A/N: Hey, guys! Sorry it took quite long, I went on a vacation last week. Thanks for the reviews and favorites! Hope you enjoy this chapter.
6 – The Prince and the Pauper
~ Bella ~
I opened my eyes to find a Greek god staring at me.
A shirtless Greek god.
Had I died and gone to heaven?
I opened my mouth and then closed it on second thought.
Was I allowed to speak to the Greek god?
"Um," I said as I slowly got up. When I did, the world spun around me and I ended up lying back down and closing my eyes.
"Do not get up yet," the Greek god said in a tight voice. "The nurses will get you."
There were no nurses in heaven. Right?
The car came to a stop and I opened my eyes again. The Greek god bolted out of the car before I could even ask him anything.
My head was still spinning so I closed my eyes again, wondering if I could stay in this car for the night. What had happened anyway? Why was I in some stranger's car in the first place? Had I been drugged? It sure felt like it, my head would not stop spinning and it felt heavier than two tons of cement.
"Hello?" a kind voice said. "Are you awake?"
I forced my eyes to open. They widened when I saw an older version of the Greek god, clad in a suit with countless badges and medals. "Who are you? Did you drug me? Wait, didn't you just look younger a minute ago? God, I must be going crazy."
Talking hurt my head, I found out. So I closed my eyes again.
"I am Carlisle, the King of Arosia. You have been hit my by son's car," the kind voice explained. "Tell me what hurts."
"My head," I whined. I could not believe I was whining to the King of Arosia.
I bolted right up, forgetting that my head felt as heavy as the car. "What? The King of Arosia?" I stared at the kind man in front of me. He looked young and very handsome, his belly was not big at all. Didn't kings have big beer bellies?
The King nodded and smiled. "Do be careful, dear. Your wound looks quite swollen. Maybe it would be best if you lie back down."
"I—I'm fine, Your Highness," I stammered, still unbelieving. His skin was very white and he had bluish circles under his eyes like he had not slept for days. He looked like a movie star complete with costume.
The King chuckled. "I don't believe so," he countered gently. "You have a head wound, which should be making you dizzy. How bad does it hurt?"
Now that he mentioned it, I did feel quite a sting on my forehead. Instinctively, I reached up and touched it gingerly.
My wound felt sore, very sore. And wet.
I looked at my hand and felt a wave of nausea wash over me.
And then I fainted.
I did not know where I was when I woke up. Or how long I had been out. I was in a huge bed in a beautiful bedroom that looked like a princess's room. The curtains around the bed were drawn, and the Greek god was standing beside the bed.
Staring at me.
The Greek god was staring at me.
Oh. My. Gosh.
He smirked. "You walk alone in a deserted street in the middle of the night and yet the sight of blood makes you faint."
"The smell of blood makes me nauseous," I retorted, frowning. This Greek god had a lot of nerve laughing at me after hitting me with his car. "Don't laugh at me, you're the one who ran me over!"
"First, I'm not laughing," he said easily, still smirking. "And second, I did not run you over, Isabella. My driver did."
His driver? What was he, a diplomat? An aristocrat? Wasn't he too young for that? And how did he know my name?
I rolled my eyes. "Whatever."
I slowly got up, making sure I was not feeling dizzy anymore. When I was feeling pretty much steadied, I quickly stood up, making the dizzy spell come back.
"Careful now," the Greek god said gently, quickly reaching out to grab my elbow. His hand felt very cold.
I turned and saw his eyes quickly flash with concern. But it was gone just as quick, making me think I had imagined it. He stood there, looking as aloof as ever. I matched his icy stare with my stony glare.
Why in the world was he mad?
Or was he just unfriendly?
Not feeling dizzy anymore, I pulled my arm away. "Thanks for the bed," I said icily, storming out of the room.
What an arrogant bastard. What had I done to make him angry? He was the one who almost got me killed!
Well, technically, it was his driver. But still.
My mind was still reeling as I was wandering in the hallway of the Palace. It was exactly like how I imagined it to look like, very much like a fairytale castle. Were all castles like this?
Hmm, where could the Prince and Princess be? Did Arosia even have a Prince and Princess?
I thought of the much publicized royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton and I had realized, just now, that Arosia was barely in the news. Most especially its Royal Family. I did not know anything about them, I did not even know their names. And here I was, roaming their halls.
Soon enough, I found myself at the dining room. The table was long and enormous, the chairs plush and regal.
"Where has Sara gone to again?" an irritated voice floats from the room behind the double doors. "I need help with these vegetables."
"I sent her to the market to get some spices," another voice replied calmly. "Chop the vegetables yourself, Agatha. The soup is not very hard to make. You know we are short-staffed as of the moment."
Short-staffed? I needed a job – maybe I could get one here!
I walked over and slowly opened the double doors.
It was the largest kitchen I had ever been in. One woman was cooking at the stove, one woman was chopping up some vegetables and one woman looked like she was baking something. All three looked up when I entered.
"Can I help you?" the woman cooking barked. Her apron was smeared and she had a mean look.
The woman who was chopping some vegetables frowned. "If you start being nice to people, Agatha, people will not hate you so much," she told the woman cooking. Agatha frowned back at her and tended to her cooking. "Hello, Isabella. I am Mary Anne, chief of the kitchen staff." She smiled at me.
"It's Bella," I said. It was sort of an automatic reply of mine whenever someone would call me Isabella. "Wait, how do you know my name?"
Mary Anne's eyes crinkled when she smiled. "Passport, dear. You're the girl who got hit by Richard, aren't you?"
I nodded. "Did I hear you say you were short-staffed?"
Mary Anne looked surprised but she nodded. "Why, are you looking for a job? Aren't you a tourist?"
"Well, I was planning on touring Europe for an entire year before attending university. My funds are now running low so I need a temporary job," I answered her truthfully. "I'm just fresh out of high school so I don't really have any references." I looked at her hopefully. I hoped she would consider me even if I didn't have any references and certificates.
"Do you know how to cook?" Mary Anne asked, looking at me thoughtfully.
I nodded. "Sure, I cook for my Dad all the time. I can also help with the cleaning and I can run errands."
"Brilliant," Mary Anne said in a no-nonsense tone, nodding. "You will not be cooking anything anyway, only assisting the main staff. I suppose we could hire you temporarily, I have been searching for kitchen staff for over two months and I couldn't find anyone suitable. But I will have to run this by the King and Queen first."
I beamed. "Okay, sure!"
Mary Anne looked at me up and down. "In the meantime, you are supposed to be getting better. Why don't you wander around in the garden a bit while I go talk to the King and Queen? I will get you once they have approved." She gestured towards the glass door that led to the garden.
When I stepped out to the garden, I was immediately blown away. The garden was incredibly beautiful and immense. The grass was a happy shade of green and the flowers were in full bloom, sprinkling color all around. I walked over to the white gazebo and sat down on one of the white chairs. To my left, I could see a maze at a long distance. Behind it was a thick forest.
I will explore you one day, I thought, staring at the maze with excitement. That is, if the King and Queen decide to hire me.
I could hear a steady stream of water. It was very relaxing, but I couldn't see it anywhere. Where could it be? The sound seemed to come from the direction of the maze.
Pink and white flowers and vines interlaced the gazebo's crisscross walls and posts. I looked around to admire the flowers, almost feeling like a pretty princess in her garden. I jumped when I heard a throat clear.
"Are you following me around?" a familiar voice asked. I could almost see him smirking.
I turned slowly and found the Greek god standing just outside the gazebo.
I rolled my eyes so far back that I was afraid they'd stay back. "I got here first," I retorted. "You seem to be following me around."
"But I got to the garden first," he replied smoothly, smirk still in place. Was he mocking me?
I stood up, preparing to storm away when Mary Anne called my name. She was walking briskly towards the gazebo.
"Good news, Bella," she said with a smile. "The King and Queen have decided to take you in. Temporary or permanent, that will be up to you. They say you have been through such an ordeal, a job should be the least of your worries." She reached over and gave my arm a motherly squeeze.
"That is great news," I said, clasping my hands excitedly. "Thank you for asking them, Mary Anne!"
The Greek god cleared his throat again, obviously wanting some attention.
Mary Anne yelped a little. "Oh, Edward! I had not noticed you there. My apologies," she said, bowing a little. "Allow me to formally introduce the newest addition to our kitchen staff. This is Bella Swan. Bella, meet Edward – Prince of Arosia."
My eyes bulged.
The Greek god – he was a Prince? I was his servant?
He was my master?
Shoot. Me. Now.
I stared at my feet, feeling embarrassed. My cheeks felt very hot, I knew they were flaming red right now.
God, why couldn't I have been nicer?
"Pleasure to meet you, Bella."
I looked up and met his gaze.
Prince Edward smiled.
And my heart? It just about stopped beating.