[Shortlist | Ambassadors Pick] Alicia DuMont is telling the truth. Unless you count lies of omission, which she decidedly does not. Twenty-four and finally standing on her own two feet as a hairstylist, she is surprised when she and her friends receive an invitation to the prince's Coming-of-Age Masked Ball. Knowing they are right out of the running for marriage to the prince won't stop them from having a little fun, though! Prince Alejandro has a truth he can't share: his country is weaker than it seems. At nearly twenty-one, his dream of marrying for love is tied up in somehow falling for a down-to-earth woman who can strengthen the monarchy. Hoping his Coming-of-Age Ball will throw such a girl into his path, he's determined to make the most of it. And when he meets the mysterious Alicia, he is immediately drawn to her. When Alicia and Alejandro decide to begin a relationship, royal conventions throw them straight into an engagement. They may be the epitome of poise and grace in public, but behind the scenes questions of Alicia's suitability mix with the threat of national unrest. Every day their connection grows deeper, but if they can't find a way to quiet the growing discontent, they risk losing not only their relationship but also their country. *** This story was written for the ONC 2021 based on prompt #87.