2 Making a deal

Anna

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"Really?!" Rose asked, squeezing her hand.

Anna patted her sister's hand with a nod. "But I won't tell you. You can find your own plan." She said with a smug smile.

Unlike what she had expected, Rose didn't look like she was surprised or even disappointed. Instead, a sly smile formed on her thin lips.

"You're a smart one, aren't you?" She said, reaching out to put her hair behind her ears.

Anna looked at her sister in confusion. She didn't understand what was going on inside that crooked brain of hers. She always had something up her sleeve, especially when she badly wanted something done. Anna slowly shifted away from her sister.

"Yes, I read books, unlike you. It's obvious." She replied, all the time, keeping an eye on Rose.

"Huh." Her sister said, suddenly lying back with a sigh. "But tell me, do you have any idea at all to get rid of that Chacko boy? I really don't want to meet him." She asked, pouting at her sadly.

"No," Anna replied, narrowing her eyes at her sister.

Rose was not as miserable as she was making herself seem at the moment. She had singlehandedly ruined her friend's wedding just so that the girl could run away with someone she liked. Afterward, although everyone doubted her, no one could prove Rose's hand in the plan. If she- the mastermind of pranks ran out of ideas, then she should be quite desperate, Anna thought.

But she didn't understand why Rose wanted to get out of this marriage so badly. Although she hadn't seen the prince, she had heard about how handsome the men of the royal family were. It seemed like her sister had hit the jackpot with this arrangement. And father had already given her an ultimatum, that she was to get married before her nineteenth birthday. With only a few months left for the day, this was the best offer that her sister could get. Why was she so against the idea then? It was not like Rose hated the idea of marriage. The girl even had her own diary of ideas for how she wanted her wedding to be.

"Why are you here, Rose? You never ask for my help." Anna asked, folding her hands over her chest.

"Look, it's not like I didn't try," Rose replied with a shrug. "I even sent an anonymous letter to the prince's palace, saying that I have an affair with a criminal."

"You did what?!" Anna asked, shocked.

"I heard that he laughed, reading the note and threw it into the fireplace. I'm out of ideas now. He is too adamant."

Her sister must be out of her mind, Anna thought. If the prince had reported it, then Rose would have had to spend the rest of her life in jail for adultery. Unmarried women having affairs, especially young women like them, was amongst the more serious crimes in the capital. She looked at her sister with disbelief. Was the prince that bad? She wondered.

"Why don't you marry him?" Anna asked, confused. "It's not like he's ugly. I heard that he was amongst the most handsome men in our country. Also, he is the prince! Do you know what that means?! You'll be a princess, Rose!" She exclaimed, throwing her hands up.

Rose rolled her eyes at her. "You wouldn't understand." She said, looking away.

A strange thought passed her mind. What if her sister was already in love with someone else?

"Don't tell me that you.." Anna asked, trailing off. She quickly shook her head. "No, that's not possible. Anyway, I'd advise you to go with it. Don't expect help from me." She said, giving her sister a pointed look.

Rose suddenly laughed, looking mischievous. Anna looked at her sister in confusion before realizing her mistake. Her face turned pale in fear seeing the object in her sister's hand. In her distracted state, she had forgotten about her book.

"Maybe I should tell mother how you're reading these stories that I remember father Nolan had clearly mentioned in last Sunday's sermon were instruments through which Satan grabs the minds of little girls," Rose said, waving the book in front of her face.

"You wouldn't!" Anna exclaimed, trying to grab her book from her sister's hand. But Rose was too quick for her. She slid off from the bed and held the book outside the window. Anna cursed under her breath.

Rose had gotten her hands on her only weakness. With the church being as strict as it was, they weren't allowed to read anything with vampires, werewolves, or any supernatural being. The new priest was much severe than the older one. And their mother was an ardent believer in father Nolan and his sermons. She had burned her copy of Dracula as soon as she had gotten her hands on it. Anna had pleaded and cried, but their mother was not one to step back from her decisions. Anna had learned to hide her books under her bed ever since. If Rose exposed her now, then their mother would conduct a thorough search of her room once again, and she'd lose all her precious books, Anna thought nervously.

"Please." She pleaded.

"Then help me with this," Rose said, slowly retracting her hand from the window.

Anna gritted her teeth. She had no choice now.

"Fine, but you'll have to promise me that you'll keep the book a secret from mother." She replied grudgingly.

"Deal," Rose said, flinging the book at her.

Anna jumped back, trying to catch it. She fell on the floor with a thump, but she had gotten her hands on her book. She sighed in relief, holding it close to her chest like a precious treasure.

"I know where the rest of your books are hidden if you're thinking of breaking the deal," Rose warned, walking towards her.

Anna glared at her sister. "Get me one of Peter's suits." She said through clenched teeth.

"Why would you need our brother's clothes," Rose asked, looking at her in confusion.

"Don't ask me questions, Rose!" Anna shouted, rubbing her behind. Waving at her sister, she said, "Just hurry and get them before our brothers come back from the office."

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