Dalton has to nearly forcibly remove me from his room and drag me to meet up with the others. My heart runs ten thousand times faster than normal every second I think of all that I'm about to do, which is a lot. I'm about to come out as the freaking heir to an entire kingdom. My dad told me the other night that I'm going be a ruler of more people in more nations than any other human has ever been in all of history, other than mom of course. So no pressure. It's just millions of people who are going to be looking to me to know how to save them from the end of the world. No biggie.
Dalton and I walk into the room hand in hand and after smiling to my mom and dad, then dropping Dalton's hand so he could go and talk to his own parents I notice Lance hanging at the back of the room again looking sullen.
All of my worry for other things slips away as guilt gnaws at my heart again. Slowly, but knowing I need to, I walk over to him. "Hey." I half wave and he nods his chin to me.
"Hi." He replies, trying to keep an unawkward eye contact but failing. "How do you feel about everything?"
I sigh and look at the floor. I hate this. We do small talk now? This guy was one of my best friends growing up. I don't want things to be awkward for us, so I tell him as much. "I feel as good about everything as I think is possible, but that isn't what I wanted to talk to you about. I don't want things between us to be weird because of Dalton and me. You mean so much to me and I'm sorry I didn't get to talk to you sooner."
He smiles, a genuine Lance smile, running a hand through his blonde hair. "Nothing can change us, Rose." He tells me softly. "I was here for you when you still had frizzy hair and braces," he jokes as he lifts a section of my hair and tosses it back at me. "I will stand by you no matter who you chose to date."
Of the thousands of weights on my shoulders right now, I'm glad to feel the weight of my torment over him lift. "You know I do love you, right?" I ask him and he laughs.
"I know," He leans in closer. "I've just been friendzoned."
I smack his shoulder and roll my eyes. "Whatever."
"Hey, it's cool." He assures me. "I won't lie and say I actually like the guy, but if I don't totally hate him anymore." I raise my brows at the admission and he rolls his eyes and crosses his arms. "I can tell he really does care about you, and that's what matters. However, if he hurts you, I'll kick his ass."
I laugh. "Ok, sounds like a deal." I tell him. "If Dalton starts slipping you and me will be there to give him a swift beat down."
Across the room Dalton's warm chuckle makes my heart sing. "You both know I can hear you?"
"Yup." Lance and I say together then laugh again.
It feels good to feel normal, even if it can only last for a second.
I bite my lip as dad comes over to me, throwing an arm around my shoulders and kissing the side of my head as he leads me away. "You ready?"
I nod slowly. "Yes." I say tensely. Ready for this to all be over. "As soon as the announcement is made I want to have a meeting with the heads of all of the settlements." I tell him while we all make our way out into the hallway and down the stairs. "It's going to take us all to keep control over the people during the panic that is sure to follow the broadcast and I want to have a moment to meet them each and start gaining some trust between us all. Together we can brainstorm what to do as far as the threat goes." My strong voice fades. "I do wish I had more of an idea about that part."
Dad kisses my head again. "You'll get there."
"I hope so."
"I know so."