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Within the next week, the courting began. It had been announced the day after the Princess's ball that Prince Cal would begin to get to know the debutantes by taking them on select outings. And from that point forward, the gossiping and the cutthroat arguments began to burn through the debutantes like wildfire.

Ariella sat content as she watched the fellow girls at her table in the Queen's Parlor staring each other down with hate strewn across their perfect faces, it was just last week that a fight had broken out between two of the ladies. Ariella seemed unfazed by the angered glances in her direction, she merely glanced down to admire her manicure with a smug expression resting on her lips.

She could care less if the Prince chose her as his bride. Maybe it was stereotypical for a country girl to think such a thing, but as she remembered the Prince's attitude on the balcony, she remembered her obligations to herself. Maybe it was the lust of the evening air or maybe the twinkling stars that were so bright that night, but if there was anything between them then, it was most definitely gone now.

She hadn't seen him at all since that night.

But now, a month later, it was finally her turn to have him to herself. It wasn't necessarily that she was eager to see him, for that was out of the question; but as she sat -- tea in hand, she began to remember his eyes. The very ones that had trapped her that night on the balcony.

She didn't doubt for a minute that it was lust, but she couldn't control her mind from wandering back to him. It seemed like that almost everyday since they'd last seen each other.

Cal had been seen occasionally moping around the corridors late at night, but other than that, he too seemed almost completely unfazed from what happened that evening on the balcony.

He sat, not unlike most nights, in his study with a book in his hand. The evening was finally here, he would finally get to see Ariella again. He had waited for what seemed like forever for this night to approach and he planned for it to go absolutely perfect. He had picked the destination himself, and hand picked the food they would bring along with them.

For the many debutantes he had entertained before Ariella, he had requested that his staff pick the activities. He had barely given the other women the time of day, let alone a suitable conversation. Though being the gentleman he was, he was of course never disrespectful or rude.

As Ariella sat at her vanity mirror, she could barely stop herself from smearing off the delicate makeup that Mae had just applied. She didn't like the way it rested on her skin, it made her feel like she was hidden behind a mask.

"What on earth are you doing?" Mae said, storming in to find Ariella wiping the makeup off of her face.

"Please don't make me wear it!" She whimpered, looking up at Mae like a guilty child would look at their mother after stealing an extra treat.

"I cannot make you do anything, but you should've called me into help you. You're getting it all over your hands," said Mae, walking over to help her.

Ariella smiled gratefully, glad that she wasn't scolded like usual.

After a period of thirty minutes, Mae escorted Ariella to the stables where she was to meet Prince Cal.

When Mae left, Ariella slipped into one of the empty stalls unnoticed. She quickly reached back and pulled all of the little pins out of her dark hair, letting it fall to her waist.

Louis often teased her about it, calling her a child because she refused to wear her hair in a ladylike manor. She didn't care though, as long as she felt like herself -- without the uptight posture and regal ensembles, she felt as free as a bird.

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