Scarlet Dusk

Caso Fornax has been given the most important mission of her life. In a move to seize power from the oppressive Kaiser Draco Cetus and his daughter Princess Virgo, the rebel organization Scarlet Dusk sends her into the palace to pose as a maid. Caso's job is simple: find out how to get the organization around the security and into the palace to assassinate Kaiser Draco and his daughter on her wedding day. This is one of the easiest missions Caso has ever been given, but everything starts to go wrong when she starts to fall in love with someone destined to die. As the wedding day quickly approaches, Caso must choose whether she should stay loyal to Scarlet Dusk or follow her heart no matter where it takes her. *** Cover by wattpad user @daehlinovae

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4. Chapter Three

 

CH. 3

 

    I woke up early the next morning. The clock on the wall said it was still before six in the morning. I stretched, further wrinkling the sheets on the bed. All I really wanted was some fresh air when I noticed doors leading out to a balcony. I slid off the bed and threw them open, letting the early morning breeze blow through my room. The balcony was wide and curved back towards the walls with a high, iron rail. I had seen balconies on all the rooms on my way into the palace, so why didn’t Virgo have one connected to her suite? I’d have to figure it out later.

    I sat in one of the two chairs at the small cafe table for a few minutes listening to the birds. Slowly, the sun started to creep up the horizon. I would’ve stayed out longer, but I was pulled out of my thoughts by someone knocking at my door.

    “Just a minute!” I shouted, heading back inside and latching the balcony doors. Whoever it was wasn’t going to wait for me and the door creaked open. I was about to tell them off when Virgo stepped into my room.

    “Oh, it’s just you,” I said, relaxing slightly.

    “Yeah, it’s me. Do you have a moment?” She asked.

    I laughed nervously. “You’re the princess, do you even have to ask?”

    “No, but I’m not an ass,” Virgo said. “I just wanted to apologize for yesterday. My behavior was completely out of line and I’m sorry.”

    “Hey, it’s fine. Just out of curiosity though, you don’t get like that often, right?”

    “Not usually, but it’s been a stressful week. I’ll leave you alone for now.”

    Just as quickly as she had come, Virgo was gone. The whole conversation left me with a weird feeling, wondering why she came all the way down to my room just to tell me that. She could’ve easily saved it for later.

    I pushed the incident out of my mind, grabbed a clean uniform, and disappeared into the bathroom. One long shower later, I was pinning my ID badge to my white apron, ready to go to work. My hair was twirled up into a bun with the stray pieces held back by a headband. The palace maid uniform was a simple brown dress with a fitted top and a flared skirt. A white apron went over it along with plain black pumps and tights.

    I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do after that. No one had ever given me any real instructions or some kind of schedule. I was about to go find Sagitta when the phone on my desk rang. I raced across the room to answer it.

    “Hello?”

    “Come up to my room and help me get ready for breakfast,” Virgo said.

    She hung up and I put the phone back. Time to go to work. As I was leaving my room, the guy in the room next door was leaving at the same time, nearly bumping into me. We locked eyes and a shock ran through me like a spark. I could tell he felt it too. I didn't know what his was telling him, but mine told me this guy was a first class psycho.

“Pardon me, miss!” He gave me a little bow. “My name is Pyxis Tucana, Special Assistant to the Kaiser’s advisor. It would be a tragedy to run down such a gorgeous young woman, though not as such that we met.”

“Thank you?” I responded, not quite sure what to say to that.

“And what does such a beautiful girl call herself?” He pressed, trying to lean against the door frame and look sexy.

“Let's stick with Miss Fornax, okay?” I said as I tried to squeeze around him. He moving to block me, grabbing my ID card.

“Nevermind, it says it here, Lady Cassiopeia. What a perfect name for such a lovely girl.”

“Look, I'm flattered, but you're blocking the hallway and I have a place to be,” I said stiffly. Pyxis looked disappointed, but he stepped out of the way.

“My apologies. If it interests you, my room is open at any time for us to talk more,” he offered.

I slipped past him and hurried down the hall. Why were there weirdos everywhere I went? After a few minutes of searching, I managed to find the elevator. I swiped my ID card and the doors slid open. Once I made it to the fifth floor, it took me a little more time to figure out where Virgo’s room was. When I found it, I knocked.

“Come in!” Virgo called out.

I went into the room and found Virgo sitting at her vanity braiding her hair. She stuck little pins with pearls on the ends to give it some extra flare before draping the thick braid over her shoulder.

“Can you stick another pin in the back? I think it’s slipping,” She said.

I took the pin from her hand and slid it into her hair to hold everything in place.

“It looks like it should hold,” I said.

“Good.” Virgo grabbed a tube of mascara and quickly brushed it over her lashes. The rest of her makeup was already done with perfect winged liner, nude eyeshadow, and pale pink lipstick. She knew what she was doing.

“Grab the black stilettos with the pearls from my closest,” she requested.

I went into the closet to find them on one of the black shelves. The heels were long enough to be knife blades and I had no idea how Virgo was supposed to walk in them.

I took them back to her and she turned around to put them on. She looked more like a business woman than a princess with crisp black slacks and a tight white blouse with the top two buttons undone. She’d be popping out if she wasn’t careful.

Virgo stood up, towering over me in her tall shoes. She looked at the silver watch on her slim wrist.

“We’ve still got a few minutes. Breakfast is at eight sharp.”

“So is this what I’ll be doing every morning?” I asked.

“Unless I tell you to do something different. Our schedule is going to be a little weird until the wedding is over,” she said bitterly. “How are you settling in?”

“Just fine. I really like my balcony.”

She sighed. “Yeah, I liked mine too, but my father had it removed a few years ago.”

There was a short silence before I asked, “Why?”

Virgo wandered over to the photos on the mantle, tracing her fingers along the frames. She turned back to me after a moment of silence.

“I chose you because you seemed the most approachable. Professional, but not to the point you’ve got a stick up your ass. That’s what I wanted. A casual work relationship. You can’t find that with a lot of people,” she explained.

“I’m glad I could help,” I said, not sure what she was trying to say.

“I mean that I’m not going to keep any secrets. We may have just met, but you seem like someone I can trust. I can trust you right?”

“To the grave,” I lied. I might not have been planning to spill Virgo’s secrets, but I was arranging her assassination. That wasn’t the kind of thing a trustworthy person would do.

“The balcony was removed after I tried to jump off it,” she said matter-of-factly.

“Oh,” I said quietly.

Virgo laughed. “That’s enough for now. We should go.”

We left her room and went back down the hallway to the elevator. I swiped my card for us to get in and she pushed the button for the second floor. As we were descending, she reached over and straightened my apron, her hands lingering a little longer than necessary. Then she tucked a loose piece of hair behind my headband.

“Sorry, it was bothering me,” she smirked.

We got off the elevator and Virgo showed me the way to the dining room. It was elegantly decorated in shades of gold that shimmered under the chandelier. One long table took up the center of the room with fancy chairs positioned down each side. A few people were already seated on the side with the more throne like chair at the head of the table. Virgo sat to the right of it and gestured for me to take the seat next to her. I recognized the two guys sitting across from us. One of them was Pavo, the Kaiser’s main advisor, and the other was that sleazy dude I ran into in the hallway. He smiled and winked at me. I glared back and he laughed. Virgo shot him a look.

“Where's Kaiser Draco?” I asked.

“He won't be joining us today. The Kaiser has much work to attend to,” Pavo said dreamily.

Virgo snorted. “Bullshit. He never shows up to breakfast or lunch, only dinner. There's no real reason, he just doesn't feel like coming downstairs.”

“Virgo, you know your father is a very busy man. Give him some credit,” Pavo defended.

“I wouldn't give him a crumb of bread if he was starving to death,” She snapped back.

“Virgo! Enough!” Pavo warned.

Pyxis’s lips curled up into a cold grin. “That's right, princess. You shouldn't say such terrible things about the Kaiser, especially not with new help around. She might get the wrong idea.”

“Fuck. Off,” Virgo spat.

“Language!” Pavo scolded.

She sat back in her chair and rolled her eyes. When she looked at me, she pantomimed shooting herself. Pavo cleared his throat loudly and she went back to sitting normally just to please him. Virgo reached under the table and used her finger to trace out “kill me" on my thigh. I raised my eyebrows at her and shook my head. She smiled and traced “keeper,” her fingers tickling against my bare skin. I reached over and wrote, “I am.”

A waitress came in after that with a tray of freshly squeezed orange juice and poured us each a glass. She got out a pad to write down orders when Virgo said, “Don't bother, just get us the regular.”

“Yes, Your Highness,” the waitress said, and she bowed before heading back into the kitchen. I took a sip of the orange juice. It was so sweet and smooth; I had never tasted anything like it before.

A few minutes later, the waitress came back with two others all cautiously balancing trays of food. It was enough to feed an entire family for a week. How could four people eat that much food? Plates were spread down the table and we were all served heaping portions of fat sausages, scrambled eggs, stacks of waffles, and parfait cups of yogurt with fruit and granola.

“What’s on the agenda today?” Virgo asked once we were halfway through our meal.

“The Kaiser is preoccupied today, so it will be up to you to finish the preparations for Prince Eridanus’s arrival tomorrow and the party to follow the evening after. The menu, decorations, and music all need to be approved and Sagitta needs to do a final fitting for your gown,” Pavo answered.

“Is Andromeda coming?” Virgo asked hopefully.

“No, the Prince’s family can’t make it in time for the wedding,” Pavo said. “Don’t be too upset though. There’s already more than enough work that has to get done without them coming too.”

Pyxis reached across the table to put his hand on mine, smiling sweetly, “I’d be more than happy to help you with anything you need.”

I hastily pulled my hand away while Virgo glared fire at him.

“Keep your dirty hands off my bitch!” She snapped.

Pyxis raised his eyebrows suspiciously. “Oh, so she’s your ‘bitch’ now? Do you really think that’s appropriate, princess?”

Virgo threw back her chair and stood up. “Fucker, you know what I meant! Go do your job kissing my father’s ass! Caso, let’s go, we’ve got a shit ton of things to do!”

She stormed out of the dining room. I set my fork down and hurried after her before she got too far ahead and I got lost. The elevator doors were almost closed when I slipped inside. Virgo had her back to me, but I could see her shaking with anger. Suddenly there was a loud bang, and she let out a loud string of cursing. Virgo had punched the wall and was cradling her hand to her chest.

“Fuck!” she shouted, stumbling back into the corner. She sagged down the wall to the floor.

The doors slid open on the fifth floor, but I quickly pounded the button to close them. I hoped nobody would be trying to use the elevator during the next few minutes. Then I rushed over to her side.

“Princess, are you okay?” I asked.

“Does it fucking look like it?” she replied through gritted teeth. Virgo took a deep breath. “Just get me to my room, please.”

I helped her up by her elbow and hit the button to open the elevator doors. After a quick check to make sure the hallway was clear, I rushed Virgo to her room and sat her down in the armchair closest to the door.

“I didn’t realize that Pyxis guy made you so mad,” I remarked, propping her hand up on a throw pillow from the sofa.

“He doesn’t. I mean he’s obnoxious, but it’s not that. There’s just a lot going on right now with everything,” Virgo sighed.

“I know, you’re getting married. Must be exciting,” I said

“Yay me,” she grumbled.

I sat down at the desk and started going through the folder on top of all the other documents. It had pages upon pages of names that needed to be approved for the final guest list for Prince Eridanus’s welcome party.

“You don’t sound excited,” I noticed.

“Why would I be?” Virgo scoffed. “This wasn’t my idea.”

I spun the chair around. “Do you not like Eridanus?”

“No, I’ve known him him forever. We’re friends. His sister is hotter anyway.”

That comment caught me a little off guard. “His sister?”

“Yeah, Andromeda,” she sighed wistfully. “I don’t want to marry her either, but it would still be preferable to her brother. You wouldn’t know this because it was kept secret, but we dated for awhile. Unfortunately same sex marriage is illegal regardless.

“How was the Kaiser okay with that?” I asked, still a little shocked.

“He didn’t know until after we broke up,” Virgo grinned. “That’s the real reason why Eridanus’s family wasn’t invited. They want to come, but they’re scared of my father, so they won’t press the issue.”

She grimaced sharply and I rushed back to her side. Her right hand had a large swollen bump and had turned a dark shade of blueish purple.

“Damn, should I get you some ice for that?” I asked. “It could take some time; I’ll probably get lost.”

“Don’t bother, I’ll be fine,” Virgo said. “Let’s start with the guest list. Put a check next to everyone. The Prince’s suite should be fine, but if it’s not, Eridanus can handle it. The fitting isn’t until the afternoon. Everything else can be left until tomorrow.”

“Are you sure that’s a good idea?” I asked.

Virgo laughed. “Fuck it, we’ll just order up lunch and chill in here all day. I need a girl’s day. Tell Sagitta I’m sick.

I smiled. “Alright. Let’s do it.”

One hastily written note on Virgo’s personal stationary later, we were free for the day. I was ecstatic. This was the perfect time to do some snooping and get the information I needed for the mission. It was so easy. Too easy. I would have to keep my guard up for this to succeed, but there was no reason why I couldn’t have fun at the same time.

 
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