It was nearing nightfall. Alexander was preparing himself for the journey to the wishing well. He knew it would be a short one but the anticipation, worry, and most of all fear that shook him made him dread it.
Imelda watched him from a few feet away as he fastened the saddle on the horse, checking if he had all he needed. It didn't take a genius to decipher how the Prince felt.
Softly, she spoke, "I don't think this is a journey you should venture on alone."
The Prince was freed temporarily from his disturbing web of thoughts. Stopping his actions, he looked over his shoulder at a serious Imelda who looked at him intently as if to convey the message without actually having to say it. Alexander understood and immediately said in an authoritative voice, "No. The wishing well is not the place for a lady at night, especially not in the given circumstances."
Imelda pursed her lips, hearing the heavy tone of disapproval in Alexander's voice. She had an argument prepared but before she could start a heated debate between herself and the Prince, Annalise walked into the stable.
If the two of them hadn't known better, they would have assumed upon her appearance that she was the heir to the throne. The very air that she brought into the places she walked into; a sense of royalty and almost, arrogance. Annalise's eyes fixed on Alexander intensely, her voice firm as she retorted, "Imelda can take care of herself Alexander. And she is right. You cannot possibly do this by yourself."
"I can take care of Adrian, I assure you. If leaving him in my responsibility is what scares you, then do not worry. I will look after him while you're gone and I certainly don't need Imelda to do that."
"That isn't the reason Annalise. But who knows what might unfold at the wishing well? I don't want Imelda to get hurt as she was left in my care when Zahra left the castle," he argued back.
"Alexander," Imelda said, losing all formalities in the name of the Prince. "You underestimate me quite a lot. I, after all, was the one who gravely injured Adrian. You think I can't take on a couple of ruffians?"
Alexander's lips twitched as he fought back a smile. Imelda did take after her sister. "Very well," he muttered, knowing there was no winning with women, "you may accompany me."
Grinning in victory, Imelda took a step back and gave a mocking bow to the Prince before leaving the stables and heading back to the castle to gather the supplies and weapons she would need for the trip. Alexander caught the look that Annalise was giving him and he snapped, sounding exasperating, "What?"
Shaking her head slowly, she simply smiled and stated, "That girl - Zahra - has changed you."
Taken by surprise, Alexander's mouth fell slightly open. "No. No, she hasn't." He was in denial but deep inside, the Prince knew Annalise was right.
Her smile began to fade though as she looked away. "Apparently, you're not the only one she's left a mark on." Then with a hearty laugh, she added, "Anyways, you should be careful at the wishing well. Take care of Imelda and make sure you return with that Zahra."
He thought he heard jealousy in her tone but he decided to shake it off. With a grim smile, the Prince nodded and watched with a curious gaze as Annalise walked out of the stable. It was quite obvious to him that she was still in love with Adrian, but it was far too late to do anything about it now.
If only he had the ability to change the past, everyone would be at a better place than where they were now. But would he then have met the enchanting Zahra?