SEQUel to follow your heart
Finding Your Way
The Start
“Alexandria Madeline!”
I stopped abruptly, squeezing my eyes shut and praying for mercy.
You see, whenever someone uses my full name, like, say, Aunt Danica, it usually means I’ve done something.
Something wrong.
“Yes?” I turned, smiling as sweetly as possible. Aunt Danica emerged from the garden entrance, where I had just come from.
“Don’t ‘yes’ me!” I frowned at her tone. If you want someone to listen to you, I’d think you would try for a calmer, less ‘I’m going to kill you!’ type of tone. But, who am I to judge? Aunt Danica continued. “Once again, you have rejected to greet Prince Henry politely and-“
“I did greet him!” I cried in my defense.
“And stay to accompany him,” Aunt Danica finished, her dark brows raised in a challenge.
It wasn’t like I didn’t enjoy Henry’s company, I just became uncomfortable after a while. He’s always amazingly nice to me, yet I can’t help feeling as if-
“Princess Alex!” I was miraculously saved from answering when a servant called my name, waving a paper in the air while advancing towards us.
My heart leaped as he gave it to me. “A letter from Mrs. Jenkins.”
Funny. After almost six months I still wasn’t used to hearing my sister addressed as Mrs. Jenkins. I took the letter excitedly. This was her third letter to me. She had first written about how she and William were settling in and how much she missed us. I wrote back and here came this one. The time it takes letters to get from Mountain Valley to here varies. It really depends on when someone will come by and if they’ll be able to deliver the letter for you. Tori’s letters have taken a long time to come, and I wish it wasn’t like that.
“Aunt Danica...” I glanced hopefully at my aunt. She gave a small nod.
“Go read it. But we’re not finished!”
I gave her a kiss on the cheek, an act she’d call “sugaring up” later and rushed into the palace and down the hall.
“Whoa, what’s the rush?” I hadn’t noticed it was Henry I flashed by, but when he spoke, I slowed and turned, not completely stopping.
“Letter from Tori!” I explained, holding it up. He’d been in Loril quite a bit lately, accompanying his father, King Ben, on his political visits with Papa. “I’ll see you later!”
I spun back around before waiting for his response. Reaching the library, I settled down in the chair by the fireplace, eagerly opening the envelope and unfolding the paper.
Dear my favorite sister,
William said to say hi to you, so, hello from him! The winter here was beautiful. I’m guessing you didn’t get much snow down here like us. The weather’s been lovely lately.
I squinted, confused. Why was Tori talking about...the weather?
Oh, I’m sorry, I’m probably boring you. I just want my news to be a total surprise. But I’ll tell you now. I’m pregnant!
I gasped as I read it, then squealed.
Isn’t it wonderful? I’m almost two months in. William is already building a crib for the little darling, can you believe it? It’s so fun to see him excited and worried and everything! He’ll be a great father.
You’ll be an aunt, Lexie! And Father a grandfather! Goodness, I’m barely able to believe myself! But the baby bump is there! William worries so much. He doesn’t want me to work or do any labor greater than the laundry. Leah and I are trying to assure him there is nothing to worry about yet, it’s just the beginning.
I smiled. William loved her so much. I longed for that love someday.
I’m going to have to cut this short, but I hope you can visit soon. Or we can come there. Though I doubt William will let me ride in a bumpy wagon! I hope you all are doing well and had a wonderful Easter. Send my love to everyone.
Love, your dearest and only sister,
I read it once again, then leapt up and raced back down the hall to tell everyone the good news.
“Tori and William are going to have a baby!” I cried to anyone who was there as I burst through the doors to the parlor.
“Gracious, child! Mind your manners!” Aunt Danica scolded, standing from her spot next to Papa. It looked like they were having tea. “Don’t come barging in like a blind buffalo charging!”
I saw King Ben look questioningly at that and Henry trying to cover his grin.
“Didn’t you hear me, Aunt Danica?” I moved in further. “Tori is pregnant!”
“Oh, that’s wonderful news!” Papa exclaimed, also standing, joy lighting up his face. He ran over to me and picked me up, causing my hair to fly around as he spun me.
“I’m not pregnant, Papa,” I muttered, catching my breath and calming my unruly hair. But I gave him a smile.
Aunt Danica’s reaction was a bit different.
“Not in front of the men, Alex!” She hissed. When I gave her a confused look, she nodded towards Henry and King Ben, like I didn’t know they were here. She gave an exasperated sigh. “Oh, never mind! That is lovely. Though they are a bit young...”
I stared at her, wondering how she could even think that when it was such happy news. Deciding it was a lost cause, I shook my head and snuck a glance at Henry. He and my sister hadn’t exaclty courted, but he seemed to have had feelings for her.
Which is why I wondered if that was why he was being so kind to me. I had been told I had a personality almost exactly like my amazing sister Princess Tori, and I wondered if he just stayed around because I reminded him of her.
He seemed to take the news quite well, actually, with a big smile for my aunt and a “congragulations” to Papa. When he caught me looking, he winked and flashed me a smile I was well too aware of. I quickly looked away, praying he didn’t see my flaming cheeks.
“She said William’s already getting ready,” I told them. “Never mind, I’ll just read it to you.” I flattened the paper and started reading the words out loud.
When I was done, I saw Aunt Danica dabbing at her eyes with a handkerchief and Papa looking suspiciously blubbery. I couldn’t help but wonder: if I was the one gone, would they act that way too?
“It sounds like she’s settled down just fine!” I proclaimed cheerfully. I rested my hand on Papa’s shoulder. “There’s no sense in crying.”
I myself rarely cried. Honestly, I only remember crying twice in my whole life, once when I had fallen out of a tree when I was five and the second time when Mama died. Okay, I cried when I didn’t get what I wanted for Christmas when I was seven, and when Tori left last year, too. But that’s still only four times. Pretty good, right?
“You’re right, dear. There’s no- wait a moment, who said I was crying?” Papa tried to glare his fiercest at me. “Crying is for women folk!”
I snorted. “Yes, of course, Papa.” He tweaked my nose and turned to Henry and his father.
“Excuse us for the interruption, gentlemen,” he apologized. Why was he being so formal with Henry’s family? They’re practically our family, with how they helped us last year. “If you’re in any hurry to leave, by all means go. But otherwise join us for our tea we were starting just before my, rambunctiously brought us the news.”
I crossed my arms and indignantly huffed. “I was excited. Excuse me for bringing you the joy that lightened this room.”
I turned to go, but Aunt Danica clamped her fingers around my wrist. “You will bid our guests farewell, Alex, like a proper hostess.”
I smiled sweetly. “Oh, yes, of course.” Shifting my attention to our “guests”, I clasped my hands elegantly. “Farewell, gentlemen, and thank you for coming. It was a pleasure and I hope your journey home is safe and....enjoyable.” King Ben seemed pleased with my words, and Henry just kept...smiling. He does that too much!
“Thank you, Princess Alex,” King Ben replied with a smile.
“Yes, thank you,” Henry said, in a suspiciously sarcastic tone. The sparkle in his eyes made me narrow my own.
“Yes, well. I’ll be going,” I declared smoothly, turning and escaping through the doors.
I had only made it halfway back to the library when a hand caught my wrist again. I sighed, ready to face my scolding. “What is it now?”
I stared, surprised, at Henry. “Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you were my aunt.” I gave him an apologetic smile.
“No worries.” His teeth flashed a smile back at me. “I just wanted to tell you how happy I am for you. I mean, with Tori and William’s news.”
My smile turned sincere. “Thank you, Henry.” I tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. “I’m happy too. I mean, I’ll be an aunt! What’s not to be excited about?”
His chuckle warmed my heart. “I remember when my brother’s wife had their baby.”
“You have a brother?” I asked, curious. I only knew of his sister Georgia, who was barely a year younger than me.
“Yes, Finn. He’s nine years older than me, though, and lives with his Elselor.”
“Oh, so far away? You must not see him very often.” I couldn’t imagine Tori living any further away from us.
“Once a year, usually.” His reply was clipped and I was sorry for asking. I just noticed then he still held my wrist, his fingers wrapped gently around it. I slowly pulled it away, and he released it quickly.
“I’m sorry,” I apologized, wrapping my arms around my middle. “I shouldn’t have said anything.”
“Oh, no. It’s fine. It can’t be helped, so don’t feel bad.” His tone was light, but the look in his eyes told me there was something else. I almost said more, but then thought better of it.
“Well,” he broke the silence, running a hand through his black, actually dark brown, I noticed, hair. “Father’s probably waiting.” His smile shot straight to my heart again as he touched my arm. “It was nice talking to you, Alex. I’ll see you later.”
He didn’t turn right away, but stayed there, his hand moving slowly down my arm and reaching my own hand. Squeezing it, he held my gaze with an intensity in his eyes I couldn’t look away from. And, for a fraction of a second, where our hands met, my paler, slender fingers in his tan, calloused ones, a spark shot through my arm. I couldn’t help the sharp intake of breath. And maybe he couldn’t help the widening of his eyes.
Then, releasing my hand, he gave a curt nod and spun, walking briskly away.
“Bye,” I replied feebly, watching him walk away. Trying to get the picture of his bright blue eyes out of my head, and my hand still tingling from his touch, I turned quickly and fled to the safety of the library.
That moment, that tiny fracture of time, stayed with me the whole day. I couldn’t forget the look in his eyes, or the feel of his hand holding mine.
But why? He’d done more than that, more than once. He’d actually picked me up and spun me when he told me he had applied for the Academy for Young Healers. I suppose I had been the one to throw myself into his arms in an act of excitement for him. Still!
That little touch didn’t mean anything. He was my friend. Barely mine. More like a close family friend.
But even if I denied it a thousand times, I wouldn’t be able to change the fact that it was the start of something new.

Keep Reading

Chapter 2

You Can’t Ignore It

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