Chapter 11

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It was growing later in the afternoon, almost eight 'o clock. Benji knew tonight would probably be the only night to actually talk to Jorge. He readied himself in his room, readjusting his cufflinks and deciding to leave his crown in the room. It felt like it made Benji look less intense. He really didn't know why he was focusing so much on his looks, it wasn't as if the gardener was going to notice. Besides, Benji shouldn't have a crush on him in the first place. 

His feet echoed on the carpeted floor, designed with some royal pattern his father must have picked out. He was quite strict on decor. Nothing too fancy, however, they all knew that was a lie. Fancy things thrived in the palace. The sun shone through the windows, enlighting the halls with a golden hue. It gave Benji a warm feeling. It must be golden hour. 

Thinking back to Elenor, Benji realized her room was empty as he walked by. She must have been in a hurry to leave the castle. He hoped this incident didn't mess up any future connections Benji could make. Who knows. 

The other women seemed to be room bound by now, even if it wasn't too late in the evening. They were quite adamant on their beauty sleep. But Benji had a feeling Camilla was either exploring the palace or charming her way into sweets from the chef. He'd seen her do it before, it was creepy. 

Benji made sure to sneak out the back secret door, as no guards were patroling it at that time. Benji didn't want eyes on him at that moment in time. He did his best to act like he was there for his routine walk, smelling the nice flowers while also darting his eyes around. Benji spotted Jorge almost immediately, doing work that seemed to have a bad mood dragged onto it. 

His head darted up at the sound of footsteps, which made Jorge go stiff. "Your Highness." His words sounded labored. 

"Jorge, what is it today?" Benji took the obvious attitude in stride, ignoring it. 

"Oh, just a small trim on some bushes I missed the other day. Nothing much." He shrugged, turning back around to his work. Benji noticed a second pair of hedge trimmers at Jorge's feet, and Benji couldn't figure out if Jorge had brought it for variety, or for him. Benji hoped it was for himself. He grasped the overly large pair of scisors, following in stride and working by him. 

"I just wanted to say sorry again about Nora, she sent orders against mine, and you left before I could say anything. I went back out later, but you were gone."

"Figured there wasn't a reason in me coming back out, was there?" Jorge sighed. "Besides, I was able to have the night off, saying you sent me away. It was nice." The trimming of the sheers continued, almost in beat. Benji couldn't tell if Jorge was being sarcastic or not. 

"Do you see me differently? As prince, am I held differently in your mind?" Jorge paused, thinking about how he should answer.

"I mean, if we're talking simple, duh. You could hang me tomorrow and nobody would think anything of it."

"You know I'm not like that, right?" 

"I don't really know you." Jorge wasn't wrong, even if he knew of Benji, he never really 'knew' him. He nodded along with Jorge's words. 

"Is there anything you'd want to know?" It was the first time that Benji actually felt like opening up. Part of him was ready, part of him wasn't.

"Why are you doing this? Coming out here and all. Do you really just like gardening?" 

It's 'cause you're probably the only cute person in the palace, and it's eating me inside.

"I guess, I also felt like being friends, sooo..." Benji shrugged. He couldn't bring himself to say the real reason.

"Oh, okay." There was a tone in Jorge's voice that Benji couldn't quite place. It felt off.

"Anything else?" 

"Why are you doing this selection? Bringing in girls from all over. It doesn't seem like you." 

Does he know? That I'm not straight?

"Oh, I don't know, I guess my dad just forced me into it." He couldn't meet Jorge's eyes. "What about you, are you looking for a girl? Or," Jorge was silent for a moment, clearly thinking things over in his mind. 

"I don't think I'm looking for a girlfriend." 

Oh?

"Why not?" Jorge seemed to roll his eyes at this. 

"I'm gay." A weight that Benji didn't notice seemed to rise off his chest. Why was he relieved? It didn't matter, like Addy said, Benji didn't have a chance. He was struggling finding the words. "Really? Nothing? You're not gonna say anything." 

"Oh! I just-" 

"I'm kidding."

"Oh,"

"My arms ache, oh my god." Jorge whined, changing the subject. It's not like he was hoping Benji would jump with glee. Just something more than an 'oh'. 

"We could just go inside? Mine hurt too." Jorge just shook his head at his words.

"I can't, I've still got like two more hours of this." Benji huffed, pouting at Jorge's answer.

Benji brang his hands to his head, making a make-shift crown with his fingers. "Then I demand that you follow me inside and we'll rest our aching arms because I'm tired and you're tired." 

Jorge snorted, dropping his tools and following the prince inside. 

~

I finished Double Curls today and I don't know how to feel

The Gardener ~ Benjey ~Where stories live. Discover now