Ember and Jayden
You know, there is nothing as tempting as a locked door. It makes you want to know what’s inside- what’s on the other side.
Especially if that door leads to the room of the crown prince.
I press my ear against the wood, straining to hear. And guess what? I hear crying. Jayden, the utterly maddening and pain-in-the-neck (don’t tell him I said that) crown prince, crying. Wow.
I don’t know what I should do. I feel like going in and saying something nice, because that’s the right thing to do for a Prime Minister (or, well, his daughter) ... but I’m not even supposed to be listening.
Hey, maybe it’s for the best. He would probably say something stupid like “I’m the crown prince. This is my room. Get out. You’re so annoying.” I know that’s what’s going to happen.
Suddenly-click, click- the door opens. I hurriedly pull my ear away from the door. Jayden’s head slowly appears. His eyes are puffy and pink-rimmed and his nose is red. He’s obviously been sobbing inside his room, and he’s embarrassed. I know him. I’ve lived around him for fifteen years. “Ember! What- what are you doing!? You’re so nosy. Leave me alone.” He sounds stuffy and shaky, and he’s pronouncing his words carefully. More evidence. The crown prince bawling his eyes out. I wonder why?
Well, even if he is the crown prince he has no right to boss me around. I shift my position on the floor and cross my arms. I am not going anywhere. I run my fingers up and down the chain of my necklace, the one my mom gave me. I think it’s the only thing I have of her left. The amber pendant makes a zipper sound as it moves on the chain.
“Ember, I know you’re still there,” Jayden yells through the door. “Go away. Just leave me alone.”
“Jayden, you don’t get to tyrannize me like that. I’m staying right here.”
“You’re supposed to call me Master Jayden!”
“What for?! What did you do to deserve that title?”
“I’ll call the guards!”
“Do that! Like I care.”
Suddenly, Lumi, Jayden’s four-year-old sister, comes flying out from who knows where and nearly knocks me over. She buries her face in my skirt. “Do you hafta argue all the time?” she asks, all muffled.
Lumi’s too little to understand. Jayden needs supervision. Even if he will be king someday, he’s no gentleman. I can’t imagine him ever being one, in fact. He has no sense of responsibility. He needs nagging. Even if he doesn’t like it, and anyway, there are a lot of things good for him that he doesn’t like.
And, of course, I can’t forget that I’ve promised.
Lumi will realize it someday.
A palace guard comes up to me. He says, “Miss Odell, your father wants to see you.”
Dad wants to see me?
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