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Chapter 3

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Prince Ethan Alexander smoothed his finger over a small silver lightning bolt necklace. The metal was cool and soft on his skin, the chain delicate but strong. Just like she had been. He fought back a smile, remembering the young girl who used to wear it.

"Is she here yet? Can I see her?" four-year-old Ethan asked impatiently as he tried to peer around his guard's legs. When his guard didn't budge, little Ethan huffed and crossed his little arms.

Darius crouched down to his height. "I'm sorry, Your Highness. I've been ordered not to let you in that room until Lady Leonger has said so."

"But Darius," he whined, "I wanna see my new best friend."

Darius smiled softly at the prince. "She has to be born first, Your Highness."

Ethan's mouth turned into a pout. He sank to the floor, crossing his legs. "Fine. I'll just wait here then."

People rushed past the little prince to get in and out of the sick room. Nurses, a doctor, each of them had blankets and towels or a clipboard.

An hour later, a tiny cry rang out.

"Can I go in now?" he asked, his eyes bright.

Darius opened his mouth, but someone already beat him to it.

"Prince Ethan Alexander, Madam Leonger would like to see you now," a nurse told him, stepping up next to Darius.

Ethan jumped up, taking the outstretched hand of the nurse. "She's gonna love me! We're going to take walks, listen to music, and she can even play with my cars!" he told her as they walked into the sick room.

The nurse smiled down at him, her eyes crinkling on the sides. "That's great, Your Highness. You want to tell her yourself?"

He bobbed his head.

The nurse pointed to the sterile-looking bed, the only thing—save for a few high-tech machines—in the entire room.

He skipped up to the bed, standing on his tiptoes to see over the plastic railing. His mother's closest friend peered down at him, her forehead sweaty.

"Hello, Ethan. Did you come to see the baby?" she asked him, her voice rough from exertion.

Uncle Adrian, his father's Guard Commander, held a mass of blankets delicately in his arms, crooning to the curls sticking out.

He paused his noises to look over at the nurse that brought Ethan in. "Natalie, can you go get Jack? I'm sure he'd love to see his new sister."

Natalie bowed her head in respect and headed out of the room.

"So how are you doing, Ethan?" his uncle asked him. He wasn't really Ethan's uncle, but his father and Adrian were best friends. He'd called Adrian uncle since the moment he could speak.

"Good! Can I see her now? I've been waiting forever," he dragged out the last word.

Auntie Tasha grinned weakly. "You have, haven't you?" She looked absolutely exhausted, but Ethan chose not to say anything. Adults didn't like it when you point out their flaws, but he didn't understand why. If he looked tired, he'd want somebody to tell him.

She cleared her throat and gestured Uncle Adrian to hand her the blankets. As he did so, Ethan's grey eyes locked onto Uncle Adrian's Acemark below his ear. Ethan thought it looked look like a mass of scribbles, like when he drew dust bunnies on his wall with crayon. The only thing he could make out was the tiny star next to it.

Uncle Adrian's Acemark was nothing cool like his. His was two lightning bolts overlapping and his mother said it made him look strong. He rubbed at his mark with his small fingers, tracing over the area on his temple.

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