Riley was able to finally escape them by feigning a potty break. She made it to the kitchen without falling. Mrs. White was in there; starting a lunch of chicken salad. Riley had to admit that the boys had it good as far as food goes.
“I see you’re walking better now, that's good,” Mrs. White said.
“Yes, I’ve been practicing. They want to teach me to dance next,” Riley replied.
“Oh, that’s nice. Have you danced before?” she asked.
“No, well not like the kind they want. I’ve danced at school dances but it was nothing like a waltz or anything like that. But I must admit that I have dreamed about dancing with a handsome prince, like Cinderella,” Riley replied, “Don’t tell them but I’m kind of excited about it.”
“Yes, I’ve always thought the idea of a grand ball was so romantic. Like something from a Jane Austen novel,” Mrs. White replied, “Do you have a favorite dance partner yet?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t decided yet, so far none,” Riley replied.
“Good, you be careful around those boys,” Mrs. White replied waving a finger at her.
“Yeah, I know none of them will last past the summer. They’ll try to romance me, but as soon as I’m out of sight I’ll be out of mind. I know these rich kid types,” Riley replied.
“You might find there is more to know about them than meets the eye. They all have their quirks,” Mrs. White replied with a knowing nod.
“What’s there to know about? They have money to spare and I have none,” Riley said with a shrug, “They are just playing anyway. I figured I would play back and flirt back with them. That’ll keep them entertained for a bit, and what’s the harm with a little flirtation, right? It’s not like I really mean it. Also, it’ll get me some money for college.”
“Be careful, if you play with fire you’re bound to get burned,” Mrs. White said.
“I will be careful Mrs. White, thank you,” Riley replied touched that the chef was looking out for her, “Have you seen my…, I mean, have you seen Liz?”
“No, I believe she may be with Mr. Jameson. Do you need her?” Mrs. White asked looking down.
“Is there something going on? She seems to be with Mr. Jameson, often,” Riley said, “I know I’m young and a little naïve, but not that much that I can’t see something must be going on.”
“Sweetheart, I’m afraid that there has almost always been something between your sister and Mr. Jameson. I don’t know if its love or money, but I know they are in a sort of relationship,” Mrs. White replied frowning.
“Don’t be sad for me, I barely know her. I’m sure you never knew she had a sister before, either,” Riley replied.
Clearly wanting to drop the subject, Mrs. White pushed the cart over to her and said, “Please, take this back there with you, dear.”
“Oh, I…. okay,” Riley replied, her shoulders sinking in defeat. She sighed before pushing the cart to the entertainment room.
“Dearest Princess Rose, you have brought us sustenance!” Chris proclaimed as if he were the king. He sounded so cheerful Riley thought, There isn’t enough coffee in the world to keep up with this guy. He is way too happy. He had changed into a pair of nice jeans and a collared shirt with a few buttons undone. She couldn’t help but notice how his eyes sparkled when he wore a white shirt. She smiled and looked down, knowing she had to stop looking at him. He already knew he was gorgeous.
“The lovely princess has returned,” Syd said putting his arm around her. They had all showered and dressed for the day. He wore a Hawaiian shirt and cargo pants, his cologne even reminded her of the beach, but it wasn’t overpowering. In all honesty she could probably smell it all day and not get tired of that scent. She’d ask what cologne it was but chances are she’d need a small fortune for a bottle of it.
“Oh, stop. You guys act like I’m the only woman on earth! Except you, Damon, you just tell me I’m fat,” Riley said looking at him with her eyebrow raised.
“I would never!” Damon replied feigning innocence. He walked up and picked up a plate. He took a tomato and ran it along his lips before eating it. Riley laughed; she would have to remember that way to get someone to look at her lips. She shrugged and then picked up a couple of plates. She handed one to Evan and the other to Rex, making sure she bent down with her knees so her dress didn’t slide up again. Chris went to the radio and put on some music.
“My Lady, may I have this dance?” Chris asked walking over to her and taking her hand.
“Oh, I don’t know. I’m still having a hard time walking, let alone dancing,” Riley replied. Chris pulled her into his arms and led her to the open area of the room.
“My dear, it’s all about who you’re dancing with,” Chris said swaying with her to the music. He spun with her around the room and laughed when she accidentally stepped on his foot.
“Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry,” she said blushing, “I told you I couldn’t dance like that.”
“That’s why we practice,” Chris said pulling her close and dancing some more. He smiled at her and spun her around. Riley giggled holding onto him for balance.
“You’re doing a good job; don’t worry we understand. It takes time to look this good,” Chris said dipping her.
“Chris, she needs to eat too you know,” Rex said. Chris glared at Rex and steadied her before letting go. Riley walked over to the cart and grabbed her own plate before sitting next to Syd.
“You are graceful when you want to be, you know,” Syd said nudging her. Riley gave him a grin.
“Thanks, oh I mean... Why of course faithful servant! I am a Princess after all,” Riley replied haughtily, before bursting out in laughter, Syd joined in.
“Your highness, I do apologize for being so outspoken,” Syd replied taking her hand and kissing it, “I shall never say a bad word against you.”
With a short laugh, Riley playfully shoved him.
“Oh, come now, if you are going to be a princess, you have someone else do the shoving for you,” Rex said hitting Syd in the arm.
“Ow, hey,” Syd replied with a smirk, pushing Rex back. Riley scooted away from Syd and ate her salad, enjoying the delicious crunch of the lettuce and almond slices. She looked up to see Evan watching her with a smile on his face. She got the feeling they would make her walk or dance some more as soon as she finished. She was starting to feel like a life size Barbie. She ate slower trying to prolong the moment. When she put the last bite in her mouth Evan jumped up and took the plate from her. He took her hand and pulled her up.
“My lady, I do believe it is my turn to dance,” Evan said. He pulled her to him and led her over to the open area. The woodsy scent of his cologne made her inhale. They probably thought she was going to hyperventilate at the rate she was going, but they all had a different scent about them. It felt like each one told some secret part of them. Looking into Evan’s warm brown eyes with gold flecks she felt like she could see him enjoying a good outdoor trip. If he ever asked, she would totally spend a weekend camping with him, maybe a little kayaking. She could totally picture snuggling up with him by a fire. Suddenly she shook her head, what is she thinking! These guys aren’t the forever type. She’d be stupid to fall for one of them!
She spent the afternoon taking turns dancing with each of the guys. By the end of the afternoon she was exhausted and her feet were killing her, not to mention the sore toes of the guys. They decided to take a break so that they could change for dinner. How many times do these people change a day? Well when they don’t have to worry about doing laundry, why not? Riley sluggishly walked into the kitchen and saw Mrs. White making their dinner.
“Mrs. White, can I take a break tonight?” Riley asked plopping into a stool and kicking off the demonic heels.
“Absolutely dear, I’m sure the boys will be sadly disappointed though,” Mrs. White replied patting her arm.
“I feel like a babysitter for the rich. I’m so tired. They made me walk and dance. Oh, I’m ready for bed,” Riley said resting her head in her hand.
“Oh, I wish I were so spoiled. I hear they also make you eat with them,” Elizabeth said.
“Oh, hi Liz. Sorry I didn’t see you in here,” Riley said.
“Aren’t you just the little Princess, I’m surprised they haven’t bought you jewelry to go with your daily dresses and shoes,” Elizabeth said. Riley looked down at her swollen feet and shook her head. Why would anyone want to wear those evil things all day? She knew Liz was jealous because all Liz wore was that hideous uniform, but she had it easy not having to wear those damn super high heels all day.
“That’s funny,” Riley said.
“What? Don’t tell me you have won their affection and one of them has started buying you jewels?” Elizabeth asked.
“No, it’s funny that you called me princess. They have decided to name me Princess Rose. Apparently, Riley wasn’t good enough for them,” Riley replied reminding her of her nickname. Mrs. White put a plate of food in front of Riley.
“Thank you,” Riley said digging into the delicious food.
“Oh, it is no problem, hon. You keep them entertained so I don’t constantly run back and forth. I even saw Sydney bringing breakfast to you guys,” Mrs. White replied, giving her a warm smile.
“Yeah, they wouldn’t let me escape,” Riley complained, “They even followed me to the bathroom!”
“They are even serving you now?” Elizabeth said, “Oh that ungrateful Christopher! He is so rude to me, but you he serves?”
Elizabeth clenched her fists.
“Miss Elizabeth, would you please take the tray in for them this evening?” Mrs. White asked.
“Yes, Mrs. White,” Elizabeth said taking the cart into the dining room.
“Don’t mind her. It seems the green monster must be biting her over the attention you’re getting. They have been bored for a while before you showed up. Especially since Mr. Jameson anticipated them being here and sent away all the younger help. I guess he didn't realize you were so pretty when he told your sister he'd give you a summer job,” Mrs. White said, “I think Miss Elizabeth wanted the attention but was upset to find that Chris doesn’t care for her. He even requested that I take the food out to them and not Elizabeth.”
“I wonder why he doesn’t like her,” Riley said, "I mean, she's not that bad. She can be selfish sometimes, but she's not that selfish."
“I don’t know, that you’ll have to ask Chris,” Mrs. White said getting a plate and sitting next to Riley. Riley took another bite of food.
“You know Mrs. White, you are a really good cook,” Riley said smiling at her, “I absolutely love the food you make. Thank you!”
“Thank you, dear. That is why I like you. You say your pleases and thank you’s,” she said eating her food, “That’s probably why those guys like you too.”
“I probably shouldn’t tell my sister that Chris fed me earlier. Wouldn’t that make her mad,” Riley said with a chuckle. Mrs. White laughed as well. Elizabeth came back in with the empty cart and sat down with a plate of food. Riley finished eating and picked up her plate. She went to the sink and washed it. She looked at Mrs. White and saw how tired she was. A feeling of guilt swept over her. Here she was complaining and asking for a break when poor Mrs. White has been on her feet all day as well. She sighed, knowing it wasn’t right for her to relax when Mrs. White worked harder than she did.
“I’ll do the dishes for you tonight, Mrs. White,” Riley said, starting with the pots and pans.
“Oh, dear I know you’re tired. You don’t have to worry about those. I’ll do them,” Mrs. White replied. Riley took her empty dish from her.
“I got it tonight, Mrs. White. Take a break,” Riley said giving her a wink and washing the empty dish.
“Liz, would you mind getting the empty ones from the dining room?” Riley asked.
“Yes, ma’am,” Elizabeth said storming off. Riley rolled her eyes and turned back to the dirty dishes. She started singing a song that she had heard when dancing with Chris earlier.
“I have that one stuck in my head; too,” Chris said from behind her, “I see you’re too busy to play, huh?”
“Well, I was just helping Mrs. White out,” Riley said, “Sorry, but I’m exhausted tonight. You can play more tomorrow.”
“Really? And what exactly can we play? Maybe Doctor with just you and me?” Chris asked putting his hand on her lower back. Riley glared at him. He took his hand back and put it in his pocket.
“Sorry, I couldn’t help myself,” Chris said. Riley laughed.
“We are definitely doing no such thing tomorrow,” Riley said, “I’ll be lucky if I can still walk tomorrow.”
“Why? What’s wrong?” Chris asked.
“My feet are killing me,” Riley replied. Chris looked down.
“Well where are your shoes?” he asked.
“On the floor over there, those high heels are killing my feet. But I need to learn to wear them if I don’t want to embarrass myself at your ball,” Riley replied.
“Here are the rest of them,” Elizabeth said entering the kitchen with the cart. Riley could see Chris stiffen at the sound of her voice.
“Christopher, what are you doing in here?” Elizabeth asked.
“Just came in to talk to Princess Rose. A princess should not be doing the dishes,” Chris said glaring at Elizabeth.
“Well she actually volunteered for that position,” Elizabeth said sneering at him, “Riley, I’m going to take a shower and then go to bed. Good night.”
“Goodnight, Liz,” Riley replied picking up some of the dishes and putting them in the sink to wash.
“Let me help you with those,” Chris said picking up the wet ones and drying them, “It will get done faster this way.”
Riley smiled at him, “Thank you, but you really don’t have to help.”
“That’s okay, I want to. It actually might take me a bit though to find where they belong,” Chris said smiling back to her, “I feel like a bit of a commoner now, though.”
Riley snickered and shook her head. She enjoyed the playful banter he made while helping her put the plates and bowls away.
“Thank you for your help. I really appreciate it,” Riley said giving Chris a hug. Then she went to her shoes and picked them up.
“Well good night, Chris,” Riley said smiling and went to her room. Chris smiled back and watched her leave.