the dress.

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"what'd the monster have to say?" d.j. asked as i came back into his room.

he was dressed in workout clothes.  d.j. worked out more than anyone ever should, and i was starting to begin to think that his trainer, julio, was a bad influence.

i shrugged.  "we resolved it that i would knock next time he brings a slut home."

d.j. laughed.  "since when are you so wrapped up in his personal life?  i thought you hated all his sleeping around."

i sat on d.j.'s bed, tucking one leg underneath me.  "i don't know what got into me last night."

we were silent for a second, and then d.j. asked, "did you really towel-whip her?" he began to chuckle uncontrollably.

"no!" i shouted hysterically.

he shook his head still laughing.  "julio is waiting for me outside.  do you want to join?" i snarled and he chuckled.  "fine, i'll leave the t.v. on."

as he walked out of the room, the t.v. faded on.  "oooh! aren't you so excited?" lelani squealed.

"i am! are you?" kim hopper smiled as she pushed her gigantic boobs on the glass table they all sat at.

"ugh!" i frowned as i fumbled for the remote.

"yes! in two days, lelani and i will have a full feature on the prince's ball! we will be at the castle from the time they begin setting up, until the moment the guests leave."

"yes," lelani smiled with her overly white cheeks and her chocolate brown eyes. "and chad here gets the joy of covering the rest of the engagement week events."

chad smirked as the camera pulled in closer on him.  "yass, girl! from the king's introduction of his son to the senate to the prince's baseball game, i will be at them all."

"okay, do you guys find it weird that younger brother d.j. has been introduced to the senate, but the future kin-"

before i could hear what else they had to say, there was a knock at the door.

"come in!" i called.

lynette crept in.  "where's d.j.?" she asked.

i sighed.  "running with julio."

she rolled her eyes.  "of course."

"do you need me to call him?" i asked.

lynette shook her head.  "no, actually, i'm here for you."

"me?!" i exclaimed, completely shocked.

"the queen wants to see you."

i gulped as lynette led me from the kids' end of the castle to the queen and king's side.  we walked through the castle, passing all kinds of people who were carrying large bouquets of flowers, boxes upon boxes of white twinkle lights and taffeta.

finally, we made it to the large, heavy, gold-embossed doors.  lynette pushed them open.  "your majesty," she said with her head bowed, "nora groves here to see you."

aww, shit, i thought before i stepping into the room.  there was someone important in there.  lynette and isabel had been childhood friends.  when they were in private, they called each other "lynnie and bell," but if there was someone more official in the room, it was "mrs. traverse" and "your majesty" or "your highness."

i stepped into view of the room, and isabel stood there, surrounded by racks of clothing.  "helloooo!" she called in a singsongy voice.

i looked around the room, amazed.  "what is all this?" i asked.

she swung her arms out.  "since you're being forced to spend your time at the engagement ball, i thought we should make you look fabulous."

"really?!" i squeaked, giddy as i ran my hand across a rack of dresses.

isabel nodded as she pulled a purple dress off of a rack.

the process seemed like a dream, but it was also a nightmare.  i was poked and prodded, and shoved in and out of different corsets.  my hair was twisted up and pulled down.

finally, after what felt like six, long, magically hours, but was really at most an hour, we decided on a gorgeous, magenta dress with a sweetheart neckline, with silver jewels across the bust line.  it was fitted against my body and almost made it hard to breathe.

i walked back to d.j.'s room, alone, through the back of the palace.  this is where all the offices were, it was like a mini west wing, without anyone as gorgeous as rob lowe.  as i thought about that last bit, i saw someone as gorgeous as rob lowe.

charlie sat in the head of legal's cubical, surrounded by glass windows.  his feet were propped on the edge of the desk, and he was leaned back in the chair he was sitting in.  "so what? that's it?!" charlie barked.  the guy behind the desk extended his arms in a i-dont-know-what-else-to-do fashion.  charlie shook his head and looked over toward me.  his eyes widened.  "nora!" he called to me and then he came side-skipping out the door.  "nora, come here, i wanna ask you a question."

i walked quietly, head down and pushed myself into the door frame of the tiny cubical.  charlie sat straight up in the chair he had just been in.  "nora," charlie said, "don't you think it's ridiculous that, the girl i passed on? i can't go back on it.  whatever she decides is final.  if i want to sleep with her, i can't."

i just stared at him.  that's when i realized, he wasn't really asking me, he was telling me.  "i-i- don't know."

charlie shook his head in anger.  "whatever." he said as he pushed passed me out of the cubicle.

i followed after at almost a running pace.  "charlie!" i hissed behind him.

he spun around on his heels.  we were just in front of a maintenance stairway.  "what?" he asked, frustrated.

"what was that?" i asked.

he shook his head. "nothing."

i grabbed his arm, "no," i said, "talk to me."

he shrugged me off.  "just forget it."  and then he stormed off.

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