the conference.

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at 8:05 the next morning, i was standing beside charlie, on a platform in the main street of the palace grounds.  lynette had woken me up early, pulled me down to the loyalty weekend waiting room.  as we went into the dressing room, i shuttered.

"weird being back here, huh?" she asked with a knowing smirk.

i nodded.  "how can you tell?"

she patted my back as i sat down in a makeup chair.  "isabel had that same look about twenty-six years ago when we did this."

"isabel's been through this?"

lynette nodded.  "not instant princess, but," she paused and then sighed, "she and nick had been in love since they were kids.  she wasn't anywhere near the senate's list of most favorable for princess, but after their loyalty weekend, he announced that she was the one, and so for days after that, we spent hours in this room getting her primped for meetings with nick's parents, and the senate, and press conferences."

lynette stood by me through all of my primping.  when i was finally done, i had light makeup than my loyalty weekend, my hair was done in my natural curls, and i could actually breathe in the powder blue dress i wore.

"you ready?" charlie asked as lynette walked me onto the stage after my makeover.

i nodded nervously.  "i hope so."

"good morning," shawn said as he stood at the podium, "at approximately 5:37 last night, king dominick suffered a moderate stroke while on vacation in baja.  he was life-flighted back to anaheim, where he is being monitored by doctor's at queen melania medical center.  at this time, he is still unconscious.  they are still running tests, and hope to no more throughout the day.  queen isabel has taken temporary power, and would like to address you all today.  she asks that you hold all applause and questions until the end of our press conference today."

shawn stepped away from the podium.  arabella's eyes were ogling him as he took a seat next to her.  i tried to catch d.j.'s eye, but they stayed locked on isabel as she graced the podium.

"good morning.  i want you all to know that my husband's condition is hopefully not as grave as we make it sound.  he has been conscious since his stroke, and all though he does not have the ability to speak, as of yet, i know he is positive that he will be as good as new here soon." she paused and turned to charlie.  "i know you all have been keeping a close eye on my oldest son, charlie.  along with all of the excitement last night, he has chosen to enact instant princess.  the past few weeks have been rough on charlie, as he's been searching for his wife, but now he's found her, and we'd like to introduce to you, noreen groves."

the crowd applauded as i waved.  isabel and charlie both took turns speaking, addressing the press and others who had gathered at the palace.  i stood there, scared to death and smiling.  d.j. sat not ten feet away, cold and stone-faced.

once they were finished talking, shawn opened the floor for questions.

"your highness, what can you tell us about threats made toward the royal family from terrorist groups outside of the country?"  one reporter asked.

isabel's face fell at first, but she quickly hid her expression with a smile.  "i want you all to know that the royal service is looking deeply into this threat, and as of now, there is no real danger."

* * *

the press conference ended after about an hour and a half, and as soon it finished, we were rushed into one of the buildings off main street and down into a secret tunnel that led back to the palace.

"why didn't anyone tell me there were threats against my family?!" isabel barked as we were hustled through the dimly lit tunnel.

lynette and josiah hustled along either side of her.  "with everything going on with nick," lynette said in a hushed tone, "we didn't want to worry you."

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