It was mid-April, and Eliza knew her time was almost over. Once her finals were done and completed, it was finished for her. Eliza knew her freedom was soon ending, and that she would have to go back to Angeles. Go back to her "house", also known as the Illéan Angeles Palace. She would have to obey. She would have to behave. She would have to be-
The timer rang and Eliza sighed. She focused on what she was doing, and tasted a lonely spaghetti, decided it was al denteenough and turned off the electric hotplate. She drained the pasta in the sink and put two plates on the table with some clean cutlery she found lying around the small kitchen. She really needed to get to dish washing tonight.
"Linus," she called out. "Dinner's ready." She put the pan on the table alongside some salad.
Linus came over, chuckling. "Plain pasta, again?" he asked, sitting down.
"Yeah," she said, rolling her eyes. "I forgot to go grocery shopping today and you finished the tomato sauce last time. I have some finals to study, for, remember?"
He filled their glasses with water. "You know you can hire someone to do that for you, right?"
"No, I don't want to do that, and you know that." She huffed. "Besides, I already have you, and you're a pain in the ass. I have to cook for two."
Linus chuckled and shoved some spaghetti in his mouth. "I know. But you would die of boredom without me."
"Probably," Eliza conceded. "But you were part of the deal," she said. "I couldn't continue on to college if I didn't have a personal security detail."
"I know that. And I've been paid pretty well for pretending to be your cousin studying with you."
Eliza snorted. "Yeah, well. At least you learned some stuff, right?"
Linus shrugged. "Not really. If I could choose a Major, I'd go with history, or engineering. Definitely not Political Science." He forked some food in his mouth. "Or foreign languages."
Eliza was silent a moment, chewing and swallowing before talking. "At least my degrees will be useful in the future," she said, and a shadow passed over her lovely green eyes. Her shoulders slumped a little bit. Both Linus and Eliza ate in silence after that. He knew how she dreaded going back to her life. A life she didn't want.
When both had eaten their fill, Eliza stood and gathered the plates and put everything in the sink. There was at least three days of dishes to do. She braced herself and turned the faucet on. Linus came from behind and forced himself not to place a light kiss on her shoulder.
"Leave that to me, Liz," he said softly, taking the sponge from her hand. "You have finals to prepare, remember?" He smiled and tried locking eyes with her, but she refused to look at him.
"Thanks," she mumbled, gladly letting go of the wet sponge. She dried her hands and walked to her room. She stripped down her day clothes and put on some comfortable sweatpants, a t-shirt, a hoodie, and some fluffy socks. Though it was spring in Waverly, she liked to be warm to work. She lay down sprawled on her bed, staring at the simple white ceiling above her. Only seven weeks left, she thought bitterly. That's fifty days left. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. She got up, took her textbooks and headed back to the kitchen and dropped her books on the table. She sat and bent over, French literature filling her eyes and mind.
Linus was almost done with the dishes, and he kept an eyes on the red-hair woman next to him. How he loved the curve of her neck, the color of her hair, the sound of her laugh, and above all the color of her eyes, which were a bottle green rimmed with a much darker shade of green, almost brown. He could look at her for hours and never tire. Linus had been in her service for almost five years. Five years of college – for her to have her Master's Degree – where he had pretended to be her cousin, studying with her. And that forbade him to show any sign of affection for her. Because everyone thought he was her cousin. It was her idea in the first place: she didn't want people to know that she had a body guard with her at all times. Linus dried his hands and went to sit on the couch, keeping Eliza in his field of vision.
Two hours later, Eliza was yawning, the lines of her textbook mixing up together, and the sentences not meaning anything anymore. She closed the book with a loud THUMP, which made Linus jump, which made her giggle.
"Are you laughing at my expense?" Linus asked, feigning outrage.
"Of course, not," Eliza said, keeping a laugh inside. "Sorry," she said, rolling her eyes and grinning. "I'm going to bed."
Linus followed her with his gaze. "'night."
"Good night," she said, yawning again.
She put on her pajama and turned the light off. But sleep was eluding her. She kept thinking about her homecoming, and what her father had in store for her. She knew that he was probably planning for her to have a Selection or something. Because it was tradition, and now that she was going to be under his roof again, she promised she would do as he asked. She had had roughly twelve years of freedom where she could study wherever and whatever she liked and do stuff normal girls did: partying, shopping, gossiping, studying.
She thought about Millie – Perfect Princess Emilia Margaret Jane Schreave – who dreamed of being born first. If only they could magically switch places, everything would be much better. But fate decided differently, and soon she'll have to prepare to be the next Queen of Illéa, and she'll have to choose her Prince Consort in a traditional Selection.Ugh. Eliza sighed. How stupid and old-fashion that tradition was.
Four weeks later, her finals came flooding on her. Linus helped her review everything, and she was really stressed about it. But not only because of the finals, which she would probably pass without much difficulty, but because the days until she had to go back to Angeles were dwindling down. Dangerously.
So between her exams and studying for them, she went clubbing with her friends, Linus tagging along unwillingly. He knew those were the worst evenings for him: no drinking, no having fun, just making sure Eliza didn't screw up or did something stupid to end up passed out on the first page of the next day's newspaper.
Although Eliza wanted to forget everything about Angeles, it kept coming back at her.
"So, what are you going to do after this?" one of her friends, Alice, asked, after a few drinks.
Eliza froze a second before laughing. "Take a guess, silly," she said. "I'm a Princess, remember?" she giggled.
Linus rolled his eyes. Eliza never admitted what she was of her free will. She was really drunk. "She's going back home," Linus told Alice. "And she's going to get to work. And now," he said gently steering her away from the table, "she's going to bed. Come on, Liz," he said.
"Oh, come on," Eliza said. "Just a little longer."
"No," he said. And he meant it. He dragged her out of the pub and back to their apartment. Eliza didn't walk straight, and Linus had to practically carry her half of the way. Once they were inside, he quickly put her on her bed, took her shoes off, and tucked her under her covers. She mumbled a few words Linus didn't catch, but she was quickly asleep. He sat on the floor against her door a moment, making she was really sleeping. He ended up staying there for almost an hour, watching the covers go up and down as she breathed peacefully. Then he realized he was being a creep and quickly got out of the room.
More exams followed after that, and then it was over. By mid-June, she was packing her things, emptying her apartment she had had for five years, and engraving the place in her mind. This was by far her best years, after all. It took her a full fifteen minutes to finally get out of her apartment, and into the cab Linus had called for them. She sat in silence, her cheek against the window, watching as the buildings and familiar neighborhood passed quickly by. She didn't even realize when a tear streamed down her cheek only when Linus silently gave her a tissue.
"Thanks," she said softly, drying her eyes. "I'm sorry," she said. "I'm being so emotional."
"It's totally normal," he said. "You've lived here for five years."
She smiled sadly. "Yeah." And I'll never have that again, she thought.
The drive to the airport took only twenty minutes and it took them all the way on to the tarmac. She got out of the car and headed directly to the private jet her father had sent for her and Linus. Linus followed behind with some of their luggage. The rest came in carried by one of the RoyalAirlines Stewards.
She sat in a plush chair and looked out the window. She didn't even hear the Pilot welcoming her on board and asking her to buckle up. She watched as New York became smaller and smaller until only clouds filled her window. She loudly shut down the window blind and took out her book. She read the same paragraph three times before realizing she was reading the same thing over again. She unbuckled her seat belt and went to the front of the plane. She almost bumped into the Stewardess.
"Yes, Your Highness?" she said, surprised to find her there.
Eliza cringed at the title she hadn't heard in practically a whole year. Last time was the previous summer when she went home for the holidays.
"I was just looking for something to drink or eat," she said.
The lady smiled and walked Eliza back to her seat. "There is a button here to call me, Ma'am," she said with a tight smile. "You don't have to get up. I'll get you something."
Eliza sighed. Of course. She had everyone at her beck and call, now. How could she forget that? She sat back down and waited for the lady to come back with a snack and a drink. The flight in the private Royal jet only lasted a couple hours, which she passed by nibbling on peanuts and sipping Whiskey.
Linus kept an eye on Eliza from his seat a few rows in front of her, turned towards her. He knew she wanted to be alone, but he was physically hurting to see her in his state. Clearly, she didn't want to go home and back to her royal life. Once or twice during the past year they had talked about what would happen when she went back to Angeles. She was pretty sure there as going to be a Selection, and if the age range went high enough, he would apply. At least get a chance to finally date her, even if he had to share her with thirty-four other men. Only that would never pass, but he didn't know that, yet. And neither did she.
King Oliver and Queen Elinor Schreave were waiting on the front steps of the Illéan Angeles Palace as the Limo bringing their eldest daughter back made its way in the gravel driveway. The car stopped just in front of the steps, and Linus, Princess Elisabeth's Security Detail came out first, quickly running around the car to open the door for Her Royal Highness. Queen Elinor was beaming, so happy she was to see her daughter again. How she had missed her!
When Eliza came out of the car, her outfit was not what her mother thought it would be. The Crown Princess of Illéa was wearing a pair of torn jeans, some overused Converse shoes, and a loose t-shirt on her elegant silhouette. Her red hair was a mess in a bun on the top of her head. But Elinor kept her smile and embraced her daughter as she came level with them on the top steps.
"Oh, Elisabeth," Elinor said. "I'm so glad to see you." She looked her daughter up and down. "You look a bit different, though," she added.
Eliza shrugged. "Exams and travel clothes, I guess."
"Elisabeth," her father said, taking her in a brief hug. "It's good to have you back home with us."
Eliza smiled to her father and looked around. "Where's Millie?"
"Emilia is over in Panama overseeing the opening of a new school for Eights and Sevens," Elinor said. "She's really good at this, you know?" she added excitedly. "Every time she can do something for Illéa, she gladly does it."
Of course, she does, Eliza thought. She was born for this. Not me. "Great," she said instead.
"Why don't you get settled in, cleaned up, and then we can talk over dinner tonight?" Elinor continued. "Your father and I have something really important to tell you."
Eliza forced a smile out and nodded. "I'll see you at dinner, then." She motioned for the footmen to bring in her luggage and she climbed up the stairs to her room. She was glad she wasn't wearing heels. Her worn sneakers didn't resonate on the black and white tiled floors. She pushed the door to her room, and sighed heavily. It was as big – maybe even bigger – than her apartment back in New York. She noticed the room had been freshly aired, a bouquet of freshly cut flowers adorned her desk, and the sheets were crisp and cold, just like she liked them. She ran a hand on the velvet cushions on her bed and smiled. It was kind of good to be back home, in a way.
A light knock sounded on her door.
"Come in?" Eliza said cautiously.
The door opened and a senior woman with snow-white hair and wearing a regal dark blue dress with see-through flowing sleeves came in.
"Grand-mother," Eliza said, dipping in a curtsy before running to hug the older woman.
"Oh, Elisabeth," Queen Mother Andromeda said, holding Eliza's face in her beautiful wrinkled hands. "It is so good to have you back," she said. "I could not wait until dinner to see you again."
"I missed you, too," Eliza said, taking her grand-mother's hand in hers. They sat down on the settee.
"Congratulation on your Master's Degree," Andromeda said. "I am sure it will be of great use for you in the coming weeks and months."
"Yeah," Eliza said, repressing a sigh. "I'm sure dad is going to use my skills to the last breath I have." She chuckled and Andromeda chuckled lightly with her.
"Well," the Queen Mother said. "I will let you settle in, clean up, and get used to your new life. I will see you at dinner." She placed a soft kiss on her grand-daughter's forehead and left the room.
Once she was gone, Eliza went to work on getting cleaned up and ready for dinner. A couple hours later, after washing her hair and having a maid blow-drying them, putting them in an updo and putting on a simple long high-low black skirt with a white sleeveless top, she went down to dinner, dreading what her father had to say.
No one spoke until the first course dishes arrived, and then her father cleared his throat. Eliza braced herself. She knew what was coming, but was hoping it wasn't that.
"So," King Oliver said. "Now that you're back home, there is a lot of catching up to do, Elisabeth," he started. "I'm glad you now have your three degrees, because they are going to be veryuseful in the next months." He paused. "As you may have guessed, you are going to hold a Selection. But," he said before anyone could add anything, "it's not going to be a traditional one."
Eliza raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean not traditional?"
"Elisabeth, do you know why Illéan Royals held Selections with eligible young people Selected from our own Provinces?"
She suppressed the urge to roll her eyes. "Because it gives the people something and someone to root for. And to unify the country."
"Correct," King Oliver said. "And does the county need unifying or being distracted?"
"Yes?" Eliza said, not so sure. "I mean, no? I don't know…" she admitted.
"No," Oliver continued. "Thanks to the excellent work of your grand-mother during her reign, and you mother and sister, now, the country couldn't be in better terms."
"Then why hold a Selection at all?" Eliza asked boldly.
"Because as much as our country is healthy on the inside, it is not so on the outside. Our alliances, and friendships with other countries are fragile at best. We were so focused on keeping our country together that somehow, over the years, our outside relations became weaker."
The Political Science student in her wanted to scream That's a child's mistake!But she kept her comment in check. "And what are you planning, then?" she dared asked, already afraid of the answer.
"Your mother and I have sent out invitations to the thirty-two other countries and realms in the world, asking if they wanted to participate in competing for your hand in marriage, and in a chance to be Prince Consort by your side."
Eliza's eyes went wide.
"We have asked for noble and royal young men between the ages of twenty and twenty-six, and twenty-five answered to our invitation positively. Some refused, and some didn't take the time to answer at all."
"But father," Eliza said. "You do realize that this is some really delicate matter. Anything I say or do could end up in a war against us. Hell, it could bring on World War Four."
"I'm well aware of that," he said. "You will be using your new skills in Political science, and you will also learn diplomacy. The entire world will be watching you, Elisabeth."
Eliza and the others were silent for a long time. But a deal was a deal. She had promised to do what he said if she could have a normal education. He had held his end of the bargain, now it was her turn. "When do they arrive?" she asked, knowing she didn't have a choice.
"In two weeks," King Oliver said.
I know, I know, I said I wouldn't come back for a Selection SYOC for a few months... this is only part true. While waiting for NaNoWriMo to start (I can't start working on my Nano project before Nov. 1), my fingers were itching to write, and I realized I needed some excerice in Political plots in my writing... so here I am, with a new Selection SYOC idea... hahaha... So, I'll be writing as much as I can before Nano, then I'll be on hiatus for a couple months, and I'll be working on my original project. Once it's done, I'll come back to this, I promise! you know me, i always finish my sotries^^
(SO this will give you time to send me really awesome characters! you'll have a few weeks, even maybe a couple months to do so...)
Anyway! As you may have understood, I'll be needing 25 young men between the ages of 20 and 26 from all around the world, nobles and Princes, with political interests and some drama in store. You'll find every information on my profile (Male Selected Form, Countries available, and a link to the Pinterest Board!)
Thanks for reading and welcome aboard! :D