The stylists had us strip down to our undergarments to help us in putting on the heavy dresses.
While I knew Viktor wouldn't allow his eyes to trail my body in front of all these people, I could still feel his gaze on me.
His eyes left goosebumps crawling across my skin.
"Are you cold, Princess?" One of the stylists frowned.
I could feel my face heat up at her question, and my eyes involuntarily met Viktor's . He was standing across the room, leaning against the wall. He looked like a carving of an ancient god, minus the suit.
"No." I replied, a breathless and somewhat frantic laugh came from my lips.
Caroline was in her own world, marveling over the curly up-do her hair had recently become.
Shannon on the other hand met my eyes with a small smirk of her own.
I should've figured she would catch that.
"Keep her close during the gala." Aela murmured in my head, "She may be able to figure out what some of these Royal's are up to."
"That's a really good idea." I nodded, surprised at Aela's bold suggestion.
Aela chuckled, "I tend to have those most of the time."
I took advantage of Caroline's distraction and sneaked over to Shannon.
"Can I ask you a favor?" I whispered, earning the glances of some of the stylists.
Shannon placed a hand on her bare hip and raised her eyebrow.
"If it has anything to do with you blushing over your body guard, no." She shook her head, her chocolate curls bouncing.
I gave her an exasperated look, "I have no idea what you're talking about, but no that's not the favor."
Shannon smirked, "Sure you don't. What is it?"
"Could you stick close to me during the gala?" I frowned, "I want to know what some of these Royal's are up to."
Shannon stared at me for a few moments, and I wondered what she was thinking. Something glinted in her honey eyes as she mulled over my request.
"Fine." She nodded, "But you gotta answer a question first."
I could feel my face lose its color at her request, and I desperately hoped it wasn't about Viktor
"Don't you worry." Shannon shook her head, "I'm not gonna ask about your weird relationship with your bodyguard."
I clamped my jaw together before it could drop, "I have-"
"Yeah yeah, you have no idea what I'm talking about. Got it." Shannon smirked, "My question is, what the hell is going on?"
I frowned, "Um, what do you mean?"
Shannon's eyes glanced back at Caroline, making sure she was still distracted. I felt a new knot forming in my stomach at Shannon's serious expression on her face. There was no playfulness in her honeycomb eyes.
"Something is happening." Shannon murmured, her eyes darting around at the stylists. "Everytime I'm with you, I get this feeling were being watched."
"Well, that doesn't sound good." Aela shook her head.
I frowned, the feeling of paranoia setting in, "Tell me about it."
I shook my head, "I'm usually always watched."
"That's not what I mean." Shannon shook her head, "It's not a friendly feeling."
I was thankful for the light lunch we had earlier, worried my stomach may empty itself at her words.
"Are you feeling anything else?" I frowned.
Shannon continued glancing at the stylists, "I just feel like there's something going on behind the scenes. Something none of us know about."
"That's not such a surprise. We both know Dad and Uncle are keeping stuff from us." Aela grumbled.
"I don't think that's what she means." I grimaced, "It sounds like she's not talking about Dad or Uncle."
"Who else is there?" Aela frowned.
"That's the part that worries me." I replied.
Shannon continued to instill fear and paranoia within me, and I let out a shaky sigh.
"What's going on is were on the brink of war." I frowned, "I don't know with who or why, but someone's not happy with us. Uncle want's allies, but Dad says we don't need them. Most of the Royal's tonight are going to pursue me, whether their my mate or not."
Shannon caught on immediately, "They want to rule along side you." Her toffee colored eyes continued flickering around the room.
"Exactly, and-" I began, but Shannon cut me off.
She shook her head feverishly, "Not here. I feel like were being watched. We'll talk in private later on. As for your favor, yes."
Before Shannon or I could say another word, the stylists unzipped our dresses and pulled them out.
"Oh my gosh." Caroline's voice sounded a few octaves too high.
Her blue eyes were wide as she took in the ball gown that belonged to her.
Her fingers grazed the fabric as though she were handling some priceless diamond.
"Do you like it?" I chuckled, watching her blue eyes dance with excitement.
Caroline tackled me into a hug, which was somewhat awkward due to our half dressed state.
"It's perfect." Caroline bounced with joy.
She ushered the stylist over, in a hurry to get her gown on.
Caroline's gown was a dusty rose, with a low heart-shaped neckline. The bodice flared out in a typical ball-gown style. The chest was embroidered with small flowers ending at her waist.
"I look like a princess!" Caroline squealed, spinning in a circle for all of us.
Shannon nodded, a small smile playing on her lips. "Definitely suits your princess sized attitude."
Caroline narrowed her eyes at Shannon, "Because it's Arabella's birthday, I will accept your backhanded compliment."
I chuckled at the two of them and called another stylist forward.
This particular stylist caught my eye. He was tall and skinny, but had a boy-ish face. He looked extremely young to be a stylist.
I recognized him as the one who did Shannon's make-up. The gold liner that framed her eyes brought out the warm honey tones perfectly, all while bringing attention to her deep espresso skin.
"This dress is my favorite." The guy giggled, looking like a little kid for a moment. Shock formed on his face at his own words, "Sorry, princess." He looked at me sheepishly.
I giggled at the array of emotions on his face, "It's not a problem. Did I pick a good color?"
"Oh, it's perfect." The guy nearly swooned. "It'll bring out her eyes and compliment her deep skin tone perfectly."
"That's a relief." I giggled at Shannon's thankful expression.
"If you weren't already a princess, I'd offer you a job." The guy giggled.
I grinned at him, "I'll keep that in mind if I want a career change! What's your name?" I asked as he slipped the gown from the bag.
"Doni, princess." He grinned, "My boyfriend is actually a server for your gala." Doni's cheeks heated up lightly.
"That mean's you have to come as well." I grinned back at him, my smile widening at the shock on his face.
The small diamond lip-ring he had trembled as he gaped, "Are you sure, Princess?"
"Of course, just follow Shannon and Caroline inside. They'll vouge for me." I glanced at Shannon and smiled when she nodded her head.
While Shannon was exceptionally skilled at keeping her emotions a secret, her toffee colored eyes betrayed her as she looked over her own ballgown.
The design was quite simple, an off the shoulder yet ruffled ball gown. The best part was the dazzling color. It was the perfect shade of gold. Not too bright, but not too dull.
"How much did something like this cost?" Shannon murmured, shaking her head.
I shook my head at her, "Nope, none of that. You and Caroline are the closest thing I have to siblings. Don't worry about the cost of any of this."
Shannon looked like she wanted to say more, but clamped her mouth shut under my stern gaze.
Doni helped Shannon into her own dress and rushed to grab mine.
My dress held a similar style to Shannon's, but mine was a deep emerald green. Golden flecks covered the dress and reflected the light as it moved.
I slipped the dress on with Doni's help, and felt the bodice twirl from the movement.
The emerald dress, paired with the necklace and hair pin all worked to bring out the deep green hues in my eyes.
My skin was snow white against the deep color of the dress and my raven hair.
"Princess, the Alpha King had this custom made for you." Doni grinned down at me, something oddly shaped sat in his hands.
Caroline scurried over, anxious to see what my Dad had gotten me.
Doni pulled the strange object from the cloth bag and my jaw dropped as I gazed at the tiara.
Doni placed it gently on my head and watched with a smile as I shuffled over to the floor length mirror.
To say the tiara was perfect would be an understatement.
Dad had figured out my style in the fullest.
The tiara was short, but the golden frame twisted and turned like thin branches. It matched the strange necklace perfectly. Small Emeralds were embedded in the gleaming tiara.
"I need to get me one of those." Caroline murmured, her eyes locked on the intricate tiara.
Shannon shook her head, "We'd never hear the end of it if she got her hands on a tiara."
I giggled at Shannon's comment, my eyes still roaming the tiara.
"How in the world did you get this tiara so perfect?" I demanded playfully through the mind-link.
I could hear my Dad chuckle on the other end, "Your Mom loved that particular style. I figured you might feel the same."
"It's perfect Dad." My voice cracked with emotion.
"Only the best for my little girl." My Dad's voice filled my head, and I could feel the emotion that lingered in his words.
"I love you, Dad." I smiled to myself.
"I love you too, Bella. Don't keep us waiting, these Royal's are much too impatient." Dad chuckled and ended the mind-link.
Shannon, Caroline and I slipped on our heels and let the stylists do some finishing touch-ups. Doni slipped on a light blue suit jacket and stood close by, a grin evident on his boy-ish face.
The four of us, followed by a silent yet strikingly handsome Viktor, left the bedroom and headed down the hall.
"I'm entering separate from the rest of you. Find me as soon as possible." I whispered to Shannon, letting Doni and Caroline stray further down the hall.
Shannon nodded, "Gotcha."
She headed off with Caroline and Doni, giving me one last look before they turned down another hall.
Letting out a sigh, I put my game face on.
These Royal's had another thing coming if they thought I could be won over like some show horse.
I left my spot in the hallway and ventured down to the dining room, waiting to make my appearance.