She had walked in late, limping towards a staircase that led inside the castle. In glass high heels, just getting up the stairs was an Olympian trial. Suddenly a voice called out to her.
“Excuse me? Are you all right, madam?” A stranger stood behind her, offering a hand. The genuine concern apparent in his face slightly scrunched his handsome features. She waddled with quick steps towards him as he linked her arm with his. She blew a sigh of relief at the pressure slightly relieved off her feet. The stranger chuckled, but his face grew sour as he heard calling from inside the castle. Three women with more make-up than skin and a man in an officer’s uniform came rushing through a gigantic corridor, their voices mixing into noise as it echoed. Cindy saw the look on his face and immediately wanted to do anything she could to change it. She stood in front of him and gave a loud, fake and nasally laugh.
“Oh, that’s so funny!” She bellowed out, almost screaming. “You must show me where it happened! Please!” She took his hand from the arm she was leaning on and winked. He smirked, almost happily confounded by how blunt she was being, but his eyes became soft as his smile became sweet and grateful. He pointed with his other hand, leading the way into a wide, beautiful garden.
The garden was supported by marble structures as the vines and flowers carefully and precisely grew into the columns and steps. The stranger was blushing, trying to hide his excitement throughout by covering his face with pursed hands or looking away as he spoke, but the way he spoke about the lilies and the foreign flora he took care of gave her the same fire, and she prodded and nudged him to share his passions. As they walked back, she stopped him before they walked across a small muddy puddle right before the marble walkway.
“Hang on!” she said, hand up to the strangers face. She looked at the puddle on the ground. She was supposed to do something here, something noble…. Aha! That was it! She stumbled towards a carpet, pulled it out and placed over the mud.
“After you, sir!” she said proudly.
“Pretty sure I was supposed to do that.” He chuckled. He took her hand delicately and tiptoed over the puddle, supporting himself on her arm very slightly. He placed both his hands on top of hers.
“Thank you, my lady!” he said with a blinding smile. She smiled back. As he let go of her hand, she grabbed his right back and kissed it and wriggled her eyebrows.
“My pleasure.” She said, blushing but beaming. They found a bench and talked the night away, until she gently touched his hand, leaned in to his face… Then screamed “Oh, dammit!” at the top of her lungs.
She bolted out the garden, tripping as she ran down the stairs, sliding to the bottom.
“Wait! Please! Don’t go!” The Prince yelled from the corridor. She grabbed her foot and started yanking the shoe off as hard as she could.
“At least tell me your name! Some token so I can fin-”
She didn’t think about the sound or what had happened to her slipper. She kept running at a dead sprint towards her carriage. Now he’s stuck in the castle. Isolated, trapped and confused, away from his family and his flowers. All because of her.
“I can’t just leave this mess. I’ve got to do something.” Gran’s scowl slowly turned into a conniving smirk.
“Like what, my dear?”