parker’s eyes shifted back to look at me once again and he smiled.

“Okay. Just don’t leave the castle,” Parker said. After that, no other words were really uttered again. There was such tension in the air I almost forgot to breathe. Had Parker not kept his hand interlocked to mine squeezing it every few seconds I would have forgotten to keep breathing.

***

Walking with Andrew had always come so natural. We could be in the quiet, and I would always find myself enjoying it because there was calm. There was always such peace, but now?… I felt uncomfortable. Now there wasn’t peace because there was someone else. The hardest part was not being able to reciprocate Andrew’s feelings. Of course not in the way I felt for Parker, but it was mostly because with Andrew, I was so grateful for everything he had done for me.

“Lyric,” Andrew spoke first. The way he always did, cutting off the uncomfortable air between us and causing me to look at him.

There was a smile on his face that seemed melancholic, it was ironic really. I had always been the lost one, the sad one, and right now it seemed like our roles were reversed.

“Do you remember when we met?” Andrew questioned sadly, taking my hand as we walked along the green grass of what was the small forest of the Archer castle.

“Of course.”

It was strange… Being in a place that was outside of Archer. Sure, this was a city that was part of the Kingdom, but it was mostly leading toward neutral ground where the council lived. The council could choose to live outside of Archer, they could choose to live in Archer or Cray for that matter. Though it seemed like everyone that belonged to the council seemed to drift mostly toward the middle line right smack down where Archer and the Council lands seemed to meet.

“Lyric. We’re here sweetie,” My mother spoke up gently, while I clutched my bag to me tightly and stepped out of the car. It was hard to move again I realized, and I feared loneliness. I could have laughed at how pathetic I was being but then again, I didn’t know what laughter was.

Laughing was something I never did, or at least it felt that way with how life had been for me. I wanted to go back to in the car and tell my mother that I had been wrong; that maybe Archer had been the place for us. It was torture to live there, but a torture that I knew. Archer was a place where I at least had one friend. Taking my hand, my mother guided me towards a large gate of the mansion and opened it to let us in. I’d been too afraid and lost in my own thought to notice the music being played when we walked in.

The house where we stood was rather large reminding me of a castle. It was bigger than my house itself, but I suppose not as big as the actual Archer castle. Still, it was just as elegant. The mansion was painted a white color and at the very top that seemed to reach the sky. There was a green flag that was of a majestic Lion standing on its hind legs. Somehow, knowing that this was not a wolf, but a lion managed to calm me just a bit. I’d learned to fear wolves because of my father, and part of me was afraid of Parker. Maybe just the fact that he was a wolf immediately sent warnings signals to my brain. My father hurt me, my father hated me. He was a wolf. Wolves were bad. It might have been illogical. Maybe it was irrational, but it was the way I had learned to live.

“Sweetie,” My mother spoke up breaking my train of thought, not that I spoke to her.

In fact, I simply turned to look at her not knowing what to say. If there had been any words spoken between us after my suicide attempt it was on her part, mostly. Though I had first thought this to be a good idea, to fix myself, now the question remained. How could I really fix all of this? All my insecurities, all of my pain. How?

“I’m going to look around the house. She’s going to show me do you want to come? Or do you want to look outside?” She asked gently the way she would speak to a child.

“You’re my baby.”“You’re my child,” She had kept repeating to me on several occasions after my suicide attempt. But I realized it was more than that. I was her broken child. The child that needed mending and love. Something that she could no longer give me because I wouldn’t allow her to.

It was like leaving something in the cold for too long. Eventually, as much as you try to give warmth back to it, it would never be back to its original state, it just doesn’t work that way. I had not noticed, but there was now a young girl, a blonde around my age. Her hair tied back into a bun and she was dressed in a black and white maid uniform. Nodding to my mother she simply offered a warm smile and headed inside the house leaving me on my own.

For a moment, I stood there, trying to find my footing, trying to find direction really. That’s when I heard it. Music. It was soft, the sound of the acoustic guitar. The tune I recognized was peaceful, being carried by the wind, softly blowing past me, and for a moment I found myself closing my eyes to enjoy it. It was a little piece of tranquil that I had been looking for. The sound carried out by the soft blowing wind to fly across the large mansion. There were no words being sung but I could recognize it anywhere. Though I was never allowed to hear music in my home Crystal often let me borrow her own iPod. I would go through her music, which often seemed to be loud and upbeat much like her character. There were a few songs, however, which she listened to that were calm. There was a playlist on her iPod labeled Spencer, which I suppose was why she never let him near her iPod. In that list, there was that particular song titled “Possibilities” Sung by Freddie Stroma. It was such a beautiful romantic song. The way it was composed was so relaxed, it made you want to close your eyes and just dream and for a few seconds that was what I did.

I dreamt of flowers, hundreds and hundreds of flowerbeds surrounding me while the wind whispered softly along the earth and I lay in the comfortable grass. There was a place where there was peace. A place where darkness could not touch and then there was him. That person that would love me. That person that would breathe life back to me the way I had seen in hundreds of movies and thousands of my dreams. In that fantasy, I was happy, not just okay or fine, but truly happy. It was the type of happiness that only seemed to come with one thing. True love. My soulmate. I had not noticed that the music had stopped, nor had I noticed that there was someone standing in front of me. It was only when I opened my eyes that I found green olive colored eyes staring at me.

His hair was a dirty blonde that seemed to fall down his face messily but at the same time, he seemed to be quite put together. He was in a blue jean jacket and a white shirt underneath. Wearing loose jeans and a pair of black vans. In his right hand, however, was his acoustic guitar.

“Hi,” He spoke up offering a 500-watt smile that seemed to remind me of the sun, the way it always shined down brightly in the middle of the day.“I’m Andrew Green. My dad’s the councilmen. You must be the Mason girl.” He spoke, extending his hand out to me. There was a black leather-like bracelet on his wrist in the middle some sort of badge with a cross on it that I could see.

“It’s a hand. You shake it,” He joked when I simply stared at his extended hand, clutching tighter on to my bag and pulling it closer to my chest for comfort.

“It’s okay. I don’t bite. Unless you want me to,” He spoke winking, and I found myself feeling uncomfortable. Why was he being nice to me? Why was he flirting with me? Every single guys’ reaction to me had always been rejection, disdain, and disgust. Parker’s face came to mind, and I found my chest tightening so hard I couldn’t breathe. This guy didn’t at all seemed fazed by my reaction instead he continued to smile brightly.

“You have pretty hair,” He spoke circling around me slowly inspecting me. When he tried to reach for my hair I shifted away; though that didn’t seem to stop his teasing because he simply smiled brighter if that were possible. But I couldn’t take it much longer. He was making fun of me somehow like my ugliness was a joke and he thought it was fun to mess with me by teasing me this way. I hadn’t noticed but tears were beginning to form in my eyes. Immediately he stopped touching my hair, his smile vanishing.

“Shit. I’m sorry. I was just trying to make you talk, or laugh. I’m an idiot okay. Please don’t cry.” He spoke in a panic.

“Look. You don’t need to talk to me if you don’t want to but how about I play this song for you again. And then I give you a tour of the house. I was just trying to be friendly. I swear.” He spoke. His apology took me off guard. No one had ever apologized to me. Not for anything so silly. I had overreacted more or less because I was overwhelmed, but the way he was looking at me was different. His smile before was so bright and now there was almost a kicked puppy-like look on his face.

“Please. I swear I’ll be good. I don’t want you to have a bad impression of me. My dad says.” He began before growing silent. The look in his eyes filled with pity. A look I dreaded for so long but realized it was what would be directed towards me from now on.

“Well. He didn’t say what happened to you. Only that. You needed our help. So. I want to help you.” He spoke up.

“Music heals you know... The broken. Maybe it can mend you some,” He spoke quietly.

“So how about that song?” He questioned.

“Possibilities,” I answered him, a soft smile on my lips, causing him to smile brightly at me.

“Back then I didn’t really know why I made you cry but. I knew you liked to hear me play,” Andrew spoke up, and it was true.

For the first few weeks in his home we wouldn’t talk or rather, I would just listen to him. He would spend his time with me whenever we had free time from being homeschooled and he would play me all the songs he knew. Happy ones, sad ones, silly ones. He would spend hours with me singing or talking to me about politics in the Council which he was forced to learn, but I learned he loved them. I never once spoke within these few months, never opened up. There were times when Andrew would leave and hang out with Jane, who at the time I had not meat. It was when I met her a few months later that things sort of fell in to place with the three of us.

Jane had a bubbly side to her, she was always cheerful and smiling. It was hard not to feel happy, or smile when you were with her. The first time I laughed with them caused me to cry and then they both cried with me showing me friendship again. Then came the hard parts. Letting them in. I hadn’t spoken about my past to them, not once, but they were helping me live again.

“I always liked to hear you play. You made me happy when you played. If just for a few seconds, I could forget.”

When I had spoken to them about my past I hadn’t mentioned who Parker was. The fewer details I gave, the better. I went into small details in regards to my father. I wasn’t comfortable sharing my dark past with people. Then Andrew had written a song for me and taped back just a bit more of my heart along with Jane.

“I wanted you to feel better. I always want you to feel better,” Andrew spoke.

“But. Parker. How does he treat you now?” He questioned.

“You never mentioned a name or anything but. I always knew it was him,” Andrew spoke quietly, and I felt my chest tighten. There were parts of me that I hadn’t really shared with them but eventually they did find out and figured it out. Mostly due to the nightmares I often had which still remain even now.

“He’s nice. We. I told you before. I want to try this,” I whispered to him.

“Lyric. I wish that somehow it could be me… You know how I feel.”
“Andrew,” I spoke feeling my heart ache.

“I don’t want to hurt you. You’re special to me. I care about you so much. And I’m grateful for everything you’ve done for me. There were times where. I wished so bad that. It was you. When I was sad and just,”
“I shouldn’t be telling you this. I don’t want to give you hope where we both know there can never be anything but friendship. You’re my friend. Someone I trust and care about but. I’ve never lo-”
“I know,” Andrew spoke pain in his eyes, refusing to let me finish.

“But. You’ve given him a chance. You’ve given him a chance to win your heart. Why can’t I have the same? Why can’t I be the other person at the end of the line fighting for your heart?” He questioned.

“Andrew I-”
“I know you care. But. It isn’t love. You’re grateful. And you’re also too nice for your own good and mine. I keep having hope that somehow you’ll change your mind and pick me.”
“But we can’t pick who destiny has already set for us,” I whispered to him reaching to caress his cheek gently.

I wanted so bad to stop the pain in his eyes and for that genuine smile to return to his face. However, I realized his smile would not return for the moment because I couldn’t be what he wanted me to be. Andrew had taped me back together. He had placed the pieces of my soul back in order. Just enough to keep me living but Parker. Parker was my glue. He was the person that would permanently keep me together. Parker had not only saved me but he was teaching me to love, live and embrace life in a way that I never thought I could.

“Then just. Let me stay at your side. Until I find my own. I know it’s selfish. I know I’m taking advantage of you right now. But. I just want to be with you even as your friend. Protecting you again. Can I do that?” He asked.

“You’ll always be my friend Andrew. But. I don’t want you to get hurt. I couldn’t take losing you or anyone else that I care about because I’m caught in the middle of something,”
“Lyric. It’s because you’re my friend and I love you that I would do anything for you.”
“Andrew I-”
“It’ll be fine. Come on,” He spoke offering a smile and taking my hand guiding me back out of the woods where Parker and Oliver both stood.

“She’s all yours, for now, Wolf boy. I have to go take care of a few things with Jane and I’ll be back later Lyric,” Andrew spoke, and I found myself nodding dumbly, biting my lip.

Turning to Parker he offered a forced smile; though the strain in his eyes was visible.

“Shall we Lyric?” Parker spoke extending his hand out to me, my heart doing its usual jump before I took his hand and he squeezed my own. Oliver walked behind us but when Parker turned to look at him Oliver simply bowed, his dark hair falling to his face as he did so. With nothing more to be said Oliver retreated, leaving Parker and I alone.

“Is something wrong?” I asked him quietly, but Parker simply turned to look at me offering a soft strained smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes.

“Lyric. I know that. You said you’d give us a try and... I want that so much,” Parker spoke, something in his voice makes my heart clench. There was pain in his voice, his hazel eyes finally showing it.

“But. You do have other options,” He said to me and my mind flashed to Maxwell with his words.

“No,” I shook my head looking back at him in fear.

“Not Maxwell I can’t go,”
“I don’t mean him Lyric,” Parker said to me.

For a moment, he was quiet again, his hand still holding on to my own.

“I just…” He began reaching his right hand up to my cheek caressing it softly. His touch gentle. Somehow that feeling from back then, back in the room came back looming over us again.

“Andrew. What does he mean to you?” Parker questioned.

“He’s my friend,” I whispered to him.

“But. You mean more to him. Don’t you?” He questioned, and I couldn’t lie to him when he said that. But… I also couldn’t speak the truth, and I found myself looking down avoiding his gaze.

“It’s alright,” Parker spoke, lifting my chin up softly in order to meet his gaze. I could tell now. He was forcing a smile trying to hide what he felt for me.

“Parker I-”
“You can love him if you wish. I won’t stop you from it. I know I’m not someone you chose to be with from sheer will and if I had a choice I-”

His words hurt. I couldn’t understand why he was saying them, but I also wanted him to understand that I didn’t just decide on a whim to give us a chance. My heart had long decided it was time to stop running, and it was time I stopped chasing away the people that cared. I couldn’t hear him anymore, I really couldn’t. Lifting my head up just a tad more I place a kiss on the corner of his mouth softly. If anything a simple brush of my lips for just a second to silence him. Just like that, I moved away from Parker, completely untangling our clasped hands. Had this been any other moment I would have run. Maybe I would have at least been blushing, but I needed to tell him truthfully how I felt. It seemed my actions had worked because Parker had finally grown quiet. For a moment, his eyes were closed and I could feel a blush come on my cheeks when he finally did open his eyes.

“Lyric you-”
“I. I want you,” I spoke looking down at my hands.

“I. I feel. Different. I. Like you.” I whispered to him.

“I-”
“Lyric,” Parker spoke once again, taking my face in his hands gently grazing his thumb against my bottom lip.

My heart thumped at that moment once more and the urge to close my eyes to his touch happened once again. Somehow I couldn’t. Not with the way he was looking at me. The sunlight hit around us lighting up the forest we were in so beautifully. His silhouette lit up by a bright warm ray of sunshine.

“I like you too. I. I love you so much,” Parker whispered.

“Kiss me,” I wanted to say to him, but I couldn’t find words to do so. Instead, he pulled me closer to him and I knew he was going to do so anyway.

“Sire. What you’ve requested is done.”
Sighing upon hearing Oliver, he shook his head and offered me a wry smile.

“We’re always interrupted aren’t we?” Parker stated, and I found myself laughing lightly at the irony of it all.

“So cliché,” I thought to myself. Chuckling Parker took hold of my hand once again giving it a soft squeeze.

“For now maybe this will have to do,” He spoke raising our intertwined hands to his lips and kissing my knuckles softly.

“Sire. Princess,” Oliver called out once more. Finally coming into view. His clothes were different from his formal wear which usually consisted of a black suit. Right now, his dark hair fell to his eyes just a bit, his olive green eyes almost relaxed. He wore a white wife beater and loose gray sweatpants. His usual formal shoes, now a pair of white sneakers. Oliver looked... Normal.

“We’re coming,” Parker spoke to him leading us to an entirely different part of the castle which I had never seen. Parker must have noticed the confused look in my eyes because he offered a smile and then spoke.

“This is by my father’s quarters he likes to see the Nova Officers practice.”
“Practice?” I questioned him.

It was mostly an empty field. There was nothing there. When it came to guns or any sort of weapon they had been pretty much destroyed after Nova’s came out. There really was no use for them when fighting was mostly done in Nova form.

“Yes. Practice,” Oliver spoke up.

“But. For who?” I questioned, and they both smiled.

“You,” Parker said to me.

“Me? But. What can I do? I can’t defeat a Nova. It’s impossible for a human.” I spoke up to them causing them both to smile.

“I’m fully aware of that. But we might not always be in our Nova form,” Parker explained.

“Princess. There might be a time soon. When war will happen and as much as we may guard you there is always the possibility of-”
“Oliver,” Parker spoke up cutting him off, but I knew all too well what Oliver was going to say.

“Maxwell taking me,” I spoke up the words lingering between the three of us for a moment.

“Maybe,” Oliver spoke up his eyes calm, cold even, but I knew he was in his work mode. Maybe it was to part away from real emotion but I knew Oliver was a kind, caring man, and honest man who assessed things in all forms.

“I won’t let that happen.”
“You can’t always protect her Parker,” Oliver spoke up slipping from his formal speech.

“It’s illogical to believe that, and she needs to be ready to protect herself as minimal as it may be. You have to want that don’t you? For her to fight ’til the end. To hold on until you or anyone else is able to help?” Oliver questioned.

“It’s why you asked me to train her isn’t it?” He asked, and for a moment Parker was quiet shutting his eyes tightly. I could tell he was trying to calm himself.

When Parker opened his eyes once more he looked visibly stressed and worried.

“I want you to be safe Lyric,” He whispered, reaching to caress my cheek once again, his other hand still intertwined with my own.

“And. Oliver is right. If no one is there to protect you, I want you to have to do it. To hold on until I can get there,” He whispered.

“Good,” Oliver spoke up breaking whatever moment between us was about to happen.

“Because since you asked me to train her in private you are also not allowed to be here with us,” Oliver spoke up.

“What? That’s not what we agreed to.”
“Correction your highness,” Oliver spoke, cutting Parker off with a mischievous look in his eyes while trying to hide a smile.

“I agreed as your best Nova soldier and highest ranking officer to help your… Beloved. Become stronger both physically and mentally. But I never agreed for you to be here.” He spoke to Parker. The word “Beloved” making me blush. Still, Parker kept his ground and simply glared at Oliver who smiled at him as if Parker’s fierce protective glare bounced right off him.

“Well, you can stay. If you can really take me being serious with her. Because if you want her to be safe than I’m going to have to be tough on her. And I’m sure you don’t want to see that.” Oliver spoke up.

“I’ll be fine Parker,” I assured him, for his sake more than mine. Oliver was right. I needed to learn to be stronger. Not just for me, but for Parker as well.

“Why don’t I believe that?” Parker questioned.

“Because you love her. And you think she’s fragile,” Oliver spoke up.

“But with practice, certain things can be fixed,” Oliver spoke up.

“So Goodbye Parker,” Oliver spoke up.

“I’ll be fine really,” I said to him. And he simply offered a kind smile, kissing my forehead softly before leaving.

For a moment I stood there unsure of what to say really, more than anything, I just felt so much at the moment. It was like being on air.

“Okay,” Oliver spoke up waking me up from what felt like a dream.

“First thing you need to do is go change into this. Princess Crystal bought you training clothes already,” Oliver spoke up tossing me a pair of neatly folded gray sweats and a white t-shirt.

“We’re starting with an easy warm up to build up stamina and after that, I’ll teach you a few defensive attacks,” Oliver spoke up.

“Oh. Okay,” I managed to say to him.

***

It was hard to move. It really was. My legs felt like jelly and there were muscles that hurt that I did not know I had. Oliver’s “Warmup” Consisted of 45 minutes of running around the open space. Another 30 few minutes of about 100 sit-ups, push-ups, squats, and the worst, pull-ups. I had absolutely no type of upper body strength or any sort of strength for that matter. After that, he proceeded to show me a few defensive techniques that only gave me a few seconds to confuse my assailant and give me time to run. But honestly, after our “Warm-up” I had absolutely no kind of strength. The first attack was simple. Kicking, or kneeing someone in the groin was pretty much a good tactic. Then there was another defense attack that involved using my palm to push up and hit him in the nose with force to break it. Another which was one that Oliver said I should try if everything else doesn’t work, which involved hitting my opponent with an open palm on the temple. If it’s hard enough, you can either knock someone out for a few seconds or kill them. In fact, all of these tactics were simply to startles my assailant just enough to give me time to run.

We were laying on the grass now, Oliver seemed perfectly fine if not just a bit sweaty. Me on the other hand. I felt like I needed air and I smelled like an old sweaty gym sock.

“I apologize for being so hard on you Princess,” Oliver spoke up. Turning to look at him, panting silently from exhaustion I spoke.

“Lyric.” I corrected.

“Ms. Lyric,” He repeated, offering a smile.

“I understand,” I said to him.

“It’s necessary,” I told him.

“I’m not strong if anything. I’m a liability to-”
“You’re Parker’s heart.” Oliver corrected, and I found myself blushing at what he said.

“He cares about you. He’s never mentioned what happened between the two of you. But. I have my suspicion,” He said.

“I’ve known Parker since we were children. Though I can’t speak for him in terms of how he feels. I can say that he’s changed since meeting you Ms. Lyric,” Oliver spoke.

“Parker’s always been so… selfish,” Oliver concluded.

“I’m sure you realize this yourself seeing as you attended school with him,” Oliver said, and I found myself nodding at him.

“Maybe. But. Deep down I think he was hiding,” I speak out loud, causing Oliver to smile.

“What about you?” I asked him.

“There’s not much to say Ms. Lyric.”
“Your soulmate?” I questioned. For a moment, there’s a look in his eyes which I immediately recognize. Mainly because I’ve been wearing it my entire life. Pain.

“She’s far away.”
“She chose to leave but. I hope to join her one day,” Oliver spoke.

Though I couldn’t really understand what he was feeling. I did understand part of it. Longing. Longing to be with the person that’s supposed to complete you in every way possible. A contrast that can fill in the gaps that you have not known you had. Someone who can fill the empty feeling you have felt all your life. Either way, I was starting to comprehend what it was a soulmate was supposed to be.

“I hope you can see her someday soon,” I told Oliver who simply offered a smile.

“I see her every single day. I keep her close to my heart,” He whispered.

“But for now. My duty is to the kingdom. As was my late fathers’.”
“I’m sorry,” I said to him.

“Loneliness is quite bitter but. To not have a purpose in life is much worse,” Oliver said.

“Maybe.” I said to him, hoping that I could say something that was mildly comforting. I didn’t have to ask what happened to his mother. Everyone knew that when a soulmate dies your other half soon follows after.

“I understand loneliness. I’ve had it my entire life. But. You need to allow people to love you. Only then you’ll be able to start living.”
“Maybe,” Oliver answered back.

“Maybe allowing yourself to love her will make you feel less lonely.”
“And. If there’s anything I’ve learned from this life is that… Friends can also be family.” I spoke to him.

In the distance, I could see Crystal walking over, a smile on her face and I simply stood up and offered a smile to Oliver before heading toward Crystal.

“Did you have a good practice?” Crystal asked.

“Yes,” I replied to her.

“Good. Because today we’re going to a real battlefield,” She joked.

“Where?” I questioned.

“My bachelorette party silly. You haven’t had time to rehearse for the wedding with us but you’re still my maid of honor and you’re going to have fun with me and the rest of my friends,” She concluded.

“But-”
“Relax. I’ve invited your friend Jane,” Crystal said.

“Alright,” I said to her. Being honest, however, I realized two things. One, I would be put in an uncomfortable situation of being introduced to new people once again, and two. Going out with two of my crazy friends would definitely result in trouble.

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