Gunther had called just after she had hung up with Caleb. She answered before it had rung a second time.
“This is a surprise.” She sat down in the chair at the foot of her bed.
“I was wondering if you wanted to hang out tomorrow. The Humor and Hijinks festival is tomorrow and I was wondering if you wanted to go. With me.” Guinevere’s heart leapt into her throat, then sunk deep and quick into the pits of her being.
“I’m so sorry Gunther, if only you had called like…fifteen minutes earlier. I have a date with Caleb tomorrow afternoon, then he’s going to take me to the docks in Windenburg to watch the fireworks.”
“Oh. Have fun! Let me know how it goes.” Her heart was aching. He sounds so…sad.
“I’m sorry. I-I’ll talk to you tomorrow, okay. I need to hibernate so I’m up in time. Goodnight Gunther.” She hung up and tossed her phone to her bed. Sadness and frustration built up. I don’t know how much longer I can keep this up. A heavy, sad sighed escaped her lips as she stood. She snuffed out every candle in her room and went into a deep dreamless hibernation.
Caleb took Guinevere to the place Gunther had taken her so long ago. They were seated in a different booth, but it had an equally pleasant view of the waterway. “I forgot to tell you, you look stunning today. Is that a new dress?” Guinevere gave him a shy smile and nodded.
“Yeah. Lilith and I went shopping yesterday. I’ve been thinking of bringing back the royal court…it would be so nice to have friends to hang out with. I mean, I love my aunt and uncle…even the humans, but they’re not people I could go out with and be in the public eye with. If that makes sense.” Caleb nodded.
“I think that’s a wonderful idea. Are you suggesting my sister be part of that royal court?” Guinevere shrugged. She didn’t know if she would be interested in joining it, but it was worth a shot.
“She’s fun to be around, and I trust her.” The waiter came up to the booth and Caleb handed him the menus.
“Two Plasma Janes please.” Caleb placed their order and the pair watched as he went down stairs before resuming their conversation. “If you want my opinion on it, I say go for it. Just ask her…I’m sure she’d be ecstatic to have a position in your royal court.” Guinevere nodded and looked out the window. Something feels off with him.
“Is something bothering you Caleb?” She spoke, her gaze never leaving the water. He shifted in his seat, causing her to look at him.
“Actually, yes. I had no idea how or when to tell you, but I feel I have no choice now. I’m just going to be honest, because I respect you.” His words were deeply concerning to Guinevere, she was feeling lightheaded trying to think of every possible scenario that was about to unfold. He took a deep, shaky breath before continuing. “I’m in love with someone, Gwen. A human woman. I-I didn’t plan for it.” Panic levels were rising in Guinevere. The walls felt like they were closing in around them, with no escape.
“What does this mean for us?” It was the only logical question to ask.
“I still plan to marry you, if you still want me. I just thought I should tell you, out of my respect and our friendship. I only just admitted it to myself last night.” Guinevere nodded stiffly. I can’t…not when both of us will be unhappy.
“Caleb…” She started, blinking away the tears. “I can’t marry you now.” She held her hand up to stop him from interrupting her. “Not because I’m angry with you but because you’re my friend. I could easily marry you if it would just be me as the unhappy party, but I won’t let you be unhappy too. You deserve true happiness.”
“Oh stop being a martyr. You deserve happiness too…you’ve given up so much, you’re giving up so much. It’s the least I can do.” He protested, and Guinevere shook her head and locked eyes with him.
“No matter what I do or who I’m with, I’ll be unhappy because my happiness is duty-bound to marry another. At least you still have an opportunity. I refuse to take that from you.” She looked away from him to fight against the tears. She felt his hand gently stroke her cheek.
“Gwen…please don’t cry. He loves you too, you know. Absolutely crazy about you.” Quickly, his thumb wiped away the stray tear.
“Feelings don’t matter, not when there’s so much against us.” Her voice was small and empty, like she had given up.
“Fate is a funny thing. So what if he marries Cornelia, he might outlive her. He will have done his duty and free to marry again. You’ll still be around.” Maybe…if Van Gould doesn’t kill me by then. She wanted to tell him everything, tell him why she probably wouldn’t still be there. Why she had given up…but she couldn’t.
“I’m just tired of this Caleb. I want someone to be happy because of me, for once. And if letting you go is that, then so be it.”
“Oh Gwen…” That was all Caleb had said.
“Please, just go Caleb. Go be with your love…not everyone has that chance. If things get serious between the both of you, I’ll gladly turn her for you…and give my blessing of marriage.” Caleb hesitated for a moment.
“I should probably tell you who this woman is first, before you agree.” Her gaze went from a crumb on the table to Caleb.
“Oh please tell me it’s Cornelia.” I should feel awful for wishing this, but I don’t. Caleb, sadly, shook his head.
“No, but that would be hilarious and everything would work out if that were the case…Close though! Agnes.” Guinevere tried to smile, because she was happy and wanted to be supportive. But she couldn’t. Now what am I going to do?
“I may not look happy, but I am. I’m just at a loss of what to do now. I think I need to be alone now Caleb. My head is pounding.” She placed her fingers on her head and rubbed gently, hoping to ease the pressure.
“I’ll pay for the drinks, it’s the least I can do.” He slid from the booth. “I really am sorry, I had every intention of marrying you. But, like I said, it just happened. Just with with you and Gunther. I hope fate finds a way for you two to be together…” Guinevere nodded and shooed him away with her other hand. Just when things start to go right, everything starts to go oh-so wrong.
The drink had arrived shortly after Caleb had left. Guinevere sat there thinking about everything that had just happened. I guess letting him go was for the best, if anything happened to me after we married, Van Gould would no doubt go after him next. She took a deep desperate gulp of the Plasma Jane. But then again, I really should’ve been selfish for once because he’s right. I have given so much, for nothing in return. She finished her glass and moved onto the one Caleb ordered. I was a fool for suggesting to take it slow. I left him alone for far too long, long enough to be captured by another woman… One more deep gulp. Now I’m a queen, once again, without a king. Another gulp, and a sniffle. Check-fucking-mate, the world wins.