Tarrant offered Alice his hand, which she accepted, and together they walked back towards the palace in companionable silence. Alice told Tarrant that she needed to collect her dress from his workshop and so the couple headed in that direction once they entered the palace.
The palace was abuzz with servants and courtiers going about preparing for the evening, thus taking Alice and Tarrant longer to reach the workshop. Upon opening the door, Tarrant was relieved to find that Alice’s dress had not been meddled with and was still waiting on the mannequin.
Alice gently lifted her dress from the mannequin and bid Tarrant fairfarren before leaving to ready herself for the evening.
At last Alice was ready. She admired her reflection as the final touches were made to her outfit.
The dress that she had found breathtaking when she had first seen it had become more so once she wore it. Tarrant had sewn a corset into the gown which Alice found to be quite comfortable when compared with the corsets that she had been forced to wear Above. The silver thread sparkled in the light, illuminating the motifs on the bottom of the bodice, however Alice couldn’t tear her eyes away from the top hat in the middle of the bodice. She smiled, hoping that Tarrant would be pleased with his handiwork when he saw the dress on her.
As she surveyed her appearance in the mirror, she heard a knock on the door of her bedroom. She opened it to find her father standing on the other side.
“Father, what a surprise.” Alice said with a smile, gesturing for him to enter the room.
Charles smiled at his beautiful daughter and entered the room. He had changed from his normally imposing uniform and knee high boots and now stood before Alice in a tailored white suit and tie, topped with a white top hat which had Tarrant’s name written all over the design.
“Well? Will it do?” Alice asked, gesturing to her dress.
Charles smiled and tears began to well in his eyes as he gazed proudly at the young woman his daughter had become.
“Alice, you truly look like the woman I always imagined you would become. I am proud of you and I’m sure that your mother would be too.” Charles said as he embraced Alice.
Alice gave a watery smile as tears came to her eyes at her father’s words, before she said, “Thank you father. I hope that mother would be proud. Hopefully Tarrant will arrive soon for this is one party that I do not want to be late for.”
At her words, Charles’ facial expression morphed into one of mischief. Curious as always, Alice asked her father if he had a plan.
“Father, what is that expression for?”
Charles smiled and replied, “What if I were to escort you to the ballroom now and surprise Tarrant with your appearance?”
Alice clapped her hands excitedly and nodded. Surprising Tarrant sounded like a good plan to her and he would be quite surprised and pleased at her appearance no doubt. In response to her excitement, Charles offered her his arm which she accepted. Out the door they went, to the slight bemusement of Tarrant who had, at that moment, decided to walk out of his bedroom and to Alice’s. He frowned, shook his head and walked in the direction of the ballroom, ready for the ball to begin.