Pulling Her HEARTSTRINGS Episode 37
A story written by HAPPY
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It’s spread around already. Actually, it had about two months ago when the Primrose Royal Baking contest was announced. The princess’s tenth birthday was coming up in a bit, and even though there were invited guests the whole public was going to turn up. Every one loved the little princess but they loved a chance to prowl about the palace walls more.
Jessica and I were in her room, and I frowned as I watched her look over and fling clothes away. She was muttering angrily.
“Don’t even know… no dress…no dress that’ll make me stand out. I need to stand out, I must!”
Tutting and shaking my head, I wondered exactly what about my twin had changed. Sure she was a bit mean before, thanks to her arrogance about being most sought after teen model, but not this bad. Not this ambitious and obsessed over a guy that wasn’t hers from the start.
“Jess really, it’s princess Diana’s birthday not yours you know.”
“I don’t care. Oscar’s a prince. Who knew he was a fucking Prince!” I was there Aud , so close. We were dating and I was going to be the only woman. If not for that stupid baking competition Oscar would still be mine! It all started when he gave her that stupid congratulatory kiss in the studio.”
“Uh-huh. You should have known then that he wasn’t for you. Oscar is— sorry was — a player. Hitting on one particular girl should’ve told you that there’s more to it than just having a fling.”
Jessica angrily dumped a chiffon glittery jade skirt and glared at me.
“I’d think you were on my side. Were sisters Audrey.”
I sighed. “There’s no sides Jess, but —”
“Oh shut the hell up. Just cos you’ve gotten Victor already you think you’re better. Just — just get the hell out of my room.”
“Jess please, let’s keep this animosity aside. There are better guys out there and —”
“Out Audrey, before I do something regrettable for you!”
With one last look at her, I left.
Damn, I’ve been the worst sister on earth. Somehow I feel that if I had not been such a submissive doll, if I’d stood up to Jessica all those times, perhaps she’d have been better. But Tiffany and the girls…. worse influence ever.
Now there’s this bad feeling I have that Jessica’s up to something real bad towards Umbria. She’s hardly at home, neither is she with the girls.
I prayed it wasn’t something she’d regret.
“Audrey, Jessica, you girls gotta hurry. Your dad’s going to be a bit Early for a brief meeting with the king. If you’re going with him…”
“No mom, I’ll be going alone.” Jessica said.
“Audrey…” mom asked.
“Uh…I’ll go with Victor.”
“Okay honeys, I did the birthday gifts wrappings on the dainty table. You can shop for more if you wish.”
“Kay mom, bye,” I said and leaned over the railings upstairs to wave at her and dad.
She wore a gold evening gown whose hem spilled around her feet in an elegant flare, and her hair was coifed up in a chignon while dad wore a dress suit with a gold tie to match mom’s. Aww…mom had a sixth sense when it comes to fashion. Probably where Jessica got it from. But her pride and character’s definitely from dad, while I inherited my mom’s quietness.
“Stunning couple…. winners of the 2017 Mandie Rose’s couple goals gala…” I sang and they laughed.
“Teases Darling. Get dressed already,” said dad in his echoey voice.
I dashed to my room.
Out of necessity I picked up my phone and texted Umbria:
AUD: Hope you’ll be careful. Dunno, but I’ve got this nagging feeling that my sister’s up to something.
A wave of guilt washed over me and I felt bad. I’m like a traitor on both ends. Betraying my sister by not looking out for her. And betraying my friend by not knowing of whatever sinister plans Jessica has against her.
Feel like a wuss.
But Victor’s text came it; a pretty lone message. Grinning and forgetting every other worries, I bounce onto my bed and read it.
“Owh, my back,” I grunted as I bent backwards to get rid of the crick in my back from bending over a table to add finishing touches on the cake for a long time.
“Sorry, but it looks pretty good, magnifico!” the chef said and blew a kiss making me laugh. “I’m happy to work with you on this wonderful creation of yours. I must say ever since you won that competition with your primrose cake, I’ve been trying to whip it up on my own. No avail. I knew I should a gotten da recipe from you.”
“Oh chef Mario, thank you.”
Both of us stood back to admire this big piece of cake.
It had two layers. The lower was big, round and bowl like in shape which we’d iced green to look like the stem of the flower. There were Also two green leaves at the base, which was actually thinly and crisply baked pancakes. The second layer which was wider than the first consisted of smaller thinly baked pastries iced with lighter pink to form the petals, set around a yellow core in the shape of a rose. We’d added white and green markings with icings to mark venation, and even though I hated biology—no, hate is such a strong word, disliked biology is better— I knew a little about flowers and stuff to know their proportions.
Chef Mario, the royal baker, had suggested we included the primrose flag in the decor, but I decided against that. It’s a ten year old’s birthday, not a political meeting.
With a big smile chef Mario wheeled the cart of cake into the pantry, had it parcelled in a pink and white wrapping and closed the door.
“That’s pretty creative Umbria,” a kitchen staff said.
“Thanks,” I replied as I took off my apron and cap. They went onto a rack on the pantry door.
“where’d you learn?” another asked as she looked over the carters of food.
“I always had the knack to bake, but I learned to cook from my dad. He’s cordon bleu.”
They gasped and giggled. “Wow, you should cook for us onetime. And since you’re with prince Oscar now you’d be hanging around more often?” Daphne asked.
Their eyes were wide on me picking out every reactions.
“Hmmm?” everyone chorused at my denial.
“Well sort of. Free chicken laps?” I changed the topic.
Pammy handed me a plate of chicken and I ate it gratefully.
Denyse said, “You kinda remind us of Lady Elizabeth. We noticed the first time we saw you.”
“Exactly. Except that Milady’s blonde. But the eyes and facials…. even the posture,” Pammy added and I looked at myself.
“Yes. She loved baking too.”
“Wow, I never knew.”
“Yeah, people hardly talk about her because of a said scandal years ago. Nobody knows the exact story but…. she ran away,” Daphne whispered.
“Ooh,” I replied, already interested.
They went on to describe and talk in details about her, and I recalled that I’d seen her photos on the net too. She really is beautiful, I mused. But I see no way I resemble her.
“0kay guys, woulda loved to chat, but I gotta go prepare. Hoping the scent of cinnamon and vanilla would wear off though.”
“Aww….it’s perfect. Prince Oscar wouldn’t wait to eat u up!” Pammy screeched.
“Idiot, they’re not getting married!” Daphne rebuked.
“Hey, hey! You two to the kitchen. You don’t gossip,” chef Mario barked, and I laughed because he reminds me of Bruce B.
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Just one gaze around the large banquet hall/ballroom had me gaping in awe and surprise and, well, shock. I’ve never been inside primrose walls. Ever. And even though Um keeps describing everything in detail every single time she’s been here, it’s still frigging new to me.
People cramped every corner of the big hall on whose ceilings were art murals and deco of primroses. Not too colourful to look kiddish and not plain to be boring. The floor was covered with a huge dark beige carpet. If Um and I were alone we’d take off our shoes and pad about barefoot.
The evening gown I wore was a gift from Edward. It was body hugging at the bodice and spread out at the floor, hiding the black pumps I wore instead of high heels. Hates that stuff. The dress was royal blue with sapphires for stones. I loved it as soon as I laid eyes on it. Also, because of the person that sent it.
In my whole life I’ve never loved Anyone like I do Edward. I’m giving our relationship my all. No matter how difficult it is.
Speaking of difficult, an elegantly dressed brunette walked towards me, champagne flute in a dainty grip with well manicured fingers tipped in salmon pink polish, mauve dress whispering as she moved.
Daughter of senator Ivanhoe Greenfield.
Fiancée of Prince Edward Oswald.
Aka, my rival.
I’ve never met her in person, and even though I got used to the press pressuring Edward and I wherever we went, I never dreamed of or imagined a confrontation with the girl whom Edward was cheating on with me. . .as the press put it.
Her eye shadowed eye roved over me and settled on my face with a faint smile that seemed to be a combination of a smirk and a blue smile.
“Margaret,” she said, and it wasn’t a question. She knew who I was.
I nodded, then changed my mind and said, “Yes.”
“You know who I am.”
“Stephanie Greenfield,” I nodded.
She raised a perfectly plucked and drawn eyebrow. “That’s all you know?”
I shrugged. Won’t give her the satisfaction of making me feel like the third wheel here.
Letting out a small chuckle, she moved, ”Edward and I are engaged.”
Her eyes widened at my offhand plain reaction.
Guess in more ways than one Umbria and I are similar: we both don’t give a damn.
Just as she wanted to say something somebody asked, “Is anything wrong?”
Even before his arms snaked around my waist to pull me closer I knew it was Edward. I took two seconds to lean into him before straightening.
“Nothing Edward,” Stephanie gave a nod of greeting in his direction, “We’re just talking. And perhaps later you and I will talk too.”.
Edward looked worried as he exchanged glances with me.
I smiled an I’ll be fine smile, and watched as he made his way back to where a group of men and the king and Oscar stood, before turning to Stephanie.
” Let’s have some air please, ” she said.
I wondered what exactly was wrong with the air in the hall, but I followed her still.
“You’re so beautiful princess,” I cooed to Diana who giggled and said thanks.
Her fairytale style pink dress and cute pink shoes made had look indeed like a cute fairy princess.
“Thanks Umbria. You’re beautiful too.”.
” Aw, thanks princess.”
My dress was just a simple powder blue , with scoop neckline housing glittering stones. Queen Fiona got it for me.
Just then the door bursted open and in bounced two kids running like flash into the room and fussing over Diana as their giggles filled the room.
“Happy birthday cousin!”
“Thanks Freddie, Tessy. Now I’m ten Freddie, I’m out of the kiddies league. You got two years to go, and I’ve got three more to equal Tessy at join the teens club!”
“Trust me Di, you don’t wanna join the club,” the girl, Tessy said boredly checking her nails. Cute kids.
“Uhm guys, that’s Umbria over there. Umbria, my cousins Freddie and Tessy.” Diana whispered something to them and they grinned. Freddie hurried to me and threw his arms around my waist.
“Hi Umbria!” he yelled making me giggle.
“Well hello there Freddie.”
“Stupid! Down boy, you do not get to make people uncomfortable with your hugs! I’m sorry about him, I’m Tessy. Short for Theresa, and his is for Frederick. Thinks he’s gonna become some great uhm….politici
“Finally!” Diana breathed out.
“And the radio’s turned off,” Freddie added, earning an eyeroll from Tessy.
I laughed. “You totally remind me of myself. I was a talker when I was little, until I decided that punching is actually better and way more cooler.”
“Really!?” they chorused.
“Yup. Story for another day. Let’s head downnn.”
As the kids and Diana being pushed by her companion headed downstairs, I trailed behind when suddenly I felt someone pull me away, when I saw it was Oscar I happily followed him to a guestroom where he slammed the door shut and proceeded to kiss me senseless with me returning every ounce of his kisses. Our hands were everywhere; his on my waist, roving and trailing and mine in his hair, his neck, jaw, back anywhere I could get on. He trailed kisses allover my face and neck, stopping to linger a little at the hollow spot that led to my chest. My breaths came in heaves and my heart thundered heavily as his caresses and touches just… well, made me shudder all over. Shudder in delight pleasure and love.
“God, I missed you,” he whispered behind my ear and took the tip in between his lips.
“I missed you too,” I breathed out, still holding onto a lock of his hair with my eyes closed.
He lingered at my ear, then the soft kiss behind my ear, and the line to my lips.
“I love you,” he said, and before I could reply he took my lips in his, teasing and stroking my tongue as I cupped his head to deepen the kiss.
And we’d only been apart for a few hours!
Minutes later when we felt satiated enough to let go of each other’s clothes, his hair was completely and sexily roughed, and the front of his pristine suit and jacket was twisted. My dress on the other hand lost most of its sapphires, and a chiffon hand was loosened. My carefully packed buns was loosened and a few strands fell out of place. Sexily so if I might add.
We looked in the dressing mirror and grinned. Two rosebuds appeared on my cheeks and he kissed them.
“Have I ever told you how beautiful you are?” he asked.
“Discretely yes, directly no.”
He let out a husky laugh.
“You’re so damned beautiful I keep wondering where those angels got that one unique ingredients that makes you… you.”
“The Prince of Flattery….” I singsong.
“Only for you love,” he kissed me again, and this time I couldn’t stop the moan that escaped from deep my chest.
“If we don’t stop we’ll miss the whole party,” I managed.
“Yeah, well screw the par— oh. It’s Diana’s birthday,” he muttered as if he forgot making me giggle.
“And we’re a mess,” I pointed out.
“” Uh..let’s fix that… ” he picked a few of my pins from the floor and helped to rearrange my hair, and my sleeve while I straightened his lapels and hair.
“Presentable,” he said.
”And may I ask where exactly you got experience with making women’s hair and dress?”
“Here and there, originally they were a kind of watch and learn thing but it became a necessity —”
“Because you had girls to undress,” I spat out angrily.
“Not — ohhh, Brya darling’s jea-jea-jea-jea
“The hell I am. I’m not even your girlfriend why would I be?
“Had practice through Diana for one, and secondly why don’t we see about the relationship issue….”
I was blushing at assuming that he’d dressed and undressed many girls in the past when he meant Diana that I didn’t see him pull out a black velvet box until he was holding out a gold chain with the Chinese symbol of Harmony.
“Wow,” I gasped. It was White in a 6 shape.
“Turn around,” he said and I did.
Delicately he clipped the necklace around my neck.
“Perfect,” he said and kissed my shoulder.
he slipped his hand into his shirt and pulled out the second half of the necklace. His was black in a 9 shape.
“Be my girlfriend Brya,” he said looking into my eyes. I Admired the way he clipped them together to form a perfect circle.
“We fit Brya, tailor made love.”
I giggled. “You have a way with words.”
“But it’s true.”
I inhaled. I had to think about this. Couldn’t just say yes, there were many things to consider. Like the fact that we were on opposite sides of the same coins, that king Oswald has high standards for his sons which I couldn’t measure up to.
Maybe Oscar saw the series of emotions playing on my face, or steam blew out of my head courtesy of my thinking cap, or he’d grown to know me so well and could sense that I’m worried or uncomfy, because he squeezed my hand.
“Won’t press you for an answer, but if you’re hesitating because of the reasons I think you Are, don’t. I intend to make you say yes.”
And he kissed me again, slowly and with passion this time.
“Better head down to the party.”
🎂 🎁 🎀
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Everyone was present at the hall, including Primrosers (primrose college students). Audrey sat with Victor, Chris and Stan were at another table with Willa and Darcy and they looked like they enjoyed their company, Tiffany stood aside with a guy from school I recognized, Caroline Juli and Karie sat at a table flirting with every guy that passed by. But no Jessica…. oh, she’s over at the bar that was set up in a corner, deep in thoughts and way concentrated on her phone. She looked up at me and her eyes narrowed angrily.
When will her hatred for me dissipate?
The party had been going on for a long while now, and it’s time for gifts giving. The birthday girl, sitting on her wheelchair received gifts and birthday wishes from almost everyone in the hall and her grin kept widening in excitement.
Finally people kept going out in numbers till they were very few left.
I spotted Maggie in the drawing room with Edward in a deep discussed and I smiled, unconsciously twirling the harmony/love necklace Oscar gave me.
“Ooh those guys are damn serious,” Audrey joined me.
“Yeah. At this point I don’t think king Oswald can stop them. It’s the engagement I’m worried about,” I replied.
“Your primrose cake was superb. My daughter loved it so much and she’s doing her birthday in August. I’d like to feature your cake,” the middle aged man said.
“Uh..” I turned to Audrey who gave me a thumbs up. “Okay,” I said.
“Great. Here’s my card, can I have yours?”
“Yeah, yeah,” I fished out Bruce B’s bakery card. “Contact to our bakery.”
“Great,” the man said again.
“Bye bye Umbria,” the shy little girl said.
“Bye…” I waved.
“How’s it feel?” Audrey asked.
“@Cool,” I replied admiring the card.
Two more people came to ask about the cake and about four exchanged cards and numbers while a dozen or so praised my cake. I felt overjoyed.
“You’re Umbria,” someone said.
“Yes, milady.” Audrey and I ducked our heads in greeting. Then Audrey looked from the lady to me as if she couldn’t believe her eyes.
”I’d like to have a word with you. ”
“Excuse me,” Audrey left.
Lady Elizabeth and me stood skill watching Ed at Maggie. I twirled my necklace uncomfortably.
“I’ve heard a lot about you,” she began. “Diana’s especially fond of you and Tessy and Freddie won’t quit talking about you since they came downstairs.”
“Uh….thank you?” I didn’t know what to say to that.
She smiled. “I couldn’t help but notice you and my nephew Oscar. You seem extremely close.”
“That all?” she raised her eyebrows as if she was disappointed.
“Not really….. still working if out,” I finally said.
She chuckled. “I knew there was more to both of you. And now Edward. Hmm, my brother would have a hard time changing these two’s minds. They’re genuinely in love. It’s good.”
I nodded. “I’m scared for her though. Maggie, she’s my friend. We grew up together. Society might not approve.” Neither would they approve Oscar and I, I reflected silently.
“I’d say let love lead and damn the consequences. Society doesn’t dictate the way we live our lives just because were royalty. A person should be free to love whomever the heart chooses.” she smiled at me. “I like you Umbria so I’ll tell you this. I was once a victim of this class- caste system. I didn’t follow my heart and I regret it every single day. You or your friend shouldn’t make the same mistake.”
Lady Elizabeth and I talked more, even after ed and Maggie left.
I liked talking to her.
Felt so easy and so right to do so.
“Oscar tells me a lot about you. Fiona does too. Oswald might be a bit hard but it’s the way my parents raised us. He doesn’t want any of his sons to make the Sam mistake he did that’s why. But don’t loose hope. Okay?”
And because it felt right she hugged me a little and I stiffly returned it.
“I’ll be in Primrose for a couple of days before I return to Rutherford. Come by for coffee tomorrow maybe we can talk proper.”
She kept staring at my eyes.
“What’s your name again,?”
She kept looking into my eyes.
“Tomorrow,” she said again and left, her beautiful gown sweeping around her legs.
“Damn Ummy, I never even noticed. You and lady Liz look so much alike. And you both coifed your hair.”
“It’s nice right? After all, Mr Taylor looks like Ethan Hunt and Rita Rogers looks like Angelina Jolie and Jessica looks like Lucy Hale and —”
“Fine, I get it,” Maggie huffed. “Let’s go home.”
“I’ll see Diana and her cousins first then tell Oscar I’m off. You’re not gonna believe the news I’ve got for Bruce B.”
“Chop chop lover gurl.”
I flipped her the bird, and she flipped me two in return.