Ryan is unable to keep his eyes off of Prince Urie. The Prince would only even glance at Ryan in his dreams.
Every evening was the same. The room would be filled with chatter, laughter, music, and the sounds of soles of shoes hitting the ground. Women would be dressed in pure elegance and grandeur in rouched, satin ball gowns. Their hair would be done up in braids high atop their heads, their faces powdered porcelain white with rosy cheeks, and their bodies would be squeezed into suffocating corsets, forcing certain areas in and others up and out. Men would prance about in jet black tail coats, finely ruffled collars and well fit trousers. Together everyone would mingle while sipping the most expensive Champaign in all of London, or dance gracefully across the ballroom floor to the melodies of a chamber string quartet. And every night at Prince Urie’s grandiose parties, my eyes couldn’t be set upon another soul than the prince, of course, Prince Brendon Urie of London, England.
Tonight was no different. Peter and William had asked me to join them, claiming tonight would be ‘special’ and unlike the other evenings I’d spent standing in the corner of the ballroom, watching the other guests waltz lavishly, while my two best friends socialized with the other guests. I wouldn’t deny their heartfelt requests for I knew they cared far too much about my well being.
And, as always, the prince stood in the middle of the ballroom, smiling deeply and chatting animatedly with a group of high-class socialites. He wears a black silken waistcoat with a paisley pattern set into the fabric, ruffle collared under coat, platinum cufflinks, and matching trousers. His dark brown locks are straight and combed neatly against his head, framing just above his right eye. His eyes are gleaming tonight, wide and inviting, in a chocolate mahogany color. And, oh, how I wish they’d just once, if only for a split second, glance up at me, meeting my gaze. So I can see them glitter and glow directly, not from my surreptitious vantage point in my hidden corner.
Suddenly, three women, who I know are the Duchess’s daughters, Ariana, Victoria, and Elizabeth, come to the prince’s side. Ariana has flowing blond hair, confused hazel eyes, and a curving figure. Victoria is dark haired with icy blue eyes and a petite body. And, Elizabeth, the youngest sibling, has auburn hair, dark green eyes, and a robust appearance. All of which are utterly unsatisfying and dull. My eyes fall upon the prince once more who was smiling politely, looking from one girl to the next. Ariana rests her palm on the prince’s right shoulder as she speaks words I can not distinguish from my corner, and Victoria has gripped his left elbow. Elizabeth merely fans herself, haughtily, with a permanent, envious scowl across her face.
A knot coils itself inside my throat, tightly wound, pulling my breath sharper. The prince smiles at the women, soft, full lips tightening at the corners of his mouth. The knot pulls a little tighter. Victoria leans in, lips nearly brushing the corner of his ear, whispering something inaudible, and his eyes flickering to hers. My breath hitches once, and my throat seals shut with nothing other than blinding, searing, smothering jealousy. He nods slowly, saying something to the other girls that must’ve been an apology and farewell, and led Victoria to the dance floor. I shudder, casting my gaze downward, letting the jealousy seep into every corner of my body.
“George,” says a voice from behind me, startling me. Peter appears at my side, smiling brightly, though nothing compared to the prince’s. I glare at him. He knows I hate that name. George. My back stiffens. I’ve told Peter many a time that I prefer Ryan, my middle name, and he knows that. But he also enjoys bothering me.
“What?” I ask. I try to recover myself, so as not to show how much being called that vexes me.
“I was talking to William, and, well, he said that we are to meet the prince tonight. He said that his father is working with the King’s party in court, and Prince Urie wants to meet William. But he wants to introduce us,” Peter says.
Oh, well, that’s….no, that can’t be true. Why would William want to introduce us? Or more why would William want to introduce me? William’s family has always been in the courts, and Peter’s family practices medicine and they’ve been in close ties with the royal family for nearly a century. But I’m the son of a clock maker that owns a shop in the north, which is all peasant country. Why on Earth would you want to introduce me to the Prince of England! The kind, sweet, jubilant, polite, beautiful prince at that.
“You’ve got to be joking,” I say softly so as not to let my voice faultier or show the emotions that I feel.
Peter looks at me, eyes strong and sincere, a rare look for him, and he says, “I’m not joking. Why would I joke? Why don’t you go ask William himself, or better yet, go chat with the prince instead of standing here, staring. Look, here comes Will now.” Heat rises in my cheeks, and flushes them. I stare at my worn, dulled shoes, trying to hide the ignominiousness of Peter noticing my staring. Is it really that noticeable? Am I that obvious? Oh, god.
William walks up to us, clapping me on the back, and chimes in excitedly, “So, we’re ready then?” He looks at me expectantly, and I can only stare back with wide eyes. Ready?
“For what?” I ask dumbly, glancing from Peter to William.
“Meeting the prince, of course, I thought Peter had told you?” William says incredulously.
Peter shrugs, “He didn’t believe me.” I turn to William, and we’re already walking, away from my safe haven corner and onto the ballroom floor.
“But why?” I ask. Excitement, anticipation, and nervousness are rising in my throat.
“Why what?” William rolls his eyes, “I thought this would make you happy, I mean, you’re finally meeting him instead of glancing longingly.”
Oh, they all noticed! How could I be so obvious? So blatantly infatuated? My cheeks go bright red again, though the color drains from every where else on my face. I must look like one of those painted women, flirting shamelessly with the gentlemen and Dukes ever present at these occasions. I don’t say a word, no, I can’t say a word because if I even open my mouth I may cry, so I simply follow Peter and William, weaving between the dancing couples and chatting groups. I can’t find the prince anywhere, and I have no idea where we’re headed. I duck behind the couples, and the music has stopped so we’re moving more easily, not interrupting the waltz that was previously being played. There’s some clapping as the dance finishes, and William nods to Peter and I. Wait-what? Where…..Oh.
And there, kissing the back of Victoria’s hand was the prince. Just as gorgeous as before, now only more clear, closer to perfect than I’d ever known possible. The prince lets Victoria walk back to her sisters, and William strides over to him. And I can’t move because just then, he glances over to us, wide brown eyes meeting mine, so soft and beautiful, full of life and happiness, things I could only dream of. They linger for only a second, one breathtaking second, and my heart stops. I’m lightheaded and everything seems to have slowed. Peter quickly pulls me along, my feet shuffling heavily against the marble floors.
“Good evening, my grace. It’s an honor to meet you. I’m the son of Arnold Beckett, William,” William says and bows, nervousness barely evident in his delicate voice.
“’Tis my honor, William,” the prince says, and, oh, his voice! I’ve heard him make announcements at parties, but so close and casual, it’s velvety smooth and deep, like red wine. He reaches out his hand, and shakes Williams hand firmly, a smile building on his lips.
“And these are my best friends. Peter Lewis Kingston Wentz III and George Ryan Ross III,” William says, still flawlessly calm. I bow shamelessly cheeks burning red.
“Pleasure to be of your acquaintance,” the prince smiles a wide carefree smile at Peter, shaking his hand, and then turns his attention to me. Those brilliant eyes! My entire body quakes, and I’m flushed ruby red and I’m smiling what must be a weak, hideous sight next to the prince’s.
“It’s surely an honor,” Peter says, smirking. There’s a silence, sending chills down my spine as Prince Urie looks at me expectantly, though his smile still doesn’t fade. Oh, right, I have to say something! Something….
“Um, yes, it’s an honor for me, too…um, your grace,” I stutter. My voice was weak and squeaky, unlike my usual monotone drawl. Oh, my god, that was ridiculous! I’m such a fool. I had one chance and, of course, I completely ruin it with my nerves. In front of him! Out of every single person in the entire room! I had to be completely shy in front of him. My cheeks are burning once more, and I cast my gaze away from his breathtaking smile and eyes, to the floor and my unpolished homely shoes.
There’s a chuckle, and it sounds like music, like an enthusiastic symphony. It’s the prince’s laugh! He was laughing…..at me. William and Peter join in a little, too, before William says, “Ryan is a shy one. I wouldn’t worry about it.”
“Oh, it’s fine, really, but William you had mentioned that your father is Arnold Beckett? Why, he’s a dear friend of my fathers!” the prince continues.
He had completely redirected the topic, away from my awkward introduction to a conversation. That’s so sweet of him….oh, stop, he was probably just curious about William’s father. Don’t be narcissistic. I let them carry on their conversation, while I stare the ground, cheeks never fading from pink to porcelain again. I can’t just stand here. That’s incredibly rude, not keeping eye contact! I have to go; I have to get out of here, somewhere, where I couldn’t see the prince’s face, where he couldn’t linger on my mind.
I wait until there’s a break in conversation, clear my throat, which sounds like a squeak for that matter, and begin, “Excuse me, dear sirs, I’m terribly sorry. I’m feeling slightly unwell. I’m going to catch some fresh air in the gardens. Sorry, again, it was a pleasure meeting you,” I say, letting my eyes meet the prince’s.
“Oh, don’t fret, it’s quite alright. I do hope you feel better. Nice meeting you, too.” He holds out his hand, and I take it gently. The second my hand falls against the smooth surface of his, electric charges bolt from his finger tips to mine, sending shock waves up my arm and down my spine. After a loose shake, I let go of his hand, reluctantly, and head quickly out the door, heart in pieces on my sleeve. I can tell my face is broken, and my teeth are clamped over my lower lip to stop it from trembling. Through the people, past tables of food, out a side passage way, and into the courtyard I go. I’m in the royal gardens, surrounded by a labyrinth of shrubbery and flowers. A grand statue of grey stone sits in the center of a fountain that’s trickling a steady stream of water. The moon reflects, big and swollen, against the rippling pool. I sit on the edge of the fountain, and the tears have already started rolling down my cheeks.
I hate crying, especially in public, and though I’m alone, I’m fatally exposed to whoever maybe lurking in the gardens. I hate the way you shake and heave each breath, choking, or, even worse, the silent tears that fall heavily from my eyes. I hate the empty feeling in my stomach afterwards, a lonely hunger. But most of all I hate how it shows I’m weak; how I can’t hold it together. Here, in the dead of night, I’m vulnerable, torn open, and shattered. Over what? A few stuttered words and pure self-pity. This only makes the tears fall harder, dripping against my waistcoat. Now that’s going to be stained! Oh, well, it’s not like anyone even notices it. I hug my right knee to my chest while my left leg rests against the ground. I let the tears cascade down my cheeks, exhale a shaky breath, and bury my head against my knee…..
“Did I scare you away, Ryan?” a smooth voice murmurs from behind me.
Ahhhhh, what? Who? Shoes click, clack against the stone pathway. And Ryan? I whip my head around, hoping the tears aren’t visible in the darkness. And there, lavish and beautiful, is the prince. The smile he’d worn before is missing, and his eyes are thoughtful. And why is he here? He should be inside at his own party, being happy and polite, and smiling. Not out here with me, as I cry. I hope he can’t tell. And he called me Ryan? How did he know that? Did William or Peter mention it? No, they wouldn’t care. I realize that no one has spoken and the only sounds are the crickets in the grass and the falling water.
“You called me Ryan,” I say incredulously.
The prince takes a few steps closer before speaking, “I thought you preferred Ryan over your first name.”
How did he know this? “Why, yes, but how did you know?”
The prince cocks an eyebrow, face in an exquisite design of curiosity. “Know what? That you’d rather be referred to as Ryan?” I nod eagerly. The prince pauses, directing his eyes away from me and to the moon. “I’ve been watching you,” he whispers, looking now only at the moss that has forced its way up through the cracks in the stone walkway.
Watching me? Why me? That can’t possibly be of truth, but he wouldn’t lie, no not the honest, beautiful man he is.
“Watching me?” I say, my voice is still rough and shaky from the tears mere moments ago. His eyes fly up, to meet mine, causing my heart to beat in my ears and blood to rush feverishly through my body.
“You intrigue me,” He answers, simply and honestly, as if it’s the most obvious thing in the world. Well, you intrigue me, I want to gush back, but my voice is caught in my throat. He sits down on the lip of the fountain next to me, leaning his weight against his arm.
“Oh,” I say back, looking up at the night sky.
“You didn’t answer my question before,” the prince says. I feel his gaze upon my back.
“What, oh, that?” I ask nervously, fumbling with the lapel of my jacket, “I just….needed some air. I’m perfectly fine though.”
“Not that you don’t look lovely tonight, you really do, and please don’t take this the wrong way, but you don’t appear as fine as you think,” the prince says, his voice slightly off. Could that be nerves? Why would he be nervous though?
I shrug and say, “What do you mean?”
“I mean, your eyes look red, swollen, and they were not so a few moments before on the ballroom floor. Why, have you been….upset?!” He asks, suddenly serious and sincere, staring at me intensely.
“Upset? No, of course not, I was just….admiring the sky. The moon, the stars…,” I try to lie, to cover up my previously embarrassing condition.
The prince tilts his head to the side, studying my countenance, and says, “I’m sorry, but I don’t believe you.” That’s understandable. I shrug, turning my attention away from him, or at least trying. “Why are you looking so…morose then?”
I try not to say a word, a lump building in my throat, choking off my breathing. He’ll find out. He probably knows. My bottom lip shakes, but I pull my lips inward, so as not to be visible. I try to turn my head away from the prince once more, but a hand gently catches my cheek, brushing over the corner of my lips with a thumb. It’s his hand. The prince’s hand. Now I’m looking directly at him. His wide eyes stare delicately into mine. My heart has stopped and the moisture in my eyes threatens once more to spill. My eyes burn, and with one blink, a single tear escapes, gliding down my cheek seamlessly.
He’s going to laugh, and run back inside, informing everyone there of my softness. He’ll-, but no. No, he just swiped away my tear with his thumb. “Ryan,” He whispers, so softly I have to read his lips. His eyes are concerned and another tear fall from eye. I have to stop, no, I can’t just cry in front of him. He wipes it away once more gently. “What’s wrong?”
“It’s nothing important, honestly,” My voice cracks, and I’m shaking in fear once more and the tears spill over my eyes uncontrolled now.
“Well, then, why are you crying so?” He asks. I look down, at the crumbling stone blocks, but my eyes meet his again, when he lifts my chin up. My bottom lip sets out from under the bite of my jaw, trembling.
“I’m sorry….I really, truly am. I was rude tonight, I shouldn’t even be here. For that, my grace, I’m sorry,” I murmur, so my voice is strong.
The prince watches me curiously, as I wipe away another tear from my cheek. “I’m not quite sure what you’re referring to,” he says.
“In the ballroom, I-I was rude. I stared at the floor the entire time, and you found my introduction amusing. ‘Twas rude of me,” I say sincerely.
“Oh, but, you weren’t, my dear boy. And I only found you amusing because, well, you were shy and polite and nervous. I found it….sweet,” He says quietly.
What? He can’t be serious. My being impolite was…sweet? “Sweet?” I ask.
“Very much so,” He smiles lightly, accentuating the softness of his lips. I wonder how they’d feel, so big and pillowed…if only…No, stop. That’s completely wrong. And out of the question for that matter. But he did think I was sweet, and what did that mean?
“I think you’re sweet,” I say, biting my tongue halfway through. Oh, what was that? I didn’t just say that….
The prince laughs, simply laughs a full, bright laugh. “Thank you, really, but there isn’t much sweetness in me.”
Of course not! He’s only kind, generous, selfless, polite, and beautiful. Not sweet at all. Well, I guess he’s wrong about that. Very, very wrong. “But you’re so kind and lovely. How couldn’t you be sweet?” Lovely? He’s not one of the Duchess Sister’s. Of course, they aren’t lovely anyway.
“That may be, but I can’t compare to someone like you,” He says, staring at the patterns in his trousers.
“What?” I ask, completely awestruck.
“You,” the prince turns to look into my eyes with his dark pools, “are far more lovely than I will ever be,” He says, beautiful voice strong and confident.
“I’m the son of a clock maker. I’m far from lovely,” I say, turning my attention to the night sky.
“But you are, Ryan. See, ‘Tis not where we come from that makes one lovely, but who we are. I’ve known men born highest in society to be terrible, filthy, greedy cowards. They are far from lovely or sweet, but you’re exactly it,” He says, the smile returning to his lips. He follows my eyes to the moon, light dancing on them beautifully. My tears have stopped, but I’m in disbelief at the prince’s commending.
My hand is suddenly warm and clutched in something soft. And I know he’s holding my hand, stroking the back of my palm gently with his thumb. The electricity is blinding, wrapping its way around my entire figure. I can feel the heat radiate from his being to mine naturally, and it’s all I can do not to fall into the fountain behind my back. Music floats in from the ballroom through the high bay windows that are open. I recognize Borodin’s Nocturne immediately. The cellist plays delicately over the other instruments, and the melody has taken the eve over. The prince stands, my hand still grasped in his.
“May I have this dance?” He asks, smirking softly. The music breaks out into an upbeat waltz.
“Why, yes, my prince.” I say, standing to meet his eye level.
He blushes ruby red and says, “Please call me Brendon.”
“Alright then…Brendon,” I say, and it sounds informal and impolite but it fits him. His left hand falls to my waist, and his right is still clutching mine. I place my left hand on his shoulders, and we begin to dance, just like the couples that swish gracefully about in the ballroom. It’s different, and should be wrong, but, no, it’s right.
We move about the gardens, a smile plastered on both of our faces. The song turns somber and we move more slowly, counting off the numbers in my head. He laughs only slightly, when he lifts me up off my feet and we whirl around just as if I was Victoria at the last dance.
Finally, he spins me out to the side, and then pulls me back in, so my back is hugged to his chest. My stomach flips in our tight embrace, and I can’t do a thing, but stand there, waiting, as his lips grow closer and closer to mine. His eyes lock against mine relentlessly, and I can feel him exhale once before my lips are covered by his. And, yes, they feel soft and gentle against mine. I’m shaking, nervous and scared, but he cups my face in his hands, assuaging my anxiousness. He pulls away only to plant one, two, three, more kisses to my lips. I smile, and kiss his jaw line, relaxing as we become completely entwined.
So maybe tonight isn’t like every other night. And maybe I won’t mind if every evening after this will be the same as tonight.