I wanted to storm over there and demand Kirsten apologize for accepting thanks for a gift she hadn’t
given. But I couldn’t do so without revealing to Nicholas that I was the one who had given it. If Nicholas
knew the truth, he’d assume the worst.
He’d think the gift was disingenuous, and that I was just chasing after his crown.
I didn’t want nobility. I didn’t want to be his wife, or girlfriend, or whatever else.
I only wanted medical care for Elva. So I kept my mouth firmly shut.
Julian plucked my dropped bow off the ground and handed it to me. “Something on your mind, Piper?”
His knowing smirk returned tenfold.
I wasn’t in the mood for his games anymore.
I turned in my bow and went back to my
After a group lesson with the dancing instructor, all of the girls rested in the parlor, accepting water and
towels from the servants.
Nathan stood nearby, loudly discussing the proper rules for the First Ball. The princes would each take a turn dancing with all the ladies. However, the order was randomized, for fairness.
Some of the girls bemoaned the randomness. “I never have any luck.”
Others, like Kirsten, seemed confident that things would pull in their favor.
“Don’t forget that Prince Nicholas invited me to sit next to him at the banquet,” Kirsten said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he pulled a few strings to dance with me first as well.”
“It’s supposed to be random,” someone hissed.
Kirsten rolled her eyes. “Nothing is ever random.”
I did my best to ignore her, still irritated over Nicholas’s gift.
To calm myself, I focused on Elva instead. I lifted her and twirled her through the air. She giggled in delight. The sound soothed me like a balm over my wounded heart..
Will there be candies at the ball?” Elva asked, when I’d stopped spinning.
3 bet they’ll have all kinds of deserts. Candles and cakes. And the gowns, Elve….”
More pretty dresses? Elva asked.
I nodded. “So many. And yours will be the prettiest of all.” I pulled her in and kissed her cheek.
“Like a princess,” Susie said from beside us. Elva smiled at her.
“We’ll have to look like princess to attract the attention of the princes,” said one of the girls.
“What kind of dress do you think they’d prefer?” asked another.
The theme for the First Ball was ‘Blessings of the Moon Goddess.” What that meant was open to
Most of the girls seemed to be leaning toward the classic look of the Moon Goddess. They’d wear dresses in shiny silver or white, with teardrop–shaped headpieces.
Kirsten halted all friendly conversation by saying, “I’m not sharing what I’m going to wear. Why would I give my competition any chances to outdo me?”
The girls quieted after that, looking at each other suspiciously.
Gradually, the group of us disbanded, and I returned with Elva to our room.
My maids were hard at work on my own gown.
“Can’t we make it shorter?” the talkative maid suggested. “A short dress would accentuate Miss Piper’s graceful figure.”
The quiet maid disagreed. “You know the royal family disapproves of inappropriately–dressed women. We can’t even make the gloves too short, let alone the hemline.”
The talkative mald begrudgingly agreed. They both looked at me.
“What do you think, Miss Piper?”
Honestly, I didn’t have a clue. I hadn’t been aware of any of the fashion trends even when I’d attended the Royal Academy.
Still, I knew enough to know that I wanted to stand out. “What about a bright color?”
The talkative maid gasped in excitement. “Yellow. We could make it yellow!”
The quiet maid pondered it a moment. “The color of harvest, appropriate for the current season.
“And It represents the true blessing of the Moon Goddess!”