The first battle

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I laughed as I ran through the garden, I could hear Maddox counting loudly in the distance. I quieted my amusement as I started to run faster, trying to find a place to hide.

"15, 16, 17!" He shouted, as I looked around frantically.

"18,19 20!" I finally found a small, hiding spot in an old rusted shack.

"21!"

I dove into the shack, hiding myself among some old garden supplies.

"22!"

I tried to quiet my breathing, but I felt like my heart was beating out of my chest.

"23!"

I gulped. Oh god, the suspense is killing me.

"24, 25!"

And then it was deathly silent. I held my breath as I listened for foot steps, but none came. I started to feel a little on edge. After a moment, I shifted nervously.

Then the sound of rustling leaves came loudly behind me. I yelped as Maddox tackled me.

"Found you," he said victoriously.

I giggled and rewarded him with a promised kiss.

"Your highness!" A voice called.

I scrambled out of my hiding place, Maddox following quietly behind me.  A guard stood there, looking slightly uneasy.

"The King requests your company," he said.

We both looked at each other. Me with worry, him with concern. I followed Maddox as he walked briskly after the guard. My anxiety climaxed.

What was wrong? Is it something to do with Orian?

"Rebecca, wait in your room. I'll be there momentarily," Maddox said, kissing my forehead.

I didn't respond as he went into the war room, the guard trailing after him. In my room? No.

If I'm to be queen, then I should know what's happening in my own country! I got on my knees and pressed my ear against the door.

"Well! It finally happened," the King said, his voice barely constraining his fury.

"What do you mean, father?"

"Orian attacked our borders last night! Luckily, we won the battle, but lives were lost. Over that silly duchess girl!" He roared.

I felt a bang of something horrible in my chest.

"No father, not her, but you! You were the one who tried to play match maker when you knew how I felt about Rebecca!

If you would have kept your nose in your own business, we would still be allies. But no! You had to bring that snotty little princess into Laban!"

"But you had to reject her! We were so close to peace and prosperity!"

"No! We weren't. And you know what? It happened! It's in the past! The war will never change.

We should be figuring out ways to fix this, not argue about mistakes made," Maddox claimed, dragging in a big breath.

The two were silent.

"Son, I'm dying," the King confessed.

I felt my eyes widen.

"Excuse me?"

"I have cancer. They've caught it too late. I don't know how long I have left exactly," I gasped.

No, this was not happening.

"You have to take the throne," he said.

I felt my heart nearly stop. No no no! I thought I had at least four more years before I became queen.

"But the only way to do that is to get married," Maddox said blankly.

"Yes..." The King agreed.

It was quiet before I heard footsteps. I scrambled up out of the way, but before I could hide, Maddox opened the door.

He looked surprised, then sad as he realized I heard the whole thing. He didn't say anything, he just walked away. I felt tears brim my eyes.

Is the thought of marrying me that bad?

I shook the thought from my mind. That can't be it. He just found it his father was dying!  I turned to the King.

"I'm sorry," I said sincerely.

He sighed softly, then walked away too. I stood there, feeling alone and abandoned. I did the only thing I thought I could do. I called home.
....

"Dad?" I asked softly.

"Rebecca? How are you, darling?"

My father questioned, surprised. I felt tears over flow at the sound of my father's familiar voice. I couldn't hold it back anymore.

"Dad!" I sobbed.

"Rebecca? What's going on?" He asked, panicked.

"It's just... There's so much going on. I miss home!" I hiccuped, tears running down my cheeks.

My father was quiet as I cried, suddenly I felt arms go around my waist. I yelped as I turned to see Maddox.

"Rebecca? Are you ok?" My father asked, worried.

Maddox took the phone swiftly from my hand.

"She is fine, Dutch white. We must go, goodbye," he said, then hung up.

I tried frantically to wipe away my tears.

"Rebecca, what's wrong?" He asked cooly.

I gulped and she'd one more tear before steeling myself.

"I'm fine."

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