Chapter Five

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It didn't take long for the upcoming wedding to become city-wide news. The Mirror, Skylands official newspaper, decided another expose was in order - at Raena's request, of course – and The Tower became the centre of wedding preparations and press activity.

Snow graciously parked herself in the gallery next to beautifully displayed extravagant works of art. She found this amusing as she felt anything but an extravagant work of art. Glass sculptures sat on metal floors, polished to perfection, while mechanical birds pranced and chattered in golden gilded cages. While no one was watching, Snow took a pencil and quickly drew a large moustache on a painting of a cherub and sat back down again, just as Raena, the Baroness waltzed into the room.

'And don't forget the large arrangements for each stand, make sure they are no higher than the stand is tall.' She was talking with a short, plump woman, the florist, who was nodding her head, writing notes continuously. Raena stopped before the painting with a frown, glanced at Snow and spun around again to the florist. 'That will be all,' she dismissed the woman.

'Now Snow,' she said looking at her gown skirts, as if talking directly to the girl was beneath her. 'No more childish games please. We have a busy schedule this week. Dress fittings, hors d'oeuvre, wine and cake tasting, an interview with the press, and I am running a little behind schedule.' She glanced around the room then gave Snow a pointed look.

'Do not mess this up, Girl,' her voice deepened into a scratch snarl. 'It is within my power to advise your father to send you off to boarding school. I know that St Margaret's Academy for Girls would be more than happy to accept your gracious application. Now, be a good girl and stay here until the press has left, but do not say a thing.' She turned to meet the tailor entering the gallery with a flurry of attendants.

Snow hated her. And she felt so bad for hating her. She knew her father was happy in Skylands and with Raena, but Snow hated the prison and the evil woman had it built. She wanted to scream, and she felt bad for wanting to scream. She quickly wiped a stray tear from running down her cheek.

Raena was being fitted for her wedding dress with the notable Lyon Flores. It was said he designed clothing for the royal family and was known throughout the land as a master tailor and dress maker. His beautiful creations were exquisite, even Snow could admit that, but she had refused Raena's suggestion that Lyon Flores make a gown for Snow, by pointing out that it was Raena's beautiful day, not hers. Surprisingly, Raena didn't argue, saying something about it fitting that she looked inferior than her anyway.

Watching the incredibly Lyon Flores tailor the beautiful dress on her soon-to-be-step-mother was a wonderful experience. Raena stood on a circular podium that had been set up in the centre of the room while seamstresses did Lyon's bidding. Floral ivory lace was pinned over a silk bodice and skirts, then scooped around the lower back before trailing down two meters across the floor. Pearls and Lillian crystals were to be sewn around every lace petal with moonstone gems gracing the floral centres.

One fitting lead to another – there was to be more than one gown – and dress fitting flowed into other wedding preparations. Staff came and went, attendants moved about the room at Raena's bidding and a lead reporter from The Mirror arrived shortly before lunch.

He interviewed Raena on a chase lounge in the adjoining room and asked her about the up and coming nuptials and the gowns designed by Lyon Flores. He asked her about The Mirror's latest artist called the White Maid who had been drawing images of happenings from inside the The Tower, but Raena cut him short saying there was no White Maid on staff and that certainly everything that they wrote or sketched was fallacy. This caused Snow to smile behind her sketch book.

He then went on to ask her about the honeymoon. Raena chose at that moment to announce that the King had called Lord Peto to the castle soon after the wedding so there would be no honeymoon. She could neither confirm nor deny the royal request for designs and plans for a Royal floating estate, but by the way she was talking, it was obvious she didn't care what the reporter wrote down for The Mirror.

But this was news to Snow. Her father would be leaving her. Alone. On Skylands. With Raena. This was bad, very bad.

Grabbing her sketch pad and pencil, she stood to leave the gallery, just as the reporter entered from the side room. Raena had obviously finished with him and no longer needed him there.

'Miss Peto, a word please. May I ask you a few questions for the paper?' he rushed over. Snow turned to find Raena looking at her with eyes that said, 'Be very careful what you say, young lady.' She knew the drill. Keep her words light, happy, and don't say anything that would give Raena cause to harm Edison or send her off to boarding school.

'Certainly,' was her strained reply.

'Miss Peto, how do you feel about the wedding of Baroness Montague to your father Lord Peto?' he asked, pencil and notebook in hand.

She looked up at Raena's serious face giving herself a moment to formulate her reply. 'I believe Baroness Montague makes my father very happy. We are indebted to her.' was her truthful reply.

Before the reporter could ask another question, the Baroness interrupted him, moving him out of the room. It gave Snow an opportunity to escape to find her father.

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