Here it is at last, the one you've all been waiting for, and I'm sorry to have kept you waiting for so long. This hasn't been edited yet so sorry if there are a lot of mistakes. Just the epilogue left and I have an awesome music video I'm making for it as a Grande finale to the book.  

Thanks to all my fans and especially those who've been with me since the beginning and kept me going.

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xo.

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Chapter 34 - Second Chances

{The High Ball, Day 5}

Celia's POV

"I can't go"

I knew immediately from their stares they understood what I was talking about, but felt the need to say it again anyway.

"I can't go to the dance."

I tossed the dress aside, hardly even able to look at it. There was no way I could go.

Not today.

No one said a word to convince me otherwise and I was grateful for that, since my control over breaking down was tenuous at best.

Even without going I could picture the dance, over and over in my head like a nightmare. Behind my eyes the once swirling couples moved with exaggerated slowness to a sombre marriage march, as if mocking me.

From every corner, leering faces gloated behind dark masks; stared with laughing eyes; shook their heads in pity...

And yet those thoughts were nothing compared to the searing image of John etched in my mind the way I pictured him to be; standing tall for the audience, head bent to the floor, eyes averted.

From me.

It would be far too painful seeing him again and knowing there could only be one way this day could end.

With him picking a bride.

One who wasn't me.

And there was no way I could be around when that happened. I wanted to be a hundred miles away, gone to the farthest reaches of our Kingdom, and still it wouldn't be far enough. I'd never be able to escape it.

At least, for a little while I'd be spared knowing the identity of my replacement. I was sure I would hate her no matter who she was just for the fact that she could have him when I couldn't.

Lily and Mira continued moving around the room adjusting clothes, and trying on jewellery.

I tried not to be envious of the fact that just a few nights ago that had been me... until everything went so badly wrong.

Seeing them go through the motions of getting ready I felt oddly detached. After the anger, sadness and hopelessness I'd somehow moved on to numb.

It felt as though I was sitting outside a window, watching everything happen around me as just an observer.

It felt like the first two nights of the ball, so perfect had been only a dream, and the second two, completely the opposite, a nightmare. Either way, none of it had seemed real, not until tonight.

There was nothing dreamlike about what was happening tonight.

Lily headed towards the door, glancing back once with a worried look on her face. I arranged my face into a smile that didn't feel natural and kept it in place until she stepped out the door.

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