“So you guys are the prince and princess?” I aasked.
“Yes.” Ian looked at me like I was an idiot, and that idiot made me feel like I was.
“I’m new to the idea I have a father let alone I’m related to anyone important. Much less someone like a queen.” I looked around. “And my cousins are the prince and princess…” I let that settle for a moment and sighed. “Nope, it still sounds weird, even if I say it out loud.”
Christine let out a bubbly laugh. “Relax.” She smiled. “We’re just like any other family.” She assured me as we walked down the drive to the limo.
“Except that my aunt and uncle rule a country, yeah, sure.” I shook my head.
“It’s only a big deal if you make it one.” Ian chided. For some reason, I felt like misbehaving toddler around him. I didn’t like it.
“Let’s go!” Christine grabbed my hand. “Lana, are you coming? I need some new shoes anyway!” Christine started pulling me along and I couldn’t help but laugh.
“Wait! Christine! These shoes aren’t mean to run in!” Lana gasped breathless.
“Why did I have to come?” Ian groaned.
“Because I can’t leave you alone.” Lana warned. “Especially with that Amelia.” she added under her breath. I don’t think Ian heard, but I did. We got into the limo and I was next to Lana while Ian and Christine sat on the opposite side.
I nudged Lana in her side. “So who’s Amelia?”
“What?” Lana asked surprised.
Ian looked at me. “My girlfriend.”
“Oh, is she nice?”
Ian looked around and I saw everyone’s reaction. “I think so.”
Christine wrinkled her nose and soured her face. “When she isn’t being a brat.” Christine offered with a forced smile.
“She’s meeting us there.” Ian grumbled as he hit Christine across the back of the head.
“Cool.” I replied as Christine tried not to giggle. I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to react. These were the royal children, but they were also my cousins. I figured if nothing else, I could always ask. “So, I’m kind of new at this. What do I do?”
Lana looked at me confused. “What do you mean?”
“How am I supposed to act? I’m kind of used to just going with the flow, just doing and saying what I feel like. I have a funny feeling that’s a bad idea.’
“That would be because it is.” Lana answered as though it were obvious and I must be an idiot. I couldn’t argue with her response. “You must be new at this.” She sighed with a small laugh. “Just play it cool in the beginning. You don’t have to change yourself but…you could be more discreet. And hold back a bit.”
I nodded. “And um, what if I haven’t so far?”
I nodded again. I had a feeling this was going to be more than I bargained for. We pulled up to the shopping district and an excited Christine turned to me. “Are you ready?”
“Nope.” I shook my head. “But then again, I never will be.”
“This will be fun!” Christine giggled as she pulled me out of the limo. Ian scrubbed his face with his hand. I think he was dreading shopping as much as me. We weren’t in the store ten minutes before Christine had handed me an armload of clothes and shoved me in a dressing room.
I walked back out handing her a pastel pink shirt with too many holes for me to be comfortable with. “Do I wear it or wrangle tiger with is?” I joked as I held it up. I chuckled and Christine let out a bubble laugh.
“You’re so silly.” Christine smiled as she pulled me back in the dressing room. Before I knew it, I didn’t recognize myself. Christine had dressed me. To my surprise, a pastel purple dress actually didn’t look horrible on me. I didn’t like it, but I didn’t exactly hate it.
“This doesn’t suit me.”
“It does though. It suits your figure.”
“But I hate it.”
“Oh me too! I hate these kind of clothes, but I have to wear them for events. It’s good to have a few in the closet.” She beamed.
“But I hate it.”
“No one under fifty likes these kind of clothes.”
“Hey!” Lana muttered from somewhere outside.
“Except Lana of course.” Christine called. “You’ll hardly recognize her!” Christine beamed as she shoved me out.
“Oh wow.” Lana nodded in approval.
“I feel like an idiot.” I grumbled.
“I’ll take you to the good shops next.” Christine promised with a wink.
I sighed. Somehow the prospect of more shopping didn’t enthuse me. I wandered over to Ian. “How do I get out?”
Ian laughed. “You don’t.”
“What do I do?”
“You deal with it.”
I sighed. “Is it too late to go back to America?”
Ian just laughed and shook his head. “It can’t all be bad. You came here for a reason didn’t you?”
“The last time I went shopping for clothes was before I interviewed for a scholarship.” I grumbled. “Now I learn I have a dad and he’s a duke…this is too weird.” I sighed. At the next shop we met up with Amelia. Ian gave her a kiss on the cheek and they held hands, but something wasn’t right. “Ian, can I borrow you?”
I pulled Ian over to a rack of clothes. “So, who’s the girl who broke your heart?”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re in love with someone else.”
“I am not! I love Amelia.”
“I never said you didn’t. I just said you’re in love with someone else.”
“I think you’ve had too much shopping for one day.”
“I think I’ve had too much of whatever Christine is on.” I laughed. “If I could have some of that to put in my pipe and smoke everyday, everyone would be happy.”
“Lana, let’s get some lunch.” Ian decided as he stormed back over to Amelia and gave her a long kiss. I couldn’t help but notice Lana paying exceptional attention to the scarves. Somehow, I didn’t think it was the scarves that garnered her attention. I didn’t think I should say anything else, so I took Lana’s advice and kept my mouth shut. I meandered over to Christine who was gushing about the new fashions she loved and hated and handed me an armful of clothes.
“Want to help me make some outfits?” I offered.
“Sure!” Christine pulled me into a dressing room and I kind of felt like Barbie.
“I have a question.”
“What’s going on between Lana and Ian?”
“Um…ask them?” Christine shrugged. The look on her face said there was more to tell.
“You can’t tell me then?”
“It’s not really my place.”
“Can you tell me anything?”
“You look amazing in red.” Christine beamed.
“About them? Like what should I not say?”
Christine looked as serious as I’d ever seen her for a moment. “Don’t talk about it. They’re both in denial. It’s cute and sad. Now, let’s talk about something happy, like which shoes we’re going to get to match that top. It really looks stunning.”
An hour later we were sitting at a little bistro eating sandwiches that looked portioned for a toddler. “Anything else, Your Highnesses?” the waiter asked.
“About fifty more of these?” I asked. The waiter gave me a disgusted look, but walked off none the same.
Ian was paying exceptional attention to Amelia who was prattling on about her cat in great detail. I don’t know about him, but I really didn’t care about her having to clip her Himalayan’s claws so he didn’t destroy the antique furniture. Call it a hunch, but I had a feeling was about as interested in her story as I was. I kicked Ian under the table, which earned me a scowl. “What?”
“Can we run away yet?”
Ian shook his head, but I caught the ghost of a smile on his face. “No, we can’t.”
“Christine is in the tinkle palace, Lana is doing everything she can to not pay attention to you, and arguing with the hostess is certainly helping, and Amelia is so absorbed in herself that if we gave her a mirror I doubt she’d even notice we were gone.”
“No.” I repeated, his tone flat.
I hung my head and sighed. “You were my last hope.”
Ian gave me a strange look. “What do you mean?”
“I don’t fit in here. Not by a long shot, and I just fell…trapped.” Ian looked at me for a long moment.
“Amelia, darling Juliet here isn’t feeling well. I think I should take her home. Lana, make sure Christine buys lots of nice things!” Ian called as he grabbed my hand and dragged me out to the limo.
“What?” Lana cried, torn between Christine still in the bathroom, and Ian and I leaving. I guess she figured Christine was the bigger problem because we managed to get away.
Ian sprawled out in the back of the limo making himself quite comfortable. “How old are you?”
“How long have you been here?”
“A couple of days.”
Ian nodded. “I’ve had twenty-three years to adjust to this sort of thing. It takes time. It’s not going to happen overnight. Some of it will be scary. Just go with it.”
“Where are we going?”
“To my other little sister’s house.”
“I thought Christine was your only sister?”
“Let’s just say we adopted her, sort of.”
We pulled up to a large manor. I thought the Eastgate estate was huge. It was a pebble in comparison.
“IAN!” came a sing-song voice as Ian was tackled as soon as he got out of the limo. “I got your text. We have a new member of the family? You didn’t knock someone up did you, you naughty boy?” this girl laughed, who seemed right at home atop Ian.
Ian shook his head laughing. “No way Fiore, you’re next to bear an heir.” His laugh sounded warm, and somehow it didn’t seem like something he did often enough.
“Don’t jinx me!” Fiore snapped, holding her index fingers up to make a cross. “Hello! I’m Fiore, and you are?” asked this girl. She had dark blonde hair and fair skin.
“I’m Juliet, it’s a pleasure.” I smiled back.
“Oh, you do look like James.” Fiore beamed. She got up off of Ian and circled me as I got out of the limo. I felt like shark bait. “I like you.”
“It’s a compliment. Fiore doesn’t like many people off the bat.” Ian teased.
“So, you’re new to the whole royalty spiel?” Fiore asked, focusing all of her attention to me. “I have just the thing!”