Chapter 2

I gripped the collar of my greatcoat as I jogged back to his cottage, my other hand deep in my pocket, holding the gems and rubies. I discarded of my home made servants uniform on my way home, burying all proof.

My hasty footsteps echoed through the now empty streets of my village. At this time of night, there was only one candle I knew that was still ablaze.

My legs moved faster at the thought, sweat now covering my brow, but I still smiled all the same.

xxx

"I hate it when you walk through the village like that." Killian Botkin hardly lifted his head from his work as I dash into his small cottage.

I wiped my baby hairs out of my face and headed to his bedroom for some cloths. "The streets were quiet and my coat covers everything from under the knee." I reassure him and tickle his chin as I walk by. "Thank you for keeping the door unlocked for me." I add before disappearing into his room.

He tried to doge my hand but failed. "That or you run my door straight to the ground." He murmured as I changed.

The rubies roll out my coats pocket as I toss it onto his desk. Finally, he looks at me. "You know I can't accept these, their stolen." still, he picks up a stone to examine it. "This one is fake anyway." He tosses it aside and continues to examine the rest, separating them into different piles.

I lean on the edge of his desk, his large shirt falling over my hands as I rest them on the table. "They are not going to be considered stolen for long."

"I don't feel comfortable selling stolen diamonds to their owners." He brings the light closer to examine the rubies more closely.

"Don't get to upset," I say as I fiddle a red garnet between my fingers, "half is mine anyway."

Killian's work never fails to impress me. His name is on everybody's lips in Panorama and they adore him for his beautiful handy work – especially because the queen adores his craftsmanship.

Ugly bitterness grows in me at the thought of other woman being able to afford his work and walk around with his gold around their necks and fingers. Sometimes he offers to make me something but I always refuse, he can't afford giving something away for free nor could I afford his gold. Rubies won't look good on a mouse anyway.

"You told me yourself that stock is low these days and I don't want you to lose your regular customers." He only shakes his head, the light turning his dark brown hair into a halo. "I'll take that as a thank you." I twirl the garnet between my fingers, my brown eyes reflecting back at me, "This one is fake as well." I tell him and toss it aside.

"Next time, check their quality before stashing them in your pockets, would you." He teases.

"There was no time."

"How did you get these anyway?" He crosses his arms and rests them on the table, looking me in the eye.

I roll up my sleeves and tried my best to avoid his emerald gaze. "Ask no question, get told no lies."

He sucks in a breath and gives me a low chuckle, "What I'll do for one lie out of you."

I lean closer to him and say with all seriousness, "The day I lie to you is the day I get caught."

"Then I will just have to steal those pears from you." He gives up on prying for information and continuous examining the stones.

"Leave the thieving to me."

When I was ten years old, my mother gave me a string of pearls. Ten lovely white stones on a single string. With it she taught me something much more valuable. Lying to someone means lying to yourself, and lying to yourself only gets you lost. Asking someone for their forgiveness after lying to them is like asking them to blindly follow you through a forest and why should they follow you when you're lost.

She told me if I ever had to lie to someone, I should give them a single pearl at the end of my untruth as a personal sacrifice for their forgiveness, no matter how small the lie may be. She also told me that I could never outrun the truth. Which was ironic since that same night she ran away from our home. That was about nine years ago, and today I only have eight pearls left.

"I have to deliver a lot of jewellery tomorrow in Panorama, I need you to help me carry all the boxes." Killian stated. "I also need you to promise me that you won't steel anything while we're there."

I eyed the velvet boxes at the foot of the table, all different sizes and stacked on one another. By the large amount of boxes laying on the floor and the soon to be packed boxes on the table, I gathered that a big event was soon to take place.

Rubies, diamonds, silver and gold, all laying on the necks of distracted and possibly drunk mistresses…

Killian snapped his fingers in my face, halting my train of thought before I could come up with some type of scheme, but he was too late. "Promise me please."

I held a small velvet box in my palm, feeling its texture. It was small enough to fit a ring, or neckless with a thin chain and a single stone. I knew the small boxes held more valuable diamonds then the bigger ones, if I wanted the gold or silver, I was going to have to aim for the bigger boxes.

The velvet boxes are not what I'm after for, all I needed was a simple idea how much value would be hanging by the necks of the maidens at said event.

By the looks of it there were less small boxes than big ones. That meant more gold around the neck, judging by the length of the boxes, most of the ladies are going to wear a low V-line dress and long silver chains to emphasise their breasts. There is only one person in their kingdom they want to impress.

"The young king is finally going to choose a bride." I stated and laid the small box back in its pile.

Killian raised his eyebrows, impressed at how fast I figured it out, "You still have to promise me, Palace."

"Was I right?" I ignored his begging. "Wait, don't tell me, I want to be surprised."

He gave me a stern look, not amused by me at all.

I leaned in closer, scanning is face and body langue. Killian's eyes always enchanted me, if he knew that or not, they seemed to bewitch me. Not like my brown eyes that shown a different shade of hazel or honey when I was in the sun, his eyes were a solid dark green and never to be mistaken for any another colour. The weaves and wrinkles in between the leafy green sometimes reminded me of the gems he works on.

For now, I could look him in the eye but when his not slouching at his desk he towers over me with his lean body.

I squinted my eyes, "You really want me to lie to you, don't you?"

"More than anything in the world."