When Nicholas said my name, I stopped where I stood and internally cursed. I was so close to my door.
As far as I could tell, I had two options: apologize for having overheard or deny, deny, deny.
I swiveled on my heel, facing him. “Your Royal Highness! I was looking for you.”
His brow lowered, skeptical. “Why?”
“1.. uh.. oh! I wanted to tell you about Elva’s allergies.”
Nicholas listened quietly as I explained the things she couldn’t eat, the types of materials she couldn’t
have around, and the medicines that gave her reactions
I’ll take care of it,” he said, when I was done.
Over his shoulder, standing in the doorway of her room, Lena looked at me, a cold gleam in her eyes.
Over the next few days, I went through intense training to prepare for the game. Both Elva and I were provided with professional stylists to assist in every detail, from our hair to our gowns to the color of our
Trainers helped me correct the dip of my curtsey, and the straightness of my posture. I had to practice walking with a book on my head, to learn fluid motion and grace. They even critiqued my wave, until it
was the way the experts liked.
For meals, the candidates all met in the dining room. The royal family was always notably absent.
Our only other free time was an hour–long break for fresh air in the afternoon, when we were escorted
through the gardens.
Elva preferred those hours, as she could run around in the grass, burning off her youthful energy. worried for her, with her sickness, but the weather was pleasant, and the royal family’s doctor gave Elva
One day, we were walking through a field of beautiful wildflowers on the edge of the grounds, when Elva bustled over to me, dirt on her hands and the edge of her dress. As I knelt to dust it off, I noticed a
Cartoon bear band–aid ori Elva’s knee
What’s this Lasked.
Reiff it’s so cute Liell in the grass, but a nice girl gave me this She turned her leg this
“Which girl?” I asked, just as one of the candidates came to stand behind Elva.
“I hope it’s okay,” the girl said.
“This one,” Elva said, pointing at her,
I looked up at the girl. She was younger than me, eighteen at the most, with pale hair and round features.
She stood timidly, her hands weaved together at her waist. She kind of looked like she wanted to run
“I’m Susie,” she said.
“Hi, Susie!” Elva said. “I’m Elva. I’m three. I like bears.”
She gave Elva a soft smile that seemed genuine. “Hi, Elva.” To me, she said, “She’s so adorable.”
“She is,” I said, standing.
Elva immediately lost interest and began picking flowers.
“Can I walk with you both for a while?” Susie asked.
Everyone else seemed to give me a wide berth. I wasn’t lonely, exactly, between Elva and the trainers and the maids. But it would be nice to talk to someone nearer my age, who did not feel as if they had to be nice to me.
I missed Anna.
I’d be happy for the company,” I said.
Susie and I continued to walk, while I kept an eye on Elva. Eventually, I would call for her, and she would dash to meet us, carrying flowers. When her hands were full, she gave the flowers to me to carry.
Susie took a few and wove them into a crown. “For our princess,” she said, placing it on Elva’s head.
Elva bounced in place, so excited.
Halfway through our hour of freedom, we turned around and headed back toward the palace.
One of the other candidates was flittering between some of the other girls, like she was the hostess of the party and making the rounds.