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Eden’s Secrets


Hope Hopkins

Text copyright © 2014 by Hope Hopkins

All rights reserved.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, events, and places is coincidental.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17


About the author


Rain fell as Eden leaned against a tree. The night was cold and wet. She looked up at the sky. Hot tears stream down her cheeks. Her clothes were soaked from running in the rain. More tears fell as she cried out in forest in a heartbreaking voice. Thunder and lightning clapped in the night sky as Eden fell to her knees wrapping her tired arms around herself shaking looking at the dark Castle she called home.

The Land of Camden, year 1152, ruler of the land, King Orpheus

Chapter 1

It was a bright sunny day in the land of Camden as Eden walked in the garden her mother loved. Her dark black hair flowed down her shoulders as the wind blew the waves of her hair and her dark brown eyes were exuberant, while she worked hard to pretend that she was enthusiastic about her party. She was excited because today was her 18th birthday, yet she was sad. Her mother Isabella was talking to the cook about the dinner and how she wants her cake decorated. Even though Eden appeared to be happy, it was all a façade because she had a dark secret that she couldn’t talk to anyone about.

As Eden continued to walk in the garden, a young man noticed her, because she was a very beautiful woman to look at. Eden turned around and saw the young man looking at her, and for only a moment Eden and the young man looked at each other; they stared at each other far longer than the young man intended to. The young man’s dark brown eyes searched Eden’s as she continued to look at him trying to figure out who he was, because he looked familiar. The young man’s dark eyes captivated Eden and without thinking, Eden took a cautious step towards him. As Eden came closer to the young man, she started to recognize him, but before Eden could speak to him, he entered into the castle. When the young man disappeared into the castle, Eden recognized him and said to herself, “Alexander?”

The young man was a handsome guard and knight that protected King Orpheus, the guard’s name was Alexander, he was one of the top guard’s for the king, and he was a mighty warrior, who was excellent in battle. Alexander was a tall man with thick brown hair that went down to his shoulders. Alexander walked down the halls of the castle on his way to the training grounds, looking down at his reflection on the marble floors, seeing how much he and Eden have changed and grown in the last ten or more years. Eden and Alexander had known each other since they were children.

When Alexander was a young boy, he was always slim growing up, having wild hair that suited him and was very mischievous. While Eden was quiet, but she was a playful young girl running in the woods as Alexander chased her, holding a grasshopper in his hand trying to put it in her long dark hair. When they were young children, they were close friends, sharing secrets together that no one knew about. Eden and Alexander trusted each other and were inseparable. Most of the time when someone would see Eden, Alexander was close behind; Alexander would hold Eden’s hand as she blushed, loving how he held her hand so gently. Alexander was always the perfect gentleman as a young boy and still was. Eden and Alexander would often walk in her mother’s garden, as Alexander would bend over and picked a rose from the rose bush to give to Eden, as she blushed more. Eden would frequently look up at Alexander, loving his gentleness and charm, his face that was boyish was so charming and handsome, while his eyes were like a sweet dream that Eden did not want to wake from.

Eden and Alexander always played in the woods with their childhood games they had made up, as they went on in the summer days to come in their early years. When Eden was a young girl, she was always smiling and laughing at Alexander’s bad jokes and he would laugh right with her, having a hard time getting his jokes out because he was laughing so much. As Alexander thought of the past he smiled, Alexander and Eden had good times together growing up as young children and into adulthood. But as soon as Eden turned sixteen and grew more into a woman, things started to change for her and Alexander. Alexander was two years older than Eden and he noticed that Eden would hardly talk to him anymore, their relationship that was once strong, was no more. Both Eden and Alexander grew apart; they scarcely saw each other as Eden avoided Alexander for some reason.

Alexander would wonder why Eden avoided him in recent years, he didn’t understand why. There was no doubt about how Alexander felt about Eden; he loved Eden for a long time. Eden enchanted Alexander and he knew he could not live a day without her. But Alexander rationalized to himself, that he was not good enough for a princess that was probably why she avoided him, she was royal and he was a guard and knight for the king. Alexander knew his place in the kingdom of Camden, but he could not deny his heart, he could not deny how he felt every time he saw Eden, he could not deny the love he felt every time he looked into her eyes that he loved so much.

While Alexander walked to the training grounds of the castle still thinking of Eden, one of the king’s guards called out to him. “Hey Alexander, the king wants all his guards to come to the throne room.” Alexander turned his head in the direction of the guard talking to him. “Alright.” Alexander went towards the guard and walked down the halls with him.

Eden was immobile as she stood in the garden. Was that Alexander? It couldn’t have been Alexander? Eden thought as she stared at the entrance to the castle, still perplexed. My God, how long has it been since I’ve seen Alexander? Two or four years? Eden wondered to herself as she thought about how he looked now. Eden noticed that Alexander let his brown hair grow out more, which was now down to his shoulders. Eden also noticed that the boyish look in his face was not there anymore, now he had a mature face, the face of a man. Eden continued to stare at the castle entrance, closing her eyes as she thought of the last time she saw Alexander.

Eden remembered the night was cold with the moon out as rain poured down. She was sixteen years old. Eden was running in the night in haste, trying to get back to the castle. Alexander was out in the cold rain putting up the horses in the king’s stables, when he saw Eden running as though her life depended on it. “Hey Eden, what are you doing out in this rain? A storm is coming,” Alexander said causally, as Eden stopped abruptly hiding in the shadows of the night, breathing heavily. Alexander seen that Eden wasn’t speaking to him as he put up the last horse in the stable, so he came closer to Eden, walking towards her in the muddy ground where she hid under the tree. “Eden, are you alright?” Alexander asked, as he was inches away from her. “Yeah, I’m fine, I am just a little stuck in this mud,” Eden said quickly trying to take off so Alexander would not see her. “Oh, I can help you out of the mud,” Alexander offered. “No thanks, I’m alright. See, I’m alright, I just got out of the mud,” Eden said as she moved quickly past Alexander, so he wouldn’t see her. Alexander turned around before he lost sight of Eden and said in a concern voice, “Eden, are you sure you are alright?” Eden turned her head slightly at Alexander and said with a half hearted smile, “I’m fine Alexander, have a good night.” Tears stung Eden’s eyes as she thought of the memory, she knew Alexander sensed something was wrong, but she couldn’t tell him, she couldn’t tell anyone. While Eden’s memories consumed her causing tears to stream down her cheeks, her mother Isabella called after her saying, “Eden, it’s time to come in and prepare for the party.” “All right, I’ll be right there,” Eden said wiping tears from her eyes as she went into the castle.

As Eden entered into the castle, she turned to look back at the land of Camden, which was enormous with many beaches and one lone forest called the Forgotten Forest that remains a mystery to the Camden people. The Camden kingdom dwells on a vast island that was colossal and beautiful, the kingdom was stunning in its splendor and the castle that resides on this land was utterly astounding. But Eden felt trapped within the walls of the castle, this castle was her prison.

After Eden took one last glance at the land, she continued to walk down the halls of the castle and made it to her room, where her two ladies in waiting were to help Eden with her hair and choosing a dress for her birthday party. Eden’s ladies-in-waiting also assisted her by reading letters to her and writing for her; they as well oversee servants; keeping Eden up to date of activities and dignitaries at court, and secretly conveying messages to her. Eden trusted and depended on her ladies-in-waiting, their names were Ruth and Elizabeth.

While Ruth and Elizabeth were doing Eden’s hair as she sat on her bed, helping her to get ready for her party, they began to warn her about her father King Orpheus. “Princess, we heard in court that your father is planning to give you away in marriage to King Nexus of Olin.” “King Nexus?” Eden whispered as she turned to look at her ladies-in-waiting. Nexus was the king of the land of Olin, a land that was like the land of Camden, but was more lush and greener, having many waters. Nexus was a coldblooded merciless man that seeks to rule all. When Eden heard this dreaded news, her heart nearly stopped as pain formed in her chest, tears formed in her eyes as she looked at her ladies-in-waiting as they had sorrow in their eyes, she began to cry, because women in this land had no rights.

Whatever the King demanded, she had to do; her father was an evil king, a dangerous man who feared no man. If she defied the king, there were dire consequences. It did not matter that Eden was princess and his daughter, because her father did what he wanted. Eden’s ladies-in-waiting Ruth and Elizabeth gathered around Eden and hugged her as she buried her face in her feathered pillows, sobbing uncontrollably. As Eden cried, she thought about how her father always resented her for being female, Orpheus wanted a son to carry on his name and rule his kingdom, but instead he had Eden, who he thought was worth nothing more than selling one day to some royal family to gain more prestige. Orpheus was an abusive father and husband, and if it were up to him, he would have gotten rid of Eden the day she was born or left her out to die. But Eden’s mother begged the king to let her keep their only daughter.

Now Eden was about to marry a man she did not love who ruled all, a man like her father, if not worse. King Nexus promised King Orpheus peace and more gold for his daughter. King Orpheus didn’t need the gold, but he was greedy. Tonight at his daughter’s birthday party, King Orpheus would announce Eden’s marriage to King Nexus. Eden knew her life was about to changed forever, she knew she would never have any peace or love but more hell here on earth. ‘If only I could talk to Alexander,’ Eden thought as her heart ached. She hadn’t talked to him in years. There was no way Alexander would want to talk to her now. Eden had been so distant towards Alexander. She didn’t mean to be, but she had no choice, she had to separate from him so he wouldn’t find out the truth, her secret she had kept hidden for so long. Eden loved Alexander with all her heart and it hurt her to be apart from him, it hurt her to not talk to him, they were good friends, but they were more than just friends. Everyday Eden longed to tell Alexander her secrets but she dared not utter a word, in fear of what he might think of her. Yet Eden wanted to give Alexander her heart and soul, she wanted to give Alexander all her love, Alexander was the man that she would give her all to, the man she would give everything to. Alexander was the man of Eden’s dreams, she often daydreamed of her and Alexander running away together in the night to new adventures, new lands where they could be free of her father and even marry. Eden was not allowed to leave the castle, her father kept tight reins on her, making sure Eden didn’t run away because she was his prize to get more wealth and land. Sometimes Eden would slip out of the castle without her father knowing.

As time progressed, King Orpheus hadn’t expected Eden to grow into a beautiful young woman, he saw how noblemen and other men in his court stared at her as she walked by with her head down, Orpheus always told Eden to never look a man in the eyes because she was not worthy to do so because she was a woman, women are to never look men in the eyes because they are not a man’s equal. Even when princes would come and visit Orpheus kingdom to discuss affairs of state and capital, he saw them looking at Eden, when Orpheus saw this he knew he had a diamond in the rough that could bring him more wealth than he dreamed of. Though many princes wanted Eden as their wife, Orpheus declined their offers because he was waiting for the right king to come along with the wealth and land he wanted, even though the king he chose to marry Eden would be a murderer. All the while Eden dreaded the noblemen and princes looking at her, some seemed nice while others seemed to be like her father, Eden didn’t want to marry them and she knew that if they ever found out her secret, they would never want her. Eden wasn’t stuck on her beauty, if anything Eden thought her beauty was a curse, she knew that no good man would want her, no man would see her for her, they wouldn’t see the brokenness in her heart and eyes, they would only see her beauty and throw her to the side when they were finished with her. Life seemed so hopeless for Eden.

In the mean time, Alexander went into the throne room with the rest of the king’s guards with Eden still on his mind, and as he walked in, Alexander heard the king speak of his plans. “This is a good strategy I have come up with,” King Orpheus said patting himself on the back. “Once I give Eden to Nexus, I will plan my next plot in taking over his kingdom and eventually take over the world.” Alexander just stared at his King, wondering how he could just give up his only daughter, like she was nothing more than a prized horse. Alexander lowered his eyes as he seen that King Orpheus was selling his daughter off so cheaply, only to rule a world he could not even handle. “Now listen up, King Nexus is coming tonight and I want security to be at its best, no exceptions, I hear he has taken over a few lands and enslaved his people, he will not take over my land, you hear me, I won’t allow it. I want guards all over the place and at each corner of this castle, guard my kingdom with your lives or I will have your heads.” After King Orpheus told his guards what to do and made more arrangements, Alexander and the rest of the king’s guards were told to leave. As soon as Alexander left the throne room, he quickly walked down the long halls of the castle, thinking of plans to get Eden out of this arrange marriage. There was no way Eden wanted to marry this King Nexus, he was a murderer and killed each woman he married because she would only give him daughters and no sons and Alexander knew this. Eden’s life was in danger. Alexander knew the only way for Eden to get out of this marriage was getting her out of this castle and escape to faraway lands. As Alexander thought of ways to get Eden out, he searched for her, he needed to speak with Eden privately, though he hadn’t spoke to her in years, he had to talk to her before her birthday party began. Time was of the essence.

Eden’s ladies-in-waiting had to leave to make more preparations for her party, Ruth and Elizabeth did not want to leave Eden in her hour of need, but they had to. Eden told them to go, she knew they had more things to do, and anyway, Eden wanted to be left alone for a while. After they left, Eden took deep breaths and walked around her bedchamber, feeling alone and lost. Never had Eden felt more alone than today on her birthday, a day that was supposed to be happy and joyful but was instead full of sorrow and hurt. Eden wished she was never born, because she had no control over her life, Eden saw that her life was not her own. This castle was a curse, a prison that Eden had been trapped in for eighteen years.

Eden walked over to her window that overlooked the castle training grounds leaning on the window frame with her head resting on the window when she saw Jared, a man that was in the same age group as her mother. Jared was the man that trained all the king’s men and taught them how to fight and the ways of war, along with learning how to handle a sword and other weapons. Jared was master of arms and weapons. As Eden looked at Jared, she smiled, because many people thought that Jared was a hard man, he looked mean but he wasn’t. Jared was a kind man that knew how to treat people; he was a man of few words, minding his own business. Jared was a disciplined and tall rugged looking man, having charm, and handsome with long dark hair that he kept in a ponytail, having a full trimmed beard.

When Eden saw Jared she wanted to talk to him, she had to talk to him because she felt also though she was about to fall apart into pieces. Eden knew Jared since she was a young girl of five, Jared was like the father Eden never had. Eden often wished that Jared were her father, because Jared treated Eden like she was his own daughter. Eden and Jared were kindred spirits, they both got along wonderfully. When Jared had time, he and Eden would walk in silence, because he knew Eden needed time away from the castle, when King Orpheus would have his violent outbursts and hit Eden. Eden would secretly come to the training grounds and watch Jared train the King’s men. When Orpheus would beat on Eden, he told her that she could not have any lunch or dinner, when Eden’s mother could, she would sneak Eden some food, but when Orpheus found out what Isabella was doing for Eden, she would suffer also. So Isabella told Eden to go out to the training grounds, and a man named Jared would help her, and give her some food, Jared was an old friend. Eden went out to the training grounds, looking around cautiously and sure enough there was Jared waiting for her with a kind smile on his face, giving her food. Eden smiled up at Jared and thanked him, as Jared tended to her wounds when her father beat on her. As Eden would eat her food Jared asked, “Does the king beat on your mother?” Eden paused looking down than said, “Father beats on mom sometimes, but he mostly takes out his frustration on me.” It was true, King Orpheus would not hit his wife Isabella too much, he mostly verbally abused her and threatened to take Eden from her.

As Eden thought on these memories, she grabbed her cloak and went out to the training grounds to meet up with Jared. Jared was known as Sir Jared, because he was a knight from far lands were he was the best knight in his province. As soon as Eden made it out to the training grounds, she saw Jared putting up swords and other weapons in the armory. “Sir Jared,” Eden said in a small voice that sounded like a child’s. Jared turned around to see Eden looking sad like she always did these days. Jared smiled warmly at Eden and said, “Well hello princess, what do I owe of this great honor, for a beautiful flower like you to visit an old man like me.” Despite what Eden was feeling she could not help but smile and said, “You are not old Sir Jared.” Jared smiled more while Eden’s sad eyes troubled him; he knew something was wrong. Eden sat on a bench that was outside of the armory, with her cloak wrapped around her as she clutched it to her chest.

“Eden, what’s wrong?” Jared asked as he sat next to Eden, while she kept her eyes down. “My father is giving me away in marriage to a man I do not know,” Eden said as she looked up at the sun in the sky, making her brown eyes seem more golden than brown. “What?!” Eden nodded her head. “I don’t know what to do Sir Jared, I don’t want to marry a man I don’t love and to make matters worse, this man is like my father, if not more evil. I have heard of his evil deeds. I can’t do this, I wish I could get away from it all, I wish I could take mom with me and leave this place and never come back. Yet, I know I have a duty to take care of my people, they are my responsibility,” Eden said as she kicked a stray rock that fell over. “Though father is king of the land, he does not take care of his people. Our people starve and are poor. Both mom and I including you are always giving our people food and fresh water, when father is not watching with his nosy guards. When I can, I use medicines from mom’s garden to help our people with illnesses when they get sick. I am torn Sir Jared with my duty to my people and between a marriage I don’t want.”

Jared listened to Eden talk giving her time to vent than he said, “Your mother has taught you well on what herbs to use to heal others. Queen Isabella is a great healer.” Jared paused for a moment than said, “Eden, you will one day make an excellent ruler of your people. You are constantly caring for others, being selfless. These are the attributes of a queen.” Eden smiled sadly at Jared and said, “Sir Jared, you are far too kind, I am no leader, let alone a queen, who would listen to me? I am but a woman, no one listens to women.” Jared smiled and said, “You would be surprised.” Eden stood to her feet feeling as though the weight of the world was on her shoulders. Jared also stood up and hugged Eden like a father, Eden fell into his arms, Jared knew Eden needed a hug, if for only a moment to feel the fatherly love that her real father could not give her and as Jared hugged Eden, he whispered in her ear. “There are spies every where young one, I feel your pain and I wish I could do something, but I can’t. However, I can give you advice, you must run, escape from this place.” Eden nearly froze in Jared’s arms and tried to pull away from him to see his face, to see if he was being serious, but Jared would not release Eden from his arms. “Eden, listen to me, you must leave as soon as possible.” Eden swallowed hard and whispered back, “But Sir Jared, I can’t leave my mother. She has to come with me…” “You must leave her. I assure you I will take good care of her. We are old friends.” Tears were in Eden’s eyes when she whispered back, “I can’t leave you Sir Jared. You have been so good to me. You are the father I never had, you are the one that makes me feel safe every time you give me a hug, I can’t leave you. I won’t…” “You must, I will be fine princess. I am honored that you think of me as your father, if I had a daughter, she would be just like you,” Jared whispered as Eden buried her face in Jared’s shoulder, crying as she hugged him more. Jared cleared his throat holding back his own tears, as he pulled Eden away from him and kiss her forehead. “Now you go and enjoy your birthday party princess,” Jared said as he saw someone in the shadows watching them, he knew it was one of Orpheus men. Eden knew they were being watched, King Orpheus was following Eden constantly, watching her every move.

“Happy birthday Eden,” Jared said as he led Eden back to the north entrance to the castle, so she could go back to her bedchamber safely. “Remember this Eden, you are a strong woman, you are the head and not the tail, you are above only and not beneath, you are somebody,” Jared said as Eden nodded her head and walked back to her bedchambers. Eden didn’t feel strong, nor did she feel like she was somebody, Eden had low self-esteem, feeling like she was nothing and worthless.

After ten minutes passed Eden was already in her bedchambers sitting in her chair in front of her vanity mirror looking at her sad eyes, wondering how she was going to escape this castle, and her father and her soon to be husband. “Oh God, what am I going to do?” Eden said as she took a deep breath trying to handle her circumstances as she held her face in her gentle hands. While Eden tried to remember how to breathe, Alexander was searching for her. The first time Alexander came to Eden’s door she was not there, but now she was there, he could see her shadow underneath the door, so he knocked on her door hoping she would answer. As Eden heard the soft knock, she took off her cloak and said, “Who is it?” “Alexander, the Kings guard.” Eden was puzzled as to why Alexander would knock on her door, so she replied softly, “What do you want?” “I need to talk to you,” Alexander said with urgency. “Enter,” Eden replied as she took another deep cleansing breath, trying to handle everything that was happening. “I heard about your arranged marriage Eden.” “I don’t want to marry him Alexander,” Eden said in a broken voice looking up at Alexander with distressing eyes. “Let me help you,” Alexander said as he walked in Eden’s room, while he peered out at the doorway before closing the door quietly. “How can you help me?” Eden asked in a hopeful tone, though she was weary with burdens. “I have a plan to help you escape,” Alexander said softly standing tall with his hands behind his back like the warrior he was, having perfect posture as he looked at Eden with tenderness that he tried to hide from her.

Eden stared at Alexander in shock. It was almost as if he had heard her and Jared’s conversation. Eden knew she had to escape, but how? And though Eden had some hope, she was still a bit uncertain of this sudden plan Alexander had, so she ask in a soft whisper with troubled eyes, “Why are you doing this? It has been so long since we have seen each other and even spoken.” Alexander dropped his head slightly than looked Eden in the eyes, seeing her eyes were so sad, which touched him, Eden’s eyes were never sad before in her younger years, but now they were filled with so many untold sorrows. If only he could caress her cheek and tell her everything would be all right. And though her eyes were full of sorrow, they were so beautiful at the same time, every time Alexander looked deep into Eden’s eyes, he would get lost in them, seeing forever, he could see himself and Eden having a life together.

Alexander lowered his eyes, almost forgetting what Eden had asked him, so he said, “You remember when we were little children and how we used to play together?” Eden smiled at the memory of her and Alexander playing together in the court yards, always saving her from bees flying around, as they took honey and saving her from the wrath of her father’s abuse. “Yes, I remember,” Eden said softly as she continued to smile. Alexander loved Eden’s smile, a smile he did not see much these days, but when she did smile, it made Alexander’s heart flutter.

Alexander loved to see Eden’s full lips curved into a smile causing him to smile in return. “You trusted me than Eden, trust me now,” Alexander went on to say in a deep low voice as he came closer to Eden, while she sat at her vanity table with her head slightly downcast. “The king will have you killed and order your body burned, I can’t do that to you Alexander,” Eden said with fear in her voice. “Eden, I am willing to risk my life for you because I have always loved you,” Alexander said as he closed the space between them, he was now standing in front of Eden, looking down at her as she looked up at him surprised, yet happy to hear him say he loved her.

Eden had been in love with Alexander since the first day they met under a tree in her mother’s garden, but was too shy to admit how she felt about him. Alexander was an orphan brought to Orpheus kingdom at the age of eight; Alexander was the son of one of Orpheus soldiers who died protecting Orpheus in battle long ago. Alexander’s father was a skilled warrior, so Orpheus thought that Alexander would be as good as his father and he was, if not better. Alexander’s mother died while she was giving birth to him, leaving Alexander motherless. Alexander’s father could not handle the death of his wife, so he served King Orpheus full time, hardly home to take care of Alexander and than he died shortly after. As soon as Alexander came to the castle, King Orpheus ordered that Alexander train and learned how to fight by Sir Jared.

As time passed, Alexander grew and became more and more handsome. Eden even dreamed of her and Alexander marrying despite her being a princess and he a guard, Eden did not care about Alexander being a king’s guard. All she wanted was Alexander, but she knew she could not have him, because if he ever found out the truth about her, he would never look at her twice. And though Eden was overjoyed by Alexander’s words, pain still filled her heart, feeling like she was not worth anything. Feeling like she was not worthy of love. Especially Alexander’s love, so she said in a pained voice, “Alexander, I am not worth this…” Alexander bent down on one knee to knell before Eden, taking her hand into his saying, “Eden, I will protect you and defend you with my life. You are worth everything, kingdoms and lands do not have the worth nor the value of your heart.”

Tears swelled in Eden’s eyes as she tried to hide them from Alexander, she did not want him to see her cry. Eden pursed her lips trying to hold in her tears, but they fell anyway down her cheeks. Alexander reached up and wiped Eden’s tears with his finger as he smiled sadly at her. “You know Eden, we used to be so close, we used to tell each other everything, but now, we are not as close as we used to be. I miss you and me, I miss us…” Alexander whispered. More tears fell down Eden’s face as Alexander continued to gently wipe her tears away with his strong hands. “I miss us too,” Eden said in a murmur as she looked Alexander in the eyes, seeing how he still cared for her, even though she had avoided him all these years. Eden even saw love in Alexander’s brown eyes.

“So, what is your plan?” Eden asked Alexander, clearing her throat, as she tried to compose herself, because in about thirty more minutes her birthday party would begin. But before Alexander could speak further, someone knocked on Eden’s door causing both Eden and Alexander to turn around, looking at the door, as their hearts beat wildly in their chests. Alexander stood up in front of Eden being her shield as he was about to walk towards the door, but Eden stopped Alexander by taking his hand. Alexander paused looking down at Eden as she whispered, “Wait.” Alexander took a deep breath and stood still as a statue when Eden said, “Who is it?” “My Lady, the time approaches for your party, may Elizabeth and I enter to prepare you for your festivity?” Ruth said. “Oh, of course, but give me a few minutes,” Eden explained as she led Alexander to a secret door hidden in her wall, on the far side of her bedchambers. Alexander was laughing quietly as Eden led him to her secret wall, Eden even hit Alexander on the arm giving him a hint to be quiet, but he kept laughing. Eden hit him again, but this time when Eden hit Alexander’s arm, it was playful and she found herself laughing along with him.

As Alexander came to the secret wall Eden led him to, he had to bend over to fit in, because he was so tall and a little too big for the secret passage way. “I’ll see you out,” Eden whispered with a smile on her lips. When Alexander was half way through the passageway, he looked up at Eden with that same mischievous smile he had as a child. “Feels like old times, doesn’t it?” Alexander said still smiling. Eden cocked her head to the side remembering how her and Alexander would sneak into the castle kitchens and take cookies, when they were not supposed to have any more cookies throughout the day. They both used this secret passageway to go and hide, so no one would see them eating the cookies they stole. Eden’s smile widen when she said, “Yes, it does feel like old times. Those were the days.”

And then unexpectedly, Alexander reached out and caressed Eden’s cheek, causing her smile to falter as she looked at Alexander in surprise. Alexander then came right up to Eden and gently brushed his lips on hers, stealing a kiss that was so light and soft, that Eden thought it was a dream. And to Alexander’s relief, Eden did not pull away from him nor reject his kiss, but welcomed it. “Alexander…” Eden whispered breathlessly with a voice so quiet, it could hardly be heard. Alexander reluctantly pulled away from Eden as he held her soft face in his hands, gently holding her so he would not hurt her, Alexander would never hurt Eden, never in a million years.

For a few minutes Eden was in a daze, as her brown eyes lingered on Alexander’s lips, face, and dark eyes that had longing in them. Without knowing it, Eden had fallen into Alexander’s arms with her hands on his strong chest, with their hearts beating as one. Eden had to admit that the kiss, which was so sudden, left her breathless and astonishing weak in the knees, causing her to lose her balance and her current predicament. Eden lowered her head trying to hide her flushed cheeks and even tried to pull away from Alexander, but she was about to fall down again, until Alexander instinctively wrapped his strong arms around her waist. Eden’s blush deepen even more, now Eden and Alexander’s bodies clung to each other, Alexander held Eden so close, that Eden could feel his warm breath on her cheek, she could even feel his beating heart as he came closer to her. Eden could smell Alexander’s cologne that smelled of rain forest and freshly cut trees. Being this close to Alexander was nearly intoxicating for Eden; she could hardly think with him so close to her. The way Alexander held Eden was not possessive or demanding, it was with tenderness, a love that was unexplained, a protecting type of hold, yet still gentle and warm. Eden was not used to being held so lovingly in an embrace, she knew at this very moment that she did not want to let go of Alexander, she wanted to stay like this forever, feeling safe and loved. Eden and Alexander’s lips were literally inches apart as Alexander was about to kiss Eden one more time.

As Alexander leaned in for another kiss, Eden looked up at him breathless and said in a murmur, “Why is it when I’m with you, I feel so safe, a security I have never felt, until you came? How is it I forget my worries, when you hold me so close?” “I truthfully do not know Eden, but I am glad that I can help you forget your worries, and I am also glad that you feel safe with me, because that is exactly how you make me feel,” Alexander said in a low deep voice. “Alexander, listen, I… uh… I have never told you how I feel about…” but before Eden could utter another word, her ladies-in-waiting kept knocking on her door impatiently saying, “Princess, we have been waiting out here awhile, when are you going to let us in?” Eden turned slightly in Alexander’s arms, not wanting to leave the warmth he provided for her troubled heart that felt so cold these days. “I am sorry, I’m coming,” Eden said as Alexander let go of Eden unwillingly. “I’ll see you out Eden, I’ll be waiting for you,” Alexander said charmingly as he took Eden’s hand and kissed it like a prince at a ball. Eden smiled shyly and said, “Okay, I’ll be looking for you.” Alexander smiled and was about to leave, but stopped for a moment and said, “Happy birthday princess,” then he disappeared into the dark passageway, while Eden looked after him, still breathless as she touched her lips with the tips of her fingers.

Chapter 2

Alexander waited for Eden outside her door, as her ladies-in-waiting helped her to dress for her birthday party. As Alexander waited for her, he began to form plans and scenarios of how he would get Eden out of this cursed castle. Alexander knew that it would not be easy considering her father King Orpheus would come after them along with her new fiancé King Nexus. Alexander would have to be cunning with a well thought out plan to escape. Alexander had a strong faith in God; he knew helping the princess to escape would be difficult, but not impossible because nothing was too hard for God.

As Alexander thought of strategies, Eden’s door opened slowly and Alexander looked up. When Eden came out she looked more beautiful than before, wearing a beige gown that complemented her light brown complexion. Her hair was flowing down her shoulders in waves and her eyes where enhanced with eye shadow and eye liner. Eden’s lips were a smooth brown color that suited her, along with blush on her cheeks to finish the makeup her ladies-in-waiting put on her face. Alexander couldn’t stop looking at Eden, Alexander had not seen Eden so dressed up before and the makeup, which was not much because she was a natural beauty, only made her looks more stunning. “Eden, wow,” Alexander said trying to think of something else to say, but he couldn’t. Eden smiled nervously, not liking attention on her, if anything she felt embarrassed and a bit uncomfortable.

“You don’t think this is too much?” Eden asked Alexander, spreading out her arms putting emphasis on her gown and everything else. “Are you kidding? You look great, you are a beautiful white rose in your mother’s garden,” Alexander said as he bowed to Eden. Eden waved her hand at Alexander smiling timidly then said in a quiet voice, “Do I really look beautiful?” Alexander walked right up to Eden still smiling that handsome smile Eden loved so much, and said, “Eden, you are stunning, absolutely breathtaking. Now, may I escort you to your birthday party?” Eden looked at Alexander’s outstretched arm and slipped her arm into his as he held her close.

While Alexander and Eden walked down the halls to the royal ball room, Eden leaned her head on Alexander’s shoulder and held on to his arm tightly and said, “Alexander, I don’t think I can do this, I can’t be near King Nexus, I can’t sit by him, I can’t…” “Eden, stop. You are going to be just fine, you can do this, you are strong, you’re going to make it,” Alexander said as he held on to Eden’s arm, reassuring her. For a moment Eden and Alexander stopped as Alexander looked at Eden admiring her. “You can do this, I will be close by, I won’t leave you,” Alexander whispered as he kissed Eden’s forehead so he wouldn’t mess up her makeup. Eden smiled shyly at Alexander as she looked up at him, knowing he meant every word. “Are you ready?” Alexander asked as they walked further and stood in front of the entrance to the ball room, the large doors were wide open with two of the king’s soldiers guarding it. “I’m ready,” Eden said, as both she and Alexander walked in.

As Eden entered the royal ball room with Alexander by her side, everyone stopped and began talking about how beautiful she looked. While everyone talked, Eden saw King Nexus staring at her with lust in his eyes. Nexus was a cruel arrogant looking man with long black hair, evil dark eyes like the devil, having high cheek bones and thin lips and sun tanned skin. Nexus looked to be in his early forties as he looked Eden up and down, like a hawk eager to get its prey. Eden could not control the fear she was feeling, as King Nexus cold eyes watched her every move. Eden was beginning to tremble slightly and felt a little lightheaded as Alexander led her to the king’s table. Eden almost fell but Alexander caught her holding her tightly against him as he looked at Eden seeing her face growing pale and whispered in her ear, “Eden, what’s wrong? You nearly fell over and why are you trembling?” Eden put on a shaky smile that alarmed Alexander even more so as she said, “I am fine Alexander. I am just hungry. It has been a few hours since I have last eaten.” Alexander noticed that Eden’s halfhearted smile, was the same one she had all those years ago, when he saw her on that rainy night two years ago.

Eden swallowed hard as she tried to remember to breathe and keep her balance as Alexander was coming closer to the king’s table. Alexander whispered, “Just hold on Eden, all this will be over soon, stay strong. My plan is we leave as soon as everyone is drunk, that way we will not be missed. I will wait for you in the secret passageway, with two horses ready for us to ride throughout the night.” Eden quickly recovered so no one would see her fear when she nodded her head in agreement with Alexander as she smiled at a duchess, who waved at her. Eden than whispered back, “We will make our escape tonight, I will tell my father I will have to go, due to personal reasons.” “Agreed, I will see you then, princess,” Alexander said as he escorted Eden to the kings table, where her mother Isabella and their guests were seated. When Eden sat at the long table, her heart filled with more fear because she was sitting right next to King Nexus, with his dark eyes staring right her. On Eden’s left side was her mother, who smiled warmly at her, yet her eyes told Eden how sad she was for her. Eden’s mother was a beautiful woman; Eden got her good looks from her mother. Isabella was a woman of grace having eloquent speech when she spoke with gentle eyes but sad like Eden’s. Isabella and Eden had the same physique; they had curves and were well endowed. And like Eden Isabella had a broken heart also, Eden and her mother were a lot alike, that’s why Isabella always knew what Eden was thinking and how she felt. Isabella took Eden’s hand and squeezed it tightly, trying to give her daughter her strength. Eden looked at her mother’s hand holding hers, reminding her of how her mother was always good to her, always helping her all through her childhood and into her adulthood in becoming a woman. Isabella was the best mother Eden could ask for, Isabella would give Eden the love and support she needed, when her father would beat her and put her down all the time.

Now Eden made up in her mind that it was time for her to leave this place, it was time she ran from this castle and never looked back. Eden squeezed her mother’s hand and told her in a hushed whisper that only her mother could hear, “Mom, I love you… thank you for always being there for me when no one else except Alexander and Jared was there. You are a wonderful mother.” Tears were in both Isabella and Eden’s eyes. “Oh my sweet girl, my little one, my only girl in all the world, you have always been a good daughter and I am proud to be your mother. I love you too…”

Eden lowered her head, and then turned to see what King Nexus was doing, and to her delight he was talking loudly to one of his soldiers. Eden knew that this was going to be her last time seeing her mother, it pained her. Eden was very close to her mother. Eden wished that she could take her mother with her, but she would be risking her mother’s life, so she figured it was safer that she stays behind, because Jared said he would take care of her. Eden did not tell her mother of her plans, yet the conversation they were having was a fair well, the last good bye. “Eden my love, you do what you have to, you hear me?” Isabella said to her daughter sternly, in a low voice. Eden only nodded her head with understanding, as her mother looked at her with knowing eyes.

There was dancing and all kinds of delicious foods served with alcohol. Eden drank some red wine, as she smiled at the different people coming to the kings table, wishing her a happy birthday when King Orpheus stood up and said, “I would like to make an announcement, my daughter Eden will be betrothed to King Nexus this night on her birthday.” Eden looked at her father nervously, with a forced smile on her face, thinking to herself, I can’t marry this evil man. I can’t marry a man I don’t love. But Eden knew she couldn’t reveal her real feelings about how she felt about this situation. So she kept pretending she was happy. “And also,” King Orpheus continued, “Eden will marry Nexus right now.” Eden’s eyes widen, as she looked right at Alexander, who was as shocked as she was by this news. King Nexus stood up from his seat and began saying, “Thank you King Orpheus, I accept your daughter as my wife.” Eden stared at Orpheus and said in a pleading voice, “Father…” but before Eden could say more, Orpheus cut her off saying, “Silence, you will marry Nexus now.” “Come my wife, let us seal our marriage,” Nexus said to Eden as his voice ran chills down Eden’s spine. Nexus looked down at her with hungry eyes again as Eden thought to herself, ‘Only a few more hours, and I will get out of this place.’

Literally minutes later, Orpheus had Eden and Nexus married by his priest, binding them with golden rings. Eden looked at the ring on her third finger, feeling chained down and trapped. After Eden and Nexus were man and wife, Orpheus grabbed both their hands and raised them high in the air, announcing that their kingdoms were united. Eden looked at her father who was excited by their union, because soon, Nexus kingdom would be his. Eden stared at her father’s face, his face was hard with many lines, he had a full beard and he had a long scar on his face that started from his right eyebrow, and curved across his face, ending on the far side of his left cheek. ‘He must have gotten the scar in battle,’ Eden thought as she stared at his scar, she never noticed his scar before, mostly because she wasn’t allowed to look him in the face. Orpheus long scar only made him look more evil and menacing, with his thick dark eyebrows which were dark like his short hair.

Nexus held on tight to Eden’s hand, as they walked towards the dance floor. “Shall we dance?” Nexus said Eden in a demanding tone, as she stared up at him, not knowing what to say or do. “Let’s go,” Nexus ordered Eden, as he grabbed her arm roughly and led her the rest of the way to the dance floor. Alexander watched Nexus forced Eden out on the dance floor as he discreetly followed them. Alexander wished he could get Eden out of here right now, but he had to wait and it was killing him to do so.

Nexus forced Eden to the dance floor and made her dance with him, as he held her close, too close. “You are mine now Eden, and you will give me a son, many sons, I need an heir to carry on my name and my kingdom,” Nexus said in a commanding tone, holding Eden like a prized possession as they danced. Eden looked right into Nexus eyes seeing pure darkness, Eden felt trapped as she stared into Nexus eyes seeing something wasn’t right with him.

The way Nexus held Eden was nothing like the way Alexander held her, when Alexander held Eden, she felt safe, warm, and loved, being handled with the utmost of care. But the way Nexus held Eden was demanding and controlling, Nexus handled Eden roughly, as he force her to dance with him. While Eden felt like she was in the arms of the Devil, she searched the crowd for Alexander and could not find him. She continued to search for Alexander, as she felt a panic attack coming on. As Eden’s heart beat out of control, she found Alexander in the sea of people, with his brown eyes right on her. Eden could tell by the way Alexander was looking at her and Nexus that he wanted to kill Nexus. Eden looked right at Alexander, as their eyes locked and in that moment Eden felt whole. Though she was in the arms of another man, she felt peace when she looked into Alexander’s eyes.

Alexander gave Eden hope, a hope she thought was forgotten, Alexander gave Eden the strength to press on, even though she wanted to give up. Eden wanted to run into Alexander’s arms right now, as Nexus pulled her across the dance floor hurting her, holding her wrists tight, making sure Eden could not escape his hold. “You will do what I say, and you will not fight me. Do you hear me?” Nexus said as he grabbed Eden’s chin, forcing her to look at him. “You will obey me and I will do what I want to you, like last time…” Nexus whispered into Eden’s ear, as she stiffened in his arms with her eyes wide with fear. Nexus smiled wickedly and went on to say, “Do you really think I wouldn’t remember you? It’s been a few years and I did not know your name back than, but you haven’t changed a bit. Now you are mine,” Nexus hissed as Eden pulled away from him, breathing hard, looking at him with fear and hurt in her eyes. All the while Nexus smiled like a chess eyed cat. Alexander saw Eden pull away from Nexus, staring at him like she saw a ghost. Alexander wondered what happened, as Nexus and Eden looked out of place on the dance floor. Eden had dread all over her face, while Nexus had a satisfied expression on his own face, standing arrogantly before Eden, looking down at her, feeling superior.

One of King Orpheus guard’s blew his horn to let everyone in the ballroom know it was time for dinner. Eden continued to look at Nexus with terror in her eyes as she crossed her arms over her chest, feeling exposed as she rubbed her arms with her hands trying to warm herself, because Nexus eyes made her feel cold and uncomfortable. “Come Eden, it is time we feast in celebration of your birth, and our union as man and wife,” Nexus said as he held out his hand for Eden to take. But she did not take his hand, and this angered Nexus, so he grabbed Eden’s arm, and led her back to the King’s table. Once Eden sat down, a plate of food was served to her, but she could not eat, the stress was too great, and the fear of being caught, tortured and killed was overwhelming. If Alexander and Eden could pull this off it would be a miracle.

The party continued all night, many hours passed as King Orpheus and King Nexus had a good time getting drunk. There was a lot of drinking and merry making. Eden looked right at Alexander, who nodded his head, giving her the signal it was time to go. As the drinking continued, this gave Alexander and Eden an opportunity to make their exit, as Eden stood up to leave, she looked at her mother one last time as her mother waved good-bye, Eden did the same, knowing that this might be her last time seeing her mother. Both kings were drunk and weren’t noticing what was happening around them. The other guards were guarding the doors, so Eden knew she would have to come up with a plan. She looked at her ladies-in-waiting Ruth and Elizabeth, who sat further away at the kings table and told the king she had to take care of something personal, and that she needed both Ruth and Elizabeth’s assistance. The King who was usually suspicious, agreed and dismissed Eden and her ladies-in-waiting.

As Eden and her ladies-in-waiting left the royal ball room, they walked down the halls in haste, trying to get to her bedchambers as soon as possible. Two days earlier before Eden knew she was marrying King Nexus, Eden revealed to her ladies-in-waiting that she would have to escape from the castle, knowing that her father would soon marry her off. She told them she would need their assistance. Eden also told them that they could not reveal this to anyone. If the King found out, they would be killed. Ruth and Elizabeth loved Eden, and would do anything for her, because they knew how ruthless and evil her father was to her. Eden wanted to talk to her mother, but she knew she would be endangering her mother’s life. So Eden kept her plan from her mother Isabella, but Eden knew that her mother knew of her plans because they were so close. Eden wanted her mother to come with her but she knew her mother would not come with her, she would tell her to go without her, that was Isabella, always selfless and thinking of her daughter.

Eden and her ladies-in-waiting finally made it to her chambers. They were all getting fearful by now, but Eden knew she had to move fast. Ruth and Elizabeth helped her to change in some riding clothes which consisted of pants, a tunic, and boots, and packed some food and water, and other items for their journey. Eden knew it had to be a very light bag. While she was getting ready, there was a knock on her door. It was another guard of the king at the door. Ruth and Elizabeth began to say, “What are we going to do?” Eden whispered to them, “Stay calm, go to the secret passageway.” Eden’s ladies-in-waiting went to the hidden passageway in the wall. Eden nodded her head at Ruth and Elizabeth, and began to speak to whoever was at the door. “Yes, who is it?” “The kings guard, Arthur. The king has sent me to see why it is taking so long for you to return.” Worry lines creased Eden’s forehead, as sweat began to appear on her face and neck. Eden took a breath and said in a clear voice, “Tell my father I will be there in a moment.” Satisfied with the answer, the guard left to tell the king. Eden looked at her ladies-in-waiting, as they finish packing extra begs for her, when she said, “You will have to leave with me immediately or you will be killed.” Ruth and Elizabeth looked at each other for a moment, than back at Eden, knowing they would have to leave their families behind, so they both nodded their heads in agreement.

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