9 Putting on an act

Anna

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Anna sneaked around the garden until she reached the spot where she knew her sister would be. Thankfully, sending her little brother along to do her work was a cakewalk. She only had to mention her name and the word marriage together in the same sentence to make him freak out. Although at first, she had feared the consequences of Tony spotting her in the backyard, fate appeared to be on her side. She paused to take a good look at her sister, who was sitting at the pavilion, with her gaze wandering around the place every two minutes.

Because of the new information that Tony provided her with, she understood her sister better now. But she was still of the opinion that Rose, being too old, should now get married. It was not like her sister was getting any younger. Any older than now, she'd probably have to marry someone much older than her. Was it that she didn't understand it? Anna wondered.

Shaking her head in defeat, she walked towards the place. Rose's head whipped to her direction as soon as she heard her footsteps. She broke into a broad smile, her features flooding with relief.

"You're here!" She exclaimed.

Anna nodded. "Hmm. I'm not late, am I?" She asked, looking around.

There were no servants around nor any of her brothers. The prince in question didn't seem to be there either. It was just the two sisters in the midst of a well-groomed path of hedges.

Rose shook her head. "No. Mathew just left to receive the prince." With a proud smile, she continued, "He even agreed that he wouldn't come back with the prince. He said that he'd leave us alone."

"Good." Anna said, her gaze spanning their surroundings, "Now let's find a good spot to bring the plan into life."

"I already have one in mind," Rose replied with a mischievous smile.

Anna gasped in confusion as she was quickly pulled towards the side. Her sister brought her to the pavilion, where she had been sitting earlier.

"Here?" She asked, raising her brows.

"Yes!" Rose exclaimed. "It is the perfect spot. Look, you can see everything from here, and it is quite visible from that point." She said, pointing towards the entrance.

Anna nodded. Her sister was right. The pavilion was on a raised ground when compared to the rest of the garden. It was the best spot to be when you wanted to get noticed quickly. There were no hedges around them, but only small rose shrubs. Besides, since the structure was open from all sides with only pillars to support the roof, if they were to sit on the bench, the prince would have the best view of them when he arrives through the entrance through the hedges.

"Hmmm, fine," Anna remarked. Narrowing her eyes at her sibling, she leaned in to whisper, "Just so that you're clear, we're only taking the act so far. Don't try anything fishy." She warned.

Suddenly there was an exclamatory sound from somewhere near, "Ouch!"

The sisters looked at each other with wide eyes. That sounded like a man. It must be the prince!

"Here he comes," Rose said, hastily pushing her backward.

"Woah!" Anna exclaimed, falling hard against the wrought iron bench.

She glared at her sister, irritated at the behavior.

"Shhh!" Rose said, putting a finger at her lips. She quickly leaned in over her body. An onlooker would misunderstand the situation if they saw the sisters at that moment. Their limbs were intertwined in an awkward position. They looked more like lovers at that moment than sisters. "Grab my waist," Rose said, grabbing Anna's hand and placing it on her hips.

Anna grit her teeth. "You owe me." She whispered, pinching her sister's waist as hard as she could.

Rose screamed in pain. "Aarrgh! You-"

Anna chuckled as she stopped her sentence midway. It was fun. She could torture her sister as much as she wanted now, and she wouldn't be able to complain.

"Miss Rose?" A confused voice called out from ahead.

"Now." Anna mouthed to her sister.

"Let me go!" Rose screamed, putting on her best acting.

Anna sneaked a glance at the prince. The poor guy looked shocked. Their plan might be successful after all. She turned to her sister with a serious expression, suppressing her laugh.

"I can't. How can I let you marry someone else?" She said, making her voice sound deeper than it was.

"I-" Rose said, covering her mouth to hide her giggle. "The prince will be here at any moment. If he caught us then-" She left the sentence incomplete, quickly getting up from the awkward position.

Her back was towards the prince. Anna could barely control her laughter as she dashed behind Rose dramatically.

Pulling her sister towards her in a heroic act, she declared, "Then I'll willingly receive the punishment."

Rose shook her head violently. "No! I'll give my life up before I let them take you!" She announced passionately, burying her head in her sister's chest.

"Darling, do you love me that much?" Anna asked, a little bit too loudly.

"I do," Rose said, cupping her face.

Anna's eyes widened in horror. This was not part of the plan. As Rose leaned in with a pout, she quickly put a hand up to cover her mouth. Her sister's lips smacked against her palm.

"I'll kill you once this is over," Anna whispered, grudgingly staying in place.

She knew that from where the prince stood, he'd certainly mistake them as a couple locked together in a passionate kiss. She took a glance towards the direction. The prince's mouth hung open in shock. Quickly collecting himself, he turned away from them and walked off briskly towards where he came from.

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"He's gone. Shoo!" Anna said, pushing her sister away.

"Say, sir, do you love me?" Rose asked, giggling mischievously.

"Quit the act, Rose. He's gone." Anna said, looking horrified.

"Am I not pretty?" her sister asked, batting her eyelashes at her.

Anna rolled her eyes. "Ugh. I'm going back to the room." She said, walking away, murmuring something about Rose being out of her mind.