"I can't believe it."
Helena D. Galanis liked better to be called Princess, Highness, or some similar appellation. But now she felt anything but that.
She was about to lose her mind. She couldn't process or believe what her incredulous sapphire eyes were seeing:
—Like you can't imagine— Those words were the title that was written on the manila envelope that had arrived in her mail that morning... And to her mind came back certain memories, full of pain, rage, anger but most of all: regret.
Once upon a time, there was a younger Helena, only twelve years old and newly enrolled in a private school in faraway New York and not in her native Greece. But the princess was watching television and had come across the grimmest and horrible advertisement she could have ever seen in her life.
Her mother Persephone, her sister Elora and her younger brother Stefan, had moved because unlike her father, her mother was half American and missed her homeland.
His father Thalos D. Galanis was part of the Greek nobility and therefore, that made him a member of royalty.
But that in those moments made her a princess who felt incredulous and stupid at what her eyes must be processing.
"Mother, why do they say that about my father...?"
Adulterer. Unfaithful. Infraganti.
Those were the words she could read in the headlines of programs, newspapers, and magazines.
It was so unthinkable... I mean, she couldn't associate such mundane words with her father, because in her eyes he was a businessman and a gentleman of impeccable stature. He would never...
The great hero of her life was falling off the pedestal. And her misfortune of being the eldest in her family put her in a very bad place. She had been impeccably educated by the same man who was now losing face.
Her personality was to be feared before any rival, even if she had a delicate appearance, this had generated certain conflicts with her father who did not tolerate seeing her so authoritarian even though she only asked for her place.
She was the firstborn of her honorable family -if that word can still be used. She always proved to be the best in terms of her appearance, studies, recreational activities, and feelings. But... That news shattered her father's whole image and illusion.
Her mother was then a rising model and actress, whom everyone adored in the United States and even more so, knowing that she would soon be a princess living in a palace in Greece, living a fairy tale with the hotel magnate Galanis.
Even over time, she retained her angelic beauty, having inherited night-black hair, but deferring to the huge hazel eyes that framed her mother's face.
She had the most notable features of both parents, but blue eyes? The mark of her father's family.
"Why would you stay with him if...? If you know."
"Why, my dear Helena? There are those of us who are destined to love unconditionally and blindly another."
His sister Elora, looking indomitable and with a more tanned complexion like her father's, then looked at him as if to prevent him from asking such a question. Her younger brother seemed to take no notice and merely pretended nothing was wrong.
Stefan was a honey-eyed version of Helena. Almost like a pair of amber ones in the sun, but covered by enormous glasses on his face... Seeing him oblivious to everything, and hearing those words, shattered one more myth in his family.
Their stay in New York was to keep them away and hide them from scandal, as well as to lead a more anonymous life where, a city full of local scandals, would have little interest in some foreigners.
However, from that day on she vowed to herself not to live the way her mother did.
She would not tie herself to a loveless marriage. She could never accept it.
She would keep her promise, even though at the age of fourteen she had been betrothed to a wolf prince: Bastian Sideris.
Commonly called "The Great Iron Wolf."
Perhaps it was not an age to assimilate the commitment or the burden those words contained? And more so considering that Bastian was almost twice his age.
However now in the present, looking at those photographs, with the common sense of a twenty-four-year-old girl, she could not swallow everything her eyes saw without wanting to scream. Even if it were a montage of terrible taste...
If someone, whoever it was, had asked her a few hours earlier if she thought Bastian would make it to the front pages of a tabloid, she would have smashed his face in for slandering the prince of her dreams.
The crown prince of the Sideris was too upstanding to be photographed with anyone but her. But now...
She couldn't hold those words.
"You also just collapsed in front of my eyes."
She didn't know if she should feel part of the conflict or betrayed or even disappointed. But: devastated, was perhaps the only word that could describe her feelings.
She admired the first picture: an innocent image, in which Bastian was helping a beautiful blonde out of HIS red Lamborghini, which made her laugh. The reality, on the other hand, gave her a white glove...
The second photo: Bastian was making out with the girl like there was no tomorrow. The girl hardly seemed to be wearing underwear or a swimsuit - she was so scantily clad that he didn't know what it was - by a pool. He didn't recognize the house or the place... But he could certainly see the passion the couple exuded. And just that: it reminded him of a moment, now, uncomfortable.
It would be her sixteenth birthday then, and she was more than stupidly in love with a twenty-four-year-old Bastian, already in charge of Sideris Industries.
She didn't care that Elora teased her that they couldn't sleep together yet or that Bastian never mentioned her as his Luna. Until that date, she had hardly assumed that the wolf treated her with extreme delicacy, courtesy and gentleness combined. Maybe it was because of her age, but she just wanted something in those moments.
They had already spent a couple of dinners officially as a couple, and wolves as renowned as they were in their society, they had never made any boast that she was just an ornament to the young man...
That gave her hope, and as best she could she corner the older man with her natural awkwardness and the beauty she was capable of possessing. He may have had a couple of drinks on him and his heart in his hand, but he found himself lifting his chin to kiss the other who was looking at him with the pair of emeralds he had for eyes.
However, with the greatest politeness in the world this one let go of him and arranging his clothes, and the girl's hair he said bluntly:
"There will be time for this."
And in this way, he kissed her on the forehead. The young man said goodbye and she only then realized that he was an incredibly cold Prince who perhaps did not love her and did not consider her...
Well, it all made sense now.
As much as she loved him and as much as she longed for him and wanted him, the brunet did not see her with the same eyes that in the pictures he dedicated to that person, that girl...
She didn't even know if she had realized it.
Yes, she accepted that they didn't see each other too much, I mean, it was really rare the times they saw each other in person, even if they sent each other pictures —well also too rare and more on her part than the other one— but, this was too much even for her.
That was the name of the woman who gnawed at the brains of the two fiancés. The name of a woman who was on the lips of the man she had dreamed of kissing. If he had known it, he would have had her killed... Although, to be honest, he wouldn't have killed a fly.
He could recognize the woman, unfortunately, from a couple of jokes from his schoolmates.
She was a very famous actress: in erotic and pornographic films. Not to mention that her beauty made her a great model. She was French and that's why she was so beautiful. She didn't belittle herself, no, of course not. She knew she was pretty and attractive enough to make half of New York go crazy, but.
"I don't understand why I'm in so much pain over something I know never existed."