Chapter 7 – Strange
She could feel her heart thudding in her chest, and for a moment, she thought it was about to burst. There was a heavy blanket of silence all over the room.
The silence was deafening that Eugene could hear her own breath.
“Tsk… tsk… Anika, what crimes have you committed now that you can’t even look at me? Besides, why didn’t you come out of the castle when I arrived?”
Beyond Eugene’s awareness, it was customary for the queen to welcome the king who had been out of the castle’s walls-the only refuge from monsters of the desert.
Kasser sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose as he continued to question her. After all, it wouldn’t be news anymore if she had committed another crime. It’s practically all she’d ever done as queen, he thought to himself dryly.
Eugene, on the other hand, was also getting aggravated by his incessant interrogation.
“Are you that offended that I haven’t gone and rolled a welcome wagon for you?” Unfortunately for her, her annoyance wasn’t well hidden from her tone of voice.
Was it customary for everyone here to go out of their way just to welcome their High and Mighty King? Ha!
Eugene scoffed to herself until she remembered exactly where she was…
Immediately she began to apologize for her rudeness but still sporting an indifferent look. “I’m sorry. I spoke out of turn.” She bowed, and Kasser’s eyes shot up in surprise.
“Sorry?” He mumbled to himself.
Never before had he seen the queen apologize for whatever fault she’d committed. Doubtfully narrowing his eyes, he continued to be wary. After a moment of scrutiny, he inferred it was sincere enough.
He cleared his throat and spoke to her in a much gentler manner.
“And what about your meals?” he asked, stopping her in the middle of another apology, “Lunch’s just passed, and dinner won’t be for a long while. What can I do for you?” he asked, and Eugene hesitated.
The mention of food brought her mind to some rice, and suddenly, her stomach rumbled loud enough for both of them to hear.
Blushing for a moment, Eugene gulped down her embarrassment and tried to regain whatever dignity she had left.
“I can eat now,” she said eagerly, and Kasser nodded to her request.
“I can’t stick around. I have a meeting shortly.” He informed her. “I’ll tell the servants on my way out.”
She nodded at him in response.
“Yes,” She said, keeping her gaze trailed on the floor.
As soon as she heard the door close right after Kasser left, she lifted her head in satisfaction. She couldn’t deny that he had a sense of authority wherever he went.
Because suddenly, the room felt so empty with him gone. Finally, Eugene breathed out in relief after holding it in for so long.
All the warriors who had escorted her from the desert to the castle were low in ranking compared to her, the queen. They could never lift a finger against her, nor blame her for a fault.
But the king was a different matter entirely. He was the highest authority in the kingdom and Jin Anika’s husband.
“My husband…” she said to herself, before letting out a heavy sigh.
She’d never been in a relationship, at least not the ones romantic in nature. She couldn’t even recall the last time she allowed herself to love or be involved in a love affair. All her life, she had turned away and shunned the concept of a romantic relationship.
And now, here, she was, married in a day!
At the enormity of her situation, she realized just how complicated things had gotten for her.
They only had one interaction so far, and already she could feel that he was looking for any slips she might make in the future. Eugene could feel an incoming headache and groaned.
How must I behave in the future?
Meanwhile, by the hallway towards the conference room, Kasser halted his steps. Consequently, so did the servants who were following him.
So lost in thought he was, his servants caught him spacing out. He then turned towards them, and immediately, they curled in intimidation.
Something was occupying his mind, and it wasn’t the upcoming meeting he was about to have. This had never happened to him before. His eyes flitted around the corridors, yet he couldn’t find what he was looking for…
Looking further, his gaze swept through the corridors, corners, and stairs until it stopped at the sight of the queen’s doors…
His feelings were confusing him, but he was certain he wanted to find her, talk to her. He needed answers, answers only she could give him. He’d be sure to stop by once again after the meeting.
Strange, Kasser mused to himself.
Indeed, it was a strange day. The queen was physically the same, but her speech and actions said otherwise.
Whatever this new scheme of hers was, he would surely be keeping a close eye on her this time.