I know it's not Thursday, but this just showed up in my head this morning. :)
"Are there any other girls living in the house?" The words of the official floated into the kitchen from the living room.
I held my breath, waiting for the answer, as the dishwater dripped from my hands into the sink. "Oh... just Ellie," my stepmother answered. Oh, just Ellie, I mimicked in my head. That woman just got under my skin. I couldn't wait until I had saved up enough side money to get my own place. "But, she never goes anywhere. She can't possibly be the girl you're looking for."
I laughed in my head. Oh, how little you know. But, for once, I was glad for her dismissal of me. It made things so much easier.
But, the poor schmuck saddled with the drudging task argued, "I'm sorry, ma'am. But my orders are to try this shoe on EVERY unmarried girl in town."
I could hear my stepmother sigh dramatically before calling, "Ellie! Get in here!!!"
This was about to get complicated. Ladies, if you find yourself saddled with a fairy godmother, make sure all her abilities are intact. Like, oh I don't know... her hearing. "I want to be tall" really isn't the same thing as "I want to go to the ball." I'm just saying. Wiping my hands on the dishtowel, I stepped into the room, hoping the baseball cap I had stuffed my hair into would be enough to shield my face from being recognized.
"Miss," the official nodded his head slightly, with the smallest of smiles tugging up the corners of his mouth. I should have recognized Mr. Thomas's voice... the prince's security supervisor... and his best friend. This wasn't going to be easy to get out of. "Take a seat, please."
Gesturing at my cleaning clothes, I protested, "Is this really necessary? Surely, you can see that I'm not really the ball type."
"Just sit." Oh, why didn't I go back for that stupid shoe? Shouldn't fairy godmothers give you clothes that fit?
I kicked off my sneaker, and offered my thickly socked foot to Mr Thomas.
My stepmother rushed forward to argue. "Mr. Thomas, I assure you that Ellie was nowhere near the palace any of the last few nights. There is absolutely no way that she could be the girl you're looking for."
Mr. Thomas rubbed his jaw thoughtfully. "Is that so, Mrs. Baker?" He turned his gaze on me. "Is that true? And consider yourself on the record, if that helps your tongue."
I glared at him and wriggled uncomfortably. "Well... it's not... exactly... true. It's... possible... that I might have slipped into the building."
"Mmmhmm." Mr Thomas turned to speak into his intercom. "Tell the prince I found his girl, Doug. And bring him pronto."
I groaned. "Mr. Thomas... I assure you, I'm not what the prince thinks I am."
"Oh, I can see that, miss. But, the prince is so taken, he's ordered the whole place searched for you." His gaze travelled over my clothes. "Not sure what he'll say when he sees you like that, though."
I stuck my tongue out at him. They can't jail you for that, right?
Still on his knees at my feet, he looked up at me and said quietly, "You could have said something at the ball. This all would have been much different."
I paced the room for the next 20 minutes, biting my fingernails and waiting for the royal car to arrive. When it did, the prince jumped out, not even waiting for the door to be opened for him. Rushing into the house without knocking (charming, eh?), he addressed Mr. Thomas. "Chris, you found my girl?"
Mr Thomas nodded slowly. "She may not be what you're expecting."
The prince turned to me and fell at my feet, "Oh my sweet girl, I can't believe I found you. I've had Chris searching every house for three days!"
"Yes... I saw on the news..."
He grabbed my hand and kissed it. "It's no matter, it's no matter. Now that I've found you, we can marry and you can move into the castle and you can have everything... No more dishes! No more... of whatever that is you're wearing... My god, I can't believe --"
"Your Highness," I interrupted him gently. "I... I don't really know how to say this. You're a really sweet guy, and I had a lot of fun at the ball. Really, I did, and I just want to thank you for the dances. But... I don't really think I'm ready to marry you... possibly ever. I'm sorry that you went to all this trouble."
"But," he looked at me in confusion. "I'm the prince."
"Yes, I know who you are."
"And you came to the ball. And we danced!"
"Yes... yes... I was there."
"And I'm the prince." He just couldn't seem to get off that.
He wandered down the path back to the car, muttering... "But I'm the prince. She can't say No. I'm the prince.
I sighed and turned to Mr. Thomas. "He'll be okay, right?"
He smiled, "Oh sure... he falls in love every week."
I opened my mouth to speak... stopped... and tried again. "Mr Thomas..."
He shook his head, "Please... after all this, you can call me Chris."
I chewed the inside of my cheek. "I wasn't lying to the prince. I did have a good time at the ball... but... I don't really think it was because of the prince. And I know you're busy, tracking down a lot of smitten girls. But... if you ever have time for a cup of coffee... you know where to find me."
"Miss Ellie...." he put a finger to my chin and tilted my face toward his. "I just may do that."
I smiled. "But... just coffee. Don't get any ideas!"