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Chapter 1

I came back from the library on the fifth floor of the Palace, reading a book and carrying three others in my arms, all that while walking in the highest heels I owned. I wasn't looking where I was going, of course, and had already walked down one floor; only one more to go. The story I had started to read was already intriguing enough for me not to watch my steps.

As I was in the middle of the stairs between floors four and three, one of my heels caught on something and broke, making me fall all the way down to floor three.

"Shit!" was the only word I could think of saying. I heard someone chuckle in the hall and I lifted my head to see who was actually laughing at me: a guard posted near my door. That was odd.

"Do you think this is funny, Officer?" I asked him, sounding more offended than I really was – 'cause truth be told, I wanted to laugh at the ridiculous situation, if it wasn't for the pain in my left foot.

He cleared his voice and straightened his posture. "No, Your Highness. I beg your pardon."

"It's alright. I guess it's not everyday you hear a Princess swear." I sighed and stood up, but fell right back down on the last step. The Officer came running to me.

"Are you hurt, Your Highness?" he asked me, genuinely concerned.

I frowned, not sure if I was really hurt of is it was just my imagination. "Yes, I think so." I grabbed my books scattered around me, and he gave me the one that I couldn't reach, that had fallen far from where I was.

"Here. Let me help you to the Hospital Wing," he said, scooping me in his arms bridal-style. I looked closely at his face, but his sea green eyes were unfamiliar.

"Are you new here, Officer, uhm..."

"Creed. Officer Anton Creed. And yes, I'm knew here. I arrived a couple days ago and have been assigned to be posted near your door."

"Oh. That's new. No one ever was posted near my door." I frowned. "Is this one of the King's new obsession?"

He chuckled. "The King is very protective of his daughter, Your Highness. And with the terrible unrest in the country, he wants you to be protected."

I sighed and rolled my eyes. "Of course."

"Well, here we are, Your Highness," he said as he pushed open the door of the Hospital with his knee, carefully laying me down on the first bed available. The docter came running in.

"What happened?" he gently asked me.

I showed him my books and my broken heel I had in one hand. "I fell down the stairs, Doctor, and when I wanted to stand up, I fell back down."

"Hmm. Let me check your ankles," he said while gently slipping off my shoes. But it was obvious which one was damaged: the left one, the one where my heel broke, was swollen twice as big as the other. "Well, it's not broken, just badly twisted, Your Highness. You'll be able to walk correctly in three or four days. Until then, I'm going to have you wear a splint. You'll also have to put some ice on it, three times a day." He put an ice pack on my ankle, and told me I could read until he came back to put the splint.

Officer Creed was still here, standing near the door, not moving a finger.

"Officer Creed?" I called to him.

"Yes, Your Highness?" he turned to face me, but stayed where he was.

"Thank you for helping me. You can go back to your post, I'll be fine. I don't know how long I'll be staying here."

"Pardon me for saying so, Your Highness, but I'd like to stay here until you are ready to leave. You won't be able to walk, and I'll gladly help you." His sea green eyes held so much kindness, I couldn't say no. I nodded and went back to my book. But I couldn't really focus on the words, I had to read some paragraphs two or three times before I registered what I had read. I sighed and close the book, because it was no use. I kept being distracted by the Officer's presence. I was not used to having someone with me all the time.

I looked outside the window and knew I was going to be late for lunch. Oh, well.

I was the Crown Princess of Illéa, and the most perfect Princess these Palace walls had ever seen. I was my Father's pride and joy, and his only daughter. He had three other sons, though, all younger than me, but I was his precious diamond, his pearl. At least that's what he told me two or three times every week. I was flawless in his eyes. And on the outside he wasn't wrong. With long, thick and wavy chestnut hair always perfectly styled by my maid Judy, chocolate brown eyes with streaks of gold in them and an impeccable natural make up every day, I was quite the sight, and I knew it. The only thing Father was frustrated about me was that I was too short in his eyes to be a truly graceful Princess. That's why he made me wear those extra high heels at all times.

But on the inside, I was screaming. I wanted to be a normal girl with a normal life, a girl who could wear pants and sneakers, and date the boys I wanted. And swear all I could. But no. Father ruled the country with a firm but gentle hand, and his family the old-fashion way. Women wore dresses and heels, and that was the end of it. No use arguing, he usually had the last word on this. And I wasn't allowed to date any man until my Selection. I dreaded the mere idea of having thirty-five strangers to date at the same time, and publicly as it was. But Father was impartial on the matter and would lecture me for hours if I even looked at a man a little bit too long than necessary or talked with one of other things than the weather.

I felt like an oddity in a golden cage. All I was good only in being pretty and saying yes to whatever he said, and please and thank you. Ugh. I had to hold the storm in me at bay so I wouldn't explode. But sometimes it got out a little bit. Like when I fell down an swore. If Father had heard me, I knew I would have been grounded for a month: no books, no riding Stella – my beautiful white mare – and no coming out of my room except for meals. I was so tired of it all. I was seventeen years old, and not a baby anymore, for goodness' sake!

I snapped back to reality when Doctor Whelit took the ice pack off and secured the splint on my less swollen ankle. "You're good to go, Your Highness," he said with his kind smile that went all the way to his eyes, creating tiny smile wrinkles around them.

"Thank you." I sat on the edge of the bed and Officer Creed gave me his arm so I could walk with his help. "I'll go to my room, Officer."

"Very well." He guided me to my room, measuring his steps with mine. He had my books in his free arm and I held my broken shoes in mine. It took us twice as long to walk back to my room than it would have taken if I could walk normally; then I called for Judy when I was safely inside. I thanked Officer Creed, and he went back to his post near my door.

Judy came in a few minutes later. "Oh, My Lady! What happened?" she asked, concern spreading all over her face.

"Don't worry, it's not a big deal. I just twisted my ankle when my heel broke in the stairs." I shrugged it off and smoothed the skirt of my dress.

A small smile appeared on her pink lips. "You were reading again, weren't you?" she playfully admonished with her index finger.

"Yes." I held my head high and took the whole responsibility.

She chuckled. "Well, at least you got that handsome Officer to help you." She winked at me and whispered, "Did you see his eyes, My Lady?" I rolled my eyes and she giggled. Leave it to her to see every single handsome man in the Palace. If you let her, she could gush for hours about every single male in the Palace. I don't know what would happen when thirty-five boys would be filling the Palace. I'd have to gag her. No but seriously, it was funny. At least I could talk about boys with her.

"Judy, can you have my lunch brought to my room, please?"

"Yes, My Lady." I nodded my thanks and sat at the table, waiting, and gazing outside. Funny how Judy had put her finger exactly on what had made me look at Officer Creed: his sea green eyes. I have always been attracted by green eyes, and his were a color I hadn't seen much. I was lost in thought, those green eyes engraved in my mind, when Judy came back with a tray. I ate absentmindedly, reading my book that had made me fall.

At least I wouldn't be wearing any heels while my ankle healed. Hmm. Maybe I'd tell Father I needed to wear the splint for a week instead of a few days. Then I wouldn't have to wear those toe wrenching shoes. As much as I loved them in a picture, I kind of hated them on me. It made me do tiny steps and sway my hips in a much too sexy way for my taste. But whatever. Life as a Princess was not the easiest there was.

Male SYOC: 20 boys needed, Please!

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