Part 1

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If the Shoe Fits

Once Upon a Time...

Part 1

The letters came slowly, each one bearing slightly different content, though all written in the same tight, loopy hand.

Ailia stared down at the small pile of letters grasped in her fingers -all from the same mysterious sender -and then thought of the first one that had arrived, just days ago.

Dearest Ailia,

It would please me deeply if you would accompany me to this winter's Blizzard Ball. Enclosed is your ticket and sometime today your dress, shoes, and mask (I would appreciate it if you would wear it since this year's theme is masked) should arrive. I've taken the liberty of ordering white, since that is your favorite color.

I'm counting down the days until I can see your beautiful face.

Sincerely,

Prince Charming

When Ailia had first received the note she had laughed it off. That is, until a few days later when the dress and shoes arrived, just as promised.

She tried to convince the deliverer that he should return it to the sender, but he said he had been given explicit instructions to leave her with the gifts, no matter her protests. Thus, she was left on her front doorstep clutching the crumpled and strange letter along with two boxes at her socked feet.

And to think she thought Saturdays as uneventful.

At a loss, she dragged both boxes up to her room, thanking the Lord that her two stepsisters weren't home to batter her with questions about her "Prince Charming".

Once there, she scratched the back of her head and peered down at the packages on her bed. One was long and slim -obviously the promised dress. The other was rectangular and fat. She chose to open the latter first, hoping the sender information was inside so she could give the dress and shoes back. She opened the box and removed the top layer of protective wrapping, hoping the information was underneath. She gasped.

Inside the box was a pair of delicate glass slippers. They were heeled, with small points at the tips of the toes. The light caught them, making them glimmer and glitter such a brilliant shade of white it almost looked blue.

Fingers trembling, Ailia lifted one from the box. It seemed frail in her fingers and she wondered distantly how such a weak thing could support a full-grown girl. Then she cursed her wayward thoughts and quickly put the slipper back in its nestle of padding, making sure she left no fingerprints.

These weren't her slippers, she reminded herself. They needed to be returned.

She searched the small shoe box but could not find an order form detailing the sender's address or name. Thus she decided it must be in with the dress.

She held her breath, already preparing herself after the darling slippers, and let it out in a sharp gust at seeing the dress.

It was pure white -her favorite color -and sleeveless. The bodice was heart-shaped, dipping narrowly in at the waist before puffing out with taffeta and lace at the hips. The top was covered in delicate beads that sparkled just like the slippers, and a pair of wrist-length white gloves were tucked in with the dress, almost as an afterthought.

Ailia hesitantly touched the fabric. It slipped smoothly through her fingers, soft as butter. She swallowed hard.

Who would do this? She wondered. Who would randomly send her such beautiful -and she had to admit -expensive gifts? She had never had a boyfriend or a secret admirer, so she really had no experience in this department.

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