"Don't you dare cry!"
53 could not stop herself from screaming.
"Don't you dare fucking cry when you had everything and I was raped—-"
The princess suddenly snatched 53's hand. "I'm g-glad—-"
53 lost her mind in rage.
That the princess actually dared to say she was glad—-
53's hand struck Safiya's cheek with such force that it had her face snapping to the other side, and she felt the corner of her lip start to bleed.
But even so.
She didn't give a damn.
Wasn't even the slightest bit angry.
But when Safiya turned to the other woman to speak, tears still rushing down her face, she hadn't even a chance to say a single word.
A cry escaped her as 53 clawed at her and ripped her necklace off her throat.
53 released a maniacal laugh at the look of shock on the princess' face. "You fucking idiot! This is fake, Your Fucking Highness." She threw the broken chain on the floor and spat at it. "Show it to any fucking historian or expert you know, and they'll tell you the truth. That necklace is as fucking fake as your relationship with the sheikh. So if you actually think he loved you—-"
I did, Safiya thought numbly.
"Then you're an even bigger and more ambitious fool than I gave you credit for," 53 sneered.
Safiya's shame knew no bounds as she felt the other woman watch her cry.
Mama, help me.
But the pain was just too great, and all she could do was cry.
I'm so ashamed, Mama.
Because 53 was right, and Safiya had been ambitious, to think the sheikh could want someone like her, whose father had been so blindly obsessed with the throne his actions had nearly killed the queen.
53 was beginning to feel sick at the sight of the princess' tears, and she hated herself for it. Hated it so much that it only made her want to keep lashing out—-
"Crying won't make any difference, you slut!"
Safiya could see that 53 was desperate to get a rise out of her, and she wished...she truly wished she could be angry. Things would be so much simpler if she could simply think that 53 was nothing but an jealous ex-lover of the sheikh—-
"Are you just going to stand there and snivel like a piece of shit?"
But she could not. She wished she could, if only to keep a few pieces of her heart from shattering. But because she knew who 53 was—-
"Don't you even have anything to say?"
Safiya swallowed hard.
She managed to lift her gaze to the other woman's.
Help me say what I've always wanted to say.
53 nearly took a step back at the way the princess was looking at her.
Those dark eyes were too fucking bright and pure—-
"I'm sorry I didn't get to help you sooner," Safiya choked out.
53's face lost color.
"I w-wanted to, but I w-was scared, and I'm s-sorry—-"
53 shot forward and grabbed the princess' hand, and the whole room seemed to spin when she saw the moon-shaped birthmark on the girl's left hand.
It was this hand, she thought sickly.
This hand of the girl who had risked her life to save 53—-
Safiya shakily pulled her hand out of the other woman's grip. "I'm just so sorry...so, so sorry I wasn't able to help you sooner—-"
53 watched the princess walk out of the room, and her own gaze started to blur.
For so many years, 53 had wondered who that girl was. Wondered if the girl had managed to survive after risking so much to save her from Saul. She had tried so hard to find out who that girl was. And now—-
What had she done?
A sighting of Mahmud in the city reached the ears of the king shortly after Agent 53's stormy exit, and the tension in the war room spiked when Altair asked Khalil to grant him the right to personally take charge of the investigation and possible recapture of Safiya's father.
"As everything that's happened since is my fault," Altair said grimly, "I would like to have the chance to put things to right—-"
Several officials muttered under their breaths after this, and with one of them, albeit unable to meet Altair's gaze, even going as far as suggesting they required proof that Altair and Mahmud were not conniving together in the first place.
But while Altair did not mind such words, the Emir Sheikh was not as tolerant, and said official found himself paling as he saw the king's contemptuous gaze swing to his direction.
"Have you ever experienced war, insan?" Although the word translated to 'milord', the manner in which it had been uttered had the official feeling like the king had just spat at his face.
Pride, however, had the official blustering in self-defense. "I was too young for the last war—-"
"Then if I were to ask you to join our troops overseas," Khalil asked silkily, "would you say yes?"