Better Worse 05

I awake in discomfort, unfamiliar pains hurting my body. I am sore all over, but most especially between my legs. It is that pain that draws me out of my sleep, I am shooting upright with a gasp. The gasp will be repeated just seconds later as I realize I am not in my room, not in my comfortable bed. Instead I find myself in the garden’s gazebo, on a bench that is fine for sitting but not so much for sleeping.

My clothes are disheveled, dress pulled down to expose my breasts. My skirt is in disarray, but my movements during the night have caused it to flow free of it’s hiked up state. I am in such a shock, for one instant I just stare down at myself. I want to scream, but I don’t dare. My sharply inhaled breath moves me into action. I hurriedly start to fix my dress, jerking the fabric up over my breasts.

Lotor is nowhere to be found. I know he is gone even before I tune my awareness to something other than my clothing. I don’t quite understand what has happened, why he has left me. Why he has allowed me to remain here where anyone could come across my shame. Even if he had to leave for Doom, it would not excuse him for leaving me here.

My hands form fists. I am blinking back tears. He should have woken me up. Shouldn’t have left me here. Even if last night meant nothing to him, he should have made sure I returned safely to my room. I don’t understand his actions at all, but I am hurt by him all the same. I feel used. Abused even. What should have been special, has been ruined by his careless actions. I know I would feel differently if I had woken up in my bed. But out here, left alone and exposed? I harbor no illusions about what we shared. It-I had meant nothing to him.

I snort then, a cruel, bitter laugh escaping me. Nothing is too kind for what he made me. I was nothing more than another conquest, just the latest in a string of women he used and then abandoned. I was such a fool to think I mattered to him. Even worse, I was naive. Stupid to buy into his professed feelings of love. I feel betrayed by Lotor, but more than that I am disappointed in myself.

How could I have let him use me? How could I have let things go so far between us? Why had I been so foolish as to believe his every word, his every endearment and false flattery? I had eaten up his every word, blinded by my own delusions. Hoping, wanting to believe I had made such an impression I had won not only his friendship, but his love.

My fist hits the bench’s seat, and I wince from the pain. I am as angry as I am upset, and torturing myself with recriminations. And all because I had thought myself so mature, so knowledgeable about nearly everything. But while my education had been broadened about politics, history, and languages, I had known nothing about the true nature of men. Of how they would use you, say and do anything to get what they want from you. But I knew now, and was determined to never be taken advantage of again. Even as I knew it was too late for me. Lotor had ruined me.

I brush angrily at my eyes, trying to stop the tears before they fall. It will serve no good for me to break down in the gardens. I take a few calming breaths, trying to stave off the hysterical sob bubbling within me. I then attempt to rise from my seat, and my legs nearly give out. The pain of his penetration has made itself known, my legs shaky and weak. There is a sharp pain with every step I take, and it only furthers my own anger. My fists actually clench in response to it, my chin jutting up as I stalk determinedly from the gazebo and the gardens.

I don’t know for certain what time it is. All I know is the sun is up, and the birds are about. Chirping and chattering, singing songs to welcome in the morning. Normally I find the song of the birds pleasant. Now their noise only grates on my nerves.

I enter the castle, and I am not yet so far gone to my hurt and upset as to boldly announce my arrival. I am cautious, sneaking about, avoiding the guards. There are never as many guards during the day shift as there are at night. It makes my task easier, though I am still forced to sneak about like a thief in my own home. To even dash into side rooms, all in an attempt to avoid being seen.

To be seen now might be disastrous. I want no one to know what has happened to me. Maybe then I can escape ruin, let what happened last night be nothing more than my secret shame. I don’t even dare think what will happen if Lotor chooses not to be quiet. I can only pray that he is decent enough to not want to boast about making the princess of Arus his latest whore.

I almost laugh then, the emotion behind it bitter. Decent? Is Lotor even that? I do not want to have any charitable thoughts about him, but so much rides on his ability to keep quiet about what we did! It would bring scandal of the worse kind to the house of my parents. My name and reputation smeared, my future prospects ruined. Especially where finding a husband was concerned!

Once again I find myself screaming inside my head, abusing myself for my foolishness. Why had last night seemed like a good idea? Why had I thought it worth the risk to be with Lotor? But I knew why. He had said he loved me. A lie, but at the time one I believed. One that made me think we had a future TOGETHER. I had let him dazzle me with the lie of love, let myself believe we could one day marry and start a family together. He had promised no such thing, but I had deluded myself over the words he did speak to me.

He is the worst scum I have ever had the privilege of knowing. I seethe as I climb the stairs to the fourth floor. There is no excuse for what he has done. No excuse for treating me this way. Even if our childhood meant nothing to him, I had thought him my friend. That friendship was surely another delusion of mine. A lie I had held on to for years. Why had I made excuse for the way he had hated me as a child? Why had I forgive his insolence and rudeness? Why, why, WHY?! Why had I let myself be so blinded to his faults, to the real Lotor?

I fear it was because I had been half in love with him even as a child. I might still hold some fond feeling for him, even now. I hated myself that I might still be in love with him even now. But love is not so easy to kill, not even in the face of betrayal such as what Lotor has given me. I hate that, wish it could be different. I despise him now, and can only hope that with the passage of time, this bit of twisted emotion will fade in the face of my anger and hurt.

I know he is too good for my love. Too undeserving. For love and for what I had given him last night. I had been innocent, but no longer. Lotor had been my rude awakening. I could cry over gaining such experience. The tears are burning at my eyes. They will not be held back for much longer. But my room is within sight. I just have a few feet to travel and I will be safe. No one will even know I was gone all night.

But life mocks me even now. My luck has run out, a maid emerging from my room. Her face is troubled, I can see that even as her eyes meet with mine. We stare at each other a long moment, and all I can do is pray she hasn’t raised the alarm about my absence from the room. I can’t even muster a smile, the woman stepping closer to me.

“Princess Allura!” She exclaims louder than I would prefer. “You were not in your room. I feared…”

Heaven knows what she had thought about my absence. My mind is racing, trying to work past my anger at Lotor. And all so I can come up with an excuse that might be believable. “I…I couldn’t sleep.” I begin. I was about to tell her I had gone for a walk in the gardens, when suddenly the maid nods.

“Ah, couldn’t sleep? You should have come to me. I have the perfect remedy for sleepless nights.” She seems relieved, almost too willing to buy my excuse.

“Next time I’ll do that…” I promise her. “It’s…it’s certainly better than wandering the castle until I feel tired…”

“That it is.” Agrees the maid. She begins to smile at me, then suddenly freezes. Her eyes had been looking me over, a fact that had me nervous. Could she somehow tell by my rumpled clothes what I had been doing? But even if she had, it was nothing as incriminating as what was on my neck. The maid had noticed the marks Prince Lotor had left on my skin. They were damning signs, and I fought not to slap a hand over the side of my neck.

“I think I’ll return to bed now…” I say lamely. I start to edge past her, wanting to flee to the safety of my room. The maid moves to follow, ready to serve me.

“Princess Allura, do you require anything?”

“No, nothing.” I say. “Marie…can you tell the others to let me sleep in for today? I am still tired…”

“Of course.” She agrees. “I’ll keep everyone away.” And she will. Just as she will talk and gossip about all she has seen, all she thinks she knows. She won’t know just who I had been with, but there was an alarming number of suspects to be had. Even with some of the party guests having left to the nearest city, there were still many who had remained. Just as there had been many men I had danced with. I’m sure the maid’s mind was spinning about, trying to guess at which of my admirers I had snuck away to visit.

I could only hope they wouldn’t suspect just exactly what happened. Let them think I had done nothing more than some kissing and touching. It would be infinitely less shameful than if the truth was discovered!

But even kisses were damaging. If my parents were to hear, I shuddered to think of the lectures I would have to endure. The questioning they would give me. Especially when my first impulse was to break down in my mother’s arms, confess to her all that had happened as if she could make it all better. But I knew she could not. No one could. Maybe not even Lotor.

I would not delude myself into hoping it was all some horrible misunderstanding. I entered into my chambers, and hurried into the bathroom. I was so close to breaking, so close to crying. I hurriedly turned on the shower, the water’s roar blasting out loud enough to drown out the worst of my crying. It wasn’t enough to just cry. I felt dirty. I needed to get clean, needed to wipe away the imagined filth that clung to me. But I feared I would never escape the memories of what had happened last night.

It hadn’t been worth it. Sex had been a disappointment, more pain than pleasure, even with Lotor trying to be considerate. I snort again, the sound distorted. It’s halfway between an angry laugh and a bitter sob. And all because I realized considerate wasn’t a word that should apply to the prince. If he had really been considerate, he would have never done what he had done to me. It mattered not that he tried to make sex better for me, tried to help me adjust to his invasion.

Sex. I kept using that word. But what else was there? There was no way what we had done could be called love. I had been deluded, lied to. I had entered thinking we both shared the same feelings, that the act was special. But it was not. It was dirty and mean spirited, filthy. Sex, pure and simple.

I start to undress, throwing my clothes on the floor. I reach for my panties, and freeze when I notice the stains on them. Blood and semen, mixed together. A horrible reminder of how he had used me. I start shaking, no longer trying to stop the tears. I need to do something with the panties, keep them from being seen in this state. Would burning them be too extreme a reaction?

Shaking, I set them aside, and enter into the shower stall. I let the cold water pelt me, let my tears mingle with the drops on my cheeks. I am openly crying, sobbing and wheezing. I am distraught and no there is no comfort coming. Not from anyone. This is my burden to bear alone, God willing. I will go to my grave with this my dirty secret. I haven’t even yet had time to process all that sex with Lotor could mean. Pregnancy hasn’t even entered my thoughts. I have enough to worry about, without Lotor’s bastard being added to the equation.

For the longest time I do nothing. I just lean into the shower’s spray, shivering and crying. I almost want to vomit. I hate how I feel. Hate the shame and hurt, the distress of it all. And to think just hours ago I had been ridiculously happy. And all because of the same bastard who was responsible for my tears now.

When I do start to wash, it is rough. As though my anger is being translated into my actions. My hands scrub at my flesh, till the skin looks raw and red. And still I feel unclean. Will I ever feel whole again? I do not know, but I put an end to my tears. I will try not to waste another moment crying over Lotor. Crying over what he did to me. My tears will die just as the water and soap suds go down the drain. My eyes while red rimmed, shine with resolve. I will go on as if nothing has happened. Will carry myself with dignity and pride. I will pretend the night with Lotor never happened, and maybe just maybe I’ll start to believe that as well.

To that end I leave the bathroom. I make sure to hide my soiled panties so that none of the maids can come across them. I’ll deal with destroying them later. For now I must get ready for breakfast. But I don’t feel like eating. Don’t feel like pasting on a fake smile for the guests that still remain in the castle. One thing is good though. Lotor and the other Drules will have had to have left by now. I will be able to deal better if I don’t have to look into Lotor’s knowing eyes, or see any of his entourage.

I take care to dress in such a way as to cover any marks Lotor has left on my body. A high neck collar for my shirt, I even go so far as to wear pants. I feel as though I want none of my flesh to be seen, not even my arms or my legs. People may wonder why I’ve forgone my usual dresses, but I simply do not care. They need not be privy to my reasons, and I will not offer them any excuses.

I run a brush over my hair. It is the last step towards making myself presentable enough to face the world. I draw a deep breath, and leave my apartment. I ignore any curious stares I get, even the whispered conversation of the servants. Conversations that seems to die down whenever I draw near to them. But it leaves no doubt in my mind. The maid Marie has been busy, telling everyone who will listen about the marks on my neck.

Breakfast is a crowded affair. Many of the nobles who remain in the castle have come to eat. Many will depart soon after. But for now they are here, ready to talk and try to worm their way into each other’s good graces. My admirers from the party last night are also present, many men crowding around me in an attempt to catch my attention. I do not focus on any one in particular, distracted as I talk with them. It is good not to pay any one man favor, for the servants are present and would surely report back to the maids their suspicions on who could have been my paramour from the night before.

What is discussed at breakfast, I could not tell you. It all seemed so simple and meaningless, no real point to the chatter. Social climbers all around me, trying to better their situation. Would these men still want me if they knew I was used? That I was damaged goods, Prince Lotor’s left overs? Or would their greed for Arus’ throne allow them to overlook my shame?

It is a relief when breakfast is over. Some of the men try to get me to stay, to join them in the tea room for further talk and flirtation. I make excuses, claiming I am still tired from the late hours of the party. They grudgingly accept this, allowing me to retreat back to my bedroom. But my private chambers are no longer such a safe haven. The maids have been busy, bringing in the gifts of last night. The gowns are hung in my closet, but the jewelry cases are piled up near my vanity.

It wouldn’t have bothered me if not for one glaring offender. The velvet case containing Lotor’s necklace. It stood out, a mocking reminder of him. I wonder now if he bought me such an expensive necklace in order to purchase my silence. He needn’t have bothered. I’ll never willingly reveal what has happened between us. It is shame enough just to keep the secret just between us. Never mind the ordeal it would be if the public knew.

There is nothing I can do to Lotor. But I take satisfaction in attacking the necklace, in violently pulling it apart so the diamonds and sapphires scatter onto the carpet. It is a fortune I ruin, and yet I don’t care. I only wish Lotor was here, so I could exert that same violence on him! I lose myself to fantasies of slapping that deceitful smile off his face, in beating him. And for one instant I manage a bitter smile, just before I break down in tears for the second time this day.

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