Getting Entangled

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After transfers in Lyon and Marseilles, their train pulled into the station at Aix-en-Provence six hours later. It was nearing midnight when Zelda and Leo disembarked with luggage in hand. Few people trickled through the provincial train station, but Zelda kept her wand ready and her arm firmly through Leo's. In the cold open air that smelled of dirt and the threat snow, an old renault 4L idled in the lot. The high beams flashed as Zelda stepped onto the pavement.

A tall dark-haired figure emerged from the driver's side door. "Papá!" Zelda exclaimed, dashing to his side. She dropped her little trunk beside the van and threw her arms over her father's shoulders.

"My little girl," he said in Spanish. His deep voice rumbled through her chest, his warm breath mingling with her hair. "I'm glad you caught the transfer," he said, said kissing her on both cheeks. "You can never count on these trains—"

He stooped to pick up her trunk, but stopped short at the sight of Leo waiting a respectable distance behind her.

"Papá, this is Prince Leopold Barrois, my boyfriend." Zelda took a step back to stand at Leo's side and place a reassuring arm around his lower back.

The nervous prince stuck out his hand. "Hello, sir. You can call me Leo."

"I see. Sabine told me about this." Zelda's father waggled a finger between them, ignoring Leo's hand. "My name is Ian, but you may call me Mr. Ravensdale." He slapped a heavy hand onto Leo's shoulder. "Let's load up. You can sit up in front with me."

Zelda tried to stifle a laugh as she watched Leo pale and hurry to help her father with their luggage. Ian shot her a wink.

"Go easy on him," Zelda said, yanking the sleeve of his coat.

"I'll try," he replied, a wide smile creasing his eyes.

Zelda took a seat in the back amidst crates of wine while Leo, somewhat reluctantly, took a place beside her father. The van lurched to a start and Zelda immediately felt at home to hear the gentle clink of wine bottles around her.

Leo sat rigid in his seat but chatted politely with her father in the short ride out of the twisting and turning city streets. Outside of Erimount, Zelda found it almost easy to forget Leo was a prince. He occasionally looked over his shoulder to smile at her, sending Zelda's stomach into knots.

The van pitched and bounced along the meandering provincial roads until the lighted walls of the winery appeared, silhouetted against the mountains behind them; floodlights on the ground illuminated the towering stone walls of the medieval vestige. The car turned up the gravel drive, and though Zelda couldn't see much on the cloudy night, she knew they passed row after row of pruned, skeletal grapevines.

"That's where you live?" Leo said, with a gesture to the building at the end of the drive. It wasn't even comparable in size to the royal castle in Erimount, but the stone edifice was still an impressive sight, looming over the neat rows of well-tended vines.

"Well... part of it is. It used to be an abbey in the middle ages. My parents turned part of the abbey into an inn on the property," Zelda said, feeling a twinge of pride in the business her parents built with nothing but grapes, love and a little bit of magic.

"We'll put Leo in one of the guest rooms. The inn is closed for the holiday, but the place is filled to the rafters with all your sisters and their families here," Ian said as he parked the car in the circular drive outside the front steps.

"I'll show you around the vineyard tomorrow," Zelda said. "You'll love the view when it's light out."

"I'd like that very much," Leo said.

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