I forced myself to my feet. The tailor, after making sure I was upright and unharmed, immediately rushed from the room to retrieve a towel and a servant to clean the mess.
My soggy notes were beginning to fall apart in my hands, to wet to even maintain their paper shape.
“Linda,” I said, going to her.
She scrunched her nose as I came close, as if the very sight of me disgusted her. I was disheveled now, true, with my gown damp in some places and my hair a mess. But even so…
“Can I have those names again?” I asked. I knew she had written them down same as me.
She quickly hid her notepad from my sight. “If you lost those names, then this is on you, Piper. You need
to learn to take responsibility.” She narrowed her eyes. “We wouldn’t want anyone to think you had unfair
“It’s not like that,” I said.
She continued on, like I hadn’t said anything. “At least half of our table will look good, and the royal
family will be able to tell who did which half.”
“That goes against the spirit of the event,” I said. “We’re supposed to work together. Adversaries
cooperating, like the Luna is supposed to.”
I don’t care. You are a hindrance, not an adversary. Surely the royal family will understand that.”
Linda walked by me and out the door. The other girls all shunned me, except for Susie, who gave me a
I looked at the fabrics left strewn at the place where we had been, but we’d tried on so many things, I
could remember exactly what we had decided upon. I tried to remember what I could.
At the very least, I could guess about Linda’s preferences, after having heard them drilled into my head
for an hour. Using that knowledge, maybe I could at least make a compatible half of the table, even if it didn’t match up exactly
After writing down the fabric and color names I could guesstimate were maybe correct, I rushed down to the kitchen to look through the cookbooks again.
was there, pouring over the pages, when one of the King’s servants found me.
“You have been summoned to stand in audience with the king.” the servant said.
I swallowed thickly. It wasn’t the servant’s fault that I was maybe about to die. II
probably been ordered to chase me. I doubted I would get very far.
So I buried my fear deep down, rose my chin in defiance, and decided to face my inevitable end. I only hoped Nicholas could hear of it and intervene before I was hanged for treason, or some other charge.
The servant led me out of the kitchen and around the winding hallways until we entered the King’s personal chambers.
He was sitting in a chair at the head of a six–person table. When the servant and I approached, he offered me the chair to his left.
“Piper. Sit.” It wasn’t a question.
I immediately sat.
A pair of Joseph’s guards were standing against the wall. The servant who had guided me returned to standing at the door but did not exit.
With the secret out, perhaps the King did not see the need to keep his threats private anymore.
He was quiet
for a long
long moment, simply eyeing me with a stern, joyless expression. When he did finally speak, he did so with a low, too–calm tone.
“Piper, you have gone against my express wishes. Not only have you exposed Nicholas’s sorted dating history, but you have also tarnished the reputation of the nobility.”
I wasn’t entirely sure how Nicholas’s having dated me was directly connected to ruining the reputation of any of the nobility. But, with the anger that seemed to simmer under the King’s surface, I decided not
to argue the point.
“Now the public has begun to piece together a timeline of when you dated, and all that has occurred since, the King continued. “Some are even beginning to question if Nicholas isn’t Elva’s real father.”