Early on Mina had been cursed with a fierce curiosity. Her nursemaid Millie told her so many times one day being a Princess would not be enough to get her out of the trouble she seemed to always pull herself into from sticking her nose where it didn’t belong. She was not mean-spirited she just wanted to know everything. Literally, everything. Where did that winding road lead to? Why was that commoner crying? Had her husband gone off to war and not made it home? Was she not able to feed her small children clinging to her muddy skirts? Sometimes she would go as far as asking. Some commoners appreciated her interest in their lives, others thought her too cavalier.
One sunny afternoon in the market she had asked the wrong man about the dirty bandage around his head. She asked if he had made a gallant effort to save his love from a burning house or had he been in war? The man spit at her feet and began screaming obscenities to her. Her guards immediately intervened and pushed her behind them. She found out later that Damon had had the man beaten publically for public indecency. Indecent in the sense that he was dirty and unseemly to passerbys. His two small children had been forced to stand back and watch with no compassion from anyone around for fear of Damon and her father’s wrath.
Since then she tried to behave a bit more tactfully but sometimes her inquisitiveness got the better of her.
Walking down the abandoned corridor she had found, Mina listened intently to the giggling she had heard early that morning. She wasn’t aware that she was sharing her wing with anyone else. None of the servants had told her of other visitors to the Palace and the Queen had not introduced her to anyone since she arrived.
The incessant giggling grew louder and louder the farther south she walked. All of these living quarters looked empty with the doors open and not so much as the wind blowing through the window and outside trees could be heard. Ordinarily she would have been worried about intruding but with her curiosity propelling her forward and no friends to investigate with she plowed onward.
Reaching a set of closed double doors Mina pressed her right ear to the door, careful not to scrape her gold earing on the cherrywood. The giggling was coming from a female voice and a male. Who would possibly be staying down here in the South wing of the castle? Allowing her curiosity to get the better of her she kneeled down in her burgundy silk and taffeta gown and pressed her right eye to the keyhole. At first she saw no one, only hearing the soft giggles and acquiesces of the female in the room. All she could tell was the female sounded young, around her age or maybe a few years older.
After crouching down for a good while a slim, ebony haired beauty sashayed by in her undergarments. She may have been one of the most exotically beautiful girls Mina had ever seen. The gold in her corset bringing out her dark, tanned skin. Mina was not overly self-conscience. She was comfortable in her skin. Her wheat colored hair fell in ringlets down her back when she left it down and had a sprinkling of freckles across her nose and cheeks. One would assume her eyes were blue from far away but she had inherited her mother’s grey irises and up close they looked like a dark steel color.
But this girl made her feel inadequate. Mina did not feel exotic or tall. She felt small and plain next to the raven haired beauty.
After giggling and prancing around to show off her slim figure, a taller man joined her in front of the keyhole. He was also taller, and broad. Very broad. He was paler than the girls but had corded muscles running from his arms to his back, where she was slender. Mina wondered who the couple was and why they were hiding out.
She wondered no more when the man turned toward the window. She recognized his straight nose and side grin. She could see the dark brown color of his eyes, reflecting gold from her hiding spot. She gasped and fell backwards, ungracefully, on her bottom. Knowing she had made too much noise already she quickly gathered her skirts and tried to hoist herself up quickly before the young couples could make it across the room to the doors. As she was gathering her skirts in fistfuls to make a quick getaway when the door was flung open. The man had thrown his undershirt on and did not look pleased, until he realized who had interrupted his ren de vous.
“Mina?” he asked clearly confused and maybe a little amused at Mina’s haggard state.
“Castian.” Mina choked out. She felt her cheeks flush a violent red and as if the gods hated her the raven haired beauty came to the doorway and frowned down upon her. Mina lifted her head in an attempt to come off more confident than she felt and muttered an excuse about being lost and trying to find the stables so that she could see the palace grounds.
The girl decided to answer for Castian and said, not without disdain “Those would be outside Princess, not in the castle.” After saying so she tugged at the Prince’s shirt tail persuading him to close the door on his betrothed and to join her again in their hideout.
“Straight down the way you came, down the stairs and out the side doors of the castle. You should remember that. Or you can take the passageway hidden behind the tapestry in your quarters. You remember.” With that he winked and closed the door.