Aarti entered her sunlit private office filled with bright-colored furnishings. The cheerful colors did nothing to cheer up her mood. She fell onto her decorated chair and closed her eyes.
Old memories started gushing in as if the start button had been toggled.
Thirteen years back, on this very same day, she had visited this same building with the pride of a princess. She was a teenager then. At that time, this building functioned as the king's (her father) support office.
She had been there to share sweets and mementos to the palace employees for her birthday. Everyone wished her well, adored her… and then she overheard a voice saying,
"Princess Aarti? You mean the Royal Mess?"
Young Aarti was offended immensely. She wanted to see and confront the person directly. She didn’t even wait for a second, she just marched on and barged into the adjacent room.
There were three men, two old and one young. They were sitting on the floor as if relaxing.
As Aarti burst into the room, one of the elderly men recognized her.
"Rajkumari," he exclaimed as he got up from the floor. The other two also followed his actions.
The elder man’s call brought Aarti back to her senses.
Still, she looked around to identify the owner of 'The Royal Mess' voice. It didn’t take her much time to pin it on the young man. His face clearly had that 'did you hear it' look written all over it.
Aarti stared at him for a split moment. He was almost 6 feet tall with light-brown skin.