Nicholas and I sat in a pair of chairs in front of a camera. Behind the camera, a producer stood ready to ask us questions. But first, we needed to finish our statement.
“Piper and I ended our relationship three years ago, when Piper dropped out from the academy. It was entirely coincidental that she was selected and brought here to participate in the Luna Choosing Game,”
He glanced at me. It was my turn to pick up the pre–written speech.
“We have been careful not to allow our past to interfere with the selection whatsoever. In fact, most of our time here at the palace has been spent apart.”
I had originally mentioned about how I had gone on two dates with Julian, but Nicholas had made me
“But it would help sell our case,” I’d said. “If the world thinks I’m more into Julian…”
“Being into Julian would not eam anyone any favors,” he’d replied, stern, and had refused to speak more
about it. “I won’t be swayed.”
He was always so touchy about Julian that I decided to let it drop. Hopefully the public could make that connection on their own, without needing to be reminded.
“We appreciate your continued support both for the competition and for Piper herself as a candidate,” Nicholas said now. “And hope that you will continue to look favorably upon the royal family, who strives only to bring peace and prosperity to our great kingdom.”
Nicholas nodded to the producer, who then began to ask us questions. They were mostly fluff. Things
like how we met again, and if there were any lingering feelings.
No,” Nicholas said flatly. I knew he was lying. At the very least, we had agreed to be friends. But it still
hurt to hear him answer so quickly and flatly.
“And you, Piper?” the producer asked.
Grabbing my hurt, I used it to help find my own quick answer of untruth. “No. I felt nothing. Our
relationship ended a long time ago. We are both different people now.”
I felt the heavy weight of Nicholas’s gaze on me. I ignored it as best I could.
Eventually, the interview ended and the broadcast was done. The producer thanked us both for our time,
and for our willingness to share such vital information with the public.
Still, I felt nervous the entire walk back to my room. However, once I was there, Charlotte greeted me
with an odd sense of excitement. I knew she often watched the public’s reaction on television, but I didn’t dare hope her reaction was based solely on that.
“Is it true?” she asked.
I nodded. “It is.”
“I knew it! I knew you both had something.”
“It was a long time ago, Charlotte.”
“Okay, okay.” She calmed herself, though her smile remained. “Whatever you say.” She took a step toward me. “The public wonders…”
My stomach dropped. “Wonders what?”
“If you two are still a fling.”
I shook my head at once. “What about Julian..?”
“Oh, they like you and Julian too. I know you were nervous about this conference, you really had nothing to worry about. The public adores you. And now that they know, this regular girl dated not just one, but
two princes? They are even more in your corner.
My stomach slowly returned to my body. “They are…” 7
“You are out here living the everyday woman’s dream, Piper. For a lot of viewers, the competition has
become less about which girl the princes will choose, and more about which prince you will choose.”
That’s outrageous,” I said. “I don’t have any kind of power like that. I’ll never make it to the finals.”
wouldn’t be so sure,” Charlotte said, but didn’t press, especially after I threw my hands up and walked
Charlotte had to be mistaken. There was no way that many people were rooting for me. I knew they were
I on my side, but like this? I couldn’t dare to hope. It would hurt too much to learn it wasn’t true.