“9?” someone gasped.
I agreed, that seemed like so many people to be eliminated all at once!
“9,” Nathan confirmed. “When you are eliminated, you are to pack your bags and immediately vacate the premises. There will be cars waiting to escort you home. There will be no arguments or reconsiderations.”
A rising mumble roused again, as the girls whispered to one another.
Many of them turned to look at me.
“The first one to go…”
I tried to ignore them.
Soon, they stopped paying attention to me, and instead cast their dagger eyes at each other.
After Nathan’s announcement, many ‘accidents‘ seemed to consistently happen amongst the
Spilled drinks. “How clumsy of me.”
Tripping. “You should really watch your step.”
Torn dresses. “Didn’t you notice that nail sticking out there?”
It seemed that with the quickly approaching elimination, the girls had begun to turn on one another.
Olivia and Linda were the most vicious, though neither seemed to take any action themselves. Rather, they relied on their alliances to defend them and carry out acts of subterfuge. Yet it was clear who the
Fortunately for me, no one took me seriously, and they didn’t even bother hiding it.
One girl had been ready to ruin my dress with an opened lipstick case, until she realized it was me.
“It’s fine.” I was happy to be considered unimportant enough to be left alone.
The next night, a banquet was held. Yet before we had even sat down, the fighting between Olivia and Linda had reached a boiling point. Though they never raised their voices, their sniping at each other had
“Is that a new dress, Linda? I’m sure I saw it on sale last season.
“Oh, Olivia, you must have trouble telling the decades apart, which would explain your hairstyle.”
Olivia and Linda smiled tightly at each other.
Then, Olivia ‘tripped‘ and spilled her red wine all down the front of Linda’s mauve gown.
“Oops. How terribly clumsy of me.” Olivia held out a tissue. “This might help.
Linda’s face turned red. “Why, you!” She moved to slap Olivia, but Olivia ducked out of the way just in
Unfortunately, I had been standing just behind her. That slap was now headed for me!
Yet before it could reach me, Nicholas caught Linda’s wrist, stilling her. Her eyes went wide, her face
impossibly redder, all the way to the tips of her ears.
Nicholas was absolutely not impressed.
“You are embarrassing yourself,” he said, and threw her arm down.
Linda sputtered a moment, but never managed to form coherent words. Instead, she just stormed away,
out of the room.
A few of the girls made soft noises of excitement, and for good reason.
Linda was typically considered a front–runner, but here she was, losing her temper enough to be scolded
by a prince. With this poor showing, she might drop far enough to be considered for elimination.
Nicholas looked at me. I was about to thank him for stopping that slap. It would have hurt something
fierce. But he spoke first.
“Be more aware of your surroundings.”
My gratitude shriveled on my tongue. Did he just imply being almost slapped was my own fault?
Thanks for the advice,” I said, snidely, making it clear I was not thankful – at all.
Nicholas narrowed his eyes at me.
Which was exactly when Julian cut in, stepping between us. “Piper, will you sit beside me tonight?”
If Nicholas had been glaring at me, he looked at Julian like he was trying to light him on fire.
- uh. The sudden question made my head spin. I already sat across from Julian. Why would he ask
me to move closer?
But then he motioned to the chair I would be moving to. My previous spot had put me in direct line of
sight of the Luna
Where Julian wanted me to move would give me two chairs as a buffer. And one of those chairs would be filled by Julian himself, who could easily deflect any hostility from the Queen.
Julian smirked at Nicholas. “You don’t have a problem with that, do you, brother?”
Nicholas tugged at his cuffs. “Why would I?”
” don’t know.” Julian shrugged. “But if you glare at me any harder, you’re likely to burn a hole in my
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