“Up, up, up, gorgeous,” Harrison ordered, “the ball has been moved up, which means I need to start working on your dress, like, now!”
Angela sat up, knowing her hair was an utter disaster and completely not caring.
“What do you mean, it’s been moved up?” she demanded, her voice still hoarse from sleep. Maya scooted over to sit next to Angela on the bed, linking their arms together and giving her hand a reassuring squeeze.
“Exalon and The Dragon wanted the ball in a week, so Ex could bring you to a few formal events, let everyone see you’re not…”. Maya trailed off, blushing, and Angela laughed.
“Let them see I’m not going to run around, throwing food at the absurdly expensive tapestries, and act like some wild animal?” Angela said sarcastically. Maya and Harrison looked at each other, then began to laugh.
“Er, yes, actually,” Maya said, shaking her head. “Mother still hasn’t decided what she’s going to do, what with you and Ex being Sonsaras and all, so she wanted the week to make sure you were Royal material.”
“Unfortunately,” Harrison said, lounging at the foot of the bed, “everyone who saw you at the Palace has been spreading rumors left and right.”
“Ugh, do I even want to know?” asked Angela.
“They’re not all bad!” Maya tried to reassure Angela. “A lot of the younger titled who saw you have been saying how lovely and elegant you are, and that you seemed to have excellent manners.”
“Excellent manners,” Angela muttered, rolling her eyes. “What a compliment.”
“The older titled are complaining, loudly, that the Crown Prince has lost his mind and can’t marry some subspecies from an abandoned planet,” Harrison said.
“Quite the generational divide,” Angela commented.
“Quite,” Maya nodded in agreement.
Angela sighed, running her fingers through her hair to try and get out any knots, but because it was so long and thick, it was a bit of a lost cause. Maya smiled and grabbed a comb from one of the drawers in the dresser next to the bed and took over, slowly starting at the bottom of her hair.
“So basically it’s what happened at dinner last night, only the entire planet is having the same argument Exalon and the Queen did?” asked Angela, feeling her muscles start to relax as Maya slowly combed through her hair. For Angela, there wasn’t a better feeling in the world than having someone brush her hair. It’s something her mother used to do every night and it still had to ability to calm and relax her.
“Basically,” Maya agreed with Angela’s assessment. “The ball’s in two days and Mother’s told Ex you’re not to leave the apartment until then.”
“How long have I been asleep that they’ve already planned all of this?” Angela asked, only partially joking.
“Things move faster than light when the Royals are involved, my dear,” said Harrison.
“Well, I’m pretty sure Mother and her advisors are in the middle of a deep dive into your life, your family history, and the history of humans in general,” Maya said.
“You think they’d have something more important to do, like, say, running a planet,” Angela said. Maya and Harrison laughed as a knock sounded at the door. Angela got out of bed, stretching, and Exalon walked in, wearing casual clothes for Axion men, which consisted of pants made out of a breathable but tough material and a long or shortsleeved shirt, depending on the weather. He smiled as soon as he saw Angela.
“Good morning, my love,” he said. Angela smiled at him and blew him a kiss, which he made a big show of catching and pressing it to his heart. Harrison laughed as Maya made overdramatic gagging sounds.
“I’ve had a breakfast spread set up in the stylist’s room,” Exalon said, “and Harrison, anything you ask for will be brought in to help style Angela and Maya. I’m assuming you both are camping out here tonight?”
“Yep!” Maya said excitedly. “I’m already sick of listening to The Dragon’s insane muttering, so I’m definitely staying, and I know Harrison wanted to get our outfits done as quickly as possible, so he can check with other stylists and make sure all eyes are on Angela and me!”
Maya jumped off the bed and grabbed her brother, leading them both in a brief dance before he laughed and pulled away.
“Besides,” Maya said, “Angela needs some emergency dance lessons and I know I can help with that.”
“Wait, dance?” Angela practically screeched. “I know you said it was a ball, but I didn’t know I’d be expected to actually dance! I thought I’d just stand around, look pretty, and not cause a scene.”
“Since this has now become your official introduction to Axion titled high-society, we’ll be expected to open the ball,” Exalon said, waving off Angela’s concerns. “I wouldn’t worry, it’s an easy dance. Besides, we’ll be dancing right after the Priestess’ blessing, so people will be preoccupied. Thank the Fates that hasn’t gotten out yet. I’m not sure I could handle dealing with press and societal inquiries regarding a Priestess at the ball on top of everything else.”
Angela frowned, noting how tired Exalon looked. She walked over to him and ran her hands up his chest to loop around his neck. He wrapped his arms around her lower back, pulling her close so he could rest his head on hers.
“I’ve become quite the problem, haven’t I?” Angela said quietly. Exalon looked down at Angela and his face softened, his eyes sparkling with adoration. He cupped her cheeks with his hands and gently placed a kiss on her lips.
“You are not and will never be a problem, my love. Others are just causing problems. My office is handling it.”
“And your mother?” Angela asked.
“It seems she will be making her decision after the Priestess makes hers,” explained Exalon. “Clever of her, really. She won’t look foolish for supporting a match the Fates haven’t blessed and she’ll look wise and benevolent when she supports a match the Fates have blessed.”
“So we’re back to relying on little old ladies in incense filled temples. Awesome,” Angela said dryly. Harrison tried to cover a laugh as Maya and Exalon both frowned.
“The Priestesses will see your match,” Maya said, sounding stern for the first time since Angela met her.
Angela just sighed, trying to untangle the hair that Maya hadn’t been able to get to before Exalon came in. The elaborate loops Harrison had styled yesterday had knotted and she was having an impossible time getting them loose. She had been able to remove the matching circlet thanks to Exalon messing up her hair during their make out session on the couch, but Angela had been too tired to brush out the rest of her hair before falling asleep. Maya was staring at Angela curiously as she yanked at her hair and Angela blushed.
“It looks terrible, I know. I should have brushed it, but I was so tired-”.
“No, no, it’s not that,” Maya said, cutting Angela off. “Is that all your own hair? You don’t have added layers or extensions?”
“It’s all mine,” Angela said, frowning, remembering Harrison asking her the exact same question yesterday. “There’s no way I could have afforded anything like that and my hair’s already so long and thick, what would be the point of adding anything else?”
Maya squealed and started whispering in Harrison’s ear, who started looking Angela up and down, grinning.
“We’ll be in the stylist’s room, come find us when you’re ready!” Harrison shouted over his shoulder, running out of the room with Maya, but not before stopping and bowing deeply to Exalon, then Angela. Then he turned back to Maya, both of them talking quickly, leaving Angela and Exalon alone.
“Well…that was weird,” Angela said, making Exalon laugh.
“Not if you’ve spent enough time around them. They adore each other, and Maya is obsessed with all types of fashions from across the centuries and all sorts of different cultures. She’s become the premiere fashion plate for the major planets. Everyone looks to her to see what’s in fashion at the moment. She and Harrison love combining fashions from different cultures to create something new.”
Angela’s eyebrows drew together, a thought formulating in her head.
“I’ll probably be in meetings all day, but I’ll try my best to have dinner with you and Maya.” Angela wrapped her arms around Exalon’s neck, then lifted herself up onto her tiptoes, giving him a sweet kiss, then rubbing her nose against his.
“I’ll miss you,” Angela said, truly meaning it. “If I need to be rescued from the two insane fashionistas you’re abandoning me with, I will make an emergency call through our personal comm link.”
Exalon threw his head back and laughed, hugging Angela so tightly to him that her feet left the ground.
“I promise I’ll come and rescue you. I’ll miss you too.”
They kissed one last time before Exalon slipped out. Angela let out a happy sigh, shaking her head at the sappiness that seemed to have overtaken her life.