A M E L I O R A T E
(v.) make something bad or unsatisfactory better.
"WHAT DO you mean, our daughter needs a bodyguard?" Damon Ivy crossed his big arms over his chest, frowning at the tall woman standing across their living room. They looked so out of place in the room, one big man with a badass white beard and one tall german woman with weapons strapped to her thigh. Both equally as intimidating.
"With all due respect, sir," the german woman replied. "There was a mass shooting and I don't think those men have been caught. I know you can afford it and I suggest that you take the necessary precautions for your daughter's safety."
Damon looked at his wife's worried face. He would never hesitate to provide for whatever would keep his daughter safe. He nodded to Kael. "What was this Academy you were talking about?"
As Kael explained for the third time in the past hour about the institution that provided the best trained bodyguards, Bleu sat in the corner with Paris by her side, her hands trembling.
The taller brunette noticed and reached over to grasp her hand in hers. "Bleu, I'm so sorry-"
"He was shot," Bleu whispered, her blue orbs welling up. "I was going to break up with him for you and he got shot because of you."
Paris felt a pang in her chest at her words. When she put them like that, she couldn't help but feel guilty and responsible. This was all her fault. She should have just stayed home. She should have never pushed coming to school. This wouldn't have happened.
Bleu sat there numbly clutching Paris' hands in her own. She had no idea about the impact of her words on her friend, she was merely realizing out loud. She never blamed Paris for what happened, but she had already said the words and they meant differently to the brunette.
That was the thing about words. Once they were said, no matter how different you meant or them to be, they could never be unsaid. The choice of words, the choice of how they were placed in semantics are crucial. This particular string of words hit Paris deep in her heart.
Is everything truly going to be my fault?
But she didn't think or dwell on what she just said. Her mind had reverted back to the note she found in her bag. She knew they meant to kill Paris, but why send a note to her about it? What did they mean by "don't wait before the heart in the sink becomes hers"? What do they want from her?
She shuddered at the thought of the heart on the sink as Paris'. She would never be able to live with herself if anything happened to her best friend because of herself.
Meanwhile Bleu's parents were still discussing.
"We can't just hire a bodyguard to follow Bleu around like a puppy. I don't want my daughter deprived of her private life!"
"Cateline, this is for her own good. It's not like she'll have one forever. It's just to keep her safe until this all blows over."
"And what if it never does? Are we all just going to live in solitary confinement? And how trustworthy is this Royal Protection Academy anyway? I've never even heard of it! For all we know, they could kidnap Bleu as well and ask for ransom."
"Miss Ivy, if I may, the Academy has been protecting royal families for centuries, and are the best at what we do." Kael tried to explain.
"But how is it that it's completely unheard of?" Daemon was doubtful.
They weren't sure if they could trust this strange-sounding institute with their daughter's life but they needed to trust someone with it.
Paris decided to end it all.
She stood up and cleared her throat. "Excuse me."
They all stopped talking to look at her, Kael's eyebrow raised in question at what the princess was about to say.
Paris took a deep breath. She trusted her instincts. She trusted her best friend's parents.
"They were after me."
Kael's eyes widened and both Ivy parents frowned in slight confusion. Bleu grabbed her dress, whispering, "Par, what are you doing?"
"What do you mean," Damon Ivy said slowly. "They're after you?"
And so Paris told them everything. And despite the look of slight panic in Kael's face, she proceeded on anyway. From how she found out she was of royal blood, to the heart found on the sink. Kael's stance stiffened when she mentioned the last part and so did Bleu's dad.
"A heart?" He practically boomed. "In my daughter's bathroom sink? As a threat?"
"And you didn't think of telling me that?" Kael stepped forward, frowning.
Paris hung her head. "I'm so sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Ivy. Because of me, Bleu's life is threatened. So please listen to what Kael says and give her protection. I won't risk her life for mine. I'll move and stay as far away from you guys as possible. I don't want anymore people hurt."
Paris couldn't meet their eyes. She focused her eyes on the hand that was grasping hers. Bleu was once again her strength. She felt like such a burden. None of this would have happened if she had just allowed her uncle to kill her and get it over with. All those kids that were shot in school are gone or would never be the same again because of her. She blamed every being of herself.
Then to her absolute surprise, she was enveloped in a hug.
"Paris, look at me," Blue eyes met green ones as Cateline held her still. Paris just about broke down in emotions. "You're family. We've known you your whole life. You didn't ask to be born to be a princess, and we understand you have a duty to your country." She cupped the crying tall girl's face, stroking her cheeks with her thumbs and looking at her with love. "Stay here with us. You're now under our protection as well."
"Bleu is and will be fine," Damon cleared his throat. "I've dealt with mafias before." He then indicated to both Kael and Paris. "Both of you should stay here. I'll contact the Academy, as you've suggested, Kael, and hire another one as talented as you."
"I already have one agent in mind, sir," Kael replied. "And it wasn't talent. I was just at the right place at the right time." She dismissed his praise and indirectly accepted his offer.
"Then it's settled," Damon clapped his hands together. "And now to find that culprit who works here. No one else knows this house's password except for Hargrove and Rosa. I'm going to have to speak with those two to get to the bottom of this."
As he walked out the room, Paris slowly sat down beside Bleu; both parents' support and calmness in finding out and handling Paris' situation amazing her.
"Par, listen to me," Bleu gently cradled her cheek and looked at her eyes. "None of this is your fault, do you understand? None of this is your fault. What happened, happened. And blaming yourself won't turn back time. We'll get through this, we'll catch your uncle, and your country will be in good hands. We'll get through this."
Paris weakly nodded, the weight of her words pushing on her heart.
"Dear," Cateline sat beside her, gently holding her hands in her soft ones. "If you don't mind me asking, why are you running? Why not just claim the throne now and punish your uncle?"
"I'm not 18, yet," Paris replied, squeezing her hand. "Technically I'm not elligible for the throne until two weeks from now. That's plenty of time for him to ki- find me." Paris gulped.
"But," Bleu drew her eyebrows together. "If the world knew you were the real princess who's next in line for the throne, your uncle is powerless."
"But nobody knows. Heck, nobody would even believe me. If people knew, he wouldn't even be hunting me down so desperately."
"Don't worry," Kael said, leaning against the door casually and typing on her phone. "Leave this to me."
And all three women wondered how on earth one German woman was going to let the world know about the true missing princess.
Kael left that evening to go back to their place and pack up some of their things. Paris stayed behind. She had lost count of how many times she had thanked Bleu's parents, and each time they shrugged it off and told her not to mention it again. They were very level-headed when it came to this shocking situation, and Paris' admiration for them grew.
Bleu's words from earlier that afternoon kept replaying in her head. She placed her forehead against the cold, marble wall of the shower room, and shut her eyes. She wanted so badly to believe her. She wanted to believe that none of this was her fault, that she didn't ask to be born into the royal family. But the more she replayed the events in her head, the more she doubted. She shook her head to clear the overbearing thoughts in her mind and rinsed off the suds of soap on her body.
"Hey Bleu," Paris called from inside the bathroom as she stepped outside the shower. "Could you please pass me a towel? I forgot to bring one on my way in."
Hearing no reply, she tried calling again.
She groaned and used the ruined dress that she had discarded as coverage for herself and tiptoed out to grab a towel herself.
And there on the bed lay Bleu. Freshly showered, clutching her phone against her chest and dressed in a batman shirt and superman short shorts, her ensemble to say the least was adorable.
But her sleeping face was scary as fuck.
Paris noted that her eyelids didn't fully shut, and thus giving the illusion that Bleu was half awake. Her mouth was wide open, exposing a small piece of vegetable that was latched on to her teeth from dinner. Her snores were her only sleeping indicator.
Looks like she hasn't brushed her teeth.
Paris smiled at the image. No matter how scary Bleu looked when she was asleep, Paris somehow always found it cute.
Not wanting to disturb her, Paris dried and dressed and moved to help Bleu into a more comfortable position. She gently pried her phone from her hands, seeing that the blonde had tried to call Dean for the past hour. He didn't pick up. Again, that guilty feeling welled up inside her. I just need to sleep this off. She checked the time: midnight.
Once Bleu was settled, Paris pulled the covers over the sleeping blonde. She looked down at her softly breathing form and felt the sudden urge to kiss her.
So she did.
She leaned down slowly, watching those soft lips come closer and closer. When her own touched the pair, it was of the merest brush, a soft sweep of velvet. She closed her eyes in a brief moment to relish the feel of her lips, wondering how on earth something so simple and small could be so erotic. When she pulled back, Bleu was awake.
Wide, confused blue eyes regarded calm green ones.
"I wanna pull you down and kiss you harder," a soft sleepy voice said. "But I don't know if this is a dream or not. You're stunning."
Paris softy laughed at that. Bleu was still groggy from sleep so she let her believe what she wanted.
"It's ok love," Paris whispered. "Go back to sleep. I'm here."
Bleu buried her face into the pillow she was hugging, smiling against it. "G'night." She said groggily before falling into snores again.
Paris herself moved under the covers and was just about to turn off the lights via the control remote by their bedside, when the door knocked.
Paris sighed, thinking it was just Cateline coming to see if there was anything they needed.
But then the knocks grew more insistent.
"Paris? Can I come in?"
Paris quickly walked over to open the door instead of yelling to come inside. She didn't want to wake Bleu.
The pale look on Cateline's face stopped her when she opened the door.
"Oh, hi Mrs. Ivy, is everything alright?"
"Is Bleu in there? Is she awake?" She asked in a worried tone.
"Mrs. Ivy? What's wrong?" Paris frowned, having a sinking feeling in her stomach.
Today has been too much.
"It's Kael, sweetie," Cateline's hands were slightly shaking. "They found her body at the side of the road."