ah, she’s here. time to wake up. - Chapter 2 - loseyoutoloveme (2024)

Chapter Text

Everything in the palace was so over the top that even the knock on your door in the morning felt like a curated symphony.

You were not in the mood for it and made it known, “What the f*ck do you want?!”

A serene voice called from outside the door, “My lady, it is time to get up for the welcome brunch.”

A bad shiver went down your spine at every word in that sentence. Especially lady, get, up, and brunch.


“I am entering.”

You hid under the covers, rolled over onto your pillow, and hollered into the stupidly nice silk, “No! I wasn’t the one who kissed him, I wasn’t in the room, end of story, goodbye!”

Unless this brunch was to announce that Yuna was the new Princess of America, you wanted nothing to do with it. And if the reason you had to show up to these f*cking lame ass events was because that rat bastard told the maids you had an encounter late at night, you were going to send him into another three-hundred-year coma.

“Circ*mstances have evolved,” she said.

Damn, everyone in the palace was persistent as f*ck.

But so were you, “If the circ*mstances aren’t that I can leave as soon as you open that door again, I don’t want to hear it—" The covers were rudely pulled off your body, leaving you a shivering mess. When you flopped back over to rain hell on whoever it was, you were met with the innocent face of the female employee from the day before and the apologies spilled from you right away, “Oh, what? Sorry, I didn’t realize it was you. Sorry, sorry… I’m not usually this big of an asshole to people in service jobs.” Your need to fight deflated so fast when you noticed she was next to you in the same position that you usually took next to Yuna, a f*cking bizarre reversal. “I’m y/n, but you probably know that. Please don’t call me—”

She bowed her head in way more respectful greeting than you deserved. “It is nice to meet you, my lady.”

The end of your sentence awkwardly fell out over hers, “My lady. Ugh.”

You were used to Nayeon calling you bitch, slu*t, and whor* (affectionate), this did not sit right with you.

“I did not introduce myself properly yesterday. I am Solar, I have this dress for you to wear.” She held up this beautiful pink tea party dress, made out of lace so delicate it was like a fairytale fairy spun it herself. “You must be dressed in an appropriate manner.”

Lol. Lol, lol.

Sure, your pajamas were dangerously splayed everywhere, but it wasn’t like you were going to show up like this. You covered yourself up and began protesting, “Listen, I’m serious when I mean I just want to go home. I have things to do and… people to do… person, not people. A person.” You hated Johnny for being an asshole and not letting you have the get-out-of-jail card of saying that you had a boyfriend. “I don’t want this life, as much as this bed is nice.”

The bed was so nice. You slept like a f*cking baby last night… though you weren’t sure if that was the comfy bed or not being pestered by Yuna to wake up at the ass crack of dawn to film her pilates workouts.

Solar just held out the dress without a response or a look of sympathy.

The idle hope that stirred in you went out like a f*cking light as you wondered, “You’re not gonna let me go home?”

She shook her head. “That is for the prince to decide.”


[8:45 am] the sister: please tell me if this looks good [img72.jpg]
[8:45 am] the sister: please please please please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Apparently there were multiple people who would put your head on a spike if you tried to leave before you were allowed.

You ignored Yuna’s message to stay in your bubble of solitude a little longer, but eventually you had no choice but to cave to Solar, “Fine. But I am not wearing that.”

The slu*ttiest skirt and top you had in your overnight bag were calling to you, like you’d wither away Wicked Witch style if you didn’t take the chance to scandalize everyone. But instead, you begrudgingly put on the bodycon electric blue dress you’d brought to wear to the club last night, which was surprisingly more covered up than anything else you could’ve picked.

When you stepped out of your closet to show off what you’d picked, Solar was indeed scandalized… like she’d never seen modern women’s clothing before. Didn’t every girl have one of these rags in their closet by the time they were sixteen?

“I think it looks hot,” you said when she was still speechless. You didn’t even have to look in the mirror to check. It was the outfit Johnny loved to see you wear the most when he was performing - he would would always say it made you look like ‘the hottest girl in VBeach or whatever.’

He wasn’t that good at coming up with compliments, lol.

But Solar appeared disturbed to the point of actual distress, she couldn’t keep still as she fussed over you, “That marking is too visible, if you do not want to use a jacket, please…”

Without asking, she reached out and zipped up the dress over your chest so the elongated flower tattoo on your sternum disappeared.

You were oddly not mad, you were just confused by how freaked out she was by the innocent pattern, “It’s a tattoo, it isn’t going to curse you. Aren’t you my age?”

She couldn’t respond, nor could she bring herself to look at any of the other tattoos the dress would definitely not cover up. It was very amusing to know that you were getting under everyone’s skin here… it made you feel a whole lot better about feeling uncomfortable in reverse. You didn’t let her fix your hair or your makeup or even suggest that you change out of your sneakers into heels. It was hard to do so without glaring or being rude, but you gave off enough don’t f*ck with me energy that Solar just decided to give up and save herself the hassle by the end of it.

You tried your best to be nice as you walked to whatever ballroom they were holding this f*cking brunch in, “So… What were the evolved circ*mstances? Just weighing our chances.”

Apparently the prince didn’t discriminate in his personal life, but that didn’t mean the chancellors of the royal family weren’t going to guide him in a more appropriate direction.

“The standing tradition, which has gone unchanged following the hiatus of the monarchy, was that all girls of noble families must be considered as the wife to the prince," Solar answered.

Wow, so Yuna didn’t actually win through the force of true love? And the old money super rich people had to be considered too? What a goddamn surprise, nothing had changed in three hundred years.

The same palace guard who gave you hell last night stopped you from entering the ballroom and asked, “Just one?”

Couldn’t he see the girl standing right beside you? It was classist and weird of him to ignore another palace worker that was the same level as him.

You ignored his question - as he f*cking deserved - walked right into the ballroom for brunch… and suddenly understood why Solar had brought you that tea party-ass dress. Because you were about to attend a real life tea party. You’d never seen so much porcelain or smelled so many expensive flower arrangements in one place before. You couldn’t help but roll your eyes at the fact that those tiny f*cking cucumber sandwiches (yes, they existed, and looked like they'd do nothing for your hunger) had the royal crest painted onto them.

A waiter almost walked right through Solar, who was carefully concluding her explanation, “These families still exist. The daughters have arrived and are considered viable candidates to be the prince’s wife.”

Holy… sh*t.

You were about to go up against true heavyweights, milling about the elaborate breakfast tables that now paled in comparison to their finery. You had to text Nayeon, she'd get a kick out of this.

[9:07 am] you: help
[9:07 am] you: im about to win first place in an im not like other girls competition
[9:09 am] nananana BATMAN: is it like miss universe central there or sth?
[9:10 am] you: YUP
[9:10 am] nananana BATMAN: lmfaoooooooooooooo are they all hot? send pics

One of them passed by and when you spotted how she had literal diamonds glued onto her manicure, stress billowed out into your whisper, “We’re f*cked.”

You glanced through the room and it was not hard to spot your stepsister, because her simple silver dress stood out in a bad way against the actual designer finery you never could’ve schemed to replicate. Yuna loved to pretend she was a princess, that her fifteen-years-ago pageant title meant something beyond vanity, but a place like this was designed to expose how much of a fraud that really was.

Solar peered at you with curious eyes. “Whyever do you keep referring to yourself in the plural tense?”

You were sure things would be simpler if you kept your goddamn mouth shut, since no one had yet realized that you and Yuna were kinda related. But somehow the truth slipped out anyways, “The girl in the silver over there is my sister. Step-sister, technically, but she is just so dumb and harmless I just… sister is fine. I don’t like talking about it.”

It was honestly easier to go along with the story that you loved each other and happily coexisted than it was to make necessary clarifications.

That you were more a servant than anything.

That they never once considered you a family member in the ways that truly mattered.

That recalling the details that led to this situation, even now, tended to kill you from the inside out if you lingered too long on them. You could joke about your dad being dead in a vacuum, but that was a very dangerous state of mind to be in.

Solar’s expression shifted into a deep shade of sympathy and you looked anywhere else in the room to avoid her spiking your emotions. Which meant you almost made eye contact with the prince where he was leaning against a marble column and listening to a row of giggling girls with much interest.


Yet another rude hoe somehow missed hitting Solar but managed to physically push by you on her way to meet up with the others. The group of them immediately began fawning over her, “Oh my god, Lady Eunbi is here.”

This was a bitch who knew how to turn heads. With her dark hair chopped into the sleekest, sharpest bob, a beauty mark under her eye, and a dark, low-cut grey gown that toed the line of sex appeal and class, it was no wonder that—She turned enough for you to see her face and yikes!, the makeup was a vibe killer. Didn’t she realize this wasn’t a magazine pictorial? That sh*t was way too harsh, the eyebrow-eyeshadow combination had her looking like a surprised fifty-year-old no matter what expression she was making. You were curious as to why every girl present seemed to regard her to be some kind of fashion-forward god.

“Do you know who that is?” you asked Solar.

“She’s one of the newcomers that I mentioned.”

“I just finished talking to the prince.” Lady Eunbi held their attention like she was born to be the royal commander of any room. “Not to say I’d be surprised if he didn’t pick me, but I'm way better than the girl he was supposed to marry. That’s what my father said.”

That arrogant yet otherwise harmless comment was enough to provoke Solar into glaring at her as fiercely as she could. Part of you wondered why she was so bothered, but you ultimately did not give a f*ck.

One of the others jumped to kiss this girl’s ass, “Does that mean you’re a princess already? You def look like one!”

Lady Eunbi leaned in, bold lipstick split in a cat-got-the-cream grin, and let them in on her confident little secret, “I’ll put it this way, Dawon… it’s not even a competition.”

Why was there always one? There was always a bitch in the group, always.

For someone that emerged straight from the womb of one, Yuna had no instinct for sniffing similar bitchiness out. All she saw was a group of shiny, popular girls sucking the atmosphere in the room their way and she had to be a part of that no matter what.

Sadly, you could’ve been high out of your mind and still predicted what happened next.

When Yuna was about three feet away from joining the group, Lady Eunbi glanced over her shoulder, took one look at your stepsister, and her nose wrinkled as much as the Botox allowed. Her disgusted tone made you want to claw your ears out, “Ew. Don’t come over here.”

“What?” Yuna’s embarrassed face was too much for you to handle. Poor girl, she had no idea how the real world worked.

Yuna was clearly no threat to their chances, yet Lady Eunbi made sure to cook her into burnt little bits, “I have no idea who you are or who your family is. Your dress isn’t even a recognizable brand, I’d be embarrassed showing up like that.”

You’d be embarrassed showing up with that clown-adjacent makeup but you weren’t going to say anything… yet. You had to keep that in the arsenal for when this chick really pissed you off, because it was only a matter of time with someone like her.

Putting on the performance of a lifetime, you happily waved to Yuna like you had no idea who she was and loaded the bullets of your searing response, “Come stand over here! I’m not going to bitch you out for taking up oxygen or whatever.”

Lady Eunbi was so put off by you that a strand of her bob dared to fly out of place. “Excuse me?”

You held out your hands in warning when she took a step forward to escalate the confrontation. “Oh, don’t get too close. You’re going to breathe in our peasant air.” She tried again and you sharply blew out your exhale to try and contaminate her. “Nuh uh! You’re consuming the low class air!”

She actually stomped her foot! Stomped her goddamn foot! And turned back around to her little minions so that you wouldn’t dirty her personal bubble any further.

Lmaooooooooooooooo. You had to laugh, what an absolute lunatic.

Yuna was caught between grateful and mortified, she scurried over to your side and whine-scolded you, “Don’t be mean, I want to be friends with her.”

Ugh, get a f*cking grip.

For as much as Yuna and Jessica liked to pretend that they were Williamsburg royalty and that your extremely wealthy late step-grandfather gave them a lifestyle equal to what the ladies here were flaunting, reality was… nowhere close. He left behind a missing inheritance that was nowhere to be found, neither of them worked or did anything of substance, which left you and your tips from serving bottles at No Club Tougher. And $50 here and there from the losers who stared at your tit* every time you gave them Coronas did not buy very many Versace gowns.

“Do you want to marry this dude, like for real?” It felt dumb to ask that question considering Yuna nodded so hard her updo went flying everywhere. You had no idea why you were always tasked with playing therapist when you were f*cked up enough on your own but here you were, “Don’t make friends.”

“How would you know?”

“I’ve seen enough girls fighting over guys. Never ends well for the girls.”

You couldn’t say that Johnny had never f*cked another girl in the years you’d been caught up in this situationship thing. But it was well established at his club that if another girl tried anything with him while you were physically there, it was over for them. And you still technically weren’t his girlfriend, so… it wasn't the best ending for you either.

[9:41 am] big djohnny: sup frownyyyy

Speak of the devil.

[9:43 am] you: miss u hottie
[9:43 am] you: wanna ft later? ;) look what im wearing

You were about to undo the zipper on your dress so you could take a ‘nice’ photo when Yuna grabbed your arm to stop you. Her face was creased with worry as she glanced between the extravagant outfits and her simple one, and you knew what was coming next, “Can you help me buy some more jewelry?”

She had a silver diamond earrings + necklace set on at the moment, her jewelry box had more than enough rings and bracelets and shiny pieces you didn’t even know the proper name of. But she was clearly insecure in the same way she was while competing against the seasoned pageant girls and the only fix was to throw money at it. Which meant throwing your own money. And it was not like you had the freedom to say no.

“Yes. We’ll get silver to match your outfits.” If you were going to burn your cash, at least she was going to be stylish by the end of it.

“Thanks! You’re always so nice to me!” she chirped.

Well… you didn’t have a f*cking choice.

“Darling, come. I think we should go on a lap around the room—you.” Jessica seemed both surprised and pissed off that you were somehow ruining her brunch with your presence, expecting you’d snuck off in the night the way you usually did at home.

You were amused that she was bothered and wanted to torture her even more, “It’s me. They wouldn’t let me leave, unfortunately. Maybe they think I’ll be the next princess.”

“Your eye-catching outfit, in a bad way if I do say so, does not demonstrate the refinement necessary to be a princess.”

Did she think you were being serious? f*cking idiot.

“I’ll find a dressing robe to hide myself in, madam,” you responded as you curtsied again, finding that mocking gesture was the funniest possible thing that you could keep doing.

The two of them went off arm in arm to mingle and you did not give them further warning that the ladies would continue to turn their noses up at them. It would be a new experience for your favorite ladies to go through together!!!!!!!!!!!

Left alone in the middle of this flowered f*cking monstrosity, you took a moment to scan the room for enemy #3 and didn’t see the prince anywhere. You were used to chaotic brunches like this but you couldn’t imagine any event in colonial America had this kind of overwhelming vibe, besides… the signing of the Constitution? Which he missed out on by a couple decades?

Solar finally reappeared from wherever she’d escaped during that nauseating interaction, so you asked her for the tea, “How’s the prince?”

She seemed more confused by your question than she should’ve been, “What?”

“You work here, you’re tapped in. How is he?”

It would be weird as sh*t to wake up three hundred years from now and know literally no one except alienoid humans that had video feeds in their brains and moved in flying cars. The dude fell asleep during a time where he had to write using a feather by candlelight and woke up now, only to be thrown into the biggest season of the Bachelor ever…. f*cking god, he didn’t even know what a TV was. You hoped they made sure he knew what that was before he got married. Wild.

Your maid could not understand where the conversation was going, “Why are you concerned about that?”

“I don’t know. I…” Your flippant answer caught stuck behind an unexpectedly strong dam of emotion in your throat, “I know what it feels like, I guess.”

You didn’t look that closely because you didn’t f*cking care that much, but you were sure there were portraits of the prince’s mother and father in that hallway. The hallway that he had to pass through every day to get to his bedroom. Thinking of the pictures of your dad you would’ve put up at his funeral you couldn’t afford, one look at the background on your phone, and you couldn’t deny your feelings were deeply sympathetic, against all instincts.

Solar was staring and you felt awkward, so back under the walls of disinterest you went, “Don’t get me wrong, though. It’s not like I tolerate the man—”


You jumped right out of your goddamn shoes. What the f*ck?

Behind you, the prince was standing there and hanging out like he'd been a part of the conversation the whole time. He was wearing a linen undershirt and a gilded black and silver overcoat that surprisingly worked on him. You weren’t going to comment about the long white socks and buckled shoes. You weren’t. And it was stupid to think that slicking his long hair back made him look old as hell and he would’ve looked more princely and modern if it'd been left in artful chaos instead. He was still tipping the hot scale in his favor, but you couldn’t trust anyone in this place to have good taste.

Wait, who the hell were you to give him advice? You were just a random nobody.

“Hello,” you muttered.

His smirk didn’t flash fully, as if he was trying to hold himself back now that you weren’t alone. His eyes dipped over the contours of your outfit before he leaned in close enough that his low acknowledgement breezed across your ear, “Greetings, Lady y/n, who hails from the glorious town of Williamsburg.”

A jolt of panic struck you right in the chest. “What did you f*cking say? Never call me that ever again.”

He wasn’t supposed to know anything about you, no one here was supposed to know anything about you. At least he got the town wrong, thanks to the fact that the financial accounts you still shared with your stepmother were opened in f*ckass Williamsburg.

“Then what may I call you so as not to upset you further? You may call me Jaehyun.” He introduced himself and reached out for your hand, but not to shake. You knew his slimy little ass was going to try and kiss it, so you switched your phone over to the other side and he was caught in an awkward half-bow when he realized he was blocked off.

And what? If you didn’t answer, was he just going to make up a name for you? Because he thought he could do anything he wanted?

Out of nowhere, Yuna’s ultra sweet voice stabbed into your eardrum, “She goes by—”

You were literally forced into blurting over her, “I go by Blue. It was a nickname my dad called me.”

A moment passed where your senses were on such high alert that you were stuck on this remote island of blacked-out overstimulation. Burning swept up your spine and you resurfaced to see Yuna cowering from where you’d body blocked her away by accident. You couldn’t help any of that extremely weird reaction, that nickname was something about you that was so private no one else would ever know the true meaning behind it again.

Prince Jaehyun glanced between the two of you with obvious confusion and couldn’t find an elegant way to transition the conversation, “Er. Where is your father now?”

You were going to goddamn kill her.

“Not here,” you answered quickly, before more bullsh*t poured out to cover it up, “This is Yuna, I just met her. She’s nice and really beautiful, enjoy.”

After shoving her over to where he was standing - cathartic yet not at all - you stalked over to the point in the room furthest away from them. By the time you got to the table where the caterers were passing out drinks, your hands were shaking so hard you needed a cigarette to take the edge off.

You went up to the first young woman handing out glasses and asked desperately, “Do you have alcohol here?”

Cigarettes would be inappropriate, but a fat glass of booze would do the trick.

This chick put on a fresh coat of dark lipstick, shot you a deadpan look, and blared, “It’s ten in the morning,” like she wasn’t just a cater-waiter that partied in DC in her free time.

You rolled your eyes at her. “That’s the right time for a mimosa, it’s five o’clock somewhere—”

A tap on your shoulder later and you were staring into the too-blinky eyes of Lady Dawon from before, who loudly requested, “Can I get an orange juice, please?”

“I don’t f*cking work here,” you responded, before your face scrunched at how pissed off she was that you'd called her out for being wrong. “Seriously?”

The palace employees like Solar and Mark had their sigil pins, the hired workers were wearing elegant silver uniforms, and all of them were classy. Where exactly did your tight party dress fall on that spectrum?

“You’re not dressed like the rest of us.” Dawon’s nose went up in the air, almost a parody of haughtiness at that point. “Just to let you know, the prince was… is a respectful man, he would never look twice at you.”

Were you supposed to tell her he ogled you like every other man did?

“He is the perfect guy, he’s going to treat whoever he marries like a real princess." Her lady companion swooned hard at her own words. “I bet he’ll get us all flowers and kiss our hands.”

At the same time you heard the same bitchy server giggle to her friend, “He’s looking. The prince, he’s looking over here at us. He’s so fine.”

You did not want to turn your head and check.

A frustrated noise from Solar pierced your eardrum as she grumbled about the girls gossiping together. Was she jealous? It wasn’t like he discriminated with his choices or anything.... your dad’s research clearly said the opposite, if she was hoping she’d have a shot.

The cherry on top to all this bullsh*t was that despite being half a room away, you could still hear Lady Eunbi’s nauseating bragging loud and clear, “I mean, it doesn’t really matter if he picks someone else, I have a backup suitor lined up already. But being married to a prince? So trendy.”

Oh my f*cking god.

These girls had no clue they were lusting after an ancient douchebag who behaved worse than any frat boy they’d ever come across at their wealthy Ivy League universities.

Your stepmother signaled for you across the room and you really wish you had strong-armed that girl into giving you the champagne. You were about to be subjected to the highest level of bullsh*t you’d ever heard in your life. As you approached her, you made a valiant attempt at holding in your frustration, “What do you want. Does Yuna need something—”

“You will do it.”


The only thing you were going to do was drink until you were gently escorted out for partaking in improper behaviors... or whatever the uppity term was.

Jessica took your arm - not a good sign considering she avoided touching you like the plague - pulled you over into a quiet corner, then repeated, “You will do it, you were the only one he directly approached.”

The only one that who approached? The prince? She wanted you to… to…?

Shut the f*ck up.

You had no idea how you only chuckled and didn’t scream laughing, “What are you on, dude?!” She fumed at you implying that she was on drugs, so you stole her heated silence to argue, “First of all, you know I’m… seeing someone. And second of all, once they see what an asshole I am, and I plan for them to see it, I’m outta here.

“You will behave the way they want you to behave and dress the way that they want you to dress. Plus, your man friend is an low-class ruffian.” She was never afraid to toss a casual insult into her orders, but the most bizarre thing was her voice getting all soft and pleady after, “Listen to me, there’s no other family with two daughters here.”

Wasn’t it logical for you to assume she was tripping balls? She didn’t think you were worthy enough of her using your real name in conversation and now she was convinced you were a lovely princess incarnate…?The answer dawned on you when you processed she used the term daughter to describe you, “You just want me in this to better your odds.”

Jessica would’ve rather gouged her eyeballs out than ever see you have any sort of success over her biological daughter. But success here wasn’t given out in isolation.

Her manicured smile sent a typhoon of goosebumps down your bare spine. “You are a lovely young woman who would make a wonderful wife.”

“You don’t f*cking believe that. I thought we kept it real between each other.”

You were expected to keep Yuna in her little circle of happy privilege at any cost and you had no problem doing that. But when your dad died and Jessica made you sign a contract agreeing to the rules of her house to avoid being thrown on the street, unspoken war was declared on both ends - to never hold back how you truly felt about one another. It was a survival strategy for the shell-shocked teenager you were at the time. And absolutely unhinged f*cking insane behavior from the adult who was supposed to watch over her.

No thinking was needed to clock the real reasons behind the change in her attitude, “You think that being mother-in-law to the future princess would catapult you to a life you’ve always been waiting for. That my dad could never give you.”

Beyond the gross fact that maybe they loved each other, you had no idea why she ended up marrying a history professor. She always claimed that her father had enough money to buy all of Williamsburg and Virginia Beach, he could’ve just bought her a rich husband too? Real class, like the ladies had here, was something she’d been attempting to buy since she financed her daughter’s pageant win.

Jessica let out an offended gasp, “How dare you imply that about me.”

Her defensiveness gave away how you’d hit the nail on the head with your assumption. She would use you like a goddamn pawn if you were even remotely interested in this (which you couldn’t emphasize enough that you WEREN'T!!!!!!) and would make your life hell. Plus, she already knew too many of your secrets, which meant you had precious little time to figure out how you could get the outcome she wanted without hurting yourself more.

She wanted to be mother-in-law to the prince by any means possible, never mind the roles of the royal family in 2024. The only reason she was approaching you was because she knew that Yuna was at the bottom of the odds cards - if she thought her daughter had any sort of fighting chance, you would be crammed into filling the cracks.

That was it, that was your f*cking answer.

“Did you tell anyone that we were related?” you asked forcefully.

“Why on earth would I do that?” Damn, see? At least she was being honest again. “That’s not a point of pride—”

“If I get the prince to pick Yuna at the end of this, we’re done here.”

You might not have finished high school, but you were a goddamn f*cking genius.

Jessica’s eyes narrowed into snakes of suspicion. “What did you say?”

“Keep our connection a secret. If I convince his royal sleepiness to propose to Yuna instead of one these extremely rich, cultured, and prepared ladies, ladies you know she doesn’t stand a chance against... then our contract about the money no longer exists. And I disappear from your life after.”

The contract you signed that had terrorized you for so long was somewhat simple: to pay back the money you borrowed from Jessica when you were fifteen.

But it had eventually transformed into this insane beast of an opponent: since you had no way to get a real job and your tips from being a bottle girl barely did anything, the only way you could reduce your debt (plus f*cking interest) was by serving as Yuna’s personal assistant and the family maid. Jessica would knock off a few dollars per day, however much she decided your help was worth.

This compromise seemed like the best way to win the battle for good.

You could tell that she was skeptical before she even opened her mouth, “How is that a fair compromise for me?”

“Don’t try to play dumb and pretend you don’t know that they have an incredible amount of both money and future influence in society,” you scoffed. “Why the f*ck would you need me after that.”

Yes, you owed her a lot a lot of money.

Yes, you were sure some (most? all?) of her bitchy behavior towards you was because she was pissed she had to keep you around to ensure she was paid back.

But the royal family had so much more cash than you could ever conjure up in your lifetime.

Jessica wasn’t doing a good job hiding the fact she was considering it, her next question gave it away, “Even if I were to agree to this farce, how can you be so sure that the prince will bend to your whims?”

It’s not like you could tell her about the prince staring at your tit* when he approached you today (that would prove the wrong point) but they were pretty great tit*. They could be persuasive when you wanted them to be.

You shrugged with an air of arrogant nonchalance. “I’m sure.”

“This doesn’t mean you cannot fulfill your end of our agreement in the meantime," she warned.

“I need the freedom to do whatever I want without you ordering me around.” If the palace people knew you were related to these dumbasses, the whole scheme would be pointless. You’d be purposefully skewing the competition and it was, like, a cardinal rule of being a contestant on the Bachelor to not do that.

“I cannot agree,” Jessica denied you with a fatal, solemn air.

She wouldn’t let you help her get wealthy because she wanted to enforce the rules of you… helping her get wealthy? Make it make sense.

Another idiotic conversation with her over, another curtsy to end it with, “Then good luck, I’m gonna tell them I’m leaving.”

You walked away, not at all satisfied with how that went down. To be so close to success only to piss it away over something that trivial was hard for you to accept—

“What would your father say if he found out you were throwing away this opportunity? He’d be so disappointed.”

The branded, burning blaze from before - that neither a cigarette nor alcohol had extinguished - wreaked havoc on your insides to the point that you were a charred sliver of fury the next time you breathed. And when you turned back around to face her, the bits of your senses that remained were honed to a sharpness designed to kill.

You approached Jessica so fast she hit the wall trying to get out of your way. A violent shiver visibly coursed through her body when you didn’t yell at her, just stared at her with deadened eyes and said calmly, “Just a friendly reminder that my friends don’t know where you live. The only reason they don’t is because I’ve never told them, as you demanded when I signed that f*cking contract.” There were so many god-awful layers to her attempts at isolating you from contact with the outside world, but you used it to your advantage here, “But you may want to agree, just in case we go back and they suddenly know what neighborhood in Williamsburg I actually live in.”

She called Johnny a low-class ruffian because six months ago you bailed on one of Yuna’s photoshoots to go actually bail him out of jail… for a fight he got into at the club. She didn’t know what the charges were for, was definitely under the impression he did something way worse., and you were going to dangle that over her head until she croaked.

Jessica meekly nodded and tried to scurry away, but you risked grabbing her arm and holding her in that spot with a measure of power that had her trembling. But you made sure not to raise your voice as you finished, “And if you ever try to use my dad against me like that again, I will make sure your f*cking life is hell until the day you die, hopefully as early as he did.”

Then you threw her away and went back into the goddamn party, dead set on not leaving this palace until Yuna had a shiny, gaudy crown placed right on her blonde curls.

Because Jessica was right about your dad and you hated her f*cking guts for it.

You had the hunch that a man who just slept for three centuries might not want to keep doing that. So when you ‘accidentally wandered’ by the royal bedchambers at one in the morning, you found the prince… Jaehyun… (it was so weird to think of him as having an actual name!) examining a lightbulb that was screwed into one of the bougie diamond wall fixtures.

It was funny how much all of this was blowing his mind.

“Yo!” you called.

Just as Jaehyun turned in surprise, Mark emerged from the shadows like a demon - he only existed to shake his head and tsk at you about etiquette, “That is not a proper way to greet his highness.”

Jaehyun held out a hand to stop his little sidekick and his eyes were sparkly with amusem*nt. “It is fine, I must learn these things. Yo is a replacement for…?”

“Greetings,” you filled in the blank. “But for people who are actually normal.”

He tried it out for himself in a whisper, “Yo,” and you begged yourself not to laugh at the sight of him in his large, flowy silk robe using modern American slang.

You wanted as much entertainment as possible, so you kept going, “You can also say What’s up? Which is like how’s it going? I guess. What’s up is for people you know and how’s it going is for strangers.”

“Yo, what is up,” Jaehyun obediently echoed, close enough to almost be endearing.

But Mark didn’t think so and scrutinized you hard, “Should you really be teaching him these things?”

Could he f*ck off for two seconds?

Jaehyun stepped in between you and Mark so the only thing you could see was him and his… surprisingly buff body. He seemed to enjoy leaning in and having every conversation with you in this weirdly intoxicating close range, “Have you come to a decision to halt this self-induced farce of resisting my charms?”

You rolled your eyes. “The charms are resisted.”

Sort of. The dimples were a particular challenge… until you reminded yourself who they were attached to.

“Then why have you chosen to go rendezvousing with me in private?”

“I have a proposition to offer you.”

Ugh, god. That was not the phrasing you were going for.

Because the implications had him looking sooooo self-satisfied, with that little smirk and the tiny puff of his chest that the thin fabric didn’t hide. “Is that so? Are women allowed to enter into deals without a chaperone in this modern age?”

What the f*ck was he talking about? You needed an old person dictionary to help you out.

“Yes, your highness.” Mark slipped back into the conversation to translate between eras, leveling you with another dirty, disapproving look. “A lot of the top businesspeople in the world are women.”

Jaehyun appeared beyond pleased to receive that update, “That is commendable, proceed.”

You wished you’d physically brought your dad’s notebook with you. Not because you needed his expertise, but it would’ve been nice to have a small moment of comfort to know his research was justified.

You pointedly locked your eyes onto Mark’s and didn’t move them away so Jaehyun knew who you were talking about, “Not until he moves far enough away that he can’t hear, because this is personal.”

Now that was the right phrasing. Once Jaehyun heard the word personal, his dark eyes dipped into a tide pool shine of desire, making your head spin when he took his sweet time observing the line of lace across the neckline of your pajamas. His voice teetered on the edge of deep seduction despite the context of his next sentence, “Chancellor Marcusson, please go to the end of the hall.”

Mark somehow had a sixth sense for your shenanigans because he warned Jaehyun quickly, “Your highness, be smart….”

“Do it,” Jaehyun ordered, full princely control on display.

The only sign you had that Mark obliged was the fading sound of his footsteps, because no matter what you did you were unable to look away from Jaehyun. You knew that expression, the I would do anything you asked because I want to f*ck you expression, and you were… not surprised. Men had not evolved in the centuries that passed.

You were surprised by the faint flicker of reciprocation in your chest.

So, you had to grit your teeth and barrel your way through this to not be any more of a moron, “I want you to tell your people that I’m done with this weird ass scenario—”

He talked over you as fast as he could, “No.”

You held out a hand to shut Jaehyun up and snapped over him, “I’m not done, don’t interrupt me. I don’t give a f*ck if you’re the prince.” With him stunned into silence, you moved forward with why you came to… rendezvous with him in the first place, “I need you to take me out of this future princess competition in exchange for a job advising you.”

A little disappointment was what you were expecting, not Jaehyun’s outright frown and obvious distaste, “A posting in my chamber of chancellors?”

You tried the placid, political route first, “Like your little friend said, women hold power now in all professions. It’d be very twenty-first century of you if you did so.”

The honorable Prince Jaehyun would be better than half the current elected government if he woke up from an era were women second class citizens, then immediately put a woman on his advisory board or whatever the Mark-led entourage was called.

He shook his head adamantly. “No.”

“Are you f*cking serious, you asshole?”

“My preference is for you to remain a part of the process.”

The political angle didn’t work, neither did the cursing-every-word-to-make-yourself-look-undignified angle. So, unfortunately for him and for you... since you didn’t know what kind of royal punishments could be waiting, all you had left was the blackmail angle.

“You’re really going to make me do this, huh? Let me read from a book about you written in the modern times.” You pulled out your phone and read from the picture of your dad’s notebook you’d snapped before coming here, “The prince had numerous women he was alleged to be involved with. I have tried to trace the origin of most of these relationships but at some point they became too numerous to count.

He might’ve not remembered many details from the past or known a lot of things about the present, but watching the smile dissipate off Jaehyun’s face was all the proof you needed that this thread tied his two lives together.

If that wasn’t enough, he got flustered enough to burst into a controlled rage, “Which scholar dared to pen that bushel of lies regarding me?”

It was impossible to doubt the historical accuracy of anything your dad wrote.

You shrugged, not scared of that display of anger after participating in your fair share of bar fights. “It doesn’t matter. If you don’t agree, I will enlighten the lovely ladies who came here as to how you f*cked around behind your fiancée’s back as much as you could. And that your people, then and now, tried their hardest to cover that up.”

Hard to say who exactly approved the cover-up, but based on how hard everyone jerked him off during that brunch - metaphorically, f*cking ew - it was for good reason. Even today, the royal family was still a shiny example of good morals.

Jaehyun had the balls to act scandalized even though you were referencing his own behavior, “Pardon me? What manner of inappropriate phrasing did you take the liberty of using?"

“Indiscriminate sexual intercourse with no regard for emotional feelings.”Goddamn. You needed to go to college if there was any hope of communicating with him clearly, coming up with that definition was like getting f*cked… in a bad way.

His lips pursed as he contemplated what you were saying, then he pivoted down an unexpectedly expected path, “As is my right to do so as an unmarried man of royal status.”

f*cking f*ckboys never learn.

“Just a clue, modern day American girls hate that sh*t more than anything. Anything.

Nayeon had been dating Hongseok since they were teenagers, but that didn’t mean he stopped messaging scores of Instagram models behind her back. You caught him sending pics once and switched all his Red Bulls to tonic water with laxatives - one sh*tstorm of a DJ set later and he miraculously never found the need to message anyone but Nayeon again.

And you couldn’t even start on the things Johnny was allowed to do since you weren’t in an exclusive relationship.

But Jaehyun didn’t know any better, so you took your chance to teach him a lesson, “Just an FYI, dude, it’s generally bad vibes if a man dates or marries one woman, then continually has sex with other women without her knowing or agreeing.”

“I cannot comprehend why I would need to mind that,” he responded.

Arrogant asshole. You supposed this conversation was good for you, there was no way you’d be remotely attracted to him by the end of it.

“Oh yeah? You don’t think you have to mind it? There’s no political marriages anymore, no being with someone for status, not for this crowd.”

Those ladies were the status.

They could say they wanted a prince until they were blue in the face, but what they really wanted was for peasants like you to be well aware they were hot sh*t. They made their own rules, lived their own lives, had almost as much influence as the royal family did. Which meant Yuna was the perfect solution to this entire fiasco. She was nowhere close to an upper-class lady yet still held her nose up so high you could summit the Alps on that thing. She was dumb enough and her mom was greedy enough to do whatever the prince asked her to with no pushback… if you only you could just get him to ask.

“Did times truly evolve enough that marrying a prince is no longer a privilege?” Jaehyun posed the question like he was sure you could never argue against it.

You had to make sure he never got his hands on a goddamn Disney movie.

“Sure, marrying a prince is a privilege.” A flicker of victory lit in his gaze before you started to extinguish it bit by bit, “But what happens when their tiaras stop shining and their lives gets restricted to the point of no return and all they gained is a husband that cheats on them? A world exists now where they can leave and find whatever guy they want who’d treat them right.”

Lady Eunbi had a backup suitor! A! backup! suitor! One whiff of f*ckboy tomfoolery from the prince and she was off gallivanting with Mr. Backup!

You were going to make it so the modern world didn’t have room for princes who thought it was their god given right to f*ck around.

Something in his demeanor changed, Jaehyun leaned against the wall to regard you for a second in the middle of your back and forth, before a sly smile appeared on his face. “I have a theory.”

“Try me,” you bit out.

An eyebrow raise apparently was a gesture of subtle flirting that crossed both your generations. His somehow perfect one disappeared by his bangs before his right dimple deepened to an extreme extent at his cheeky hypothesis, “That you would prefer to have me for yourself and this is your ludicrous yet flattering strategy of accomplishing as such.”

Somehow your body had the instinct to protect you by letting out an unflattering, barking laugh in response. The smile dissipated from his face faster than the note could evaporate, you really could not believe he assumed something so f*cking stupid.

“Did you process anything I just said?!” You were getting annoyed to the point of toxic-sludge anger, “Sorry it wasn’t in ye olde English, I know you have problems understanding me, but…”

Insulted you hadn’t taken his offering, Jaehyun assumed his haughty attacks, “I believe that you are incorrect regarding the entirety of which you have assumed—”

You pointed down the hallway to where Mark was straining to eavesdrop on this conversation and laid down the final obstacle for Jaehyun to overcome, “Has Mr. Mark over there informed you how fast communication can be spread now? No letters, no horse and buggy to deliver them?”

Paul Revere would’ve had one hell of an easy night if he could’ve just texted ‘lol british r otw! yikes!’

“The talking rectangle he demonstrated to me, it is strange,” Jaehyun mumbled in a quiet voice as his gaze dipped fearfully to the device in your hand. A part of you wanted to feel bad he was so overwhelmed by it, but you had to stay on track.

“Even with the royal family's legal protection, if you f*ck around on any of these women, the entire world will know how big of an asshole you are in a matter of seconds. Seconds.

That wasn’t an exaggeration designed to scare him into agreeing, it was just the truth. One curated story on Instagram from the new princess about @princejaehyun cheating with some other lady and his historical fangirls would never breathe a positive word about him again. Which seemed… not ideal… considering the effort that was put in to erase this part of his biography.

Jaehyun managed to grasp the severity of the situation, considering the only thing he could muster was a muttered, “I see.”

You had him right where you wanted him, you just had to dig deep enough to leave your personal mark on this, “You would’ve known none of that without me here to tell you. So, do we have a deal or what?”

It was almost ridiculous you were trying to spin your attempt at blackmail him into a positive thing, but what the hell. This was all ridiculous.

“I….” He hesitated for a good five seconds trying to figure out what to say, then his eyes flicked to meet yours once again. “I cannot glean what benefit you'd gain from being placed in this position.”

A strange spiral of guilt shackled itself around the length of your spine.

“I’ll get paid, right? That’s enough for me,” you lied.

“Is your family not wealthy?”

“I’m good.”

It felt incredibly freeing to not have to lie to him about what ‘family’ meant within the context of your life.

You could see the wheels turning in Jaehyun’s head after what you’d just posed to him, which was your sign to bow out gracefully before you pushed it too far, “I’ll leave you to think on that sh*t and you can tell me in the morning. Thank you for giving me the grace of your time, your highness.”

After waving to Mark in a cheeky goodbye, you bent your knees in another mock curtsy - two days and you were getting good at it - and watched the corner of Jaehyun's mouth turn up in slight amusem*nt. Then your gazes locked one last time, concealed under the cover of purposeful heavy eyelids and a shower of fluttered lashes. You stuck your tongue through your cheek and lifted a matching eyebrow as if to say, There you go, and let the eye contact linger as long as you could. Before pulling away slowly enough that you knew he was going to watch every second of you walking away in hopes that you’d turn back around.

You didn’t.

You were never going to let anyone say you didn’t have talent ever again. You were so f*cking good at this, you just knew you were going to have a piece of parchment with the royal seal on it waiting once you woke up—

"My lady."

“God damn it!”

Once you rounded the corner, you swore at the top of your lungs when you were startled by Solar standing there, waiting with a silk robe in her hands for you to cover up in. You pressed a hand to your racing heart currently trying to burst out of your chest. Why did she scare you like that? Did she have to keep appearing wherever you were like some weird ass ghost?

Her face was almost… pinched with uneasiness, like she’d overheard some information that didn’t sit right with her or something. And you just had to ask, “Were you listening to all of that?”

She bowed her head and mumbled to the ground without denying it, “Apologies, my lady.”

Well, f*ck.

What were you supposed to do here? Solar walked around the palace with the royal sigil on her blazer but acted like her mission was to whisper advantages into your ear. You had no idea where her loyalties lay and you were big on loyalty.

You decided to go with vaguely dancing around what she might’ve heard, “I don’t want to threaten you, but can you please keep it to yourself? I’m trying a… different approach," before your mind flashed to a different problem you hadn’t yet considered. “And I’m sorry you had to find out the truth about the prince that way, everyone here is so goddamn in love with him—”

Solar’s expression and words instantly hardened, “I have always known the truth of his arrogant indiscretions.”

You thought that maybe she was upset that her illusion of perfect Prince Jaehyun was shattered, but her response was so odd and angry your heart started racing again. This time with a huge load of real fear weighing down the beats.

“Did you… read my diary?” She wasn’t supposed to know that information, you shouldn’t’ve just left it sitting there on your nightstand for anyone to read.

At least she seemed confused by the question, “Whatever do you mean?”

So she didn’t get her information from the notebook, but that didn’t do anything to ease your paranoid mind. Who was Solar's source? What else did she know? You knew that confronting Jaehyun directly was a bold move that could have unintended consequences, but you weren’t ready to acknowledge just how afraid you were of them.

“Never mind. Please. just, shh. It would be better for both of us if you did,” you requested as politely as you could, then took the robe to cover yourself up in hopes that it would earn you points. Couldn’t have your carefully-laid plan trampled on before Jaehyun had even made a decision.

To your utmost surprise, Solar agreed without protesting, “Yes, my lady,” and hurried you back to your bed, like none of it had ever happened.

And as soon as you climbed into the sinking depths of your comfy ass mattress, you knew you were going to stay up until you had his answer. It's not like you had much to dream about, anyway.


ah, she’s here. time to wake up. - Chapter 2 - loseyoutoloveme (2024)


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