By mid-morning I was caught up with everything we needed to know for the first task. Our theme was alternative forms of energy and we’d be presenting our pitches in front of the King and several others in 6 days time.
I had an idea of whom I wanted to work with, and as luck would have it, I just so happened to run into the man I had in mind at breakfast. “Darryl!” I exclaimed upon entering. “Well, well…. You seem excited to see me.” He teased.
“Look, I was wondering – if you didn’t have anyone to work with yet – would you like to partner up with me?” I asked.
“Funny. I was going to ask if you’d want to work with me as well. Your specialty is tech and mine is electricity – I was hoping we’d be able to innovate something for the given prompt.” He replied. “Perfect, because that’s exactly what I was thinking…” I said.
For the next several days, I spent most of my time with Darryl. We’d spend every spare moment we had, walking, eating, and relaxing with one another, coming up with a potential way to power the capital and other cities.
“I honestly think we have this in the bag.” Darryl said on one of our walks on the second day of working together. “We’ll see.” Is what I’d said in response; however, I couldn’t deny that I wasn’t feeling confident as well.
As time went on, nearly everyone was hanging out exclusively with their partners and focusing on the task, without divulging any information. I hardly saw Kala except when it was time for bed, the same goes for Kori who ended up pairing up with Ricky. (ELITE GUIDE HERE)
By the 4th morning, Darryl and I had already drawn blueprints for our invention and we were sure no one else would have thought of it. We did a little extra research in the library and practiced our presentation several times; we still had two more full days to perfect everything.
Since we were being extra efficient, I had a bit more free time on my hands than the other Elite members. So I gave in to Genevieve’s request of hanging out. I’d meet her in the secret passageway and we’d wander and talk for hours. Thankfully, we didn’t bring up anything regarding Sebastian since that first night she spoke to me.
“You have to come and see me after your pitch. I’m not involved in the scoring, but I’d love to know how you did!” She exclaimed. I told her I’d swing by during the evening after our presentation.
Before I knew it, D-day had arrived and Darryl and I were dressed in new attire designated for our pitches, and standing outside the doors to the presentation room with the King and others.
“Ready?” He asked. I gave one last look at my reflection and took a steadying breath. “Let’s do this.” I replied, and we entered.
The room wasn’t as large or grandiose as I had pictured, which was a comfort. The King was seated at the head of the table, with several other men I’d seen on TV once or twice before.
As I attempted to recognize their faces, one very familiar face locked eyes with mine. Sebastian… I hadn’t expected to see him since Genevieve had mentioned she wouldn’t be here. But then again, he is the heir to the throne, so it makes sense he’d be more involved.
I quickly broke away from his gaze and turned my attention to the man sitting on his left whom I’d recognized as Jimmy Danforth, head of the Treasury. “Welcome. As we have a few last minute things to discuss from the previous group, you may take this time to set up any props or tools you require for your presentation.” He said. Darryl and I nodded and walked to the front of the room as they broke out into a quiet discussion.
“You ok? You look a bit pale.” He asked. Seeing Sebastian had thrown me off guard, I’m ashamed to say. Being so engrossed in this task pushed thoughts of dealing with him out of my mind and seeing him so suddenly dampened my spirits a tad.
“Yeah, it’s just… I’m a bit more nervous that I thought I’d be.” I said. “Don’t be.” Darryl said while reaching for my hand. “We’ve practiced this at least a thousand times. And I can assure you we were done preparing well before anyone else. We got this.”
Even though I was well aware of all these things, hearing him say it put my mind at ease. I gave his hand a gentle squeeze and managed to pull myself together. I’ll deal with Sebastian when the time comes, but now isn’t that time. I have to focus on what I came here to do.
From the corner of my eye, I noticed Sebastian had broken away from the murmurs and discussion the rest of the men and the King were having. When I looked at him, he quickly rejoined.
“Well?” Darryl said, pulling me back from staring at Sebastian. “Ready.” I replied. We proceeded to set up our PowerPoint onto the projector.
“We got this.” Darryl said again as the room quieted down, I smiled at him in return.
“Very well then, we are ready. Darryl James of Region 8 and Irene Charles of Region 6 – you’ve been tasked to come up with an alternative form of energy for the kingdom. As the Elite exist to better our nation, we are under the impression that your pitch should aim to do just that. You will be scored based on the creativity, clarity, and feasibility of your idea. Whenever you are ready, you may begin.” A man on the King’s right said. I believe he’s the head of the Interior, but I’d have to double check.
“Yes, well, Irene and I have combined our background knowledge to come up with a rather unique form of energy.” Darryl began, just as we’d rehearsed. “Though it sounds odd, we believe we’ve managed to come up with a modernized water mill to take advantage of Lakeland’s many bodies of water.”
“As you can see.” I continued, pulling up our first graphic. “The majority of Lakeland’s energy is derived from a varied combination of non-renewable sources. However, we’ve come up with a model that shall rely on hydropower…”
Once we started, the rest of the presentation was a breeze. When we wrapped up our last slide, the King told us we may head back to our wing of the palace and that our scores would be given the following day.
“I knew we’d nail it.” Darryl said as we walked out. “I doubt anyone else came up with that.” He added. “Guess we’ll have to wait and see.” I said.
The waiting area outside the presentation room was filled with the remaining Elite. We’d drawn numbers the night before in order to get our presentation order; Darryl and I had drawn 4 so our group was after Kyle and Emily, Kala and Ivan and Nigel and Samuel.
“How was it?” Simon asked as we entered. He and Skyler were next – not sure how that pairing occurred. “Not as bad as you’d think.” I replied.
Kori and Ricky were to go last and they came to ask us last minute questions. We all chatted for a bit, as there was a 10 minute break in between presenting groups. Eventually Darryl and I said our goodbyes.
“I’m pretty sure the others said they were going to all gather in the living room to celebrate the end of the first day. Want to join them?” Darryl asked as we entered the courtyard.
“Sorry, I had promised I’d talk to another friend.” I said. “That’s fine.” He replied as we walked back. We congratulated each other on a job well done once again before going our separate ways.
I changed and undid my hair before heading down to the library to meet up with Gen. Since everyone was probably going to be celebrating, I didn’t need to be cautious about entering the secret passage.
As I walked thorough the passageways my mind – finally free – found its way back to Sebastian. A new sense of anger had boiled up inside of me. Was I not worth an explanation? How could he just drop a bombshell like that and then not reach out to me for a whole week? “Hey Gen, could you tell me why…” I began as I rounded the corner to our meeting spot. I had meant to finally ask her why Sebastian hadn’t reached out to me, when I stopped myself.
Instead of Gen, her brother was sitting in her place. “Expecting someone else, I see.” He said. Well this is unexpected.
Don’t lose your cool. I repeated in my head over and over. “Yes. I was.” I said.
“How long are you planning on looking at me like that?” Sebastian asked while rising.
“Like what?” I said, not breaking eye contact.
He strolled over to me, never drifting away from my gaze and said, “Irene, listen, I understand how you could be upset that I wasn’t entirely forthcoming; however, how long are you planning on being upset?”
“I can’t stand having you look at me like I’m some kind of stranger.” He added. He was standing so close with a gaze so intense it nearly broke my resolve. Nearly.
“But you are a stranger, your highness.” I said icily. “Irene…” he began, but I cut him off. I wanted to make him feel something too, it wasn’t fair that he was so calm and level headed while I’ve been feeling all of these emotions… “And how do you expect me to not be angry when you drop something like that and then don’t even bother attempting to seek me out to explain yourself or see how I’m feeling. Am I not even worth an explanation? Of course. Why would I? I’m just a lowly girl from region 6 and you’re the heir to your kingdom. Why should you have to go out of your way to care about what I think.”
I think my rant worked as I managed to see a crack in his normally calm demeanor. “Well, for your information, I didn’t in fact try to call you the day it happened, but you ignored me.” He said in a voice I could tell he was forcing to keep calm.
Oh crap, I’d forgotten to check who that unknown caller was… Although he did have a fair point, I was too angry to try and be reasonable or rational.
“Oh… wow.” I said sarcastically. “One call. I’m honored. You’re absolutely right, I should’ve immediately sensed how great an effort you were making and threw away all of my pointless emotions instantly. It’s great to know that I am sooooo important.” I’m being unfair; I know that; but the part of me that wants to hurt him the way I felt hurt is greater than the part of me that wants to embrace him and melt way the tension.
“Irene you are important to me.” He said, the slight anger I’d stirred in him gone again. “Genevieve told me she spoke to you and that you were upset, and when you didn’t answer my call I figured that meant you wanted time…”
He reached out to hug me and the fact that he was already ok again made me angrier. I was certainly not ok. “Don’t you understand women at all?!!” I screamed, shoving his arms away. “How can you be so dense? I didn’t want time, I wanted an explanation!”
For a moment his face looked shocked that I’d pushed him, I nearly forgot that Sebastian is not just the guy I was happily dating over a week ago, he is the prince – which was ironically the point of this whole argument. He then regained his composure and spoke again in that voice of forced calm. “Well, you’d be surprised to know that I grew up without any experience, so forgive me if my understanding of women is lacking. I can see my presence isn’t helping, so I think I shall go.”
I hadn’t managed to say anything I truly wanted to… I wasn’t mad he kept his identity a secret… I was worried his feelings weren’t genuine… I let my feelings get the better of me. As he began to walk by, apart of me wanted to reach out and grab his hand, but there was nothing I could do to fix the atmosphere, especially in my current state of mind. So I just let him go…
Thanks for reading! Well well well, that wasn’t the reunion you were expecting I’m sure. Seb isn’t the best at knowing how to deal with women, given his obvious lack of experience, and Irene is just a stubborn and prideful girl so a clash was inevitable. Sorry if the chapter was a bit wordy, I’ve been making these chapters progressively longer unintentionally, I’ll try to make more action, less talk next week XD Feel free to let me know what you thought~