19 Fragile Heart continued.
"Run away with me." He said again, his voice picked up desperation. Third prince Julong slid his arms around me and tucked me in his body. "I can make you happy."
And I never doubt he can.
I let him hold me for a while, and after a long moment of sharing our heat, our breaths and our anguish together. I begged for him to let go. As hard as it is for him, it's hard for me too. I knew his feeling was real, and he showed and spoke of his love so bravely.
There wasn't any doubt, any hesitation, he never let his ego got in the way. Prince Julong was sincere, and he wasn't a coward. He was always truthful and open about it, while here I am, pushing him and stabbing him each time he tried to get close.
Just like now...
"I need to go, someone might see us."
"Please, we could get in trouble."
He pushed away without letting me go, his keen eyes poured into mine. Third prince Julong searched my eyes, looking for that flicker of love. "Don't you care for me? Don't you love me just a little?"
"I was there for you, Jasmine. I gave you attention when you were lonely. I chased you when elder brother neglected you. I never doubted my feeling for you when he wouldn't even waste his time to meet you." He paused. "All those times I pretended to run into you at the garden...I did it on purpose, I waited hours just so I could see you, I could speak to you...And yet, you chose my brother over me? Someone who never cared for you until recently? I'm telling you, if you didn't look the way you do, he probably would still disregard his betrothal to you."
We heard a voice so pierce and so thunderous that it shook the walls of the hallway. Third prince Julong and I jolted from our hiding. "Don't you dare speak ill of your brother that way!" Reprimanded the emperor to his son furiously.
The emperor stood by the hallway with the crown prince beside him. His glare was on his youngest son, breathing a heavy breath.
"Leave us, Jasmine." I needn't be told twice, rushing to get away from the emperor's fury.
The crown prince did the same, walking off to leave his father and youngest brother alone to their privacy.
"Father..." Moaned Julong quietly. He stepped out of the darkness he'd been hiding from. His father looked at him with stern but sorrowful eyes. No matter how angry and how disappointed he is with his son, he still loves him, and he still felt his heart shatter for his youngest son.
"You disappoint me, Julong." His father's voice took a loving plunge.
Julong's eyes averted from his father's gaze, obvious with resentment.
"Look at me, my son." Commanded the emperor dearly.
Julong shook his head just like a young child.
"I warned you to stay away from the girl."
"I love her, father."
"...and so, does your brother."
"I loved her before he did."
The emperor let out a ragged sigh, never taking his eyes on his heartbroken son. "Julong, my son. I brought Jasmine in the palace for Hoon and you should've been aware of that. You should've known to stay away from the girl from the very beginning. Why would you risk your heart for someone you cannot have?"
"Because I cannot choose who I love, father. My heart chose her, and I had been blind ever since."
"First love is always the hardest. Move on from the girl, my son. I'm sure there's plenty out there as beautiful as she is. I'll scour the entire nation for the most beautiful girls if I have to."
Julong made no response, gripping his fists tight on his sides. "You don't understand, it's not about her vanity. I felt it, there's a click between us and I know she felt it too. It is as if my soul had been awakened for the first time when I saw her."
"I believe that is what you call love at first sight. You're young, all this shall pass."
"You're cruel, you're all cruel." Third prince Julong snarled at his father. "Elder brother never had to do anything, he never had to work getting yours and mother's attention. Everything was given to elder brother like a gift!"
"Don't speak to me as if I favor any of my children more. I love you all the same!" The emperor's voice took a sharp turn. "Hoon is sickly, he's always been on the verge of death since he was a little boy. He needs to marry as soon as he can! I want him to be happy, I want him to have children, I want him to experience the things normal people would."
The emperor paused catching his tongue. He exhaled a dragged calming breath and closed his eyes. "You will pack your things and you will leave tomorrow before dawn just like we talked about. You will move on from the girl while you're in another land and you won't come back until I know you're better."