Chapter 20: Just Dance

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"You," Rob said, his heart beating like a jackhammer.

"Me," Maggie said as she reached up to fuss with the opaque veil that covered her red hair. The fabric was damp in places, as if she'd washed in a rush but hadn't had time to fully dry. 

Her dress wasn't quite long enough to keep her boots from poking conspicuously from beneath the hem, and Maggie's wrists pushed forth a good three inches beyond the cuff.

Maggie tugged at her veil again, ignoring the disdainful looks from the better-dressed ball goers. "Sorry. Not used to this thing."

Slowly gathering his wits, Rob shook his head in amazement. "It's fine. You're fine."

"Your cousin ran all over town looking for me," Maggie said as she hauled Zev to his feet. "When he finally found me, he couldn't talk he was so out of breath."

"But then I talked," Zev said.

"He did," Maggie said. "He talked about how you'd tried to find me after our fight. He talked about how you hadn't taken another woman, despite plenty of opportunity. 

He talked about how stubborn you are and how much this town would miss you if you had to leave. How much I'd miss you."

"I'd miss you, too," Rob said without even having to think.

"Don't worry, I told her that," Zev chipped in.

Rob shushed his cousin. "Zev. Not now."

"I wasn't sure I wanted to see you tonight," Maggie said. "I'm sorry, Robert, but that's the truth. Maybe because things moved so fast, but I still feel like you betrayed me. It hurt. It made me scared that I might lose you to someone else, and it made me mad that I hurt like that."

"I made a huge mistake," Rob said. "I should have told you everything from the start, about the Godmother and . . . well, all the rest."

Maggie nodded. "So even though I was upset, even though I didn't want to see you, I also didn't want to not see you. If that makes sense."

"Totally."

"I'm not sure what I would have decided on my own, but your cousin wouldn't leave me alone. In part to shut him up, I went along to the Tailor's, where I was given the use of a washbasin and an unclaimed ball gown. With some quick adjustments and deep breaths, we made it fit." Maggie glanced down at herself with a frown. "Mostly."

"You look—" Rob said, but then stopped, unsure how to finish. Lovely? Beautiful? Both were true, but only because he knew Maggie well enough to not care about her ill-fitting clothes paired with muddy riding boots. But just as Rob finished with "—perfect," the Princess burst onto the scene.

Without hesitating, she grabbed Zev's arm. "If you'll excuse us, doctor, I need our tardy friend. And my dear Magda, that outfit brings out your charms in ways I hadn't begun to imagine. Truly inspired! Enjoy the ball, and don't miss the refreshment tables."

Maggie stared grimly after Cynda until the crowd of dancers closed in her wake. "I may actually kill her one day."

"Please don't," Rob said. "At least not tonight, in front of so many witnesses. Do you think Zev needs rescuing?"

"That may be beyond us. Wait, he's fine. I can see them arguing."

Rob stood on his toes to peer over the tall hats."I wouldn't want to be Zev right now. He's really getting the business. Still smiling, though."

"He does that a lot." Suddenly, Maggie turned on an older couple who were starting at her. "What? Do we have a problem?"

The couple was saved from a potential physical encounter when Zev rushed by, grinning maniacally and with Cynda hot on his sweaty heels.

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