Just Mildly Uncomfortable

17.1K 1.1K 111

New Years Eve arrived, and with it, a ball. After the incident with Susan, Zelda had managed to stay out of the way, offering herself only to Leo when he needed a hand to squeeze, an ear to vent to, or lips to kiss. But she couldn't stay out of the spotlight for long.

In all the chaos, she'd tried repeatedly to reach Imogen, but cell service was spotty, time was limited, and anytime her call did go through, she got Imogen's voicemail. They had talked every day, at least by text, since their first day at Madame LeBleu's, so Imogen's silence had her worried.

As Tiffani put the finished touches to her magnificent, sweeping, lavender gown: a necklace of a single pearl, and drop earrings to match, Zelda couldn't help but think of everything that could go wrong at a ball.

"This weekend has been a disaster," she lamented. "Fairy godmothers don't attend balls. We make dresses and turn pumpkins into carriages. There's no telling what i'll do if I'm made to dance in front of real people."

Tiffani scoffed. She tossed Zelda her tiny, beaded handbag. "You're overreacting. This weekend has hardly been a disaster. Especially not by your account."

Zelda eyed Tiffani, trying to decide if she really meant what she said. "You're just being nice."

"Zelda, I don't do nice. I'm not paid to be your friend," Tiffani said with such a determined scowl on her face that Zelda figured she'd earned at least a begrudging affection from the cool blonde.

Zelda stepped into her heels and dabbed her wrists with perfume from the array of crystalline bottles that lined the vanity. "His Magesty King Theodore hates me more than ever."

"Maybe," Tiffani replied as she herded Zelda from the room. "But I've heard several people talking about how well you shot at the range yesterday."

"Are you sure they weren't talking about how I fell into the fountain."

Tiffani laughed, emitting a strange and unfamiliar sound Zelda hadn't heard in the days since they met. "I'm sure it's on their minds, but no one is anyone in Olisand until they have fallen into, tripped over, or been splashed by that blasted fountain."

Zelda rolled her eyes. Even though she was now part of an elite group of clutzes, she still would have preferred it if Leo's father hadn't seen her in her moment of disgrace.

Tiffani gave Zelda a pointed smirk. "Plus, rumor has it that it's charmed — washing with the water in that fountain is a proven way to get lucky."

Zelda her cheeks warmed with a violent blush. She kept quiet until they reached a small antechamber where Leo and his parents waited to make their entrance to the ball. Tiffani then disappeared to check on the status of the evening.

Upon seeing Zelda, Leo shot her look that resembled a desperate plea for help.

King Theodore was fussing over Leo's appearance. "You are a mess," he said, straightening the sash across Leo's chest and adjusting the medals that decorated his high-buttoned court uniform. "Stand up straight. You could at least carry yourself like a prince if you refuse to act like one."

Leo gave his father a willful glare. "Shouldn't you worry about yourself, father? It's not me the nobles are worried about."

Queen Antonia placed herself between Leo and his father. "Not here. They will be ready for us shortly," she said with a finality that bade Leo and his father to move to opposite sides of the antechamber.

The Queen in her fine gown, sash, and glittering crown beckoned for Zelda to join her and Leo. "You will enter with Leo," she said with as much calm as she used when speaking to her tempered husband. Zelda wondered where she got the patience, and secretly hoped she wouldn't have similar worries if she was still with Leo when he became King.

I Wish I MayWhere stories live. Discover now