Rise of a Queen (Kingdom Duet #2) - Rina Kent
Twenty-Two years ago
I’ve never liked funerals.
Especially when it’s my mother’s.
The pretentiousness and the fake sympathy, or even the real tears, are all useless. Why cry for someone who will never come back? They can’t hear you, so the whole point behind crying is selfishness.
People don’t cry for the dead. People cry because of the uncontrollable rush of their own emotions.
The grey clouds condense in the distance, forming one thick layer over the other until the air is nearly black. Looks like the sky might start weeping, too.
But why would it? Did it even know the woman lying in the casket?
The people surrounding it, throwing her favourite tulip flowers didn’t know her either. They pretend they did, because she spent her entire life running between charities and spending money we didn’t have.
Not that Gregory, my father, would’ve told her to do otherwise. He cared for her wellbeing enough to swallow the knife with its blood.
I take a sip of my small stash of whiskey that I stole from my brother, James, and let the burn soothe my throat. He’ll probably kill me, but I don’t need him drunk on this day, of all days. At least I’m in full control of my actions and myself.
Father is about to fall apart and if James does, too…well, fuck if I can carry them both.
I sit at the back of the cemetery, in front of a grave that appears a few decades old. Layers of dust cover the stone and the writing has been erased by the hands of time. Birds’ waste clings to it like a second skin. One of the forgotten dead.
“There you are.”
I don’t lift my head as my best friend, Ethan, sits beside me. He’s wearing a black suit and his light hair that he usually leaves haphazard is styled and neat.
At least he dressed up for the occasion. It took a funeral for that.
For a moment, he remains silent, his shoulder not far from mine as we both stare at the forgotten grave with its unpleasant appearance and the birds’ waste.
It’s me who breaks the silence, “Do you think her grave will be like this one twenty years from now?”
“Not if you have a say in it.”
“Are you going back there?” He hesitates, his voice taking a sympathetic turn. “Your father and James aren’t doing so well.”
“When have they ever?”
“They need you, Jon.”
“They need false promises and a machine to go back in time. I have neither of those.”
“So you’re just going to stay here?”
“For the moment, yes. Screw off if the company bores you.”
“Fuck you.” He snatches my drink and takes a long pull. “I would never leave you on a day like this.”
“Leave the sappy for Agnus.”
“Fuck you again. I’ll give you a pass for being a dick today.”
“As if I would need your pass.” I scoff as I yank back my bottle and down the liquid, revelling in the burn that coats my throat before settling in my empty stomach.
I’ve barely eaten today and that was only because I needed the energy to remain standing tall. For me, eating and physical activity aren’t things that I enjoy, but I do them religiously anyway because I don’t need my health to get in the way of my brain’s plots.
“It’s okay if you show emotions, Jonathan. You don’t have to trap it all in.”
“What do you do with emotions?” I tilt my head to the side, watching him. “Do you profit from them?”
His light eyes soften at the corners. “She was your mother.”
“Is showing emotions going to bring her back? Should I go through an episode like James and trash the whole house, or should I collapse like my father so it’s written in some record that I mourned her?”
“I get it. You want to be strong for them.”
“It’s not a choice, Ethan. I have to. My father can’t plan his fucking day without her and James has always been a mama’s boy. If I fall with them, nothing will bring us up again. The bank will take the house as collateral if none of us gets our shit together.”
“Damn. Want me to help?”
“I have a plan.”
He grabs the bottle and takes a sip. Ethan and I have never found trouble in sharing things. It’s our modus operandi. “What type of plan?”
“You know Lord Sterling?”
“The one who holds a grudge against your father because your mother didn’t choose him?”
“Yes, that one. Mother abandoned him at the altar and he still feels the humiliation to this day. That’s why