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A Crown For Christmas
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The first time I met Fitz or to most of the world Duke Fitzegerald Heraldo Belleville, I punched him in the throat.
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The first time I met Fitz, or to most of the world, Duke Fitzgerald Geraldo Belleville, I punched him in the throat.
I was actually aiming for his chin. He was a few years older, clearly not wiser, but at least taller. So I missed my mark.
He started wheezing on his candy cane.
And well, the rest is history.
Long live the king?
Kidding, of course. He didn’t die, but I did get grounded from the library for an entire month during the holidays, and the grand library is where they held the biggest ball of the year.
My parents, the king and queen, were huge into the holidays. We had people from all over the world visiting our castle for the ice sculptures alone, but the Holiday Ball? Well, it was the stuff of fairy tales.
And being a princess, it was one of the only times my mother ever let me wear my crown, a real diamond-encrusted tiara passed down to me through my great grandmother.
At twelve, I was finally going to be able to wear my hair in an updo with pieces of the crown poking out for all to see… and envy.
But instead of my grand entrance to the Holiday Ball, because of Candy Cane Choker, I was brought dinner in my room and sent to bed. Like a child.
My parents wanted to teach me manners, they said.
How to control the notorious Answorth temper.
Discipline and respect went hand in hand, they added as they kissed me goodnight and made me promise to stay in my room.
I didn’t, of course, because along with the Answorth temper, I also inherited stubbornness. I supposed that would help me later on, if I ever had to look at that stupid Fitz ever again!
I fisted my hands and quietly made my way down the marble stairway. The Christmas music and laughter got louder the closer I got. The smell of pine trees and coffee, hot chocolate, pumpkin pie! My mouth was salivating by the time I made it to the bottom of the stairs and peeked around the corner.
“Shouldn’t you be in bed?” Fitz grinned his stupid boy grin and shoved a forkful of pie into his mouth. Even the way he held the delicate gold plate made me want to launch myself onto his person.
He was rude.
And he smiled at me like he was making fun of me.
And I hated being part of a joke I didn’t understand.
He was fifteen.
I was twelve.
And still, he smiled at me like he knew a secret, and I glared back like I knew how to shove that fork right where the sun didn’t shine.
“I can do what I want.” I crossed my arms. “Shouldn’t you be pulling candy cane shards from your throat?” I executed a fake coughing motion and wrapped my hands around my throat, making a face that hopefully looked like a frog that was dying a painfully slow death.
His demeanor darkened. “You could have killed me.”
“You’re such a spoiled little princess.” He sneered. “God, I hope I do not have to be your friend when you get old enough to know how to—”
“How to what?” I glanced over at him in curiosity.
“Be normal.” He rolled his eyes. “I’m going to the party. You should go back to bed in the nursery. After all, that’s what spoiled little princesses do. They sleep while the adults play.”
I felt my lower lip tremble when the doors opened to the library and he was let in. I saw a flash of color, heard the music, and wanted so desperately to walk in there with my crown.
“Phillipa,” Fitz called over his shoulder. “Don’t kid yourself. You’ll never be anything more than a girl trying to grow up too fast in a world where you won’t ever belong.”
“Why would you say that?” I whispered.
“Because. You’re a stupid girl.” He sneered as the doors banged shut behind him.
“I hate you, I hate you, I hate you,” I chanted with each step I took back up the stairs to my bedroom.
I chanted it again as I lay down on my bed, arms crossed. I would never be his friend.
For all I cared, Fitz could just roll over and die!
15 Years Later
“She almost killed me!” I pointed out, much to my mother’s irritation. Already her left eye was twitching, and she was gripping the handle of her Hermès bag hard enough to leave nail prints on the soft cream leather. “Several times!”
“On purpose,” I grumbled. “Because she’s a sociopath.”
It was like every argument I had fell on deaf ears as the Bentley rounded the corner to the royal castle.
Answorth Castle to be exact.
One of the oldest, albeit smallest, royal families still in control of the country despite having a prime minister. With a country of only three hundred thousand people, it was nearly impossible to do anything without everyone knowing—including the world.