During the next official banquet, I stopped just inside the entrance of the dining room. The girl who had
sitting in my seat beside Nicholas.
shoved Elva that first day w
Julian, sitting nearest the door, rested his elbow on the table and his chin in his palm. He grinned at me
with a toothy smile, much the way a cat would look at a mouse it had planned to eat. Eventually. After
playing with it, of course.
“My brother Nicholas personally invited Kirsten to take that seat,” he said. “It makes sense, I guess. We
are supposed to get to know all the girls here, and he’s already well–acquainted with you.”
Some of the girls around us perked up at that bit of gossip.
“Be truthful,” I said, hoping he’d notice the emphasis and keep secrets instead.
He only beamed wider. “Want to know where Kirsten was sitting? That’s your spot now.”
He knew I did, but he still waited for me to say it. He really loved these games of his.
He motioned to the empty seat straight across from him. The one right beside the queen’s chair.
Fortunately, as the King gave his speech later, he mentioned the Luna would not be present for today’s event. I immediately exhaled in relief. The girls near me did as well, though less obviously.
“She’s so regal and beautiful,” one whispered to another. “I feel like a toad being in the same room as
When the King finished and was seated, the girls‘ gossip began in earnest. None of them seemed to mind that Julian was in earshot. In fact, Julian himself seemed to encourage it, occasionally partaking.
Ituned it out for the most part, not truly caring about Prince Joyce’s shoe size or the best time to catch Mark alone to ask him about Nicholas.
uned right back in, however, when I heard the girl beside me say, “I can’t believe Kirsten is the first one
to a prince right away.” the girl said to me. Typically you would he
The per princes
“Would you like an invitation?” Julian asked her. When she sucked in an excited breath, he leaned forward and said, “1 invite you to sit right where you are sitting.”
She exhaled, disappointed. When a few of the other girls laughed, she did too, though I wondered if she
1 frowned at Julian, disapproving. He shouldn’t lead girls on like that. He caught my eye and shrugged,
“What do you think Kirsten did to earn that favor?” the girl directly beside Julian asked. She looked relieved now, having been nervous a moment ago, at the height of Julian’s joke.
“I can tell you,” Julian said. His chin was in his palm again, and his eyes were on me. “Kirsten made him a gift,”
The other girls gasped. “Why didn’t I think of that?”
1 frowned a little. Kirsten had also made something for Nicholas?
I hadn’t thought her to be that considerate. Perhaps… I had misjudged her?
No, anyone who would shove a child was worthy of distain.
After the awkward dinner, when I met with Susie in the hallway, I learned I had not misjudged her.
“Kirsten is a bully,” Susie said. “Whenever she needed something, she made me wave down the servants.” She laced her fingers together. “It was much nicer sitting next to you.”
I’m sorry,” I said, hooking my arm around one of hers. Together we walked toward the bedrooms.
The girls had spread out by now, some already headed to their rooms, others going into the common areas to lounge, not yet ready for bed.
was eager to get back to my room and check on Elva.
t’s not your fault,” Susie said. “Prince Nicholas extended the invitation to her.”