LETA

She glided gracefully through the hallway, beautifully adorned and charming as ever. She stopped, stared at me for a while. All her maids bowed down to me.
You want to know why they did that? Well, I’m the heir to the throne of Amaifeke Ancient Kingdom.
Yes, you guessed right. I’m Prince Eche, short for Echezona. Right now, I’m having a meeting with some cabinet ministers and standing in front of us is the beautiful princess of Ihioma.
I have always wondered why I was just attracted to her and not in love.
She is my fiancee, and I’m supposed to love her right?

“My Prince,” her melodic voice transported me back to reality.
“Yes Jen,” I answered.
“I see you’re busy. I’ll see to you later,” she bowed and turned to leave. Her maids did the same.
Instantly my eyes caught hers as she bowed. The young maiden, Amara.
My eyes followed them till they were out of sight and I resumed my meeting.

The guards opened the door and I walked out like a Prince I was. She was seated on the seat in the garden.
“Princess,” I said as I approached her. She seemed startled.
“You are done already. That was quick,” she mocked and moved a bit so I could sit.
I sighed as I turned, my eyes caught the sight of Amara.
“Amara, how are you doing? You look pale. Is everything okay?” I smiled at her and she smiled back.
She bowed and raised her head, “No my prince, I’m fine. I’m just tired,” she said with fear.
“Fine then, go and rest,” I waved my hand and it signified no one was to interfere.
Although Amara was not from my Kingdom, I was fond of her so I felt I could take some decisions concerning her.

She bowed again, “Thank you my prince,” and then she left.
I smiled and turned back to Jen.
She was wearing a scary frown on her face.
“What was the meaning of that? Why do you have so much interest in her?” she asked with her eyes scanning me through.
I had no ulterior motives so, “I like her. She’s a sweet girl.”
Jen’s eyes widened, “You like her? And you’re proudly saying it to my face?” she asked angrily.

“Come on, don’t get it twisted. I mean she’s a nice girl. So calm down. There’s nothing more to it,” I said taking her hands in mine.

She withdrew her hands, stood up and left the garden as her maids followed behind her. I shook my head and stood up to leave too.

“Jen, I can’t believe you’d go this far,” I told Jennifer angrily.
My father had ordered that Amara be sent home since she wasn’t fit to work.
“I had to let her go to where she can rest properly,” she said as she rolled her eyes.

I really felt bad I would not see Amara again. It was nice having her around even if we hardly spoke. I really wished I could plead with my father but his words were final. I stared at the car until it left the compound.

I walked back to where my father was and bowed to him.
As I walked past Amara, I saw her trying to conceal her smile.
“I hope you are swimming in joy now?” I whispered to her.

She turned to me but I didn’t wait for her to give me an answer, I walked into the house.

“How are you guys preparing for the ceremony?” Queen Nneoma asked us while we were having lunch.

“I don’t know about him, but Queen Mother, I’m super excited that I have to represent you,” Jen said happily.

Queen Nneoma smiled and looked as she hoped to hear what I would say.
“And you Eche, aren’t you excited you’re going to represent your father?” she asked eagerly.

“Mum, I seriously don’t know why you guys insist we go for this thing. I’m not a king yet,” I said as I scooped sauce onto my spaghetti.

“Yes you are not but this is one of the things you will have to do when you are King. So you better get used to it,” The King said with a stern look.

I murmured as I raised the fork with spaghetti to my mouth.

“So how do you like the dress I made for you?” the Queen asked Jen.
“Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry Queen Mother. I didn’t mean to disrespect you,” Jen had a sorry look on.

Mum waved her hand, “Oh no it’s okay. I understand. So do you like the dress?”

“Like? That dress is a bomb. I really need to hire your designer. It’s the best dress I’ve ever got. I love it. I would look like a queen in that. Thank you so much.”

That was one of Jen’s amazing qualities. She appreciates even your tiniest efforts. She would make a fine queen and a fine wife no doubt.
But would she make a fine wife for me?

Queen Mother and Jennifer laughed happily as they talked on how the ceremony would be like and she promised to teach her on how to behave.

The King and I just watched them as they brought smiles to our faces.

The next day we were all ready for the journey.
The King and Queen saw us off to the car. Jen was so happy.
“Make me proud,” was all my dad said.
I smiled lightly and got into the car.
Jen was still trying to get some talks about the ceremony.
I really thought of what this ceremony would do and how it would affect me. This was definitely a preparation cause I saw it as a huge task.

“Okay, we’re good to go,” I heard Jen say as she got in beside me. She was jittery.
“Why are you nervous? I thought you were the more excited one about this whole thing?” I asked her confused.

She started demonstrating with her hands, “Don’t mind me. I must confess things like this really scares me. Don’t mind the show I displayed in front of the King and Queen. Why do you think I was consciously asking for directives?” she said as she fanned herself.
I couldn’t help but laugh.

The journey was smooth, Jen and I kept ourselves busy with our phones. We didn’t speak to each other while it lasted but I could swear she took glances at me each time.

The car came to a halt. I wondered what was going on. I knew for sure we still had a long way to go.

The door came open and the guard came in the way.
He bowed before he spoke, “My princess, she’s here.”

And it was like she remembered something, “Oh I’m sorry my Prince. I requested for Amara’s replacement.”
I was shocked.
“You mean you sent her home to bring someone else when you could have just left her?”
And then it dawned on me, “Why do I feel like it’s a draw?”
She giggled, “You can think whatever you like.”
“You are so unbelievable,” I rested back on the chair.

“Show her to me,” she straightened her dress.

She was brought to the door, she bowed. I just stared at her for a while and went back to my phone.
“And you are?” Jen asked her sternly.
She bowed again, “I’m Leta,” her voice sounded way better than Jen’s voice.
“Okay, Leta. This is my fiancé. My Prince Echezona,” she gave Leta some time to bow.
“Your highness I’m at your service.”

Please don’t judge me but she sounded sweet and innocent.
Then Jen continued, “You’re welcome on board Leta,” she said smiling.
Leta bowed again and was led to whatever car that would take her to our destination.

We got to our destination, the doors were opened by the guards and the red carpet had been rolled out for the royalties that would be arriving.

I got down and held out my hand to my Princess. She took it and stepped out gracefully.
Her mouth was agape when she came out, I turned to see what had stunned her and the most magnificent edifice I have ever seen stood in front of me.

We smiled at each other. I was sure going to enjoy this place.
We both walked in majestically with the maids and guards behind us.

The soon to be King and Queen of Nnewi Ancient Kingdom greeted us warmly. They were as young as we were. I admired they ruled from such a beauty. The Queen to be was very beautiful.

We were led to our rooms. Jen to hers and I to mine. I couldn’t help but hear that the maids and guards would have to stay at the last floor of the castle. That was different. I thought they would stay downstairs.

My room was exceptionally beautiful. Anyway I couldn’t have expected less from such a castle.

I immediately had a video call with mum and dad. They were glad I liked the place. They expected nothing less. That was their plan after all. I really appreciated them for doing this.

I had a bath before I was called to the royal dining.

Wow! Wow!! Wow!!!
How did they manage to keep this place only to themselves. This place was big enough to accommodate all the kingdom.

Just look at the dining room alone. I could see that everyone was already present. I really loved the fact that we had to eat together. Jen was not here yet.
One of the Palace’s beautiful maids led me to my seat quietly.

Just immediately, Jen walked into the room looking beautiful. But my eyes caught something else. The new maid, she had walked in with the Princess. Her eyes looked warm and her face full of happiness and love. She looked like a better Amara.

She served us from time to time. No one noticed but I requested for more things so she could serve them to me.

Leta’s POV

I loved the way they were all seated together. Different Kings and Queens from different kingdoms. It was a glorious sight. They were all beautiful. Royalty doesn’t lie.
But him, he was disrupting my imaginations. He requested for things every now and then.

Is that how he is? Does he like stressing servants?

He turned back to me, what does he want again?

I walked to his side.
“I need shrimps,” he said smiling.
I served him the shrimps.

I went back to my post and my eyes caught the couple. The Prince and my Princess were obviously not romantically involved. Unlike other couples, they lacked an idealized love. Each focusing on themselves.

If they lacked romance in this beautiful relationship then someone had to fix this. And luckily, they have me.

Eche’s POV

“Good night. I’ll see you tomorrow,” I told Jen.
“Good night,” she replied smiling.
I kissed her forehead and watched her go into her room then I headed for mine.
The castle was heavily guarded.

The meal was delicious. I brushed my teeth and headed to the bed.

I laid down and oh.. The bed was….there was no word to describe it. I really thought all these while I had the best things. This kingdom proved otherwise.
I slept off before I knew it.

Leta’s POV

“Good morning my princess,” I greeted her as I opened the curtains and smiled at her.
She stretched and yawned, “Is it morning already?” she asked disappointed.
“Yes my Princess,” I signalled to the other girls to bring her breakfast and clothes closer.
They all bowed.

“They do breakfast in bed?” she chuckled.

“I’m as surprised as you are,” I tried to be funny.

“I’ll eat first,” she stated.

“That’ll be great because you have a brunch date with your fiance, ” I told her smiling. I signalled the girls to drop the food on the bed.

“You mean the Prince?” she asked surprised.

“Yes the Prince,” I answered.

“A brunch date?” she was still surprised.

“Yes my Princess.”

“Okay, no problem,” she laughed. “I’m going for a date with the Prince. Interesting.”

We watched as she ate her food. And she stopped for a moment and turned to us.

“Feels good to know,” she said pointing the fork at us.
And we all smiled.

Eche’s POV

I loved the breakfast. They sure know how to treat people right.

Strange to know that Jen asked me on a beach date. That was awesome. I can’t recall the last time we did that.

I was already seated at the palace café. It was a fine one. My guards were standing solidly behind me. So I felt safe like always.

Jen walked in looking gorgeous but again that simple beauty seemed to overshadow her. She walked in behind her with her hands clasped.
She drew out the chair and Jen sat down.

We stared at each other for a while. I was really wondering what brought about this sudden change before she spoke.
“So you finally decided to hang out with me?” she said touching her earring.

“Well, I couldn’t have rejected your offer,” I smiled.

She looked surprised, “I don’t understand, rejected what offer?”

I stopped smiling, “This date of course.”

She turned to look at her maidens and then back to me.

“I was told you asked me out on a brunch date. So what are you talking about?” she asked confused.

I was about to speak when someone bowed in front of us. She raised her head up and it was Leta.

“Yes, what is it?” Jen asked rudely.

“I….i…. I am sorry. I set you guys up,” she stammered.

“And why would you do that?” I asked her this time around so Jen could calm down.

Leta sighed, “I sort of noticed you guys are not romantically involved. So I just wanted to spice it up a bit. I’m sorry. I know I had no right to but….. “

“Shhhhhhh,” I had to cut her off.

“I like your idea,” everyone turned to look at me including Jen.

“It’s a cute one. At least I get to spend quality time with my fiancee. Or don’t you like it?” I directed the question to Jen.

She looked at me for a while and reluctantly, “I do. It’s a nice idea,” Jen said.

Immediately Leta’s face went into a sweet smile, “Okay, when you are done with this, I’ve something else you guys would love. Trust me,” she said excitedly.

I watched her rush over to where she was initially. She was happy and for no reason exactly, I was happy she was happy.

“You heard her, there’s more. So enjoy this,” I told Jen as I rubbed her cheek.

She smiled and nodded.

“And don’t just enjoy, communicate and enjoy each others company. That’s what it’s all about,” I heard Leta shout from behind Jen.

We tried to bond but it just didn’t work. I pretended everything went well.

After brunch, Leta led us to the Spa centre with the maidens and guards behind us. She walked softly and with ease. She opened the door and bowed to usher is in.

It was beautiful with natural decors.
“Your highnesses, I booked a massage for you both,” she said smiling.

I was astonished.

The attendants showed us to the dimly lit room. We laid down after taking off our clothes.

The door came open and Leta entered but went straight to Jen’s corner. She bent down and whispered things I couldn’t make out and Jen chuckled. Leta smiled and stood up to leave.

“Excuse me miss,” the attendant called out to Leta.

Leta stopped and turned to look at her.
“Do you know how to give a massage?” she asked Leta.

Leta nodded, “Yes I do. Very well,” she replied.

“Very well then. My colleague is on another job. So will you give me a hand?” the attendant asked Leta.

Leta rolled her eyes in surprise, “Of course, I’ll be honored to do that,” she said blushing.
“Very well then, you’ll have to watch me work on the princess and you’ll do the same for the Prince. Okay?” the attendant said it like it meant nothing.

Leta, Jen and I looked surprised. We weren’t expecting that.
Leta swallowed hard and moved to my corner with her hands clasped.

She stared at my body for a while and I saw Jen look at her with anger. She tried to keep her calm.

“Okay, this is how we are going to do this, as we work on your bodies, I want you both to engage in a conversation. Talk about anything. Just make sure you are connecting. That’s what she wants,” the attendant instructed.

And then they began, Leta’s hands worked on my body. Her hands were not soft but they were magical. She followed every direction the attendant showed her. She worked magic on my body. I almost forgot a conversation was supposed to go on until Jen jerked me back to reality.

That really worked because we forgot about our differences for a minute and had an amazing conversation throughout the massage.

Leta’s POV

That was the most awkward moment of my life. Massaging the Prince was never something I expected to happen just like that. I must confess as awkward as it was, it was amazing.
His body was perfect and I sure know I worked magic on the perfect creation of God.
I’ve never had to massage a Prince before just normal people. That was how I learnt to be perfect at it.

I didn’t know why I was feeling this way but I think I have a crush on the Prince. Don’t worry it’s nothing serious. I know it will fade away soon. I could never have him anyways.

Echezona’s POV

The D day had arrived. The grand ceremony, the reason why I was here.

The maidens cane in with my clothes and dressed me up. I stared into the mirror and admired the wonder that stood in front of it.

I picked up my staff and walked towards the door as the maidens bowed and the guards walked softly behind me.

I walked to Jen’s door and knocked on it, I bit my lips nervously.

The door slowly opened and Leta stood there. She bowed and smiled to me. She was nicely dressed. She had makeup on, she really looked different and beautiful. Come on, snap out of it Eche. How can you take your time to access her like that? You’re better than that.

She made way for the princess to come out. She was dazzling.

“You look gorgeous,” I told her as I took her hand in mine.
“Thank you, you look amazing yourself,” she said blushing like a little girl.
We walked to the ceremony hall hand in hand with the guards and maiden following behind us.

Leta’s POV

I followed them to the seats prepared for them. I pulled out Leta’s chair and she sat. One of the guards drew out the seat for the Prince and he sat down.

I made sure they were more comfortable than they were already. I did everything for them and it was amazing cause I knew I had made an impact already. They were chatting like friends and laughed at each others tiny jokes as the party went on. Did I forget to mention this was the best party I’ve ever been too?

The Queen to be looked so gorgeous. Her beauty was breathtaking. I imagined to be her as she walked through the aisle down to be where her husband was. Well, don’t hate me. Who wouldn’t dream of good things?

I imagined the crown sitting on her head already. I couldn’t fathom the joy she would be feeling now, from being a commoner to a great Queen. It must be amazing for her.

I picked up the ice bucket and headed to the back to get champagne for my Prince and Princess.

I saw someone that looked familiar as I was returning, well not exactly, it was someone I knew very well.

“Gozie,” I called quietly as I approached him.

He turned and looked at me surprisingly.

“Sister,” he said with a smile and hugged me.

“What are you doing here?” I asked him curiously.

“Mum got a contract to cook with some women for the coronation so we came to help her out,” he said still smiling.

“All of you?” I asked with my eyes wide open.

“Yes,” he replied.
“You mean all of you are here?” I asked again.
“Yes, come let me take you to them,” he dragged my hands without my consent.

In 2 minutes, I was staring at my mum sweating as she dished out cooked food. She stopped immediately she saw me and rushed to me.

“Leta, what are you doing here?” she asked me excitedly.

“Mum, I work for the palace so I am suppose to be here. You are the one that is not expected to be seen here,” I said not happy my family except my father were here at once.

“Oh, it doesn’t matter. We are all here together,” she concluded as she hugged me and went back to what she was doing.

I walked closer and saw the rest of them helping my mum out in dishing the food. Other women were still attending to the food on the fire.

“She is not here. I know you are looking for her,” Gozie startled me when he realized I was looking for my direct younger sister. I had seen four of them but she was not in sight.

“Why isn’t she here?” I asked him.

“Well she’s supposed to be because mum invited her. I don’t know why she isn’t here yet. Maybe she’s running late,” he said as he covered the plates of food mum had dished out.

“Mum, when did you guys arrive?” I asked the very busy woman.

“Last night,” she replied.

“Okay then, she might be here soon. I’ll help you so we’ll make it faster,” I suggested as I took an apron and threw it on.

“With just an extra hand, sister? I doubt,” my baby sister said jokingly.

I turned to her and rubbed her hair, “We will see about that,” and she laughed happily.

“Won’t your masters look for you?” Gozie asked.

“I doubt that. I’ve been working for 2 hours now. Someone else should take over so I guess they’ll be just fine without me,” I said smiling.

I looked at their faces and saw the bright smiles they had on. I was glad I was doing this. I really wished my sister was here.

“Thank you,” I heard mum whisper to me.

Eche’s POV

Sleep wasn’t coming. She kept popping up in my head. I tried to subdue the thought of her but I couldn’t, what was happening to me?

I got up, pulled my robe and threw it on. I opened the door and the guards were as vigilant as ever.

As I walked past them I heard them move.

“No, I want to be alone,” and immediately they resumed their positions.

I walked till I got to the end of the hallway, I looked left then right and I saw the stairs that led upstairs. I inhaled deeply and exhaled. I took to the right and then the stairs, I climbed up slowly till I got to the last floor.
It was the servants quarters.

I looked around and saw a verandah, I smiled. This was perfect. I walked to the verandah and looked down and around from it. It was really high and the back view of this palace was equally beautiful. Thank goodness I didn’t miss this before leaving tomorrow.
I’d have loved to bring Jen here but I wanted to be alone.

I tried to sit on the rails and just like that I slipped and I didn’t know when I fell off. I was so scared. I could smell death. Luckily for me, there were long strong ropes hanging from the roof and I held on to one.

I screamed for help. I screamed out my lungs.

I couldn’t die, No.

And before I knew it, people had gathered both on top of the verandah and down too. I held onto the rope because right now my life depended on it.

I heard murmurs and I knew they were debating on what to do. It would be risky because right now there was no alternative and the ropes were far away from each other.

I looked to my right and saw the two ropes on that side were moving, but I couldn’t look up to see what was coming but I knew help was coming. I closed my eyes silently and prayed for my life.

“I can’t reach him, push me harder,” a feminine voice said.
I opened my eyes and turned to my right and I couldn’t move. Of all people who could risk it to come save me, it had to be Leta. She smiled.

Behind her was a man, who seemed younger than her and he looked like her too.

“Hold on my Prince. Don’t panic. We are going to help you,” she tried to assure him.

Help? She shouldn’t try to paint it. They were going to save me.

I swallowed hard, I was speechless. I couldn’t speak or move even if I wanted to.

He pushed her hard but each time she swung to my side, she couldn’t reach me. I knew I needed a little push too so I could get to her.

After they had tried the fourteenth time, they stopped. They looked worried and distressed.

What was going to happen now? Suddenly my rope had a tear and everyone shouted, I couldn’t believe this was happening to me.

Leta closed her eyes and I could see she was saying a prayer.

And just when we thought all hope was lost, the rope by the left started moving and I silently thanked God someone else was brave enough to try.

“Amara,” I heard Leta scream out for joy.

Amara? Could it be my own Amara? How was that even possible? I turned and behold it was the same Amara.

She bowed immediately I turned to her.

“Why are you late?” I heard Leta ask her.

“Come on big sister, don’t be mad. Besides I deserve a better welcome than that,” she replied smiling.

“Of course you do,” I heard the guy behind Leta mock her.

“Gozie, I wasn’t talking to you,” Amara spoke to him sternly.

“Fine, let’s just get this done with,” Leta told them.

“Wait a minute, what’s going on here?” I had managed to find my voice.

“That’s my elder sister and younger brother,” Amara explained smiling.

It sounded crazy, that the two people I actually liked more than Jen were sisters.

I was still trying to process the information in my head when Amara pushed me and Leta got hold of me. I couldn’t imagine a family like this existed. They were so strong and willing. Leta drew me to her rope and I climbed onto her back. I marvelled at the way she climbed the rope up to the verandah.

Everyone cheered immediately I landed on normal ground and Jen ran to me and hugged me.

I heaved a sigh of relief.

Leta held her brother and sister and was about to leave when I called to her. I drew away from Jen and walked to them.
And it was then I realized she had been wearing just a bra and a pyjamas trouser.

“Thank you so much for saving my life today,” I told them.

They all smiled and were about to bow.

“Stop please, no need for that. You can’t save my life and still bow down to me. Please,” I said to them.

Amara looked at Jen and they both smiled.

Seeing her smile made my heart beat fast, Leta was adorable and I admired her. She made me believe there was more to being royal. There was more than having to live lavishly and enjoy being on top. I wanted to learn from her and her family. I wanted to be with her.

I knew immediately what I wanted. I was surely going home with a different woman to be my wife. I knew what I was about to do would be difficult for some people to take in but I knew deep down that this would make me happy and that was what mattered.

It was crazy but I had to.
I went on my knees and everyone stared in awe.

I pulled out a ring from my finger, it was the only option available. I held it up and asked her, “Will you do me the honor of being my future queen, Leta?”

Everyone became silent.
My eyes caught Jen leave angrily. It was wrong but I couldn’t bear to live unhappily forever or make her feel the same way. She deserved someone who would love her more than I did.

Tears dropped from Leta’s eyes and Amara smiled happily.

Leta knelt down shakily, “Yes my Prince. I’ll do anything you want,” I felt my heart leap for joy.

Soft applauses followed.

As I tried to put the ring on her finger she readily helped me with it. She turned to look at her siblings and then back to me with eyes full of tears. I wiped them off with my hands and kissed her.

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