How to Build a Better Princess

What Good Is A Princess Without The Right Prince?

Riley's POV

I tossed the book I cradled in my lap into the corner, and pulled my knees up, wrapping my arms around it. The necklace around my neck lay on my chest, cold, and unloved. Just like me….I thought bitterly, and put my head down on my knees, letting my hair just fall forward. What was that all about?...


I clutched the piece of paper in my hands, hoping that I could catch Lucas alone. Where is he?... I thought, desperately looking around for him. I know I cut class, so if I get caught, I'm so screwed. I stole another glance down at the letter I had in my hand, all covered with pink and gold and silver marker. The words seemed to float right off the page, and I gulped nervously.

Dear Lucas, It read.

I know that we just met, and we're not the closest of friends, but I was wondering if you wanted to come to the dance with me? I mean, you don't have to, I was just wondering cause-

I looked up, the brisk wind blowing as I realized I was outside. Voices came from near the school sign, and I crept closer, aware of the danger I could've been.

"Lucas. You need to give me a hug. As my honorary boyfriend. Right now." an annoyingly high pitched voice said, and I stumbled forward, the surprise catching me off guard. What did she say? I thought, balancing myself, but as I finally stood up straight, I wish I had fallen instead. Missy had moved in waaaay too close for comfort, her arms held out wide, and for a split second, I thought Lucas was going to reject her. For me?... I hoped, the little fantasy floating up for a second, before being utterly crushed as Lucas moved in, kissing her on the top of the head. No! Lucas? What are you doing? I thought furiously, when suddenly a drop of water slid down my face, and I glanced up, expecting clouds. Wha… are these… my tears? I wiped my cheek with my hand, and found it wet with tears as they silently fell to the ground. Why… why am I crying?... What's going on? I thought, confused, as they fell onto my paper, staining and smudging all the words. Lucas turned around all of a sudden, and I took off, not even knowing why, as I crumpled the paper roughly, tossing it into the garbage. Screw Recycling. Screw this world. Screw everything!

*flashback ends*

"Hey honey, are you getting ready for the dance? l heard Ethan's going to be here any minute!" my mom said excitedly, wiggling her eyebrows, and I sighed. Yet another disadvantage of having a parent as a teacher. They hear everything and gossip everything.

"Yeah yeah, I know. I'm going." I said, shaking the thought out of my mind, and the window suddenly sprang open, as Maya nimbly climbed in.

"Hey you two. Ready for the dance?" she smirked, and I took a deep breath, trying to push all my thoughts about Lucas aside.

"Well, I'm going to need help with all this untapped beauty." I laughed, flipping my unruly hair backwards with a flip of my hand, biting my lip and hoping Maya didn't notice my bloodshot eyes as she grabbed the nearest hairbrush.

"My dear, let us get started then, right away!" She said, sweeping all my hair with one hand onto my left side as I grabbed my dress I had set aside.

"I still can't believe we found this dress! It looks so pretty! Are you sure you didn't do something bad like pull this off of a dead woman at a marriage? Please tell me you didn't do that." I said, clutching the dress tightly, and Maya chuckled.

"Wow. That was both cold and dark. Please. I wouldn't stoop that low." She bundled all of my hair in a tight ponytail, and expertly put a hair tie in it, securing all the loose strands. "I found it in the dumpster."

"MAYA!" I exclaimed, dropping the dress and wiping my hands on her sleeve.

"Hahaha… I'm kidding! Sheesh." she laughed, picking up the dress and taking out the tag.

"See? Macy's. I got it at Macy's." she waved the tag in front of my face, and I leaned backwards, pushing her arm away.

"Alright alright." I grinned, quickly stripping down, before slipped the dress over my head, gently putting my sleeves into the sleeve holes, although I wouldn't even call it sleeve holes because they were so short. I pulled the edge of the sleeve down self consciously, Maya shook her head.

"That's as far out as they go." she said, pushing a strand of hair that had fallen in front of her face as she pulled down the dress till it was completely on me. The hem of the dress gently swished against my ankle as I moved around the room.

"Hold still!" Maya grumbled, zipping up the back of the dress. The rest of the dress was very lacy, intertwining with the pieces of string, as it glowed a pure white. Luckily, it wasn't see through, and was really warm as I hugged myself.

"It's so comfy! Thank you Maya!" I said happily, wrapping her in a big hug, and she pushed me away playfully. "Where did you get the money to pay for this?"

"Well…. I was saving it for my own dress, but since I'm not going to the dance, I decided to spend it on you last minute." She shrugged, and I frowned.

"Wait, so you're not coming?"

"Nah. Not like it would do me any good." She shrugged, a tint of sadness in her voice, and I spun around.

"No! You need to come to the dance!" I protested, but she shook her head.

"I can't…. I don't have a dress."

"WHAT DID YOU SAY?" my mom said suddenly, bursting into the room, and we all whipped our heads toward her, surprised.

"I… I didn't have a dress for the dance." Maya said hesitantly, and the fire in my mom's eyes was unmistakable.

"Not to worry! I have a dress or two in the back that will fit you, I'm sure!" she said, dragging Maya away, leaving me alone. I sighed as I sat down carefully at my desk, and pulled out a box from within a secret drawer in my desk. I pushed the clasp in, and the lid popped open, revealing a single piece of jewelry. Lucas's necklace. I gently took the necklace out, and clasped it onto my neck, the stone settling perfectly on my neck, the memory of Lucas giving it to me burning into my mind all over again. Stop it. Today, you're going to have fun. That's all. I bit my lip nervously, when suddenly the door burst open, and Maya was paraded in, followed by my mother with a proud look on her face.

"I have tamed the beast." She said proudly, and Maya screwed her face in disapproval.

"You put a light blue dress on me and braided my hair. So what?" she said, fiddling with the dress, and I smiled.

"It looks great on you!" I said, padding over lightly.

"I found it in the back. What do you think?" Mom said, grinning, and I smiled.

"Looks great! Now Maya, you get to come with me to the dance, and we are going to have fun." I said happily, and she looked at me warily.

"Okay..." The doorbell rung, and I walked over, pressing the intercom.


"It's Ethan."

"Okay, just a sec." I said, opening the door, slowly. His face was bright with anticipation and I looked at him with curiosity. He had decided to go with a casual look with a polo and jeans, hair swept back messily. He suddenly froze, eyeing me slowly at the sight of me.

"Woah..." he said in amazement, "I feel underdressed now." He joked, and I smiled painfully. I'm really not in the mood for this… I groaned silently, but I gritted my teeth and grabbed my small purse, already out the door.

"Thanks. Now lets go, dont want to miss too much."

The dance was something else. The gym had been transformed from a sweaty, stinky, plain old gym, to a palace dance floor. The floor was polished, and there was a pleasant fragrance in the air. A giant banner hung from the main entrance, reading Welcome to the John Quincy Adams dance and music seemed to be pouring from…. Well, everywhere.

"Woah..." I said with Maya, as we stared around in amazement. "I've... I've never seen the place like this."

"Yeah, it's pretty cool. I heard that Lucas called in a few friends and set the whole thing up. Unbelievable right?" Ethan grinned, and I stumbled, just hearing his name sending pangs of hurt throughout me, wracking my whole body. "Hey look, there he is now." I glanced at the direction Ethan had pointed out, and cringed, wishing I didn't. Standing there was Lucas, his arms around Missy. They swayed with the music, and she moved in really close, her head on his shoulder as they danced around the floor, looking completely at ease. That should've been me...I thought bitterly, and Ethan nudged me, a smile on his face.

"Hey, wanna dance?" He asked playfully, and I nodded, letting him whisk me away from Lucas and Missy. He pulled me away to the complete opposite side of the room, taking my hand gently as we began to dance, our bodies swaying in beat to the song that had begun to play. The bustling and jostling of bodies gently pushed us ‘round the room, and everyone blurred out as I felt the pulse of the beat slowly taking control. Soon, I felt myself relax, as I let myself be taken away by the music and Lucas had almost completely fled my mind. Almost. I bit my lip, trying not to glance at Lucas who flitted around nearby, his movements guiding Missy around the dance floor. Instead I stared solemnly at Ethan, scrutinizing him up close for the first time. I could feel his heart beat as I laid my head on his chest, our movements matching with every step we took. His firm, inviting arms were wrapped around my waist, keeping me anchored as we flowed with the music. I felt his hands, gripping me possessively as he stared at me with a new kind of intensity I've never seen. His eyes were a bright blue, the color of a clear sky, and the longer I stared, the longer I began to lose myself in them as they began to watch me tenderly. Have they really been that blue? I thought, leaning in closer for a better look.

"Hey Riley, what are you doing?" He asked quietly, a small smile on his face, and I froze, suddenly aware of how close we were. How my heart seemed to be pounding right out of my chest, so loud he could probably hear it. How he seemed to be leaning in closer...!

"Gah, um, I was... ... I-I was just looking at your eyes!" I said, blushing, my mind suddenly remembering where I was. I was dancing at the school dance, with Ethan, one of the most popular guys, that most girls would've died to have as the date for the dance. Everyone was even glaring at me, as I stared almost dreamily into his eyes.

But I didn't want to be here, with him, I thought as I finally glanced at Lucas, who was still dancing with Missy, in her skin tight dress. I could get why you might like her and not me... I thought glumly, as I sized her up. She wears high heels, I wear sneakers. She's cheer captain while I'm on the bleachers. I thought, as it felt like my heart was being clawed apart. I can see why you might love her instead of me...

"Riley?" Ethan asked, concerned, as I snapped out of my thoughts.

"Yeah?" I croaked, sniffling, as my eyesight blurred.

"Are you okay? Why are you crying?" He said, gently wiping one of my tears away as I laid my head on his chest once again.

"It's *sniff* it- it's nothing." I said, trying as hard as I could not to break down there. Not here, not now. But he surprised me even more, taking my hand and leading me through the crowd, expertly weaving through the couples meandering about, until we reached the back doors. The cold wind blew onto my face, and I gritted my teeth, as even more tears slid down my face, falling to the ground.

"Now, can you tell me what's wrong?" He asked, bending over as I gasped for breath, sobs wracking my body as I gave my.

"No *sniff* yo-you wouldn't *sniff* understand." I barely managed to say, as I quickly wiped my tears away with my wrist, and he scowled suddenly.

"It's Lucas's fault isn't it? I knew it. What did he do?" He snarled, and I staggered back.

"Wha.. he didn't do anything!"

"Yes he did! Why is he trying to steal MY date?" he said frustratedly, running his fingers through his hair, and I shook my head numbly, the tears finally stopping as they dried on my face.

"He isn't! He didn't! He-" I began to say, but was cut off as he suddenly moved in, his face only inches away from mine as he stared right into my eyes, as it seemed like he was debating something. Finally, he leaned in, until our noses were touching, and I gulped nervously, my heart racing out of my body. What is he… what… I thought, barely able to think.

"Can I…. can I kiss you?" he said quietly, and I began to back up, my thoughts slowing and racing at the same time. I… I don't want deal with Lucas anymore. I… I don't wanna be here. But at the same time, he’s so cute, and… NO! Lucas is your prince! You need to wait for him! Fist clenched, I opened my mouth to speak, when another voice beat me to it.

"No, you may not."

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