NOW THE BALL was fun! The dances were easy because all of them just required you to follow your partner. It proved helpful with my mind stuck on my ring. I couldn't wait to show it off when the girls finally caught up with us. Alek and I both turned red as the men teased us, while Sian, Kass and Loi exclaimed over the ring and gave me tight hugs. 'Happy, Cat?' Sian gave me a firm look.

I nodded rapidly, feeling the tears prickle again. 'Yes, yes!' We hugged again with Kass and Loi joining in, making onlookers chuckle at their excited squeals.

'Soo happy for you, Cat.'

'Can't believe it!'

ALEK COULD SEE she was happy, everyone could. Rumal, Daron and Sabyn had given him knowing looks before they congratulated him. They were all in a similar place. When he finally got Cat back from the girls, more people pushed forward to congratulate them. It would be a long night, but a happy one. Cat caught his eye and giggled when he rolled his eyes up and he took the opportunity to pull her in for a kiss. 'Happy?' he whispered in her ear.

She laughed. 'Everyone keeps asking me that, surely you can see.'

He chuckled; true, she hadn't stopped glowing since saying yes. 'Can I steal you away at the end of the night?'

She arched an eyebrow. 'Hmm?'

'I thought I might show you my room.'

Her eyes went from happy to sultry and she gave him a slow smile while her energy went a deeper red. 'Really?' she purred. 'Love to.'

'THERE THEY GO again,' Sabyn commented in amusement to Loi. She turned her head to see what he talked about; Cat and Alek wrapped in each others arms in a passionate embrace. Guests gave them a wide berth while looking on in amusement. Oh well, they're entitled to, she thought, it couldn't be any more out in the open than this. One woman didn't look impressed and glared at the couple. Now where have I seen her before? Oh right, at the Beautens. She and Cat pointedly ignored each other.

'Who's that?' she asked Sabyn, indicating the scowling woman.

Sabyn looked over her head and then chuckled. 'That's the Countess Stranson. She's been very open in her quest to catch Alek.'

Loi laughed. 'Too late.'

She glanced back the couple. Cat glowed a soft red while she danced with Alek. I know how she feels, Loi thought, and leaned her head against Sabyn's chest as they danced, enjoying once again the sensation of feeling so small beside someone else. With Sabyn she felt delicate, petite and absolutely beautiful.

A SOFT COUGH separated us and I looked down in surprise. Ada beamed at me. 'Hi, Cat,' she chirped. 'I brought Audi over to say hello and congratulations.'

Alek and I thanked her then laughed when we looked down to Audrey. My normally vivacious dog seemed to be making a rather good effort to hide behind Ada's legs.

'Audrey,' I cooed. 'Come say hello to me.'

She crept out and I felt Alek squeeze my hand hard while he resisted the urge to laugh. Little Audi was decked out in a pretty pink gown that matched with Ada's dress, and boy did she look miserable.

'She seemed to be really enjoying herself until we got here,' Ada said, anxious to assure me.

I smiled at her. 'I'm sure she was. Audi's just rather sensitive about being laughed at.'

'But it's all been good laughter.' Ada looked upset. 'Lieutenant Belsesus thought she looked great.' I reassured her that Audi would be fine and Ada ducked off to greet a few more people before she headed back to her room.

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