‘Oh, my gods.’ I pulled over into a layby and climbed into the back of the car. ‘Louis.’ I felt his wrist for a pulse. It fluttered under my finger
‘Chris?’ He shook his head.
‘Taylor?’ Louis' voice was weak from the loss of blood. ‘I am so sorry.’
‘Shsh. I am here and you will live.’
‘I am so sorry for what I did. I was jealous.’ He turned to Chris. ‘Take care of her for me I know you love her. I can see it in your eyes..’
‘I will.’ Louis shot out a hand and gripped Chris’s wrist.
‘Promise me.’ He nodded looking confused. ‘Taylor. I. I love you.’
‘Me too Louis, my best friend.’ I held his hand as he took one last great rattling breath and let it go. His eyes were open and staring, but he had a small smile on his face. Chris gently closed them. I sat there in shock. He looked like he was sleeping only he wasn’t.
‘I’ll drive. We need to get you home.’ I crawled into the passenger seat of the car. Chris got out and walked around. I was in shock. Someone had died because they loved me. Not just someone. But my best friend. It had not hit me that Louis was dead. I kept seeing his happy smiling face before this all happened. As we had our year book photos and it was the closest friendship group and we had been chosen. He had given up his life for mine. So I could live and have children, rule over Ethelburgesa and forget about him. I felt a small twinge of guilt; Someone had done that for me.
Chris pulled up the drive for the palace. We had driven all night looking for civilisation. Once we got there we found we were in the small town of Hotzis. From there we drove straight to the palace. One of the guards walked up to the window.
‘Yes. Oh, my life. FRANK! FRANK! GET YOUR LARGE ARSE OVER HERE!’ He yelled. A large man waddled over clutching a doughnut.
‘Wot? Be’er be somefink good.’ He said something that sounded like “great ducking grass moles the princess is ducking back.’ The ran around towards my door. Chris picked me up bridal style and carried me over to the front doors. My father ran out from the library and took me out of his arms. Titus ran down the stairs and caught Chris before he collapsed.
Jane was washing my feet in the bath, pulling out the shards of glass stuck in there. The water was tinged pink from the blood.
‘What did they do to you? You are like a stick!’ I nodded. I was exhausted from all the traveling I had done on a small sandwich.
‘I was put in Hotiz.’ Jane froze with a rather jagged shard of glass in her hand. It was coated in blood and her hands were red.
‘You broke out?’ I nodded too tired to comprehend what I had done. Jane helped me stand up. I had been sat on the rim of the bath when she had been tending to me feet.
‘Okay. You are going to wear sensible shoes tomorrow. Your feet will not deal with the strain.’ I nodded again.
‘Can I just go to bed?’ She nodded and pushed me towards my room. Mary was there holding a plate of biscuits and some water. They waited in the wardrobe as I slipped into my pajamas. I flopped onto my bed and fell asleep instantly.
‘Your majesty. Come on get up. It is the big day.’ I burrowed under my pile of duvets and pillows. It was now closer to Autumn and so the nights were getting colder.
‘What big day?’ I mumbled.
‘Your Fathers coronation.’ I winced at the sunlight pouring into my room. I knew my hair was a mess and I looked awful but who gave a flying doughnut?
‘Corbinaton?’ I dozed off again and jerked awake.
‘Are you still there?’
‘I am coming in to check on your feet soon Taylor.’
‘Fine fine whatever.’ I sat up slowly relishing in my silk pajamas. I had not felt anything so soft in ages. I guess my imprisonment had been going on longer than I thought. I got out of my warm bed and walked towards where I heard voices coming from my wardrobe room.
‘Mary have you seen her feet? She is not going to be wearing those shoes for a long time to come!’
‘I know. But they are so beautiful! I mean come on. They are Prada.’ Mary had a longing voice.
‘Okay. They are beautiful and so pretty but can’t she wear these?’ I slipped through the half-open door.
‘I am with Jane.’ I muttered still half asleep. Jane threw Mary a triumphant look.
‘See.’ Phoenix burst into my room and threw her arms around me.
‘THANK THE HEAVENS! YOU ARE ALIVE!’ I almost fell over under her weight.
‘Same to you. Phoenix could you get off. I am not so strong anymore.’ She stopped hugging me and helped Jane and Mary get me ready. I wore a black dress white silver flowers on the bodice. I was given a pair of small black heels with a bow at the toe. I slipped them on and winced from the cuts on my feet. Jane handed me some pain killers.
‘These should help. Now go have breakfast.’ Phoenix and I slid down the banisters.
My father stood at the bottom wearing a fancy outfit. He hugged me as I landed painfully on my feet.
‘Today is the day you become the next in line to the throne.’ I pouted.
‘Fine. I am starving.’ I walked down to the kitchens with Phoenix. She was dressed the same way as me but with flats to make us the same height. My dress was a couple of inches shorter to make sure we did look the same.
‘Um. Hello?’ I knocked on the door of the kitchen. Everyone turned my way and dropped into a bow or a curtsy. ‘Okay. Um. Can I just have a piece of toast?’ A thin woman handed me a napkin with a piece of toast in.
‘No problem. Now get out! We are cooking the coronation feast.’ I nodded and walked out.
Dad sat in the back of a large limo with me as we drove through the streets of Balaisbois.
‘I don’t want to do this anymore. What if I renounce the throne?’ He muttered. Chris and Barney were sat in the front listening.
‘If you do Taylor gets the throne and then has to get married pronto.’ Barney said. I felt my face heat up with embarrassment.
‘Dad don’t you dare until I am at least eighteen.’ He looked slightly put out at that so I gave him a hug.
‘Fine fine. You owe me, though.’ I nodded.
‘Sure whatever. I am currently past the point of caring’ I said looking at my hands. They were thinner than normal and my arms were like sticks.
Barney got out of the car and opened it for me. I got out to the mass of cheering people. Dad had put on his large fur lined cloak which rested on his shoulders and joined on his chest but a large chunky tie made of solid gold and many jewels. Chris took my hand as we walked in. He dropped it to take his place. Phoenix and I were to walk along behind Dad when he started walking down towards the throne. We were at St. Michael's cathedral. It also happened to be the largest cathedral in Europe. I was handed a purple velvet pillow with a large solid gold crown with diamonds and jewels. Phoenix was given the Sceptre and the Orb on a matching purple pillow.
‘Hey you will wear these one day.’ I threw her a dirty look.
‘Yeah. And I will be eighteen.’ She glanced at me.
‘Really?’ I shook my head.
‘No. Unless Dad cops it.’ The traditional coronation music started and my father started walking slowly down the long long aisle to his throne. Phoenix and I followed him down. We placed out pillows on a large table and took our place. Chris was sat on the front row so I sat next to him. He gave my hand a squeeze. I was absolutely exhausted from my short trip down to the front but to me it felt like miles.
The ArchBishop droned on and on about how Anthony would be a good and wise ruler like all his family before him. I nearly fell asleep twice until it was my part. I stood up and walked over to the crown and placed it in the the archbishops hands.
‘And now by the power invested in me I crown you king.’ He placed the crown on my fathers head.
‘I promise to rule fairly and keep my promises and my country out of war. I will judge fairly and will not give into blackmail. This I promise.’
‘This we will keep you to.’ Everyone chanted back. My father rose placing the Orb and Sceptre in my hands and walked down the aisle with his crown on. The national anthem started to play as he walked. It was sang by Diana Fortuna.
‘Ethelburgesa! The land of fruit and wine! May it be ever moooorrreeee pleeennntifuull. I pray this to GOOOODDDD on high. We prrraaayyyy this for eeevvvveeeerrrrr mmmmmooooooooorrrrreeeeee.’ It sounded to me like a cat being pulled down one of the large windows of the palace but that might just be me. Chris readjusted something on my head. I looked up at him.
‘Tiara was wonky.’ Okay being a princess is not all tiaras, balls, prince’s, lords and all that crap. It is about being stronger than you are for other people, going those extra hundred miles for all those people who look up to you, doing all you can for people who know you but you don’t know. It is really hard work. I had to walk down after my father with Phoenix and the pillows.
‘This is so weird. I am on live television all over the world.’ She muttered to me.
‘Welcome to my life.’
‘Seriously?’ I nodded.
‘This is why I grew up in England. When my parents divorced it would have been all over the world. My father married a cheating woman. She would had a really hard time getting a job or be called an unfit mother because she cheated on the king and the princess. I think she just married him for all the fame and glory of being princess.’ Phoenix shrugged.
‘I could not care less. You could become a mass murderer and I would stand by you. Whatever happened.’
‘Oh. Dad is getting me a private tutor.’
‘You are still going to prom?’ I laughed.
‘Are you kidding? Sure!’
We fell silent as we walked the rest of the way. My father was stood on the steps in front of the cathedral waving graciously to everyone. One big headed reported started yelling at me.
‘TAYLOR! YOUR MAJESTY! HOW IS THE BABY?’ My father turned and took my pillow and handed it to Phoenix. He then put an arm around my shoulders.
‘There is no baby on the way. If this continues going round there will be severe repercussions. Understood?’ They all nodded but continued snapping photos of him.
There was a formal party that night for my father and his coronation.
‘I would just like to Welcome Taylor and her Bodyguard Two back from their kidnapping!’ Barney was stood on a stage with a glass of champagne and a microphone. ‘Anyway this toast is to my buddy and king Anthony and that he rein fairly and stuff.’ He was already verging on smashed and consequently fell off the stage giggling hysterically. Chris and I were sat on the sofa nearby watching everyone deteriorating from the alcohol. I laughed when a great aunt tried to sit down but missed that chair all together. Chris pointed out my father. He was chatting to Countess Vanessa Van Sairhray. She was thirty with long chestnut coloured hair.
‘End of the week.’ Chris whispered to me. I shook my head.
‘Nah. End of the month. He just met her.’
‘He is getting her a drink.’ He countered.
‘Stage one: Get chatting then if she does not have a drink get her one.’ The door burst open and a very angry Akki stood the doorway. Chris shank beneath her glare.
‘Christopher Castiel Balthazar! You SWINE! HOW DARE YOU NOT INVITE US TO THE PARTY! DID YOUR GOOD FOR NOTHING MOTHER NOT TEACH YOU MANNERS. NO WAIT. SHE WAS DEAD BEFORE YOU COULD EVEN SPEAK!’ Chris paled. She stomped over to us and pushed me aside and pulled him up. ‘I am disgusted.’ She whispered. Everyone had stopped partying and was staring at us. She raised her hand as if to slap him. Once her hand was in motion I could see it was not going to stop. I watched horrified as she slapped him leaving a large red mark on his face. There was a sharp intake of breath as the sound of skin hitting skin echoed around the completely silent hall.
‘Stop looking. I am disciplining my child.’ When she went to slap him again I pushed Chris out of the way so she slapped me. I felt the sharpness of her rings scrap against my skin. The pain spread out along my cheek but I ignored it.
‘Hit him again and I will make you regret it.’ Akki stared at me like I was stupid.
‘Oh yeah. What are you going to do about it little girl? Think you are better than me? I am Lady Baenziger? Answer me child.’ She made to slap me again but my father walked in from the next room.
‘If you lay a hand on my daughter I will make you pay. Now Miss. Please leave.’ Akki stormed out leaving a ringing silence in her wake. Vanessa hurried over to us checking over where we had been hit.
‘Ice. You are going to need ice. Anyone got any ice?’ My father grabbed two bottles of champagne which had been resting in ice.
‘Will this do?’ My father asked gingerly holding the sopping wet bottles. She nodded and handed on to me and another to Chris.
‘Keep these here until they go warm. Okay?’ I nodded and sat down on the sofa again.
‘Thank you.’ Chris whispered.
‘Why though?’ I turned to look at him.
‘How could I let the guy I love get hurt by a chienne?’ Chris took my hand.
‘I know but I should have stopped her.’ It took a moment for what I said to sink in. ‘What?’
‘I said how could I let the guy I love be beaten up in front of me?’ He threw me a cheeky look.
‘I would kiss you for that but there are reporters staring at us right now.’
‘I am so tempted to say screw the reporters and kiss you but my father would throw a hissy fit.’ Chris laughed.
‘I guess so.’ We sat in companionable silence until my father walked over.
‘Taylor how is your face? Do you need more champagne bottles? Hang on.’ He walked off and came back with Vanessa. ‘Vanessa is a doctor. Would you mind?’ She shook her head. I took away my bottle which had warmed off.
‘I’ll get new ones.’ He took of the bottles and returned with new ones. She kneeled down in front of Chris.
‘So what is your name?’
‘Right. Do you have any middle names?’
‘Castiel Balthazar.’ She got out a torch and shone it into his eyes.
‘Any members of your family here?’
‘Yeah. My dad.’
‘Okay. Thank you. Taylor you next.’ She went through the same process with me checking I was alright before going back to my father. I leaned my head against Chris’s shoulder.
‘I am exhausted.’
‘Same. I think I might just go to sleep. The press can go screw themselves.’ I felt my eyes grow heavy and myself fall asleep. There were flashes of the camera bulbs but I did not give two shakes of a rats arse. I had escaped from a high security prison and I wanted to sleep.
‘Taylor. Come on get up.’ I rubbed my eyes and sat Chris was being woken up as well by Vanessa.
‘We are going home. Come on.’ I got up still clutching the now warm bottle. Vanessa took it out of my hands.
‘Best not let you be seen with that.’ She took Chris’s as well. My father offered me his hand as I got up.
‘Thanks.’ I walked out to the car from the town hall. There were still floods of people outside of Hall.
‘Smile and wave don’t look slightly drunk.’ I gave a small wave my grandmother taught me at Easter.
I collapsed into bed that night and slept through until my father bounced in.
‘Taylor my wonderful daughter. Today you are going to meet your tutor and Phoenix is flying back to England.’ I got out of bed as Jane brought in breakfast.
‘Corey, Finn, Phoenix and your boyfriend are going to be joining you for breakfast. In ten.’ She winked at me as I was dragged away by Mary.
‘Jeans and a t-shirt.’ She was holding up different things in front of me.
‘Yeah. I just want to eat.’ She shoved the clothes at me. ‘What. No shoes?’ Mary looked at me like I was stupid.
‘Yeah? You are not going anywhere.’ I shrugged and pulled on the clothes. I heard moving around in the living room section of my rooms. I walked in to see Corey.
‘Don’t talk loudly.’ He whispered clutching his head. Phoenix was sat on one of the light blue sofas next to Finn. There was a coffee table between them with stacks of food.
‘He had one too many yesterday.’ Phoenix said loudly. Corey winced.
‘Has Chris come in?’ I asked. Phoenix nodded her mouth full of food.
‘Yeah. I think he went that way.’ She pointed to my bedroom. ‘Don’t tell him I said that.’ I nodded and went to find him.
‘Chris?’ No reply. My bathroom door was locked shut. There was this green light beside it to show when it was in use. I walked back to breakfast. Finn was looking around excited.
‘So this room is yours?’ I nodded.
‘One of four dedicated to her majesty the princess.’ Phoenix said. I rolled my eyes.
‘I am hungry and Chris is using the bathroom.’ The kitchens had outdone themselves this time. Freshly baked pain au chocolates and chocolate twists. Corey sat down beside me and put an arm behind me.
‘So Taylor. Any love interests?’ I gave him a dazzling smile.
‘Yeah. Sorry. I have a boyfriend and I am betrothed as well.’
‘Is that not medieval?’
‘I know but it is tradition. And we both agreed to sign it.’ Chris walked into the room. His face clouded over when he saw Corey. I walked over to him and let him slip his hand into mine.
‘What was he doing?’ He muttered.
‘I have no clue. How are you feeling?’
‘Hey! I should be asking that!’
‘No actually you should not be even speaking to me.’
‘Why?’ Piped up Finn.
‘Yeah Taylor why should I not be talking to you?’
‘Because you are my bodyguard.’
‘Barney and Anthony talk.’ Chris pointed out.
‘That’s because it is Barney and my father. Do you really want me to go there?’ I asked. He shook his head.
‘Good. Anyway. Good morning.’
‘Good morning.’ We sat down to what was left of the breakfast and ate.
‘Taylor can you still fire a gun?’ Corey glanced from me to Chris.
‘I guess so. I have not seen a gun in ages.’
‘Awesome. Let’s get you to the new range somewhere in the palace your father set up.’ I jumped off the sofa missing Mary’s angry look.
‘What did your grandmother say about jumping?’ I turned around scrunching up my face.
‘Don’t do it?’
‘Precisely. And what did you do?’
‘Jump. Anyway. Lets go.’ I grabbed Chris's hand and we ran out of the room. Phoenix, Corey and Finn followed.
‘LEFT!’ Chris shouted.
‘NO RIGHT!’ I ran one way and he ran the other. Phoenix waited in the middle of the corridor as Chris ran back towards the right with Finn and Corey hot on his heels.
They found me sat on the floor of the training room holding a gun.
‘Took your sweet time.’ Chris stuck out his tongue.
‘Now let’s see how bad you have become. Fire the gun.’ I lifted the gun and placed my finger on the trigger. I fired. The bullet was right on the edge of the target.