Summary: MC (Alice), Olivia, and Hana are under siege at the bridal boutique. Will they make it to the wedding–or even out alive?
Notes: I used some of PB’s original dialogue and bedazzled it a bit.
CW: terrorist attack, pregnancy
New to the series? Catch up here: Part 1,Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8,Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13,Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23, Part 24, Part 25, Part 26, Part 27, Part 28, Part 29, Part 30, Part 31, Part 32, Part 33, Part 34, Part 35, Part 36, Part 37, Part 38, Part 39, Part 40, Part 41, Part 42, Part 43, Part 44, Part 45, Part 46, Part 47, Part 48, Part 49, Part 50, Part 51, Part 52, Part 53, Part 54, Part 55, Part 56
“Remember—anything that isn’t nailed down, you throw at them,” Olivia instructed Alice and Hana as the two remaining guards readied themselves on either side of the door. “Ana,” Olivia said, turning to the terrified woman. “That means you, too.”
“I’m not…I can’t…” Ana said, starting to hyperventilate.
“Ana, take a breath with me,” Hana said, cautious to keep one eye on the door. “In through your nose…out through your mouth…slower…good, you’re doing great.”
Olivia quickly looked around and noticed a hefty pair of gleaming metal scissors nearby at an alteration station. She grabbed them and passed them over to Ana, who took them with shaking hands.
“Ana,” Olivia said calmly. “I am going to do everything in my power to ensure everyone in this room gets out alive, but we need your help. Like I told these two—throw everything at them to give us time to subdue them. The scissors are a last resort. Understand?”
Ana nodded. The sound of gunfire rattled the door, making Alice flinch. Shouts could be heard from the hallway.
“Alice,” Olivia said. “Not today.”
“Not today,” Alice repeated.
Suddenly, everything went quiet. Alice glanced at Olivia, whose eyes were locked onto the door with laser focus as she inched around to the side.
“Did we win?” Ana asked in a whisper.
Someone or something slammed into the door, sliding the couch back. One of the guards wrested it back into place but another slam against the door caused it to burst open, the couch sliding back as an assassin stumbled into the room, gun drawn. Before even the guards could react, Olivia lunged forward, slicing her knife across the sliver of exposed skin at the assassin’s neck. Blood spurted from the wound as the assassin clutched their neck, dropping to their knees. One of the guards put a bullet in the back of the assassin’s head as more assassins burst into the room, leaping over their fallen comrade.
“Targets are armed!” one of the assassins yelled as he shot one of the royal guards in the leg, sending him to the ground.
“They’re fucking bridesmaids, just shoot them already!” one of the other assassins barked as he shot the other royal guard in the chest.
Hana lobbed the vase she was throwing at the second assassin who’d spoken and hit him in the head with exceptional accuracy as Alice hurled a basket of lace at the other. While they were distracted, Olivia grabbed the gun from the dead assassin and shot both of the assassins.
“Liv, behind you!” Alice shouted. She turned just in time to see another assassin slam the butt of his gun into her chest, causing her to drop her gun. Olivia lashed out at the assassins legs with her knife, cutting a deep gash in the assassin’s calf as two more ran into the room. As Alice tried to lunge for something to throw, one of the assassins barreled towards Alice and pinned her against the wall, her head hitting it with a loud crack. Her vision fuzzed at the edges, but she forced herself to stay conscious.
“Lady Alice,” the assassin said as he pulled out a knife and held it to her throat. “Anton sends his regards. He asked for me to deliver this message pers—“
The assassin’s voice was cut off as Alice shoved the knife Olivia had given her between a break in his armor, twisting it in his ribs. Alice pushed the assassin’s knife away from her neck and shoved the assassin to the ground, his blood spreading across the once pristine carpet.
“Anton can go fuck himself,” Alice said.
Bastien nearly threw up with relief when he heard her voice. The traffic had stopped and there was no way around it with street after street closed off for the royal wedding.
“Fuck it,” Bastien said as he put the car in park and jumped out, sprinting in the direction of the boutique, his phone in hand.
Alice looked around and saw that the assassin who had pinned Olivia was now lying inert on the floor. The one who had lunged for Hana was lying on the ground, trying to staunch the blood flow from his thigh. Olivia rose to her feet, her face knotted with restrained fury. She picked up one of the guns from the dead assassins and walked over to the injured man who tried to crawl away from her.
“I thought this might be a fair fight, but this is just pathetic,” Olivia said as she raised the gun and leveled it at his head.
“Shouldn’t we keep him alive? He might have information we need,” Hana said.
“It won’t matter,” Olivia said. “You cut his femoral artery, he’ll be dead in minutes.”
“So why let him go early?” Alice asked as she walked over beside her.
“I like the way you think,” Olivia said. She picked up her heel and stomped on his crotch. The man screamed in pain. “That’s for interrupting my wedding, you asshole.”
The man whimpered and cried in pain until his voice faded and then he fell still.
“Are you both okay?” Olivia asked.
“Yeah, are you?” Alice asked.
“I’m pissed off that I’m not currently exchanging vows with Liam, but otherwise I’m fine.”
“If you’ll both excuse me for a second…” Hana said. She hurried away and ducked behind a rack of clothes, and Alice could hear the sound of her vomiting. Across the room, Ana crawled out from behind another rack of clothes.
“Ana, are you okay?” Alice asked.
“I…yes, I am,” she said. “I’m sorry I wasn’t more help, I just—“
“It’s okay,” Olivia said. “Getting out of the way was a safe choice and I’m glad you’re unharmed.”
“What you all did…that was amazing,” Ana said, her face pale. “Cordonia needs to hear of it. Everything was so hectic, but I did manage to take a few photos…”
She held out her phone to Alice and Olivia who looked at her screen. Ana had captured the three of them staring down at the final assassin, all of them splattered with the blood of the assassins with a calm fury. It was a chilling shot.
“God, we look cool,” Olivia said.
“I promise to write up a full story of how you all fended off the assassins together,” Ana said.
“Make sure you highlight Olivia,” Alice said. “We wouldn’t have survived without her, especially since we lost the guards so quickly…”
Alice looked around, her eyes finally focusing on the carnage around her. She felt sick.
“Thank you, everyone,” Ana said. “I owe you my life.”
“Get out of my way!” A familiar voice barked from the hallway, followed shortly by the sound of someone slamming into a wall. “Alice!”
Alice ran for the doorway and was immediately intercepted by Bastien who was followed by a number of the royal guard, their weapons drawn.
“Oh my god, are you okay?” he asked, wrapping her in a hug so tight she could barely breathe.
“I…I think I killed someone,” Alice said. “I’ve never killed anyone before.”
“Were they trying to kill you?” Bastien asked, pulling back to look her in the face.
“Then you saved me the hassle of having to kill them myself,” Bastien said. “I know everything is still fresh right now, but I can get you in touch with someone who can help you through this.” He looked around. “What happened to the guards?”
“Dead. They died pretty quickly. I don’t know what happened to the team that went out to the front. Olivia took care of most of the assassins.”
Bastien pulled her close again. “I’m so sorry I wasn’t here.”
“You’re here now,” Alice said as she closed her eyes and leaned against him.
“Where’s Mara?” Bastien asked.
“She went out front when the explosion happened.”
“God dammit, what part of ‘stay with Alice no matter what’ was vague to her,” Bastien muttered.
“I’m here, sir,” Mara said.
Bastien and Alice turned to see Mara leaning against the doorframe, clutching her side.
“What happened?” Bastien demanded.
“I’m so sorry, Your Grace. There were too many. I thought I’d be more effective holding the perimeter.”
Bastien glowered at her. “‘Stay with Alice’ means you fucking stay with Alice. I could not have been clearer. The next queen of Cordonia shouldn’t have had to do the brunt of the work to keep her alive.”
“For what it’s worth, I didn’t mind,” Olivia said. “And Alice and Hana both held their own.”
“I guess you were right before about the likelihood that we’d have to defend ourselves in formalwear,” Alice said.
“Aren’t I always?”
“Lady Alice, I’m sorry,” Mara said.
“At this point, I’m just glad you’re alive,” Alice said.
Mara winced in pain and Bastien sighed. “Can someone call the medics already? Jesus Christ, I’ve been retired for five fucking minutes and no one remembers how to follow the most basic protocols.”
“Don’t worry, sir,” Mara said through gritted teeth. “Body armor took most of it. Prioritize the others first.”
“Mara, that looks bad. Take the help,” Alice insisted.
“Are you sure you’re not hurt?” Bastien asked Alice. His eyes flicked down to her stomach and back up again, looking at her questioningly.
“I’m fine, I wasn’t hit there,” Alice assured him. “One of the assassins shoved me against a wall—“
“Did you hit your head?”
“Yeah, but it’s okay,” Alice said. She reached for the back of her head and probed the area gently, finding a decent lump already forming.
“Do you have a headache?”
“No, it just hurts when I touch the spot.”
“A little, but I’m standing in a room filled with several dead bodies, a lot of blood, and exposed brain matter, so I couldn’t say if it’s from hitting my head or not.”
“Do you feel dizzy? Are the lights bothering you? Is your vision okay?”
“Dorian, I’m okay, I promise.”
“I still want the medic to take a look at you,” Bastien said. His phone rang and when he took the call, Alice looked around for her phone, finally locating it to where it had been kicked towards the wall in the fight. More than anything, she was surprised to find it had somehow not been stepped on.
“Okay, I just heard from Ian—everything is secure at the palace and cathedral. Based on our intel, Ian thinks this was all they had left,” Bastien said as he hung up the phone.
“What about Anton?” Hana asked.
“Little shit didn’t even have the guts to do his own dirty work,” Olivia said. “Pathetic.”
“So…we won?” Hana asked.
“It would seem so,” Bastien said, although Alice noticed the hesitation in his voice. “We were able to capture his remaining forces in the building. We also got reports of seeing a car speeding out of the capital. Since Anton isn’t among the wounded or captured, we think it’s him fleeing to the border.”
“You think, but you don’t know,” Alice said.
“No, not one hundred percent,” Bastien said. “We’ll track him down, but in the meantime, Ian has issued the green light to go ahead with the wedding. The likelihood of him attacking again today with his forces depleted like this is very small.”
“Finally, I can get married,” Olivia said. “Can someone help us get the blood off of us? And, Ana, will you please check my dress? I swear, if there’s a bullet hole in it, I’m going to hunt Anton down myself.”
“How are you so calm?” Hana asked her as she accepted a pack of wet wipes from one of the medics. Olivia shrugged.
“Because we won.”
As Hana and Olivia helped each other clean up, Bastien took a pack of wipes and led Alice over to a chair. He sat her down and removed one of the wipes from the pack and started to gently clean the blood from her arms, kneeling in front of her.
“I can do that myself,” Alice said.
“I know,” Bastien said. “How are you feeling?”
“Weirdly, I think I feel kind of okay,” Alice said. “I don’t know if it’s the adrenaline or I’m in shock or what, but I feel calm. Relieved, I guess.” She looked at him. “How are you?”
“I’m…a lot of things. I’m angry that I didn’t trust my gut that something was off, I’m pissed that people can’t follow the simplest instructions, I’m mad at myself for not getting here sooner. Mostly though, I’m just glad you’re okay. You did really well and I’m very proud of you.”
“Are you kidding? I was a mess. I completely fell apart before the assassins broke in here,” Alice said as the guards began to remove the bodies from the room.
“No, you were scared, which is completely normal. You haven’t been through situations like this or had training but you pulled it together, you followed the instructions Olivia gave you, and you defended yourself. Even if you didn’t feel brave, you were incredibly brave and what matters is being able to go home at the end of the day.”
Alice’s phone interrupted them and she picked it up to see Frankie calling. She answered the call.
“Are you okay?” Frankie demanded.
“Why are you awake right now?” Alice asked.
“Because I obviously got up early so I could watch the royal wedding, you asshole, and instead I see all these breaking news stories about a terrorist attack with you and the center of it, now answer my fucking question!”
“Yes, I’m okay,” Alice said. “We were attacked at the bridal boutique, but we’re okay.”
“Hana, Olivia, and me. Plus Ana de Luca.”
“And where the fuck was Bastien through all this?”
“He got here as soon as he could.”
“So he’s there now? Put him on the fucking phone.”
“You’re not going to yell at my husband right now,” Alice said as Bastien gently wiped the last of the blood from her neck.
“I’m not going to yell, I just want to talk. Now PUT HIM ON THE FUCKING PHONE.”
“You know I can hear her, right?” Bastien asked. “Give me the phone.”
Alice sighed and handed it over.
“Hi, Frankie,” Bastien said.
“If you weren’t there, then who the fuck was guarding Alice?” Frankie demanded.
“Members of Liam’s personal security team as well as Alice’s personal body guard.”
“Mara? And that was okay with you?”
“No, but I was ordered elsewhere. The second I heard about the attack, I got here as fast as I could. It was over by the time I arrived.”
“Tell me honestly—is she hurt?”
“No, she’s okay.”
“I’m not mad at you, I’m pissed off at the situation. I don’t love waking up to news stories where people are trying to kill my best friend.”
“Is someone getting fired for this?”
“A lot of people are going to get fired for this.”
“Good. You can give me back to Alice now.”
Bastien handed the phone back to Alice. “Did you get that out of your system?”
“Yes, and—holy shit!” Frankie exclaimed.
“Ana de Luca just posted a photo to the Trend Instagram account of you, Hana, and Olivia looking like the final girls in a horror movie.”
“Ah. Yeah, she showed me that one.”
“Jon Snow! I still need to get married, let’s go!” Olivia called from the other side of the boutique.
“Frankie, I have to go. I’ll call you later though, okay?”
“Okay. I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
Alice hung up the phone as Olivia stepped into a dressing room with Ana de Luca and the wedding dress and Hana came to sit with Alice and Bastien. A few minutes later, Olivia emerged from the dressing room.
“Oh my goodness, Olivia,” Hana said, her jaw dropping. “This is…Ana, you’ve outdone yourself.”
“Thank you,” Ana said modestly.
“Alice, what do you think?” Olivia asked.
“Liv, you look…” Alice trailed off, her eyes filling with tears.
“Oh for god’s sake, pull yourself together, Jon Snow!” Olivia snapped, although she couldn’t fight back the smile.
“Oh shut up, we just survived a terrorist attack, there’s still blood on the carpet, and you look like you stepped off the cover of a magazine. I’m allowed to cry when you look this beautiful,” Alice said.
“You really look…wow,” Hana said, fighting back tears of her own.
“You’re both embarrassments,” Olivia said. “Bastien’s the only one who can hold it together.”
Everyone looked at Bastien, who discreetly turned away.
“Useless, all of you,” Olivia said, rolling her eyes.
After a quick fix of their make up, including covering the bruise blooming on Olivia’s chest from the butt of the assassin’s gun, and a group effort to keep Olivia’s dress lifted above the ground, they headed outside to the waiting carriage.
“I’m going to be in the car right behind you,” Bastien promised. “I’ll see you at the cathedral.” He gave her a quick kiss before Alice turned to eye the carriage.
“Are we even going to fit in there with your dress?” Alice asked Olivia.
“I’ve got it,” Hana said. She directed Alice and Olivia into the carriage, carefully arranging the dress and collecting the massive train before climbing in to sit beside Alice, handing out the bouquets.
“It’s like fashion Tetris,” Alice said.
“What’s Tetris?” Hana asked.
“A game you would be very, very good at,” Alice said. “Liv, have you talked to Liam?”
“We spoke briefly when you were on the phone with Frankie. We’re both ready to move forward with the day,” Olivia said.
“His jaw is going to hit the floor when he sees you,” Hana said.
Olivia smiled. “I hope so.”
When the arrived at the cathedral, their path wound through enormous crowds of people gathered outside, their cheers reaching inside the carriage.
“I think it’s safe to say you’ve won over all of Cordonia,” Hana said as shouts of love for Olivia resounded through the crowd.
“Ready, Liv?” Alice asked.
“You have no idea.”
When the carriage rolled to a stop, Olivia took a deep breath and straightened her back. She put her hand on the door and paused, looking back at Hana and Alice.
“Thank you. For everything,” she said. “Because of the two of you, I get to be here and marry the love of my life. I…” She paused, clearing her throat. “I love you both.”
“Was that so hard to say?” Alice asked.
“I hope you were listening, because I’m not going to repeat it,” Olivia said. She turned back to the door and existed the carriage to the deafening screams of the crowd. Hana and Alice helped her out, smoothing her dress and the train as Olivia waved to the people gathered there.
“This just in, Duchess Olivia has arrived at the church,” a nearby reporter said. “Even after an attack, she is the beacon of calm we all wish we could be.”
Alice and Hana escorted Olivia through the large doors of the cathedral where they were met in the vestibule by Drake and Maxwell, the latter of whom launched himself at Alice, nearly knocking her over.
“Oh my god, I’m so relieved you’re okay,” he said. “I know I’m usually one for excitement, but can we please have a boring day soon?”
“Absolutely,” Alice promised him. She let go of him and turned to Drake, who pulled her into another hug. Drake then turned to Olivia. The two of them hesitated for a moment before Olivia reached out and gave him a side hug to avoid transferring the makeup covering her bruises to his suit.
“I’m glad you’re okay,” Drake said. “But if anyone would be able to fend off a terrorist attack and still make it to the church on time, it’s you.”
“Thank you,” Olivia said. “That…I appreciate you saying that.”
Soon after, the processional started and before long, Alice was walking down the flower-strewn aisle with Drake, the cathedral filled with Cordonia’s nobles. Alice caught Liam’s eye and smiled at him as they reached the end of the aisle and took their places on either side. Alice scanned the crowd for Bastien. It only took a few moments before she saw him, sitting in the second row with Bertrand, Savannah, and Bartie. When their eyes met, he smiled at her and Alice felt a warmth unfurl in her chest. Sometimes she still couldn’t believe that this intelligent, kind, beautiful man loved her as much as he did, and she felt so incredibly lucky, not only for herself, but for their baby who would get to grow up with Bastien as their father.
As the Cordonian wedding march began to play, Leo invited the congregants to stand. The doors opened and in walked Olivia, radiant and ethereally beautiful as she began to make her way down the aisle. Alice looked over to Liam, who was doing his best to hold back the tears as he watched Olivia walk towards him. She watched as Leo squeezed his arm and leaned over to say something to his brother. Liam smiled and nodded, trying to compose himself as Olivia joined him at the front. Alice held out her hand to take Olivia’s bouquet and once she’d handed it off, Olivia turned back to Liam.
“I am the luckiest man in the world,” Liam said quietly as he took Olivia’s hands in his. “Thank you for marrying me.”
“Nothing was going to keep me from getting here to you,” Olivia said.
Leo cleared his throat and began to speak. “I know I don’t spend as much time in Cordonia as I used to, but for an occasion like this, I was happy to return home. Today, I have the honor of uniting King Liam Rys and Duchess Olivia Nevrakis in marriage. We come together not to mark the start of a relationship, but to acknowledge and strengthen a bond that already exists. This ceremony is a public affirmation of that bond and as their dearest family and friends, it is our honor and privilege to stand witness to this event.
“Liam and Olivia, this day is made possible not only because of your love for each other, but through the grace and support of your family and friends. It is our hope that your fulfillment and joy in each other will increase with each passing year. Marriage is a commitment in life, where two people can find and bring out the very best in each other. It offers opportunities for sharing and growth that no other human relationship can equal, a physical and emotional joining that has the promise of a lifetime.
“While the commitment begins with the two of you, its effect radiates outward. It touches your family and friends and ultimately all of Cordonia. When this commitment is seriously made and continuously fulfilled, it leads to the richest and most rewarding of human relationships. Your relationship will take more than love. It will take trust, to know in your hearts that you want only the best for each other. Dedication, to stay open to one another, to learn and grow, even when it is difficult to do so. And faith, to go forward together without knowing what the future holds for you both. While love is our natural state of being, these other qualities are not as easy to come by. They are not a destination, but a journey. Just as planting a seed is not enough for it to grow into an apple tree, speaking your vows is not enough for a marriage to truly flourish. But if you nurture and cherish one another, your relationship will always grow stronger.
“With that in mind, Liam and Olivia, do you, with your family and friends as your witnesses, present yourselves willingly and of your own accord to be joined in marriage?”
“We do,” Liam and Olivia said.
“Will you promise to care for each other in the joys and sorrows of life, come what may, and to share the responsibility for growth and enrichment of your life together?” Leo asked.
“We will,” Liam and Olivia said.
“Liam, repeat after me,” Leo said. “I, Liam, take you, Olivia, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward.”
“I, Liam, take you, Olivia, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward.”
“For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.”
“For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.”
“To love and to cherish, until death do us part.”
“To love and to cherish, until death do us part.
After Olivia recited her vows, Leo invited forward the Cordonian children serving as the ring bearers. Alice recognized Valerie and Marco from Lythikos’s Winter Festival as they strolled proudly up the aisle. Valerie curtsied as Marco bowed to Olivia and Liam before they offered them the rings.
“Leo Rys, do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?” Leo asked.
“I do,” Liam said proudly as he slid the ring onto Olivia’s finger.
“Olivia Nevrakis, do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?” Leo asked.
“I do,” Olivia said as she slid the ring onto Liam’s finger.
“By the power vested in me by the kingdom of Cordonia, I now pronounce you husband and wife,” Leo said, “and let this blessed union be sealed with a kiss.”
Grinning, Liam closed the distance between them and gently cupped Olivia’s face as he kissed her tenderly. “I love you, Liv.”
“I love you, too,” Olivia said.
“Everyone, it is my honor to introduce to you for the very first time, King Liam Rys and Queen Olivia Nevrakis!” Leo announced. The room burst into applause and cheers as Liam and Olivia turned to face the crowd, hand-in-hand, before they began to make their way back down the aisle together. Alice rejoined with Drake, whose eyes were noticeably a little red.
“Drake, are you crying?” Alice asked.
“Jesus, I’m not a robot, Ayers, of course I’m crying,” Drake muttered. Alice squeezed his arm as they made their way down with the procession. Outside, the effusive crowd of Cordonians broke into wild applause as Liam and Olivia stepped out into the sunlight as dozens of cameras flashed over and over and over. Alice stood off to the side with the other members of the wedding party, who were soon joined by Bastien, Bertrand, Savannah, and Bartie.
“Alice, good lord, I’m so relieved you’re okay,” Bertrand said as he wrapped her in a tight hug.
“Is this level of PDA really acceptable for a duke?” Alice asked, her voice strained from being held so tightly.
“I don’t care,” Bertrand said, holding her for a few more moments before letting her go.
“Disregarding etiquette? I don’t even recognize you,” Alice said. “Next thing you know, you’re going to let me call you ‘dude.’”
“I wouldn’t go that far,” Bertrand said wryly as Bastien put a hand on Alice’s lower back.
“He was so worried,” Savannah said as Bartie happily reached out to hold a hank of Alice’s hair. “We both were, I’m so glad you’re all okay.”
“Me, too,” Alice said as she held Bartie’s free hand.
“And…we have some news,” Savannah said, looking at Bertrand, who cleared his throat and leaned in closer to Alice and Bastien.
“It would be inappropriate to make a big deal out of it today, but I—we—wanted to tell you that in a few days we’re going to officially announce our engagement.”
“Congratulations!” Alice said, hoping she sounded sincere.
“Congratulations, that’s great to hear,” Bastien said.
“Thank you,” Savannah said, beaming.
“Yes, we’re very excited,” Bertrand said, smiling as he tucked a lock of Savannah’s hair behind her ear.
“Who’s ready for the reception?” Hana asked as she joined their little group with Maxwell and Drake in tow.
“Me!” Maxwell exclaimed.
“You sounded almost believable,” Bastien whispered to Alice.
“Well, I am happy for them,” Alice whispered back. “I think.”
He smiled at her. “Shall we head to the reception? I think you owe me a dance.”
“You can have all of them.”