Chapter 9

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His feet quickly paced the gardens, hoping for a sign of the boy. After Nora shooed him away, Benji felt bad. Real bad. Which was stupid, the workers and servants were meant to follow orders of higher-ups. But something in Benji's mind felt wrong about that. Or maybe it was his heart. Either way, he just wanted to spend a bit more time with Jorge. Even if it was shoveling dirt and getting his white button-up dirty. 

After almost a half-hour, there wasn't a single sign of Jorge, and it was almost pitch black. 

"Your Highness, we request that you return inside." One of the guards called out, trying to not be as demanding as he needed to be. Benji nodded silently but didn't move from his spot. His eyes just kept looking around for any sign of a boy with dirt on his hands. 

"Whatever you're waiting for, it's not here. The palace is shutting down for the night, Your Highness, we demand that you come inside immediately."

"You don't have the right to 'demand' anything of me." An almost bratty side of Benji showed, and he cursed himself for it. He tried staying humble, but Benji didn't want to give up. Jorge had to return to his shift. Right?

"The request is coming from His Majesty, your father." The two guards started walking to Benji, grabbing him by the arms and practically dragging him inside. It wasn't a comfortable position, as they didn't allow for Benji to even stand up. "As we said, the castle is in lock-down for the night. No business will take place after ten. You know this, Your Highness." 

He nodded, silent once again. 

They forcefully let go of Benji, and trying to regain what little confidence he had, the boy walked up the stairs. His eyes were no longer scanning the halls, the gardener boy probably wouldn't be stirring this late anyways. 

Until he saw someone turn the corner up ahead. Benji's eyes were still adjusting to the palace light, but as they walked closer, Benji realized who it was.

"J-Jorge, I wanted to formally apologize for earlier, Nora, she didn't wait for me to say anything-"

"But you didn't say anything." Jorge interrupted, not phased by much. "Anyways, they'll probably be moving my shifts. To not interfere with your dates." 

Benji's eyebrows lowered. He wasn't used to people not fully agreeing with him. Especially if they worked in the palace. "Jorge, don't take that personally. You know that I wanted to stop her-"

Jorge pressed his mouth into a tight line "It's fine, you're the prince. I shouldn't have expected anything more." And without another word, he walked off, leaving Benji with only a slight breeze as Jorge passed. 

Blindsided, Benji stood there for at least a minute. He was trying to figure out where to go and what to do, but his mind was drawing blanks. 

Go to sleep? No, it might seem like I don't care. 

Try to find him? No, I might reveal how emotionally invested I already am in our friendship. 

Talk to Camilla? Sure, maybe she'll know what to do. 

With his fast pace and determination, Benji put one foot in front of the other, off to her room. It was on the opposite side of the palace that his room was on, so it was quite a walk.

He place two swift knocks on the hardwood, and two more when there wasn't a response. 

"Camilla? Open up, it's Benji." The door slowly creaked open, showing a very messy-haired Camilla. She must not have enjoyed the palace's pajamas since she was in shorts and a T-shirt. Although there wasn't anyone here to impress, was there? 

"The hell you want, Benji? It's almost midnight." Pushing past her into her room, Benji ran his hands through his hair in a panic. 

"Look, I may have messed up the only friendship I've got."

Camilla raised an eyebrow. "What about me?" 

"You know what I mean, Cam. I've gotten to know a gardener outside and we've hung out and gardened together for a bit these past nights to calm down, but then Nora sent him away on our date and he's mad at me." Camilla gave him a deadpan look.

"He? Benji, don't tell me, not right in the middle of your marriage selection." Benji winced, not wanting to admit it. "Oh my god. What are you going to do? You can't just keep him as a side whore while you're pretending you're in love with a girl."

"You don't think I realize that, Camilla? Every waking moment I'm realizing how bad this is. I shove him to the back of my mind, but it finds it's way back again and again. Besides, we're just friends. He doesn't even like me like that." 

"Okay, being prince/princess 101. If you tell him how you feel, there's a chance he'll just comply because of your status. You could have him hung with your power, Benji. And being a servant in the palace, he's not just going to disobey you. Don't even think about it." He didn't even realize that could happen. 

I'm fucked.

"So what do I do? I want to stay friends, but his shifts might be moving." 

"Alright, I'd say try to find when his next shift is, and have a non-romantic conversation with him. Apologize, and go on with your day. His job is to be respectful and garden. If he's making conversation with you, it's probably out of politeness and formality. It's not anywhere near a connection. You can't risk it anyway." Camilla was sat on her bed, trying to explain the entire situation to a stressed boy.

"But it's not like that, we were actually bonding, I swear-"

"No. It's just out of formality, Benji. Keep your head out of the clouds, okay? Now let me sleep. Goodnight." The door was almost shut in his face. Benji realized he probably came at the wrong time. 

But she was right. Jorge might just comply because of Benji's power. Not because of actual structural feelings. And his goal was to find a wife. Not a husband.

~

We're back baby! Missed updating <3

Go to bed! Take care of your sleeping schedule :)

The Gardener ~ Benjey ~Where stories live. Discover now