Her sharp eyes narrow on me, and I immediately think I’m in the wrong office. “I’m sorry. I was looking for James,” I tell her. “I thought this was his office.”
“It is.” Her words sound cold and angry, and I’m a little stunned. I’m not sure why she is so mad.
“I’ll come back.” I start to step back, but she stomps towards me and grabs my wrist, pulling me into back into the office next to James’s desk.
“You address him as ‘King,’” the woman bites out. I realize maybe it’s wrong to call him by his given name in public.
“Only family and friends call him by his birth name,” she hisses.
After what we did, I think we have to at least be friends. Not that I would tell her what we did, although for some reason I want to. In fact, I think James and I are more than friends with the way James speaks to me.
“What do you call him?” I ask as something sparks in my stomach. Jealousy, maybe? I might be stepping over the line. I don’t even know who this woman is. Part of me hopes it’s a sister and not a girlfriend. Though I don’t want his sister to be some witch…
“I’m to be his wife. The next queen!” she yells in my face. I don’t believe her. That can’t be true. Not with the way James treated me. Touched me. The things he said.
“I don’t believe you,” I challenge. I wish my words were stronger. Sadly, I’m not used to standing up for myself. I try to square my shoulders.
“Are you blind?” She points to the desk where wedding paraphernalia is scattered. My heart clenches at the thought that she might be right. Someone is clearly planning a wedding. I close my eyes, trying to fight the tears. I don’t want to cry in front of this woman. No wonder she’s mad at me.
“I’m sorry,” I tell her. “I didn’t know.” My heart breaks. I can’t believe he’s engaged to someone else and that he said and did those things to me while he belonged to another woman. It doesn’t make any sense.
“Well, now you do,” she bites out. “I know men can wander, but know your place if you’re going to be his mistress.”
My mouth fall opens. I take a step back, then another, lifting my hands. “I don’t want to be that.” Maybe I misunderstood everything and that is what I am to him. My stomach turns and I want to throw up.
“You think you’d be more?” she laughs mockingly.
“I’m sorry,” I say again. I just want to leave, to be as far from here as possible. I need to be alone. I turn and head for the door.
I should have known this was too good to be true. Fairy tales aren’t real. When I fling open his office door, two guards come to attention.
“Miss Kate,” one addresses me, taking a step forward.
“I want to leave,” I tell him. I look around frantically, trying to figure how to get out of here before I remember the way I came in. The guard steps in my path and stops me in my tracks.
“I wasn’t informed you were going to leave the grounds,” the guard tells me.
“I don’t care.” I try to step around him again, but once more he moves into my path.
“Let me take you to the king.” He motions for me to go to my right.
“I don’t want to ever see him again.” My voice cracks and I know my tears are going to break free any moment. I try to hang on to my anger, but I can’t grab a hold of it. The sadness is too overpowering.
“Ma’am, please.” The guard almost pleads this time, but he doesn’t try to stop me as I push past him. He jumps away from me when I brush against him as if he might catch something from me. Maybe word has already spread that I’m the king’s mistress. I may be naïve when it comes to relationships, but I’m not naïve enough to not know what a mistress is.
I take off running for what I think might be the way out. I sigh in relief when I see a familiar sight—the doors I came through when I first arrived. People turn and look at me as I run, but I ignore everyone. When I breach the doors, I run down the stairs but realize I have no idea where I’m going.
The bright sun is blinding, and I turn around and see five guards standing behind me. They aren’t stopping me, but they are following me.
“Stop following me.” I throw my hands up in the air in exasperation.
“We are your personal guards, Miss Kate. Where you go we go.”
“But I can’t leave?” I ask. I have no freaking clue what is going on.