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"Power is a rush. I want you to dominate me." ***** They had secrets. I was in dilemma until they came to visit our kingdom. The sons of Nithilorc made themselves of nothing, the mysterious, handsome men, desired by women in distinct realms. Evil secrets they held inside themselves and my captors were well known across realms, not only for their incalculable wealth but their cruel and malicious acts also. I wondered what they held behind their cold exteriors when I was spared by them after they massacred my whole kingdom. I should hate them, I should loathe them but I couldn't when I learned the answer when they claimed me as theirs. An eternity of suffering and pain until I discovered lies my husbands kept to themselves. Truths revealed and they craved their names in my heart.
I sat at the corner of the small place that brought immense prosperity whenever I visit here. This small garden waters several blossoming flowers, filled with affluent and sweet aromas of the last remainings of my mother, whom she loved more than anything. My eyes twinkled with bliss as flowers danced with touches of breeze.
I sighed. Why does this precious moment have to be ruined?
I gently caressed the tulips with the soft touch of my fingers as I felt the velvety texture of their petals caressing my skin.
"Hazel! There you are. I've been looking-hey! Is that dirt? What're you doing in the mud?"
"For God's sake-"
"Anyways, I don't have time to quarrel with you. Mother is calling you, she'll get more frustrated, the longer you'll make her wait..."
I looked behind me to find her standing a few feet away from me, on the stone-made path with her hands over her waist as she looked down at me with a deep frown. Her caramel skin gleamed with sun rays as her dark long hairs flow down her waist in rich waves of darkness. The light pink ankle-length dress she wore made her green eyes prominent against her heart-shaped face.
"I don't even think that is possible. She's always frustrated." I said rolling my eyes with a wide smirk. Liana always hate when I didn't listen to her. After my mother died, she was the only person left who understand me like no other. Be it out of a sisterly bond or the four-year age difference, she always provide me with love and affection I was void of since childhood.
I turned over and pushed myself up on my feet. My eyes shined as the bright sun attacked me with its warmness and rays.
"Change your clothes before going inside." Liana reminded me.
"Yes, mother dearest," I said sarcastically. I tugged and pulled down my white ankle-length dress with small blue flowers, reminding me of my mother, until it nearly gathered around my feet.
"I wonder what's it this time," I muttered as I quickly headed out of the garden. I quickened my pace though I was indisposed to get to my undesirable destination. I looked up at the large castle I called home, well not exactly home if it meant only as a shelter for me.
But not to forget how busy it was today with hundreds of men and women running around preparing for the evening's highly apprehended occasion.
The Almighty Sovereign of Nithilorc were coming.
And I heard from Liana that they were going to ally with Hora, this kingdom. And most excitement was shown by none other than Liana herself. I may or may not have heard that she had a thing for the eldest son of Nithilorc.
I grabbed the side of my dress and walked up the long window steps towards my Father's palace. Liana followed behind as she yelled at me to go slow.
"Slow down, Hazel!" I giggled before running upstairs as she heaved a heavy sigh.
"Always in hurry."
I gasped as my feet stumbled backwards but before I could fall, Dominic clasped his hand around my wrist.
"Dominic!" I grinned. "You switched your duties with chefs now," I said as I balanced myself when I noticed the tray of freshly cut fruits in his other hand.
"They're for Isabella."
"Now you're her waiter too?" I teased as I crossed my arms over my chest as he looked down at me, his assessing the length of my body as he scrunched his face.
"Your father told me to be her guard for the day. Anyways, what's with all this mid?" He said shrugging his shoulders.
"There's a difference between bodyguard and waiter, Dominic. And," I faked a smile and tilted my head. "This is not mud." Dominic rolled his eyes.
"And who's going to guard me?"
I asked curiously. No matter how much disgrace I was to this family, my father never left me unguarded, hadn't any idea why so, but other than my father's wife and her daughters, I had my fair share of respect in the kingdom.
"Don't tell me Eric is going to be my babysitter for today. I can not stand his pervertedness."
Eric wasn't that pervert actually but I always find his eyes on my chest whenever he got the chance which makes me uncomfortable.
"Is he getting out of control?"
I shook my head.
"No, just occasional stares."
Dominic mumbled something under his breath.
"Tell me if he does something funny."
"Why? It's not like you have any time for me other than to protect Isabelle?"
I was sulking I knew. But I couldn't watch my close friend leaving me to guard Isabelle, a seductive wench.
"You'll always be my priority. You know that?"
"Wish you a memorable evening, Dominic." I teased as I leaned up against him. I winked at him and rushed as I heard the annoying voice of my so-called mother.
"See ya' later! Love ya!" I waved as I ran upstairs grabbing the hem of my dress as the screaming of my name become louder and louder the closer she got.
"I'm here," I said quickly appearing in the large dressing room where she was shuffling through clothes and a few expensive-looking fabrics were scattered all around the floor. My other five sisters, Isabella, Tiana, Ruby, Irene and Soni were all gathered in the massive room. Two maids were helping two of my sisters helping with their dresses. Soni was tightening her corset and Isabella was rubbing a tinted scent all over her face.
A tall, pale skinned, with sharp blue eyes, and long braided blonde hair turned around and looked at me with her usual expression, of disgust. But then she was always like this.
"Where the hell were you?" She scowled.
I held back the urge to roll my eyes.
I looked up at her as she approached me with a disgusted look on her priceless face.
"You don't have to cover yourself with soil to look more disgraceful." She scoffed.
"Leave it, mother! It practically suits her."
Isabella snickered as others laughed with her. I rolled my eyes unamused.
No one made me miss my birth mother more than Reina. She was truly a cruel woman who seemed to have some kind of grudges against me. Well, nothing less is expected from her anyways, but there was always something about her that made me feel like her hatred for me was more than anything. I pathetically missed the days when my mother used to braid my hair and tuck me in bed before whispering lullabies in my ear, making sure no monsters under my bed could hurt me. I had lived with my mother for the majority of my childhood, only because my father was a busy man, but he still was true. And like my childhood, he barely spends any time with me. He was my father but only in name.
But after her death, I was left alone in this cruel world filled with double-faced personalities.
When my father married Reina, I thought she would treat me like her own but life's never about you, she treated me worse and worse, with each passing day and my annoyance and hatred for her had only grown with time. It was not like my father didn't love me but he never had time to ask me if I was alright. And I never questioned his silence.
He was a good man who took care of me after my mother passed. Despite how much I loved my father, I drew the line of tolerating his so-called wife, and her many, many daughters.
Isabella, Irene and Tiana were Reina's daughters from her first marriage and after her first husband died, she married my father and Ruby and Some were from my father's. And call it a blood bond, but Ruby and Soni were the only ones who showed me some love and kindness. Reina was unaccepting of my and Ruby's relationship but guess what! No one cared!
My father was the ruler of Hora, with hundreds of acres of land and villages all over the world, each in a different country, filled with expensive nothings. The money and fame he had could be easily seen. This luxurious castle was an example itself which was elegantly filled with expensive types of furniture and decorations. Isabella and Tiana weren't my father's blood-related daughters but he was closer to them. Their beauty and elegance were considered to be the most beautiful in my father's world. They had their mother's light green eyes and pale skin, with tall and lean physiques, unlike mine.
I was always a left-out one. My father preferred them over me. And as time flew I accepted the fact that love couldn't be snatched. And I found ways to keep myself happy in the little garden outside the mansion.
"She's such a disgrace to our family." Isabella scoffed.
My nostrils flared as I prepared myself to give her a reply to her comment but then my subconsciousness stopped me.
"Margaret!" Gaia said snapping her fingers.
"Help her wear something better than what she's wearing now. She'll disgrace her father if she dressed like this in the evening."
"Why is she even invited? She's not the one who's going to marry any of them." Tiana said, puckering her lips in the mirror before applying rose tint to her lips.
I rolled my eyes. It wasn't like I was going to marry any of them.
"Mind your tongue, Tiana. Don't create any nuisance till the event is over."
Reina sighed in disappointment as she helped Isabella fix her dress. I eyed the red fabric Isabelle wore, the sequins glimmered with light and the tight, body-hugging dress looked amazing at her, which suddenly made me conscious of myself.
I averted my eyes in frustration as Margaret grabbed my hand and led me a few feet away from them. I was not the eldest child but I was still elder than Tiana and Ruby, but no man ever asked for my hand in marriage. It was not like I was ever introduced to one. I was always kept hidden behind four walls of my room, only Isabella, Ruby and Tiana were considered true daughters of my father. And even though Liana was my real sister, she was also welcomed on occasions such as balls, proposals, and events.
But I was never.
Irene and Soni were still underaged.
I stared at myself in the mirror as Margaret tugged down my soil-covered dress.
I heard Tiana loud and clear as others snickered after her but I turned them off.
I was not like any of them but still, I loved myself. I was not tall but I was happy with whatever I had. But my mother dearest was against that. She would always make sure to make me feel low and unhappy.
"Get her ready, Margaret. Make sure she looks decent enough to not ruin her father's reputation." By the time Margaret fetch the dress for me, Isabelle was already ready, Tiana was fixing her tiara and Irene and Some were standing beside each other fixing their faces.
"How about this one?" Margaret asked me as she held up one of the pink-coloured dresses. It was indeed beautiful with long sheer sleeves and a deep low neck.
"Come on, girls, I need to prepare you before the evening ball," Irene said as Isabella rolled her eyes and followed Tiana and Irene.
Ruby stopped as she walked toward me and I smiled softly.
"I am sorry-"
"Stop it, Ruby! For how long will you keep apologising for her actions. It is not your fault." I said.
Ruby frowned. "I just wish...she would stop doing this."
I rolled my eyes. Ruby chuckled as she hugged me and whispered sweet nothings into my ear before following after her sisters.
Just as Irene left with her daughters, Liana peeked inside the room and believe me I was never this happy.
"Lia!" I exclaimed as I hugged her.
"Come on, sweet pea. Get ready before Mother-"
"How many times do I have to remind you, she's not our mother."
I rolled my eyes at her. Liana was such a girl who sees good in everyone and, I saw real in everyone. Despite the bad Irene does, Liana always seems to forgive her but I, I can never forgive her. She had done nothing to earn my forgiveness. I was not forgiving like my sister.
"As I said earlier, I wish not to quarrel with you over something irrelevant. What're you going to wear?"
She asked as I rummage through the whole damn closet. This was not just a closet, it was something that only royals had to assess. It contains ball gowns, sparkling dresses, beautiful pieces of jewellery, everything a girl needed. My eyes sparkled as I found what I was looking for.
I said as Liana frowned.
"What do you mean-oh! Well, you'll look beautiful in this."
I smiled as a nostalgic feeling engulfed me. Of course, I would.
My eyes landed on the very familiar face of my father as Isabella and Tiana were clinging to his either arms. They were a few feet away from me and I was able to hear everything.
"Look at my beautiful daughters." He said with pride dancing in his black eyes. "I am so proud of you girls."
"Honey," Irene smiled brightly as she embraced his torso before placing a kiss on his cheek. She pointed toward her daughters, "Aren't they beautiful? See how beautifully they've grown."
"They are your daughters, nothing less is expected from them either," he smiled as he kissed her lips. "Where are my daughters?" He asked and I nearly rolled my eyes.
Now he remembers.
"All of them are here," Irene said.
"Hazel, Liana, Irene. Where are Hazel and Liana?" He clarified.
Irene rolled her eyes. "They must be somewhere acting like a brat-"
But before she could complete it, I decided to grace them with my presence. Liana tried to grab my arm but I beat her to it and instead grab hers before she could retaliate. I side-stepped from my hidden spot and walked toward them. Isabella's eyes widened as Irene looked angrily at me. The golden dress was flowing behind me elegantly as I smiled brightly at him.
"There are my girls!" Father said excitedly as he quickly approached me.
I glanced at Irene as her jaw clenched looking disapprovingly at me.
"You look stunning, Hazel. Just like your mother." He said taking my face in his hands as he kissed my head softly.
"Thank you, Father." I smiled at him as he walked me over to another side of the room. I glanced, over my shoulder and smiled at Irene.
"Liana, my love." He said as he embraced Liana as looked down at her lovingly. Her soft curved enhanced in a silver sequinned ball gown, diamond jewellery complimenting her flawless complexion and her hairs braided at her sides. She looked mesmerising as he green eyes looked at him.
"Hazel," Father said getting my attention.
"Yes, father," I said looking at him.
"Just for tonight." He said and looked at him confused. "Tonight it's very important for me. Be considerate to your mother and sisters. Don't create any trouble." I frowned.
He sighed. "Hazel-"
"I understand, father." I quickly slipped through his arms and walked past him. I heard him sigh as I moved away from him. I looked around as I tried to calm my senses.
"Someone stole your smile?"
I jumped startled when I saw Dominic leaning against the table next to me.
"Don't sneak up on me like that." I smiled brightly.
"My apologies." He grinned. "Are you ready? They've just arrived."
What was I supposed to do? Welcome them? Well, Fuck them!
"Where's Liana?" I asked smiling, sliding my arm in his as we walked towards the stage. The bright red and golden decorations were all over along with balloons and flowers shimmering over the place.
"She's handling your mother," Dominic said as well moving towards the long table where my family was. Isabella and Tiana were surrounded by a group of men as they giggled at nasty jokes they were throwing their way. Ruby was in the corner with her mother who was introducing her to some men and my loving father was with a few men dressed in suits. And Liana was standing next to Irene. Since she was the eldest of the family, she needed to be with her.
Dominic sighed as Isabella motioned for him to come over.
"Will you join me?" He asked hopefully.
"Indeed." I smiled as well and moved toward them.
"He's my guard, Dominic." She exclaimed as several of the men laughed. What was there to laugh at anyway? I rolled my eyes as Dominic shook hands with them.
"Pleasure." He mumbled.
"Are you ready for the night?" The woman with short black hair and pouty round pink lips said.
"I hear they are handsome! And wealthy with thousands of chains of businesses with huge profits! Nithilorcs are known for their god-like appearance and passionate and savage behaviour! I can't wait!" Isabella giggled.
I rolled my eyes as Dominic stiffened suddenly. I felt his arm wrapped around my arm tightening as he looked past his shoulder. I followed his line of vision as I hear the room getting quiet as a few tall figures walked through the doors.
"Oh my god! They are here!" Tiana squealed.
I had never seen them so fizzy. And for what? A man? A rather handsome man...
I wasn't able to see much but from where I was standing I could see his dark black hair swept back in a neat hairstyle with a few strands falling on his chiselled face. I could see his back as his black shirt came into view. The tightness was telling me how much muscular he was underneath. The rumours I had heard before their arrival were not doing him justice. The way his silk black shirt clung to his muscular, toned physique had everything women and even some men in the banquet hall sweating, for different reasons.
"Why isn't he coming my way?" Isabella mumbled impatiently.
"Calm Bella..." Tiana said as she bit down her lower lip. "We've all night...."
"Why is he alone? Where are his brothers?" Isabella asked.
Ruby and I exchanged glances as we rolled our eyes. I stayed silent as I watched my father talking to this fine stranger.
"They're not his brothers-"
"Whatever! At least they live with each other."
"They are high-ranked warriors of each realm, each species."
Isabella and Tiana quickly straightened their high-fashioned gowns as they waited for their father to introduce them to their potential husband.
"This is my wife, Reina," Father said as Irene walked over to them swaying her non-existent hips.
I looked around as one of the castle guards gave an anxious look to my father.
"What is it? I'm busy." Father said bit annoyed. I looked towards Dominic who just shrugged his shoulders.
This seemed to catch my father's attention as he apologetically nodded toward the stranger and took his leave.
"Come, Lord Cassius, I'll introduce you to my daughters," Reina said smilingly.
The stranger remained silent as he eyed the women standing in front of him.
"This is my daughter, Isabella. She's an enchanted beauty and hundreds of young princes are begging for her to marry them." Reina said walking the stranger down the line and introducing him to Isabella, who politely smile up at him.
"This is Tiana, my loving daughter. She's a musician. Her voice is like butter," Reina continued, walking down the line. "My youngest has the voice of an angel."
Tiana looked at the stranger and smiled charmingly.
"And my beautiful Ruby," Reina said proudly. "She's a healer," Ruby looked nervously up at him as she smiled softly.
Reina introduced Soni and Irene and I rolled my eyes.
"This is Liana, the eldest." It was ritual to have the eldest be introduced also but like always she forget me. I held back the urge to roll my eyes and sidestepped when the tail of the dress was suddenly stretched and before I knew it, I stumbled forward. I lost my balance and when I opened my eyes, I was met with pair of leather boots. Anger engulfed me as I eyed Isabelle she smirked at me.
This bloody wench.
My hands clenched against the floor. Create any nuisance? What about her? Wasn't anyone going to blame her? Only because she possesses a beauty of a goddess and the antics of a retarded person, my father expected me to be polite when she was humiliating me in front of everyone. I heard several gasps as I sighed heavily. I pushed against the floor trying to get up when my hand slipped against the surface, I closed my eyes and anticipated the collision of my face with the floor when my upper arm was clasped in a tight hold and with a gasp, I was hoisted up. My arms flared for support as I extended them. Before I knew it, I was clutching the silk fabric. My eyes widened in reality as I looked up at the owner of the arm.
"Are you alright?"
I was staring at his chest when I heard his voice. Was he asking me? I slowly raised my head and felt all the air leave my lungs. Being this close. When did he move so close? His face looked as if it was sculpted by the gods. And he had the softest baby blue eyes I had ever seen. His chiselled jaw was covered with rough stubble and the tips of his lips had a mole in between them. The few stray strands of his dark hairs fell above his eyes, shielding his intense gaze of his.
I felt my heartbeat quicken as the stranger held my gaze. Why was he looking at me like that?
I shyly nodded before lightly pushing him, creating some distance between us. I could feel several eyes on us.
"What is your name?" He asked in such a deep voice as it nearly startled me.
"H-Haz-Hazel." I managed to get out.
"..Hazel..." He said with a bit of tenderness in his voice. His eyes slowly raked over my body in such a way that they ignited the fire in my belly.
"Oh my god! Are you alright, dear?" Irene asked quickly before blocking him from my view. I was in pure shock and utter embarrassment. When did she start caring if I was alright or not?
I frowned and nodded before dusting off my dress. Why does this evening have to be this difficult?
"She'll be fine. Come, I'll show you the table." She mumbled eyeing me up and down and scowled before grabbing his arm. I scowled looking at her retreating back.
What a pretender.
The dinner had just begun, Irene sat next to their father who was sitting next to Cassius, the handsome guest of my father who seemed to look quite intimidating sitting next to Irene. The long and full table was covered with all kinds of dishes and desserts, the only thing that kept me here. Irene was sitting on other side while her daughter was on the opposite. I was sitting at the far end of the table and it surprised me when I caught Liana giggling at something Cassius said.
Isabella had gotten quite comfortable with him as her hands brushed against his now and then. She batted her eyelashes and flipped her long blonde hairs as a soft chuckle escaped her lips to every little word he uttered.
The man hardly spoke. What was she even laughing at?
I stabbed a piece of salad with my fork and shoved it in my mouth, praying this night to be over soon. We were all having light conversations except me, my eyes were roaming all around looking or Dominic but I could barely
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