Vincent was walking beside Hayes in the halls. He was explaining that he wanted to eliminate several girls to get to his Elite, he was planning to eliminate at least 5 girls. Hayes frowned, he didn't think his brother should be moving so quickly, after all, the Selection had only been going on for about 3 months. If Hayes had a Selection he would make it last a while to truly get to know everyone.
"Little brother, one day you'll understand. Sometimes time works against a person, and it's your job to take advantage of the time you do have." Vincent mused, winking.
"Are you going to tell the girls one at a time?" Hayes had asked, he was sure his brother would rather let them down easily.
"Because as a group they'll feel less awkward, they can't do anything to change my mind, if you know what I mean." Vincent replied, a mischievous smirk playing at his features.
Hayes grimaced, he had an idea of what he meant, he just didn't want to imagine his brother getting any….bribes….from the girls to let them stay longer or change his mind. Hayes was much more of a romantic than his brother- who seemed to enjoy the cruder aspects of love.
Vincent sighed, "Anyways, I've got work to do, I'll probably eliminate them tomorrow."
"Who- who are you eliminating?" Hayes asked, he'd be lying if he said he didn't want a few of the girls here for a little bit because they were friendly enough.
Vincent chuckled, "That's not for you to worry about, go study a public speaking book or something."
The door shut as Vincent disappeared in his office and Hayes turned around dejected. His brother always did this, left him in the dark. It was so annoying, how was he supposed to be on Vincent's team of advisors when he wouldn't even tell him small things like this?
Hayes turned the corner and almost ran into a Selected, "Oh! Hayes." Her voice was scolding but she shook her head gently and walked on.
"Hayes! Pay attention!" His father's voice dragged Hayes from his memories.
He didn't quite remember where they were, but they were in a governor's meeting. 35 governors sat before him and his father as they discussed issues of the provinces. They were also no doubt curious to see what would now be done about the Selection. They'd announced the prince's death publicly, but hadn't yet said how he died. They didn't want to cause a panic.
"What?" Hayes asked, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Sorry."
"Your Highness, we were asking about the girls of the Selection. Surely they're heartbroken? What are they to do if you continue the Selection?" The Midston governor spoke carefully. He was quite the skilled speaker usually, and was very charming and ambitious. Hayes admired him, honestly.
But it didn't escape Hayes that the governor's daughter was still in the Selection. Hayes couldn't tell if he was eager to have his daughter in the Selection or not, perhaps he had bigger plans for her political career.
"Well, let me tell you I don't plan on falling in love with any of these girls."
"Hayes-" His father warned.
"But we shall see if there is a queen by the end of this."
The room was silent, glances were exchanged. "Perhaps-" the Likely governor- "an agreement can be reached?"
Hayes narrowed his eyes, but he was curious, always curious, "What sort of agreement?"
"Well," the Likely governor continued, looking to the other governors. No doubt they were curious as well. "Say you choose one of the remaining province girls as the future queen, perhaps a bit more funds could be collected every tax season, or other ways to help could be arranged."
Hayes blinked, "Are- are you suggesting embezzlement?"
The Likely governor paled, glancing to the king, "Merely a favor in return for selecting a girl from one of our provinces?"
"Hayes-" His father spoke again, but Hayes held up a hand, and surprisingly his father fell silent again.
"And what about those of us without a girl in the competition?" Another governor demanded, frowning. "We have no say in the matter, nothing to offer!"
"What if you also sponsor a girl of your choosing?"
"What if you cast favors for a new Selection?"
The recommendations kept coming, and Hayes looked to his father. He wasn't sure what to do with these ideas, they were not exactly legal, or morally correct, but the royal family could always use more support.
His father cleared his throat, "Governors, please, let's get back to the matter at hand. My son won't be trying to change any hearts here, but he still has a duty he may complete, the women won't be going home quite yet."
The governors mumbled amongst themselves, but turned to the new Crown Prince. "We'll all be in touch, Your Highness, until then, this meeting seems to be done."
Hayes nodded as they stood and bowed. They left the room and Hayes slumped back into his seat.
"I know, I know, that stuff is illegal, but I mean, I have no idea who could be a future Queen, if any of them, and not to mention we still have a killer among us." Hayes replied. "They have a right to be ambitious like that."
His father sighed, "Hayes, it's not just ambition, it's about control. They want you to get used to depending on them for little things so they hold it over you for bigger things. They don't care about who becomes queen."
Hayes hummed, he still had plenty to learn about being Crown Prince, but at the same time, he couldn't help but think that Vincent would've taken those deals in a heartbeat.
Hayes walked back to his study, closing the door behind him, the click somehow comforting him. He looked at his desk, sighing. He knew he needed to look through some more evidence, look through his suspect's forms.
At the start of his investigation he'd had 15 suspects left. But the other day he'd been able to clear someone who was with several different maids all night the night of the murder. The rest of her alibi checked out, and she had no motive. She'd chosen to leave, and so he was down to 14 girls now.
He opened his desk drawer and pulled out the files. He opened the first one and looked down at Lia Forbes. The florist from Waverly. She was nice enough during the Selection, but now that the Selection was over with Vincent, she seemed to be trying to get closer to him.
In fact, several girls have already turned their sights onto him, and it was quite difficult to distinguish who was finally free to do so, or who wants the crown…..
He shook his head, he shouldn't even be thinking in Selection terms. He should be analyzing the clues. Lia had never been super close to Vincent, always distancing herself, polite around him. He didn't see an obvious reason for her to be the killer, but it doesn't mean he wouldn't look deeper.
The next file Penelope Salazar. Ah yes, the governor's daughter. She was ambitious like her father, he could see it, but was she capable of murder? And if she was hungry for the throne why would she kill the Crown Prince? Unless she knew she didn't stand a chance with Vince...It was certainly possible, he made a note to look further into her ambitions and goals.
The next file, El Hargrove, a quiet girl, well, from what he'd seen. Nothing about her screamed "suspect" but Hayes had seen enough true crime shows to know the quiet ones were sometimes the most dangerous. Her fiery red hair was hard to miss though. He made a note to check for female hairs in the office his brother was killed, or on his brother's old clothes.
Alecto Contessina Marchesi. Hayes smirked, but quickly shook it away. She was a suspect just like anyone else, no matter how entertaining she was. She was mischievous, and although Hayes had caught her stealing a thing or two, he hadn't reported her.
Why not? He wasn't sure. He supposed stealing small things of little value from the palace was like stealing a rock from the forest. It didn't irk him, but it unfortunately did mean she had a habit for crime, and murder was certainly a crime. He wrote down her habit, and to check into her past. Perhaps another background check was in order…
The next girl, Vanessa Servonas, was definitely an interesting case. Hayes wasn't sure if his family had ever been aware of it, but he'd heard her say some rather questionable things about the stance of the royal family. She was rather revolutionary, and while that would normally be good, when it came to the destruction of his family Hayes wasn't particularly excited by the idea. He made a big star next to her name. Even with no small motives her main ideas were a rather large motive, and it painted her as suspect number 1 so far.
Lucy Valentine. Closed off, short and rude with almost everyone he'd seen her interact with. Something told him she could be quick to anger. He made a note to look into her reasons for being so closed off, and feisty with others. Maybe it was something from her past, but then why come somewhere filled with people around you constantly? It was curious for sure.
Merri Deerfield, the queen bee if there ever was one. She was not only a perfect 10, but she was quick witted and charming. If someone could talk their way out of something it would be her. He'd seen her in action around Vincent. She was power hungry, and the Crown Prince was the first prize reward. He'd have to be careful since that was now him.
Elle Aragon. If you asked Hayes she'd been weirdly close to him lately. It was like she was trying to be around him as often as she could, and although she talked like they were old friends he wasn't nearly comfortable with her. He didn't think she would have a motive for murder but perhaps this fascination with him was a clue... he wrote it down, and moved on.
"Liza Sullivan", he opened her form, she was quite close to Vanessa. He wondered if she shared similar anti-monarchy values. He wrote down another note, studying her photo. Her dark skin a stark contrast to her light eyes. They appeared almost grey, though he was sure they were most likely blue. He blinked and shut the form, he would have to find out their appearances if he were to try to get witnesses to identify people.
What witnesses? There was no one there, face it, they planned this well.
Hayes frowned as he opened the next form. Perhaps this wasn't a crime of passion. Maybe it was deeper than that, maybe this girl had been planning this for weeks. He looked to Lalia Jaziri.
He knew this girl, he'd become friends with her over the course of the Selection. He'd like to think she couldn't murder someone. She was quite sweet. She was also the public's favorite, and as far as Hayes could tell, one of Vincent's favorites. She was on track to become queen. He made a note to check on how she was doing, surely this hit her hard.
Only 3 more forms left, Rome Archer. Someone close to Beck, she was a computer geek just like his brother. She didn't exactly strike him as someone who would attack someone, at least not provoked. He didn't consider her a top suspect, but things could always change. He'd have to have Beck keep an eye on her, ask her questions.
There was a knock on the door, "Come in."
Perfect. It was Beck.
"Hey so I-"
"Beck, I need you to keep an eye on your friend Rome for me. I don't believe she's got a very strong motive, but I still need you to keep her under radar."
"Uhhh, sure, anyway so I heard that supposedly Miss Valentine may not actually have a charming past."
"What do you mean?" Hayes asked, tilting his head, and opening her file again. He read through it, finding no mention of trauma, or ill actions to anyone or against her.
"Let's just say a tip came in about a certain potential father of hers, and well, it might be worth looking into." Beck handed him a note. "But uh, I wouldn't confront her about it, she's awfully defensive about her past."
Hayes hummed, opening the note. His eyes widened and he looked up at Beck. "Are you serious?"
Beck nodded, "I know, right?"
Hayes sighed, running a hand through his hair. "Okay then, I'll look into it, thanks Beck."
"Of course, and Hayes, remember to eat something, I didn't see you at breakfast." Beck grimaced, patting his own stomach.
In response Hayes's stomach gurgled, and he shook his head, a small smile on his face. Figured he'd forgotten something.
Hello everyone! Okay so we have a little flashback, and a bit about Hayes being crown prince now. And of course some speculation about motives hehe. We've met the first 11 suspects, well, kind of. Through their forms haha. I'm still waiting on two forms, so please get those into me ASAP! Thanks!
Hope you enjoyed the chapter!