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♪ It's not as easy as willing it all to be right                                           Gotta be more than hoping it's right ♪   {Snow Patrol—Hands Open}

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♪ It's not as easy as willing it all to be right
                                          Gotta be more than hoping it's right ♪  
{Snow Patrol—Hands Open}

Trotting back from her stroll with Sébastien, Céleste's face was stuck in a permanent grin.

He valued her thoughts and opinions. He cared about her enough to get to know her. And he interacted with her more than any man ever had.

Such a being was precious—and rare.

Desperate to seek out the hunt, he left her at the edge of the forest, where they had started their ride. And he advised Céleste to return to the castle, insisting she rest.

His cryptic words haunted her as she trotted back. Did he have a secret meeting to attend? Was he joining King Antoine and Prince Jules?

Her hair came undone from the breeze whipping against her cheeks, and a few stray curls brushed against her forehead. But her smile never faltered. Despite her concerns, despite her questions, she couldn't control the happy thoughts melting her heart. There was no stopping her gushing as she hurried onward.

Away from the crazy conspiracies and the plotting, away from the gossip and nightmares, she was at peace. Safe at last, within Sébastien's reach. A true lady, courted by a dreamy Prince.

As her golden mare crossed the castle driveway, she noticed the main stable doors up ahead were closed. The faded wood panels were slammed together, blocking any light from within.


She pulled the reins, directing the horse to the side instead, wondering if the stable-master had locked up in preparation for rain.

As she arrived at her destination, a stable-boy covered in sweat, hay sticking to his garb, greeted her and helped her down. He bowed, and took her horse towards one of the stalls to the left, pushing through a set of rickety swinging doors. She followed him, dusting the skirts of her riding dress, cringing at the manure and dirt wafting into her nostrils. Though the stables at the Valeville chateau smelled the same, it had been a long time since she last sat atop a horse—and a long time since such scents drifted into her nose.

For a moment, it reminded her of home; of her charcoal and white horse, Benny, and of their rides together near the French border.

Her gloved hands stiffened as loud voices echoed down from the stable entryway.

She couldn't decipher them, though booming and rising in volume, rousing the horses. Neighs and whinnies bounced off the walls, masking the conversation.

Curious as ever, Céleste proceeded towards the noise. Tiptoeing through the hay, past her golden mare still settling within its designated space, she gazed to the arched threshold leading into the entryway.

The Golden Girl (#2 in the GOLDEN series) ✔Where stories live. Discover now