Chapter one

Sophie

I glanced out my window, and watched as the rain slowly trailed down the transparent glass. The transparent glass showed everything: the bright, colorful garden. The trees, with wind rustling through their leaves; claiming them as theirs. It showed the grass, the fountain, the archway and dark, cloudy sky. That stretched to a point that no one could ever see. No matter how hard they could've tried.

I sighed, a deep lung-filling sigh; before smoothing the wrinkles in my shirt. It's only morning. I have a whole day to get through. A day terrifying to absolutely anyone who has to go through with it the way I do.

"Sophie?" I heard from the doorway. I looked up, only to see our maid; Natasha, our maid. She looked at me with the face. The face that told me she didn't know how to approach me... as if I were some kind of animal.

"Yes?" I replied, simply.

"Your parents requested you downstairs, for breakfast." She informed, saying each word carefully.

Everyone, it seems, has been tip-toeing around me lately.

"Okay,"

She pondered in the doorway, before taking a few steps and walking into the bathroom and picking up my laundry basket. Then, she left.

She never took her eyes off of me.

I stood and walked across the hard wooden floors, then swung my rose-printed backpack over my right shoulder.

I looked in the mirror, and examined my appearance.

My dark, black coffee colored hair was in a tight pony tail. I was wearing a long sleeved white shirt and dark jeans; with brown leather boots Hadley- my… Older Sister… Had gotten me for Christmas two years ago.

I must admit, I was paler than I usually am… And I lost a good deal of weight. The white of my shirt almost looked like camouflage against my pale skin and grey eyes. I reapplied some pale pink lip gloss before opening one of the doubled doors of my 'camber' in the east wing; and heading down the old halls and stairs to the west wing, where the dining room was located.

My name is Lady Sophia Juliet Veronica Rose Mendenhall. Yes, of the famous Mendenhall's; daughter of the Prince William Robert Mendenhall and Princess Gwendolyn Ashley Mendenhall. Who are second in line for the thrown; which is currently ruled by my grandparents.

We live in a small country called Lotus. Lotus is located between France and the United Kingdom. It isn't found on maps. But my family only owns East Lotus, for you see, the Alvingham's own West Lotus; there's a tall wall splitting the two. I've never seen over it.

Lotus was split hundreds of years ago. Two best friends had gone on some long journey that I had spent half my life learning about, discovered it, and couldn't decide who would rule. Long story short, they ended their friendship and built the wall in the middle of the country; separating the East from the West. I know nothing about the Alvingham's; but father says it's an awful place. Filled with violence and torture; he said the people there are all homeless and sad. Dad said we can't associate with the Alvingham's. He said they are all cruel and heartless.

…Which is probably why Hadley…

Unlike here, where we have rolling hills and green pastures and vegetation and delicious food and wealthy people with wealthy jobs and crap.

I entered the golden trimmed dining room, where Mom and Dad and my older twin brothers; Jacob and Julian, were sitting. They were all silent and waiting, as usual.

The dining room had white walls and golden trim. We had a huge crystal chandelier in the center of the room, which had white tiles and big pearly white chairs and a long glass table and basically matched most of the mansion.

Dad was on his laptop, and eating oatmeal as Mom was writing in her big organizer book that she never seems to put down and was on the phone. Her pate of waffles was pushed slightly away from her as she wrote away. Julian and Jacob were whispering to each other. And I took my seat, the seat I've sat in every day since before I could remember. Next to the now empty chair, that will forever remain just that- empty.

Julian and Jacob are both nineteen. They are Seniors and I am now a Junior- turning seventeen nine days; on August thirteenth.

I just sat and stared at my oatmeal, using our pure silver spoon to stir it; over and over in its bowl. I wasn't hungry, and hadn't been… In a long time.

When Rick, our driver, came in to announce that it was time to get going, I just wanted to cling to my chair and refuse to budge until they let me stay home. I wanted to go to my grandparent's place and pick out a book and their library, and find some secret place to read.

But no, instead, I have to go to some stupid school, and put up with a bunch of stupid people; who only want to be my friend because my siblings and I are third in line for the thrown.

Nevertheless, I have to do it alone.

My brothers chose to embrace… having people use us. But Hadley and I used to avoid it; or work our way around it. It made things easier to take in. And besides, who needed other friends; when you have your best friend right beside you?

I guess I would've been alone next year; anyway, she would've been a Senior this year, also. At least I still have my cousin, Aaron. He's always fun.

I walked down the back steps, into the hidden driveway. I breathed in the warm summer breeze. It was cloudy and dark, due to the fact that it had only stopped raining. And the marble stairs were all slippery and muddy and gross.

I walked up to the limo door, where Natasha was waiting with my lunch bag and to go cup of coffee.

"Nonfat milk, and extra sugar; just the way you like it," she said, handing me my coffee and bag; she then pulled a bobby pin out of the pocket of her skirt and fixed my pony.

"Thanks," I mumbled as Rick opened the door, I got in and slid to the very side. There was plenty of room; of course. But I didn't want to talk to anyone. Julian and Jacob slid in after me. I pulled out my copy of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and started reading, while taking sips of my coffee. As Jacob turned on the TV and Julian drew and his sketchbook. I looked out the window and watched trees pass.

Julian and Jacob were complete opposites. Julian doesn't speak. He didn't speak since before the accident and he doesn't speak now. He prefers silence. It seems to soothe them. And even mute; he is by far my favorite brother. Jacob is more captain- of- the- football- team type. He's a leader. And though he tries to be strong and brave and courageous in front of his friends… While he tried to be kingly; he was simply conceded. He thought more of himself than anyone else.

Julian is to- the- bone skinny, while Jacob was completely built. They both had honey colored hair; like my mom's, and bright blue eyes like my dad's. Julian was trustworthy; though he didn't speak, he had compassionate gestures. He did things that signified that he cared, that he would always be there. As to where Jacob was in his own jockey cheerleader loving world.

We pulled into the school parking lot and I put my book back in my bag.

Jacob turned the TV off before sliding out of the limo; followed by Julian. I was sliding out of the car when Rick turned around.

"Hey, Sophie?" he called back to me.

"Yes?" I asked.

"Make the most of today," he answered, "and the rest of the year, okay? You're a beautiful girl; and I know you can do this on your own." He said, smiling at me with his old- wrinkled smile.

I returned his smile, "Okay." I said, trying to take a step out of the limo.

"And Sophie," he said; I looked at him.

"Try to say more than one word at a time."

I smiled and nodded at him.

I say more than one word. I thought. I never shut up.

"Have a great day, love."

I got out of the limo, and Julian shut the door for me. We both stood there for a minute, looking at the big wooden doubled door entrance to the old cathedral like academy we get to suffer through.

Julian looked down at me, smiled his cheesy Julian smile, and held his arms towards the academy in a showcase manner as if to say, After you.

I bit my bottom lip, then straightened my stance, before walking side by side with my older brother, up the cement stairs, ignoring the people who stopped to get good looks at us- at the royals- people who pointed and snapped pictures with their phones. We walked past people whispering and looking and waving. People who studied our family blood line their whole lives; and probably get the chance to associate with us. Who get to swim in the royal pools and get V.I.P access to things and get on the private jet to go on crazy shopping sprees in Paris or Rome and to have sleepovers in our mysterious mansion and tour grandma and grandpa's place and get the inside scoop on royal life and... Hadley.

But they get to be disappointed, as they are every year. Because, unless they get really close with Jacob (who would be the easiest way in), we're practically trained to avoid these types of people.

Julian and I walked past people and lockers and posters that advertised the upcoming Homecoming masquerade. We walked straight to our lockers, which were placed right next to each other's… And Hadley's; which is now empty and abandoned. Just looking at it sent tears to my eyes.

Some guy with wet red hair and brown eyes had the locker next to hers. He was short and almost as skinny as Julian. He gave me a super wide grin, and I gave him a small smile back. I put all the books I had gotten in the mail for this year in my locker, and put my back pack on a hook that Greg, my butler, had installed last year. I put my make-up in its rightful place and began to unpack… basically.

I grabbed my schedule, binder, and first text book and Julian and I began to walk to my first class.

Julian walked me to the door then left. The class was pretty much completely empty; give or take the teacher sitting in her desk in the back of the room. I sat in a desk in the very back corner and waited for people to begin to pool in.

Alex

I knew Father hated me for this, but I had to see… With my own eyes; what is past that wall. The people of West Lotus made it sound like a dump, as if it reeked of bloody poverty and selfish wealth. I knew better.

Sure, two kingdoms could hate each other. But there's no way it could be that bad.

My name is Prince Alexander Henry Alvingham III. My Grandfather died last year, and Father became king. So he doesn't have very much time for me. But I hang out with Charles- my best friend- quite often.

He's a pretty short fellow with crazy red hair and brown eyes. Though, he doesn't like me very much right now.

"'I'm going to be king' he says 'I need to know what's past that bloody wall' he says 'come on, Charles, live a little' he says. God, Alex, I feel like I'm tip-toeing around this place."

"It really isn't that bad." I mumbled, "Stop whining about it,"

"Oh! So his girlfriend dumps him, and he suddenly thinks he can go on some insane trip to a forbidden land to impress her."

"This has nothing to do with Bella," I mumbled, shoving a few books into a back pack.

"Yeah? Then what's it got to do with?" Charles mumbled. I ignored him.

We're spending a year in East Lotus, crazy as it seems. Playing British exchange students, due to the fact that the West side has more of an accent than the East. I just had to change my name to Price.

Alexander Price.

Thought I'd get away with it.

We came in July, when some Princess type girl was murdered. The details were all fishy and secretive. But it made it pretty easy to get past the wall. We've been living with a sunny blonde haired, brown eyed lady named Natasha, she's a maid for some girl; and doesn't get home until late. Then, she leaves early. And a man named Bill- who's a cab driver. They have a son who's twenty and out of the house.

So far, every myth I've heard about the East has been proven wrong; everyone here is friendly and classy and sophisticated. When I'm king, I'll try to make amends.

Today is the first day of school; we're going to East Royal Eagle Academy or whatever. It's supposed to be special, but I don't see what's so special about it. All the schools back home are pretty much like it.

Charles and I had to run through the rain to get there we were running late… Literally… See what I did there?

Ha, kidding.

Some long white limo with flags on it drove past us, so I figured we were heading the right way.

"You know, we could be spending our last year at home. With our friends." Charles whined, half breathless. We ran up the steps and into the school, Charles and I split up to look for our lockers. Some pale kid with black hair and dark eyes elbowed me into one of them.

"Maybe," the kid said, "You should watch where you're going."

I blinked. "I'm sorry, sir." I said, "I suppose it is my bad."

"You're damn right it is." He said, and stormed away. I just kind of watched him for a moment or two, before seeing Charles.

He was standing next to this girl. She had dark hair and pale skin. She was small and weak looking, and I instantly wanted to… To know her. I watched Charles smile at her, and she smiled a small, sad smile; with her sad grey, eyes. It didn't last long. She soon walked away with some tall boy who was skinny, but still, not as fragile looking as her.

"Who was that?" I asked, opening the locker Charles pointed at between his and hers.

"I don't know, she didn't say anything." He mumbled. I watched her go until she was out of sight. Then sighed, "I'll make amends with her, Charles, you'll see."

"Oh no, not this again."

"Not what?"

"You JUST broke up with Bella, don't go after some random girl."

"That isn't just some girl: Charles. She's beautiful."

Charles rolled his eyes. Then the bell rang, and I had to run to my first class. When I walked in, people were still gathered around each other talking. Socializing, I supposed. There was only one seat open. And it was next to her.

She was sitting in the back corner, reading something. I took the seat next to her as she flipped a page. She looked up at me for a quick moment, then looked back at her book.

"Hi," I said, planting a smile and trying to be friendly.

"Hello," she replied in a quiet voice, not even looking up from her book.

"I'm Alex," I said, "And you are..?"

"Sophie," she looked up then, a little bit of shock or surprise pastured on her breath taking face. Her eyes were sad, and- besides the moment shock- emotionless. She looked as if she had barely laughed… Or eaten… In months. She looked… Ghostly.

"Sophie," I said, "that's a nice name."

"Thanks," she mumbled, tugging the end of her pony tail.

"So, how was your summer, Sophie?" I asked, she looked a little shocked again.

"F-fine," she muttered. I can't seem to get more than one word out of her. I will though. I swear.