Other Possibilities

The horses plodded on, and Alexander was still itching to know what Imelda had been about to say about her opinion of him. Yet he did not want to give the appearance of waiting with bated breath for her words, so he decided to focus on mentally bracing himself for the possibility, despite its improbability, that Zahra really had meant what she'd said in the letter.

A scout had gone on  ahead to see if he could sneak up unawares to the wishing well and return with a report on how to best breach the territory. He'd been disguised as a treasure-seeker searching for the legendary wishing well, in the event of his being discovered. Alexander could only pray the scout wouldn't be found, and that if he was, he could remain natural and nonchalant to convince whoever was with Zahra that he came only in curiosity and not with a search party.

And there was yet another possibility. What if Zahra was in need of a rescue, and Alexander was able to successfully complete his mission? What if she wanted to come back to the castle, not as a mistress, but as a regular guest? Would Alexander be able to handle the highly plausible disappointment of watching her fall in love with his best friend?

Imelda had grown uncharacteristically quiet, and it was only when she spoke again that Alexander realized that his accomplice had not been speaking.

"You know, if Zahra is rescued, you can claim she wrote the letter willingly and hold her to its words. Who's to say you won't force her to adhere to the conditions she wrote? You're the Prince; the way Avana works, only the King can overrule your decisions. Judging from the past, I don't think he'll object to you bringing another woman to stay with you at the castle."

Alexander was puzzled by Imelda's statement and tone of voice. "You support me taking Zahra in?"

"Not at all. I guess I'm challenging you to be a better man than that."

"Have I insinuated that I'm going to hold her to the letter she sent to me? I'm planning on letting her do as she pleases."

"Let's assume a hypothetical situation here, Princey. We both know it'll never happen, but what if Zahra chose to be your mistress? Would you accept her? Or have you learned your lesson enough to refuse her? I know it's a rather nosy question, but...she's my sister."

The End

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