Rosalind Lux-Sencler had always thought that her worst nightmare would be waking up in a world alone, without her husband, without her sister.
Today, she realized she was naive.
Oh, so naive.
Ever since Rosalind lost the hereditary blessing of the Goddess ten years ago, her sleep had been dreamless. Fitful, but dreamless. So she knew better than anyone that this could not be a dream.
She looked on in disbelief as her husband of forty years, Baron Jeames Sencler, embraced a woman that she had adored her whole life—her very own older sister, Dorothy Lux.
Her Majesty Queen Dorothy Lux-Gosebourn.
Rosalind could feel herself trembling as Dorothy tilted her head up to kiss Jeames.
"Shh…" Jeames placed a finger on Dorothy's lips, stopping her. "We cannot do this here. Your sister is in the other room." Jeames's attempt at being the soft-spoken voice of reason failed miserably when Dorothy reached down to caress his crotch. The light touch quickly became something more intense.
This Dorothy had the face, voice, even gait of the Dorothy Rosalind knew. But her every action was that of a stranger's.
Rosalind's chest rose and fell with her uneven, rapid breaths.
It was as if her body had been smashed by a large boulder.
She could almost hear her heart shattering, and yet no mournful whimper, no anguished cry, no fruitless protest left her mouth. She continued to peer through the small gap in the door wordlessly.
For a moment, Rosalind could not fathom why her mind would make up something so…preposterous. But she quickly remembered that this could not be some figment of her imagination. When the Goddess took the blessing back, she took everything, including Rosalind's ability to escape into dreams.
The Goddess's favor once lost, was lost forever. She would not pity Rosalind now just because she was dying, much less return part of her gift.
"I missed you." Dorothy pouted her full, enticing lips, colored to match the scarlet of her dress. Her blond hair, loosely secured in an elegant updo, seemed almost white under the harsh glow of the fireplace. She was, as the servants liked to say, as fair as Rosalind was dark.
Rosalind remembered Dorothy kneeling beside her bed telling her how she had to beg her husband to let her visit her dying sister. She had bought gifts to lift the mood, but looked more sorrowful than Rosalind felt.
Rosalind could still hear Dorothy's soft sobs as she held her hand and kissed it, promising to take care of her husband after she departed this world.
Rosalind didn't think that Dorothy meant it this way.
The memories of Dorothy's actions and words made Rosalind shiver in fear. The kindness and concern and grief were all an elaborate pretense meant to fool her. Everything was a lie!
Rosalind clutched her chest as her body swayed. She steadied herself against the wall—the very same wall separating her from her husband's transgression. She had woken up to find Dorothy and Jeames gone. She then thought of making her way to Jeames's study. Perhaps the appearance of recovery would comfort him.
It never occurred to her that Jeames would be with Dorothy.
A loud sigh escaped Jeames' lips. "I told you, didn't I? Rosalind has been weak since she lost the blessing. We could have ended her when—"
"Shhh!" Dorothy silenced Jeames this time. "Despite the fact that she married the man I love, she is still my sister. How do you expect me to finish my sister?"
"She didn't treat you as one when she seduced me."
Rosalind's eyes widened. Seduce him? Her heart faltered at the thought.
Ever since girlhood, she had only eyes for Jeames. Dorothy was the only other person who knew and it was Dorothy who encouraged her to pursue Jeames. When rumors began to swirl that Rosalind was to be married off to a foreign duke to cement a political alliance, it was also Dorothy who planned her way out of the bind .
It was all Dorothy!
Rosalind never once thought that her older sister would lie like this! Dorothy had never once said that she had feelings for Jeames!
Tears rolled down Rosalind's cheeks.
She had thought about her death countless times. After all, she knew that losing the blessing would kill her. She thought of spending her last days with her beloved husband and sister in this manor where she had married him all those years ago. She thought of dying by the fireplace just when the snow started to fall outside. She thought of listening to her sister's beautiful voice as she breathed her last.
But she never thought that she would die with a broken heart. Her husband and sister were the two most important people in her life, and yet they didn't hesitate to betray her.
Rosalind could feel death looming over her. She didn't have much time.
A few days or a week at most.
She clutched the old key that she wore around her neck—a comforting gesture whenever she felt anxious. But this time, whatever she was feeling was not anxiety. It was as if a large dull knife was used to carve her heart.
Weakness was slowly consuming her.
But she refused to fall. No. She couldn't fall.
"That was forty years ago! Why are you still stuck in the past?" Dorothy pleaded, her voice cracking. She turned around and walked towards the fireplace, the only source of light inside the room. The two must have purposely done this to avoid attracting attention from the servants. "My sister is already on her deathbed. The least you can do is forgive her before she dies."
"She manipulated you her whole life and yet you can still find it in yourself to treat her kindly. What have I done to deserve such an angel?" Jeames hugged Dorothy from behind. "You do understand that once she dies, I will be lonely. But fret not… I have prepared everything since you decided to marry that man. Just as we planned."
"That man" was Emperor Lawrence Gosebourne. All this time, Rosalind had thought that Dorothy married the Emperor to save her from the machinations of the royal family. As the one with the blessing, she was supposed to marry the Emperor. But Dorothy had taken her place by pretending to receive the blessing, leaving her free to marry her beloved Jeames. But everything had been a lie. A sweet, sweet lie.
Rosalind froze, horror apparent in her eyes when she heard her mother's voice behind her. She slowly turned, an explanation on the tip of her tongue, but was immediately interrupted with a loud slap.
She felt her body fall, but before she could collect herself, her mother, Victoria Foster-Lux, had grabbed her hair and started dragging her into the study.
"I have caught a rat!" Victoria declared to the couple. "What kind of woman eavesdrops on her own husband?"
Rosalind lifted her head groggily, wondering if she misheard. The anger in her mother's eyes was enough to assure her otherwise. The pain in her chest intensified as she met Jeames's and Dorothy's gazes. Their disgust was unmistakable.
For a few seconds, she thought of hurling insults towards them, but the pain in her chest had drained what little strength she had. This time, it was not just aching just from the betrayal, but from the raw anger that was trying to swallow her.
"Do not call me mother!" Victoria hissed, her sharp brows raised. "You are not of my blood!"
"Mother, stop being so harsh. My sister is already in no state to hear such things." Dorothy said as she lowered herself and tried to touch Rosalind's arms. "Let me help you back to your room."
Rosalind flinched away instinctively.
Dorothy pretended to not see that and continued speaking in her calm, patient voice as if she was talking to a difficult child. "Rosalind… Let me accompany you to your room. You need to rest."
"Was it true?" Rosalind finally managed after forcing down the blood and bile in her throat. She looked directly into her sister's golden eyes, hoping to get the truth for once. "Was it true?"
"What are you talking about, my dear sister?" Dorothy gave a gentle smile and tried to hold Rosalind's arm again.
"Get your hands off me!" Rosalind spat out.
"Rosalind, that's no way to treat your sister! Dorothy just wants to bring you back to your room," Jeames chimed in, his voice irritated. It was as if the sight of his wife had ruined his night. "You are lucky you—"
Rosalind wanted to give in to her anger, to cry and scream and rage for an explanation. How could they do this to her? But her world started to spin. Her body was no longer hers to command.
As she collapsed on the carpeted floor with a dull thud that should have hurt, she could hear hushed voices surrounding her. She had no strength left to open her eyes but she knew.
She knew… Even without looking, she knew.
They were smiling as they gathered around her.
She did not need to look to know how happy they were.
She did not need to look to know her end was here.
Fb page: Author B.Mitchylle
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