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Earlier that day:

Where was Maelyn? Coralina flounced through the corridors, black curls bouncing. The hideous miser had finally gone and she needed to ask Maelyn about the next ball. Most likely she was burrowing in her book cave.

She turned down the corridor that led to Maelyn’s library. She examined her fingernails as she approached the door and so nearly collided with the man coming out.

Willow shut the door quickly. “Her ladyship wishes some time alone,” he whispered.

Coralina huffed a sigh, arms dropping to her sides. “Maelyn and her precious solitude. Why were you in there?”

“I was… delivering a message,” said Willow with a broad grin she didn’t understand. Only then did she notice that he wore the expression of a knight who had just won a tournament.

“Good news?” Coralina asked.

“I hope so,” Willow said cryptically. He gave a short bow. “I must go.”

Coralina raised an eyebrow as he stepped past her. She’d never seen him grin before. In fact, since her uncle’s arrival, she’d barely taken notice of this new messenger, this tall man with honey-gold hair.

Now she did.

“I’ll see you out.” Coralina rushed to his side. Willow made no remark as they traversed the halls but Coralina studied him with quick, sidelong glances. Blue eyes. Elegant profile. Confident stride.

A splendid man.

She lingered on the doorstep as Willow turned his horse down the road. In the russet glow of sunset she watched his mounted silhouette until it faded behind the Lumen trees.

Not now, she thought. She was already courting Prince Luxley. The baker’s son too, though no one knew that. Plus she had a ball to plan, a play to perform, and a few disloyal knights to punish.

Coralina shut the door with a grin that mirrored her memory of Willow’s.

Later, she thought. Later.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Author's Note: The next book in this series is CORALINA, not currently posted on Wattpad. Please go to my website http://www.anitavalleart.com for information on this book.

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